Just popping in to share some news. I’ve been a little quiet lately because I’ve been writing like my hair’s of fire, trying to wrap up a book that’s due next week. I have two short stories featured in two brand new Mammoth collections! If you’ve never read one of these massive volumes, you’re in for a treat. “Red Dawn” is a brand new story about a woman pioneer on Mars. The other is a story that first appeared in Cleis Press’s Carnal Machines. Enjoy the excerpts, then hit the links and see the fabulous lineup of authors in both books.
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Love conquers all… including natural disasters and alien invasions in this futuristic fiction collection.
From my story, “Red Dawn”…
The transport arrived amid a whirl of dust kicked up from the barren yard beside the house. The gritty air nearly obscured the moon, Phobos, as it made the first of several orbits for the day. The aircraft hovered, framed by the uneven curves of the asteroid, and then set down with a thud that shuddered the planks of her front porch, vertical engines stalling then shutting off altogether. The dust slowly settled.
She’d been sweeping, preparing the cabin for the transport’s arrival. As with every element of the Company’s schedule, it arrived precisely on time. Although prepared, a flutter of anticipation tickled her belly. She set aside the broom, wiped her palms against the sides of her sturdy blue work pants, and descended the stairs, eager to meet the shipment.
A man dressed in a gray Company coverall climbed out of the cockpit and strode toward her. She pasted on a smile. “Welcome.”
His sharp gaze swept her little cabin, the golden fields beyond it, and then finally rested on her. “You Mary Bledsoe?”
He likely wondered how someone of her stature had managed to pass the physical tests to qualify for farming. She stiffened her spine to add a few centimeters to her small, wiry frame, and met his gaze with her usual calm, chilly stare. “I am.” She bit back a sarcastic, Who else do you think I could be? Every one of the thousand colonists had been handpicked and transported by the Company—they had a monopoly on Martian transportation and industry.
His mouth twitched, but he kept his gaze steady. “I have your shipment, and I’ll need your signature on the bill of lading.”
She nodded. “I’ll need to inspect.” She’d received notice of the contents of the shipment via the comm-console situated in the cabin’s main room shortly after claiming her homestead.
Although the fields had been pre-planted and her new home fully furnished, there were still some items, especially the perishables, that needed stocking: replacement blades for the combine sheltered in the barn, pallets of foodstuffs, clothing and fuel packs…and her mate.
Trying not to appear overeager to see him, she waited as the transport commander’s crew scurried to let down the rear ramp and roll out the pallets. With well-trained efficiency, they stacked them beside the porch. She counted the pallets with their quick-wrapped goods, signed for delivery, and then shoved her hands into her pockets to hide the fact they were beginning to shake.
The commander’s mouth firmed into a straight line. “Did you receive training in the use of the B-Mod collar?”
He knew she had. Otherwise she wouldn’t be here, already in possession of a land grant.
She gave a curt nod. “Yes. I also signed saying I knew there were no guarantees for my safety or his willingness to work. If we don’t suit, if he proves stubborn, then I’ll return him.”
“Just don’t get too attached, ma’am. You have enough on your hands without coddling one of these rejects.”
The brusque quality of his voice surprised her. Was he truly worried? Should she be more concerned?
He handed her the chain with the controller for the prisoner’s behavior modification collar, a thin ID tag with a recessed button on one side, the B-Mod chip. She slipped it over her head and followed him to the side of the transport. The guard inside the vehicle opened the door.
The prisoner scooted on the seat toward the edge, hands still in manacles, then slid to the ground beside her.
Heartbeat rising, she gazed up into a face set in grim lines. Blue eyes, cold as ice, sparked with some deep emotion as he stared back.
He was larger than she had expected. Surprisingly so. Prisoners built like this one were generally shipped to Company loading docks or to the arena. Built like a gladiator, she studied his broad chest and wide shoulders. His arms and thighs were deeply muscled. “You’re sure he’s mine?” she asked, turning toward the commander who’d fished a key from his pocket to unlock the prisoner’s handcuffs.
The pilot’s grunt and the flinty glare he gave the prisoner said he too had some reservations. “His collar matches the invoice. Guess they thought you might need the extra muscle.”
Anger flashed at his comment. She’d had enough of men thinking she wasn’t up to the rigors of Martian prairie life.
Her hand still gripped the B-Mod chip. She let it slip slowly away, remembering her training. Show no fear. As long as she had the chip, she had control.
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The most enthralling annual collection of erotica by far with more than 40 pieces of short erotic fiction that you won’t want to put down. This bound-to-blow-your-mind collection comes from both acclaimed writers and exceptionally hot newcomers from every corner of the world.
From my story “Dr. Mullaley’s Cure”…
I’d been warned that the doctor was a bit eccentric. That he dabbled in machinery and had been ostracized by others in his profession for the lengths he went to please his patients.
“You’ll never find another employer,” I was told. “Not once they see your only reference is Doctor Mullaley.” The mad Irishman. The charlatan who promised cures to bored housewives and whose waiting room hadn’t been empty since I arrived for my first day’s work. If I hadn’t already been turned away at every other respectable physician’s practice, I might have heeded the advice. However, those warnings only served to stir my interest.
I was intensely curious about the nature of the doctor’s cures, and even more so about the conditions he treated, but they were only spoken of in whispers and never in the presence of an unmarried woman. Which made me wonder why he’d hired me. Not that I complained. One glance at his tall rangy frame, frosty blue eyes and dark, slicked-back hair, and my misgivings evaporated.
However, my curiosity about the man and his practice wasn’t to be satisfied at that moment because the doctor waved me toward the reception desk where I worked at fitting in patients who walked in without an appointment. A task I found akin to cinching in the waist of a corset. There was only so much ribbon one could pull before something gave.
That something was the inimitable Mrs. Davies. She arrived in a dudgeon. Cheeks flushed, eyes a little wild. It was a very balmy afternoon, and the painstaking curls at the sides of her cheeks had wilted and were stretching toward her jaw like earthworms. I couldn’t help staring while she tapped the counter with her finger insisting her needs were of the highest import. If she didn’t receive a treatment that afternoon, somebody would hear about it.
At wit’s end, I gave her a false smile, said I’d find the doctor, and escaped down the corridor to the treatment rooms.
The corridor was as handsomely appointed as the waiting room with rich oak paneling below the rail, and burgundy brocade above it. But gaslight sconces were placed so far apart that shadows loomed between the doorways.
I paused at the first room to listen, hoping to hear the low timbre of the doctor’s voice. Faint moans came through the door, but since they didn’t have an urgent edge, I hurried to the next and pressed my ear against the wood.
Hands curved over my shoulder. “Pardon me, Nurse Percy.” The doctor firmly pushed me to the side and strode into the room.
Glancing around his tall frame, I spotted Mrs. Headley who lay on a table that tilted with the lower half split in two.
My jaw sagged as I noted that while she was clothed in a sack-like gown, Mrs. Headley lay bared from the waist down, her legs strapped to the split “legs” of the table. Her fingers dug into padded handles at the sides. Most curious, there was a long, slender trough running from a tank latched to the ceiling, very like a toilet’s reservoir. The trough emptied into a funnel, which ran into a tube. The tube passed through a device with turning wheels that clicked like a clock’s inner gears, and then ended at a nozzle that spurted water in rhythmic pulses toward the juncture of Mrs. Headley’s thighs.
How odd, I thought.
Mrs. Headley moaned. Her gaze roved restlessly until she lighted on the doctor. “Please, Raymond, I can’t take much more. I’m very sure I’m ready for the next stage of my treatment.”
The doctor stood between me and Mrs. Headley so I couldn’t see what he did, but then he aimed a frown over his shoulder. When he turned back, I entered the room and shut the door behind me, staying quiet as a mouse. He turned off the nozzle. The rhythmic splashes stopped, but wet slurping sounds filled the silence.
“I feel…nearly…oh, the agony…oh, doctor!” Mrs. Headley gave a choked little scream, her upper body arching on the table before settling again. Her flushed cheeks shone with sweat, but the smile she gave the doctor was so filled with gratitude I felt a stirring of something akin to pride for the doctor’s skill.