Thursday, April 30, 2015

Raise your hand - who thinks Joe Carroll is really dead?


I just watched the episode of The Following which contains Joe Carroll's execution by lethal injection. (Side note: why do they wipe your arm with antiseptic when they're about to kill you?)

So naturally, Joe didn't go quietly, he had to kick up a fuss. The episode before he killed a man and stole his sunglasses, fashion a weapon of sorts from the frame. Today he used it, once he was alone in the room with a few guards, his lawyer, the doctor, and the governor's aide, quickly killing all but three: the doctor, the lawyer, and the aide.

Then he asked for Ryan Hardy.

Who was really surprised? Joe was upset when he learned Ryan had turned down the invitation to view his execution. Obviously, he had to gain Ryan's attention and get him down there for one last scene.

In the meantime, the crazy serial killer Theo picked up his sister and is hiding out with her, while she keeps an eye on current events.

Joe threatens to kill everyone unless Ryan shows up within two hours. A reluctant Ryan agrees. His
girlfriend calls and tries to dissuade him, but to no avail. She has a trump card to play - the fact that she's pregnant - but he hangs up before she can play the card, leaving her in agony.

Ryan reaches the prison and is led outside the door where Joe holds his hostages. He negotiates for the release of one, agreeing to enter the room, handcuffed.  Much conversation follows, during which Joe asks Ryan to admit that he is Joe's soul mate. Matters are discussed, and Ryan agrees to answer some questions, including does he dream of Joe? He does. He dreams they are friends, and Joe is teaching him.

Makes you wonder. We know he has those kind of dreams, so what does that mean?

Joe gives himself up, as agreed, but on their way back through the cellblock, Theo's sister throws a monkey wrench in things. Apparently she's a master hacker too, and she unlocks the cells of the other killers in the cellblock, initiating a free-for-all.

Ryan saves Joe's lawyer from being raped, killing two men in the process, rather brutally, then he saves Joe, and ends the stand-off. There is talk of postponing the execution, but it goes off, now with Ryan in attendance, much to his girlfriend's dismay.

Joe's last words are fitting:  "Quoth the raven, nevermore."

So I ask you - who thinks Joe is really dead? Granted, we saw him given the lethal injection, watched the monitors as they flatlined, watched him lie there with the staring eyes of death. And then the viewing screen was closed off from our sight.

Is it conceivable he pre-arranged everything, it was all fake, and even now he is being spirited out of the prison, to freedom?

If Joe is really dead, then what happens to the show? I content that Joe's death will bring it to an end. What point is the Following without the followers or their leader? Without Joe, the show falls flat. If they attempt to keep it going, it will not be pretty. Loonies like Strauss, Theo, and Mark/Luke Gray can only take you so far.

I think that in order for the Following to survive, Joe has to live.  I'll paraphrase Hannibal Lecter's words to Clarice Starling, when the question arose would he kill her. He said: "The world is a much better place with you in it."

I prefer the world of The Following with Joe in it.  Just food for thought. Only time will tell, right?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wednesday Briefs: Don't Look Back #43 (8.4)

Welcome, welcome everyone, come on in and let us entertain you with some flash fiction! It's Wednesday, so that means it's time for the Wednesday Briefers to do their thing! Every week, we offer you our flash fiction, short tales between 500 and 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

In Don't Look Back, the drama continues, as Lee, Marshall, and Roy discuss the situation, and speculate what Rhonda might do. Will they have to disrupt their lives again because of her? Find out in this week's episode! And don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to. Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!

Don't Look Back #43 (8.4)

The half-made breakfast plans were shelved. No one was in the mood to go to Milly’s now. They loaded the gear in the back of the truck and headed home instead. Once they’d unpacked, Roy volunteered to make coffee, so Marshall and Lee headed into the family room. They sat together on the couch. Lee held Marshall’s hand tightly, and Marshall welcomed the firm grip, afraid if Lee let go, he’d fall apart.

Marshall was already struggling to hold himself together as it was. Every fear he’d ever had was attempting to manifest itself. They were all connected, in some way, with the loss of Lee. But he was damned if he was going to ever cry because of her again.

Once the coffee was done, and everyone had a steaming mug, Roy took a seat in Lee’s recliner, facing them, his hat in his lap. “Do you think she’s after money, Lee?”

“I’m sure she is. I don’t know what else it could be.”

Roy nodded. “I got the impression she was leading up to blackmail, yeah. Maybe she was hoping to get some money out of both of you, what with Marshall being a grown man and all. And your business doing so good. I don’t really think it has to do with anything else, except maybe a little jealousy. “

“If she’s jealous, that’s her problem,” Marshall said. “She threw away what she had. She didn’t want us, so she left us.”

“What’s the worst she can do?” Lee tightened his hold on Marshall, his words for Roy. “Can they arrest us?”

“Maybe.” Roy’s voice was filled with doubt. “But I honestly don’t think they would. It’s not like Marshall’s a minor or anything. I just don’t see anyone wanting to get involved. And they’d be bound to come through me first, anyway. This is my jurisdiction.”

“But…” Lee persisted, and Marshall knew there was more to it than just the legal repercussions. “But there might be more to it than that, right?”

“Could be. You’re right.” Roy frowned, as if such an admission was painful to him. “Let me do some digging around. I still have plenty of connections. I can put some feelers out to the attorney general’s office. And I’ll see what she’s been up to since… since Fargo. Maybe that’ll give us some kind of clue to what she intends to do now. I’ll see what I can find out about her new husband. I got the plate number of their trailer before they skedaddled, so there must be a paper trail somewhere.”

“Thanks, Roy. I don’t know what we’d do without you.”

“Lee, no need to thank me. You know I’d do anything for you and Marshall. Anytime.” He cleared his throat, plucking at the hat in his hands before placing it on his head and rising. “I’m going to start on that. I’ll call you when I know something.”

“I appreciate that.”  Lee started to rise, but Marshall tensed, and Roy waved him down.

“ You’re a good friend, Roy,  best there is. If you need me to do anything, let me know.”

“I will, I guarantee.” Roy nodded, then turned to Marshall. “Don’t worry, it’ll be all right. We saved you from her once, she can’t take you away again. Ever.”

Marshall hoped like hell he was right.

Roy left and Marshall leaned back against the cushion, his mind racing. He sipped at his coffee, letting the warmth steal through him. Visions of having to leave Burnham filled his head. He liked it here. Liked the people, and their house, and the life they’d built here. He sure didn’t want to leave, but if it came to a choice between staying here and losing Lee or moving somewhere else, that was just a no-brainer.

Lee leaned toward him, and Marshall set his cup down, searching Lee’s eyes. For what he didn’t know. When Lee held out his arms, Marshall leaned against him, and breathed in Lee’s scent. “We’ll do whatever we need to do.” Lee echoed Marshall’s thoughts. “As long as we’re together, that’s what counts.”

“You don’t want to leave Burnham, do you?” Marshall’s voice sounded muffled against Lee’s chest.

“No, and if we don’t have to, we won’t. But I won’t lose you again. I can’t. And I refuse to let you suffer for something that is not wrong. We’re not wrong, I don’t care what anyone says. It’s time the law butted out of people’s bedrooms, once they’re old enough to know what they’re doing.”

Suddenly, Marshall was grateful Lee had insisted they wait until he turned eighteen. No one could accuse Lee of committing statutory rape, anyway.

“I suspect she’ll be back, since she never got to finish what she had to say. When she does, I’ll talk to her, you don’t have to.”

“We can talk to her together.” Marshall drew back far enough to look into Lee’s eyes. “You and me, together. Okay?”

Lee hesitated for a moment, then nodded. “Okay,” he agreed. “Together. Always.” Marshall drew comfort from his words, and the love in his eyes. “There’s nothing she can do to separate us, and the sooner she realizes that the better.”

They decided not to let her throw a monkey wrench into their lives, and to continue as before, which meant they had work to do. Lee insisted they eat something first, even if it was only toast. But that developed into eggs and bacon too, before they finally ended up in their work room and got busy.

That night, they lay together in their bed after making love, their warm bodies pressed against one another, as they relaxed into sleep. Marshall wasn’t sleepy, though, and his mind kept going back to how things were before, when he and Lee were just father and son, not lovers. Remembering how everything had changed between them, how he’d begun to look at Lee as a man, not a father.

to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefs are up to!

Virtual Book Tour: Lock and Key

Author Name: T. Strange

Book Name: Lock and Key

Release Date: April 29, 2015

After meeting Terry at a motorcycle show, Gavin is sure he’s found the man of his dreams. While he’s fantasized about BDSM for years, Gavin has never had a play partner and Terry is happy to teach him. After playing together for a few months, Terry has to leave on a business trip. Terry gives Gavin the key to his apartment so Gavin can sleep in, but Gavin isn’t sure he’s ready for that level of commitment. While he likes and trusts Terry—and loves the kinky sex they have together—Gavin has to decide which he can’t give up: Terry, or his freedom. Part one was originally published as Boots and Leather by Torquere Press.

Pages or Words: 18,000 words

Categories: BDSM, Romance, humor, Contemporary, M/M Romance, Erotica, Fiction, Gay Fiction

Weighed down by groceries and a bulging duffle bag, I rang Terry’s doorbell.
“It’s open!” he called.
I left the bag in the entryway so he wouldn’t see it and brought the groceries to the kitchen. He was wearing jeans, an apron and nothing else, and he was sexy as hell. I wanted him to ravish me, right there, right then, but he was busily stirring and chopping and other mysterious kitchen pursuits—I’m not much of a cook.
“Don’t come into the bedroom.” I kissed his shoulder.
“Sure.” He gave my butt a quick pat before turning back to his frying pan.
Making sure he wasn’t watching, I carried the heavy bag down the hall to Terry’s bedroom and started unpacking my goodies.
I’ve known I was interested in BDSM for a long time, though I’d never had a play partner of my very own before Terry. Every now and then I’d see something in an adult store or on a website that I just had to buy, for private use or the hope that I would eventually find a top to play with. “Every now and then” adds up over the years, and soon the bag wouldn’t be big enough to hold everything.
I laid it all out on the bed so I could see everything and try to narrow down exactly what I wanted to do with Terry—or rather, have him do to me. As I pulled out each toy, I remembered the fantasy that had made me buy it.
Terry and I haven’t discussed roleplaying yet, and I was still too shy to mention it, and worried he’d think I was immature for wanting to play “let’s pretend”.
Simple was probably best. A scene that took too long to set up could use up all our energy before we’d actually played. I tossed almost everything back in the bag, except for my matching set of black leather wrist and ankle cuffs, and what had quickly become my favorite toy. It was a jockey bat; similar to a riding crop, but the leather tip was hard instead of flappy. Terry has used it in all sorts of ways—using it the way it was intended, flipping it around to hit me with the handle, striking my thighs or ass with the shaft like a cane, even holding it across the backs of my knees to pin me down.
“I’m ready,” I called.
“Me too. We’d better eat first, or we might not get around to it.”
I was restless. I wanted to play now, but I knew he was right. If we played, we probably wouldn’t leave the bed until morning, and the dinner he’d cooked would go to waste. With a final glance at the toys neatly arranged on the bed, I sauntered out to meet him.
“Are you sure you didn’t own a restaurant in a past life?” I asked, bumping him with my hip while I grabbed a plate. I thought about serving him, but we hadn’t discussed that level of D/s yet, so I only got food for myself.
“I’d go crazy in a restaurant, surrounded by people, everyone in a hurry. I couldn’t even do your job.” He was used to being his own boss; if he felt like working fourteen hours one day, he did. If he wanted to ride to the coast for the weekend, there was no one to stop him but his own deadlines.

Sales Links:

About the author:

T. Strange has been interested in BDSM for as long as she can remember. She and her wife were active participants in their local community for a number of years, but lately theyve been focusing more on their own relationship. When not writing or being spanked, T. enjoys gardening, playing with her cats and other animals, and playing video games. She writes vanilla fiction under the same pen name.

Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page:

Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: B.S. Clay

Tour Dates & Stops: April 29, 2015

Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Lock and Key’ by T. Strange
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #2

Welcome to another week of Top Ten Tuesday!

This week, the top ten list is: Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who _____ (are music allyinclined, have lost someone, have depression, who grow up poor, etc.) Hmmm, that requires me to fill in the blank. Okay, I accept the challenge. I'm going to write a list of the Top Ten Books which Feature Characters Who are Real People 

Here is my list, again in no particular order, just as they come to me. Okay, you may already know my fondness for the first person I'm going to list. Duh, he's on the top of my blog, right?

1. The Cardinal and the Queen by Evelyn Anthony - the character in question is Cardinal Richelieu, who is also my historical crush. This novel tells of the relationship between him and Anne of Austria, wife to King Louis XIII of France. It's a fascinating story, and a great romance. There  were rumors at the time that the Cardinal was the real father of Louis XIV (Louis XIII was gay). I first read this over forty years ago and I'm still not tired of it.

2. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas - again Cardinal Richeleu, although quite a different tale. D'Artagnan is fresh out of Gascony, gone to Paris to seek his fortune, having been given a letter to get him into the King's Guards. While in the process of delivering said letter, he encounters three different men by whom he finds himself challenged to a duel on the following day. These men, as it turns out, are the Three Musketeers, but before any of the duels can take place, they are spotted by the Cardinal's Guards (dueling is illegal in France at this time) and they end up fighting against the Guards, together, and become bffs in the process. In Dumas' tale, Richelieu is the bad guy whom they must outwit at all costs.

3. The Last Love by Thomas Costain - The character is Napoleon, and it tells the story of his  
exile on the island of St. Helena and his relationship with a young English girl named Betsy Balcombe. I've heard rumors of a film to be made, supposedly starring Al Pacino, but have seen nothing. Pacino would make a lousy Napoleon, in my opinion, so I'm actually glad.

4. Desiree by Annemarie Selinko  - Another book with Napoleon, but an earlier Napoleon. Desiree is the daughter of a silk merchant in Marsailles. She meets the young man with great ambitions and they fall in love and become engaged. But when he leaves for Paris, in order to further his career, and she doesn't hear from him for a long time, she borrows some money from her maid and follows him, only to learn things she'd rather not hear. This is the first book that ever made me cry. It's a great story, and the movie features Marlon Brando as Napoleon, and Michael Rennie as Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte.

5. The Trial of Adolf Hitler by Phillippe Van Rjndt - The story begins as the Third Reich is
crumbling around him. Hitler is committed to suicide before capture, and has decided he and his bride, Eva, shall both die. They each have poison and a pistol, as they retire to their room in the Bunker to die. Hitler shoots Eva, then himself. But Fate intervenes and the bullet he fired at himself does not kill him. He is found and rescued by one of his faithful. He recovers and takes a new name and identity, burying himself in a small town in Germany, where no one knows him, and leads a quiet life. Years pass. Hitler, under his new name, is well loved by the citizens of the town, but he decides that the time has come for him to reveal himself, and to demand a trial to exonerate him of the the crimes attributed to him. The stunned nations of the world, learning that he is alive, don't know what to do, or what to charge him with. They get together, and finally come up with three charges, and make arrangements for a trial.  Now the ending was a foregone conclusion, as I suspected it would be, but really, in terms of the charges and the evidence that was presented hi Hitler's defense, I didn't find it quite so cut and dried. In fact, I think it might have been a miscarriage of justice. But that's just my opinion, and of course, it's a novel, so it didn't happen.

6. Lamb, The Gospel of Christ According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore - The title says it all, it's a great book, and I loved it. He has a real way with words, and the story just flows so smoothly. Hilarious and sensitive and deeply moving.

7. Depths of Glory by Irving Stone - This is an historical novel about Camille Pissarro, the
Impressionist. It was my introduction to the Impressionists, and features other artists as characters, including Degas, Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh and others. I loved this book, and would gladly read it again.

8. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone - This one is about Michelangelo and Pope Julius II, the struggle between them, as he painted the Sistine Chapel. Great book, also a really great movie starring Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison.

9. The President's Lady by Irving Stone - Another Stone novel, yes, so shoot me lol  This one is about the love between Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel, before he was even President. It's a very romantic and poignant tale, and the movie is well worth watching too. Charlton Heston and Susan Hayward.

10. Love is Eternal by Irving Stone - a novel about Mary Lincoln, before and after her marriage to Abraham Lincoln. This lady definitely had issues, but it's also a great portrait of Abraham Lincoln. 

11. Blennerhassett by Charles Felton Pidgin - This novel is about Vice President Aaron Burr, including his infamous duel with Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. I read this many years ago and loved it. I recently bought it again, so I could read it again. Worth re-reading. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Virtual Book Tour: Inhuman Interest

Please welcome author Eric Turowski, who is here to discuss his latest release, Inhuman Interest.Eric will award one random commenter a signed copy of the book (US/Canada only) and a $25 Amazon GC, while a second commenter will win a signed copy of the book (US/Canada only). The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on the tour, go here. Look for the rafflecopter at the end of the post.

by Eric Turowski




Story By Tess Cooper

Thirteen words in a want-ad turn Tess Cooper’s world upside down after she signs on as a paranormal research assistant to the mysterious Davin Egypt. He reveals a world of grave robbing, clockworks artifacts in blue amber, antique revolvers that fire strange ammo, and powerful forces beyond human comprehension.

As ancient occult energies threaten to destroy her city, Tess must use her journalistic instincts to stay one step ahead of the public works director, Drew Dawson, whose agenda seems bent on destruction rather than maintenance. And possibly murder, but will anyone believe her?

Yeah, right. When garbage trucks fly.

If Tess teams up with the hunky police lieutenant, Kirk Gunther, and the pale, oddball Mr. Egypt, they might be able to save the city in time. That is, if Egypt even wants to. And if Tess overcomes her phobias long enough to do battle in Granddad’s 1983 Subaru Brat.

Things are about to get icky.


I watched Angie wobble away and marched myself toward the stonewalling the cops would give me when I felt the soles of my flats slide. Pinwheeling arms didn’t help me get my footing, and with a tiny cry, I went down.

And down, and down, and down.

Snow slid up my shirt, up my pants, and something less cold but more wet. I thrashed around, succeeding only in getting more snow inside my clothes. Not falling, but sinking. I sank into a deep hole. And then I realized it wasn’t a hole but a grave.

Angie came rushing back, as much as she could rush on her stumpy, little legs. “Tess, what the hell happened? I heard you screaming and—oh, my God.”

I expected her to kneel down and help me out of the loose soil and slush, but instead, she whipped out her camera. The little motor whined as she took about six hundred shots. “I think I got the image for my Christmas cards this year.”

“Ange, help me out of here!” I pushed against the soil with one foot, and felt it sink deeper. I tried with the other one. Then I plunged in up to my neck. My arms found no grip, either. It was like quicksand, even though quicksand doesn’t really exist. I knew that. Worse, a horrible, horrible smell drifted up from below. Decomp, rot, death.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Newspaper founder, bookstore owner, artist, musician, and man-about-town Eric Turowski writes lots of mixed-genre books when he’s not too busy playing laser tag with Tiger the Cat and his fiancĂ©e Mimi deep in the Central Valley of California.

You can learn more about Eric at

Connect with Eric online




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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Vikings Season Finale - Will I keep on watching or say goodbye?

I just watched the season finale of Vikings. I must say this season went by quickly. Seems like it just started and now it's done. This was one very interesting season.


The brunt of the season was spent in planning the trip to Paris. Ragnar is fascinated by the stories
Athelstan tells, and spends hours listening to him, and learning the best way to take the city. A jealous Floki watches and seethes.

Floki has always been a bit strange, admittedly, but it's generally been in a well-meaning, albeit intense way. He proved his loyalty last season when he "plotted" again Ragnar with King Horik (Donal Logue), but of course it turned out to have been a ploy. Still, he isn't too tightly wrapped, and that becomes more and more evident in his growing jealousy of Athelstan.

His obsession with Ragnar, and his hatred of Athelstan, finally drives him over the edge. Declaring
that the gods wish him to make a great offering, he kills Athelstan, thinking his troubles will be over. But Ragnar is inconsolable at the loss of his friend, and Floki has actually gained nothing.
Ragnar says nothing, but I suspected he felt the truth.

The Viking assault on Paris, although well-planned, is not successful, and the Frankish manage to fend them off, although the Vikings refuse to be defeated. The Frankish ruler is a grandson of the great emperor Charlemagne, although a pale imitation of him. His daughter Gisla is stronger than he is. Before they head to paris, Ragnar's brother Rollo consults the seer, unhappy over the death of Sigi, and learns that he will be very happy with what happens in Paris. Rollo can't see that yet.

Rollo has always been something of a loose cannon himself, and has conspired against his brother before, with the late Earl. He is very  jealous of Ragnar and he perceives him as always getting what he wants, having things come easily to him. At the end of the season, jumping ahead, the main Viking force departs, leaving Rollo and a few others to maintain a presence. An envoy arrives from Emperor Charles, who wishes to make an ally of him, offering his daughter Gisla's hand in marriage, along with lands in the north, and the title of duke. All he has to do in return is to fight against Ragnar when he returns. Hmmm, wonder what Rollo will do?

Okay, back to where I was. As I said, the first fight was unsuccessful, but Ragnar did not give up. He
attacks again, with better resulsts. The two sides negotiate, and the Frankish send treasure to the Vikings. Ragnar has another request - he goes to see Count Odo and requests that he be baptized so he can see his friend in the Christian heaven when he dies. Although reluctant, they agree, and Floki and Rollo arrrive just in time to see him baptized, which only serves to add fuel to Floki's rage.

The Vikings, having received their loot, are supposed to leave, but a month later they are still there, and Count Odo is dispatched to find out why. Bjord, Ragnar's son, explains that his father is too ill to move. Odo requests to see, and is taken to Ragnar's side, where Ragnar makes a last request - to be given a Christian burial. Odo gives in.  Ragnar is so ill that those who knows him best have come to make their farewells, from the opposite side of the ship which Floki has constructed, baring their souls to him. When the time comes, the Vikings place him into a wooden box and carry him to the city, to where the court is.

But surprise, surprise, all is not as it seems, and a very alive Ragnar breaks out of the box, takes the princess Gisla hostage, and he and his fellow Vikings exit the city, only to admit their fellows, who loot with abandon. Finally, he releases her, and they depart.

When I thought Ragnar had died, I'd determined not to watch the new season, and I was very upset. But now he's alive, of course I'll watch. For how long, I don't know. He may yet be dying, but he has unfinished business - the last thing he says is to Floki, telling him he knows he killed Athelstan. Something will surely come of that next season, right?

So for now I'm going to watch the new season. But if at any time Ragnar dies, it's all over. I'm still pissed about Athelstan, and the fact he never knew he had a son, who will grow up to be Alfred the Great. Requiescat in pace, Athelstan.

It will be interesting to watch next season as Bjorn's place as the group's leader-to-be is more clearly defined. What of Ragnar's wife, Aslaugh - he knows she slept with another man, can he live with that and with the result of any pregnancy? Will he avenge Athelstan's death and make Floki suffer? Will Bjorn and his wife reconcile?  Stay tuned for next season!

On another slightly different note, while writing this blog post, I discovered that there is a whole lot of Ragnar/Athelstan fanfiction out there! Definite food for thought!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Sexy Saturday - When Will I See You Again

Hello again, and welcome to more My Sexy Saturday. Today I'd like to give you a little taste of my m/m paranormal romance/mystery, When Will I See You Again, which comes before When Will I Be Loved. Make-up sex can be damn hot, but I'll let you be the judge as we get a glimpse of Alexx and Raoul. If you like what you see, look for it at Amber Allure. Looks like it's half off, but I'm not sure for how long.

Raoul kissed Alexx with a feverish intensity, moaning his name into his soft flesh. They stripped one another in record time. Raoul laid the pieces of clothing beneath them as protection against the rocky sand. Their tongues tangled in wordless communion, their hands caressing, stroking, inflaming one another’s lust.

They rolled back and forth, limbs entwined, cocks rubbing together in the most exquisite torture. When Raoul tried to take the bottom position for himself, Alexx slid beneath him instead.

“Make love to me, Raoul,” he whispered, his voice sending shivers that shot straight down Raoul’s spine. There was nothing Raoul wanted to do more. But he wasn’t prepared for this eventuality, hadn’t anticipated it. Certainly not in this place.

“I don’t have any condoms,” he confessed, a note of frustrated chagrin in his voice, compounded by his desire for Alexx.

“We don’t need them.” Alexx traced the contour of Raoul’s lips with one finger. “You’re the only man I’ve ever been with, the only one I ever want to be with. Please, I want to feel you, only you, inside of me…”

Raoul melted at his words, berating himself internally. How could he not have known, not have realized that Alexx was an innocent, an untouched virgin until Raoul came along? In all fairness, Alexx had not reacted as he would have expected. It didn’t matter, not now, but the knowledge only served to reinforce the idea that they were meant to be together, for they fit together as perfectly as if they’d been made for one another.

Raoul continued to protest, but his heart was not in it, and he felt himself surrender as Alexx claimed his lips, stifling his words with his mouth. Their tongues fought for supremacy in a mock battle of wills that ended when Alexx lightly nipped Raoul’s lower lip. The simple bite sent an erotic shiver coursing deliciously through his body.

Friday, April 24, 2015

To Be a Hero... Can a Villain Apply?

Hero versus villain... protagonist versus antagonist... Seems rather cut and dried, doesn't it, but is it really? But can a villain actually become a hero?

Of course he can. It's all a matter of perception.

I've recently begun watching Wolf Hall on Masterpiece Theater. For those who aren't familiar with this drama, it's the story of Thomas Cromwell, and the part he played in the events of his times, that is during the reign of Henry VIII. Of humble birth, Cromwell was taken under the wing of the great Cardinal Wolsey, and nurtured. The Cardinal's unmakiing was Henry's failure to have a son by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. His pride - and his nation - decreed he must have an heir. Of course, his becoming infatuated with a young girl named Anne Boleyn didn't help matters any. She had spent some time in the French court, and was smart enough to realize that if she gave in to Henry - ie sleep with him - she would quickly lose his favor. But she held out and kept her eye on the prize - becoming Queen of England. For that to happen, Henry needed his first wife annulled, which would also have made any children by that union bastards. He only had the one daughter, Mary, and he was willing to have that happen in order to gain a son.

I've read a number of stories and histories dealing with this time period, and almost invariably Thomas Cromwell is painted as a villain for his part in the fall of Wolsey, the divorce of Henry and Queen Catherine, and  breaking with the Pope and the formation of the Church of England. But here he is actually the hero, the center of the story. The man himself has not changed, of course, merely how we are to perceive him.

So what does that mean for a writer? Just that the person who is the center of your story can be a villain and still be the hero. Not only the virtuous need apply.

In this story, Anne Boleyn is painted as a villainess, but if you should read or watch Anne of the
Thousand Days, you'll have a whole different picture of the woman who became Henry's second wife, mother of the greatest queen in English history, and first of his wives to be beheaded. Whereas Wolf Hall makes her out to be a calculating schemer, who was in league with her family to acquire power and wealth, in Anne of the Thousand Days, she is a young girl who becomes enamored of a handsome, virile king and spends years waiting to make him hers.

One of my favorite villains cum heroes has to be Dr. Hannibal Lecter. I've read all the books, seen all the movies, and love them. Hannibal is a serial killer, and an unrepentant one at that. He makes no bones about what he's done. Granted, he has reasons, and how he became the way he is is well told in Hannibal Rising. But the fact remains he has done things which don't exactly make him hero material. And yet that is just what he is, for he is the center of every story, even when he is not onscreen, so to speak.

What does Hannibal have that makes him so interesting, even as a villain? He's intelligent, and very charming... and manipulative as hell. As a trained psychiatrist, he has insight into how people think, how they work, and he isn't afraid to use that knowledge for his own means. Whether you like him or not, there is no doubt that he is the hero of Thomas Harris' books.

Another example of the villain as hero can be found in John Milton's Paradise Lost. I only read this poem for the first time in the last couple of years, and was instantly mesmerized. It begins in the aftermath of the great Rebellion - the attempt by a third of the Chosen to overthrow God which resulted in their being cast down to the newly created Hell. Among them is their leader, of course, Lucifer. Since history is written by the victors, and since Lucifer did not win in his attempt to wrest power from God, ergo Lucifer is the villain. And yet he is the hero, for he shines more brightly than any other character in the book, and he is certainly the most interesting among them. Compared to him, Adam and Raphael are dull and annoying, whereas Lucifer reveals himself made of sterner stuff, and also shows God in a less than flattering light.

Lucifer is portrayed as highly intelligent and brave, and unafraid to take on someone who is as powerful as he is, if not more so. Even knowing that God is all-knowing, he takes a stand for what he believes in and fights for it. Is that not the definition of a hero? And yet he has been vilified for many years.

Lucifer also features as the hero/villain of a series of graphic novels written by one of my favorite
writers, Mike Carey. And once again, the angels do not come off well at all. In Carey's version, which actually found its origins in Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Lucifer is fed up with being in charge of Hell and he's gone up to Earth and opened up a piano bar called Lux in Los Angeles. The story opens as an angel approaches him, sent by God to deliver a message - God needs a favor. Once again, there is no doubt Lucifer is a villain, but he is still the hero of these volumes.

A good hero is not perfect. He has flaws and imperfections which make him human, and place him within the understanding of the readers who might be less than impressed with someone who is without fault. At the same time, a villain can have his good points and his virtues. And be interesting enough to fill the role of hero.

Wouldn't life be dull if every character was one way or the other? It's how you handle the flaws that sets your characters apart, for good or for bad. Who doesn't love a bad boy?

I think every writer needs to make a hero of a villain at least once in his or her career. I know I intend do.

You've met him already, and he too is a serial killer. You'll be seeing him again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday Briefs: Don't Look Back #42 (8.3)

Hello, hello, and Happy Hump Day! Hard to believe April is almost over already, and summer isn't far behind!If it's Wednesday, it must be time for some flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of writers who present to you our stories, between 500 and 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

In last week's Don't Look Back, an unpleasant wind blew into Burnham in the form of Marshall's mother. Can this be good for Marshall and Lee? What does she want? Find out in this week's episode. Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to. Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!

Don't Look Back #42 (8.3)

If Rhonda was taken aback by Roy’s words, she didn’t show it. She licked her lips, one hand poised cockily on her hip.”Well, I’m very flattered you know who I am. Marshall talk about me a lot, does he? He’s a sweet boy, isn’t he? People say he takes after his momma.”

Marshall thought he was going to be ill.

“Lee and me, we been divorced for a long time. I guess you know Lee, don’t you? Marshall’s daddy?” She put as much emphasis into that one word as it could possibly hold. “His real daddy. Not his stepdaddy, like Murray over there.” She waved a manicured hand in the vague direction of the travel trailer. “His actual father.”

How many ways could she say that?

Roy didn’t appear in the least fazed. Of course, this wasn’t exactly news to him. Not that she knew that.

She took a step toward Roy. Raising her hand, she boldly stroked his cheek, giggling like the young girl she obviously wished she was. “This town’s sure lucky to have a sheriff as handsome as you. I appreciate you watching over my son, and it’s been very nice to meet you. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have some catching up to do—”

Roy removed her hand, even as he stepped around her and took up a protective position between her and Marshall. Marshall could only imagine the amount of restraint he’d had to use. “Ma’am, I guess I didn’t make myself clear. You need to go. You need to leave Burnham entirely. And I’d be very careful what I said if I were you. You’re about to cross a line here…”

For a moment, the mask dropped, her eyes narrowed, and her mouth set into a thin line of hatred. Then she relaxed her expression once more, revealing cracks in the thick foundation she’d troweled on her face. “Me cross a line?” She snorted inelegantly, looking between Roy and Marshall. “Lee crossed that line the first time he stuck his dick in his son. But maybe you knew that already? I always heard that Texas was famous for its steers and its queers. You sure don’t look like no cow, so what does that leave?”

Before Roy could even respond, she’d taken a few steps backward, watching him carefully. “You know they’re unnatural, and I’m guessing you just don’t care. But not everyone’s going to feel that way, I think.” She chanced a quick glance behind her before looking to Marshall once more.

“Tell Lee he hasn’t heard the last of me. And if he knows what’s good for him, he’ll give me what I want. I’ll be in touch.”

“Goddammit.” Roy took a step in her direction, but she’d already swiveled and scrambled back to the safety of the truck and trailer. Moments later, Marshall heard the engine start, and she jerked it into gear, before lurching down the street in a hasty get-away.

Marshall didn’t realize how badly he was shaking until Roy drew him into a tight embrace. “Shh, shh, it’s all right. Don’t let that bitch get to you. I won’t let anything happen, I promise.”

Marshall leaned against Roy’s strength, while he worked at steadying his breathing.

“Where’s Lee?”

“At the pond. Waiting for me. He said to pick him up and we’d go to your place, maybe get breakfast. I’ve got the truck.” Obviously, since it sat in the driveway behind them.

“Okay, c’mon. Let’s go. But I’m driving.” He stepped back and held out his hand. Marshall didn’t argue. He fished in his pocket for the keys and laid them in Roy’s palm. He was vaguely aware Roy closed the front door and locked it. The next thing he knew, he was in the passenger seat and Roy was driving.

His need for Lee only grew with each passing moment. The normally short drive to the pond seemed to last an eternity, but they reached it at last. Marshall didn’t bother to wait until the truck came to a complete halt. He’d already spotted Lee, who stood near the road, one hand shading his eyes as he watched them approach. Marshall threw open the door and raced toward Lee as fast as he could. He barreled into him, burying his face against Lee’s chest, holding on to him for dear life.

Lee’s arms enclosed him, held him close. “What’s the matter?” he asked, his voice filled with concern. Marshall couldn’t respond, simply held on to him, afraid to say the words that could mean the end of them. Afraid of losing Lee again, this time forever.

Marshall could hear Roy approach.  He knew he couldn’t hide forever, much as he wanted to. Reluctantly, he drew back, searching Lee’s eyes for answers that couldn’t possibly be there. But the love was there, and that was what he needed at this moment.

Lee gazed between Marshall and Roy. “What happened?”

“She came to the house,” Roy stated flatly. “When I arrived, she was there, jawing at Marshall. I’m pretty sure she was about to ask for money.”

‘Goddamn,” Lee swore. He took Marshall’s face between his hands and looked into his eyes. “Just what did she say?” Marshall could see he hated to ask the question, but obviously he needed to know.

“She said she knows. About us. She said she’s gonna t-tell. Everyone. About us.” He couldn’t get her words out of his head, the vicious look in her eyes. He didn’t think she even cared about what they did, not really. It was always about money with her. Although maybe there was still some residual jealousy there, for the love they bore one another, and not her.

“I told her to get out of town, but I don’t think she’ll listen,” Roy spoke up.

Lee tilted Marshall’s face and kissed him softly. “She doesn’t matter, nothing matters but you and me. We’ll get through this, never doubt that.”

He held Marshall to his heart.

to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: #1 All-Time Favorite Authors

My friend Denise pointed me in the direction of the Top Ten Tuesday blog, and I was intrigued by the idea so I thought I'd try it out. This week we're to name our top ten all-time favorite authors. Well, this might end up being longer than ten, because you know there are just so many to choose from, but I'll give it a whirl and see what happens. These are in no particular order, I might add, just as they come to me.

1. Mike Carey - He wrote the Lucifer graphic novel series, which I simply adore, worked with Neil

Gaiman on Sandman, and on Hellblazer, which of course produced John Constantine, whom I love. And he wrote the Felix Castor series. I would love to meet this man and pick his brain. I bet he has a lot to say.

2. PG Wodehouse - I love his sense of humor, he's hilarious and he creates the best characters, especially Jeeves and Wooster. But pick up any of his books - Blandings, Jeeves and Wooster, or any other title - and you're in for a great read.

3. William Faulkner - There is something about him that draws me to him, and he's been a great
influence on my writing, although some might say not for the better, as I think I learned how to write incredibly long paragraphs from reading him. He especially writes about Southern characters, and I especially love the books set in his imaginary Yoknapatawtha County in Mississippi, about the Snopes family - The Hamlet, The Town, and the Manse.

4. Edgar Allan Poe - This man was a master of the short story, and the father of the modern detective story, with his Purloined Letter featuring his detective C. Auguste Dupin. He had a way of sending chills down your spine, with stories and with poetry. Everyone knows The Raven and can quote it. I really love The Black Cat and the Cask of Amontillado, and the Tell-Tale Heart.

5. Margaret Mitchell - I've read Gone With The Wind 17 times so I must like it lol There's something
about Scarlett that you can't help but like even when she's at her most unlikable. She's got a lot of spunk, even if her taste in men is questionable. A Southern belle at the beginning of the book, she is forced by circumstance to adapt or be winnowed out. She chose to change, and nothing could knock her down. She only wrote one book, but it was a dandy.

6. Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child - So sue me, they're two people. But the series they created featuring FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast is amazing. These books are mystery, thriller, science fiction and fantasy rolled into one, and they are real page-turners. I hope they adapt them to the screen some day (not counting the awful version of Relic that's out there). I think Benedict Cumberbatch would make a great Pendergast.

7. Charlaine Harris - I loved the Southern Mystery series, with Sookie, Bill, Eric and the rest. The books are mostly better than the series, although I loved the series, but it veered so far left it flew off into space and lost itself. Her books have a great humor and fantastic imagination. I could easily hang out with Sookie Stackhouse.

8. John Milton - I didn't read Paradise Lost until a couple of years ago, but I loved it right away, basically because of Lucifer. He's a fascinating character, and I have to believe Milton admired him, whether he admitted to it or not (probably not a popular thing to do back then). The poetry is beautiful, although the parts without Lucifer are less interesting. Even better than the Inferno by Dante.

9. Thomas Harris - I've read all his Hannibal Lecter books, more than once. Hannibal is a great
character, well-developed. I could never fear him. Respect him, yes, but fear him no. I was more afraid of Jame Gumb, because he was unstable, an unknown quantity, and you didn't know what he might do. In Red Dragon, I felt rather sorry for Francis Dolarhyde, and wished him well, but in the end his grandmother's evil influence was too strong for him to break. I wish Harris would write more Hannibal, but I don't expect that to happen.

10. James Michener - Known for his sweeping historical novels, he wrote some wonderful books. Some of my favorites are Hawaii, Centennial, and Chesapeake. Rich in characters and brilliant in detail, he gives you a real feel for the age and people he writes about.

11. Irving Stone - He wrote some very amazing biographies, including one of Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Andrew Jackson's wife. One of my favorites is about the artist Pisarro, and features a bunch of the Impressionists, who are my favorite artists.

12. Isaac Asimov - One of the best science fiction writers ever, I love the Foundation books, especially the story of the Mule.

13. Frank Herbert - Another great sci fi writer, I love his Dune books, my favorite being God
Emperor Dune.

14. Sherrilyn Kenyon - Her Dark Hunter books are amazing, and I can't get enough of them.

15. Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre speaks for itself, a great book and a great love story.

16. Thomas Hardy - While I didn't care for him in school, I learned to love him after I graduated, and I especially enjoyed The Return of the Native, and have read it a few times. Also The Mayor of Casterbridge.

I think this list is long enough now lol  Happy Tuesday, and let's try this again next week, shall we?