Saturday, December 31, 2011

Emotion, Motivation, and Vampires [Caution for Explicitness]

I'm always delving into one research book or another. Last week it was a more recently published book, Werewolves by Jon Izzard. This week I'm reading a book on vampires. Vampires by Joules Taylor. I purchased both of these books several months back to add to my research shelf. Sadly, it was at the local Border's closing. But also I might add, I probably wouldn't have found these books if I hadn't been browsing at a local bookstore. I do love bookstores, and I did buy them on-site at the b&m. I didn't just buy these books because of the subject matter, they have a really nice heavy, glossy feel to the pages. Yeah, I'm into textures and dimensionality of things. Okay, that being said...

I've just come across a passage that seemed to resonate with something I wrote in Eternity. Here are two short passages from "Vampires" by Joules Taylor.

"... He feels drawn to life, to brightness, and to beauty and the human he pursues must be someone who is special, overflowing with a bright lively light..."
"...for a way to experience at second-hand the life he lost when he became a vampire..."
And here's the passage from Eternity that came to mind. I would caution this is an R-rated excerpt.

He cupped Andrea’s face and tilted it upward. Max’s cock popped out of Andrea’s mouth. Just at that moment Claudio swatted him again. More tears. Max leaned down to kiss Andrea, then licked across the path of tears, feeling his own tears wet his face in empathy.

He straightened away, and Andrea seemed to know exactly what Max would want. He sucked Max’s dick back into his mouth, fresh tears tracking down his cheeks.

Max felt the emotion of the human servicing him. He felt the pain, the pleasure, the extreme rapture of his submission to the two vampires. Max’s throat seemed to close up with the intensity that rushed through him like a fierce summer thunderstorm, flaying him with its passion.

Yes. This was why he took such pleasure in human contact. That blissful sharing of emotion, something that he had lost the ability to experience on his own. Oh, gods, yes.

This was his alone.

“Look at me,” he whispered. “Look into my eyes.”

When Andrea looked up at Max with his beautiful tear-filled blue eyes, it shot Max right over the edge.

Exploring the internal motivations of any character is an important part of the story for me, whether I'm writing it or reading it. Thus a number of the books on my craft shelf include "The Dream and the Underworld" by James Hillman, "Psychology for Screenwriters" by William Indick, "The Power of the Dark Side" by Pamela Jaye Smith, among others. I think motivations have the ability to humanize and to demonize, to bind us to them, make us love them or hate them. At the very least to dimensionalize characters.

I often have to really sit and "talk" with a character to get inside his or her head. They all have secrets, some darker than others, sometimes buried so deep they don't even know. I find the dark side to be wholly intriguing and I love exploring that love/hate, good/bad, evil/saint balance. But it's a scary place to visit, it's not for the weak of heart, yet totally worthwhile to really dig into your characters and find out what makes them do the things they do. What makes them "tick." And I love that aspect of storytelling. If it feels uncomfortable then you're getting there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Creating the City of Quentopolis

The mind really does have a way of working in mysterious ways and I have to admit mine works pretty strangely at times. In creating Quentopolis, the city-state at the heart of my Humanotica series, and which sits at rather a rift of time and space, likened perhaps to a worm hole, known as the "Dimensional Borders," I started playing around with some photos I had taken of machinery parts.

Some people do their world building rather more logically perhaps, but I don't think I'm often accused of being logical. And I can't draw for beans. But I do love photography.

The first image I played around with was a close-up of railroad ties. I came up with this first image you see here. What drew my eye first was that little dot in the middle and I tagged it as being the Central Business District of Quentopolis, with the rest of the city spreading out from that nucleus. This is also where the financial district--the Tebit Square Exchangeable would be located. And it is the political seat of the Concilium-Politico Offices.

There is a darkness to this city. This first image looks rather like it came from a science fiction piece doesn't it? Maybe sort of like a timepiece that one wears on the wrist if you look at it just right. The image was founded from what I think of as a steam or steampunk-based image. That's sort of what this series tends to be--scifantasy--erotic scifantasy.

I played some more, with another image this time. I think this one came from a wheel of an old steam engine, but I can't remember. In this image I started to see the main quadrants of Quentopolis. There is the central quadrant at the center of the intersecting four other districts of the city. Then we have the Waterfront District, or Moondown Water District to the right or east, which includes the factory and workhouses, the wharves, where the working class reside. To the opposite side of the central business district, on the left or west, is the Elite District, a total opposite to the Moondown District, as noted by its name, and above the Central district to the north is the Midlands District, a relatively uninhabited, mountainous region. To the northeast of the Midlands District is where the Dimensional Borders and the transit stations are located. Extasia, an isolated district, is where the official home of the Dominatae nobility is located. That would be on the other side of a range of mountains at the northern borders of the Midlands District.

Creating this world isn't a simple process, and does have a way of continuing to morph and change as I discover more about the city and its inhabitants, and it's architecture. But this is how it started as I tried to visualize the layout of the city and who might live there.

I moved from this to actually creating a rough map with a software program, and if you're curious, you can find it at the Humanotica website.

Silver, the first book in the Humanotica series, is available at Samhain Publishing, or any other retailer of fine books. Haevyn, the second book in the series is schedule for release in early 2012.

And currently I now need to return to working on the third book in the series, tentatively titled, "Kestra." The outline is underway and I'm excited to find out what new surprises and adventures the characters have in store.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More on Perceived Ebook Price Fixing

Today The Guardian (via Publisher's Weekly) posted an article on Apple's struggle to Defeat Amazon. More on the big, bad Amazon and efforts to justify an agency model of price threshold to perhaps guarantee the survival of other heretofore giants in the publishing industry.

There seems to be nasty growing pains at the upper echelons of the publishing world. I sense much desperation to hold a place that tended to squeeze the availability of the printed word as in narrowing the choices available, attempting to define what sells, and creating boundaries that tended to squeeze out creative, more niche, talents, and went for the sure sales. I understand the need to stall monopoly. I understand the need that in order to survive, a company, even large corporations, need to show a profit and they don't want their books becoming loss leaders for a company such as Amazon, who has broadened its merchandise scope. Really, I do understand this.

But, the costs, long-ranging, in production of ebooks versus long-ranging in production of a mass market paperback, trade paperback, hard cover, is not the same. Once that ebook is produced, one does not have to revert to more print runs, one is not subject to returns, one is not subject to landfill for books that do not sell as well as anticipated.

The argument that Amazon's market share has been reduced as a direct result of this sort of agency model is...well, suspect. Let's see, the market is flooded with all brands and models of tablets, such as Kobo, B&N, Google, Asus, HP, etc., etc. It seems to me that new consumer/readers will be purchasing as a first choice using a company that provides the app that makes it easiest to purchase what they want. In many cases, that will include discounts and gift certificates for new owners of these devices. My daughter just purchased two Nook tablets for her household, where do you think she's going to buy her books? I can't seem to find a Nook app for my Android tablet, I had a seamless download of the Kindle app. If someone has a Sony reader, or a Kobo reader, where do you thing they're going to purchase? Oh yeah, then there's the iPad. Mustn't forget that one.

I tend to be a bit savvy about techie stuff, so I'll probably be purchasing from a large range of sources, often small publishers because I know the author makes more when I do that.

I doubt I'd put the fluctuation in market share down to the agency models. That justification doesn't hold water. To me, what I see is that the consumer is caught in the cross-hairs of this battle. They are the ones who will suffer and pay the price. Right along with the authors aligned with the major publishers, especially mid-list and new talent. High prices for books mean less purchases made by the average consumer. And again, I see this particularly when you're talking about an ebook, where there is likely not the same reprint and stocking issues associated with those sales. Who's really being affected here? What is really impacting the market fluctuation? Or is it just an "I've got more clout than you and I don't care who suffers, as long as you get your wings clipped"?

I read a lot, and as I've mentioned before, it's across mediums. I have one research book on my Kindle DX, I have one short story up on my Android tablet, and I have a hard cover from one of my favorite authors. Yup, I'm into reading a bit each day from all three.

But for readers out there who want a good read, perhaps you might check with my publishers, they're always giving good deals on books. Take a minute to check out Amber Quill Press and Samhain Publishing if you want good prices for ebooks, and great stories to read, and formats that will work well on pretty much any readers, with customer service departments that are on the ball, ready to help. I'll also recommend Loose Id. Some wicked great reads from these publishers.

And now I've got to get back to writing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Prices on Ebooks Higher Than Paperback?

Will Publishers Kill Amazon's Golden Goose?

That's the headline of a recent article via Publisher's Weekly. I've actually witnessed the higher price for an ebook when I was browsing the other day. As a reader, what this means when I see a paperback is more costly than an ebook, I'm going to pick another book. I'm still going to buy, just not YOUR book. Honestly, I think this is going to backfire on the publishers who are attempting to do this. There are just too many good stories out there at reasonable prices in ebook format. To me this is shooting yourself in the foot, and shooting your authors, too.

Sad, very sad. Please get your head out of the sand and do what's right for your authors and your readership. Honestly, I'm not likely to pay the same price for an ebook that I am for a paperback. And I'm certainly not going to pay a higher price. I will go somewhere else. There are lots of other options. I know for a fact that there are smaller publishers, with some very fantastic writers, and I will be entertained elsewhere.

This is a different market, a very digital and global world, and we need to adapt to that changing environment and marketplace. This is the age of transition, and growing pains can be very achey. But the growing does not stop just because it hurts. Really, is this "feud" more important than your readership? As a reader and as a writer, I'm thrilled about the expansion of the industry.

As a writer, I would hope the publishers I work with continue to price my books reasonably, and responsibly, so readers won't hesitate to give my stories a try. Especially if they've not read one of my stories before. Anyone heard the term "competitive pricing"? That is just savvy marketing on all levels in my opinion.

Ereaders aren't going away, tablets aren't going away, ebooks aren't going away.

Please adjust.

Just saying...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dominoes - No, not the pizza company...

I was reading a totally unrelated research book the other day and there it was. I had a moment of epiphany or revelation regarding the third story in the Humanotica series, and suddenly it was like a row of dominoes, where you tip the first one and it starts a chain reaction. I get so excited when that happens.

It gives you this ahhh feeling, or maybe it's more of an ohhh sort of excitement. And you just lets the images keep flowing, trying to transcribe, jot them down, so you can remember for later. I stuff them into the folder, because really, I'm working on line edits for Haevyn right now and I can't get distracted by Kestra, although she's really looking for attention, but anyway. And let me just tell you, the cover for Haevyn is looking awesome. I've gotten a quick first glimpse of it. I'm so excited.

But rolling with the ideas, and letting a plot and the characters sort of marinate, and then, all of a sudden, one things leads to another, and to another, and suddenly the story and characters come to life, they begin to move, to relate, to dimensionalize.

I could say more about Kestra, but not right now. I'm going to reset those dominoes and let's see what else happens. A new pattern may just cause a chain reaction in a a whole other way I never even thought of. That's usually the way these things happen. And that's what I love above creating story. God, it's exciting!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Crow and Symbolism

Saw this guy the other day. He sat for a long time just letting me take his picture from several different angles. I'm thinking he might have an eye toward the picnickers behind me. There were a number of them in the park the other day. I think I like this picture best. I really do love my digital camera.

Not too lean a fellow. Looks like he lives a pretty good life, at least this time of year with lots of people out enjoying the good weather.

Looked up some stuff about the crow. Have a little guide book for birds in this part of the world.

Northwestern Crow. Resembles the American Crow, except smaller and more slender. Not sure this guy fits that description. A mobbing sort of behavior. Likes to harass the American Crow. Likes shorelines, tidewater areas, edges of coastal forest. This one was staying pretty close to the water in the local park.

Liked the movie, The Crow, too. Love dark stuff like that, liked the sort of Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers angle, and the revenge, of course.

The Crow animal totem. Information about the crow, associated with the raven. Can be found here. An omen of change, be willing to walk your talk. Symbols of creation and spiritual strength. Keeper of the sacred law.

I pulled down one of my books on symbols, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols by J.C. Cooper, and alchemically, nigredo refers to the first age of matter in the Great Work. The Egyptian pairs crows to denote conjugal felicity. In Greek, the crow is sacred to Apollo and Athene. In Shintoism, holy crows, messengers of deities, are associated with temples.

Messengers, change, spirituality. If I say it, I've got to mean it. Creation. What was this crow trying to tell me? Must think about it in the context of my life.

Something to consider.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In speaking with Haevyn...

I'm working my way through the almost final draft of a WIP that's been making me crazy. I've been having conversations with three of the characters. So, there's Haevyn, who's in a newly-formed special branch of the Regulate military. A very special branch. She's secretive, she has been from the start. She won't even talk to me, the person who's transcribing her story.

"Why him, Haevyn? What is it about him that keeps you coming back?" I take a bite out of the double cheeseburger.

There's a look in her eye, I can feel those secrets there, hiding, cringing in the corner, in the shadows. Her whole demeanor goes still, almost like a statue. I bet she learned that stance when she was in training. But then she slides a glance toward me.

"Do you mean, Grisha?"

"Yes, him," I say, then take a sip of the coke. Mind you, I was having this discussion in a McDonald's at Walmart's. Call me crazy, but she finally opened up about Grisha. Why here, why now, in the middle of a freaking fast-food place, I have no idea. But, hey, I'm going with it. I rummage for the notebook, the pen, I'm ready. "He's just a simple fisherman, really has nothing in common with you."

I see a curl of the lip, but in contrast there's a sheen of tears in her eyes, and she gets that far away look. Whatever memory it is, this seems to be one of the good ones. "He makes me laugh. He makes"

"Safe?" I ask as I dip the tip of a really salty french fry into the cup of catsup and pop it into my mouth.

A tear rolls down her face. "I've known Grisha since we were school friends. He was there at the most embarrassing moments of my life. He was there...before."

"But he doesn't know everything about you, does he?" I offer her a napkin, which she refuses, lifting her chin, a rather stubborn, set look to her face. The cheeseburger is starting to taste like dust. I so feel for this woman. I have to keep digging because there are so many layers to her.

"He knows enough. I don't need him to know more. He makes me laugh, he makes me feel safe. And in Quentopolis, that's a damned hard thing to do."

"And the other one?" I can't help asking.

"The other one?" For a moment she seems confused and then a look of understanding comes into her eyes. The tears dry and now I see something different. A fire simmering just below the surface. "You mean the warrior...from cockrage. I only met him the other night."

"Yes, but, that was quite a meeting wasn't it? Does he make you laugh?"

A look hinting at different secrets comes into her face, the heaviness of expression, the sensuality is almost tangible. Something darker here, burning in her gut. "He's a warrior, he's seen battle, he knows. And my goddess, to see him fight, to watch him take a man." She releases a shuddering breath.

Is it hot in here or what? I hunt around for the fire extinguishers. I clear my throat. Okay. Keep the conversation going. "What does he know?"

"The secrets. He's been to the abyss. He understands the darkness, the danger. He understands the primal rage that tries to consume you. He's felt it, he's been there."

Ahh, now I'm beginning to understand. These two men are very different indeed. Hmm, wonder how this will all work out for Haevyn?

But, boy, am I glad she finally opened up about the men in her life. Damn, she's been close-mouthed.

Of course, there is that other dude who needs to open up more. Jericah thinks he's too high and mighty to speak with this writer. If he's such a damned powerful sorcerer, how'd he get stuck in such a predicament anyway? In your face, pal, start talking. He's going to have to talk to me one way or the other. I get them all to reveal...eventually. I'm darned tenacious about that. I've got some ideas about his secrets. We'll see how right I am.

In the meantime, I've got to get the groceries. After all, that's really what I'm supposed to be here for.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Guest Blogging Today - The Erotic Mind of a Twisted Fantasy Writer

Today I'm guest blogging at Gabriella Hewitt's blog, talking about my novel, Silver. Take a moment to stop by. Musings from my twisted imagination, one might say. Something to start your week out with. The Erotic Imagination of a Twisted Fantasy Writer.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nightingale - Available 3/27/11 - Almost Here!

Nightingale by Darcy Abriel

Release Date - March 27, 2011
Genres: Erotic Gay Dark Fantasy Romance
Purchase Link:
Author Website:

What's the story about?

The thirst for deliverance and absolution are transformed into the explosive flames of a glorious undeniable, and forbidden, passion when a mysteriously charismatic masked man encounters a brilliant and handsome composer. Four lives are intertwined and nothing is as it seems. Only the ultimate sacrifice will satisfy the greedy appetite of fate...

A Bit of Tasty Scene to Tempt You...

"You like being ordered, don’t you? You like men." His voice was a steamy intimate whisper against Carne’s ear. "My touching you is arousing. How many men have you been with, Geraint? And women? Have you a patron among them?"

There would be no prevarication. This man, in some supernatural way, would peel Carne’s secrets from his soul. And Carne couldn’t stop it from happening, he could do none other than yield himself. "I-I think you know my preference, Maître . I think you know it well enough."

His mother had thought it was the music tutor who had ruined him. She blamed herself for Carne’s eccentricities. But Carne had known from an early age, when he’d secretly watched the actors changing backstage, when it had been the men who he fantasized about, not the women. He had understood his predilection for men before his mother’s latest lover had seduced him. But he never told her the truth before she died of consumption in the poor house. He never absolved her of her false guilt.

But the women give you fine jewels, don’t they? Little gifts because you please them so very much. They yearn for you to spend time in their bed, they are eager for you to sleep with them, to show them even more of your secret magic. To ply your command of…instrument in a much more personal and intimate fashion."

Yes, but I don’t give them what they want. I’ll sire no bastards. Ever." He was never going to subject a child to what he had suffered. And since he had no plans to marry, nor a desire to lie with women, he offered them no encouragement to pursue him. "So maybe they want me more because of it. But the men. They can be even more generous than the women." Perhaps so generous because they sought to assuage their guilt for wanting him instead of the beautiful actresses for whom he composed his arias to make their voices shine.

"They can also be more brutal. Is that what you like about them?"

Carne didn’t respond right away. It was that, but there was more as well. "Not all of them are brutal," Carne finally responded. "Some of them are quite…feminine in their desires."

Maitre released Carne. He stepped away and folded his long limbs into an upholstered gold-and-black embroidered wing-backed chair. He crossed his legs and studied Carne. "Tell me," he encouraged in his intriguing smoothly alluring voice. "Tell me about the feminine ones. Stroke your cock while you tell me your stories." He skimmed his long index finger along the globe of the glass containing the absinthe. Carne remembered the taste of that finger inside his mouth.

Carne’s fingers curled around the breadth of his prick, stroked up and down. He’d spent enough time in the company of men to instinctively know what they wanted. How many "patrons" of his technique and talents had there been over the years? They all paled into significance next to this man.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Deadeye is now available! - Spinning the Tale

There is a special excitement and anticipation in witnessing a story unfold as I write the first draft , channel the images and voices in my head onto paper (or my computer screen), and then embark on the journey of crafting it, shaping it into a tale of danger, passion, and adventure. As characters comes to life things change, motivations are revealed, and this fictional world reshapes itself.

When I research, I don't always use modern, politically correct, nor whitewashed and redacted materials. I dig into the past and comb through older texts on demonology, on the west through the eyes of those who lived it, on mythology, and on a different form of exotic loving and sex play. Books written in the 19th century and earlier fuel my imagination. I adore crawling through old texts. I flavor with more modern texts, stirred with a bit of having lived and traveled in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and the like.

I always loved watching old westerns. But I also love watching and reading horror--particularly the classics. And sift that all together with a good romantic relationship steeped high in eroticism. Perhaps I've blended, mixed, flavored, twisted, pounded, reshaped, and then baked this all together. And Deadeye is one of those creatures invoked by...more spicy and peppered tastes.

My latest story, Deadeye, is now available from the Amber Heat imprint of Amber Quill Press. In writing Deadeye, it began as a paranormal shapeshifter story taking place in an old west time period. Well, that was at the point where this story was one-dimensional theory, before my imagination went to work.

The old west was a time of danger, rugged men, adventurous women, dangerous outlaws. In other words a perfect setting for a world of devious, decadent demons and delicious temptation to thrive.

It's only as I really begin to dig into the characters and their backgrounds and lives that the story surges to life. And that's what happened with this one. Who was Vitus? What part did Caecilia play? I knew Justus was special, but I had to dig deeper as to why. I knew these characters were complex and existed in a very dark dominion. And I knew I couldn't be afraid to follow them into Infernia.

The result of that journey, the outcome of that collaboration is here, in Deadeye. What are the motivations that bring these three together? What perils will they face? And how will love triumph in the end? Are you fearless enough to travel with them to Deadeye?

I invite you to join Vitas, Caecilia, and Justus as they traverse the dangerous and exotic world of Deadeye...

Title: Deadeye
Author: Darcy Abriel
Publisher: Amber Quill Press/Amber Heat
Purchase Link:
Genre: (Historical / The Old West / Dark Fantasy / Witchcraft / BDSM / Voyeurism / Exhibitionism / Ménage [M/M/F] / Group Sex / Contains Bisexual [M/M] Activity)
Author’s Website:
ISBN: 978-1-61124-040-5

Advisory: This book contains graphic violence, hardcore bondage and punishment, torture and blood play. May not be suitable for the more sensitive reader.


Dark and deadly adventure awaits in Deadeye. Vitus and Caecilia must embrace a world of lustful and devious demons in order to succeed in their mission. And Justus, an incubus, son of the demon lord of Infernia, must shed his dark shadow in order to accept his destiny as a Nacraecian Dreamweaver Sorcerer. Three who meet, three who must face their duty, three who risk everything to be free.


Caecilia stumbled forward toward the edge of town, the echo of gunshot ringing in her ears, the laughter of evil men chasing her, the taste of dust in her mouth, clogging her throat.

Determined, she tried to step past the city marker but found she couldn’t, her feet were cemented to the spot.

“No!” She tried again, struggled impotently to step onto the Flats, her eyes focused on the Saguaro Forest beyond. She heard the sound of dragging footsteps and turned to see two chained hell-zombies dragging the dead body of the gunfighter behind them. How easily they breached the boundary of Deadeye, soon lost within the prickly trees beyond. She watched, somehow envious of the dead gunfighter.

She felt the pull of the incubus, drawing her away, back toward the town. Undeniable lust building, forcing her to return, to search him out. She fought his control—she fought herself. Her hand rose to curl around the talisman—which was no longer there. She stifled a sob. Waves of intense heat rippled through her. The carpetbag dropped into the dust. Caecilia fell to her knees. Arms wrapped around her as she attempted to still the sexual agony that gripped her.

“Caecilia.” Vitus gathered her up in his arms.

“Oh, Vitus, what have I done?”

He gathered her close, but still the pain would not abate. In this, there was only one creature who could help her.

She tucked her head against Vitus’s shoulder. She didn’t care where they went as long as she was in his arms. He walked for a time, turned and strode down an alley next to the general store. She lifted her head. He set her on her feet, then closed his eyes and waved an arm. The scene changed.

“You have this power?” she said. “How?”

She gazed upon the shimmering scene of where they had first made love so long ago. Back to Rome and the banks of the Tiber River. A time when innocence and passion had once belonged to them. He took her hand and led her onto the lush grass.

“Do you remember, Caecilia? Do you remember how it was? Sometimes—sometimes I think it was only an illusion used by the gods to taunt me. But if it was all illusion, it’s the only thing that kept me from succumbing completely to Zevodious’s total domination.” He looked at her. “When the lust is sated, you are all that is left—all that I hold close. You possess my heart and you maintain a powerful grip. No matter what else happens to me, my love for you is all that really matters.”

“We have not spoken of that time you were sent to Infernia.”

“It is not to be spoken of.”

“Why did he let you go?” She had wondered because Zevodious was not known for leniency.
Vitus looked into her eyes. She saw within them the flames of Infernia, ever present inside him. “He hasn’t released me. But I serve two masters, remember? On occasion when Zevodious summons me I’m still forced to obey. He allows only an illusion of freedom, just as Apollo does. He enjoyed the game of cat-and-mouse. The only reason I’m here is because Apollo commands. Even Zevodious recognizes my first obedience to Apollo. A god’s demand supersedes that of a demon’s pleasure. It just happens in this instance both masters are of one mind. How much amusement they must both take from this situation.”

“We’ll never be free. There is no hope for us. I always thought—always believed that someday we would be together. Instead they simply bind us more tightly. First to Diana, then to Aphrodite, and now…my body is enslaved to an incubus.”

He pulled her more tightly into his arms. “I won’t give up, nor will I allow you to do so.” He lay her back on the grass and slowly began to undo her dress. She stilled his hand. “No, it will shame me. I don’t want you to see the evidence of the incubus’s lust.”

“You have been witness to my shame. Do you think less of me because of the mark of Zevodious?”

“No, of course not. You did what you must.”

“In this place there is no shame, there is only us, Caecilia. Only our love.”

She knelt on the grass and reached for the buttons of his shirt. As he removed her blouse, she bared him. He stood and helped her up. She turned so that he could unfasten her skirts, and then her petticoats. He removed the bustle and tossed it aside. He turned her, knelt down, unfastened her boots and removed them. He removed the garters, rolled her white stockings down her legs and then removed them. He looked up at her. She cupped his face.

“Oh, Vitus, this is dangerous. They set so many traps for us.”

He rose, held out her arm, lowered his head and kissed one of her bruises. Her eyes opened wide as there was a flash of red light and when he lifted away, the bruise, and the pain, were gone.

“You have the power of healing?” she said, as she watched in wonder as each of the bruises on her arm vanished at his touch.

He looked at her. “It is a dark gift, nothing more. The bruises will not return, but within an hour the pain will. Such is this gift from Zevodious. I can offer you only temporary ease.”
“And this place, the ability to conjure, is that a dark gift as well.”

He nodded. “To lure the innocent. To seduce and capture. Nothing more.” His smile was twisted. “Is it not working? Am I not succeeding in my seduction?”

He drew her close, kissed the bruises on her neck, even as he removed her corset and chemise. “His purpose in this gift is to prolong his games. To gift relief and to take it away. I’ve only found one way to bind it, and I can’t perform the ritual on you. It is a sadistic gift. I only offer it now to provide some measure of relief. I know the…first time you succumb to the darkness in your soul is…shattering. But you can survive it. You will survive.”

She knelt before him, lifted one of his feet, removed his boot, and tossed it aside along with the sock. Then she did the same with the other. She leaned up to unfasten his jeans and shove them down over his hips.

His cock sprang free. Her passion was dark and lustful, altered from what it had once been. She did not take him into her mouth—she dared not for it could not end there. But she inhaled his earthy scent. She smelled him, the grass, the water—all clean scents, remembered images and feelings filled her mind.

“I remember how it was, Vitus. I remember us. You are my heartmate, I recognized you at once. There will never be another for me.”

His fingers threaded through her long white-blond hair. “Yes,” he said, his voice, deep and gravelly. She turned her head and was met with the mark of Zevodious. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to the outline of the brand. She traced it with her tongue. She heard his audible groan. He dropped to his knees, cupped her face, stared into her eyes. She saw the fire, saw the war of emotion, felt the heat that burned beneath his skin. His lips drew closer. She licked her own. She closed her eyes. He pressed his lips to her throat, her shoulder, across the ragged marks on her chest. She felt his cock pressed against her, wanting it to be inside her, filling her. She remembered the sweet ache of the first time he took her.

“Vitus.” His name was an ache of need upon her lips.

He wrapped her in his arms, she felt his hot, moist breath against her shoulder. Sighing, he pulled away. “Come lie with me on the banks of the Tiber. As we once did. Let me hold you.”
She gazed up at him and finally nodded. They lay near enough to listen to the lulling sounds of the babbling water. She smelled the grass, inhaled its clean fragrance. Vitus spooned himself against her back, flesh to flesh. She felt the strong beating of his heart, heard his breaths, felt his cock lodged against her ass. He stroked her arm, down along her curved hip, again and again, until he had lulled her into a world of dreams where she could once again revel in his touch alone. For the moment the pain and the lust were quieted.

As with all things in Infernia, the illusion didn’t last. Caecilia awoke in agony, a scream upon her lips, as she writhed and clawed at the ground, unprepared for the violent lust that gripped her.


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