David’s Dilemma

 

He’d never been much of a planning type. For one thing, plans pretty much had a habit of blowing up in his face. He’d planned plenty of fabulous mansions he’d build with his music wealth. A ranch in Montana. A Lear jet he’d have painted red to advertise the band’s name. Plenty of parties with the best of the best chumming up to him, J.J., and the rest. Plenty of bullshit ideas that just got farther away the more he planned them.

Like the songs he’d planned. Somewhere back in L.A., probably burned to an ash by now, was the dog-eared list he kept on a yellow legal pad. Song ideas he’d get to as soon as he had time. As soon as the mood struck him. Phrases, chord progressions. The paean to his sister he never could write. Memories of his grandparents.

His love of good whiskey—well, that had made it into a few songs. But never quite enough, or clearly stated enough, to encapsulate the intense pleasure that came with the warm creep of intoxication while more of the fragrant amber fluid gently swirled in his glass. He had a clear memory of the grip of his hand around that small sturdy glass. The sweet aromatic smell filled his nose. His mouth watered.

If he was going to fucking spend the last of his days in this desert, why the fuck couldn’t he at least enjoy drinking?

~~~

This is an excerpt from my latest novel, Refuge in His Arms. The story follows Mackenzie Kilpatrick and David Evans, two strangers caught up in two simultaneous natural disasters. As they escape from Los Angeles in the midst of a massive earthquake, they quickly discover another more devastating event will impact their future for days or even years to come. Making things worse, each of them struggles with personal issues as well as the developing love-hate relationship between them.

In this story, David has to face down his alcoholism. Writing about addiction isn’t something I’ve done before, although I’ve seen addiction in real life more times than I’d like to admit. It’s a horrible illness, and I admit that I still have a hard time seeing it as such. My tendency is to believe that addictive behavior is a choice someone makes, even if it’s a choice not to be responsible for what he/she does.

Whatever my personal take on addiction, the character of David has traveled far down the road in his struggle with alcohol. In the story, he’s faced with a terrible choice, whether to fight for the woman he thought he’d never love or to give in to his deep thirst for a drink.

All of us, at one time or another or even multiple times, want nothing more than to escape from the pain and difficulty we face. Intoxication is one way to make that escape. Inevitably, the intoxication wears off and whatever pain or difficulty we hoped to escape from is still there, sometimes even worse than before. It’s a human dilemma that will never be erased from our common experience, either as an addict ourselves, or as an enabler, or as a grieving bystander.

I don’t delve too deeply into the topic of addiction. That’s not the purpose of the story. But I do hope that I’ve created a character in David who portrays the struggle so many sensitive and creative people experience in facing the acute pain of life.

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A Scene in the Forum

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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 and Marcellus

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COMING SOON! Release date to be announced soon.

Finished! A week ago, I finished writing the last page of the second novel about Caerwin. I’ve been sad ever since. How do you live with two compelling characters for over two years and not get attached? I’ve watched them grow, fight, suffer, and grow some more. Now they become part of my past. I’ll miss them.

Truth be told, I’ll miss more than Caerwin, Marcellus, and supporting cast. I’ve been immersed in Imperial Rome with all its triumphs, perversions, violence, and accomplishments. The fascinating world that was Rome endured a thousand years. Looking back on those years, the progress of their culture, and the countless ways in which we today follow in their footsteps is both depressing and exhilarating. It’s impossible to imagine where we would be today without Rome.

While I sing Rome’s praises, I also recognize how much better we are today than the people of Rome. For one thing, we don’t accept slavery as the norm. Rome’s social class system included the ‘noble’ classes (patricians and equestrians) who considered work beneath them. They held the bulk of the empire’s wealth, controlled its government and industries, and owned both city houses and country villas. The plebian class, roughly equivalent to our middle class, were the freeborn men or freedmen who worked every day to sustain the modest circumstances in which they lived.

Then there were the slaves, vast numbers of persons captured in Rome’s relentless military expansion over most of the known world. Wealthy household might have as many as 300 slaves. Slaves were like livestock or furniture–zero rights. Could be raped, branded, or killed without consequence. Yet they could also become part of a family, cared for, and often freed to live as freedmen (and women).

So while we can thank Rome for establishing the foundations of our legal system, our economic system, our tradition of the arts, social customs, and more, we can also thank the people who came after–from the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and down to those who fight each generation for better working conditions, more social justice, refinements of law and wage equity for the conditions we live in today. It’s a sobering perspective.

And this, dear friends, is why writing historical fiction will always be part of my writing experience.

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!

A Tale of Two Lovers

real wolf

 

Thunder cracked and rolled, shuddering the ground under Inka’s feet. She felt it through the stiff hide of her boots, through the thick fur lining. Peering into the downpour, she tugged her cloak tighter around her shoulders and tried to dismiss a lurking sense of apprehension. Trees bent and tossed in the cold wind, sending rain spray against her face as she stared into the gray deluge.

She saw no one. But she couldn’t make herself close the door.

Someone was out there.

Moments later, the dark figure of a man loomed, walking and leading a horse. As they neared, she could see another man slumped on the horse’s back. Inka briefly considered whether she should seize the heavy dagger she kept by her bed.

She should have felt them coming. How had her vision failed?

They approached her entry and stopped, giving her time to read their energy. It radiated in pale blue waves.

“We need your help,” the walking man said. “Will you provide succor?”

Inka locked eyes with the man, searching within him for evil intent. Sending blue energy could have been a shield. His weathered face streamed with water. Peering from under his soggy hood, his pale eyes reflected the gleam of her fire pit and spoke of his desperation. And his honesty.

“Come in, then,” she said, opening her door wider and stepping back.

He turned to his companion, pulling him off the horse and holding him up with his shoulder as they staggered into the cabin. Inka seized the horse’s reins and led it through the opening as well, walking it past the fire to a bed of straw where her own horse had once bedded. The horse shook itself, rattling the ornate breastplate. She slipped off the bridle and left the weary beast to the hay cradle.

With the door firmly fastened against the howling wind, she turned to study these strangers. The injured man had collapsed at the fireside as his companion peeled off his wet hat. With their hooded cloaks removed, she could see that both men wore a small dotted line along the right jaw, the mark of the distant Eirikr tribe.

“You’re far from your home,” she said, squatting to add more wood to the fire. Coals shifted and sent sparks into the air. Water droplets fell through the smoke hole at the top of her roof and vaporized in the flames with tiny hisses.

“Three days,” the man said. “I’m Darnoc. This is Conrad.”

The injured man lifted his head enough to make eye contact with Inka. His pale blue eyes created a shocking appearance in a face so dark with grime and blood. But it wasn’t the appearance alone that caused her breath to catch in her throat. His gaze conveyed a message so unexpected that her hand dropped to her waist belt to clutch her pouch of talismans.

“He’s a seiðmaðr,” she said in a hushed voice.

“And you a seiðkona,” Conrad said. His voice, though weak, cut through the roar of thunder and rain crashing outside, as though his lips moved only inches from her ear. His stare burned into her briefly before he shivered and his head dropped again.

“He’s suffered grievous wounds,” Darnoc said. “For myself, I ask nothing. But can you help him?”

Inka reached her hands to the fire. It wasn’t the weather that chilled her fingers but the sudden shift in her blood flow. What must she do? She had made oaths to the gods.

She stood with her fists on her hips, considering. At least she could offer brief shelter. “Remove your wet garments and warm yourselves.”

Darnoc hesitated then pulled off his outer vest and heavy tunic. A baldric with long sword clattered to the ground. His hands lingered at the waist tie of his trousers.

“I’ve seen men before,” she said, briefly glancing to his groin.

He yanked the tie and the garment fell in a soggy heap. She diverted her gaze from his cold-shriveled organ and muscled thighs and turned to her bedding where she gathered up two blankets of rabbit skins. At Conrad’s side, she helped Darnoc remove the baldric, vest, and woolen shirt. A long wound oozing blood crossed under Conrad’s arm along the bottom of his ribcage.

“Hold him,” she said, dropping the blankets at Darnoc’s feet. She knelt, tugging down Conrad’s wet trousers and lifting his feet one at a time to remove his boots. His skin felt like ice.

She grabbed a woven cloth from her basket and scrubbed his legs dry. Conrad grunted but did not flinch away. The force of her rubbing caused Darnoc to stagger slightly in his effort to hold Conrad’s weight and well he should. Conrad stood taller than Darnoc and every limb wrapped in muscle. A powerful man in more ways than one.

She swallowed in renewed apprehension.

“He’s lost too much blood,” Darnoc said. “I feared he’d die before we found you.”

“How did you know to come here?” She wrapped the rabbit skin blanket around Conrad and held it secure as Darnoc lowered him to the ground. Already she felt the force of his lovemaking against her breasts and thighs.

These two men did not arrive by accident. The gods had guided them here. Could she trust her instinct? The words of her oath haunted her.

“He told me the direction,” Darnoc said. “As if he followed scent.” He grabbed up the other blanket and tied it around his waist.

Inka briskly turned to the bronze cauldron she had earlier placed in the fire’s edge. The rabbit stew had cooked down. She lifted a nearby pitcher and poured more water into the thickened broth, then crouched at the far side of her hut to dig through her store of roots and herbs. Kneeling at the fireside, she quickly sliced a handful of parsnips into the pot as well as a measure of angelica seed. Dried chives sent up pungent scent as she stirred. With a smaller clean pot made purely of copper, she sliced angelica root and burdock root and added water before placing it into a nest of coals she mixed carefully with ash to yield the desired amount of heat.

Her shelter had long since provided ample space for her life. Built by men who came to her from the tribes of the river lands and mountains in search of her healing sorcery, the sturdy log and stone structure divided into three parts. To the right of the door, a line of hanging skins, baskets, and hay-lined pits held her food and medicines. To the left, a long bench separated the entry area from her sleeping space with its sumptuous bed of skins stuffed with straw. Beyond, a large work space held her loom, extra skins, tools, snares, cooking utensils, and weapons. At the back in her stabling area stood the horse, the first to occupy the space since her aged horse had died the previous year.

She was not yet old, but the years continued to pass. Nothing of the future held promise or threat and her days had lapsed into a monotony that she feared worse than age. She didn’t mind dying alone, only that whoever found her long-dead body would finally hold power over her. Not since the slavery of her youth had she yielded to another man’s will. The gods had been kind. If their kindness continued, if she upheld her oath, she would not rot but dry like fine herbs or meat hung to smoke. She wished her dried remains to be kept in a cairn or cave in the old way of the ancestors.

But her family had died long ago and as pledged, she’d borne no children. No one attended but for occasional tribesmen with offerings and requests. As the years passed, fewer tribes than ever knew she existed.

But now? Her future suddenly seemed irrevocably changed. Her blood ran hot. She saw herself in the hands of both men, her skin flushed, her legs spread. Why had her prophecies not shown her this?

As she stirred the stew, she studied these two men. The strong lines of their bodies bespoke their abilities as huntsmen and warriors. Whatever evil had fallen upon them, they must have fought bravely. Several gashes marred Darnoc’s chest and arms, and besides the wound on Conrad’s side, there were cuts on his arms and a bloody patch on his head that required attention. Despite the injuries and weakened condition, their powerful presence piqued her awareness in ways she had nearly forgotten.

If she broke her vow, what would be the outcome? She felt no more able to resist this fated meeting than to cut off her own hand. Her energy flowed in great looping spirals so strong she could see the purple color against the shadowed walls of her shelter. With her pulse rising, she checked the small vessel with its burdock and angelica root. The steaming concoction had turned dark.

She padded her fingers with a square of leather and lifted the medicine pot out of the fire pit, then retrieved the cloth she had used to dry Conrad’s legs. Squatting beside him, she examined the spot on his scalp where blood had dried black in a knotted mass of hair.

“He complained more of the head injury than his side, but the blood has long since stopped flowing there,” Darnoc said. “It’s his side that needs attention.”

“If the head wound is deep, it could be the source of his weakness,” Inka said. “I need to see it.”

She wet a cloth in warmed water and squeezed it partly dry, then began sponging the matted hair. Her gentle pressure on the area elicited faint groans from Conrad, who otherwise lay motionless on the skins. The wash water soon turned brown but her efforts revealed a short cut in his scalp. Probing gently with her fingertips, she examined the cut and the rest of his scalp before satisfying herself that the wound was, as Darnoc had said, the lesser of his injuries. The bone was not broken. With the healing liquid drained into another container, she mashed the softened roots and placed a poultice on the gash.

Inka pulled the rabbit skin blanket back from Conrad’s body. A trickle of blood oozed from the upper section of the wound on his side. She refreshed the bathing water and started sponging the area, careful not to tug at the wound. The swollen area around the cut had become an angry red color and felt hot to the touch.

Scenes flashed in Inka’s mind, his body healed and hovering over her, his lips sending magic through her veins. As she wiped his chest to remove the last of the blood stain, her brief glance caught his gaze, a thin glimmer of blue from slatted eyes. Her nostrils flared and she looked down.

Did he incite her wayward thoughts or did they spring from her long celibacy? She had sworn never again to mate with a man. Why did she suddenly think of such things?

“The wound requires stitches,” she said roughly, glancing at Darnoc. “You may have to hold him.”

“I can hold myself,” Conrad said. As before, his voice came clearly to her ears. Did he speak at all? “How deep is it?”

“Not into your vitals, for that we can be thankful,” she said. “The ribs are bruised but not, I think, broken.”

He grunted. She glanced up at Darnoc then returned her attention to Conrad’s wound. She took her time to examine the length and breadth of it, calculating the best method of closure and where she would need to leave a wick of cloth to drain off infection. Conrad stiffened as she rinsed the opening with root tea.

“Will you need mandrake?” she asked.

“No, woman. Do your work,” Conrad grumbled.

forestWith her bone needle, she drew thin threads of sinew through his flesh, tugging the gaping opening together. He flinched and his hands formed fists as she worked. She knew the force of those hands on her body, how he would lift her up in violent lovemaking. So great was the impact of her imagining that by the time she had fully closed the wound, her breath came in short gasps and moisture beaded between her thighs.

Again she found his eyes barely open, watching her. He sent thoughts to her, scenes of her ravishment, of the pleasure wrought by his hands and mouth. Again she turned away with the weight of desire in her chest.

She smeared root paste along the seam then placed a clean cloth over the long line of stitches before helping Darnoc move Conrad to a sitting position. She secured the dressing with a wrapping around his torso. Her fingers lingered on his skin, the muscle of his back and chest, the lines of his abdomen. A man of substance and intrigue—she wondered at the scene she suddenly viewed of him fighting, men on all sides, his sword breaking…

“Did your sword break?”

“Yes,” he said. “Why bother to ask?”

Gooseflesh spilled down her sides. Hurriedly, she fastened the binding and adjusted the rabbit skins, causing it to slide away from his loins. His prick had awakened and loomed half stiff in its thicket of hair. Her breath caught as she quickly covered him.

“Already your magic heals me,” Conrad said. The corner of his mouth lifted in a half smile.

She fled to the far side of the fire to dip out bowls of stew. What of her oath? This man’s magic equaled hers. The old taboos of men who practiced seiðr rose fresh in her thoughts. Despite the myths, this man exhibited no signs of unmanliness. How could that be?

Ancient tales exalted men with the same or greater powers than the vǫlur even though in her lifetime only women practiced the craft. It must be true that some of them remained. In Conrad’s presence, she struggled to remain earthbound. Her thoughts flew from her in streams. No doubt he heard them.

Inka delivered two steaming bowls of rabbit stew to the men and sat across the leaping flames to enjoy her dinner. Darnoc, freshly washed and his hair tied back, made quick work of the food. Conrad’s hand shook as he lifted the bowl to his lips, but he refused Darnoc’s assistance.

“Spring comes in anger,” she said, seeking to ground herself. “The river will flood.”

“As we traveled here, the lowlands stood in water,” Darnoc said agreeably.

She dipped more stew for the men and gave them dried apples. They spoke of the season, the growing numbers of small-eared men infringing from the south, the need for new seed for their grain fields, the increasing value of amber. Conrad spoke little but the force of his thoughts overshadowed Darnoc’s words.

“What happened to your people?” she said finally. It was the question he wanted her to ask.

Shadows crossed the men’s faces. Darnoc spoke.

“The invaders came first as traders, only a few. Still, despite our desire to exchange goods, Conrad knew them as enemy. They wanted our gold and our women. By night, we sent the women to the caves with the children and gold, led by some of the older men. The rest of us prepared to fight.”

“The full force came at first light two days later,” he continued. “They arrived like ghosts with the rain, slipping in silence through our outposts.”

Conrad’s eyes opened fully as he gazed on her. “They threw a hare into our midst. Owls called from the forest, and it was not night.” He seemed to strengthen as he spoke. “From that we knew their spinners wove us in their magic.”

“Even with their magic, they fought like men,” Darnoc said. “They outnumbered us, but we killed and injured many as they came against us.”

“I fended them off with the force of magic. And I paid the price,” Conrad added. “They struck my sword and shattered my staff. They must have had a prophecy.”

“Why would the Norns weave against you?” Inka said. “Have you angered the gods?”

Conrad’s eyes flashed intense blue in the fire’s light. “This was not the will of the gods,” he said. “Men of the south have disturbed the work of Odin’s loom. I flew above them and danced to the drum. The blood stopped flowing from my wound.”

“He had no strength after that,” Darnoc said.

“The most grievous wound he suffers is not of the flesh,” Inka said. The truth of this test came fully to her thoughts. She turned her gaze to Conrad. “Their magic still binds you.”

“Hence my coming,” Conrad said, as if he had waited for her realization.

For the first time, the course of her life, her hard work, the long waiting, all made sense. This was the moment she had prepared for, the man who’d been promised. It had been so long, she had nearly forgotten she’d ever expected it. Now, with him here, she trembled at the prospect of their entanglement.

The storm raged as she instructed Darnoc. With Conrad resting full length on her bed, she removed her clothing. His prick stood erect without her touching it. She placed more wood on the fire and took her wand, brushing her breasts and thighs with its distaff head as if she spun linen threads for the loom. Her voice rose in a chant.

Lǫng es nótt, lǫng es ǫnnur,

hvé mega ek þreyja þrjár?

Opt mér mánaðr minni þótti

en sjá halfa hýnótt…

Soon Conrad’s voice joined hers. His words called to her. They held hands with Darnoc and spiraled above the clouds and into the starry night sky. She knelt at his side, placing her wand first on his chest where it rose and fell with his breath. Briefly she held it across his wound then lowered her lips to the line of stitches.

With soothing caresses, her lips urged the spirits of destruction to leave his body. Her incantations rose and fell, at times matching the howl of the outside storm. She draped her body over his.

Her form took the shape of a whirlwind teeming with insects, leaves, and hail. She became a turbulent stream  and flowed over him, touching him with her lips and sweeping him with her long scented hair. Voices rose and fell, voices of spirits both fair and foul. She hovered in the air above him, reaching with her wand to touch his hands, his feet, and his forehead.

He seized her wrist. “Make me whole,” he said. “It is our fate.”

The strength of his grip told her what she needed to know.

“The spell they cast is weak magic,” she said, settling her hips astride his loins. “But they will return, and with greater force. Your people must hurry to these hills and start anew. That is your future.”

He grasped her breasts as she straddled him and his touch sent lightning through her veins. The swollen tip of his prick found her wet opening and with a thrust of his hips, he drove himself into her.

“So it shall be,” he said.

The powers of wind and rain held nothing to compare to the storm that broke between them. Inka bucked and cried as his organ fed her long hunger. Her juices flowed. His stones gathered to hard knots that teased her buttocks at each full seating. Up then down, they danced the oldest dance. Her breasts swelled in his grasp. Her hips spread and opened to bring him deeper.

His ardor bloomed, increasing his girth until he stretched her belly with his manhood. She shook in need, called on the gods, and uttered Conrad’s spirit name. She had not known it before now.

“Vili!”

She saw in his eyes the truth of her knowledge, demanding,. His eyes, now fully open, shone with his gifts. The fire leapt and curled and in its golden light, she saw them both transformed.

“And you Vé,” Conrad said. “Darnoc, fulfill us with your ecstasy,” he commanded.

Inka glanced at Darnoc and knew his hands had long since caressed both their bodies. His blue eyes glimmered as she stared at him. He was the vardyger, the spirit of Conrad present in equal time. He grasped her thighs, moving her legs forward as he too straddled Conrad’s thighs.

“Give me your mouth,” Conrad said. His eyes darkened. “Your lips like honey, your skin like the petals of flowers. I have never known a woman so fair. Even the gods desire such a woman as you, dear Inka, sacred made flesh.”

Her lips brushed his jaw, the sharp jut of his cheekbone, the line of his brow. When her mouth touched his lips, a fresh spike of need pierced her so intensely that she cried out and shuddered. Sweat covered their bodies.

Conrad’s tongue thrust and licked in her mouth. Darnoc’s teeth nipped at her shoulders. Their hands moved over her shoulders, her breasts, her buttocks until she didn’t know which man touched her in which place.

The ride rose and fell over rough land, hooves clattering as the wolf’s teeth nipped at her heels. Darnoc tugged her hair back, holding on as if a horse’s reins. Sheets of fire coursed over her skin. Her nipples stood at hard points. Waves of need lapped in her center, circling ever tighter until their breath came as one, their voices mingled.

Wanton desire had been denied to her for so long. Now this man with his broad shoulders, with his clever glance, this man whose life fit hers like a hand in a glove—he had arrived. Tears filmed her eyes. Her body trembled with his sorcery.

Hot seed burst from his prick to fill her center. For a moment, she hovered at the brink of a precipice. Then his thumb found her stiff clitoris and pressed. Her hips shook as her vagina brought him to her sacred altar.

Together they flew skyward, arms outstretched to the stars. Joined, they kindled fire and lightning. Their voices mingled in primal song, the song of songs from whence flowed the wealth of life itself. For unmeasured time, Inka knew nothing but the spell of Conrad’s arms.

“The magic is not yet complete,” Conrad whispered. His hand motioned to her. She watched as he lifted himself, turning over her. She saw that he was Darnoc then, holding the lengths of her golden hair in his fists as he spread her legs with his knees.

With her legs pushed open, Darnoc thrust his erect organ into her cleft. The force of his taking shocked her. She turned to look at Conrad lying beside her. His blue eyes watched her, his white teeth gleamed in his smile. Her gaze fell to his bandages. No blood marked the white cloth.

They slept in each other’s arms. Darnoc fed the fire during the night and she fed their appetites during the days. Each day Conrad grew stronger, driving out the threads of the Norns to block their wicked loom of fate.

Each day she rode Conrad, shielding him from the infecting spirits. Each day he grew stronger, his gaze more provocative, his words more enchanting. She sat beside him while they spoke of mysteries in their lives that they now knew they had shared. Her need to understand slipped away. She accepted the truth before her eyes.

Hours slipped past as the men changed from one to the other, one man in two forms. They dipped their lips between her legs, tasting honey. Her breasts swelled. Essence fed to her and from her, freely given. The room whirled with purple and blue light as Darnoc then Conrad quenched her long hunger, as she fulfilled her destiny.

Full of health and strength, Conrad took his cock in hand. He called her name. She rode like a Valkyrie, bringing his semen to flood inside her. The room spun with light. Their chants rose and fell. Her loom of linen thread sang. Their song wove a cloth of bright colors, red crossing blue, yellow crossing red.

“Will you have me?” Conrad sat across the fire, slowly chewing his dried apple slices. Perspiration shone on his chest. His long hair fell across the side of his face, hiding part of his blue gaze. His image shifted and she saw both men.

“Both of you,” she said, smiling. “My oath barred me taking a man. It did not ban me from taking two. But what do you take in return?”

“Long life in our joined magic,” he said, his face gleaming in the firelight. “Wood for your fire, meat for your hearth. In turn you will weave our cloth in all three colors. You will join me in serving our tribe.”

“So the gods have asked,” she replied.

She lifted her mug of mead and watched as he lifted his mug in their promise.

magic

Visit my Pinterest board “Magic” for some enchanting images.

Have a Steamy Christmas!

new Jarrod 1 copyShopped out and still don’t have all your gifts? Running over budget and under enthused?

Give yourself a break! This scorching novella will warm you in all the right places. Only 99¢ or FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Amazon Buy Link

With everything she cared about gone, Dominatrix Macie Fitzgerald has built a new life in service to those in need. A special kind of need. But when she sees Jarrod’s name on the list of applicants to her next training session, she isn’t sure she can handle it.

Everything has been too easy for Jarrod Bancroft–rich parents, football star, law degree, high powered job, women by the score. He wants whatever Stonybrook Academy can dish out, much as it scares the hell out of him. Can he accept the pain, the humiliation, the unending deprivation that Madam requires? And why does her voice sound familiar?

Unfortunately for Macie, the years that have passed since Jarrod was her student have done nothing but make him more magnificent in every way. She faces her biggest challenge as she struggles to fulfill her professional obligation to give Jarrod what he wants. What he needs.

Warning: This story of 20,000 words contains scenes of explicit sexual activity and extreme BDSM. Adults only.

Caerwin and the Roman Dog

Caerwin cover*✩* 99¢ PRE-ORDER now through November 9 *✩*

Set in 47 AD, the story centers on a young Cornovii princess—Caerwin—who watches from the rocky battlements of her tribe’s hillfort as Rome’s legions approach. Devastation ensues as the Roman phalanx crushes Briton’s valiant warriors. Captured and held in Roman camp, she faces Legate Marcellus Antistius who makes it clear she will submit to his demands. In spite of her resistance, he forces her pleasure. She begs to die.

Caught between his increasing infatuation with this Briton princess and the demands of his military command, Marcellus must come to terms with his past.

A fiery novel of domination and submission, this historical romance follows Caerwin as she refuses to come to terms with her new reality: life as she knew it is over. Forever. In its place stands a man she can never love.

Excerpt:

The man she had seen on the white horse paused in the opening. His stare fastened on her and sent chills down her spine. He stood taller than the other men, his body of a stature more like her own people than these rat men of Rome. His layered metal vest had been removed as had his helmet and other outer garments, so that he wore only loose breeches that ended at his knees. She swallowed, casting her eyes away after her first long frozen moment.

“Do you like what you see?” he asked quietly.

The words shocked her, spoken fluently her familiar language. She turned to face him. Words rose to her lips but remained unspoken. He examined her, openly casting his gaze up and down her body as if he owned her. The terrible realization struck her—he did own her. She had been caught up at his command and now stood captive to his whim.

She spat in his direction and turned her face away. Tugging against the tight leather bonds, she succeeded only in chafing her wrists. Her nerves heightened to brittle pitch as she sensed him approaching. She knew what he would do, what such men did to captured women.

He placed himself in front of her, so close she could not look away without seeing his chest. His scent stung her nose, sharp and edged with the copper hint of blood. Stains marked his arms and face, sweat-encrusted dirt and smears of blood. His voice startled her, so close and so quiet.

“What is this trinket?” he asked, fingering the torque.

She glared at him. “Shall you steal it from me like you have stolen our lives and our land?”

“I wish only to converse with you, to ease this friendship we’ve started.”

She snorted and strained at the bonds holding her. “I wish only to kill you. I would leave your body for the crows.”

He grabbed her face and held her still while his mouth tasted her. His lips moved against her lips. His tongue sought the seam and when she refused to spread her jaw, he bit her lower lip. Her shocked cry gave him entry, and his tongue invaded her mouth, probing and pushing.

Hate rose in her chest, blinding her. She clamped her teeth down on his tongue, savoring a brief taste of blood as he jerked back.

Vipera!” He wiped his hand over his mouth. “You won’t win this battle, but if you wish a contest…” His big hand closed over the neck of her garment and ripped it down the front of her body. The beautiful woolen dress she had so carefully woven hung off her shoulders.

“I will have you,” he said in a hoarse voice. “Whether you wish it or not. Let the others portion out the gold and silver, whatever meager wealth your tribe held. I have wealth enough in coin. You with your hair like copper,” he added, fingering her long braid, “your eyes blue as sky—you are my pillage for this day.”

Evening damp had risen from the nearby river, and the cool air hit her exposed skin like a slap. She refused to look down on her nakedness or to meet his smirking gaze as he made a show of his careful examination. He pinched her nipples and probed the thatch of red hair between her legs.

“A virgin?” He laughed, pressing his finger deeper. “I’m surprised you’ve reached such an age without marriage. I will find much pleasure in this.”

She flinched at his intrusion. Were it not for the ties binding her ankles and wrists, she would have flown at him and gouged out his eyes. She cursed him, calling down the wrath of gods on him and his company.

“Your gods won’t help you,” he said, removing his finger and inspecting the faintly-red stain. “I’m your god now.”

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