My cat Noodle is perched on my lap as I write this post. She’s helped me with promo for Bad Kitty, posing for pictures with the paperback. Don’t tell her she’s not the only inspiration for Xia, my felinoid heroine! Her contribution to Xia and her feline hero Rahal is unshakeable self-confidence. Noodle knows she’s beautiful and lovable, even if at this stage of her life she’s shaped more like a dumpling than a noodle and has a voice that can shatter glass. Likewise, my felinoid characters suffer their share of anguish, but never, like their human partner Cal, doubt that they are hot or that their lovers desire them. Real love? Oh, they have some doubts there, but they never doubt that the others want and like them. They’re so sexy and charming!
Two earlier cats who shared my life also inspired assassin Xia. Gypsy had been a feral. My ex-husband and I gradually tamed her, but she never lost that wild edge. We once caught her cornering a raccoon the size of a beagle. She weighed perhaps five pounds, but that raccoon was cowering and seemed relieved to be rescued by normally scary humans! Like Gypsy, Xia is tiny but deadly, and she can take on much larger opponents. Gypsy, though, never lost all her feral fears—the brave cat who’d hunt anything would run away at the sight of a pair of men’s work boots. Xia, too, is haunted by her past.
Pusheen was half Siamese but tortoiseshell in coloring, a sleek, elegant killing machine who devastated the local bird population. Her contribution, besides the grace she brought to slaughter, was her loyalty. I was her person and she’d protect me. Even if the only way she could figure out to do so was peeing on my ex’s stuff when he and I fought.
Luckily for the plot, Xia has resources an actual cat doesn’t. So when she needs to protect her adoptive family, she comes up with a wily plot that has definite benefits for her.
Of course, Rahal also sees some benefits to it. He’s felinoid himself, after all.
Excerpt (For some background, Rahal has been trying to blackmail Xia’s adoptive parents into being the faces for his anti-slavery campaign. She doesn’t like this plan, as it would interfere with their actual clandestine rescuing of slaves):
“My dads are obvious badasses. I’m petite and adorable and I look like the worst thing I could do is steal your lover, and I’m a trained killer. How is that not terrifying?”
“Point.” He started grinning, a real smile, not an aggressive display of fangs that nonfelinoids might mistake for a smile. “It’s classic cinema—you using the skills you learned as an exploited child to take out other evil people. But it only works if the audience isn’t dumb and so many people are dimmer than dark matter. I’m still leaning toward your fathers.”
He liked the idea. She could tell by his body language, the way his ears cocked toward her, the lilt of his tail. But she needed to sweeten the deal. Time for that good-bad idea.
She’d had sex for far worse reasons, such as I’m bored and I don’t feel like getting arrested tonight so I might as well pick someone up and It’s cold and dreary; why not curl up with someone warm. And since she wanted him as badly as she’d ever wanted anyone, why not? “Let’s put it this way. You agree to my offer, you get me. Any way you want, for as long as you want.”
“I’m not sure it counts as a good bribe,” Rahal said. “I’m all in for sexytimes with you, don’t get me wrong. But you’ve flat out said you’d sleep with me, so I’ll need more than that to consider it a bargain, not just a good time between two people who want each other already.”
Time for a careless shrug and studying her nails nonchalantly. “I never sleep with anyone. Never spend the night. But I will with you if you want. And, yeah, I was going to sex you once. No one ever gets more than once, even if they’re as good as you probably think you are. But you’ll get me all you want if you let Mik and Gan off the hook. No limits.” Then she narrowed her eyes. “If you say no, I’m out the door and you will never touch me again. But if any harm comes to my fathers because of this little plot of yours, I’ll be the one doing the touching.”
“In a life-ending sort of way?”
“In a life-ending sort of way. When you least expect it. I don’t care how tough you are or how good your bodyguards are. Sooner or later, you’ll slip up and I’ll be there.” Not an empty threat, she realized. He was good. He was probably way better than she was. But if he harmed her family, he was dead.
Rahal laughed. It sounded menacing, but mischievous, and definitely erotic. It made her shiver with lust right down to the tip of her tail. She hoped she wouldn’t have to cut off her chance to taste more of the beautiful body she’d enjoyed. Read the rest of this entry »