Archive for April, 2014


It’s funny — whatever I plot, for one of the Fae books, I almost always end up with at least one chapter set on the Acela — the express train between Washington, D.C. and New York City. My Fae can get from one to the other by Fading, but humans don’t take very well to being transported that way. And I hadn’t planned for this scene, but Josh and Garrett got up in my face tonight and told me I had to give them a scene on the train. So, without further ado…

 

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“You’re still glowing.”
Garrett grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, I feel like I am. Which is silly, really.”
“I’ve always believed life’s much easier if you have a low pleasure threshold, myself.” Josh grinned back from his vantage point opposite Garrett. “And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year or so, it’s to stop feeling silly about being happy.”
“I get that.” Garrett glanced out the window, his grin turning into a more introspective smile. “Hard to believe that six months ago, I hadn’t met Lochlann.”
Garrett knew his fellow human SoulShare would follow his leap of logic. The tattoo artist and his ethereal Fae partner were still so obviously in love, it was hard to breathe when they were both around.
“So what exactly did you tell Terry?” Josh tossed aside the magazine he’d been trying to read and settled back in his seat. “I know the basics, but damn, I haven’t seen Terry look that happy in a long time. Since well before Bryce threw him out.”
Garrett frowned. “Remind me to ask you about that, because I really want to know, but right now that’s harshing my mellow.” He laughed softly, leaning forward so as not to have to raise his voice. They weren’t alone in the car by any means, and even if they weren’t talking about Fae at the moment, his life was nobody else’s damned business. “I told him that Lochlann and I had been to that pole-and-aerial dancer’s performance, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center–Davide Aubuchon–and that watching him lit a fire under my ass.” Truth. The Frenchman had combined pole dancing and aerial work and floor work in a way Garrett had never imagined possible. “Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and I’m not giving up the pole any time soon, and by that I mean ever, but I told Terry that I really need to push myself. I think I can do that.”
“But you need formal dance training. Or so you think.” Josh raised a brow. “I beg to differ.”
Garrett could feel himself blushing. When he was working the pole, accepting the whistles and shouts and other forms of appreciation showered on him by other men was part of the job. Off the dance floor, though, he still had problems accepting praise. Especially now, when he’d seen what was possible and figured out how hard he was going to have to push himself to accomplish it. “Thanks. But if you’d seen this guy, you’d know what I’m talking about. And I’ve had pickup classes here and there, all different kinds of dance. But I’ve never really studied. And I would feel like a complete idiot walking into a beginners’ ballet class at my age.”
“Terry was obviously okay with you asking.” Josh nodded. “And that made me happy. He took losing his dance company in New York really hard. I don’t think he’s even been in a ballet studio since he moved down to D.C. It’s going to do him a world of good to work with you.”
Josh was happy. Truly happy. Terrence Miller had been Josh’s lover, partner in work as well as in life, until Bryce Newhouse had come along and decided to lure Terry away. Breaking Josh’s heart in the process, Garrett had no doubt, though the hunky tat artist never talked about it. Yet Josh hadn’t thought twice, back when Bryce dumped Terry and threw him out of their apartment. He’d opened his tattoo studio–and even his home, until Terry had been able to get back on his feet. And even now, all it apparently took to make Josh happy was to make Terry happy.
And all it took to seriously piss Josh off was… “What is Newhouse’s shit, anyway?” He was pretty sure his original impulsive desire to meet the investment banker cum dickhead had been a bad idea. He’d still be on this train regardless–Conall was going to need Lochlann, and Lochlann was going to need him–but what he knew of Newhouse reminded him entirely too much of the bullies he’d grown up with. The kind who made people’s lives hell because they could. So they could see they had an impact on the world. They had to hurt others, just to know they themselves existed.
“I’d say I wish I knew, but I don’t think I really want to know how that kind of mind works.” Josh tipped his head back against the seat and closed his eyes, the very top of the head of the black-headed hawk tattooed on his chest visible over the neckline of his t-shirt. “Though I’ll admit, he wasn’t much more than an ordinary run-of-the-mill dirtbag when he first went after Terry. I still think the Marfach had a hand in kicking him out of the house, though. Even Terry has never figured out why Bryce did that.”

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BLOWING SMOKE is the fifth Fae book. And the first in its own series, the Broken Pattern. See, at the end of FIRESTORM, the fourth SoulShares book, in order to save Cuinn and Rian and coincidentally the Fae Realm and the human world, the SoulShares of Purgatory had to, well, blow a great big hole in the Pattern, the portal between the worlds. And strange things are beginning to happen. (Yes, even stranger than in the first four books…) This is an excerpt from Chapter 8 — Lasair Faol, formerly the Master of Fade-hounds for the Royal family of the Demesne of Fire, and his newborn Fade-hound puppy Culin haven’t yet been formally introduced to Bryce Newhouse, but Lasair’s already feeling the pull of the as-yet-unconsummated SoulShare bond.

 

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Lasair stopped short. The human lay on his back on a richly-upholstered and beautifully carved divan, his head propped against one arm and his feet hanging over the other, sound asleep. Culin was curled up on his chest, half wrapped in a soft cloth, likewise peacefully asleep. A little table had been pulled over to the divan, near the human’s head, and a small cooking-pot sat on it. Even from where he stood, the enhanced senses of a Fae could smell milk. There were even traces of it on Culin’s short grey-brown mustache. Milk, and something else, something that smelled like salt.
A pang of pure jealousy went straight through Lasair, surprising him with its intensity. He wasn’t sure which was harder to swallow, the thought that the human had been able to get Culin to eat where he’d failed, or the visual proof that he and the pup hadn’t bonded. Most modern Fade-hound breeders considered the old stories about blind Fade-hounds no more than idle tales. And surely it was fantasy, to think that a blind dog could form such a close, exclusive bond with a Fae that each could see through the other’s eyes. Pure fantasy. Yet he’d hoped, when little blind Culin had looked up at him…
Lasair shook his head. The important thing for now was that the human had gotten the pup to eat. Filled his belly, too, from the look of him.
I am not jealous.
Not.
Not jealous at all. But Culin was his responsibility, not the human’s. He reached to pick up the puppy–froze as the human stirred, groped restlessly, mumbled under his breath. One slender, long-fingered hand found Culin and settled protectively over the furry body; the muttering stopped, replaced by a snore almost too faint to hear, even for a Fae.
Just that quickly, Lasair realized that he was indeed jealous. But not of the human. Of Culin.
I want that hand on me.
He backed up quickly, almost falling over a chair he’d forgotten was there, catching himself, turning and hastening back to the bedchamber. It wasn’t until he was leaning against the far side of the closed door, head tipped back, eyes closed, trying to slow his breathing, that he started to curse. Under his breath, so as not to wake the human.
In the Realm, the Master of the Royal Fade-hounds had been held in awe. The hounds were terrifying to most Fae, a story told to misbehaving children, used as a method of execution by some Royals. Forces of nature with five-inch fangs, relentless hunters with a taste for blood. But to him, they had been like family. He had been ready to lay down his life for them, and he knew they would have done the same for him. Even little Culin, following him trustingly through the terror of transition.
His rapport with the hounds had been legendary.
When it came to Fae, on the other hand, he was a disgrace. He definitely had all the reflexes and instincts and hungers of his race, but if seduction was an art form among the Fae–which it most certainly was–then he himself had never passed much beyond sketching childish stick figures on the hearthstones with charcoal. In a culture where desire always came wrapped in layers on layers of enticement and mystery, no one knew what to make of a Fae who refused to play the kinds of games they were all born to play. As clumsy as one of his pups, they’d said, laughing. But clumsy he was not. He only wanted to be open about what he wanted.
He hadn’t realized until just now how much he’d hoped things would be different with the human. Hadn’t Fae had their way with humans whenever they wished, back in the time before the Sundering when the two races shared a world? There would be no need for the dance, the game. For once, surely, he was free to take what he wanted, what his body needed. All he had to do was do what he wished, be what he was and had always been. All would be well.
Except it wouldn’t. It wasn’t. For the first time, he saw at least in part the point of the rin’gcatha gríobhan, the labyrinthine dance. He still didn’t want to play the game for the sake of playing, for the style and the beauty and the craft of it, but neither did he want to simply wake the human up, roll him over, and take the pleasure he both needed and wanted. He wanted to smooth away the frown line that seemed to live between the human’s brows. He wanted to see the smile he knew the human hid, and he wanted to know he’d been the cause of the smiling. He wanted to find out if the scent of salt had come from human tears, and to make them stop.
There were a great many things Lasair wanted. None of which he had ever wanted before, and none of which he had the slightest idea how to get.
No. There was one thing he knew how to get. Knew very well. One of the many words as’Faein for self-pleasure was dara-láiv. Literally, it meant ‘second-hand’–the implication being that your partner had grown bored and left after one orgasm, and you were thus forced to rely on your own devices for the second.