Cheaper than Therapy, but Loads More Fun!
Thanks, Delilah, for letting me hang out at your place!
Don’t know about you, but books have always been my friends – a solace and a refuge when Real Life was bleak. But it wasn’t until I started writing that I realized that fiction was cheaper than therapy – not to mention a helluva lot more fun. *grin*
To illustrate… Many years ago, when I was a baby writer taking my first tentative steps onto the page, I met a Very Senior Manager (from another section) at a work function. Very Senior Manager was good at his job and respected for his ability and ruthlessness. He was also on the short side and suffered from one good lunch too many, so he resembled a well-groomed toad in a business suit. I recall that his tie was an odd green/yellow colour.
We were chatting politely, as one does, when I noticed that he wasn’t looking at my face, but at my chest. He appeared to be counting – one…and ah, yes, there’s the other one. Yay, two!
I guess I’m naïve, but I tend to take people as I find them. I glanced down, expecting to see that a button had popped or that I’d dropped a blob of chocolate cake on my front. Nope, all buttoned up and pristine.
Very Senior Manager met my startled gaze and smirked. He didn’t say a word, he didn’t need to, the creep! In fact, I think he was looking forward to blandly denying any assertion I made.
Fuming, I excused myself and made sure I was surrounded by others for the rest of the event.
I seethed over that incident for months. I’m perfectly well aware that on the harassment scale, it was a flea bite, and that I hadn’t been injured or even threatened. He didn’t belong to my part of the organization, so he had no direct power over me. But, oh my goodness, I was sooo incensed – especially when I discovered that he only played this trick on subordinate women. I think it was the nasty smirk that really did me in, knowing how much he’d enjoyed my discomfiture. I’d say it was adolescent, but that gives decent teenagers a bad name.
What did I do? I wrote Very Senior Manager into my first manuscript (it still lives in the sock drawer). Unlike my place of employment, that book was a place where I had complete control, where I was the puppet mistress and the deity all rolled into one. I didn’t make him the villain, oh no, I made him the villain’s inept sidekick. The character was fat, complacent and clammy-handed. He was also stupid, cowardly and came to a Very Bad End.
That’s right, I killed him off and it was wonderful! From the moment I typed the last word in that scene, all my fury and frustration just…evaporated. Pfft! Gone! It was amazing how different I felt.
Since that day, I’ve loved living through and with my characters. The good guys are infinitely more resourceful, braver and stronger than I’ll ever be – and so much sexier and better looking! The bad guys all come (eventually) to horrible ends. Ah, I love the fantasy that is a good romance!
In The Dark Rose, the fourth in the Four-Sided Pentacle series, we have a heroine so exquisitely lovely Very Senior Manager would have slobbered all over her, but Rose is as devious as she is beautiful. She would have made him pay, I know it!
Even beautiful things cast dark shadows…
Rosarina of the Garden is the most desired courtesan of her time. She is also a spy, sent on a deadly mission to Green IV. She cannot afford to trust anyone, least of all the Quintus, a Technomage with his own agenda – and the unnerving ability to crack her cool composure.
Rose is a challenge Quin can’t resist. He’s a threat she’s been ordered to…eliminate.
Duty and passion are a dangerous combination in the paranormal world of the Four-Sided Pentacle.
Thank the Sister. He’d signed the contract. Rose let out the breath she’d been holding. Gods, Quin was a dangerous man. Last night’s kiss had been a near disaster, so overwhelming, so intimate, she’d very nearly forgotten her name, let alone her purpose. She couldn’t afford the risk. Never again, not if she was to keep her head. Even now, the force of his personality, the intensity of his focus, made her a little dizzy.
As if he’d heard the thought, he caught both her hands and drew her flush against his hard body. “Finally!” he said, sounding so aggrieved Rose hid an involuntary smile against his shoulder.
She suspected he could probably charm the birds from the trees if he set his mind to it, but he wouldn’t waste his time with subtlety, not Quin, not when he had other ways of doing things, impatient, demanding ways.
Through the thin shirt, his body was furnace hot, unyielding. He smelled . . . strange, a not unpleasant blend of man and soap and . . . was that machine oil? She’d know him anywhere, she thought, even in the dark. Her stomach flipped.
A big hand traveled down her spine, molded the curves of her bottom, pressed her into muscled thighs and an unabashed erection. “Gods, you feel good,” he muttered.
Steadying, Rose drew back. “Give me a minute and you’ll feel even better.”
She got a wolfish grin. “You bet I will.” His brow furrowed with concentration, Quin lifted his right hand to brush his knuckles over her throat and cleavage. A pause while his tawny gaze flashed up to her hers and he detoured over the full curve of one breast, the nipple peaking so swiftly beneath the sheer silks, Rose was hard put not to gasp.
“Ah,” he said, and she would never have thought Quin could croon. “Look at that. Pretty.”
He fumbled with the sash of her gown, the one the color of the sky at dusk.
“Wait.” She placed her hands over his, feeling the strange contrast between warm and cool, right and left.
“But I want—”
She pressed her fingers to his lips. “We’ll get to that, I promise. You hired a professional. Let me show you what I can do.”
Smiling, she tilted her head to one side. “Have you ever been pampered, Quin?”
He snorted with amusement, then nipped at her fingers. “What do you think?”
Rose’s smile widened. I think I’m the one in control now.[AK1]
Holding his eye, she skated her fingertips over his smooth chin—he’d shaved recently—down past the pulse beating hard in the strong column of his neck, over the strut of his collarbones. She paused, her palm flattened over his heart, the beat rapid and strong.
“Garden courtesans are famous for the erotic arts of the bath,” she murmured.
Quin frowned, his cheeks flushed. “We can bathe after.”
“The longer you hold out, the better it will be.” Rose drifted her palm lower, over a solid ribcage, down to his waistband and a flat belly. He stopped breathing.
Merciful Sister, there was no give in the man at all. He was all muscle and bone and rock-hard flesh. She could swear the she felt his erection radiating desperate heat, a magnificent bulge brushing the heel of her hand.
She unleashed a glowing smile. “I can make you come harder than you have in your life. I guarantee it.”
His brows rose and he cupped her shoulders in his palms. “Is that a dare, my beautiful Rose?”
A chuckle bubbled out of her before she was even aware of it. “I’m yours,” she purred. “You can order me to do whatever you like.”
Dropping her hand, she molded it over his shaft and her eyes opened wide. Gods. Startled, she tightened her fingers and Quin grunted, thrusting into her grip. He was a big man; she should have expected it. No problem, she had oils in the nightstand to make the way easy, to enhance his pleasure and hers.
She sent him a look from under her lashes. “But I wouldn’t want to bore you by being too obedient.”
Quin chuffed with amusement.
With the tips of her fingers, she traced a broad flaring head. When she scratched ever so lightly with her nails, Quin groaned and caught her wrist in a bruising grip.
“Hellion,” he said with deep appreciation. “Tease me at your peril.”
Rose laughed, her whole body tingling. “But Quin, it’s so much fun.”
Quin chuckled, the sound deep and wicked. “Ah, sweetheart.” With a deft twist of his fingers, he released the comb that held her hair and the mass of it tumbled down her back, as far as her waist, blue-black in the gentle light of the glowglobes.
His face—ah, Sister save her, his face! For a split second, his expression was unguarded, joy and awe and even a sort of rough affection mixed in with the lust.
Everything low in her belly tightened, a silvery clamp of desire, as sudden as it was unexpected. There’d be no need for oils; she was shamefully wet, slick and throbbing, soft and ready.
“You’re going to kill me, woman,” he said ruefully.
Very likely. Unless you kill me first.