The contract is now inked. It's official. Noble Romance Publishing will publish DEADLY CAPTIVE: Collateral Damage. I've so excited and nervous! I can't wait to share the cover with you and I'm looking into all kinds of ways to celebrate the release--which, by the way, barring natural disaster is:
December 12th 2011
So soon! I almost can't wait! Well, actually, I can't wait! That's why I decided I'm going to give you a few sneak peaks, starting today!
So here you go!
May also contain violence and events that some readers may find objectionable.
The comfort, the smooth ride, made me nervous. I'd stopped fighting and so had the boy. But why?
"I want to see him."
Vince patted my head. "You will see him. Soon."
Sit. Good dog. The guy was pissing me off. I wrenched away from him, still tangled in the blanket, and rolled to my side. "I will see him. Now."
One of the men snorted.
I couldn't say what came over me, but the atmosphere inside the van didn't instill a need for caution. All the knives were put away. The men had relaxed. It took an effort to be afraid.
Until Vince's eyes narrowed.
He reached down, fisted his hand in the blanket, and jerked me up to my knees. His face right in mine he snapped. "Behave."
I held my breath and waited, sure he'd slap me. Punch me. Something. For some sick reason, I craved the violence. The boy deserved more than my one, fumbled attempt. Maybe I could help him by staying alive. But I couldn't help him by doing nothing.
The blanket held my arms at my sides and my legs together. So I cracked my forehead into Vince's nose.
He grunted. Then dropped me. Watched me worm free of the blanket as he touched the blood that trickled from his nostril to his upper lip. He licked his fingers clean.
I lunged. An arm barred across my bare belly. A forearm across my throat cut off my screams.
Vince hissed in my ear. "You have my attention."
How he lost his . . . I sucked in air through my teeth and could almost taste the blood lingering on his breath. He was that close. Close enough to do a lot of damage. Or other things.
Would it really be so bad to indulge in a little naughty fun?
You're damn right it would. You know what he's done.
"Ah. Yeah. Tell them." Biting my lip, I shoved at his chest. Didn't do much good. I dug into my pockets, found a pen, and then brought it up under his chin. "Careful, Cyrus, I know how to use this."
He roared out a laugh and retreated with his hands up. "That you do." Sweeping out his arm as though to shift the cloak he wasn't wearing, he gestured with the other towards the street. "Very well. Shall we go for that drink?"
Once we were out of the alley, I felt a little safer, but not much. No one was looking at us. He'd made it so we couldn't be seen. Right here, right now, he could throw me on the sidewalk and ravish me while crowds parted around us, completely oblivious.
Why in the world did the idea of him doing just that appeal to me?
I stopped short and scowled at him. "You don't want to screw with my head. Get deep enough and you might see exactly how you're going to die."
"Sooner rather than later if I upset you?"
"Well, I wouldn't want that." His eyes narrowed into slits. "I still have a few loose ends to tie up."
Loose ends. I nodded slowly, feeling a little sick. "This bar will do. I need a drink. Now."
"Naturally. You couldn't very well let me have my way with Nicole if you were sober." He pulled open the door to a small, run down bar. The kind of place criminals went to make deals. Pretty fitting. "However do you sleep at night, Bianca?"
Who says I do?
But all I said was: "Fuck you."
We took a table at the back of the bar, one of three. A waitress came for our orders. I got whiskey on the rocks. Cyrus ordered a shot of Golshlager, smirking at me when I hunched over, trying to block the memories that came along with that drink.
"Lydia's favourite." He took the shot from the waitress and brought it to his lips. "I still think of her . . . every day. My dreams are filled with her screams, with how far I'd have to push her before she'd make a sound. Will you ever give me another woman like her?" His fingers skimmed the back of the hand I'd rested on the table. "I'd be eternally grateful."
"Enough bullshit." I took a gulp of whiskey and then took a small notepad from my pocket. Pen posed, all business, I prepared for the task at hand. "So, you were saying your first time would fit the topic of the week?"
"Yes." He waved to the waitress for a refill and leaned back in his chair, his eyes becoming glazed, as though seeing another time, another place. "I was born into wealth. Nobility. My father only held the title of Lord, but he was second cousin to the king of France and had several vast holdings. He was privy to all the most scandalous intrigues of the court, which meant he could use the information to blackmail powerful men and assure his own standings. I learned at a very young age how to play the same game. Every servant in our household was afraid of me—of what would happen to them if I let their secrets slip. My step-mother was the first and last to stand against me. I . . . found evidence that she was a witch. On my tenth birthday she was burned at the stake."
"Nice." So much for picturing him as a cute, innocent little kid. The man had been born a monster. "But what does that have to do with dubious consent? Or should we just be honest and call it rape?"
"Believe it or not, I know the difference," he said, dryly. He rubbed his hands together, then propped his elbows on the edge of the table and his chin on his fists. "I learned that one of the king's illegitimate daughters had become something . . . unnatural. Rosali was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen. Fragile, sweet, sheltered. He governess turned her—the woman was an abandoned fledgling with no control. The king hoped her death would destroy what had 'infested' his daughter, but of course it didn't. So he hid her in his castle, using his enemies as fodder, desperate to keep her true nature hidden from the nation. He had to keep her safe, whatever the cost. He'd truly loved her mother."
I drained my whiskey and started on another. "I'm guessing you threatened to expose them both?"
"You know what happened, Bianca." He gave me one of his wicked smiles. "Your readers will be disappointed if they can't enjoy the experience with us. Show them."
Show, don't tell. Basic rule. He was right, the bastard.
So here it is:
Pure innocence. Cyrus plunked himself down on the princess' bed, observing her childish decor with amusement. Tapestries with unicorns and faeries covered the walls, white fur covers the cold stone floor, sheer silk curtains fluttered over her windows and around her bed like wispy clouds. In essence the room housed an angel. In reality a hungry demon slept here. One he was anxious to meet.
'Give her to me and I will protect her. Otherwise, I will caste her to the suspicious fools who watch your every move, seeking a way to bring you low.'
'You will be gentle with her?' The king clung to his robes, flimsy velvet trappings of his rank, unable to shield him from his desperation.
'That is none of your concern. She will live, that is all that matters.'
Be gentle with her? A jest, surely. Her body was his to use and use it he would. In the most twisted, deprived ways a man could use a woman. And with his guards standing vigil outside her door, he needn't worry about interruptions, no matter how loud she cried or screamed.
Just the thought of fucking her to tears made Cyrus hard. At a score and five years, he had more than his share of experience with women. Virgins, whores, he'd bedded them all. And come to an interesting conclusion. They were all more fun to fuck while they writhed in agony. He stroked himself through his braise and groped around the side of the bed for the bottle of wine provided by the king. To make it easier for the princess.
Perhaps being sauced would spare her some of the pain of losing her innocence.
He uncorked the bottle with his teeth and laughed. As if I'd allow that.
One of the guards tapped on the door. "My Lord?"
"The Lady Rosali."
Cyrus grunted and gestured at his man with the bottle. "I'm here to pound the bitch's cunt, not court her—get in here, girl!"
His crude words, his detached tone, hid his eagerness quite nicely. Neither the guard nor the girl could guess how the mention of her name quickened his pulse. He'd only seen her twice, from afar, and the vision of her had hazed his mind ever since, as though just thinking of her intoxicated him.
God willing, he'd screw her out of his system. Once, twice—he'd keep her in this bed until he was sick of the sight of her.
But the second she slipped into the room, he knew that would never happen. His mouth went dry and he choked on the wine he used to wet his tongue.
White robes fluttering around her, Rosali strode across the room, grey eyes flashing like lightning in storm clouds. The sweet, demure lady known for her beauty and composure was gone. Had the demon given her the spirit she hadn't possessed before?
Her ebony hair spilling over her face, she came to the bed and aimed a slap at Cyrus' face. She hissed through her teeth when he blocked her swing with his forearm. "How dare you threaten my father? Have you the slightest clue of what I could do to you?"
A clue? He was fairly certain she'd fractured his damn arm!
He bit his tongue lest any weak sounds escape and then sneered at her. "You may be stronger than I, Rosali, but I am much more powerful."
She let out a tinkle of laughter, but uncertainty dimmed the light in her eyes. "You are a fool if you believe that."
"Am I?" Cyrus sat up, set the wine bottle by his feet, and then reached out to tug at the ribbon at the base of her throat. Her cloak came loose and fluttered to the floor. Not once did she attempt to stop him. "Then do to me what you do to all the other men who come in here. Maul me like an animal, tear my heart from my chest, we both know you can."
"Yes." A single tear spilled down her cheek as Cyrus went to work on the ties lacing the front of her dress. She clenched her little fists at her sides. "But you knew the risk. You must have done something to keep yourself safe."
"I have. If I don't return home within a fortnight or send one of my guards to assure my valet that I am well, he will deliver a letter to my father, detailing everything I know about what you are." Cyrus used the front of Rosali's dress to pull her closer until her quivering breasts were level with his face. "Do you have any idea what my father would do with the knowledge? You should thank me for accepting you in exchange for my silence. I could have demanded so much more."
Rosali covered her breasts with her hands and pressed her thighs together as Cyrus slid her dress over her hips. Her whole body shook as he ran his hands down her legs in the same manner he would his horse's flanks. Like she was no more than a beast he'd purchased, one he planned to ride long and hard.
So long and hard these pretty, pale thighs will bare the marks of my use for weeks. He slapped her thigh, grinning when she yelped and tried to back away from him. Her step parted her thighs enough for him to shove his hand between them. He stood before she could wrench away and wrapped one arm around her waist. Prodding with his fingers, he found her hot slit and pressed against it until the tips of two breached her.
"No." She sobbed and put her hands on his shoulders. "Please don't. I will give you anything else—"
"You will give me everything . . . ." One digit would have been easier, but the gaspy little sounds of pain she made as he stretched her were lovely. He twisted his fingers, and, feeling a bit of moisture at the tips, thrust a little harder. "Ah, there we go. You're starting to enjoy yourself."
"I'm not!" But the way her hips tipped forward betrayed her. She hadn't even attempted to close her thighs again or shove him away. "I want you to stop!"
"Then stop me, Rosali." His fingers moved easily in and out of her slippery cunt. He loved the way she winced as the wet sound of his palm smacking her got louder. "Stop me or my dick will take the place of my fingers."
His thumb circled her clit and she whimpered. "No . . . ."
"No what?" He lifted her up, then lowered her to the bed. "No don't use my dick?"
Her lips moved, she shook her head. Then she arched up and moaned. "Don't."
He spotted something on the floor by the bed and smile. "As you wish, My Lady."
To be continued...
For this week's topic, I decided to turn to a man who is something of an expert in dubious and—more often—non-consent. He wasn't easy to find, he's been hiding out ever since the massacre at the Church of Peace, but I have some advantages as his author. I found him in Midland, North Carolina, and followed him for awhile, never getting too close. This late at night, I really didn't want to be talking to Cyrus alone, but since I didn't really have a choice, I'd settle for approaching him on a brightly lit, well populated street.
Instead, I trailed him into an alley. My nose wrinkled at the sour scents spilling from the big garbage bins lining one brick wall. I listened for his steady footsteps. Nothing.
What the hell are you doing? Get out of there!
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as his cool breath caressed me. "You wanted to speak to me, Bianca?"
I swallowed, shaking a little, glancing back at the street to gauge the distance. Could I make a run for it? Then my eyes narrowed. "Don't play with me, Cyrus. I own you. You can't control me."
"I just did." He chuckled and put his hand on my hip, turning me to face him. "But I won't have much fun if I hurt you, will I?"
"No." Damn it, why haven't I killed this guy off yet? I did not like him touching me. "So enough with the bullshit. I have some questions for you."
"Do you?" His tone softened as he circled me. "Then join me for a glass of wine—or maybe whiskey? I won't have . . . a conversation with you here."
His eyes drew me in, had my mind grasping for the words to describe them. Which words had I used? Sky? Summer sky . . .
"Come, Bianca." He held out his hand. "I promise you'll enjoy yourself."
A wavy strand of black hair spilled over his cheek and I caught myself reaching up to touch it, knowing it would be so soft, like his skin. From the corner of my eye I saw his lips curling and snatched my hand back.
"I'm not going anywhere with you." I shoved my hands in my pockets and took a big step back. "Actually, you know what? Forget it. I'll talk to Joe. Or Vince. There's nothing you have to say that the readers want to hear."
"Are you sure about that?" He shrugged and hooked his thumbs to his belt loops, rocking a little on the heels of his Italian loafers. "Then kill me since I have no story to tell. What's the point of keeping me around?"
Good question. I frowned and looked him over, trying to decide if staying was worth the risk. Cyrus' strength hadn't diminished since the last time I'd written his words, but he had changed. His outfit seemed very modern. Expensive, a perfectly tailored fit, yet, somehow wrong. His arrogance was still obvious in his posture and tone, but it was . . . less pompous maybe?
"So what's your story, Cyrus?" My lips curled a little—I wanted to make it clear he didn't frighten or impress me—but my voice sounded like half my volume was stuck somewhere in my chest. Maybe under my rapidly beating heart, or lower, where I was . . . aware of him.
Why must so many psychos be sexy?
"Would you like to know about my first time?" His gaze drifted down my body and he ran his tongue over his teeth as I squirmed. "The situation fits your topic."
"You mean when you lost your virginity?" I wrinkled my nose. I didn't really want to hear about him doing his daddy's mistress when he was fifteen. "Nobody—"
"No, sweetheart." He moved a little closer to me, forcing me back until I was trapped between his body and the alley wall across from the garbage bins. "Let me tell them how I lost my soul."