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This blog contains short stories and novel excerpts intended for adult audiences.

Most of the images on this blog are PG13, but occasionally there is a picture on a specific post that might be more sensual in nature.

The stories are primarily science fiction and/or romance and may have sexual themes and scenes.

The Shadow

Today’s story is a guest post by a writer with a long, bright future ahead of her. She’s only six and a half years old, and this is her first published work. As a mother, I couldn’t be more proud!


Rhiannan shadow 01The Shadow by Rhiannan

Rhiannan shadow 02The Shadow

Rhiannan shadow 03Once upon a time there was a poor man. He met a nice woman. He wanted to buy one hundred things.

Rhiannan shadow 04But…he was a ghost! Dun dun DUN!

Rhiannan shadow 05Woman: “Ahhhhhhhhhh!”

He was scary! He was terrifying!

The End



What She Wished For

Model John Quinlan as Brendt.

Model John Quinlan as Brendt.

Marjorie didn’t want to go down the stairs.

He was there.

He was what she’d wished for, what she’d told her parents over and over again she wanted. He was what she’d bragged to her friends at school about.

She never, not once in a million years, thought he’d actually show up.

Brendt wasn’t wearing a tuxedo, but his suit was sharp and his shirt matched the blue flowers in the dress mom had found at the vintage clothing store. It wasn’t a real Prom dress, but she loved it.

The dress was just one in a long list of challenges she’d overcome in her quest for Prom.

First, there were the understated murmurings of “Special Needs kids shouldn’t go to the normal kids’ Prom.”

Second, the cost of the tickets which, although not terribly expensive, were more than she’d usually ask her parents for.

Third, the fact that Prom was going to be at a fancy hotel in the city, twenty minutes away, and Dad needed the only car for work that night.

Brendt drove a Corvette, and it was a convertible. Marjorie had watched from her parents’ bedroom window as he arrived. She’d heard the other kids bragging about renting limos or borrowing their parents’ cars. She wondered what they’d think when she arrived in the sports car, escorted by a gorgeous man fifteen years older than the graduating seniors.

Brendt looked up. Marjorie froze. It had been five years since he’d seen her. Would he recognize her?

Did he still love her?

Brendt’s face gradually softened, and his mouth curved just barely into a smile.

“Wow,” he said. Their mother was standing behind him, going through an entire box of tissues and trying unsuccessfully to hide her sniffles and sobs. “Little sis, you are all grown up!”

Marjorie looked down at her feet. She was wearing high heels for the first time, and they weren’t as easy to walk in as she’d thought.

But it didn’t matter. Because no matter how unsteady she felt, no matter what the other kids might say about her, her big brother had come home.

Because it was what she’d wished for.

I first used John‘s picture back in 2011 for a story called Postcard. At that time, he was just a gorgeous guy with photos attached to a creative commons license on Wikimedia Commons. Then he contacted me, I interviewed him, and we became friends. I eventually used him for several others, including my serial SciFi Synaesthesia. Later, he teamed up with Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art to create some fantastic cover art for authors to purchase. I don’t have a novel published yet, but both John and Claudia graciously let me use a low-res copy of Siren Song to mock up a cover for my 2013 3-Day-Novel story Siren’s Web.

This Saturday, John will be in my area for the NPC (National Physique Commitee) Vermont Championships. Maybe we’ll finally get to meet in person!

Someone Else’s Wedding

It was someone else’s wedding.

It was always someone else’s wedding.

But this one was different. Not just because the bride and groom were combining several faith-traditions into a ceremony that made them both happy, but because this time, Beth was not alone.

It was a brief, beautiful ceremony, in a picnic shelter at the park, followed by a reception in the same shelter. After going through the line of pot-luck dishes the friends had all brought, Beth found Fredrick over in the corner. She leaned against him, comfortable in that stance even though there were still several seats left on the picnic benches.

It was a new… she hesitated to call it love. Love was special. Love was enduring. Love was something you said to someone who meant something more than a passing friendship.

She’d never said it to him, even though he’d said it to her.

He’d taken all the risks in the relationship. He’d asked her out. He’d kissed her…although he chose a time when their friends’ kids were climbing all over them so that, if he was wrong, Beth couldn’t slap him.

He wasn’t wrong.

But a kiss has to be mutual. Saying “I love you” does not. Fredrick had said the words to her, and it weighed on her that she refused to say them back.

Then she watched the bride and groom. They were happy. They were really, and truly happy.

She could be happy too.

Beth turned in Fredrick’s arms, and looked up into his eyes. “I love you,” she said softly, and at first he seemed not to believe his ears.

Then he said it back. “I love you too.”

Their kiss was somewhat inappropriate for an afternoon in the park between two people who were not the bride and groom. It prompted all their friends to cheerfully catcall “Get a room!”

That kiss, and that “I love you” were repeated many times through the years.

And now, twenty years later, the kisses and endearments mean everything and more.

Engagement PhotoThis one is memoir. Yes, I kinda changed the names…

Today is hubby’s and my 19th anniversary. It’s been almost twenty years since that first “I love you” and I expect to have twenty more twice over again and then some.



Clarice listened. It was there. She had faith it was there.

Of course, faith was something that, as a scientist, she hid from the world. No one would take her seriously if she admitted that, sometimes, the reason she found the missing puzzle piece or the reason she leaped from a point of stability to a point of chaos that turned out to be a serendipitous insight into a whole new path of discovery was, simply, faith.

Bum dada bum, bum, bum… Bum dada bum, bum, bum…

The voice was not in the static. The voice was Apophenia. At least, that’s what she called herself…

It was an odd name, but Apophenia was an odd creature. Non-corporeal, like an angel or demon. Not that Clarice believed in angels or demons…

You should believe in angels and demons. They’re just not what you think they are, Apophenia said, her voice like wind-chimes in Clarice’s mind.

“Really?” Clarice spoke out loud, heavy with sarcasm. “Care to enlighten me?”

It amused Apophenia to be acknowledged in such a way. She hugged her Beloved host. Sure! she said, then shared her vision.

Clarice’s jaw dropped. The bum dada bum, bum bum in her head suddenly made sense as she saw the glowing creatures ascending and descending a ladder…no…it wasn’t a ladder…that wasn’t the right word. For one thing, they weren’t going up, they were going further. Not farther, but further. And they weren’t creatures…they were…

Clarice had no words. She was torn between the utter clarity she was experiencing as the sounds, vision, and a synaesthetic sense she could not harness battled with her sense of reason that strove to put her experience into terms that she could understand. Terms she could communicate to the scientific community.

No words.

No evidence.

Nothing to cite, nothing to reference.

But perfect clarity.

Clarice was at once blessed and cursed. Apophenia covered Clarice’s eyes again. The symbiote danced around her host, bobbing up and down, worried that she had gone too far.

Clarice? Clarice? I’m sorry…you weren’t ready? Was it too much?

Clarice shook her head. “Oh…it was too much. It was too much…” she gazed off where the vision had been, trying to capture it again. She listened to the static, but even the bum dada bum, bum, bum was lost to her. “But it was wonderful!”

Clarice had never before used the term ‘wonderful’ in it’s truest sense. What she’d experienced was full of wonder. It was far more than a synonym for ‘good.’ It carried with it the essence of astonishment, of rapture.

Rapture. Was that what it meant? Clarice walked to where she had seen the creatures ascending and descending the ladder. She discarded her headphones, straining with every human sense to discover again what she’d seen. She closed her eyes, like Luke did at the end of A New Hope, trying to access her Jedi powers. She opened her eyes, channeling how Cumberbatch’s version of Sherlock would approach the puzzle. She looked behind her, thinking she heard the groans of a TARDIS landing and wishing a raggedy man with a bow-tie and fez would step out and enlighten her.

She prayed. She spoke to God in earnest, without any insincere apologies for her very human doubt.

I don’t think it’s time yet, said Apophenia.

“Let me see it again! If I could only see it again…”

Apophenia stroked her hair and patted her back. We’ll have a nice dream time together tonight. I can show you more when you’re asleep. I’m sorry Clarice, I’m sorry I showed you before you were ready…

“I’m ready! I can handle this! Please!”

Apophenia yawned. Clarice yawned to, unable to help herself.

You’ve been working for almost fourteen hours now.

“I have been working a lot…”

We should go home.

“I really should go home.”

So they went home. And they dreamed. And Clarice understood.

Until she awoke again to unreasonable reason.

I had to write this story because this week’s episode of Mind Games  (Starring Christian Slater) uses Apophenia to help heal a relationship between a father and son. I’ve been out of the writing habit for a couple of weeks because I was sick and then I had to put my energy into making up other life commitments. My short story The Genesis of the Incorporeum appears in the Garden of Eden anthology from Garden Gnome Publications, and I need to finish my story The Remorse of the Incorporeum to submit to the next anthology. Apophenia is an incorporeum…a non-corporeal creature who lives symbiotically and benevolently with multiple human hosts throughout time. This story is a good warm-up to get back into the swing of things.

I’m looking for some con-crit though…

Did I overdo the ellipses? Or were they appropriate for my voice? (As an author…not the voice of Apophenia!)

Is the POV too vague? Does it feel like head-hopping? I thought I could get away with it since both characters are sort-of in the same head.


Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

They were there on purpose. But whether they were placed there or left there was unknown. Had there once been a forest of trees, these few left simply for…for what? Or had it always been a grassy plain, with these dozen trees carefully tended until they could survive on their own?

It had been a long walk to find the place. The journey was made longer because she had no idea where the end was, or how far the journey would be.

The sky was monochrome. She couldn’t tell if it was consistently overcast, or if it was clear and this was simply the color of the sky in this place.

The air was thin. It had been uphill, all the way, even to the bitter end.

The trees marked the horizon perfectly. The trunks met the ground precisely where the ground met the sky. It must be some kind of optical illusion, because they stayed that way even when she was finally among them. She looked to the right. The line of trees met the horizon. She looked to the left and saw the same. No sea, no vast landscape, no gently sloping path leading her down into the next…

There was nothing. She looked back the way she had come. It was open to her, yet there was no going back. That was the path she had taken. It was not meant to be retraced. It was not meant to be regretted.

Ahead of her, the unknown. The undefined.

And so she leapt.

With purpose.

This story was written for the Write On Edge week 10 prompt that was the picture. I ignored the quote. It did not speak to me.

This one turned out much more poetic than most of my stuff, but it intrigues me… what do you think?

Concrit is welcome!



Melissa Surreal

They weren’t real.

Not yet, anyway…

Lissa nurtured the tiny beings, shaping their lives, balancing their needs, their wants, their desires with what was plausible.

She had not created a fairyland.

Not this time…

A thousand years earlier, she had created a fairyland…a place with magic and dragons and wishes that came true…

A place that did not stand the test of time.

A place where the threads of reality were hopelessly frayed, the paradox of its very existence tearing apart the world from within.

Having created that fairyland, though it failed, it had given her a new possibility. New tools to make something…not better. Nothing was better than the world she’d loved and lived in for a millennia. To make something… stable. Lasting. Self perpetuating.

It was safe.

Lissa scried, spying on her creation. She desperately wanted all to be right in their world, but that was simply not possible.

All was right in the fairyland… a thousand years ago. Then it frayed.

Her new world could not fray. She imbued it with permanence.

She gave them free will.

She laughed at the irony that her creation did not believe she existed. For soon, she would not.

Lissa reached out to her little ones, her beloveds, those she had created. Those she had allowed to suffer and overcome and rejoice and do it all over again a million times.

These…she would make real.

The light from the scrying glass lit her face.

She was glad they did not believe in her.

She did not want them to mourn her.

Slowly, she gave herself to them.

She exchanged her own reality for theirs, until she herself was nothing but a fable, a character to live on in legend, as fiction.

And they lived on.

This story was totally inspired by the picture. My friend Melissa recently posted it on facebook, even though it’s a couple of years old now.

Melissa is a true writer’s friend. In particular, every once in a while I have a weird question that requires some research, and she jumps on it, searching out weird facts for me to weave into my stories.

Thanks Melissa!

WWHBThis story isn’t related to any others I’ve done, but Lissa reminds me somewhat of Jane, the sorceress in What Would Have Been, the serial I posted on the blog back in 2012.

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Schar Dress LunaScharona wasn’t sure what to wear. In the end she chose a soft, somber dress. It let her show a lot of cleavage and hid some of the extra curvature she’d accumulated since moving into government housing. Besides, it had been sitting in her closet for six months with the tags still on it. She’d explained to her mother she didn’t really need dresses, she just needed navy blue pants to go with her work shirts. The rest of her life could be spent in sweats or pajamas. But Mama’nica insisted. Her daughter was going to have a few nice things, even if she was embarrassingly poor.

Scharona had never had a rozloučení. Then again, she’d never had a relationship that warranted a parting ceremony. The closest she’d come was when she ditched final exams to spend the weekend with Kevin, stupidly thinking he was going to propose. He was…to someone else. Or rather, they proposed to him shortly thereafter. But Kevin hadn’t called that last weekend together a rozloučení. The ceremony was only for people who were in a real relationship. Whatever they had didn’t count.

Scharona didn’t think the relationship she had with the other rozloučení guests counted either. She was definitely part of the group…or rather, the two groups. She was somewhere in the middle. The purpose of the rozloučení was for the two groups to separate amicably, letting each other know that they were still cherished, but that they had chosen to go this way or that way.

Scharona had no idea whether she was going ‘this’ way or ‘that’ way. She didn’t particularly care, either. Since discovering that she’d never actually had a relationship with Kevin, she’d been trying to get on with her life, both professionally (since she’d screwed up college after ditching her final exams then spending a semester wallowing in self pity) and personally.

Technically speaking, ‘this’ way was with Dade, and ‘that’ way was with Lorenzo. Scharona had never actually been on a date with Lorenzo…unless she counted the times they all sat around the Step-Up house’s common room and watched old movies. She’d been on a couple of group dates that included Dade, but mostly because Jamie brought her along.

Scharona had been fastidious about preparing for the ceremony. Some of her friends had been talking about the possibility of making love one last time before they parted. Of course, that wasn’t unusual for a rozloučení, especially for one where a large group was splitting into two smaller groups. But Scharona hadn’t had sex with any of them. She hadn’t had sex at all since Kevin left her. Or, rather, since Kevin decided to no longer occasionally give her a booty call, because he was getting serious with another group, and there was no place for her there.

There was a certain irony that a rozloučení might mean her first sexual encounter with her boyfriends and girlfriends, not her last. Hopefully, no one would mention it. She was a considerate lover. She had a lot to offer. This rozloučení was going to be the start of something wonderful, she just knew it. Which kind of wonderful, she wasn’t sure. But it would be wonderful either way.

Scharona took the transit to the Companion House they’d booked for the rozloučení. She was greeted by a professional hostess who kindly kept her company for a half hour since she was the first to arrive. The others trickled in, each greeting her and the others with a kiss and embrace. Seleste was crying already. Scharona wasn’t sure which way she was choosing. They rozloučení had been planned a month ago. That gave everyone time to think and talk about which way they wanted to go, and deliberate “if so-and-so is going ‘that’ way, so am I” or “whichever way he goes, I’ll go the other.”

When they were all present, the hostess gave a lovely speech about parting ways and appreciating the love that was shared along one’s journey. Seleste wasn’t the only one crying. A duo of guitarists began to play, and the hostess handed out a dozen or so delicate floral strands to each of them. “As you say your parting words, give your cariad a strand as a token of your continued respect and deep regard,” the hostess explained. Scharona took hers and tried not to make eye contact with anyone. She didn’t really want to leave any of them.

They all stood, and the mingling began. Scharona wiped away a tear, seeing how emotional some of them were getting. Three of them broke off from the group and went over to an alcove. Soon they were cooing and kissing and, Scharona expected, much more.

She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned. Damian smiled at her and placed a strand of delicate purple blooms around her neck. “Scharona, you are a sweet and loving person. I will miss you, and I hope that when we do see each other, you will greet me as a friend.”

“Thank you Damian,” she said, hugging him. “Of course I will always think of you as a friend.” She placed a strand around his neck and kissed him goodbye.

So it was decided. Her first goodbye. She was fond of Damian, but didn’t feel any particular connection to him. It would be easy to stay friends. The problem was, she didn’t know whether he was going ‘this’ way or ‘that’ way.

She mingled through the room. Everyone else seemed to be hugging or talking. Another couple had retreated to an alcove, leaving no doubt as to what manner of goodbye they were enjoying. Scharona watched for just a minute. She’d seen other people make love before; the bonfire tradition the counselors had at camp was to divide up for some amorous recreation for the night. But this was more intimate, and more meaningful. This was two lovers saying goodbye for the last time.

Scharona looked up to see Eloisa approaching her, her eyes red with tears. She was already holding up a strand of flowers. They each said a few words, exchanged strands, and kissed each other goodbye.

Eloisa went to Lorenzo, clinging to him but not saying goodbye. That didn’t surprise Sharona. She’d been pretty sure Eloisa would stay with Lorenzo.

That put her into Dade’s group. Scharona brightened, and took a deep breath. She liked Dade. He was the kind of guy who was sweet to everyone. He was also the choice of Jamie, who was the one person Scharona was closest to in the group.

Jamie, who was currently flat on her back with her legs in the air.

Scharona knew that most of the others had been lovers, but she didn’t realize just…to what extent that relationship went. She’d thought that there had been a few random pairings and trios etcetera, but not the close, intimate, extended entanglement it seemed to be.

Scharona exchanged a few more strands and said her goodbyes, then counted the flowers around her neck. She had eight…and there were fifteen people in the room, including her. She wondered if someone in Dade’s group had given her a strand by mistake. That would be awkward, but they could laugh about it later.

Two more friends gave her strands. She mumbled something appropriate with each, then surreptitiously removed a few strands from her neck and returned them to her hand. Maybe no one would notice, but it seemed somehow wrong that she have ten strands when there were only fourteen other people to give them to her.

Scharona was glad that so many others were crying. Tears were welling up in her eyes as she realized what was happening. Unless the groups were splitting into three…not just two.

Hopefully, she cast her eyes around the room. Only a few people were still exchanging strands. One entanglement that looked like four people was buried in a pile of cushions in an alcove.

She felt a hand on her back and turned. Dade and Osima. They each placed a strand around her neck and embraced her together. Tears streaked her makeup down her face, and Osima handed her a box of tissues, helping her to clean her cheeks. Osima had a sweet, melancholy smile, but there was nothing in her expression that showed she held any particular affection for Scharona. Osima was just being kind.

Scharona glanced around nervously. A few people were already gathering coats, and there seemed to be two distinct groups forming in the room. She was part of neither, and there were only two strands left.

Lorenzo embraced her, hugging her hard and long. “You, Scharona, I think I will miss most of all!” The sincerity in his voice was insulting, but the others looked on, some of them embracing her again and saying goodbye.

Jamie hadn’t even bothered to put her clothes back on after her sexual performance. She wore her flowers naked, like a fairy queen. “We’ll still have ice cream together on trivia nights!” she said, as if it was some great promise of friendship. Scharona accepted Jamie’s strand, and gave her one of her own. She wasn’t sure whether it was one of the ones she had taken off already, and she hoped no one would notice that she was wearing more strands than anyone in spite of having taken some off.

The others lingered, as if reluctant to take that final step of leaving the Companion House, admitting that some relationships were ending, even though other relationships were continuing and growing stronger.

Scharona didn’t linger. She didn’t say any more goodbyes, or even tell her friends she was leaving. She slipped out quietly, pulling her hood up over her head as she headed back to the trans, and back to her tiny, lonely room.

Logo Castle Celt Nessie 2This story is a ‘deleted scene’ from Under the Radar, the story in my Kingdom Come series that I recently took off the shelf to re-write. I call it a ‘deleted scene’ even though I just wrote it tonight and never had any intention of putting it in the story. It takes place…but it’s not important to the overall plot. The only character from this entire story who is mentioned at all in the actual novel is Scharona, the main character. In the novel, I mention the fact that Scharona once had a rozloučení with a group of cariads (boyfriends/girlfriends/people who’ve been dating) and everyone but her ended up in a loving relationship.

The Kingdom Come series takes place on a world where committed polyamory is the social norm. A traditional marriage consists of several men and several women. I came up with the idea of a rozloučení as a mature way for people to part kindly with one or more romantic partners, whether or not they’re sexually intimate. Dating on Kingdom Come is usually a group outing, and when the group becomes large and complicated, they usually break up into smaller, more defined groups. To come up with the right word, I put the word “parting” into google translate, and started clicking languages. Czech turned out to have the word I liked best. ‘Rose LOW chen ee’ is the best I can do to sound it out.

I’d love to hear people psychoanalyze Scharona based on this one scene. This very much symbolizes who she is (at least in the beginning of the story.) She is someone who always ‘flies under the radar’ and hopes that she won’t be noticed. She believes if she is just nice to everybody and always acts conservatively and quietly, everything will work out right.


The Anemone of My Enemy

576px-Hepatica_transsilvanica_flowerQuirt Quickfinish eyed the white picket fence with suspicion. It was all that stood between him and Bliss.

Well, that was an exaggeration.

A white picket fence, a garden full of deadly genetically engineered blooms, and three tiny barking dogs stood between him and the cottage door. Once inside, he’d have to vanquish his arch nemesis, Dr. De’Devious, and then he could have Bliss.

Well, technically he’d already had Bliss.

Bliss of the ample bosoms and inadequate corset was the only woman who, when he proved his name, had declared “Wow!” instead of the the usual “What? Is it over already?”

Well, Dr. De’Devious was’t really his arch nemesis. She was Bliss’. Why, he had no idea.


Quirt fastened his gas mask and checked the ammunition in his super-soaker. Weed killer from the dollar store mixed with his nana’s best moonshine should kill anything.

First, the dogs.

Well, he wasn’t going to kill the dogs. But one package of super-chewy puppy treats had the three of them trotting off to their respective doggie houses to savor their snacks.

Next, the picket fence.

Well, he couldn’t just open the gate. It was probably alarmed. The gazebo looked rather startled, too. Vaulting over the fence was much more manly.

Quirt landed in a pocketfull of posies and they instantly attacked. His gas mask took care of the noxious fumes, and the super-soaker soon turned the delightful flower bed into a sandbox.

Next, the lawn.

Well, he couldn’t walk on the cobblestone quicksand. He was too smart for that. His armored thigh-high crocs protected his feet and legs from the deadly razor grass, and soon he was within reach of the front porch.

Purplish blue flowers as big as his head turned towards him. The tiny yellow spines in the center squirmed in an alarmingly prehensile way. The long, thin stamen quivered, then shot out at him, bouncing harmlessly off his leather duster.

Now that the anemone was disarmed, he removed his gas mask and started cooing to it. “Who’s a pretty flower? Who’s the prettiest blossom in all the garden?”

The blooms rotated, watching him, but not attacking. He took a plastic bag out of his inside coat pocket and tossed a marshmallow to one of the blooms. The prehensile center snatched it out of the air and stuffed it into the gaping maw in the center. He tossed more to the other blooms, and soon they were begging for more.

“Can I help you?” said a voice from the porch.

Quirt looked up to see a pleasantly curvaceous woman wearing a polka dot dress standing in the open door. He tried to step onto the porch, but the anemones were cuddling up to him, begging for more. One had worked its way up his leg to his crotch, which unfortunately was responding in an embarrassing manner. He might be willing to tup anything with two legs, but he’d yet to tup something that had none.


The woman glanced at his crotch. “You’re Quickfinish, aren’t you?” she asked.

“I…how do you know who I am?” he said, fighting off the flowers and stumbling onto the porch.

“Bliss told me all about you. She’s mad because I stole her last boyfriend, but she still tells me everything. Come on in.”

She turned and went into the cottage, and Quirt had no option but to follow. He couldn’t vanquish her from the porch while she was sitting in her living room.

A loud thump sounded from upstairs. Three short thumps, then three long, then three short.

“Don’t mind that. It’s just the dogs,” De’Devious said.

Quirt raised an eyebrow, then followed the alleged mad doctor into her kitschy kitchen. She opened a cupboard and took out a bottle with a cork stopper.

A voice from upstairs called out “It’s been four hours! You have to take me to a doctor!”

“Is that the boyfriend you seduced?” Quirt asked, wary. Her bobbing cleavage and confident manner was certainly seductive…

“I never said I seduced him,” she answered innocently. “So. Take a swig of this next time you and Bliss are…well, next time you set eyes on each other.” She placed the bottle in his hands and yelled towards the kitchen stairs. “I told you not to take so much! Now either hop yourself to the doctor or wait patiently for me to come take care of you!”

The noises from upstairs abruptly stopped.

“There. All will be forgiven now,” the mad doctor smiled and patted his hand warmly.

Quirt read the fine print on the bottle, his eyebrows arching as he walked out the way he’d come, looking with regret at the three puppies sniffing around the patch of sand that had once been a bed of beautiful blooms. He vaulted over the picket fence again, eager to test De’Devious’ product.

Bliss did indeed forgive De’Devious. When she and Quirt were married, though, she insisted he take her name instead of her becoming “Bliss Quickfinish.” Mr. and Mrs. Everready lived happily ever after.

In wedded Bliss.

Yes, this was just for fun. Glenn said something about “The enemy of my enemy…” and I took off from there, stealing a high school classmate’s secret mad-scientist identity for the antagonist-turned-heroine.

The Ambassador’s Mouse

Ambassadors Mouse LunapicEleric tried the door. “Locked, of course, because isn’t that exactly how the Ciliree treat their guests.”

He smoothed a reader patch over the stone surface. It blinked three times, then went red. He couldn’t unlock it with technology.

He removed the reader patch and attempted a spell. Still nothing. He couldn’t unlock it with magic either.

“Well, if this is how they welcome an ambassador, I shudder to think what happened to the messenger…”

“They’ll send for you in the morning, sir,” came a tiny voice from somewhere behind him. He turned, scanning the room. It was very medieval, with one large bed, one tiny window he assumed would be locked, and copious tapestries depicting everything from the Ciliree’s conquests in battle to their apparent endowments in equipment required for bedroom sports.

“Hello?” Eleric called.

A young woman stepped out from a small alcove. She was wearing all purple, as he’d seen all the servants in the castle dressed. “Yes sir?” she asked in a tiny voice. She was not a small woman, yet she seemed to be trying to disappear or fade into the walls.

“Who are you? And what are you doing in my room?” he asked.

“I’m the mouse, sir. I’m here to…serve you. In whatever way you require.”

She took one more step forward, into the light, and curtsied. He took a better look at her. Not so young then… probably closer to his own age. “I won’t be requiring anything tonight. You can go. And leave the door unlocked when you leave.”

The woman looked around nervously. “I…I am not allowed to leave, sir. I can not open the door. I am only able to take care of whatever…needs…you might have…” she gestured nervously to the bed. Eleric sighed. He had had various heads of state offer him sex slaves before, but they were usually gorgeous young women, trained in seduction and the stealing of secrets.

He was trained to ignore them.

“I see. You are as much a prisoner as I? Very well then. Make yourself comfortable. Stand your vigil, or do whatever you think is required of you, and return to your own room in the morning.”

The mouse glanced behind her. There was a small alcove with a built-in bench, much like he had in his own home for a reading nook. It wasn’t even big enough for a person to lie down. “This is my room, sir. For as long as you are here, this is where I am to remain.”

“Ah.” Eleric said. So, they kept a spy on him not only all day, but all night as well. It didn’t matter. He had a job to do, and he could do it under scrutiny if necessary. He had nothing to hide. It would be good if his hosts would realize that and stop treating him with suspicion.

The mouse walked over to the window, where a small table was set with a smorgasbord of culinary delights. “There is food, sir. Would you like to sit here? Or shall I serve you somewhere else?” He was a prisoner, no doubt, but at least he’d be a well-cared-for prisoner.

“Here is fine,” Eleric said, seating himself at the table. Dinner had been hours ago, and he’d spent much of the meal talking himself to death in a futile attempt to convince the various powers in Ciliree that a treaty with Providece would be a good thing.

She hovered near as he helped himself. Then a thought occurred to him. “They do feed you, don’t they?”

“I may have whatever you don’t need,” she answered, smiling what seemed to be a genuine smile.

“Well then,” Eleric said, “My first command is for you to eat with me.”

He didn’t want to have the argument about how she was only entitled to his leftovers. If the Ciliree wanted to play on his sympathies, it was working.

The mouse sat down carefully in the other chair, as if expecting him to lash out at her at any moment. He motioned to her that she was fine and she took a small piece of bread, then some cheese. When he only smiled and chewed, she took a piece of fruit and began to eat.

“They call you the mouse. Do you have a name?” he asked.

She looked surprised, but answered him in the same meek voice. “Emmicia,” she said.

Emmicia greeted him every night when his hosts locked him in. She seemed genuinely pleased to see him, though he was careful not to encourage her too much. He might end up staying the entire winter, or he could be called away at any time. He had no idea what she did all day. Every night she went obediently to her alcove, although she never failed to offer to share his bed. She even made several awkward attempts at seduction, yet she always seemed relieved when he turned her down.

He wondered how much she knew about his kind. Considering the kind of people the Ciliree were, she was probably confused about his refusal to bed her. She probably had no idea what the consequence would be if he did.

He made a point to report back to Providence every evening before he was confined. Once inside his room, neither technology nor magic would work. The few small features that did work such as the light and the bedwarmer were hardwired into the room. There wasn’t even hot water, just cold from a tap that emptied into a drain against the back wall of a small side room.

Winter hit with a fury, and he was still no closer to reaching an agreement regarding the treaty than he had been before. Some days his hosts refused to see him at all, leaving him to wander the castle and town with no one but a silent guard trailing after him wherever he went.

He began to look forward to the nights when, although he was a prisoner, he could have a few hours of peace with Emmicia. Although he knew they questioned her about his nocturnal activities, he believed she herself had no motive other than to serve him and not annoy her masters.

The night of the first heavy snow he awoke to an odd sound coming from the darkness in his room. He slipped out of the warmth of his bed, immediately shocked at the extreme cold of the room. There was no fireplace. The only warmth was the bed.

He found Emmicia in her alcove, shivering. She had blankets over and under her, but the stone she was curled up on was freezing to the touch. “Emmicia!” Eleric said, reaching for her and gathering her close. He rubbed her arms, trying to get her warm.

She only looked at him. She didn’t seem to be able to talk. He scooped her up, blankets and all, and carried her to his bed. Once inside its warmth, he removed her blankets, tossing them to the floor. Still, she shivered, so he wrapped his arms around her and started rubbing her frozen muscles.

She winced and cried out in pain when he touched her back. Gently, he turned her, moving aside her purple robes to see long gashes up and down her spine.

“Emmicia, what happened?” he asked.

She shuddered against him. “It has been weeks, sir. They check your bed for virgin’s blood, but find none. I tried to fool them…” she held up her hand, showing a cut on her finger that was starting to heal. “But they knew I lied.”

“Why would they care so much about whether I bed you? You offer yourself to me freely. I politely decline. I have no complaints…”

“I…I don’t know why it is so important. All I know is, they feel I am not doing my job properly because I do not share your bed.”

Eleric pulled her gently to him. He did not understand his hosts at all. He certainly didn’t like them. Sharing his bed with Emmicia would make his life much more difficult, but if he had to do so to keep her safe and warm, he would.

The next day, he spoke to every official he could corner about the treatment of his ‘bedroom servant.’ But it was as if he was talking nonsense. The Ciliree did not speak of their servants, at all. They pretended they did not exist. They gave orders to the air, and whatever servants were nearby jumped to obey.

That night, he explained to Emmicia what he would do. “I will keep you in my bed at night, if nothing else, to keep you warm. But although you are a kind and desirable woman, I can not take you as a man takes his wife. Do you understand?”

She only nodded, and curled into a ball in his bed. He had a strong desire to stroke her, to console her, but it would be difficult enough sleeping with her so close. Touching her would be torturous.

When the guard came to retrieve him in the morning, he held Emmicia’s hand. “She is coming with me,” he announced.

The guard glanced at Emmicia, then simply turned and led the way as he did every morning. Emmicia clung to Eleric’s hand tightly, keeping her head down as she followed, just a step behind him. When he was able to get the attention of one of the more influential courtiers, she dropped to his feet.

“Come, you can sit here with me…” he said, leaning over her. She looked up at him with huge, scared eyes, shaking her head emphatically ‘no.’ He let her stay where she was, though it bothered him to have a woman grovel at his feet.

The courtier seemed impressed. He even promised to arrange for Eleric to meet with some other officers who might help his cause.

After a week of keeping her close to him all day and all night, he began to feel the changes in his body, adjusting to expect her. If he dared consummate their connection, there would be no going back. She would be his. He would have to keep her close to him forever after, or he would wither.

A banquet was held, and she sat at his feet, as always. While she was there, his hosts seemed to be pleased. One actually acknowledged her. “Don’t you like our little gift?” he asked. The others nearby snickered as if it was some huge joke.

“Emmicia serves me well in every possible way,” Eleric said. His hosts went wide-eyed at the use of her name, then went back to chortling over some joke Eleric didn’t quite understand.

A guard came, and took Emmicia away. Eleric tried to protest, but was met with absolute refusal. The guard forcibly shoved him back into his seat.

The room quieted. From the head table, the Ciliree monarch spoke directly to him. Eleric heard a click and a hum, and he knew he was being scanned.

“So…” the leader drawled, every other voice in the room completely silent. “Tell us what we would gain from this treaty you propose.”

Eleric hesitated, thinking about what they might be doing to Emmicia. He forced himself to put her out of his mind. If he could accomplish his goal, he could leave, and she would be free.

Eloquently, he made his case. They listened, but he couldn’t tell whether they favored him or not. They seemed to be waiting for something.

When he returned to his room, Emmicia was waiting in her alcove. Tears stained her face, although she was completely silent.

He knelt before her. “Emmicia, did they hurt you?”

She nodded. Carefully, she slipped her shoulders out of her robe, twisting so he could see her bare back. The scars from the wounds he’d healed during the day when he could use magic were fading, but there was a new gash below them.

She turned to face him, her robe pooling at her waist, revealing her womanly breasts. They weren’t enhanced, like those of a prostitute. They were slightly lopsided, somewhat ponderous, and very real.

They were lovely.

Eleric stood and took her by the hands, pulling her up. The robe fell to the floor, but he didn’t let go of her hands. He didn’t let her cover herself.

He wondered why they’d chosen her to be his bedroom servant. They wanted him to bed her, to take her virginity, but he had no idea why.

He kissed her forehead gently. “Emmicia, I can do something to make them think I’ve taken your virginity. In a way, I will have…there will be a little pain, and blood.”

The look of fear on her face broke his heart. “I…without magic, I can’t make it not hurt. But I will do my best to make sure there is as little pain as possible. And a physical examination will show you have been penetrated. Hopefully then they will leave you alone.”

He led her to the bed and told her to get warm. Eleric found his heaviest, thickest woolen nightclothes and changed in the washroom, splashing himself with cold water. The room was already frigid. Hopefully, his body would remain frigid as well.

Eleric joined her in the bed, pillowing her head on his arm while he gently stroked her hair. Tense at first, she began to relax. He placed another kiss on her forehead, whispering soft reassurances to her as his hand touched her shoulder, then her arm.

He guided her arm to rest on his shoulder as she faced him, and he placed his hand on her waist. She jumped just a bit, but he kissed her forehead again and she slowly unwound. Ever so gently, he caressed her waist and her back, avoiding the scars and the fresh wound.

Carefully, he allowed his hand to barely brush the side of her breast every time he stroked. She was warm now…even warmer than the bed. Her breath was even and deep. He kissed her forehead and placed his hand on her breast, squeezing ever so gently.

Instead of jumping, she sighed and leaned into him. His body cried out in desperate need, but he forced himself to be calm. He could not consummate their union, even though his soul screamed for it.

“I’m going to touch your body now, with my hands and my mouth. I want you to…enjoy it. If your body is enjoying what I do, then when the pain comes, it will be brief and quickly dissipated by the pleasure I give you.”

Emmicia nodded, and only winced slightly as he pushed her onto her back. He leaned over her, not covering her, and kissed her shoulders and neck. When his lips found her breasts she arched towards him, and he momentarily lost himself as he kissed her pillowy mounds and enjoyed the feel of her flesh in his hands.

Eleric moved lower, and Emmicia made a tiny sound of disappointment and confusion. “It’s all right…I’ll come back to them…” he said as he kissed her stomach.

He arranged himself between her legs, using one hand to hold down her stomach, keeping her flat on her back. She was panting nervously. He kissed her thighs, then brushed his lips against the damp curls between her legs. He parted her folds with his tongue and she gasped, trying to sit up. He pushed her back down, gently tickling her clitoris with the tip of his tongue. Slowly, her legs rose in the air, offering him better access. He lapped deeper, until her hips began to undulate.

He gently probed with one finger, feeling her tightness. She was definitely a virgin. She began to tighten again, and he suckled her breasts, leaving just one finger inside her, hardly moving at all.

When she finally relaxed again, he carefully inserted a second finger, feeling her begin to tear. She cried out, but he couldn’t tell whether it was in pleasure or pain. He inserted a third finger, moving them in and out of her in a way he hoped would give her enough pleasure to counter the pain. She pulled him to her and he let his mouth fall to hers, kissing her as his hands caressed her intimately.

His erection stuck painfully between them, but as she gasped against him he could hold himself no longer, spilling his seed inside his woolen smalls. He slowed his hands, taking his fingers out and simply covering her mound.

“Does it hurt?” he asked softly.

Emmicia nodded, biting her lip.

“It’s done now,” he said, holding her close. “Everything will be all right.”

In the morning, he awoke to find Emmicia, still in his arms, regarding him with wide eyes. They were curious eyes, neither scared nor seductive.

“How am I still a virgin, and yet not?” she asked.

Eleric heaved a sigh. He wondered if all Ciliree women were kept purposely ignorant, or just the slaves.

His morning erection tented the sheets.

“I used my fingers to penetrate you, and open your woman’s place,” he said, using the words he’d heard his hosts use. “If it had been a true union, it would not have been my fingers inside you, it would have been this.”

He moved the waist of his smalls down, freeing his erection, and lifted the sheets. She stared down at him, wide-eyed, then pushed the sheets away completely, exposing him to the cold air. His erection quickly faded.

“What happened?” she asked, reaching out a hand to touch it tentatively, then clutching her hand back against her chest.

Eleric chuckled. “It only gets that long and hard when I am aroused, ready for a woman,” he explained. “This is how it is most of the time. Otherwise it would be rather difficult for me to get dressed, don’t you think?”

She laughed.

Eleric had never hear Emmicia laugh. He wondered if she’d ever laughed before, or if this was her first time for that, too.

He let her watch him while he cleaned himself in the washroom. She seemed more curious than aroused or smitten.

“Although a woman usually likes to bathe herself after intimacy, I think it’s best if you do not today. We want them to see what happened. We want them to see your virgin blood on the sheets and your thighs,” he explained.

She nodded, and he felt a pang of desire and regret. He could not take her. He could not save her, other than trying to convince her masters that she had done her job.

He made a show of kissing her goodbye when the guard came, leaving her naked in the rumpled bed. He was summoned to the smoking room, where he spent the next few hours avoiding questions regarding the details of his night.

Eleric finally cornered one of the men who seemed to favor the treaty. The man was listening to him, even though he looked like he’d much rather be left alone. Suddenly, Eleric felt an intense fear, followed by a sharp pain on his lower back. He staggered backwards and fell into a chair, but the feeling of the wood against his back caused another wave of pain.

He glared at the man. “What are they doing to her?” he demanded. The man looked aside, obviously uncomfortable. Eleric stood, confronting the man directly. “Why are they hurting her? I demand to be taken to my bedroom servant immediately!”

“She does not do her job,” the man said under his breath, as if it was something obvious Eleric should understand. The man waved at a servant, and Eleric was led away.

They found Emmicia in the grand hall, a guard hovering over her. Eleric ran to her, then froze. He didn’t want to hurt her. He put his hands on her arms and drew her gently against him. He gathered a spell in his hand, then placed the healing energy on her back. Both guards looked extremely nervous and uncomfortable, but they did not stop him.

“We are returning to my room. Send a healer,” Eleric ordered.

Once they were in the room, Eleric made Emmicia lie down on her stomach on the bed. He paced.

A knock finally came, and the door opened to reveal a wizened old woman. She was neither Ciliree nor Providencial; Eleric did not recognize her kind. “You need healer?” she asked.

Eleric nodded and beckoned her in. She stepped in, furrowed her brow, and stepped out again. She muttered to the guard and adjusted something on the panel next to the door. Eleric felt the crackle of magical energy returning to the room.

“The woman?” the healer asked as the door closed behind her.

“Yes. They…they hurt her.”

The healer sat on the edge of the bed and Emmicia scooted to the far side, holding the covers up high to her neck. Eleric sat next to her, and she huddled against him. “It’s all right,” he said, tracing a design on her arm with his own magic. “I will make sure of it.”

“Ah!” the healer said, seeing the gashes on Emmicia’s back. “You want gone?”

“Can you make the scars go away?” Eleric asked.

The healer waved in the air. “Mostly, mostly…”

Emmicia winced once, then let out a sign of relief. Eleric watched the healer as she treated the old scars and the new gash.

“Hmph,” the healer declared, placing the back of her hand on Emmicia’s cheek. “Still pain. You have pain?”

Emmicia blushed deeply and clung more tightly to Eleric. He leaned in and whispered into her ear “Are you still sore? From where I opened you?”

She nodded, but buried her face against him.

Eleric pushed Emmicia gently back onto the bed. His hand hovered over her hips and he said “She was a virgin. She still bleeds.”

“Ah!” the healer said. “You want virgin again?” she seemed very happy about the idea.

“No!” Eleric said a bit too loud. “Just…ease her pain. Please.”

“Ah. I make comfortable,” the woman said, and proceeded to sprinkle herbs on Emmicia’s abdomen. Some slid off her rounded stomach. Small bits stuck inside her navel. The healer took a bottle and shook it vigorously. She poured the contents of it on top of the herbs. It was pure light, rustling the herbs like tiny leaves until they disappeared into shadow. “She rests now. She comfortable. She ready for you soon, unless…you too large?”

“Unless I…” Eleric looked at the healer, but the woman only cackled, gathering her things and winking at him. As she went out the door, the guard gestured to the panel next to the door and she swatted his hand away, shaking a finger at him.

The door closed, and the crackle of magic remained.

Eleric could feel Emmicia’s pain fading as her feelings crept into him. It had started. He had decided to finish it.

“Emmicia, I want to talk with you,” he said. “What do you know of men from Providence?”

She shook her head. “I know nothing of men. Cilliree or Providence.”

Eleric hung his head. He wanted her to understand everything he asked of her, but time was short. “Emmicia, Providential men do not take women for pleasure. I mean, we do take pleasure in women…in our wives. But for us, it is far more than sexual gratification. It is a bonding.” She blinked at him, listening, though he wasn’t sure how much she understood.

“Here…” he said, walking to the water tap. He turned it on and placed his hand under it.

Emmicia looked at her own hand in amazement. “Is this magic?” she asked.

Eleric dried his hands on a towel. “Yes, but the most basic, natural kind of magic.” He dropped his towel on the floor. “Just as science can explain why gravity works.”

“Gravity?” Emmicia asked.

Eleric took a deep breath. He’d put off marriage in favor of his career, most notably for the treaty which was now so very close to becoming a reality. But he’d imagined he’d find a wife who was a true equal in every way, an educated woman who would teach their children and have a life of her own outside of what he created for her.

He could not imagine being married to a woman who had known nothing but dependence and contempt.

Emmicia ran her tongue over her lips. He felt it. The bond wasn’t even complete, and he could already sense what she wanted.

“Emmicia, we are bonding. It is because I have kept you so close to me, sharing my bed. I suspect it is why my hosts have been so insistent on the fact. They know it is a weakness the Providential have.” He went to her, bringing her her robe. “It is not too late. The bond is not yet final. But, Emmicia…” he helped her pull the robe over her head, covering herself. “I don’t want to break the bond. I want to strengthen it.”

She looked at him, and he knew she had no idea what he meant. “Emmicia, I have not yet taken a wife, but it is time. A Providential man taking a Ciliree wife would be beyond scandalous, but perhaps my status as the Ambassador will make it less so.”

“You…would be reviled if you had me? Not just here, but in Providence?” Emmicia began to cry.

“No! No…” he put an arm around her and held her gently. “I mean…yes, people will be shocked. But you will be mine. You will be my wife. You will bear my children…”

She gasped and cried, clinging to him. He didn’t know what to do. Perhaps he should forget the bonding, just keep her with him every day and hope her masters would take pity.

Perhaps he should leave, and give up on any hope of a treaty.

She pushed herself away and looked at him with a happy smile. “You would give me children?”

Eleric laughed at the possessive term. “Yes, Emmicia. If you and I are wed, we will have children together.”

She laughed. “They said…they told me…I am too ugly to bear a man’s children. That is why they gave me to you. To insult you.”

Eleric shook his head in disbelief. He saw in her eyes that she really did believe she was ugly. He laid his hand on her cheek and kissed her tenderly. “Emmicia, please believe me. You are beautiful.” He kissed her again. “And I want you to be my wife.”

He looked to her for an answer, then realized she was simply accepting the concept as she would accept any order from him.

He pushed her away, and got down on one knee. She looked confused. “Emmicia, I am not commanding you. A Providential man does not command his wife. I am explaining to you what marriage to me will mean…yes, there will be difficulties. Some people will think you are strange, in a foreign way, not in a bad way. We will be bonded, and you will feel my pain as I share in yours.” He kissed her fingertips and felt the echo of the shiver that went from her fingers to her toes. “And we will feel each other’s pleasure.” He kissed the sensitive skin on the inside of her wrist, and felt the tingle turn into the seeds of arousal. “Emmicia, I am not commanding you. I am asking you. Do you want to be my wife? Will you please be my wife?”

“You will be kind to me?” she asked.

Eleric nodded.

“And you will give me children?”

Eleric laughed, and nodded. “As many children as you want.”

“Then yes. Yes please. Take me as a wife. Protect me, and take me from here!”

Eleric wasn’t sure how well he could handle those last two requests, but he was determined to do his best.

“Take my hand,” Eleric said, on one knee in front of her. She turned so her legs were off the bed, and clasped her left hand to his left hand. Eleric kissed her fingers and held their joined hands on the same level as their hearts. He gathered the magic, adding it to their joined hands bit by bit. Emmicia watched in fascination.

A bit of fabric irritated his neck, causing an itch. She reached out to scratch it. She didn’t seem to even realize she was doing it. Eleric spoke the words of the ritual in his native tongue, and she repeated. He didn’t worry that she didn’t know what the words meant. He’d done his best to explain to her what would happen, and once she was his wife she would have not only his protection but that of Providence as well. She would be a citizen by marriage.

She closed her eyes at the right time, not because he told her to, but because she knew it was time. The flash was still bright through his closed eyelids. He stood, slowly undressing. Emmicia sat on the edge of the bed, her back ram-rod straight, her eyes still closed.

He draped his clothes over a chair and returned to her. Her eyes were still closed, and he could feel her shivering in the cold room. He cast a spell and warmed the air around them. Slowly, she opened her eyes. She looked at his feet, then her eyes slowly rose, fixating on the staff pointing directly towards her.

He stood perfectly still while she touched it, tentative at first, then more boldly. She was sensing which touches caused him the greatest pleasure. He wondered how those pleasures echoed in her.

He stepped closer and pulled her robe up and off. She slid backwards on the bed, crawling towards the pillows and hugging one to herself as she lay on her side. Eleric climbed into the bed with her, touching first her face, then her arms. As he kissed her, he moved his hand to her breast, gently kneading and feeling in himself the pleasure it generated in her. He discarded the pillow and she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him on top of her.

Eleric had dreamed of his marriage consummation for many years, but none of those dreams prepared him for the reality. He expected to prepare her again, as he had the previous night, but her need was too great. Her thighs opened wide and her opening begged for him to fill her. He found himself pushing inside before he realized what he was doing, and forced himself to slow down. But there was no sense of pain from Emmicia, only a sense of anticipation and desire.

He pushed into her slowly, kissing her collarbone and shifting his weight so they both were comfortable. She enveloped him in every sense, her legs and arms holding him close as her body held him tightly. Experimentally, he rocked, and a jolt of pleasure shook him. His hips took over, grinding against her and into her, claiming her body as she claimed his soul. She kissed him with love and desire as he followed the bright light into the distant void. The light exploded, this time inside his eyes, and he was blinded, floating, joined with woman he had chosen.

When his senses returned he realized he was still on top of her. Emmicia was making tiny little happy sounds as she nuzzled him and kissed his neck. Eleric pushed himself up just enough to look into her eyes. He could see himself there, adored in every way. He kissed her gently, then kissed her again and again as he felt the thrills every one of his kisses caused her.

They faded off to sleep together, then woke in the night to make love again before drifting off once more.

In the morning, Eleric used his magic to turn the water from the tap warm. “Come, wife, wash yourself,” he said. While she was happily splashing in the water, Eleric waited for his door to open. When it did, he spoke to the guard. “My wife requires a more appropriate dress. Whatever is appropriate in Ciliree for a new bride.”

The guard looked surprised, but he said “as you wish,” and closed the door again.

Eleric looked at the closed door, then grabbed the handle and pulled. It opened easily. “And jewels!” he ordered, although the guard was far down the hall.

Not long after, a maid came to the door with a bundle. “Shall I stay and assist your bride, sir?” she asked. He tried to read her expression, but couldn’t tell what the woman thought of the news.

He turned to see Emmicia in the doorway to the bathing chamber, trying to hide herself and looking very shy. He could feel her embarrassment. “No thank you. We will manage.”

Fortunately, Emmicia seemed to know what to do with the complicated garments. Soon she looked nothing like the slave who had been presented to him. She looked like a noblewoman of Ciliree.

“My hair is up!” she said happily, as if this was a meaningful thing. Eleric remembered noticing that all the married women wore their hair tied back or elaborately braided, while all the young women wore theirs free. Eleric donned his best suit, and escorted his bride out into the hall, without a guard.

A servant met them before they reached the end. “The Ciliree wishes to see you in the Grand Hall,” he announced. Whether by ‘the Ciliree’ the man meant the leader or the court as a whole, Eleric could not tell. Emmicia clung tightly to him. He could feel her fear. He took her hand in a Providential way, holding her left hand in his while encouraging her to step slightly in front of him, his right hand at the small of her back. She felt his reassurance, and stepped forward in unison with him.

The Great Hall was filled. Not only were the courtiers all there, but stacks of boxes and assorted furniture covered the floor.

“You work slowly, Ambassador!” the ruler of the Ciliree declared. The assembled court laughed. “I would have penetrated her on principle upon reaching the room.” The room echoed with chortles and outright guffaws. “Then again, once I saw her face, I might have changed my mind…” the room exploded with laughter, and Eleric could feel his wife’s humiliation.

He waited for the wave to die down, then said in a loud, clear voice so all could hear “It is not our way to play sport with sex. I honored the beautiful gift you gave me, and cherished her presence every night.” There were still a few whispers and snickers. “My wife is an extraordinary and beautiful woman, sir. I expect you to treat her with respect.”

Silence fell, and all eyes turned to the ruler. He raised his chin, as if gauging Eleric’s determination.

“My apologies to your lovely wife. And my congratulations on your nuptials.” Someone in the back of the room hiccoughed or snorted. Then the ruler smiled and gestured to the array of boxes, furniture, and other items. “Your wedding gifts!” he declared, and the room applauded. “The furniture, for your house here, ambassador. It is a close house, where I can keep my eye on you.” The crowd continued to applaud sporadically, and they laughed. But this time it seemed to be a genuine laugh, as if the stranger among them had finally come to understand something he’d been too stupid to realize before.

He had no idea what that something was.

“In the spring, when it is warm, you will take your wife home. Show your brothers your Ciliree wife. Dare them to laugh! Then when the weather cools again, you come home to us, Ambassador. Or take your machines back and forth as often as you wish, I do not care.”

Eleric listened carefully, not fully realizing what was happening until the ruler spoke four last words.

“You have your treaty.”

This story isn’t connected to anything else I’ve done. It isn’t even for a prompt. I just noticed that I hadn’t posted a story on the blog for a while, mainly due to NaNoWriMo, and I thought I’d take a little break and do so. I was thinking 2k not 6k, but it is what it is lol! I needed to get a little erotica out of me. And although my WIP has some very strong female characters in it, I wanted to break from that for a bit and write a submissive. I like to think that Emmicia finds her strength now that she is no longer a slave, and becomes a true equal to Eleric and a strong mother to their children.

And I also needed a Christian Slater fix.