Adrian Velasquez — Naughty or Nice? Choose Your Ending

Two versions of this story’s ending are included below. The first part remains the same and is presented first. Comment with your vote for the ending you like best!

 

At the sound of his voice, Rachel spun the chair around. Adrian Velasquez. His dark gaze always caught her off guard. He was wearing a gray-black suit, damn him, with a white shirt open at the throat that dazzled against his Latino complexion. Not for the first time in his presence, her stomach quivered.

“What can I do for you?”

He eased his suit jacket open and parked himself in the chair nearest her desk. With a half grin and sideways glance, his hazel eyes undressed her. Shit. Nobody should be this good looking. His expressive eyebrows and chiseled features screamed seduction.

He looked at the ceiling for a second then shook his head. “One question.”

“The same one?”

He stood up and rested his fists on the desk, his eyes riveting her gaze. “Are you afraid?”

Her breath caught. Hell yes she was afraid. His whole body emanated tension. Everything about him made her crazy to have him. But the thrill of his pursuit filled her with excitement, so different from her routine of work then going home to an empty apartment, the silence echoing down her hallway as she went about her regular boring tasks.

The weekend stretched ahead with nothing to amuse her. Yes, she’d agreed to meet Harriet for lunch tomorrow before browsing through the new exhibit at the museum. They’d end up at the library where both of them would assuage their loneliness with a new stack of books to take home. She’d reached the point where everything she read seemed like something she’d read before.

“Not afraid,” she said, feigning boredom. “Same old same old.”

His expression toyed with amusement and something more as his eyes flitted to her breasts and then back to her face. “You have no idea,” he said with a grin.

“I have an idea,” she snapped, infuriated that his mere words could cause her stomach to knot. “I have listings to sell and so do you. Work, remember?”

“Soon,” he said. “You’ll answer my question.”

She glared at him until the office door closed behind him. “Shit,” she muttered under her breath. She threw herself into her chair and tugged on her shoulder length hair so hard it hurt. She’d never met a man who could destroy her as completely as Adrian Velasquez, so why couldn’t she stop playing his game?

It wasn’t him she wanted, she kept telling herself. It was her need for something new and exciting. Something she could care about besides listings and prospective buyers and writing up contracts. She felt like she was dying inside, one slow week after another melting off into the distance like a never-ending road to nowhere.

That’s what he offered, not that he himself was something she wanted, but that he was new, undiscovered, challenging. It wasn’t that she wanted a man. She’d had enough pointless relationships to last a lifetime.

She turned to her computer screen, blowing out breath slowly through her pursed lips. This was exactly what she would not do, this drifting off into romance land, thinking about things she’d long since put behind her. She had a plan for her life – make money, invest in real estate, and travel. See the world.

The day dragged by. By four-thirty, she needed a drink so badly she could almost taste the tequila on her tongue. Thank god the Manchester Lounge was only a half block away. She shrugged into her jacket, stuffed her water bottle and iPad in her bag, and let the office door swing shut behind her. The place had mostly emptied already, typical for a Friday when any and every excuse known to mankind hovered on employees’ lips as they grabbed a head start on the weekend.

A small throng of restless people waited for the elevator. She knew before she looked up that Adrian had followed her out. Damn it. The man didn’t miss anything.

A voice like dark chocolate purred at her ear. “Did I mention how lovely you look today?” he said. “You do the ice princess thing very well.”

Gooseflesh erupted down her arms. “Is that a compliment?” she retorted.

“Of course,” he said, rocking back on his heels with a smug smile. “Also the truth. You are a very attractive woman.”

“Same old question?” she said.

He grinned in reply and raised his eyebrows. The elevator opened and she found herself squeezed between Adrian and the back wall as the conveyance lurched through its descent. His shoulders blocked her view, straining the shoulder seams of his suit and making her mouth go dry. He purposefully held himself inches away, saving her from the crush of annoyed people packed into the small space.

Well, thank you very much. As if she hadn’t negotiated crowds in elevators all her life. As if she needed him. As if he wasn’t fully aware that his musky scent filled her nostrils and sent waves of need down her belly. Yes, thank you, Adrian.

The elevator spilled its contents into the lobby and people streamed off in all directions. Rachel set off without looking back. As she shouldered through the wide door, she slipped on her sunglasses and turned purposefully toward the Manchester. Christ, tequila. Now. Please.

What was it about him that made her panic like this? That made her body hum and her mouth dry and her mind focused like a laser on nothing but him. What he would do next. What he would say.

The cool air of the Manchester, faintly scented with the smell of whiskey and cigar smoke, hit her face in a gust as she pushed the door open. Bits of conversation and familiar strains of Getz-Gilberto met her ears. She glanced around the dim room before she spotted an open booth at the back wall.

A moment’s peace. That’s all I ask. She slid into the cool leather seat and briefly rubbed her forehead. Why did she let him get to her like this?

“Ma’am?” A waiter leaned toward her as he slid a napkin onto the table.

“Margarita straight up, easy on the sweet.”

She knew Adrian had a past. How did someone leave behind that kind of history—gangs, drugs, street fights?  He kept his tattoos well covered, but she’d seen him once without his jacket with his sleeves rolled up. Dark curled lines disappeared under the white cuffs. Her nostrils flared as she imagined the rest.

She couldn’t keep from asking Christine, the agency owner.

“What in the hell is going on?” she had asked, dripping creamer into her coffee.

“He’s amazing,” Christine confided. “Fantastic sales record. Yeah, he’s from the streets, but he knows the business. And you’ve got to admit—he’s got presence.”

“Is that what they call it?”

Christine chuckled. “He sells property, and that’s good for us. The clients want him.”

Unfortunately, so did she. Somehow his past only made him more desirable. In her weaker moments, her imagination ran wild envisioning how his body looked without clothes, working out, gleaming with sweat, all sleek lines and cut muscle.

Her strict self-discipline forbid more wild thoughts like that. Yeah, like that was working. It was as if she had stepped off the train at some deserted station in the middle of nowhere and Adrian was standing there. Waiting.

A frosted margarita glass slid onto the napkin in front of her. She flashed a ‘thank-you’ smile at the waiter and lifted the salted rim to her lips. The citrusy burn swept over her tongue and scorched an icy path down her throat. Some of the tension in her neck relaxed. She sagged back against the welcoming upholstery and let her gaze drift over the room.

As if drawn by a magnet, her gaze locked with Adrian’s intent stare. Damn him, he’d followed her. Okay, she didn’t know that. He could have planned to come here all along. Lots of the office people came here.

He stood by the bar with a half-smile and cocked eyebrow, his jacket eased open and the ‘V’ of his open shirt neck glowing white in the dim light. Her blood pressure shot through the top of her head. Heat burned her cheeks.

She couldn’t look away. She had to look away. The longer she stared, the more cocky his grin became.

God, please let me look down. She focused on the drink where she gripped the glass stem so tightly she thought it might snap. How would she know when he stopped staring? How would she turn him away if he showed up at her table?

What now? What the fuck now?

Her eyes flicked again to Adrian. He sat on the other side of the room, a spot with a clear line of sight to her table. While she watched, helpless to tear her eyes away, he lit a cigar and sucked the smoke, caressing the thickly rolled tobacco with his lips.

He knew exactly what he was doing with that slow sensual motion. Her panties moistened as if he had licked between her legs. She drowned her quiet moan with another gulp of her drink.

A group of people intervened, taking a table and blocking her view. Released from his hypnotic stare, she fiercely stared at the table before digging out her phone, praying for a text, anything that could occupy her attention.

Sanity would be required here. A reasoned plan of action. She would finish the drink then leave. Maybe even not finish. Find another bar. Go home. Throw things.

“Mind if I join you?”

Chills ran down Rachel’s back. Her gaze traveled slowly up Adrian’s body. His thighs strained the tailored lines of his expensive slacks. That damn white shirt nearly blinded her. He’d taken off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. Veins laced over the tendons at his wrist and forearms. Tattoos.

Jesus.

Enough tequila had begun coursing through her bloodstream that she felt daring. She smiled and cocked an eyebrow. “No, by all means, take a seat. I don’t see you enough at work, so why not be annoyed by you in my private time as well?”

He laughed and eased into the booth across from her. The man moved like a fucking panther, languid and taut at the same time. His hands toyed with his short tumbler. He stroked the rim with one long finger as if he touched her. Daring her, his gaze roamed over her breasts.

Exhausted as she was and without any will to resist his charm, her body reacted. Sensation ripped down her neck. Her breasts swelled and her nipples hardened to painful knots. Moisture pulsed between her thighs. Her heart pounded in her ears as the image of him over her in bed formed in her mind.

She must be out of her mind to play a game of chicken with this man. He would win. Was she ready for that? What happened to safe? What happened to her plans for the rest of her life?

This was so far outside her plans it wasn’t even written in the margins. But she knew it. Everything about Adrian Velasquez felt familiar, known like the shadow at the end of the hall. The monster you dare not look at for fear your gaze will cause it to spring.

As quiet shudder raced over her as she lowered her eyes to her glass and took another drink. The waiter appeared and disappeared before she registered on what had been said. She felt Adrian’s careful gaze, watching her like prey. He’d been stalking, waiting, watching, and here she was, cornered. A smile quirked the corner of his mouth.

“Adrian, Jesus Christ,” she hissed. “Save that killer seduction thing for your girlfriends. Surely you have a dozen.”

He laughed, sincerely amused. “Are you jealous?”

“Don’t be absurd.”

“You think I’m flirting?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. He clearly enjoyed seeing her flustered. A blush heated her face, a combination of his game and the liquor. It infuriated her that he could provoke her so easily. He snapped a lighter to tip of his cigar and mouthed the thick shaft as he inhaled. “Think I’m trying to seduce you?”

“Ha!” she exclaimed. “I don’t know what the hell else you would call it. I’m here trying to relax after a hellish week and you show up, uninvited, and start making suggestive comments,” she huffed. “I’ve seen all this before.”

“But not mine,” he said in silken tones.

Rachel gasped. Part of her—the sane part—wanted to leap up and run out of the building. The other part, unfortunately the part currently in control, wanted to rip off her blouse and hold her breasts to his mouth. The situation had suddenly changed into something charged and dangerous.

The monster she refused to see.

And he knew it, damn him. His smile formed deep dimples in his cheeks. He reached for her hand, covering it with his own and suggestively stroking the inside of her thumb.

Without warning, he leaned up and pulled her toward him over the small table, sliding the tip of his tongue against her lips. She loosened, her mouth parting slightly to give him entry. Her head reeled, wiped clean of every thought, every caution, she had made.

“Oh, god,” she groaned against his mouth.

She jerked back, her eyes widening as she looked at him. She threw herself into the seat and held the back of her hand against her lips as if she could erase the electric shock of their kiss. “Forget that,” she stammered.

Smile gone, his eyes darkened and locked on hers. “We’re going,” he said abruptly, standing up.

Say something. Say ‘no,’ say ‘wait.’ Make excuses.

But she didn’t say anything. She let him lift her elbow as she stood. She watched him throw money on the table. Her breath burned out in short gasps as she trotted out of the Manchester, her arm in Adrian’s grip.

On fire. Drunk on need so deep she couldn’t find the bottom. Drowning in everything Adrian.

She needed to stop before things went any further. Before she did something she would regret.

But she didn’t want to stop. Nothing mattered but Adrian and what he silently promised to do to her. What she wanted so much she could practically taste him.

“Where are we going?”

“To get a room,” he said.

“What?”

He stopped and pushed her against the front of a department store window. Fashionably dressed mannequins stared down in silent censure. Adrian’s hand slipped behind her and pulled her hips against his groin. “You heard me,” he said thickly. “A place where I can give you what you want.”

“How, what I…” Rachel struggled for words. The pressure of his body made her ears roar. She swallowed nervously. “I don’t…”

Madre de Dios, yes, you do,” he said impatiently. “Come on.”

 

Ending 1 — The Nice Ending

She pulled her elbow out of his grip. “No, Adrian. Maybe someday I’ll be ready for this, but not today. I’m tired, it’s been a shit week, and I don’t have the energy.”

As she turned to walk away, the expression on his face burned into her memory. Disappointment, yes. But something else, something that might have been the face of a very young man heartbroken in his first love affair. Briefly, his eyes had conveyed a message of more than desire, more than conquest.

The heels of her pumps beat a sharp rhythm on the sidewalk. Her lips formed a hard straight line. None of that could be real. She was reading into his expression, putting thoughts and feelings there that didn’t exist in reality. It simply wasn’t possible that he had any kind of emotional investment in her.

How could he? Why?

A strong hand grabbed her arm and spun her around. Anger and something else blazed in his eyes.

“You think you know me? You don’t know me, chica,” he said. “What have I ever done to make you afraid? Have I hurt you, threatened you? This is about the Reyes listing, isn’t it?”

She jerked away. “The one you stole from me? No, I’m not afraid of you. I’m just not interested.”

“You give me your words, but your body speaks louder. If you’re afraid to admit what you feel, are you also afraid to have dinner? We can talk about it.”

She shook her head, discarding retorts as fast as they formed.

“Dinner, Rachel,” he said, his voice softer. “Let me take you somewhere relaxing. We need to clear the air. I promise I won’t touch you.”

For some bizarre reason, his words and expression made her want to cry. She wasn’t a mean person but she felt mean.

“Christ, Adrian, you’re damn persistent. Okay. Dinner.”

A smile lit up his face, all white teeth and hooded eyes. What the hell was she doing, agreeing to anything he suggested? He might say he wouldn’t touch her, but his kiss still burned on her lips. He touched her lightly at the waist, propelling her forward along the sidewalk. At the intersection while they waited for the light, he pulled out the cigar and grinned while he puffed, turning the tip to a red coal.

And yes, since he brought it up, the listing for the Reyes property still pissed her off. It was a big deal, signing that project. An enormous commission and he’d slipped the entire deal right out from under her.

But that had nothing to do with his incessant flirtation. Unless…was he flirting because he felt guilty? She eyed him as they walked.

What was it about men and cigars? His lips clamped around the fat cylinder of tobacco, focusing her mind entirely on his mouth. He blew out the smoke in a disciplined stream and still she could not tear her eyes away from that mouth, those sensual lips tilting at the corner in a smile. Her gaze flickered up to his eyes. Yes, damn it, he was smiling at her in the most knowing way.

 

Dinner turned out to be a leisurely affair in the back corner of a rundown Mexican patio restaurant just a few blocks from the office. By the time they got there, she’d been seriously reconsidering her rash decision to accept his invitation. Now that their food had been delivered and she’d consumed half of her enormous margarita, an expansive feeling of pleasure penetrated to her bones.

“For one thing,” she said, pointing at him, “you didn’t tell me how strong they made the drinks here. I’m swimming.”

“You look lovely swimming,” he said, flashing another killer smile. “Do you like the chili relleno?”

For a moment, she battled her reaction to his pronunciation of relleno, the rolled ‘L’ somehow triggering a renewed throb between her legs. The relleno’s breaded flesh was thick and soft and draped in melted cheese. She’d never tasted anything that delicious. Tamales lay brimming in fiery green sauce beside a fat enchilada. Fresh salsa of chopped tomato, onion, and jalapeno heaped in a mound which she repeatedly carved with brittle, warm tortilla chips. “It’s fabulous,” she managed as the flavors mingled on her tongue.

It occurred to Rachel in that moment of sensory pleasure that this was how sex would be if she relented to Adrian’s persistence. Slow and full of heat. Delicious. Soft and languid with unexpected spice.

Her eyes closed as chills ran over her body. She had already imagined him without clothes, his muscled tan body rippling with muscle, tattoos spread across his arms, shoulders, and chest. She wanted to see him naked. She wanted to see his cock, which she felt certain was already hard. Waiting for her.

Yeah, way too much to drink. She wasn’t a lightweight when it came to booze, but something about the meal, Adrian, and the entire confusing situation set her off balance. Why did it have to be so hard? She giggled at the word—of course it was hard. A quick glance revealed his unflagging attention to her every nuance.

“Something amusing?” he said. “I love to see you happy.”

“I’m, uh, happy with the food. But we haven’t talked about the Reyes listing.”

He frowned and threw up his hands. “The fucking Reyes listing. Will you ever get over that?”

“Isn’t that why you keep pursuing me, trying to placate me?”

“That has nothing to do with it.”

“That commission was mine. He was ready to sign the papers. You must feel guilty.”

“No guilt. He wanted someone who understands the demographic. And a buyer who would appreciate what he created there. I simply pointed out that I am part of that demographic.”

“Bullshit, Adrian.” Rachel sipped the margarita and leaned back from the table. A row of yellow-flowering bushes bordered the fence behind them, attracting butterflies and birds, completely out of place in the busy intercity. It reminded her of the Reyes place with its gardens, fountains, and statuary of mythical creatures. “You know, anyone could appreciate what he created there. I did, and I’m not part of that demographic.”

“People with enough wealth to buy that place might not, you know,” he said, folding his hands on the table. Strong hands. Tendons and muscle lacing up from the wrists to forearms where the curl of ink hinted at more. “He was very emotional about it.”

Suddenly she realized—she didn’t want to argue. She wanted to skip over all of this and find herself stretched out on white sheets with Adrian over her, speaking to her in whispered foreign phrases. The thought shocked her.

“Look,” she said, struggling to form words. “I don’t think it’s a co—co.in—co-in-ci-dence that your come-on to me started with that listing. You feel guilty and you think by kissing up you can get me to forget about it. Well…” Words weren’t exactly rolling off her tongue. The day, the week, the margarita, and now this full court press by Adrian… She was weakening.

“Yes,” he said, leaning so close that his dark eyes seemed to draw her in. “Yes, it began then because that’s when I saw you for the first time. I mean, really saw you, your beautiful face, your perfect curves. More than that, I saw an amazing woman, a fighter, articulate, full of temper. Like a chili picante, sleek and hot.”

Wait. Was he comparing her to a chili pepper? She giggled.

His eyes blazed. “But guilt? I have no guilt. It was business. You want the Reyes commission, I’ll give it to you. It’s not important. What is important… querido Dios, do you not understand? You are what’s important. I want to get acquainted. I want to know what you like to read, what movies you like, where you went to school. Everything,” he said, waving his hands.

“Ha!” Rachel said. “That’s so fake. This is about seducing me.”

“You mean, do I want to touch you, taste you?” He smiled. “Yes, very much. I can’t get enough of your tart insults, the heat of your body with the cold of your words. I’m dancing on the end of your string, mija.”

She bit her lip. This wasn’t what she expected. Not at all. He couldn’t seriously mean he would give her the entire five-hundred thousand commission. This was just more of his ruse, his quest to conquer her. But damn, he talked a good game. It was easy to see why he was so successful selling real estate.

“Let me show you,” he said. “Let me prove to you that I’m the man to please you. I promise you, you will like it more than you can imagine.”

Why not, indeed? His words had become like a massage, rolling over her, loosening her shoulders and everything else. He made her malleable. How would it be to have Adrian Velasquez making love to her?

Okay, so she didn’t want another frustrating affair. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t have some random sex once in a while. That’s what this would be, totally random. But then, Christ, totally sex. Her panties had been damp since the office and even more so after that brief stolen kiss. All this drama since then had just made things worse. By an order of magnitude. Watching him eat, watching his expressions as he talked—she’d been falling down a hole the entire time, fixated on the barely leashed power of his body, the not-so-subtle old-world machismo that leaked off of him in little electric waves.

Face it, Rachel. This is exactly what you want and you’re a fucking idiot if you don’t take him up on it. She let her breath out in a slow hiss.

“Okay, Adrian. Let’s fuck.”

His mouth twitched. His eyes darkened and she thought for a moment he would push their chairs aside and lay her down on the earth-toned tiles. He signaled the waiter, threw some money on the table, and took her elbow as they stood up. Moments later she was hurrying down the sidewalk with his hand on her elbow, propelling her along.

 

He didn’t talk as the cab driver cursed and steamed through traffic. He remained silent as he escorted her through the entry of an upscale high-rise, as the elevator zoomed upward, as he punched in a code and shoved his condo door open. The door clicked behind them and he pushed her against it, his mouth against hers in a searing kiss that took away her breath.

His hands adored her, caught up her hair from her neck as his lips blazed a path down her throat. Crazy sparks dazzled through her body at his touch. So incredible.

His knee pressed between her legs as he pushed her jacket off her shoulders. Her breasts felt tight. Ripples of heat cascaded down her belly, centering low and wet. If he fucked her right here, she wouldn’t care. Her hands already gripped his shoulders, demanding the feel of his skin.

He made painstaking progress with the tiny buttons on the front of her blouse, pulling the shirttail up from her waistband and finally reaching the last button. The touch of his hands on her breasts, so hot and eager he was trembling, caused her eyes to roll back. The abrasion of his palms against the fabric of her brassiere filled her with desire so intense she could hardly stand.

Minutes passed in a blur. Everything he did made her want him more. The short time it took for him to unbutton his shirt and tear it off his shoulders seemed an eternity of deprivation. But then, there was Adrian Velasquez, bare from the waist up, a god in tan flesh resplendent over cut muscle. Her breath came in short desperate gasps as she looked at him. Tattoos of mythic creatures tangled across his chest, over his shoulders and down the bulge of his biceps. A thin line of dark hair disappeared at his belt, inviting her to the end of that rainbow.

The journey from the door across his kitchen-dining-living room left a trail of clothes. She hardly knew when he kicked open the bedroom door or when he laid her back on the bed. At that point she wore nothing but pink panties and he was down to black boxer shorts seriously deformed by what lurked inside them. The size of him startled her, waiting impatiently as she gripped him through the silk.

His hand slipped inside her panties. She was slick with want. There was nothing tentative about his touch, although he skimmed lightly over her most desperate bits. Teasing, stroking, slipping inside then back out until her hips lifted toward him. Gently circling, his fingers brought her to the edge of a chasm so deep, so intense, she might never escape.

He shifted position to bring himself between her legs. Only he didn’t immediately mount her. Instead, he tugged her panties down and licked her. His groan matched hers as he tasted her, nuzzling the crease between her mons and thigh, nibbling the swollen lips but avoiding any substantial contact with the tormented bud of flesh at the apex of her thighs.

His long fingers slipped inside. Her hips drove up, eager for satisfaction. He muttered against her skin, quiet little words she didn’t try to understand. Just the movement of his lips and brush of his breath sent her higher. When he finally latched his mouth over her throbbing clit and sucked it past his teeth, she screamed and came.

Then he was rolling on a condom and mounting her, pushing in, and she was thrashing side to side, her hands gripping his tight buttocks. He kept shoving deeper, filling her and spreading her and still there was more of him. Each stroke sent her spiraling into black space. All around her stars ignited. Flashes of brilliant light flared as he pushed further, rocking her now with the force of his movements.

Fire gathered, collecting from the tips of her fingers and toes, racing to her center where the flames grew more incandescent with each plunge. She looked on him in wonder, his muscle tight in exertion, his skin flushed with perspiration. He moved like a wild beast, intent on its quarry. Intent on her as he discovered her secrets, made her his.

An avalanche of sensation cascaded through her as her orgasm caught. Powerless in its onslaught, she dimly recognized that he too had reached the pinnacle. His hips seized then drove to the hilt, slamming so hard against her that his tight scrotum pressed between her legs. For an endless moment, their bodies locked together.

Even when he had spent himself inside her, he moved in slow short thrusts before finally shifting out completely. He settled next to her, pulling her against him. She curled into him, head on his shoulder, hand on his chest.

“I was afraid to talk,” he whispered after his breathing calmed, tugging a strand of her hair away from her cheek. “It was like a dream I have dreamed many times, chica, and I didn’t want to wake up. Only it wasn’t a dream, was it? It—you, are real.”

“Real, yes,” she said, kissing his hot skin. “There are no words.”

“Yes,” he said, pulling her tighter against him. “No words. Later, after I take you again, after I can taste nothing but your nectar on my tongue and think of nothing but the silk of your skin, we can talk. We can talk about when I see you next, where you’d like to go for a walk or a movie, what I can get you to please you most.”

“Words, Adrian,” she said, putting her finger across his lips. “For now, you are enough.”

She felt his lips spread into a smile.

 

Ending 2 – The Naughty Ending

He steered her to the front desk of the downtown Marriott conveniently located one door down, slid his card across the marble counter, and escorted her to the elevator where he waited, without speaking, until the doors opened on the eighth floor. She tried to reason with herself but reason wasn’t what she wanted. Later, she would think of all the opportunities she had ignored, a chance to walk away, to say no. Later, she would remember the low throb between her legs that said she had no choice.

He led her into the room and put out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. His hands gripped her shoulders as he lowered his mouth to hers. His lips gently brushed hers and her knees weakened.

Chica,” he murmured. “What I will do with you.”

“Wait,” she said, pressing her hands against his chest. “Just wait.”

He sighed and moved back. “Haven’t we waited long enough? I dream about you, Rachel. I see you watching me and I…” He took her hand and placed it over the front of his pants. “You see what you do to me.”

Her fingers curved over the thick hardness pressing the front of his trousers. Heat flooded through her, a slow tide of burning need that settled to a painful pulse between her legs. Could this really be happening? Was she really in a hotel room with Adrian Velasquez with her hand on his cock? Her heart pounded in her ears.

“Let me give you what you want,” he whispered, bringing her hand up and kissing the palm.

“We work together, Adrian,” she said, struggling to think.

“I’m not your boss, not your supervisor,” he said, slowly inflicting little nibbles down the side of her hand and across the pulse point on her wrist. “There’s no conflict here.”

“The conflict is in me. I don’t know you.”

He stepped back and lifted her chin, forcing her look into his dark eyes. “You know me. I am a man, a man who wants you. A man who promises to give you everything you dream of. If you say you want to leave, I won’t stop you. If you say yes, if you let me do what I have planned for you, I promise you it will be like nothing you have ever known. Better than anything you could imagine.”

“Modest, too,” she said, her mouth quirked.

His eyes glittered. “No false modesty, of that you can be sure. I am a man who knows women. It hurts my heart to see you so lonely. I want to know you in all ways. You have to decide, now, before another minute passes. Yes or no?”

The word ‘no’ hung on Rachel’s lips. She wanted to deny him, deny she was lonely, deny that he had any power to please her. Everything was happening too fast. His presence overwhelmed her, everything about him hard and demanding.

What did she want?

A laugh bubbled up from her chest, ignited just as much by the tequila as by the wanton desire simmering in her belly. What the fuck ever. Yes, she wanted this. She wanted him and his hard edges and his demands. She wanted him to throw her down and rip off her clothes and fuck her until she couldn’t form a single thought. She wanted what wasn’t safe or reasonable.

“Is that a ‘yes’,” he said, the corner of his mouth curling in a smile.

Her eyes rolled back as his hands surrounded her waist to pull her against him. His hard body radiated heat. His scent filled her nose, killing her with the mingled smell of spice and soap. Words didn’t form as he slipped the jacket off her shoulders and tossed it to a nearby chair.

“Tell me now, Rachel. In a moment, it will be too late. I won’t be able to stop. And you won’t want me to stop.”

His lips brushed along her jawline and down her neck, setting her on fire.

“Yes,” she said. “Yes, Adrian.”

He groaned, pressing his lips to her mouth. Firm lips, demanding her submission. She opened to him, meeting the touch of his tongue with her own. Maddening. She wanted to rip at his clothes. She’d become insanely wet. Panting, she parted her lips to his tongue. He thrust inside her mouth, forcing her jaw open.

Her hands tangled in his thick black hair. His breath whispered against her collarbones as his fingers tugged at her blouse buttons. He kissed her again as he eased the blouse apart.

His kisses devastated her. He tasted of ripe tobacco and whiskey. His firm lips caressed hers, told of secrets only he knew, made promises across her lips, against her cheeks, the base of her throat. His tongue filled her mouth, demanding her obedience.

Her bra and blouse slipped away unnoticed. His head bent to her breasts as he seized first one then another hard peak between his lips and sucked it against his teeth. He held her arms tight at her sides, forbidding her touch. She could only tremble as he savored her breasts, teased the aching points, pulled her flesh deep against his tongue.

“I have dreamed of this,” he growled, nestling his face in her bosom. “You are even more delicious than I had guessed.” He let go of her arms and stepped back. “But now, you must do as I say. Take off the rest of your clothes.”

Rachel’s body shook in the intensity of her need. Whatever game he played, she’d passed the point of questioning. This felt too damn good.

She stood, fingers trembling as she struggled to let down the zipper on her skirt. It fell to the floor around her ankles. A fresh round of shaking seized her as cool air hit the wet center of her panties. She hesitated.

He stood with his arms crossed.

“The panties,” he said roughly.

She hooked her fingers in the elastic and pulled down. The only things left were her thigh-high stockings and heels. He bent to remove the clump of clothing from around her ankles.

Bellisima,” he breathed. “Turn. Let me see you.”

She turned, oddly detached from the analytical part of her brain. This wasn’t her, this nude woman quavering before a fully dressed man, a man who knew he could do anything to her. This was a dream so utterly depraved she had forgotten she ever dreamed it.

But she had. And here he was, making her dream come true.

“Spread your legs. Show me how you pleasure yourself,” he said.

Her jaw dropped and she sputtered. He put his finger against her lips, stepping close so that his animal scent and the heat of his body surrounded her.

“Don’t talk,” he said brusquely. “Just do as I say.”

He stepped back and crossed his arms, pinning her with his intense stare. Reluctantly, she pressed her hands over her swollen breasts and then down her stomach. She wanted to yell, run. Instead, she touched herself.

A faint slick sound escaped as she slid her finger between the folds. He inhaled sharply. Her clitoris had long since stiffened. A sharp jolt ran through her as her index finger made brief tentative contact.

She gasped. With two fingers, she stroked the sensitive bud. She was so close. Her body was on fire. “Dear god. Please,” she begged. She didn’t recognize her voice.

He began unbuttoning his shirt as her fingers slid over her sex. Moisture glistened on her hand. Her pussy clenched on nothing. She had never needed anything as much as she needed him inside her right now.

She couldn’t ask. Didn’t want to ask. She wanted to stand here skewered on his smoldering stare, her body violated by her own hands as he watched.

He left his unbuttoned shirt gaping over his chest as he leaned back against the wall to watch. Tattoos spiraled across his wide chest. She felt like she had drifted into another world. Coils of need curled through her belly, incited by his flared nostrils, the thick column of his neck, his bared torso.

“Ohh.” She dipped her two fingers into the hunger between her legs then circled again over the pulsing tip of her clit. With one hand gripping her breast, she pinched the burning shaft of her clit and sent herself into orgasm. A sharp cry, little sobbing noises—fluid dribbled onto her thigh as her body contracted.

Adrian’s arms closed around her. His big warm hand covered her wet center, sending her orgasm deeper. His other hand gripped her buttocks and pulled her against his groin. His mouth caressed her neck, raining a flurry of soft kisses across her shoulders and jaw before clasping her mouth in a hard kiss.

“Beautiful,” he whispered into her hair. “Perfect.”

He unzipped his pants revealing silk boxers stretched by his arousal bulging into the opening. Slowly, he pulled his belt free and pulled his rolled tie from his pocket. He stepped close and bent his face to her ear.

“For now, I own you, sweet flower,” he said. “I’ll give you what you never had before, and you will thank me. Do you trust me?”

Ignoring the argument murmuring in her head, she nodded.

He slipped the knot of his tie around her wrists and led her toward the window. After moving the table out of the way, he fastened the tie to the window latch above, stretching her up so that her naked front pressed against the thick glass. Below her frantic gaze, traffic rushed along the street below. Across the street, windows of other buildings stared back at her. People moved back and forth.

“Oh, no. Adrian,” she gasped. “People can see us.”

“I want them to see you,” he said. “Every single thing I do to you, they will see.”

“No.” Her mouth dried. “That’s too risky. It’s…wrong.”

His hand slid between her legs, pushing her legs apart, stroking her buttocks. For a few blissful moments, his hands caressed and coaxed. Up her back, over her shoulders. Down her thighs and back to her swollen pussy gaping open as he moved her legs farther apart. She trembled.

“I want them to see you come,” he said in a rough voice. “You will have a bigger audience each time you have another orgasm.”

“Oh, god.”

Spears of arousal shot through her. Every inch of her body responded to his words and his touch. Her breasts swelled into his palms. Her clitoris jumped as he teased the sensitive knot. His long finger slid inside her, stroking in and out until her hips thrust uncontrollably. Another orgasm exploded inside her and he drew out the moisture, tracing wet lines over her buttocks.

“This is for your pleasure,” he warned. A second later, the belt snapped across her ass.

She jumped, trying to turn. “Oh, damn, that hurt!”

“Yes,” he soothed, smoothing his hand over the welt. Snap! Another blow burned across her upper thighs.

“Ooh, you bastard. You’re hurting me. Let me down.”

“It stings at first.” His hand warmed the seared skin. “I will never hurt you.”

He hit her again and again, uttering quiet comforting words and easing the welts with his hand even as his blows brought her to tears. In all her dreams of pleasure at the hands of Adrian Velasquez, she hadn’t imagined this outrage. Her ass burned. Her thighs throbbed. Her breasts pressed the glass and his finger returned to ignite her clitoris and draw her moisture until the pain and the pleasure mingled.

Her frantic glance found a man transfixed at a window in a building across the street. She knew he saw her. Could he see what was happening? A thrill shot through her at the thought. Let him see. Let him watch Adrian’s finger pushing between her spread legs. Let him watch her shudder with each blow of the belt.

Intense desire consumed her. Fire licked from her abused buttocks and curled deep in her belly. How insane that he unlocked part of her she’d never known. She’d never felt this wild, ready to burst.

Adrian’s chest pressed her from behind. Moments later, his iron-hard cock nudged between her legs. When the broad hot tip breached her opening, she lifted her hips backwards.

“Oh, dear God,” she moaned. “Fuck me.”

The thrust of his thick shaft shocked her. The scattered hair over his lower abdomen scratched her sensitized buttocks. His hands gripped her hips, pulling her back so that her wrists strung tight.

“Yes, I will fuck you. Until you forget your name.”

One hand came around to tease her hard clitoris. His cock drove in and out. She had no choice but to meet his thrusts with the hunger that had overtaken her. He stroked her clitoris as he fucked her, building the crisis to a breaking point.

“Ah, my god,” she cried as a massive orgasm surged through her.

“I love how your silk grips me,” he groaned, feeling himself at her entry, massaging her swollen vulva.

Without removing himself from her body, he reached up and released the tie, bringing her against his chest and her hands captured behind her head. Briefly, he massaged her arms then made a performance of touching her, spreading her vulva to the world outside and stroking her clit, squeezing her breasts until her nipples burned.

“Fuck,” he groaned. “Grab the chair,” he demanded, bending her forward so that they were sideways to the glass. He still wore his open shirt, and his pants hung on his thighs.

Let the world see. They could never know who she was or anything about her. She would only be the woman in the window, the woman getting fucked for the world to see. Why that excited her, she had no idea. She’d never even considered such an outrageous act. But it thrilled her more than she could have ever imagined.

She bent over and gripped the chair seat as he stood behind her, both of them visible now in the window as he entered her from behind. In one lunge, he sank his massive organ inside her. Oh, dear god he was huge. Gooseflesh erupted down her arms. Her hips spread as he began pumping into her.

Rachel’s breath came in short gusts as Adrian fucked her. The burn of his belt marks added to the flames licking inside her. Her breasts swung with each penetration, increasing her sense of wantonness. He had awakened every muscle, every inch of her flesh. Incredibly, another orgasm grew closer with each thrust.

She turned her head to see if the man still watched. And yes, even as day had started to shift into evening, as lights had come on along the streets and in surrounding buildings, the man stood at the window. He wasn’t alone, though. Two other men stood beside him, their eyes riveted on the scene. Two other windows also framed the shocked faces of watchers.

This was what Adrian wanted, she realized. Not just for these people to see them, but for her to see the people watching. With each stroke, Adrian pulled back so that the full length of his big cock came into view. He drove in hard, forcing her body forward, finding a place deep inside her that no man had ever touched before. Her head arched up. Her back bowed.

He pulled back again. Shoved in so hard he grunted. A relentless rhythm built, circling and surging. A deeper more primal need built inside her. She wanted more of everything—more pain, more fucking, more.

In one of the windows, a man had his pants open, his hand moving in a steady jerking motion over his cock.

“You see that?” he said, his voice thick. “Look at them. You see how you please them? They all want you. They will think of you again and again, remember you as they touch themselves. When they come, their cocks will be yours.”

Adrian’s hands swept around to seize her breasts, holding tight as he quickened his pace. Sweat filmed both their bodies as his hips slammed forward.

“Do you see?” His breath came in gasps as he paused. “Look at them.”

“Yes,” she said, forcing her eyes open to survey the distant faces, men and even women who stood at their windows watching. Christ, it made her so incredibly hot. Her teeth gritted in urgency. “Yes, yes.”

“Do you want me to make you come again?”

“Yes, god, yes.”

“Tight hot pussy. I want to lick you.”

He reached up and flicked on a lamp hanging above them. The shock of sudden illumination sent chills down her body. She couldn’t believe it. One thing to hide in evening shadows, entirely another for a bright light to frame them in the window, expose them like a spotlight. What might have been seen accidentally before would now draw attention. The thought of strangers seeing her naked, of her body being used by Adrian—a powerful spike of heat sliced through her belly.

He knelt behind her and gripped her legs, spreading them. She screamed at the touch of his tongue between her legs, flicking her hot clit and probing deep into her swollen canal. Her back arched as he teased and licked.

She shivered and convulsed with his torment of light caresses. More, she needed more. She hovered at the brink of orgasm, and every curl of his tongue kept her hanging at the precipice.

“Oh, please,” she begged. “I need you in me.”

“Yes, chica, soon. You will need me more than you need breath.”

Shivers raced over her. Hot and cold flashes ignited over her welted buttocks as he bit and nibbled between her thighs. His tongue pierced the tiny rosette of her anus, sending her hips into frustrated thrusts.

Dear god, he was killing her. The light hanging over them heated her back. His fingers danced over her clit and into her vagina while he fingered her ass. She’d never been this burning hot, this crazy with need. She pushed her ass back toward him, moaning as he built her hunger. She looked again at windows across the boulevard. Even more people watched.

“Please, fuck me.”

He chuckled. “Do you feel good?”

“I don’t know,” she whimpered. “Yes yes.”

A cool substance hit the puckered opening of her ass. Then a smooth tip probed. Before she could object, something pushed inside her. As the unexpected object invaded that forbidden place, a different kind of pain radiated through her bottom. At the same moment, his fingers gripped her clitoris. Distended, slightly sore from all the handling, the shaft of her clit connected to her anus like a live wire.

“Oh, God, Adrian,” she cried. “Oh God.”

Jesus Christ. People could see him probing her ass, see her submission to his abuse. The shame of her dirty exposure skyrocketed as he shifted position and his cock probed her opening.

“I’m going to fill you up,” he said. “Can you feel me?”

“It’s too much.”

“Just relax.”

He pushed in and began slowly fucking her. At the same time, that thing, whatever it was, moved in her ass like another cock. It felt huge. The rim of her narrow opening burned with the stretching. But the pain of having something in her ass submerged into the insane pleasure of how unbelievably good it felt to have double penetration.

Adrian’s cock thickened. It felt huge, crowding the thing in her ass. She’d never felt this full, this exposed, so turned on she burned from head to toe.

Again she turned to see their watchers. If the scene had begun to fade with lack of daylight, the light shining down on their sweating bodies had changed that dramatically. She could tell from his slow rhythm and the angle of Adrian’s body that he leaned back to expose the full view of his probe in her ass and the movement of his cock. The man in one of the lower windows jerked faster now. The three men in the first window were also jacking off.

The thought of those men with their cocks in hand seeing her penetrated sent her over the edge. It was as if they all fucked her, as if all their bodies crowded around her, filling her with their heat. Her vagina began contracting. His big hand pinched her tormented clit. The shaft in her ass moved in short fast thrusts. She cried out as Adrian’s cock blasted hot come deep inside her.

~~~

They sat at the small table near the windows. Mercifully, after wrapping her in a thick robe, Adrian had closed the curtains when room service delivered the meal. Residual tremors of her orgasmic frenzy continued to ripple through her body, triggered by the thing still lodged inside her ass. Wearing only his slacks, he brought another fork full of charred steak to her mouth. Food had never tasted this good. His lips curled in a smile as she moaned over the flavor.

“When you’ve rested, when our food had changed into new energy,” he said, “I’ll fuck you again. But first…” He paused to dab at the corner of her mouth with the large cloth napkin. “I will lick your pussy.”

“Jesus, Adrian.” Rachel clenched the thick terry robe between her legs. “Let a girl get through dinner.”

“You are so beautiful,” he laughed, reaching up to tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear. “Everything about you excites me—your green eyes, your smart mouth. I waited as long as I could.” He carved a piece of steak and put it in his mouth, then sliced a smaller piece to feed her. “You are my woman now.”

“I don’t know…”

His eyebrow cocked. “Only until you say ‘no.’ If that day comes—and I say ‘if’ because I want it never to come—then I will not be your man. But now, I am your man.”

He smiled knowingly and brought the wine glass to her lips. It would have been far easier to let her feed herself, but he refused to release the ties holding her wrists. She had to admit there was something about this captive thing that thrilled her down to her toes. Authority radiated from him like a warm light. Her gaze lingered on his wide shoulders, the curve of his biceps.

He took liberties with her body, occasionally reaching inside the robe to stroke her breasts or slide his finger over her sore clit.

“Will your flesh remember me?”

“My ass is on fire. I won’t forget that any time soon.”

“I will excite you even more,” he said, smiling. “In many ways.”

“Adrian…”

“No, hush, don’t spoil it. More wine?” he interrupted, feeding her the last of the mashed potato and roasted asparagus.

She nodded. The bittersweet of the wine fit her mood. Christ, his body was magnificent, muscled and writhing with ink. The patterns seemed like they had sprung from inside him, outward evidence of the mysteries lurking in his soul. Everything about him excited her from his perfect male body to his arrogant possessiveness. Maybe she’d never see him again, but for now, she felt powerless to analyze what they’d done, much less get dressed and walk away.

He pushed back her chair and crouched between her legs, carefully moving the terrycloth out of the way. He kissed a line from her knees to her thighs. He nuzzled her sensitive flesh with his jaw, rasping with his after-five shadow as he scooted her hips forward. Her fingernails cut into her palms as he proceeded to eat her with calm deliberation. His tongue probed and licked. He sucked on her clit, scrubbing it with his tongue.

He inserted a finger and pressed forward, stroking her sensitive g-spot. She lost control as her vagina began to ripple into orgasm. The only thing that mattered was Adrian kneeling between her knees, smiling, uttering tender words. Owning her and every secret of her body.

“Tonight you are mine,” he said. “Tomorrow I am yours if you want me. But also, it will be up to you. I won’t call you. I won’t follow you or come to you at work. Don’t be afraid, okay?”

She nodded, not able to summon words.

“I am yours to ask. If you want dinner, a movie, a concert—let me know so I can escort you. If you want a vacation, I will take you anywhere in the world. I know you’re tired of being alone. I could always see that in you. But if anything about us…” He gestured, touching his chest then hers, his dark eyes full of emotion. “Anything feels wrong, I will accept your decision.”

He turned her hand and kissed her palm. “After tomorrow, I will wait for three weeks. Only three. If you have not called me, I will close the book on us. My heart will break, but I will do it.”

“How could you care so much? You hardly know me.”

“I know you. You have spoken to me from your heart. I have watched you, how hard you work, how you have no one but yourself to depend on. It hurts me here.” He touched his chest again, bringing her gaze to the expanse of carved muscle and the fantastical dragon spiraling across his skin.

He turned on the shower and ministered to her with scented soap, paying careful attention to her tender areas. He dried her and carried her to bed. He slept curled behind her, his arms wrapped around her waist.

She woke sometime in the night with him over her in the dark, his cock already inside her, her hands caught above her head in the tie.

She smiled in the dark. Adrian fucking Velasquez. She twisted, bringing him deeper.

“No more questions,” he whispered, leaning down to kiss her.

~~~~~

Have a preference between these two endings? Your choice could end up in print! Just post your comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Freebie Time!

Free full-length historical romance novel, Caerwin and the Roman Dog! This special offer ends June 30, 2017. To get in on this deal, sign up for Liz’s Hot News, a free monthly newsletter. Each month’s issue includes free short and sexy fiction, hints and factoids, and lots of fun! Sign up this week at http://eepurl.com/bHOyS9 and get our Super Hot July Freebie Novel!

5 stars — “A great read worth 5 stars!

“5 STARS for Ashworth and her historical genius!”

5 stars — “Ms. Ashworth has created a complex tapestry of characters all set against a well-researched backdrop. I continue to applaud her ability to mix history with eroticism so aptly.”

5 stars — “This story just pulled me in. History, romance, mystery, political intrigue and just good writing. Can’t wait for the next installment!”

and many more!

Discounted til July 20

her brother's voice

Limited Time Offer! During pre-release period for Caerwin & Marcellus (Book II), Book I Caerwin and the Roman Dog is reduced to 99¢. During the pre-release period, Book II is also discounted to $2.99. These two great novels complete Caerwin’s story at prices you won’t see again.

Your personal time travel to experience firsthand the conquest and glory of ancient Rome! Pick up these books and read your way through this breathtaking saga of brutal warfare, BDSM rough sex, and tender romance that grows in the wake of devastation.

An ambitious Roman commander captures a fiery maid of Britannia and forces her to his will. A story of conquest and love set in the glory days of empire, their struggle to meet each other’s needs and expectations exposes the underbelly of Rome’s legal system, its dependence on slavery, and sexual secrets from Marcellus’ past. Can young Caerwin survive unexpected challenges to her womanhood?

Book I
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/611102
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016LA6ZVA

Book II
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/644340
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H9EBZCQ

A Scene in the Forum

forum

Image of Rome’s Forum circa 312 AD. A rendering developed through the auspices of the University of Texas, Austin. See http://teachingwithoutpants.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-ruin-of-rome-or-something-happened.html

Once the priests had offered prayers and the sacrifices had been made, the crowd moved slowly outside. With his arm firmly wrapped around Caerwin’s waist, Marcellus stopped on the temple steps looking over the brightly garbed crowds still thronging the plaza. Surrounding the Forum, the great temples, statues, and official buildings of the Roman Empire stood like sentinels. Fountains splashed in brilliant sunlight. In the distance, the hills of Rome gleamed with their buildings, streets, and greenery.

Nothing in her life had been this overpowering. The city, the empire, all of it seemed summed up in this man standing beside her with his strength and beauty, his internal conflicts and passions. His easy use of violence. His knowledge of all things. His absolute power to conquer and hold her.

They descended the steps and walked a short distance. His head turned sharply and he looked down on her as if to speak. His face, which had become thinner in the last weeks, lightened with a tender expression. For a breathless moment, Caerwin thought he would kiss her or speak words of love.

She would say what she longed to say. “Marcellus, I…”

His gaze shifted to a person standing nearby and his face hardened. “Vedius,” he said, raising his voice over the clamor. “Yo Saturnalia!”

Excerpted from Caerwin & Marcellus, the sequel to Caerwin and the Roman Dog. Coming soon! Watch for a special offer.

Caerwin II – work in progress

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Dear Readers — I haven’t forgotten about you! Thanks for all the great reviews on Caerwin and the Roman Dog. Just to show my appreciation, here’s an excerpt from the second novel in the Caerwin series. Love, Liz

Her horse spun as she wheeled around trying to stay outside the reach of the attackers. By now Marcellus and the legionaries had dismounted to form into tight knots, fighting outwards with their backs together. As she watched, one after another of the thugs fell back clutching mortal wounds.

A man ran up to her and seized her horse’s bridle. A dense beard covered his lower face. He wore a dark cloak thrown over his shoulder. A knife glinted in his hand. She plunged her boot into his chest. He grabbed her foot, but she yanked away. She kicked the horse’s sides but the man’s grip didn’t relent.

Another man appeared on the other side of her horse. “Your gold,” he yelled in coarse Latin. “Give it.”

“Curses on you!” she shouted, trying again to pull her horse free.

The horse circled the man, rearing as she kicked its sides. Its front hooves nicked the man’s legs coming down and the man cursed as he lost his hold on the bridle. The second man grabbed her clothes as he tried to pull her from the horse.

Caerwin leaned forward to urge the horse to run, but the first man grabbed her leg and pulled her from the horse. She fell sideways, hitting the ground hard on her side. For a moment, she couldn’t breathe.

He stood over her with his knife held to her throat.

“We’ll take it then,” he said, crouching beside her.

She felt the knife blade press her skin. She watched him with a strange detachment. His breath stank. A scar marked his cheek. His hair hung around his face in oily strands. Yet there seemed to be some questioning in his stare. He hesitated.

“You’re of the tribes, are you not?” he said. As he spoke, the other man seized the familiar gold band. It yielded to his grasp, twisting off her neck. Visions of the salt man rose in her mind. This time she had no knife to defend herself.

The second man’s hands skimmed her breasts and down past her waist as he searched for more valuables.

“She’s got nothing,” he said.

“Go on then,” the first man said.

The second man ran away with her torque. Sounds of fighting continued. Dimly, she heard men shouting from the woods. Had all the legionaries died? Had Marcellus?

“Are you of the tribes?” the first man repeated.

“Cornovii,” she said hoarsely. “Of Britannia.”

His eyes flickered. She had thought he would mount her, but he stood up, holding the knife loosely as if he hadn’t decided what to do. She licked her lips.

He turned at the sound of a horse approaching at full gallop. Before she could speak, before she could even comprehend what was happening, a sword flashed through the air and the man’s head flew off his body. His torso bent slightly as he fell backwards.

The horse’s hooves skidded to a stop, throwing up dirt. In moments Marcellus knelt beside her, his eyes black as night.

“Are you harmed?” he said.

Stay tuned for more excerpts as this project rolls forward! So excited to see what happens next!

Sci-Fi/Fantasy vs Historical Fiction — What’s the Shared Ground?

braid promo copyI think every reader shares a fascination with alternate worlds. Thus the appeal of not only science fiction and fantasy but also historical fiction. In Caerwin and the Roman Dog, I explore the past as it existed at the height of the Roman Empire and the end of Celtic control over Britannia.

In my work over the last year in putting this novel together, I reached the obvious conclusion that research is the key to authoring a good book. It doesn’t matter if the story centers in the past or the future, or even in the present day. Building a believable setting where the characters will interact means making sure that the ‘world-building’ is effective. What did they eat? What was the weather? What were their daily routines?

In my novel, the setting is the Shropshire area of England, a place near the River Severn that borders Wales. Elusive mists shroud ancient hillforts where Rome’s legions pursue their conquest of the native tribes. Despite greater numbers, native warriors wield weapons and armor far inferior to Roman arms. (Details of Roman armor can be seen on my “Romans” Pinterest page.) The biggest difference, however, rests in Rome’s military organization—the army functions like a well-oiled machine.

It’s fascinating to study the chain of command that Rome perfected and which is used by today’s writers even in the most far-flung fictional world of the future. Obedience to the command hierarchy and to the operational rules of a legion creates a strict dynamic for any character caught up in that reality. In my story, that character is Marcellus. As the book opens with Legio XIV’s assault against the Cornovii tribe, the tribe’s defenses have been breached and action quickly devolves to a mop-up operation. Marcellus rounds the hillfort perimeter and spots a young woman, Caerwin, trying to make her escape. Instantly enchanted, he brings her back to camp and embarks on seduction.

And yes, in the midst of its historical action and setting, this novel is a sexy romance with a big dollop of BDSM.

At any time of man’s history or future, the introduction of an attractive woman into a man’s camp is certain to cause trouble. But Marcellus’ infatuation with a blue-eyed Cornovii princess takes second place when his superior officer succumbs to his battle wounds. His death propels Marcellus to sudden promotion as the legion’s commander. He’s not of the regular army serving a twenty-plus year term, but rather a young professional of privileged rank meant to gain a taste of military life before returning to serve Rome’s senatorial or merchant class. His crisis isn’t just rebellious tribunes or a young woman he can’t get out of his mind, but also the heavy burden of responsibility that comes with leading a force of ten thousand men in a hostile wilderness.

The struggle for Caerwin focuses on her stubborn refusal to accept her change of circumstance. No longer part of her ancestral family and tribe, she’s suddenly enslaved to a Roman commander. Can anyone ever come to terms with such a loss of freedom, family, and home?

The greater context encompasses two worlds. Dying on the Roman sword are the ancient traditions of Britain’s Celtic tribes: allegiance to spirits embodied in springs, rivers, hills, trees, and other natural elements, a social order strongly resembling modern democracy, and advanced skills in metallurgy and weaving, to name a few. Many of the mysteries of that world are lost forever because the Celts did not have a written language. Building a fictional world based on this relative dearth of information forces an author deep into archaeological records.

At the time of our story, the last one hundred years since the triumph of Julius Caesar has seen the erosion of Rome’s early republican political system. In its place is a sprawling empire under the sole control of its emperor. The Senate has been reduced to a rubber-stamp function in state affairs. Appetites of all kinds are indulged in hedonistic lifestyles, and this reality shows up in the backstory of some of our characters.

Rome depends on its army and the conquest of new lands to produce its wealth including precious metals and gems, agricultural bounty, and that ever useful commodity, slaves. Since the initial invasion of Britannia in 43 A.D., Emperor Claudius has made it clear to his governor that the four legions under his command must subdue and occupy this island and seize its treasures for the greater glory of Rome. Marcellus has no options. Even in a foreign winter’s cold, he must lead his troops on search and destroy missions.

Restrained in his bedchamber, Caerwin awaits his return knowing that he spills the blood of her people. She hates him. And yet, because he has favored her with his affections, she fares far better than the rest of her fellow countrymen. How does she negotiate that conflict? What is the emotional toll in knowing that she is the survivor? Can a vulnerable young woman resist her body’s urges at the hands of an experienced lover?

Caerwin can never return to the home and family she once knew, but she can at least plan to escape the hated bonds of Roman captivity in the hope of living again among others of her own kind. Will she attempt such a dangerous venture?

Much as he is drawn to this rebellious young queen, Marcellus can’t walk away from his duty to Rome. The concessions he makes to Caerwin soon result in mutterings among his tribunes. Personal and professional crisis ensues.

*✩* 99¢ PRE-ORDER now through November 9, 2015 *✩*

Amazon → http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016LA6ZVA

Originally posted at http://jimbossffreviews.blogspot.com/2015/10/guest-post-lizzie-ashworth.html