26 September 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with author Chris von Halle

Meet Stausha, one of the lead characters in
Chris von Halle's YA dystopian novel. Available now
from Clean Reads Publishing!

Introducing

Stausha

of Faction 304


My name is Stausha. I am sixteen years old and I dwell in the large town of Middleton in the Old World state of Pennsylvania. As with everybody in my society, I am part of a faction. The chief function of each faction is to hunt for relics left over from the Old World in the middle of town. It has been one hundred years since the advent of the plague, a birth-transmitted disease that kills everyone around the time they turn seventeen years old. As for me, I speak with elevated diction because I love words and the English language, and at one point in my life was fortunate enough to be taught by a privileged member of society how to speak eloquently.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
That is a tough one, as there is so much misery in Middleton. I would have to say, however, that having one’s children cruelly ripped away from you—as has been done to me—and not subsequently be permitted to raise or be with them is the largest hardship I’ve had to—and still have to—endure.

Where would you like to live?
Quite realistically any place other than Middleton. However, one of the empty, abandoned farms that litter the outskirts of the town would provide a wonderful place for me to live, as it would be far enough away from the rulers and their unjust clutch on Middleton.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
A life in which you are allowed to raise your own children, live in your own house or home, and perform the job you wish to perform—rather than one designated for you—on a regular basis.

The quality you most admire in a man?
I have never actually met a member of the opposite sex, as it is illegal in my town for the sexes to intermix. Therefore, I’m afraid I cannot give you an accurate answer for this one.

The quality you most admire in a woman?
Kindness, sensitivity toward others.

Your favorite virtue?
Again, kindness. I believe that one of the main reasons my society has degraded to such an abysmal state is because the rulers have lost touch with the general concept and importance of kindness.

Your favorite occupation?
I positively adore the artifacts left over from the Old World, and therefore study them on occasion—illegally, mind you—merely for fun.

Your most marked characteristic?
Most likely my curiosity.

What do you most value in your friends?
I would say honesty and kindness.

What is your principle defect?
I am likely to refuse to connect with or to attempt to make friends with somebody because I have had things I hold dearly ripped away from me far too many times. Therefore, I don’t want to risk such a tragic thing occurring again.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
To live the rest of my short, pitiful life without being able to lay my eyes on or raise my beloved children.

What would you like to be?
First and foremost a great mother. Regarding one’s career, I’m not entirely certain, since my society does not allow its citizens to choose a profession. If I were permitted to choose, I imagine I would pick something that deals with language in some capacity.

Who are your heroes in real life?

I don’t believe I have ever met anybody who has been truly heroic, so I couldn’t tell you.

Who are your favorite heroines?
Again, I have never known anybody in my life who I would consider a true role model.

What is it you most dislike?
The rulers. They’re constantly inhibiting the freedoms of Middleton’s citizens, including mine.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?
I wish I could be less selfish.

How would you like to die?
When I’m old and gray—much older than seventeen, mind you, although that would require an antidote to the plague having been created—on a deathbed in a house that I could at the very least call my own. Oh—and with my children—also all grown up—at the bedside, each holding one of my hands.

What is your present state of mind?
A tad cross and dejected, yet hopeful that someday things may yet change in my town and, subsequently, my life.

What is your motto?
Never be afraid to strive to attain what you desire, despite how intense the opposition may be.

~*~

(c) Chris Von Halle
Chris von Halle has had many different lives in many different worlds—the near and distant future Earth, other planets, and even other dimensions—and his books recreate his childhood memories of such outlandish locations. In this world and life, he lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and enjoys such extraordinary activities as playing video games, tennis, and basketball, and writing the occasional comic strip.

For more of Chris, check out his social media (Facebook and Twitter) and stay up to date on his writing through his author website and blog.

24 September 2015

Elite Book Promo: The Ruby Iyers Series by Laxmi Hariharan


Welcome to the excerpt tour and release event for The First Life of Vikram Roy by Laxmi Hariharan! The First Life of Vikram Roy is book #1.5 of the Ruby Iyer Series, but can be read as a stand-alone novella.

An angry young girl, a sexy cop, and a chance to WIN $30 Amazon gift voucher!



About Ruby Iyer Diaries (Book #0.5):

This novelette is a companion book to The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer. A peek into the soul of an angry, young girl, who will come of age in a city on the verge of total annihilation. Ruby kept a diary from the age of ten till she ran away from home at sixteen. It is from here that I picked out a few diary entries for The Ruby Iyer Diaries. This short series of vignettes from Ruby's life, tells you more a little more about the origins of Ruby Iyer.

Amazon | Goodreads


About The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer (Book #1):

With over one hundred 5 and 4 star reviews across Amazon, Goodreads, and Netgalley, don’t miss this chance to get your copy of THE MANY LIVES OF RUBY IYER. At 99p/c & Rs 69 for this week only. 


This is BOOK 1 in the Ruby Iyer series. A YA ACTION THRILLER with strong dystopian undertones, and a kick-ass protagonist, taking you on a white knuckle ride through a disintegrating Bombay City.  It's also placed as FINALIST Indie Excellence Awards 2015 & as YOUNG ADULT FINALIST in the 2015 IAN Book of the Year Awards.

A girl desperate to rescue her best friend. A cop willing to do anything to save the city he serves. A delusional doctor bent on annihilation. A terrifying encounter propels Ruby Iyer from her everyday commute into a battle for her own survival. Trusting her instincts, she fights for what she believes in, led on a mysterious path between life and death on the crowded roads of Bombay; and when her best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr Braganza, she will do anything to rescue him. Anything, including taking the help of the sexy Vikram Roy, a cop-turned-rogue, on a mission to save Bombay. The city needs all the help it can get, and these two are the only thing standing between its total destruction by Dr Braganza's teen army.

As Bombay falls apart, will Ruby be able to save her friend and the city? Will she finally discover her place in a city where she has never managed to fit in? And what about her growing feelings for Vikram?


About The First Life of Vikram Roy (Book #1.5):


His family is being held to ransom by a deadly mastermind.

Vikram never should have left his family, but when Vikram's father bring his half-brother Vishal home, life will never be the same.

Vikram thinks things will be better now that he's gone. He's met the love of his life, his future looks bright and then everything is shattered.

Now, his family's life is hanging in the balance, and only Vikram can do what needs to be done to save them.

From the bestselling dystopian fiction author with over 200 reviews and ratings of her dystopia books across Goodreads, Amazon and other retailers.

"A killer ending and the pacing of the story and the build-up is really good. I related to Vikram, really liked it." Richard Sheehan, Author and editor

"I raced through the book... And the killer ending! Oh my God! It left me with a hangover, and makes me want to physically push the author to write the next book in the series faster." Ritesh Kala, Book reviewer & blogger

If you’re looking for books like Hunger Games, then this dystopia romance, The Ruby Iyer Series.

~*~

EXCERPT FROM THE FIRST LIFE OF VIKRAM ROY

I hear the staccato of shots being fired, followed by yells and howls of pain. Then, the sound of something being smashed and everything goes quiet. The TV no longer chatters. I look to the open door. The recreation room is down at the end of the corridor. The sounds of shots get closer. Without giving myself a chance to think I make a run for the door slam it shut, lock it and it’s as if that’s a signal to the rest of the men to jump to their feet. Without a word, the ten of us scram to our bunks, pull on trousers and shoes.We get our hands on whatever weapon we can find. No guns, none of us have guns. So I grab my cricket bat. (As if that’s going to make a difference?)

Around me the others too are grabbing cricket bats and hockey sticks. Neil grabs an iron rod. An iron rod? Where did he get that from? We drop to the floor, crouch and wait. 

Should I hide under the bed? Nope, no way. Like, that is going to help. 

And then a crash as the door is broken down, hacked by what looks like an axe till it’s in pieces on the floor and through it step through two men. One holding a machine gun, the other wielding an axe which he drops to the floor and instead grabs the the gun slung over his back. They are both wearing balaclavas, so we can’t see their features. Of medium height, they are muscular and dressed all in black: Black jeans and sweatshirts, their hair covered by the hoods. Their backs are to the door. They point their guns at us, signalling to us to put our hands up. I hesitate, not looking around but sense that the others too are not sure what to do. The first gunman points his gun at the nearest recruit … a boy just out of his teens and shoots him in the head. 

There is a collective gasp from the room. A chill runs through me. Who are they? How did they break through the security measures of the force base? And then they are foolish enough to barge right into the heart of the training facilities of the force and shoot its cadets? Why? Why would they do that? The gunmen gesture to us and this time we follow their orders. We walk to the wall at the back of the bunkhouse and line up, hands on our heads, staring ahead.

An alarm rings out then. Finally! It’s been almost ten minutes since the shooting started. Still, the reinforcements should be here soon. Now all we need to do is keep these gun men distracted enough so they don’t kill us. As if reading my mind, the guy who’d shot the young recruit moves forward, his gun trained on us. I draw in a breath and hold it. The sweat trickles down my back. My heart is racing so fast I am sure if I look down I can see it leaping out of my chest. The gunman passes me, walks to the end of the line; then back to the middle where I am.

"You have no idea what this is about do you?" He asks.

He sounds young, as if he is barely a man himself. And something in his voice … muffled as it is, it sounds familiar. A faint recollection grabs the edge of my mind, And then I forget everything because he leans close to Neil who is next to me, and smashes the butt of his gun into his stomach. Neil falls to the ground, moaning, holding his middle. I firm up my stomach muscles. I know I am next, I must be. I want to squeeze my eyes shut, but don’t. The gunman leans to the other side, and shoots another man in the head.

This chap collapses without a cry. What the fuck? I want to jump him right then, but that would be really stupid of me. I am not going to help anyone if I get killed will I? There are six of us left in the room now. One of the younger recruits lets out a sob, at which gunman no 2 holds his gun at him, so he shuts up immediately.

The gunman asks me, "Where are the plans?’

"What are you talking about?" I reply, trying to stay calm, struggling not to show how scared I am inside.

He only grins and in response, and without taking his eyes off me, holds his gun up and I know what what he is going to do and I scream. "No!" But it’s too late. This time he’s shot two more guys in succession. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. These guys are desperate, or crazy or both.

Besides me Neil stirs on the ground.

The gunman takes a deep breathe, as if trying to calm himself and says, "Don’t pretend to be dumb. If you don’t get me the blueprints of the security arrangements being planned by the force for Bombay; the one that you and your teammates are being trained for, then all the rest of you die too."

Only six of us left now. Four young lives, gone just like that. I feel sick. What the fuck are these guys upto? And … and how do they know about the plans? This is top secret. The only reason I know about it, is because I’ve overheard the training officer speaking with the ACP about it on the phone last week. And only because I happened to be waiting outside his room then. And how does this gunman even know that I know the details?

Want to find out what happens next? Click here.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

She almost died. But when dystopia romance author Laxmi Hariharan had a near-death experience, she was told to write. Laxmi is the creator of dystopian romance series, RUBY IYER SERIES (The MANY LIVES OF VIKRAM ROY - FINALIST Indie Excellence Awards, the bestselling The RUBY IYER DIARIES , The FIRST LIFE OF VIKRAM ROY, The SECOND LIFE OF RUBY IYER & VIKRAM ROY, PANKY's FIRST LIFE), and the Amazon bestselling, eLit Gold winner, The Destiny of Shaitan (Bombay Chronicles, 1).

If you're looking for books like Divergent and Angelfall, you'll love the RUBY IYER SERIES.

Laxmi writes books similar to Hunger Games while listening to electronica & progressive rock, and downing innumerable cups of extra sweet ginger-chai. She is also an avid photographer of street art and believes she was a tree -- a redwood -- in her past life. London is where she creates. Bombay is what fires her imagination.

Instagram |  FB |  Blog |  @laxmi

--------------------------------------------------------------

FROM THE AUTHOR


All SEPTEMBER earnings from the RUBY IYER SERIES will be donated to SAVE THE CHILDREN: SUPPORT CHILD REFUGEES OF SYRIA. All the RUBY IYER books with their brand new covers, are on SALE all this month at 99p/c & Rs 69/49. Click HERE to buy them. 

YOU can also donate to SAVE THE CHILDREN directly HERE.

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GIVEAWAY

The First Life of Vikram Roy, The THIRD book in the RUBY IYER Series, launches this month. To celebrate the launch of the FIRST LIFE OF VIKRAM ROY, the author is giving away a $30 gift card. Enter HERE. Winner will be drawn, Oct 1, 2015, and announced in her next newsletter.

Giveaway provided by the author; bloggers are not responsible in any way for the prizing.

22 September 2015

Elite Book Promo: Introducing "Static" by S.K. Anthony

Static is a new adult fantasy novel and is the sequel to Kinetic (the Luminaries series). Although this is a series, S. K. Anthony has written both books to be read as a stand-alone.

About Static


Kevin Pierce is a teleporter, a ladies’ man, and a loyal friend . . . or so he thought.

As a genetically altered Luminary, he helps the government bring down some of the most dangerous criminals. Not very challenging if you have his special abilities. But when a group of rebel Luminaries attacks his Organization the fight for survival begins.

One shattering event after another tests the depth of his relationships, his sanity, and his powers. Emotionally torn, Kevin must choose carefully where his loyalty lies. In the middle of all the unexpected chaos he gets the biggest shock of his life when he’s faced by a betrayal he never saw coming. Angry, injured, and ready to even the score, Kevin goes Static . . .

About Kinetic


Being strong is one thing. Being an unlimited source of power is quite another.

Genetically altered by the Organization, Annie Fox takes down criminals CIA-style with her luminary strength. With nothing to mend but her broken heart, she is relentlessly pursued by her boss Derek Lake. Just when Annie is about to give him a chance, her ex-husband unexpectedly comes out of hiding.

A wanted man, Nick Logan is a cold-hearted murderer who is considered enemy number one, and orders are clear: kill on contact. He is more powerful than ever and threatens the lives of those she holds most dear. His plan? Get his hands on Annie and use her Kinetic energy to destroy them all. When Annie finds herself with an opportunity to end him, she pauses, horrified by the scars covering the face she once loved. A split second that will cost her everything...

Both books available NOW!

21 September 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with Chris von Halle

Meet Gorin, one of the leads in Chris Von Halle's  YA
sci-fi dystopian novel, The Fourth Generation.
Available now from Clean Reads Publishing
(formerly Astrea Press).

Presenting

Gorin 
of 
Faction 235


My name’s Gorin. I’m sixteen years old and I live in the large town Middleton in the Old World state of Pennsylvania. As with everybody in town, I’m part of a faction. My job in particular is to hunt for items left over from the Old World in the middle of town, though you could argue that that’s the point of factions in general. It’s been a hundred years since the plague, a birth-transmitted disease that kills everyone around the time they turn seventeen, broke out.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
For me personally, I would have to say being in jail. Mostly because then I wouldn’t be able to do the thing I love the most in life—illegally study artifacts left over from the Old World. For the record, my job is to hunt for said artifacts, but I’m required by law to immediately hand them over to the rulers without analyzing them myself.

Where would you like to live?
I would love to live at the rulers’ mansion—rumored to be utterly magnificent—for the rest of my life.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Being free to study all the intriguing pieces left over from the Old World to my heart’s content, instead of having to study in secret the few I’ve kept for myself.

The quality you most admire in a man?
Loyalty—the reason my roommate Marf is such a good friend and has never ratted me out about my secret pastime.

The quality you most admire in a woman?
I have never actually met a girl, since it’s illegal for the sexes to intermix, though I would guess probably loyalty also.

Your favorite virtue?
Curiosity.

Your favorite occupation?
I would love to have the job of examining all the Old World relics, but the kids who have that duty live at the rulers’ mansion and nobody else is even allowed near the place. So unfair!

Your most marked characteristic?
Probably my curiosity, though only my best friend Marf knows about that.

What do you most value in your friends?
Again, loyalty. Marf could’ve turned me in to the patrol ages ago because of my forbidden hobby, but he’d never do that—even though he disapproves of it—because he’s loyal to the core.

What is your principle defect?
Ironically, probably my curiosity. Sometimes I wonder if it’s really worth being curious, because all it would take is one slip-up—the wrong eyes seeing my work—for me to be hanged to death, the punishment for doing such a thing when you’re sixteen (the last year of your life in my town—and probably the whole world).

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
That one’s easy—dying at the age of seventeen without laying my eyes on the rulers’ mansion at least once. Rumor has it it’s absolutely brilliant and it has all kinds of incredible treasures on its property that have been collected over the course of generations. Of course, it’s illegal to even take a peek at that extraordinary place…

What would you like to be?
No question, I would love to study the artifacts at the mansion.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My old buddy Chud. He was the housekeeper of the faction I grew up in, so he was much older than me. Aside from having an awesome sense of humor, he and I always had the same major characteristic: curiosity. In fact, as I learned later on (though how I did brings back horrible memories), he used to secretly study all the objects in the nurture faction, even drawing them on paper and measuring certain parts of them. He was one unique and cool guy!

Who are your favorite heroines?
I’ve never known any girls, so I couldn’t tell you.

What is it you most dislike?
I’d have to say the rulers. Not letting me even have a chance to have my favorite job is the most unfair thing ever!

What natural gift would you most like to possess?
I wish I could be more optimistic.

How would you like to die?
As long as I get to catch a glimpse of the mansion before I die, it doesn’t matter to me. You can hang me or burn me to death—I  really don’t care! Okay, I guess I’d rather not have a slow death (haha).

What is your present state of mind?
Pretty motivated. If I wind up collecting enough of the objects that the rulers are currently looking for, there’s a chance I’ll get a tour of their mansion. Every year the factions compete in The Tournament of Prestige, in which they hunt for the artifacts worth the most prestige points. The faction that collects the most points at the end of the year gets a tour of the mansion, among a couple other pretty awesome prizes. (Siiiigh) What I wouldn’t give for my faction to win this year…

What is your motto?
Always make time in the day to do something you love, no matter what it is.

~*~

(c) Chris Von Halle
Chris von Halle has had many different lives in many different worlds—the near and distant future Earth, other planets, and even other dimensions—and his books recreate his childhood memories of such outlandish locations. In this world and life, he lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and enjoys such extraordinary activities as playing video games, tennis, and basketball, and writing the occasional comic strip.

For more of Chris, check out his social media (Facebook and Twitter) and stay up to date on his writing through his author website and blog.

14 September 2015

Elite Book Promo: The Opposite of Love by T. A. Pace



Welcome to my tour stop of The Opposite of Love by T.A.Pace!  The full tour schedule can be seen here.


About the Book


When 37-year-old Melanie is challenged to find a mate by her overbearing mother, she finds herself in a relationship that pushes her sexual boundaries, and in a place like Sin City, that can be a precarious ride.

An homage to Erica Jong’s Any Woman’s Blues, The Opposite of Love is a psychological/sexual ride through Las Vegas and its local sex scene as experienced by two lovers who will test each other’s ability to accept them as they are, as well as their own ability to accept themselves.


Excerpt One


James arrived at Melanie's door promptly at seven-thirty wearing a suit and carrying a bouquet of flowers. Melanie opened the door in a burgundy chiffon gown that draped modestly in front and dramatically in back, with a slit up to her mid-thigh on one side. She spun in a circle, modeling for him, and he let out a low growl in sincere approval. Without a single strap holding it in place, it seemed like the dress could just slide right off of her shoulders. The thought made his dick pulse.

"That is some dress, babe."

"Glad you like it," she said. Then, nodding at the flowers, "For me?"

"Who else?" He handed them over with a kiss on the cheek.

He’d had his truck washed and waxed and when he opened the door she climbed in gracefully, her leg sliding out of the open slit in her dress, then sliding back in before he closed the door. That visual image reminded him of what he’d be doing to her later.

James didn’t always bring a date to the policemen’s ball. The last time he had was three years before and his date had worn a short, silver sequined dress with porn-star cleavage and platform heels that looked like they’d just fallen off a pole dancer. She’d had too much to drink and giggled at everything anyone said. Did she make his dick hard? Sure. But she looked like she was paid for, and that didn’t help his image with the higher-ups. Melanie was the kind of woman who could be sexy without being trashy and manage interesting conversation and drinking without being silly or embarrassing him. She was the kind of date who could help him get promoted.

It was August and monsoon season was at its worst. Almost daily, black storm clouds materialized over the valley, looming like dark ghosts, dropping an inch of rain and hundreds of lightning strikes in the matter of an hour, downing trees and power lines and causing flash floods before moving on and leaving the residents feeling vaguely assaulted. But worse, the air had become the one thing locals couldn’t tolerate: sticky. Even humidity of thirty percent was likely to have a Las Vegan mopping his forehead and complaining of swampy weather.

They valet parked, and once inside the casino, they were safe. No matter the weather outside, the air-conditioned wombs of the casinos were always mild and dry. As they crossed the casino floor heading toward the banquet hall, men playing blackjack and craps twisted their heads around and leaned back from their tables to get a look at Melanie. With her high heels she was still about two inches shorter than James, but the way she held herself made her appear statuesque. She didn't have bombshell curves, but her femininity was palpable and what curves she had were classy. She held her head high and kept her arm threaded through his as they walked. James tried to remember ever feeling so proud to have a woman on his arm, and couldn't. The thought made him a little nervous, but more than anything, he felt like the man. His colleagues would be insane with jealousy and insatiable with questions.

Excerpt Two


On a Saturday morning several weeks after she and James started having sex, Melanie slept in. Slipping quietly out of bed at nine-thirty, she worked her way through the house, cleaning up as she went. She started a load of laundry, stacked the books and magazines, took out the garbage and answered some work-related emails. By eleven a.m. she was in the pool swimming laps. After doing thirty, she got out to grab some water. That was when she saw James on the other side of the living room slider. He stood there in his boxers, watching her, smiling, his bed head making him look like a child. She motioned for him to come out.

“Hey, handsome.”

“Hey yourself, sexy. What are you up to this fine day?”

“Just doing some laps. I was gonna catch some rays for a bit.”

“Need some company? My tan could use a boost.”

“Sure.”

James pulled off his underwear and threw them on the back of a lounge chair.

“Um, ok.” Melanie laughed. “The pool boy doesn’t come until two, so I guess you’re safe.”

James took a few running steps and cannon-balled into the deep end of the pool. Melanie shook her head. When he surfaced, she asked, “I’m going to grab some water. Want anything?”

“Beer if you have it.”

“I have it. Want me to grab the noodles for the pool?”

“Noodles?”

“You know, the foam things.”

“Afraid I don’t know the foam things.”

“I’ll grab ’em.”

Melanie came back with a bucket of beer on ice and two long, bendable foam sticks.

“Oh, noodles,” said James. “I get it.”

She handed him a beer and tossed the noodles in the pool. James tucked one of the noodles around his back and under his armpits and leaned back, sipping his beer. “Nice. Noodles and beer.”

“I call it pooling.”

“Pooling?” he asked.

“Yeah. Pool, drinks, lounging. It makes something lazy sound active.”

“I can think of other ways to make it active.”

Melanie winked at him. “I bet you can.”

She grabbed an inflatable lounger against the wall and tossed it in the pool. James held her beer while she situated herself on the raft.

Once she was all settled, she sighed and closed her eyes. It was a crystal clear ninety-five degrees out. The rays felt good and the water was doing a fine job of keeping her cool. The wind was calm and had been for the past week, so there weren’t many leaves in the pool. She could hear James paddling lazily around her. After about ten minutes of silence, he said, “You’re gonna get tan lines in that bikini.”

She opened one eye and peeked at him, smiling. “As you’re well aware, I already have tan lines from this bikini.”

“Haven’t you heard?” James smirked. “Tan lines are out.”

“Are they? It’s so hard to keep up with these trends.” She feigned exasperation and waved her hand dismissively. “I gave up trying.”

“Well then I will take it as my job to prevent you from committing a fashion faux pas with your tan lines. You can thank me later.” He put his beer on the deck and paddled closer to her.

He came up behind her raft and tugged at the string at her neck. She glanced toward the block fence on the left side of the yard. It was seven feet high, so it would require a ladder for anyone to peek over. She sat up and giggled as he untied the string at her back and threw her bikini top on the deck. She lay back down and he paddled around to the foot of the raft.

“Bottoms too,” he said.

“If you insist.”

She watched him pull her bikini bottoms off slowly, arching to help him. He was staring at the spot where her legs met. He slid the suit over her feet and let them slip from his hand and hang in the water. She self-consciously closed her legs.

James tucked the noodle around the front of his chest and leaned forward, letting the foam hold his weight up. He wrapped both hands around one of Melanie’s feet and kneaded the sole with his thumbs. She hummed with approval. “Heaven,” she said.

After a few minutes James worked on the other foot, then started rubbing her calves, then her thighs. By the time he reached her upper thighs her legs parted themselves. She loved the way his touch felt. And the combination of being caressed by the sun, the water and James all at the same time was having a narcotic effect.

He touched her gently, running a finger up and down her slit until she moaned and spread her legs wider. He spread her wetness around, and his breathing deepened, but when she pushed her hips against his hand, he wouldn’t put his fingers inside her. Instead, he stopped touching her long enough to pull the raft toward the shallow end of the pool. Once there, he was able to position his head between her legs and go to work.

The sensation was surreal—the coolness of the water and the warmth of his mouth—and Melanie couldn’t help thinking how lucky she was. This was what she deserved: a lazy Saturday in the pool, soaking up rays, drinking a beer, being pleased by a man who adored her. She imagined there were other things she’d been missing out on too—more important and profound things—but for now, this was all she wanted.

James increased the tempo and pressure until Melanie was on the edge of her orgasm, chasing it, pushing her hips back against his mouth. And he stopped.

Melanie whined. “Why’d you stop?”

“It’s just for a second,” he said. “I’ll be right back. No touching yourself.”

Melanie grunted and splashed water at him.

James got out of the pool and jogged to the slider and into the house, his member erect and bobbing, and emerged a minute later with the package of condoms from the nightstand and two towels. He put the towels at the top of the stairs, then tore one of the condom wrappers open with his teeth and rolled the condom on. He came back to Melanie and resumed where he’d left off.

It only took a few minutes before Melanie was again ready to come, and once again, James stopped.
“Come here,” he said. He took her beer from her, pulled her from the raft and led her to the edge of the pool. He positioned her on all fours on the pool stairs with her knees in the water and
her elbows resting on the towels he’d left on the deck. He continued playing with her, running one hand over her slit as his other hand ran up and down her arched back.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said breathlessly.

He put himself at her opening and waited. The anticipation was too much for her and she pushed back. James grunted with satisfaction. He moved in long strokes so that the head of his penis escaped her completely on each stroke, and she whined each time it did.

“You want me to stay in?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, I want you to stay in.”

And with that, he grabbed her by the hips and thrust once, deep and hard, holding the head against her cervix. She cried out.

“You look so beautiful in the sun,” he said.

Ten seconds went by. James caressed her back and then returned his hands to her hips and thrust again. This time Melanie moaned. Eight seconds went by. Again he thrust hard. Six seconds. Again. Four seconds went by. Again. Two seconds. Again. And then he was giving it to her, the water around them churning as he pulled her into him, skin slapping wetly against skin.

Melanie moaned and lowered her head to the towel. She could feel her knees starting to chafe against the step, but she was very close to coming. She reached between her legs and before she could touch herself James grabbed her elbow and pulled her arm back—not to the point of hurting her, but close.

“Babe…” she whined.

“No touching yourself. I’ll get you there.”

“Ok. Let go of my arm.”

James didn’t say anything, and he didn’t let go of her arm. His stroke slowed slightly. Melanie started to push herself up so she could turn and look at him, but he pushed her head down to the towel.
He leaned over her so that his chest was pressed against her back. “Do you trust me?”

“What are you doing?”

“Just trust me, ok?”

“Ok.” Melanie had no intention of trusting him if this got out of hand. But so far nothing had been painful except the chafing on her knees, so she gave him a little leeway.

“Do you know how beautiful you are?” he asked.

Melanie didn’t respond.

James increased the tempo again and Melanie felt her muscles start to tighten. It appeared she would be able to get there without touching herself, and she was beyond ready for it.

James wrapped her hair around his free hand and held it against the back of her head. He was thrusting hard and strong and panting into her ear. Melanie was moaning more with each stroke and trying not to be loud enough that the neighbors would hear if they were out in their yards.

James whispered, “We’re being watched.”

“What?” Melanie tried to lift her head to look around but James tightened his fist in her hair and held her where she was with her cheek against the towel. She squirmed under him but he was still holding her arm and she couldn’t get free. He slowed his stroke again.

“Who’s watching?” she whispered loudly.


“It’s ok. Just relax. I’m not letting you go until you come.”

She wasn’t fighting him, but she wasn’t sure she could relax with someone watching. The urge to come was ebbing and flowing and her mind was racing.

“Who is it?” she asked again. If it was her creepy next door neighbor she’d pretty much have to sell her house and move. The thought of him masturbating to her was too nauseating to bear.

“I’m not sure, but I think it’s the pool boy.”

Melanie tried to turn her head toward the gate where the pool boy always let himself in, but James held her firmly. She closed her eyes and groaned. At least he was young and attractive. The thought of him seeing her—and liking what he saw—didn’t seem completely offensive. Maybe just the opposite. She tried not to think about it and just concentrated on her orgasm. She knew the sooner she came the sooner this would be over, and she knew better than to try and fake it. She’d tried that the week before when she was tired from a trip. He’d become suspicious, but she’d been able to convince him that she’d had a small orgasm.

“Come for me,” he said now, the water splashing around them as he whispered into her ear.

James started thrusting faster again and her body continued to spasm and arch despite her self-consciousness. When she began moving back against him, he put his knees outside of hers so she could squeeze her legs together, and within moments they were both coming. Melanie was
able to turn her face enough to muffle her cries in the towel as her muscles convulsed hard and long. James released her arm and hair. He leaned back and moaned up toward the sky as he thrust into her slowly, once, twice, three times.

Before the waves of pleasure had subsided completely, Melanie slowly lifted her head and turned toward the gate. There was no one there.

Excerpt Three


“I don’t remember what kind of wine we were drinking that night, do you?” Melanie asked.

Around eleven, Derek texted and asked if she wanted to have a drink at the Artisan. A nostalgic pang made her smile. She assigned Jen to drive Sarah home. Now she and Derek were sitting at the bar in the same seats as the night they met. It was a minor miracle they’d found seats at all; the place was jumping and a DJ was set up in the corner playing hip-hop and top-40 music.

“Some kind of chardonnay, I think,” said Derek. He ordered a bottle and they toasted the recovering Arts District.

“It must be nice to have the extra income again,” Melanie said.

“You said it. A teacher’s salary is no way to live.” Derek laughed morosely, then brightened. “But if the gallery keeps up at this rate, I’ll be coming to you for investment advice.”

“I hope you do,” said Melanie, but she knew he was exaggerating. “What else has been going on? How are things with Sharon?”

“That didn’t go so well.”

“What happened?”

“We split. She was pushing for something serious. I couldn’t commit.”

“Really? Mr. Love-is-everything couldn’t commit? What’s the deal?”

“I can only commit to the right person. We didn’t have as much in common as I would’ve liked.”

“Like what?” Melanie asked. Anticipating that he’d be providing her with ammo she could use in a future debate, she turned in her chair to face him and give him her full attention.

“Don’t get all righteous on me.” Derek shook his head. “But we weren’t compatible in intellect. Or in bed.” He took a swig of his wine and Melanie thought she could see the color rise in his cheeks, 
although it was hard to tell for sure in the dim lighting.

“I’ll be damned.”

“What?” He still wouldn’t look at her.

“Compatibility, huh?”

“Yep.” He nodded repeatedly. “It matters.”

“So then why am I dating a friggin’ cop with no advanced degree and no apparent limit to the kinkiness of his sexual preferences.”

Derek choked on his wine, struggled valiantly to recover, and said, “Where to begin, Mel?”

“You tell me.”

“Does it bother you that he’s a cop?”

Truth be told, it had at first. In fact, she’d pocketed it thinking it would make a nice exit strategy if nothing else worked. She could always say that his work was too dangerous, that she was afraid of him getting killed. But his job wasn’t even remotely dangerous. He’d only pulled his gun once since he’d been promoted to detective, and even then it was on a dog, and he hadn’t fired. She’d also thought that a blue-collar man was beneath her, but she found that he was smart—even without an advanced degree—smart enough to debate with her, and to occasionally be right. And she also found nobility in his reasons for becoming a cop in the first place. To want to make a difference on such a substantial scale, even in the face of bureaucracy and cutbacks and painfully incremental successes was admirable, and she could see the value in being with a man with that kind of moral virtue and determination.

Derek nodded as she explained her thoughts on James’ job. “What’s this about the kink?” he asked.

“It’s been interesting,” Melanie said. And it was her turn to blush. She spared him the pooling, the spanking, and simply explained that he introduced her to things she’d never really explored before.

“Like what?”

“Well, have you ever been to the Green Door?”

“Actually, I have. It’s pretty cool if you’re open-minded about that kind of thing. Place is huge. Like the Disneyland of sex.”

Melanie gaped at him.

“What?”

“I had no idea you were so…”

“So what?”

“Freaky.”

Derek laughed. “Hardly. Went there once with a girl I was dating who liked to be tied up. Went another time on my own. That’s pretty much it.”

“Really? Tied up?”

“Yeah. And choked. It was kind of weird. But I’d never done any of that before so I figured, what the hell. You never know what’s going to flip your switch ’til you try it.”

Melanie thought about the spankings she’d been getting, how it turned her on so much that her juices wet the insides of her thighs before James even touched her there. She never would have thought it would be so hot to be the recipient of pain.

“So what did you think of it? Tying her up and choking her?”

“Wasn’t really my thing.”

“I see.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

Melanie was swirling her chardonnay, watching the legs crawl down the sides of the glass, deep in thought about this new side of Derek, the sexually experienced Derek. Perhaps kinky even.

“So I take it you’ve either been already or you’re thinking about going,” he said.

“He wants to go this weekend. I’m nervous. I worry about people seeing me and knowing who I am.”
 
“If that’s all you’re worried about, definitely go. It’s wild. And if they can see you, you can see them too.”

“That’s what James said.”

“Smart guy. Can’t wait to meet him.”

“Hah!”

When Melanie finished her second glass of chardonnay she ordered water. It was almost one a.m. and she’d need to drive soon.

“Have you been here much since we met?” Derek asked.

“Once or twice I think. Still reminds me of that night though.” She smiled at him and he rubbed her upper arm.

“Shall we end it the same way tonight?” he asked.

Her smile disappeared. She had expected the invitation, but she hadn’t realized that there was a dilemma involved until it presented itself. She was dating James now, and they’d both established that they weren’t seeing other people. Semantically, she wasn’t “seeing” Derek, so there was a loophole there. But she knew she and James had both meant sex as well when they’d had the discussion. So in this moment, in the face of this invitation, Melanie was forced to decide what kind of relationship she wanted to have. If she wanted something casual, she could do whatever she wanted, as long as she gave James the same freedom. But if she wanted to have a serious relationship, she could no longer sleep with Derek. It seemed a surprisingly cruel loss to endure.

“Let me guess,” he said, sparing her the explanation. “You and James are monogamous?”

“Yeah,” she said, her tone full of regret. “We are.”

“Hey, don’t be bummed about it. This is really great news,” he said. “That means things are going well, right?”

She smiled at him. Ever the optimist. Silver linings and unicorns.

“I would say things are going well so far, yes. Ask me again after the Green Door.”

He laughed. “I will. Can’t wait to hear all about it.”

They left the bar and headed toward the front door, but Derek pulled her into a small room to the back of the lobby. “Ever been in here?” he said.

There were four wooden pews on either side of a short aisle that led to an elevated platform. Six paintings hung on the wall of the tiny room.

“No. What is this, a chapel?”

“Yep. They do weddings here.”

Drifting slowly around the room, Melanie studied the artwork. The paintings were in the style of 16th century Renaissance art, replete with wistful women and wise infants.

In one, a baby reached its hands greedily toward the mother, while looking at the viewer with knowing accusation; Melanie found herself a bit creeped out by it. In another, a mother held a child in her lap and a cherubic cupid stood on the floor to her right pulling her attention completely away from the infant. But the one that drew Melanie’s attention hung just inside the door of the chapel. A young woman, naked from the waist up, pushed an armed cupid forcefully away from her. The cupid held his arrow expertly, with the coordinated hand of a grown man, the tip of his forefinger against the shaft, aiming it at the woman’s heart. Her hands were on his shoulders, elbows locked out, fending him off. It seemed a strange choice for a chapel, but then they all did.

“You like that one?” Derek asked.

“It’s odd, don’t you think?”

Derek shrugged. “Who do you think wins?”

“Tough to say, since the cupid has the advantage of not being real and therefore not held to the rules of reality.”

“So he’s got tricks?”

“Probably.”

Derek laughed. He walked Melanie to her car in the self-parking area and hugged her close, not letting her go after the usual three seconds. “Just because you’re in a relationship now doesn’t mean you have to be a stranger, ok?”

“Ok,” she said. “I’ll call. We’ll have lunch or something. Like normal people.”

Derek laughed and kissed her on the forehead. She got into her SUV and waved to him as she pulled out.

He mouthed to her, “Be safe.”


11 September 2015

College is Back in Session...

Vector cc-licensed  by Vectorilla.com. Source
...and I've fallen behind on a lot of things--posting on my websites and social media; writing my Matsuricon review; and working on all of my writing projects (including a book I hoped to release on September 30th...not sure if that will work out now...).

I'm teaching 3 lectures and 2 labs for this semester at North Central State College. I've been an adjunct with the English department since January 2014. While I'm not quite the innocent babe I was in 2014, I'm still pretty new to teaching overall, and one of the issues I always have is with time management.

Every time the term begins I have to re-assess how I attempt to balance teaching, writing, and my personal life. Well, personal life has been a bit nonexistent for a while, so it's mostly me trying to figure out how to keep on with the writing lifestyle while I'm grading the work of over 50 students this term. It's been a while since I had that many and I've already discovered I have to adjust my grading methods yet again (if I keep grading how I've done it in the past, students will never see their papers!). But it's better I realize this three weeks into it before things get really stressful and assignments get much more complicated.

I have a couple things on my mind project-wise that I may have to reconsider...in the meantime, I hope to get my Matsuricon review up soon (I had a BLAST). You can also expect more Elite Book promos forthcoming as well.

Thank you all for your patience with me!