Bet you didn’t know that Valentine’s Day got its start in the Roman Empire with some public BDSM. That’s right. The feast of Lupercalia involved women lining up along the streets so men could run along and whip them with strips of animal hide (preferably goat or dog).
The ritual was supposed to increase female fertility and there’s actually no telling how far back in history this tradition might have started. A lottery followed the whipping with women’s names drawn from a jar by young men. Thus matched, the couple had sex for the rest of the three-day festival (Feb 13-15). (More on Lupercalia) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupercalia
The name Valentine got connected with this sex orgy during the third century when Emperor Claudius II executed a priest named Valentine for secretly continuing to marry couples despite the emperor’s command that marriages must cease. Married men didn’t want to join the army and leave their families behind and Claudius needed more soldiers. The bludgeoning and beheading of Valentine occurred on February 14.
A little over the top on the BDSM there, Claudius.
Fast forward through a few more machinations of church and state to the Middle Ages when Chaucer and Shakespeare took up this old legend and made it more romantic. Lovers in those times crafted handmade paper cards to exchange as tokens of love. By 1913, the tradition had become so popular that Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Missouri started mass producing Valentine cards and commercial marketing took over.
In case you haven’t noticed, Valentine’s Day has become a major event on social calendars around the world. Sales reached nearly $18 BILLION last year and will likely continue to rise as everything from cards to chocolates to flowers to jewels makes the day a business success. And woe to the lover who fails to participate!
A little basic BDSM Roman style is my gift to you this Valentine’s Day. Use this 50% off coupon code DZ42S for the first of my two-book story of Caerwin, a young Celtic lass captured by a Roman tribune and taught to appreciate his, um, discipline. Don’t wait—coupon expires on the 14th.
Thank you for hosting me again, Delilah. I always enjoy stopping by your blog. Today, I have a confession for your readers.
I cannot stand silence.
Silence has weight. A crushing pressure that I cannot think through. I need something with a cadence or beat that I can tune out, otherwise, I focus on every creak, drip, or thump my house makes. Whether I’m working or reading, I need something in the background my brain can ignore.
Despite being of the MTV generation, I didn’t see a lot of music videos growing up. My family didn’t have cable and until I was in high school we only had 1 TV in the house controlled by my dad. I listened to the radio with advertising spots every ten minutes or played cassette tapes.
Fortunately, I had an awesome friend who made me artist playlists and themed compilations.
In college, I discovered New Age music. I preferred to work to synthesized ambient and space music over nature sounds. But sometimes I’d go to sleep to a thunderstorm. Other times I’d listen to instrumental soundtracks. The first year of college, all I listened to was the Terminator 2: Judgement Day soundtrack.
When I read, I usually have the TV on. I’m a bit of a TV junkie about drama shows like NCIS and Once Upon a Time. On the weekend, I’ll watch baseball or NASCAR. (Don’t judge, I have two car crazy boys in the house) Just something to have on while I do other things.
Before I start writing a story, one of my first tasks is to complete a playlist. I try to select 20 to 25 songs but it varies depending on the story. I mix classical, new age, soundtrack and pop music based on what I think will fit the story. Sometimes I have specific songs for characters and sometimes the music reminds me of the emotion I want to convey.
This is the playlist for my latest novella, Tethered, which releases Tuesday, February 14, 2017.
I only played The Vengeful One when I channeled my villain. According to my software, I played Radioactive the most. My story takes place in the fall between September and October which explains why a few of the songs have September in the title.
I think of my heroine, Evelyn whenever Something Wild plays. She is a Peregrine falcon shifter who is also an Aquarius. Being in the air, flying, is what she longs for. Riding the currents, living life is her calling.
Are you a Silence person or a background noise person?
Zodiac Shifters: Tethered
Releases Feb. 14, 2017
For over one hundred years, Evelyn Brooks experienced the world through her photography. Now her creativity has deserted her and a stalker drove her from her home. Looking for a new sanctuary, she moved to North Carolina. Exploring the skies of her new home, a bolt of magic knocks her falcon form from the air.
Park ranger Lawke Morgan’s already bad day got worse when his ex-wife dropped off their 13 year old daughter and left for a vacation in London. Dealing with his daughter is nothing compared to discovering magic and shapeshifters exist when a Peregrine falcon he rescued transforms before his eyes. Then his daughter is kidnapped by an Aztec priest after Evelyn.
In exchange for one of Evelyn’s early pictures, located in the small town of Willows Haven, the priest will free Lawke’s daughter. He will do anything to get his daughter back, even break the law. But magic has a way of entangling people together whether they want to be or not. To rescue his daughter, they must confront blood sacrifices, ancient gods and their own inability to trust.
Can a woman used to the freedom of the skies embrace love with a man firmly rooted on the ground?
Evelyn Brooks raced across a purple-tinged sky. Behind her, lightning and thunder clashed within baleful clouds. Her wings dipped in a strong crosswind and plunged her toward the earth. Muscling through the gale, she climbed into a less turbulent current. She’d never make Raleigh before getting soaked, despite the speed her Peregrine form achieved.
A ferocious roar drowned out the whistle of the wind. The upward flap of her wings faltered, and her blood chilled. Turning into a different current, she glimpsed the silhouette of an enormous beast against the storm’s clouds.
Below her, the treetops of a deciduous forest with red-kissed leaves due to an early frost stood sentry. She took shelter within the branches of an oak tree.
The whoosh of wings induced Evelyn to shrink against the tree trunk and dig her talons into the bark as the limbs swayed. A strong crosswind contorted the tree further. Another roar challenged the incoming storm’s might and silenced the nighttime creatures.
Twisting her head, she glanced through the foliage into the cloud-filled sky. A dark shadow moved against the dark gray backdrop. Gigantic wings lifted a massive creature high into the sky.
Hunted until extinct, dragons had been stripped of their scales and blood, their magic forever lost to the supernatural communities. For eons they’d guarded and sheltered those seeking wisdom or healing until humans, who couldn’t control their desires, rampaged across the earth and destroyed all the sanctuaries.
Apparently, the purge hadn’t destroyed them all, and the approaching storm had disturbed this one’s slumber.
Moving to the East Coast was supposed to keep Evelyn safe. Free her of the disturbing sense that someone watched her. Maybe stimulate her creativity and spark a burst of artistry. Instead, she was denied the escape of flight and forced to hide.
I bought this little brainstorming tool years ago at some writers’ conference. I’ve used it only twice—here! “Story Cubes” is (that looks wrong, but I promise it’s not) a brainstorming game. You roll the dice and whatever pictures appear face up are the ones you use to riff off a story.
Here’s the roll…
Do any of these symbols tell you anything? You can pick some or use all of them. Tell me a story, or even just a glimmer of an idea, for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
Hi, I’m Melanie Jayne, romance writer, punctuation rules hater, and human servant to two mastiffs. When I’m not filling food bowls or throwing the Kong, I’m usually thinking about writing: story ideas, things to do, and awesome phrases seem to pop into my head all of the time.
When I was washing the dog bowls earlier today, I started to think about secondary characters in some of my favorite books. You know the best friend, the smart butler, and the ever put upon secretary. Then I took that a step farther and thought about which of my friends would make good secondary characters and how they would influence my heroine?
There is Anna who sounds like she smokes six packs of cigarettes a day and raised six kids. She has seen it all and nothing surprises her. Definitely a possibility because she would be unflappable and a mature voice of reason.
Melanie is the all-around most intelligent person that I have ever met. She knows a little bit about everything. The perfect go to partner when my heroine wants to do something sneaky or for business advice.
Jeff is one of the best dressed men in my city and can tell a fantastic story. He is the perfect person to invite out when you need to have fun or when you need an opinion about what to wear. What woman doesn’t need this kind of friend?
Lastly, but definitely not least, there is David. Complicated, intelligent, and loyal. He would be the heroine’s choice for when she needed a shoulder to cry on or someone to bail her out of a jam. He is a definite possibility to get his own book.
So as I finished drying the food bowl, I realized how lucky I am to be surrounded by such great people. I can depend on them and they add to the richness of my life, plus as a writer they give me great ideas.
Please check out my writing, which features older characters “Because Love Doesn’t Stop at 35.”
My name is Stefan Wyemore and I’m the High Alpha of the Northwest Territories. If I could snort here, I would. That sounds so high-and-mighty. What it really means is that I get to listen to every complaint and gripe everyone in the northwestern area has and figure out how to make shifters of all sorts, covens and hybrids live together in peace. It’s a nasty job, but my folks thought I was up to the job. They’re technically the leaders, but they live in Florida with the packs and prides there and ceded this place to me. Gee, thanks, folks.
Don’t get me wrong. I love it here. The mountains are incredible. We don’t have anything like that in Florida, that’s for sure. And if I hadn’t had this job, I wouldn’t have met Mali, my mate and the woman I can’t imagine life without. Though it wasn’t easy convincing her.
Mali is an amazing woman. She’s a hybrid, like me, someone who can both shift and do magic. Fortunately, we’re both feline shifters, which makes our bond even stronger. I knew as soon as I met her that we were mates, but it took a little longer for her to accept it. She’s been through a lot in her life. I can’t imagine never belonging somewhere. My folks and where I grew up were so accepting of everyone. But here, it’s not quite as open. In fact, I had to take out four betas who were lording it over their packs like they were gods or something. They quickly learned I don’t go for that. Yes, I’m an alpha and my word is law, but laws have to be tempered with compassion and acceptance. And theirs weren’t. I will not allow bigotry to spread in my packs and prides. We are all shifters. It doesn’t matter if we’re feline, canine, bovine, or something else. Shifters are shifters. And mage-shifters are even better.
That’s what Mali and I are—mage-shifters. Not only do we shift, but we can do magic. My affinity is with the elements while hers is with healing. Because of what we are, maybe others will learn what acceptance is.
Anyway, Lion’s Choice is our story. Or rather, a part of our story. It’s about how Malena and I met and how we became mates. It’s got shifters and witches, yes, but don’t be surprised if a ghost or two shows up too. My grandmother likes to interfere in my life, even if she’s not still around. Sigh. Like I said, the life of the High Alpha is not an easy one, but with Mali at my side, I can tackle anything.
Stefan the Black, alpha of the northwestern territories, needs a strong mate. It’s the only way the prides and packs will continue to follow him, but he hasn’t found the right one yet. Then Dr. Malena Troutman literally runs into him and he and his beast know that she is the one.
The problem is convincing her.
Malena wants nothing to do with prides or packs. As a half-breed—part witch, part shifter—she’s been shunned by both shifters and witches alike. But her beast wants Stefan, and so does the human part of her. Still, can she trust him not to turn her away, especially once he learns her secret?
But Stefan has more than a few secrets of his own, not the least of which is… he’s also got magic running through his blood. It’s up to him to convince the packs and prides that their prejudices are hurting the prides. Ruling a large area of multiple packs and prides takes a lot of balancing—funds, people, emergencies, and more. But with Malena by his side, Stefan turns things around and both beasts find contentment.
“Is there a problem?”
Malena looked up—something that didn’t happen too often—to find a man with raven hair and eyes the color of deep sapphires looking down at her. She immediately recognized him. She could never forget that face or his scent. Her lion grew restless, and Mali fought to stay in control. He wore cut-off jean shorts and a deep blue tee, exposing impressive muscles, but not body-builder bulk. These were the lean, long ones of a lethal animal.
“Oh! Alpha Stefan, it’s nothing. Just a computer mix-up with Miss Troutman’s reservation. I’m sure we can find someone who will take her in.”
Alpha Stefan? Damn. Of course he would be the alpha. “That’s Doctor Troutman, and I’d rather not be crammed into someone’s family room with screaming kids running all around.” Mali let a little of her irritation show in her voice.
“What about a separate bedroom with a private bath and no screaming kids?”
She hesitated the briefest of seconds before nodding. She wondered if he had orchestrated this glitch, along with the invitation. “That’s what I was hoping for.”
Not only did her lioness approve, but so did the witch side of her. That in itself was odd enough for her to pay attention.
“Where are your bags, Doctor Troutman?” He smiled at her, a grin of both invitation and consideration.
“Just this.” She indicated a regulation-sized pull-along. “The rest are still in my truck, though I have no idea where that is at the moment.”
“In the parking area. I can have one of the valets retrieve your things for you if you wish.”
“Thank you. They’re rather important, and some need to be handled with care. I’m teaching a class here tomorrow. If you could show me my room, and where my truck might be, I’ll get them myself.” She hesitated. Damn. She’d given orders to the alpha. Could she stuff her foot any further into her mouth? Her face grew warm. “My apologies, Alpha Stefan. If I’d known—”
“If you’d known, I think you would still need to handle your bags with care. Shall we?” He offered his arm and took her bag in one hand.
“I can carry that myself,” she said, not wanting to put the alpha out any more than she already had.
“I’m sure you can. I was merely being polite.”
She blew out a sigh and took his arm. “Thank you, Alpha Stefan. I appreciate the help. So where is this room I can have?”
He stepped into the elevator and punched the button for the fifth floor. “My apartment.”
Stefan enjoyed the look of pure shock on the woman’s face. As soon as he’d told her where they were going, she’d dropped her hand and stepped away from him. This was not a woman who used feminine wiles to capture a man. She wanted nothing to do with him. It showed in her stiff shoulders, crossed arms, tight mouth, and narrowed eyes. He kept a neutral look on his face but smiled inwardly. She intrigued him on many levels. He discovered he was actually looking forward to the challenge she offered.
Malena Troutman. The lion within him was practically purring, and so was the man.
UPDATE: The winners are Jen B, DebraG, and Shirley Long!
* * * * *
Happy Saturday! I hope you’re not working today, or that you’ve got a huge list of errands to run. As for me, I’ll have my BITHOK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keys), trying to get closer to The End of my current project. So, not much time to chat, y’all! But I would like to know if you’ve read one of my short stories before, and if so, which one was your favorite?
Comment for a chance to win your choice of
one of these stories! I’ll choose
And if you haven’t read my shorties, check out the full list here!
Tailgating at the Cedar Inn
Two construction workers come to the aid of one woman looking for a last taste of freedom…
Breathing became something I had to think about doing. I swept my upper lip with my tongue, opening my mouth to say something, but he bent toward me. Slowly. His narrowed eyes daring me to draw away.
I didn’t. The beer was plucked from my lifeless fingers, and I gripped the edge of the tailgate, wrapping them around it to brace myself for a kiss.
His mouth was tentative, teasing, sliding over mine and rubbing in a circular movement that pulled me with it, until I was moving with him, following to make sure I didn’t lose the seductive heat.
When he drew back, he smiled. “You know, sweetheart, you don’t have to be alone tonight.”
I blinked and glanced to the side at Owen.
“Package deal,” Chris said, drawing my attention back.
Package deal. Two packages. Mine to enjoy.
I opened my mouth and drew a quick breath, suddenly nervous. “I don’t…” I cleared my throat. “I’ve never…”
“We have,” he said quickly, cupping my chin and sliding a thumb over my still moist lower lip. “Nothin’ to be worried about. Cedar Inn’s quiet. Clean. You’ve got the single room, right? Come to ours, and we’ll shove the mattresses together. Plenty of room.”
Moisture seeped to soak the crotch of my shorts. My clit throbbed and hardened. I could end it now and go back to my bed, slide my fingers over the knot and come in an instant, but their scent and heat surrounded me. I imagined being sandwiched between them both—slick, hot skin sliding against mine, front and back. I squeezed my thighs because they were beginning to quiver. Suddenly, I had options. One safe. One not so much—but wickedly enticing.
“No pressure,” Owen said, dropping a slow kiss on the corner of my shoulder. “You call the shots. Whatever you want.”
What I wanted was for them to make a move. Make up my mind for me, because I didn’t think I was capable of speaking.
Chris laid his palms on the tops of my bare thighs and slid his thumbs between them, then slowly opened me, stepping closer, forcing me wider again until his crotch was flush with mine.
His erection was impossible to ignore. A thick, insistent bulge. “Maybe you don’t want a bed?” he murmured. “Maybe you want it here?”
His crudeness excited me. Challenged me in a way I’d never have accepted in my former life. I tossed my head. “But someone will see.”
“Maybe. Might only be Bobby, but he won’t mind. Will you?”
Owen slipped a hand behind me and rucked up my shirt until the fabric bunched under my arms. My belly bare, the warm night air blew across my skin, feeling like a caress. My stomach tightened.
I glanced between them, noted the tension riding both their jaws. They wouldn’t make a move without my consent, but they’d pounce the second I did. I let the moment stretch.
Then I leaned forward and raised my arms, keeping my gaze locked with Chris’s as Owen pulled the garment all the way off.
Both men breathed deeply as they stared at my breasts. Chris cupped one, hefted it in his palm then squeezed. Owen wet a finger and circled the other nipple, pausing to scratch a nail across the tip. It hardened.
“You’re pretty,” Chris muttered.
“Doesn’t sound like you’re happy about that.”
“Don’t pay any mind to what he says,” Owen said. “He’s hard. He doesn’t think straight when he gets that way. Take it as a compliment.”
Chris plucked my nipple and released it, watching it bounce back. His gaze darted to mine again, and then he slipped his fingers inside the waist of my shorts and rubbed the top of my mound. “Can I take these off, too?”
I didn’t mind his blunt tone this time. The air between us felt charged with a current that pricked my nipples and caused my pussy to contract.
I was already shirtless, already committed. So hot I was panting. I nodded, then gasped when Owen eased me back at an angle and Chris went to work unsnapping my shorts and dragging them off my legs.
Then Owen pushed me forward and slid behind me, urging me to rest against his naked chest. Chris opened his jeans and pushed them off his hips, freeing his cock. He leaned over me, pressing me harder against Owen who chuckled as Chris hooked his elbows beneath my thighs and lifted my bottom.
“A condom?” I gasped, one last shred of sanity remaining before my mind completely filled with the sight of him. He was thick, long, a straight cudgel of a cock. Twice the girth of the last man I’d had.
“Pocket,” he ground out.
I reached for the scrunched-up top of his jeans and pulled out his wallet. My hands shook, but I found the trifold of foil packets and tore one off. He watched as I clumsily cloaked him in the latex sheath. Then he was there, pushing inside me.
The moment he entered me, my mind clicked. Fuck, I was really doing this. Really taking on a stranger while his friend held me, his hands cupping my breasts and his cock grinding against my backside through his jeans.
And I wanted him nude as well. Wanted them both rutting, both sinking deep.
I wriggled inside Owen’s embrace.
Chris shook his head, his nostrils flared. “Want me to stop?” he bit out.
“Fuck no. But what about Owen?”
Owen laughed. The sound edgy, taut.
Chris urged my legs around his back and stood, lifting me from the truck bed. Behind me, I heard the rustle of clothing, the snap of latex. I didn’t look back and instead nuzzled into Chris’s shoulder to hide my face. I should be ashamed. But instead, I was grinning, and then nipping his skin, causing him to groan and thrust.
I didn’t know how they would manage it, but trusted that they knew a way.
Chris nodded, then turned and sat on the tailgate, leaning back and bringing me with him. Behind me, hands cupped my ass, pulled my cheeks apart. I moaned in protest, and Owen’s thumbs slipped farther down, tucking into my pussy, sliding along Chris’s dick, then stretching upward to make a space.
“No way,” I muttered.
“There’s room. I promise,” Owen said a trace of humor in his strained voice. Then he was pushing inside me, forcing his way atop Chris’s thick cock.
Enjoy an excerpt from Lindsay McKenna’s latest release, Snowflake’s Gift!
A Delos Series novella
SOMETIMES A CHRISTMAS GIFT DOESN’T COME IN A PACKAGE….IT COMES ON FOUR LEGS….
Snow was coming down hard in town as Nick drove the van toward the shut-in area at four p.m. The smell of spaghetti and buttered, garlic toast filled the vehicle. Myra had made sweet potato cupcakes for dessert, and he stole one before they left the charity facility. It was nearly Thanksgiving and he was looking forward to taking Holly to his folks place for the afternoon and evening. The wipers were rhythmically swinging back and forth, throwing off the heavy, wet flakes. The roads were salted, but still Nick was wary of invisible black ice. In the late afternoon the heat of the day was gone and things got slick real fast.
“Oh dear,” Holly called, sitting up, pointing out her passenger-side window. “Look, Nick!”
Snowflake, who stood between them, heard the pitch of her voice change, and whined.
Nick slowed and pulled over to the curb, then looked to where she was pointing. There was a yellow Labrador moving awkwardly through the belly deep snow between two brick buildings. Her ribs were prominent even though she had a short, thick winter coat on. “She’s starving,” he muttered, scowling. “It looks like a female Lab. She’s too dainty looking to be a male.”
“She’s terribly thin,” Holly said, worried. “I wonder if someone dumped her—they do that all the time around here. I hate it.”
“No collar on her, either,” Nick agreed. The Lab was about a hundred-feet down the alley between the two buildings, slugging it out with the snow. Nick heard Holly make a little sound of urgency. She had such a big heart, and she hated to see animals or humans suffer.
Nick knew she wanted to get out and try to call the dog over to her. From the looks of the animal, her light-brown eyes wild looking, tongue lolling out of her mouth, her fur matted, he intuitively knew this was a dog that had been left behind a long time ago to fend for herself.
“She’s feral,” he warned Holly. She turned, her huge, blue eyes filled with tears. “She won’t let us near her. I’m sorry.” And he was. It wouldn’t be the first dog dumped here that Nick had found, or that Holly had come upon around the building of one of her shut-ins. They had a no-kill shelter here, and this Lab would have had a warm place to stay, food, and care if they could befriend her.