Thursday, November 28, 2013

My First Turkey

Just a fun tale for Thanksgiving. J

Many years ago I was a new wife, new mother, and my in-laws came to visit. This was a big deal because they were visiting from Bolivia. That’s a long journey to make. And the ONE thing they wanted to eat was turkey.

Chris Young/The State Journal-Register

Yep, turkey. The All-American bird.

At the time, turkey was not a common a meal in Bolivia. It still isn't. The bird is native to NORTH America. For Bolivians, a turkey dinner was so rare it was considered princely. My in-laws had never even seen a turkey, much less eaten one. So naturally their son said of course his wife would make a turkey for them! That’s how I learned people all over the world believe American women are born knowing how to do cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner complete with sides.

Not true. My MOTHER was that woman, not me. So I called Mom.

Mom’s advice: Buy a Butterball turkey and follow the instructions.

As advice goes, it wasn’t much to work with. 


Knowing there had to be more to roasting a turkey than that, I embarked on serious research. There was no internet in those days, so I asked my friends for advice. Most of them had never cooked a turkey either. Next stop, the bookstore. An armload of cookbooks and hours of reading later, I assembled my collected knowledge and went to the grocery store—in June—where I bought a 20 lb. Butterball turkey and, from the hardware store next door, a gigantic enamel roasting pan to hold the darn thing. I combined Mom’s advice with the cookbook tips I thought sounded best and… the turkey turned out PERFECT.

tuchodi via Flickr/Creative Commons
Perfect. Not only that, but I repeated my feat so many times I am now legendary among a portion of Bolivians currently living there or in the United States. When they come to live in the U.S. they write to me in desperation as Thanksgiving approaches, asking for my help with their first turkey. After all, it’s not just the turkey, but the cranberry sauce (what are those? they ask), potatoes, stuffing, yams, glazed carrots, pumpkin pie, and corn fritters. Every cook eventually makes the meal their own, but I'm happy to give them recipes and tips to start with. A Thanksgiving turkey is a rite of American passage as significant as citizenship.

I’m glad my first turkey turned out so well. It could have been a disaster, but it wasn’t. That may be one reason why Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday. The kids have grown up but I still use the same pan I did for the first turkey I ever made. It's never let me down. 

Everything about Thanksgiving, from the food to the celebration, starts with family and celebrates community. At least for now, until creeping commercialism overwhelms it, the holiday remains rooted in family traditions and all the thousand stories people bring to the table along with that year’s bird.

Like the one my family has... about a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Disney World. Trust me, it's classic! 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #23

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.

I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, whose love for each other makes for an uneasy fit in an alien society. This week the prompts were: Then put your money where your mouth is or “Walk a mile in my shoes” or use: week, together, book or “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch” or “He/she could talk the horns off a billy goat” or use: jump, live, game or “Failure is not an option” or “welcome back to the age of jive!” I used one of the picture prompts this week.


Enjoy!
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Sealed in Stone #23


Other kisses had commanded Torrey, nomari kisses cold with purpose, hopeful but bestowed and returned like currency. Willem’s kiss was effortless and devastating. The sear of Willem’s lips laid Torrey open and left him wanton, a begging, needful thing. The moons of their estrangement vanished. The mere touch of Willem’s fingers through Torrey’s thin silk sleeves awakened his skin. And what was happening below, swelling and pushing between them, shaft to heated shaft, threatened to explode.

Torrey pushed away and gulped for air.

“Willem, not now—”

“I’m not going to screw you right here.” Despite the words, Willem’s voice sounded ragged, thick with desire. His pupils were so dilated his brown eyes looked nearly black. Only one word could describe what Torrey saw in them. Lust. But more than that…

“No, but I want you to. Willem, you don’t know, this isn’t you or me.” Torrey glanced over at the women standing in a knot nearby, no longer talking about knapping or fault lines. All four were staring at him, at both of them. He could only imagine what they thought. “Cyrrhi’s entering her phase. I never respond to women, ever, but I’m responding to her, and… it’s not a good thing, for Willem to be here. Not him, not any of you.”

Lena stepped forth, placing herself in front of the others. “You think we don’t know that? We track the Queen’s phases, you know. Any smart crew takes leave at this time. No kumbh sends people in unless there’s a damn good reason.”

Because She wants it. That would matter even when the nom was quiet. But now, when its Queen was in phase, pheromones infiltrating every pore of Her subjects, human and nomari alike, what Cyrrhi wanted was the only force driving the nom. Her dominant chemistry as Queen dictated every other queen’s phase, and the swelling of urges no human could control.

“I’m going to talk to her, to Cyrrhi. I’ll tell her having you here makes me unhappy—”

“The hell you will,” snapped Lena. “Think about it, Chosen. She’s in phase? Well, if that’s the case She’s not listening to you or anyone—”

Sovesa chose that moment to return, her lanky body filling the opening of the passage leading to the pleasure room. “Is this female disrespecting you, Chosen?”
“No.” Few nomari queens possessed enough knowledge of human or their language to distinguish between disrespect and a disagreement.

Sovesa grunted. “She awaits. All of you, come with me. She wishes the male unveiled.”

Torrey saw Willem tense. He knew the body beneath the veils so well he could envision the corded muscles, the coiled energy in Willem’s thighs and tight belly. He could smell him, a heady perfume of human maleness and arousal. “It’s all right,” he told his friend, and gave what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “She’s just curious about you.”

“What did you tell her?” Willem removed the layers of veils to reveal what he wore underneath: a fine cotton tunic embroidered with threadwork of gold and wormskin pants of exceptional workmanship. Jayn’s choices for certain: Willem looked like a proper kumbhson.

“Not much,” Torrey said as they walked along the corridor. “But she knows. I think she knew before she ever chose me.” Unfortunately, speaking of Cyrrhi in the familiar did not remove the fist of unease tightening about his heart.

* * * *

All Willem had hoped for was to see Torrey, and he’d hoped for that with all the passion in his soul. He hadn’t even thought about the nomari Queen and he didn’t have a shred of desire to see her, not even curiosity. She had taken Torrey from him and that was all he needed to know. He hadn’t thought about how he would deal with her because in his mind he’d never imagined he and the nomari ruler would ever meet.

Now Cyrrhi measured him through large faintly inhuman eyes, her face a mask he could not decipher. Jayn had never taught him how to do that. A crown fashioned from gilded worm jaws and teeth gleamed atop the long fall of her bright hair, and the gown that draped her body was of red so deep it seemed to clothe her curves in blood. One of his lessons reminded him that red was the nomari nuptial color, a dominance signal favored by queens during oestrus.

Sovesa bowed deeply. They all bowed, Torrey too, and Willem followed the other humans’ example, kneeling and placing his forehead on the floor. Lena clamped her hand over his wrist and hissed, “Stay down” when Torrey rose and he moved to follow. Willem lifted just his head to see the Queen had extended her hand and Torrey ascended the steps to take it.

A fireball of jealousy exploded through his veins and it was all he could do to keep it hidden behind his eyes.

What he felt mattered for nothing. His Torrey, heartsworn and unforgettable, belonged to another.

Willem fought to listen to Cyrrhi’s polite reception of the crew. Nomari was not a tongue he’d perfected. Her inflections eluded his understanding and he watched instead the way her six slender fingers played with Torrey’s, splayed against them, curling over Torrey’s five human ones—and how Torrey allowed it, passively, like a good Chosen must.

No one might speak to Her unless she asked.

“This male cannot be housed with the females. He will wish to copulate with them and they with him, at the risk of their health.”

Willem grasped the Queen was talking about him, though Her warm gaze fixed on Torrey. The way they looked into each other’s eyes, the heat between them, even if it was born of the pheromones in her scent and touch, ignited longing in him also. Willem burned just as brightly, and wanted Torrey more. The Queen’s voice vibrated like music.

“I would house him gently, my Chosen. He will room with you.”


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Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more fun, free fiction use the links below to visit the blogs of these other Wednesday Briefers.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Petal Needs a Home: Thanksgiving Giveaway

This week brings one of the best of all holidays: Thanksgiving. Among the many things I’m thankful for is that I get to do what I love. I love to write. That’s why I’m incredibly thankful for those readers who enjoy my work. You make it possible, so I try to give back whenever I can and hold giveaways I hope you’ll enjoy.

For this Thanksgiving, I’m giving away a Petal shoulder basilisk.

I’m such a scifi fantasy geek that when Thick as Thieves was published I decided I had to have a shoulder dragon/basilisk made. So I ran out and commissioned Petal, the baby basilisk in Thick as Thieves. When I found the right dragon maker for the job, these guys, I ordered two custom dragons.

One of my pretties found a home at GRL last month. (Hi, Jennifer!)

Now it’s time to find a home for the other. The giveaway starts today and ends at 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, December 1st.

This lovely (and fierce!) little basilisk is 16 inches from snout to tip of tail. She has an articulated skeleton so you can pose her any way you like. There’s a little loop on her underside so you can pin her to your shoulder or your backpack. Or you can just sit her on your desk to deter meanies.

Entering the drawing is easy. Just do two simple things:

  1. Leave a comment. Tell Petal why she should move in with you.
  2. Provide an email address so I can contact you if you win to make shipping arrangements. (Some people have trouble posting comments, so if you want enter by sending me an email, that’s fine, too, but I will add a comment in your name so if you win no one will wonder where you came from.)

On the morning of Monday, December 2nd, as soon as I wake up, my lovely poodle Cate will help me conduct a random drawing and I will post the winner.

This giveaway is open to everyone and I happily ship internationally.

Thank you all for being the best readers ever! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #22

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.

I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, whose love for each other makes for an uneasy fit in an alien society. This week the prompts were: “Here's your hat, what's your hurry” or “the world is a circle” or use: friend, hammock, medicine or “What time did  you say it is?” or “You're deluding yourself if you believe that” or “She's so beautiful, I just want to ... when I see her” or use salmon, overture, and whisper or “May I help you with that?” or use a Moody Blues reference in your story or write about snow.


Enjoy!

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Sealed in Stone #22


Sovesa did not take Torrey to Cyrrhi’s audience hall. He followed a short distance to the vaulted passage leading to the Queen’s bedchamber. The warriors standing guard at the entrance bowed their heads to let them pass.

Torrey would have preferred the audience chamber. There he was useful. Here… had the time finally come? The thought of Cyrrhi taking him sexually nauseated him—not because she did, but because he could not envision himself performing that act. His knees turned weak when Sovesa led him to one of the pleasure rooms off the main bedchamber. Webs of midnight blue gauze hung in beautiful tatters from the ceiling above a raised velvet bed. Torrey froze when Sovesa went to one wall, pushed aside a curtain, and opened a hidden door.

“What does She want?” Torrey presented the question formally, hoping it would sound less like a demand.

“To please you. Come, it is not far.”

Taking deep breaths that did little to calm him, Torrey followed. The passage was roughly hewn, not polished at all. To him it felt new. At the end of it was a cavern of black glass. No, black stone. It was still natural, an unfinished chamber. In the center of the chamber stood a small group of humans. Four women.

And Willem. He’d pushed back the head covering they’d made him wear, and his hair was a mess from having worn it, his eyes more than usually wide and alert, but Willem looked exactly as Torrey remembered. Even the happiness in his sudden smile was unchanged, an open invitation. Torrey’s heart hammered.

“Why are you here?” he asked.

“You tell us.” The woman who answered, Lena, had been a frequent visitor to the Prime House.

A frowning Sovesa stepped forward. “Honor his rank when you bespeak him.”
Lena lowered her eyes and bent her neck. “Please, Chosen, illuminate us with our purpose here.”

Torrey battled a smile. He hadn’t minded the first version and she knew it. “I am as surprised as you, honored guest.”

“She”—Sovesa’s inflection elevated the pronoun to its most exalted form—“is gifting Her Chosen with this chamber, a door to which will be carved so he may enter from his own. A bathing chamber of dark, mysterious beauty only the Queen of this nom and her Chosen may enjoy.”

“She wishes a work of art, high one.” Lena looked around at the glassy black walls. “She realizes, I hope, the challenge presented by stone of this sort.”

“That is why She requested your kumbh to send its most skilled workers.”

Torrey listened, but he could not take his eyes off Willem or stop from drinking in every detail of the other man. Willem was here! Handsome and healthy and tall as ever, half a head over the tallest of the women. Willem hadn’t been bred to be queen bait, but a stone worker, sturdy and strong. Even so he had a build even a queen might appreciate—and Torrey definitely would, if ever he got Willem out of those awful robes that covered every inch of his body. Having Willem so near and being unable to see all of him, or touch him, was torture.

Maybe torture was the point. Torrey’s smile faded as he pondered what Cyrrhi might be up to. Was Willem here to do a job? Or was he the first move in a calculated trap?

Sovesa turned to him. “I do not understand this gift, or why She did not have it finished before presenting it to you.”

“I am happy with the gift She has given.”

“The workers will be housed here. The chamber is big enough. I have ordered Her staff to feed and see to their comfort. You may come and go as you please, Chosen.” Sovesa bent her head, then backed away and left the way she had come.
As soon as they were alone, the questions flew.

“Do you know what the fuck this is about?” Lena’s question rose to the top of the noise.

“No. I”—Torrey scrabbled for what to say—“I think she may be trying to make me happy.”

“You’re deluding yourself if you think that. Does she want another chamber? Or him?” Marda cocked a thumb at Willem, who flushed bright red.

Him, Torrey wanted to say. But pleasing Torrey might not be what this was about at all. Images flooded his mind, of Nak and Aktu and Hari entwined for Cyrrhi’s pleasure. He drove those thoughts away, though not before his stomach turned sour.

“A chamber,” he said, hoping the lie would convince them. “A work of art.” He shot Willem a smile. “She saw the flower you sent me. I think it inspired her.”

If he wanted to calm them, he must focus on the work. Torrey showed them the chamber’s potential, got the women to start thinking on the project. A large bathing pool in one spot, a wall polished to glass… stepping stones and obsidian trees… a waterfall… a canopy of carved vines and flowers. Before long they were talking among themselves about technical things, pitches and load bearing and what kind of knapping would need to be done. Once they were talking, Torrey took Willem aside.

“How are you here? Mother would never have let you—”

“It wasn’t her. The Queen asked for me.”

“How?”

“I don’t know how. But here I am, and… crash it! You look so… I’ve missed you, don’t you know that? I made that flower and sent it to you so I could imagine you touching it the way you used to touch me.”

He was being respectful, damn it. Respectful and not touching him, so Torrey did it first. He grabbed Willem by the sleeves and yanked him close, until their bodies crushed together, and that was enough. Willem leaned down until his insistent mouth was parting Torrey’s lips and he responded so hungrily they both might suffocate before they would yield each other.


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Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more fun, free fiction use the links below to visit the blogs of the other Wednesday Briefers.

You can visit the Wednesday Briefers home page HERE for opening snippets and links to all the briefs. Or you can go from this list:


Friday, November 15, 2013

Grace Duncan With a Sexy Tale and Giveaway!

Do you like sexy slave fics? Well, I do. And one of the best writers of sexy M/M slave fics is Grace Duncan. I adored her novel Choices and have her new book, Deception, heating up my Kindle. And this short free story today... lovely!

AND Grace is giving away a copy of Deception, too! Details following the post.
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Thank you so very much to Tali for hosting me! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks since Deception has been released and I’m very grateful for her willingness to help me.

My blog post for today is a tiny side story I’ve written about the main characters in my novel Deception, Cyrus and Nadir. There’s a reference in the book of Cyrus once getting drunk and proposing to a horse. Here is the story of that night.

* * *

Nadir giggled. If he had been even slightly less drunk, he’d have sworn it wasn’t a giggle. Grown men did not giggle. They chuckled or laughed. But definitely no giggles.

Fortunately, he was drunk and giggling while drunk was okay. So he did it again when Cyrus tried to stand up once more. And failed, once again. Even holding onto the wall wasn’t enough, apparently.

“I… think I’ll stay here a bit,” Cyrus mumbled, making Nadir giggle again.

“Perhaps we should not have had so much of this—” Nadir peered again at the now-empty bottle that sat on the ground between them. “What was it?”

“Mead. I think. I didn’t think mead could get you drink. I mean, drunk.” Cyrus shook his head hard then swayed even while sitting, causing another round of giggles from Nadir.

“Well, be fear… uh, fair, Cyrus. We haven’t drunken got before,” Nadir reminded him, then paused to consider what he said. “Something was wrong with that, but I don’t know what. Anyway, we have no tolerance for drunk… Uh, drink.”

“That is true,” Cyrus agreed, nodding a few more times than necessary. He tried, yet again, to stand and while he was unsteady, he managed to remain upright.

“Way to go!” Nadir cheered, earning a glare from Cyrus.

“You are not funny,” he grumbled.

Nadir only laughed harder. “Yes, I am.”

Cyrus shook his head, weaving dangerously as he did. “Why did the world move?”

Nadir’s giggles came back and he slapped a hand over his mouth. When he had control, he pulled it away. “It didn’t. You did.”

“I did not!” Cyrus said indignantly. “I would have known if I’d moved.” He shook his head again, then swayed—again. “Oh,” he muttered, cheeks turning red.

“Why do you need to stand, anyway?” Nadir asked.

“I need to go outside. I think I have had too much mead.”

Nadir stared at him a moment, then he figured out what Cyrus meant. “Oh.” He looked around the space they’d taken for the night. The abandoned shack sat at the edge of the city, very near the gates. It had once held a small family, Nadir was sure, based on the bits of broken furniture that were left. A small bed obviously made for an infant sat on its side in one corner. Another corner held a chair with three legs that should have had four and half a table lay against one wall. Something had splattered dark, rust-colored stains on one wall that Nadir didn’t want to contemplate too closely. But the fireplace worked, they would be protected from the sandstorm and that’s what mattered.

“Exactly. And there is no chamber pot in here.” Cyrus gave him a pointed look, then swayed again.

“Perhaps I should go with you?” Nadir asked, fighting the snicker that wanted to escape.

Cyrus scowled. “I don’t need your help to relieve myself.”

Nadir lost the fight and laughed. “Of course not.” He nodded, and Cyrus narrowed his eyes. “I just thought, perhaps, you might like help with the horses.”

Cyrus considered him for a moment then nodded. “Alright.”

Nadir got unsteadily to his feet and they opened the door. The sandstorm was still brewing and Nadir was sure it was now not far from them. Grains of sand whipped through the air, the wind blew, their hair lashed at their cheeks and forehead and Nadir was very grateful for the face covering that kept his nose and mouth clear. He watched as Cyrus moved around to the side of the shack.
Nadir turned to the horses to give Cyrus a bit of privacy and help keep himself sane. He could admit he’d caught himself watching Cyrus change clothes on more than one occasion, fascinated by his best friend’s body. In one of the more embarrassing moments, his own cock had gotten hard when he’d been unable to drag his eyes away.

Cyrus had started to fill out, his muscles becoming more defined. His rounded ass, strong legs and toned chest had given Nadir more than one…interesting night of dreams. In fact, the night before, he’d awakened–thankfully, before Cyrus—covered in a sticky mess after he’d been dreaming about Cyrus’s hands and mouth on him.

His first sexual experiences had been far from pleasant. He would never, in his life, forget that tavern and the things those men did to him. But there had been a few touches—even during that evening—that, when he thought of them as if Cyrus was doing them, had made him feel very different than those stinky old men did.
And he could admit, he wanted to feel them with Cyrus.

But Cyrus hadn’t displayed any such interest, save a few instances of his own cock hardening while looking at Nadir. As far as Nadir knew, his friend didn’t have the same wishes that he did.

Nadir turned his attention back to their horses, which were currently tethered to the post in front of the shack. They were going to have to bring the animals in. With the storm looking like it wouldn’t pass over as they’d hoped, the animals wouldn’t make it out in the weather. Nadir unwrapped the reins and turned to the door to lead his mare inside.

Cyrus came back around the corner as Nadir led Sukar—so named because she had a horrible sweet tooth—through the door. He left her there to see if Cyrus’s slightly more temperamental gelding was giving his friend trouble. But when he approached the door, he saw Cyrus talking to it and stopped dead at what he heard.

“I know you don’t feel the same way, but I do hope you’ll consider what I’m about to ask,” Cyrus said, slurring about every other word, but Nadir could just make them out. He blinked at Cyrus, amused. “But I love you! And I hope you’ll think about this.” Cyrus nodded, swayed dangerously, then straightened himself again. Nadir tried to stifle the laughter that threatened, not wanting to alert Cyrus to his presence. Cyrus leaned forward and peered at the horse again. “So… will you marry me?”

Nadir lost it. He started laughing, unable to hold it in this time. Cyrus spun around, looking at him, then back at the horse, then back at him. “Uh…” He looked completely confused for a long moment until he shook his head hard, swayed with the motion then managed to steady himself.

Nadir laughed even harder, holding his stomach and doubling over.  “Cyrus…” he tried but had to stop to laugh more. “Cyrus he’s…” But again, he couldn’t stop laughing enough to speak more.

Cyrus seemed to gather himself together because he threw a glare at Nadir before he turned back to the horse. Nadir stopped laughing when he saw Cyrus’s cheeks redden as his friend unwrapped the reins from the post then moved toward the door. Nadir calmed himself enough from the last of his chuckles to make room as Cyrus and horse came in. “What… what was that all about?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Cyrus said, and Nadir snickered again.

“I do believe you’ve had enough mead,” Nadir said, approaching Sukar and starting on her saddle.

Cyrus muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, “maybe not enough,” and Nadir turned to him, eyebrows raised. Cyrus shook his head. “Nothing,” he said, refusing to meet Nadir’s eyes and turning back to unsaddle his own horse.

Nadir stared at him for a long moment, confused himself; then he pushed it off and he and Cyrus worked silently as they removed saddles, bags and blankets, movements automatic since they’d done it so often for so long. Nadir was grateful for that since they were so drunk. He wished now that he’d brought them in regardless of the storm’s path and taken care of them before they started drinking. He had quite a bit of trouble staying steady, but he managed to make it through unsaddling, brushing and feeding.

With the horses inside, the small shack felt infinitely smaller, especially with no outside light, whatsoever. They wrestled the shutters closed and anchored them to keep the sand as minimal as possible. Then they fed pieces of the chair into the fire and set out their bedrolls close to the hearth, in the only space left to them.
The cold winter desert night held a particularly hard bite that night. Even with the addition of the saddle blankets and covering himself with his cloak as well as his blanket, Nadir shivered.

“Perhaps we should consider sharing our blankets,” Cyrus whispered.

Nadir rolled over to look at him. “You would be okay with that?”

Cyrus frowned. “Why not? We’ve done it before.”

That much was true. But it had been quite a while since they’d slept that close, partially because it hadn’t been cold enough for that and partially because they’d simply not been that close physically since the horrible night they’d sold themselves at the tavern. Something unspoken had passed between them and they’d kept to themselves a lot more since then.

But Nadir was not a complete fool. He wouldn’t want to pass up an opportunity like this, though he was a little afraid he’d wake up a sticky mess again. He considered it for a long moment, but then decided that even if that happened, it’d be inside his clothes and Cyrus shouldn’t notice, anyway. He’d rather get the chance to see what it felt like to be so close to Cyrus again.

He nodded. “That’s probably the best idea.”

After a lot of shuffling, having to get up to spread the blankets out in a better way, then finally finding the most comfortable way to lay, they were able to settle down to sleep. Nadir couldn’t help but like the way they’d ended up. Cyrus curled around him, lending warmth to his back, one arm draped over his waist. Nadir knew that was only because there wasn’t another truly comfortable place for the arm, but he didn’t care what the whys of it were.

And he had his answer for what it felt like. A warmth stole over him that had nothing to do with the temperature of the room or the blankets covering them.  His heart skipped a beat or two, something funny made his stomach shake, and his cock reacted to the feel of Cyrus’s body against his.

It, in short, felt amazing.

Nadir didn’t quite understand what he was feeling, why his stomach jumped at Cyrus’s closeness, why his cock was hardening, why his heart suddenly seemed to be hammering. He just knew that no one he’d ever known made him feel like this. And that he never wanted it to end.

He hoped that, someday maybe, he’d get more of it.

He had no idea.

*  *  *



Cyrus and Nadir first met as hungry orphans on Behekam’s streets at twelve years old. They became friends, then partners in the thievery that enabled them to survive, and as they passed their days together, they fell in love. When they are both taken as pleasure slaves in the opulent palace of the Malik of Neyem, love becomes more complicated.
Rumors of an attempt on Malik Bathasar's life put Cyrus and Nadir's relationship to the test—they must pose convincingly as intimate slaves to the young malik as part of a plan to lure the assassin into the open. Teman—Malik Bathasar’s real personal pleasure slave and true lover—was once trained by Cyrus for the same duties, and the attraction and care Cyrus developed for him then still remains. The Malik of Neyem proves an easy man to love and Nadir’s feelings for him grow while they’re pretending to love each other.

Cyrus and Nadir care deeply for each other but they’ve forgotten the first rule of love: communicate in honesty. Their love remains strong enough to weather the changes—if they have the courage not only to face the coming dangers, but to put aside deception and find their truth.

GIVEAWAY!!! Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of DECEPTION! And follow the blog tour for more chances to win. Blog tour news and destinations can be found at Grace's Facebook page here: 

http://www.facebook.com/GraceRDuncan2

Good luck!

For more from Grace R. Duncan, visit http://www.grace-duncan.com

To purchase Deception, download the free short Coronation or start from the beginning with Bathasar and Teman in Choices, check out the Golden Collar series at Dreamspinner press here:



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #21

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.

I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, whose love for each other makes for an uneasy fit in an alien society. This week the prompts were: use recycling in a story or "How can you say that?" or use : swan, lake, illusion or “When did my life become a soap opera?” or use a matchmaker in your story or use: alien, growl, vendetta or “She fluttered her lashes coyly” or “I surrender, Officer...” or use time in your story in some way.


Enjoy!
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Sealed in Stone #21


“You’re not getting screwed by me!” Nomari sex madness or not, Willem couldn’t imagine doing it. Not even Rue, who almost looked like a man.

Shel snorted. “You won’t even know who—or what—you’re screwing once it gets going. Neither will we.”

“Have you gone through it before?”

“I have. Lena, too.” Lena nodded as Shel continued. “It wasn’t here, but a detail to Ghautmarga that got trapped by a queen war. Walled ourselves in a hole and waited it out. But that’s not the norm. Like we said, usually we leave the nom when a Queen’s entering her phase. It’s not just the hormonal craziness and the non-stop sex, it’s not healthy.”

Rue dug her elbow into Willem’s side. “Haven’t you noticed we’re all too old to breed? Jayn picked us for that reason. We may end up getting horny and getting some pussy fun, or even a cock or ten, but we won’t get pregnant.”

“Getting pregnant during nuptial madness is a fool’s death,” said Marda. She’d unpacked her water pipe and sucked in a long draw of aromatic mist. She exhaled slowly through tensed lips. “But you don’t have to worry about that.”

No, he just had to worry about being gang-fucked by the lot of them. Willem hunched back and appraised them anew.

Lena rolled her eyes. “Stop scaring him.”

“Kram it. He needs to know this shit.” Marda passed the pipe to Shel, who’d gestured for it. “Here’s the deal, kid. Whatever happens, your body will know what to do and your mind will be so overwhelmed by the need to screw you won’t care what hole it is or who it belongs to. You’ll get through it just fine.”

He supposed he would. More than ever, he hoped he’d be with Torrey. But if he couldn’t be with Torrey, then these women, some of whom he’d known all his life, wouldn’t be the worst recourse. Because queens, or even the Queen…

“Is it true what I heard... the nomari… their queens kill men after?”

The women exchanged glances. Lena spoke first. “It happens. Their drones die after a single sex act, you know, and… I guess some queens think that’s the hottest thing ever, to screw a man for all he can give and then gut him or slit his throat. We don’t know how often it happens because we don’t hear much about what goes on inside the nom, not unless one of our men who’s been chosen gets word out to us. But it’s rare for a chosen male to die.”

“There are stipulations in the contract,” Marda explained. “Costly ones. And if a man chosen from one of our kumbhs dies, his kumbh gets back the body or they start screaming and everyone knows.”

“See, there’s a huge loss of dominance for the queen in those cases. That’s why usually they only do it to slaves.”

“Or men they’ve stolen and no one knows they’ve got.”

Lena had the pipe now and she poked it in his direction while narrowly eyeing the other women. “Damn it, look. You’re scaring him again.” Turning back to him, she said, “Really, Willem, mostly they don’t kill them. They just fuck their brains out and keep them as pets.”

So Torrey was safe, probably. Jayn wouldn’t have sent him to certain death, and Cyrrhi wouldn’t be so reckless as to risk losing dominance by causing the death of her Chosen. Willem’s studies had revealed the nomari considered a chosen male a special kind of mate, a spiritual partnership with a goddess—or something like that. But it was powerful and the dominance loss would be severe if Cyrrhi, or any queen, harmed Torrey. So would the material loss, because the dead man’s kumbh could demand reparations. None of those protections, though, fell on Willem. He was inside the nom now and, except for the four women riding in this palanquin with him and willing to take up arms on his behalf, he might as well be naked. Even the veil he wore marked him as being a man. When nuptial madness hit, veils afforded no protection at all.

He listened to the women talk, gleaning what he could. They would be housed in the Queen Chamber, removed from other queens and that danger. The women thought they’d be safe. But Willem didn’t see anything safe about living on the edge of an orgy.

* * * *

There was no good way to tell time in the nom. The nomari tracked sunrises and sunsets, days, and the complex passings of the three moons with a precision humans built into elaborate timekeeping devices. One of the gifts given to Torrey upon his becoming Cyrrhi’s Chosen was a spring driven clock with gears and three dials. It stood on a pedestal in an alcove of his sitting chamber, allowing him to see the passing of days, moons, and ultimately of years. It was beautiful, human work.

In the hour before sunset, the clock chimed eight times before a rap on the chamber door announced a visitor. Someone had passed the scrutiny of the warriors standing guard in his antechamber. Torrey put down his pen and looked up to see Sovesa enter. The old queen had been Cyrrhi’s Voice for longer than he had been alive and Torrey liked her now, more than he had at first. He rose from his desk to greet her.

“I am honored, noble one.”

Sovesa bent her head, piled high with white hair roped with copper and pearls. “Chosen, it is I who am honored to bring you tidings. My Queen is greatly pleased by you and has decided on a gift. Come.”

“A gift? Where are we going?” He shrugged into the formal robe he’d removed earlier and looked around for the belt. Finding it, he made himself presentable for Cyrrhi’s audience chamber.

“You will see soon enough. Follow me.”


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You can visit the Wednesday Briefers home page HERE for opening snippets and links to all the briefs. Or you can go from this list:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Sexy Saturday: Moon Blood and Salt Flowers

Welcome to My Sexy Saturday. For this hop, authors post 7 paragraphs, or 7 sentences, or 7 words. This can be from a WIP or something published. This week I’m posting 7 hot sentences from my free story, Moon Blood and Salt Flowers, a M/F paranormal historical romance set in colonial Peru.

Amaya and her Spanish lover Fernando have narrowly escaped the deadly salt flowers of the title and find refuge in an Inca estate, where they succumb to their desires:

She explored his hardness, marveling at the way it filled her hand with supple, intoxicating heat. Yes, she wanted this inside her again.

Fernando’s hands too were busy, learning her curves, taking privileges with her round breasts and the flare of her hips, the swell of her buttocks that so well-filled his palms. Together they slid into position, she above him. His groans and utterances urged her on, sometimes in Spanish, telling her his body was truly hers to use. She gripped his penis and placed it at the slick entrance into her body.

"I will ride you," Amaya said, "the way you ride your horse."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #20

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.

I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, whose love for each other makes for an uneasy fit in an alien society. This week the prompts were: “You look like a vampire on a day pass...” or “Hold your water!” or use a rare bottle of wine or “Dont you wiggle your .... at me, mister!” or use: a ball, a dog, and a scarf or “Hand me that, will you?” or use smeared mascara or make a Mr. Ed reference or use a beautiful sunset  or use oatmeal in some way.


Enjoy!

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Sealed in Stone #20


The palanquin was stopped at the arched gateways into Pesht. The vehicle bore the Queen’s colors, but that did not allow them to bypass scrutiny. Warriors and workers were singularly devoted but not terribly bright and could be fooled, especially by humans or other queens. The knock of a spear upon the door frame prompted Lena to move just the edge of the curtain aside. Willem quickly pulled on his veil until it fully covered him again and then sat on his hands so those were covered also.

“Were stone workers entering on the Queen’s business,” Lena said to whoever stood without.

“Papers.” The voice spoke nomari with the light tone of a native. Willem was glad he had learned enough nomari to understand her speech. Lena quickly turned over their documents. A moment later, the voice spoke again. “I smell a male among you. These do not mention you are transporting a male.”

“He is a stone worker also.”

“If that is so, you will not mind if I see him.”

“Fuck, a queen.” Rue swore under her breath. “Hand me that, will you?” she said to Shel. Willem flinched as she leaned in and whispered. “Not a sound!”

As Lena argued with the queen, Rue reached under Willem’s veil and scored the scarred side of his face with a rasp. The tool tore at the thin ridge of tissue and he tried to duck his head, but she grabbed it in the angle of her elbow and held him fast. After she dropped the tool, her fingers pinched like biting things at his nose and lips. Her hand retreated just before Lena opened the curtain to allow their questioner to see within.

Through the dense fabric covering his eyes, Willem saw an oval face with golden hued skin and wide, almond shaped eyes with irises bright as amber. A headdress of copper and worm teeth held back the long yellow hair of a nomari queen. A very young queen, he realized, because no one important would be standing guard duty. Her amber gaze, sharp and suspicious, swept his veiled and robed figure as if trying to cut the fabric away.

 “He’s covered.”

“As is proper, vayya.” Lena deployed the honorific for a queen.

“He cannot enter unless I see him.”

“We are on the Queen’s business—”

“Your document does not specify you may have a male with you. You say he is a worker, but where is proof of that? How do I know you are not smuggling him inside to sell him? Uncover him so I may see he is what you claim.”

Marda cocked her head at the queen. “What else might he be?”

The queen lifted her upper lip unpleasantly. “The Kumbh’Vittuim claims one of their young males is missing. I am charged to make sure no one brings him into the nom. Uncover your male so I may ascertain if he is yours.”

When Rue began to lift his veil, Willem helped and even pulled it all the way back from his face. Making an already irritable queen angry by appearing uncompliant would hardly help their case. Given how much the left side of his face smarted, he had reason to hope he looked diseased. Jayn’s admonitions rang in his head and he kept his gaze lowered as he obeyed the queen’s request to turn his face. She had leaned into the passenger box to get a better look. Her scent shocked him. Her musk was pungent and warm, beckoning, and it filled the air of the box with a powerful summons. Willem had tensed his facial muscles and pulled his lips into a thin line as Jayn had said he should, but he had to breathe. His nostrils pulled the queen’s scent into his body. That was enough. His cock thickened, though mercifully hidden by his heavy robe and veil, and his facial muscles relaxed, his lips parting as her finger touched them.

“Stop that!” snapped Rue. The queen pulled back her hand and the palanquin rocked. Willem dared open his eyes and saw that Lena had scooted between him and the glaring young queen.

“You said you would look, not touch. You have no authority to touch him.”

“You disguise his looks poorly. Your male is not uncomely.” The queen looked straight at him and this time Willem failed to avoid meeting her gaze. Desire gazed back at him, and something else. Resentment, maybe. Rue yanked the veil back down, hiding him again. The queen scowled. “The male I am seeking is prettier and not scarred, nor does he have eyes of that color,” she said, and pulled fully out of the passenger box. “You may continue. May you use him well during Her phase.”

The palanquin rolled as the workers lifted it again and proceeded on their way.

“Use me?” Willem wanted to be sure he had heard that correctly.

“Work crews almost never include men. She probably thinks you’re with us to provide… ease.” Lena had crawled back and was sitting opposite him again. “She just told us their fucking Queen’s entering her phase.”

“Jeezers,” said Marda. “We usually leave the nom then.”

“Well, not this time.”

Willem swatted away the veil so he could look upon their unhappy faces. “What are you telling me? Why was I ordered on this team?”

“Probably Torrey’s beetle-brained scheme to get you inside.” Lena lolled back on her cushion. “What the crash do any of us know about why we’ve been summoned? Pesht’s Queen wants to give her Chosen a gift? Well, I don’t think she means a moonlit bath chamber.”

“And you know what’s really fun?” Rue narrowed her gaze evilly. “Every queen in this nom is about to go chinti-crazy, and that includes Her.”

“And us,” said Shel. She pointed to Willem. “You, too. And if we’re still here when the pheromones hit, chances are real good we’re all getting screwed.”


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Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more fun, free fiction use the links below to visit the blogs of the other Wednesday Briefers.