Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pandora Post #4

Title: Pandora

Part Four: Family Groups

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The first parts can be found a few posts down. I’ll put them all in the same place soon. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people. If you do, enjoy! If you enjoy, let me know:)

In a universe where medicine had advanced to the point of near-immortality and genetic manipulation was routine, suicide was a rarity. Deaths occurred, of course. People would be killing people wherever they existed, and accidents certainly happened. In places where there weren’t reputable medical facilities, people’s natural tendencies tended to come through, and in some cases that meant a cocktail of mental illnesses that would make anyone unstable. Then there were the very rare, the naturals, those people who were resistant to genetic manipulation and who couldn’t be helped with prolonging therapies or cured by autodocs. They could die of illnesses that no one even remembered existed.

Many of the old ways of helping people had been lost, drug therapies and counseling abandoned with the advent of re-creationism. The powers that be forgot that society was a bell curve, and the outliers on either side suffered for it. Things slipped through. Perfection, no matter how appealing a concept, was in reality an impossible dream. People died. People killed themselves.

The suicide of Larissa Child had shocked the public. She was a star, a diva, a legend. She was the most gorgeous woman imaginable, had shaped and sliced herself to fit the public’s image since she was a little girl. Her looks changed depending on popular perceptions of beauty, but she was always inherently Larissa Child, always somehow recognizable no matter how many changes she made. When she married a promising young military officer from one of Earth’s oldest families, it was perfectly right. When they had a son, people had sighed with satisfaction. Even stars had normal lives. How lovely. How wonderful. How perfect.

She killed herself when Garrett was three. Miles had been away; he was often away, just like she was. They spent very little time together, and less time together with their son. Garrett was watched over by a flock of caretakers and personal assistants, and the only way he’d known something was wrong was by the sudden flood of tears from the woman pushing his swing as news of his mother’s death came over her com. Stricken, one hand over her mouth, she’d kept pushing him, her hand weak on his lower back as he swung his legs, trying to go higher, and she tried to figure out how to tell a child that his mother was dead.

Garrett remembered being unmoved. The last time he’d seen his mother she’d left behind an impression of shimmering fabric and curling dark hair and warm, too-wet lips pressed to his cheek. That was all. No sound, no smell, no feeling of love or affection. Just a brief, damp kiss and a flash of color. Her death didn’t mean anything to him, no substantial change from the way he’d been before. It did mean that he got to see his father more for the next few months, and that made him happy.

Despite the media hell that had become their lives, Miles must have continued to love his wife. He must still love her in some ways, Garrett reflected as he gazed over at the small portrait on the table just inside the sunroom. Why else would he keep her picture around? Miles joined him at the table a moment later, and Garrett pushed thoughts of his mother aside. “Coffee or bissap juice?”

Miles raised one eyebrow, a perfect imitation of his son’s gesture the night before. “You have to ask?”

“I do have to ask,” Garrett replied smoothly, pouring both of them mugs of rich, dark coffee and ignoring the carafe of purple juice. “I promised Claudia I would.”

“Contrary woman. No problem with alcohol, not in the slightest, but the sight of caffeine sends her running for the hills.”

“In her defense, you prefer coffee brewed strong enough to melt your enamel.”

“It’s still there.” Miles grinned briefly by way of proof, then picked up the mug and drank. Garrett added a little cream to his, then followed suit. They sipped in silence for a while, neither feeling pressure to speak as they watched the suns rise over the horizon in a slow flood of red and gold. Breakfast was brought out a few minutes later.

“She’s sleeping in, I take it,” Garrett said as he spread an embroidered navy linen napkin across his lap. Another of Claudia’s touches. Before they’d used utilitarian white.

“She had a big day yesterday.”

“So did you.”

“I’m used to it,” Miles replied, spreading apple butter across a piece of toast. “She’ll get there, but I’m not in any hurry to make her keep up. The work will wait. Besides, I like to watch her sleep.”

“So soft and sentimental in your old age,” Garrett teased.

“We’ll see how soft I am when I throw your ass off this balcony, kiddo.”

Garrett rolled his eyes. “My mistake. You reek of youth and testosterone. You are as unassailable as some quintessentially unassailable thing, and as far from cutely in love as you are from puppies and kittens. That better?” He cut a bite of his steak and ate, still smirking.

“Brilliant, handsome and an incurable smartass. Where did I go wrong?” Miles threw his eyes heavenward before snorting under his breath. “Shut up and eat.”

Garrett did, and they sat in easy silence for a while longer. Garrett looked at his father, really looked, and decided Claudia was having a good effect on him. Miles looked younger, the lines of his face falling into smiles more naturally, the thick gray of his hair a little longer, a little less severe than before. Despite his myriad of new responsibilities, he seemed more relaxed than he had for years. Garrett was tempted to start teasing him again, but thought better of it and looked back down at his plate, then frowned.

Teasing was standard. Teasing was rote. Garrett loved his father, but he’d long ago decided that the best way they got along was when they were picking at each other, and that pattern had worked for them since he’d been fifteen. If Miles wanted easy, uncomplicated conversation he could go his new wife. Things between father and son were supposed to be comfortably sharp, yet he found he didn’t want to needle his dad into a state of exasperation. Yet another aberration in his recent behavior. Maybe he should get checked out by an autodoc.

Miles, astute politician that he was, noticed but didn’t comment. Instead he finished his eggs, wiped his mouth, poured them both more coffee and said, “Jezria really wants you for the Pandora project.”

“No she doesn’t,” Garrett said automatically, “She just said that to perturb you. Not that I’m performing any desperately necessary tasks here.”

“She seemed pretty sincere to me.” Miles leaned back in his chair stretched out his legs and crossed his ankles, holding his mug of coffee comfortably at chest level as he looked out over his new domain. “She’ll be back in a month or so. If things go the way she thinks they will out there, she’s going to start hiring staff almost immediately.”

“Looking to get rid of me already?” Garrett asked lightly.

“No.” Miles took one hand from his mug and reached over, putting it firmly on top of his son’s where it rested on the table. The look Miles shot Garrett was serious, so serious it made him uncomfortable, but he couldn’t quite make himself pull back. “Absolutely not.” Miles held his son’s eyes for a moment longer, then relinquished his gaze and his hand and returned to his comfortable slouch. “Although I’m surprised you’re not bored out of your skin here.”

“Right, and Pandora would be a noted improvement over Paradise.”

“Pandora would offer its own challenges, and you’ve never been afraid of those. There’s always the central system too, although that,” Miles grimaced, “comes with its own set of problems.”

That was true enough. More civilization meant more people, more notoriety and far less privacy. The fringe was bad enough sometimes. You had to be constantly vigilant on the central worlds, and the way Garrett was feeling off his game lately, that wasn’t a prospect that appealed to him.

“I’ll think about it,” he said at last. “I’ve got some time. I’m not relishing the idea of living with a bunch of fundamentalists, though.”

“Actually, I think Jezria mentioned that the strongest bid was coming from a group of naturals.”

“A group?” Garrett was astonished. “There are enough of them out here to form a group?” Naturals were a vanishing breed as pre-birth technology improved even more.

“Them and their families,” Miles replied.

“Huh.” Well, that would be different. Depressing, but different. Garrett could understand why they’d want to get away, someplace where naturals wouldn’t be treated like glass and kept at a distance. They were so fragile, by comparison to regular humans. So incredibly fragile. They were hard to get close to, when all you could do when you looked at them was think about when they wouldn’t be around, how long you might have, when they might go. Being a natural in a prolonged society was no picnic. “I’ll definitely consider it.”


Claudia joined them soon afterwards, slightly mussed from her slumber and frowning because Miles had let her sleep in. Garrett watched his father gentle his stepmother’s pique until both of them were glowing with affection and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. He took his leave, kissing Claudia’s cheek as he went, and headed to the barracks. Something entertaining was bound to be going on there.

He wasn’t wrong. The barracks were packed, not just with the Marines who weren’t currently on patrol but with a lot of the spare security personnel as well. Apparently there was an exhibition going on. Moving a little closer, Garrett made out the two silver-clad forms going at it on the mat and grinned to himself. Quite an exhibition. It wasn’t every day the average soldier got to watch his commanding officers beat the shit out of each other.

They both wore sparring skinsuits that were calibrated to allow just enough force in, sufficient to stagger but not concuss, enough to make a joint twinge but not break. The suits stiffened to take a joint out of play if they judged enough force had been applied, to add realism to a fight, but neither of the combatants was trying to immobilize at the moment. They were going for pure percussive power.

Garrett sat down next to Wyl on a bench at the edge of the mat, soldiers and security staff melting out of his way without him having to ask. “Robbie feeling a little stressy?” he inquired.

“No, Jane is,” Wyl replied, not taking his eyes off the pair. “She just got word that her grandmother passed away. Jane doesn’t like to let things fester. She had a good cry, then said she needed a good fight and Robbie was the closest she was going to get.”

“Closest, huh?” Garrett turned his attention back to the mat. He didn’t know Jane Freeman all that well. She’d worked with Robbie in the fringe and had a similar background, and when Robbie couldn’t immediately take the position that Miles had offered him a few years ago, Robbie had suggested Jane as a replacement. Jane Freeman was a tall, Amazonian black woman with a doctorate in psychology and decades of service as a Marine. She also had a talent for logistics and getting projects off the ground, and her service had been invaluable to then-General Caractacus as he’d readied his short, victorious war. She was a good commander and a gifted tactician, and she and Robbie split their command duties right down the center when he came on board, with her planning operations and him in charge in the field. It was a nearly-flawless partnership that proved how well they worked together. This morning was showing that they worked against each other just as well.

Jane was a few inches shorter than Robbie but more flexible in the hips, and she used her extra reach there to great effect as one of her powerful legs came whipping around at his head. He moved out of the way but she didn’t snap the kick back, just let her momentum carry her around into a spinning side kick. Robbie took her heel to his midsection but grabbed her foot, throwing it into the air as he swept her plant leg out from beneath her. Jane crashed to the mat but didn’t wait for Robbie to close, hooking his ankle and knee with her feet and levering him brutally to the floor before rolling back to her feet. She wanted to bang, not grapple, and Robbie gave her what she wanted, jamming her next kick and grabbing her behind the head as he slammed his knee repeatedly into her gut. The watchers collectively winced.

“Mother fuck,” Wyl muttered.

“Yeah,” Garrett agreed. They winced again as Jane got her feet under her and thrust up with an elbow to Robbie’s chin, followed by several hooks that send him reeling to the side. “This is supposed to be therapeutic?”

“Fucked if I know.” Wyl glanced over at Garrett. “You have combat mods, right?”

“A present for my sweet sixteen,” Garrett said. “The civilian model, of course, Dad wasn’t about to push me to join up. Can you imagine me in the military?”

“Nah, not enough room for your toiletries in the standard kit.”

“Not even close.” They watched silently as Jane and Robbie beat each other across the floor, occasionally tossing in a joint lock or throw that was too good to pass up, but for the most part just kicking the crap out of each other. The suits were absorbing a lot of the damage, but both of them were slowing down. “How long have they been at this?”

“About thirty minutes.”

Garrett blinked. “Thirty minutes non-stop?” He glanced down at Wyl’s lap and grinned. “Have you had that for thirty minutes as well?”

“I can’t help it,” Wyl grumbled. “He does this to me all the fucking time; it’s not just the sparring. And I’m not the only one in here sporting wood either, this is better than porn for some of these jarheads.”

“Down, boy.”

“Shut the hell up.”

Five minutes later the match ended when Jane got enough distance to scythe a crescent kick up into Robbie’s temple, hitting him hard enough to make the suit flash red, indicating a solid knock-out blow. Robbie was down on one knee, shaking his head a little. He let Jane help him to his feet and they deactivated their suits, then grinned at each other. The audience enthusiastically applauded.

“I’ve gotta get out of here,” Wyl said. “He’s not done, this was just the warm-up before they put the Marines through their paces. If I stay here I’m gonna be hard all fucking day.”

“Come with me,” Garrett suggested. “We can come up with a plan for my ship.”

Wyl looked at him, surprised. “You’re actually going to let me fix her up?”

“Cosmetic improvements only, for starters,” Garrett warned. “The rest is still in the air.”

“Give it time,” Wyl grinned as he stood up. “Once you see what I can do to her outsides, you’re going to beg me to go to work on her plumbing.”

“We’ll see,” Garrett replied, mentally resigning himself to handing tools to Wyl for the rest of the day. There were worse ways to spend his time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shadows and Light Prologue

So the third chapter is well underway, but it won't be going up on Literotica for a bit.  I'm fighting hordes of purple prose at every turn, so I can't honestly vouch for the quality of this snippet as I haven't had it beta'd yet.  However, I promised, and additionally it's Tiffany's birthday and she is a fantastic person, so she should get a present.  So here.  For Tiffany.


Clare, the Bright City, was burning.

What had begun as an isolated explosion in the heart of the Upper Half had quickly spread thanks to inattention, confusion and the fact that the explosion occurred at noon. No high ones could be out and about then, not without risking their lives in the sun, and many of their human servants had scattered with the blast, wilting under the violent transition from placid to fearful. What they feared varied from one individual to the next, but every resident of the Upper City was attuned to the nameless anxiety lurking there. The cold, haughty serenity that had reigned for half a millennium was crumbling, buckling under the corpses of dead ideas suddenly resurrected in all their terrifying mortality. Change was coming, and the servants feared it almost as much as their masters.

No one in the city had expected the change to happen quite so fast, however.

Two men stood on the far shore of the lake in which the island city sat, watching the towering flames. They couldn’t hear the screams, not from here, but they could well imagine them. They’d been hearing them only an hour earlier, after all. Human screams, the twisting roar of tumbling masonry, the groaning opening of cavernous sinkholes. The very fabric of Clare was disintegrating. Not all of it would go, not yet, but the end had well and truly begun.

“It’s not right,” Rafael said finally, breaking a silence that had endured the length of their trip to the mainland. His eyes still stung from smoke and the fumes from the barge they had ridden on.

“It’s not right or wrong,” Xian said, his voice flat and uninflected. “It just is.”

“So many people are dying—”

“And so many are living. And so many are already dead. This is a disaster, pet, uncontrollable off the mark. Don’t even think about trying to take it into yourself.”

Rafael turned and stared at his master. His lover. They had been lovers for less than a day, and already the sense of obligation that Xian felt towards him had precipitated the inferno on that distant shore. “If you had given me to Myrtea, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Clare has always been a doomed city,” Xian replied calmly. “It was doomed from the moment we first discovered the source of eternal, damning youth. The end has been looming for longer than any of us had the wit to realize. My refusal to give you to Myrtea merely forced Fate’s hand.” He looked directly at Rafael, white eyes glowing orange in the light of the flames. “I do not regret keeping you. Not for an instant. Neither should you.” He held out his hand, the heavy black cloth that protected him ripped and revealing moon-pale skin in several places. Xian reached out to Rafael and Rafael came to him instantly, settling into arms that had murdered dozens today, hands that had set a city on fire to keep him safe. Xian smelled of smoke and ash and stale blood, but Rafael couldn’t help but take comfort in his embrace. He was Xian’s. His apprentice, his failure, his burden, his lover. His.

Xian pressed a kiss to Rafael’s brow, then his cheek, then his upturned, seeking lips. The parts of him that wanted to rage and scream and fly into a million pieces melted away with his master’s kiss, even though Xian tasted like Erran’s blood. God’s blood, the gift and the curse, the withering spring of immortality that might yet take Xian from him. It was the taste of life, and death.

“I’ll get the horses,” Xian murmured against his mouth, then gently disengaged from their embrace and turned, slipping away into the darkness of unsettled forest. Rafael stared again at Clare, hating to see it but unable to look away. The solace he felt knowing his own loved ones had escaped the bloody battle and conflagration was a guilty source of relief. He stared, wishing he was numb and cursing inside.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two Awesomely Cool Things

First things first, I am again behind the times in getting the word out for this anthology:

Mine, edited by Shawn Clements and published by Torquere Press.  I'd call it a paranormal possessiveness anthology featuring vampires and shapeshifters.  My story is titled "State of Mine"; yes, I'm so punny.  It's available starting tomorrow on the Torquere website:

I actually wish I'd had more length to develop this story, the world is very interesting if I do say so myself.  Vampires have taken over Seattle (naturally, right?) but there are also psychics and great escapes and bits and pieces of Chopin.  It's a little over 8k long, and while I haven't read all the other authors in the anthology before, the ones I have (JL Merrow specifically) are awesome.

The other awesomely cool thing of late (my mental editor is shrieking at me about repeating that word over and over again, but darn it, sometimes nothing fits the bill like "awesome") is a review I got for my story Treasured on jessewave's website, actually guest-written by Jenre.  If you're the sort of person who likes to read reviews, here's a link:

Why is this so cool?  Apart from being a great review that introduced me to several new people, it was brought to my attention by my publisher as it boosted sales.  That's cool because the only way I get to write about the Treasured world again in the forseeable future, at least with these characters, is if I get enough sales to warrant a sequel.  I know, the story could have been a novel, not a shortish-novella, but I couldn 't commit the time.  I would really, really freaking love to write a sequel, so thank you, Jenre, for the lovely review, and thank you jessewave for letting it get posted, and damn it, thanks for buying my stuff, people.  Seriously.  Writing is how I spend my limited hours of computer-charged time, it's how I relax, it's how I get creative.  Blogging isn't.  Some of you may have noticed, I'm not a tres-savvy blogger.  I do this so I can be a better writer, for myself and for all the people who put time and effort into me, including those who review and those who read me.  So jeez.  Thanks. 

Enough mush.  I'll post the prologue of the third chapter of Shadows and Light up here tomorrow (probably tomorrow), which should make people who've followed that story on Literotica happy (the rest is getting beta'd soon, it'll be up on their site asap, swear).  Lots of my stuff's there and it's free, folks.  Merci beaucoup.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

If I May Digress...

Sooo, the blog is going nicely.  Got links to some friends up, put links into my published work's page.  Did, you know, stuff.  I'm writing, editing, getting ready for more calls and trying to put together some longer pieces for people.  Trying to figure out how to post some free shorter stuff here.  Some of this I'll do today, but my good intentions were waylaid by (drumroll please): THE BOX FROM AMERICA!!!!

Actually it's from Germany, where my folks live, but it might as well be America for all the awesomeness that inhabits it.  Parmesan cheese.  Brownie mix.  Crackers.  Plaster of paris and shrink-tubing (there are times we'd kill for a decent hardware store.)  Magazines.  It is pure delight.  I need to go and revel in the decadence for a while, then I'll be able to properly focus, fortified by Wheat Thins and brownies. 

Right, so, this is a writing blog, not an everyday event blog, but these boxes only come once every blue moon, and they must be properly acknowledged.  Now I'll get back to writing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pandora Post #3

Title: Pandora

Part Three: Easy Company

Notes: This is the next part in a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The first parts can be found a few posts down. I’ll put them all in the same place soon. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people. If you do want to and you like it, throw me a comment, make me eager to continue :)


Garrett led the senator over to his father and promptly abandoned both of them, stealing away his new stepmother with a breezy “You two enjoy yourselves.” His father frowned at him but turned his attention to Jezria, which suited Garrett perfectly. Two birds distracted with one stone. Claudia would be easy company for him, and he needed to be ensconced with someone in order to be left alone by everyone else.

Claudia cast an uneasy glance over her shoulder at her husband as they walked away. “Shouldn’t I stay with him?”

“Miles is a big boy, he can handle himself with Senator Dowd for a few minutes. He’s used to her.”

“It sounds so strange to hear you call your father ‘Miles.’”

“I’d call him Dad, but then the temptation to call you Mommy out of sheer proximity might be overwhelming.”

Claudia smacked him lightly on the arm with the back of her hand. “You’ve got a decade on me, Garrett.”

“I know, the potential for kink here is profound, isn’t it?”

Claudia laughed like he’d intended, some of her tension seeping away. “Don’t you dare start calling him ‘Daddy,’ I don’t think I could take it.”

“Not tonight,” Garrett promised her. “I’d have to be drunk to do that and unfortunately, we’re on call.” They stopped in an alcove next to a sweet-smelling potted lemon tree, took two glasses of that dark champagne from the ubiquitous wait staff, and looked out at the crowd. Garrett sipped, then nodded approvingly. “This is lovely. Did you choose this?”

“Yes. I had it brought in with the last shipment of medical supplies from Clix, they have the most wonderful environment for grapes there. It’s a newer variety of champagne, a noir de noirs. It’s called Elysium.”

There was no escaping ancient mythologies tonight, it seemed.

“Do you miss the restaurant?” Claudia had been a master sommelier before marrying his father.

“Not really, no. There’s so much to do right now. Miles is working nonstop, and I’ve got my hands full sorting out things with the estate.”

“It’s a lot,” Garrett agreed. He was tempted, very badly tempted, to offer up advice. Garrett had played host for the more social aspects of his father’s career many times before, and having that mantle taken away was still something he was getting used to. Claudia probably wouldn’t have been offended if he’d offered to help, but it wasn’t a habit he wanted to let himself develop. “How does it feel living in full view of the public?”

“It’s taking some getting used to,” Claudia acknowledged, inhaling the scent of her champagne before sipping. “I thought the wedding was bad enough…I had no idea Miles was so popular with the newsfeeds.”

“Yeah, that’s Mom’s fault,” Garrett said.

“Oh, no.” Claudia looked at him apologetically, her large dark eyes going wide with apprehension. “I don’t mean to imply that I blame your mother for anything, Gare. Honestly—”

“It was a joke, Claudia,” Garrett said gently. He knew his mother was a sore spot with Claudia. Hell, she was a sore spot with everyone, a figure of extremes: passion and elegance, vanity and need. Her movies were still some of the most popular holofilms ever made, and the woman had been dead since he was three. His mother had been the archetype of celebrity, and part of her legacy was an eternal spotlight on the family she left behind.

“No one ever expected Dad to marry again,” Garrett went on. “That he found you too charming to resist isn’t your fault, but it is enough to make asshole reporters pry into your private life and crash your wedding. Dad did fire that security firm, right?”

“Yes,” she said. “We’ve got a new one working for us now, based here on Paradise. In addition to Miles’ personal security staff, of course.”

Garrett frowned. “Based here? Out of where, Rapture? How long have they been established? Were they on the losing side?”

“Gare.” Claudia looked a little exasperated now. “They aren’t assassins. Everyone was fully screened before being allowed access to our compound. Miles took care of it personally.”

Miles isn’t infallible, Garrett wanted to say, but there was no sense in getting into an argument with Claudia about his father. As far as Miles’ new bride was concerned, the suns rose and set at her husband’s command. It was, Garrett reflected, sweet. Cloyingly so. He drank some more champagne.

“Gare…” Her touch on his arm was tentative. “You’re not upset, are you?”

“Nothing about you and my father being together upsets me,” Garrett said firmly. It was true enough. He loved his father, wanted him to be happy. Claudia made him happy, and so Garrett loved her too. She was easy to love, all earnestness and patience. Claudia had a practical mind, and in many ways was the complete opposite of his mother, but that was probably part of her appeal, Garrett figured. She also wasn’t quite easy enough with him to point out that he hadn’t really answered her question, which was another point in her favor.

He took pity on her. “Looks like Dad’s finished with Jezria. I suppose I can be forced to spare you if you want to return to the lion’s den.”

“I should be with him,” Claudia immediately agreed. “Won’t you come with me, though? He hasn’t had a moment with you all night.”

“We can have a moment later,” Garrett said. “You go have one now.” He smiled brilliantly at her and nudged her away, watched her draw back to his father’s side like the attraction between them was magnetic. He glanced at his watch. It was late enough that he could escape without being missed for long. High fucking time, too, he snarked internally, then felt like hitting his forehead. What the fuck was wrong with him, anyway?

Garrett left the ballroom as unobtrusively as he could, only having to deflect a few people in his quest for solitude. The rest of the mansion was empty except for roving security, and all the lights were dimmed. There was carpet underfoot, and fresh air flowed through the hallways. So different from his father’s last residence, the battleship that had been his command center during Paradise’s civil war. That had been militantly spare, the only personal decorations coming through in his personal quarters.

Here, this entire mansion was his domain, his and Claudia’s. Garrett could already see glimpses of their personalities coming through in the decorating, the marble and slate and sculpture stemming from his father’s sensibilities and the rich, earth-toned fabrics covering chairs and draping windows speaking to Claudia’s. It was more than just a place to live for them. They were turning it into a home, their home.

As, Garrett reminded himself, they should. He wasn’t complaining so much as…noticing. Evaluating. He was welcome here, he knew that. He always had a home with his father. In fact, the only homes he’d ever had were with his father, or briefly with Robbie. He’d never made one for himself. And you’re how old now? Never mind, don’t answer that. Well, maybe he would look for a place of his own. Somewhere more stable and long-term than his personal ship, which was where he kept all his belongings currently. It was something to consider.

Rather than stay in the mansion tonight, Garrett walked to the shuttle bay where his cruiser was docked, alongside some custom hotrod of Wyl’s. Wyl had offered to “improve” his ship, but he wasn’t ready to void every warranty on the thing in favor of artistic sensibility and ridiculously fast speeds yet. Garrett opened the hatch and walked inside, then sighed with relief as the door closed behind him. Another evening whiled away. Another night he’d be spending by himself.

And that, Garrett reflected as he moved toward his bedroom to change, was actually all right with him. Huh. Voluntary celibacy. Who would have guessed that keeping his own company would be so effortless?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Well, that didn't take forever...

It comes out Friday, mes amis.  There's a party on the Dreamspinner Press blog on Saturday (have a link) where different authors will be talking about their submissions, offering up excerpts and generally being accomodating.  I too shall play.  I'll respond to all comments, just not immediately.  Time difference + crap internet = patient Cari!  Or should.

Non-existential links

My publishers page now includes links to all of my published work, at least the ones I could locate.  There are several that I can't link because they aren't released yet, and one that is just plain gone, so I'll probably post that story here before too long.  *check*  One more down on my "Get Your Shit Together" list.  It's the little victories...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wild Hunt snippet

I love the people who check my blog, and I want to give them presents. Below is the beginning of my short story The Wild Hunt, coming out in the anthology Myths and Magic on the 15th with Dreamspinner. This snippet will be available on their blog on the 16th, but you guys get it first.


David Evans first witnessed the wild hunt when he was five years old. It was Halloween night, and his mother was dressing him up as a pumpkin. David would much rather have been dressed as a Ninja Turtle, Donatello by preference, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Cuteness won out over being cool, and early that evening, a saggy orange ball protecting his body from the cold Colorado air and a green woolen cap tied tightly to his head, he and his older cousins headed out to make the rounds in their sleepy mountain town.

The sky had already darkened by the time they left the house, and the wind, which tended to be fierce at that time of year, had picked up speed. It buffeted his ungainly little body and almost made him lose his empty pillowcase. The twins had sighed and begged their sister Megan to stay with “the baby,” and given permission, they ran happily ahead. Megan held David’s hand and helped him down Main Street, promising him that soon they would be back indoors and he’d have all the candy he could eat.

The wind howled down the street like a living thing, picking up fallen leaves and pine needles and throwing them through the air like darts. Thunder rumbled in the sky and tremendous clouds rolled by overhead, followed by a quickly creeping white mist. In the distance, David heard snarls and growls and he stopped in his tracks, eyes wide.

“What?” Megan asked him. She was fourteen and feeling kind of embarrassed about trick-or-treating at such an advanced age, so having David to look after wasn’t hard on her. She knelt down beside him. “What is it?”

“Hear it?”

“Hear what?” Megan asked. “The wind?”

“No,” David said, bright blue eyes staring straight ahead. “The dogs.”

“Dogs?” Megan turned and looked down the road. Apart from the fast-incoming storm and a few other determined trick-or-treaters, there was nothing there. “What dogs?”

David raised his free, orange-mittened hand and pointed down the road. “Those dogs.”

How could anyone not see it? David saw them plain as day—sleek, tremendous hounds that raced faster than the wind, hounds with shining black bodies and luminous, shimmering eyes. They howled out fierce, joyous cries, warning the living and the dead that there was no escape. The dead were listening too. David saw them as well, ghostly apparitions streaming in on the mist, faces ecstatic with the fury of the hunt. The dogs roared by and the dead followed them, and he was there as well, shepherding the frenzied procession.

He rode a massive stallion, as white as the mist beneath its hooves. His body was covered with armor, ever-shifting, first like metal, then leather, then bone. The top half of his face was covered by a helmet, his eyes glowing white through a narrow slit. From the crest of the helmet, two tremendous antlers extended into the sky. Pale blond hair flew wildly in the wind, partially covering his face. David could see him smile, though.

The hunter stopped his great horse for a moment and looked down at David and Megan. “Small prey,” he said, and his voice was an eagle’s scream, fierce and proud. “Too small yet to take, and too rare to waste. Run home to your mother, child, and go no more this night.” His white horse reared, dagger-like hooves flashing in the flickering light, and then he was off again, the spirits of the dead following helplessly in his wake. For a moment David thought he saw regular people too, wild-eyed and panting, but then the hunt had passed.

“Whoa!” Megan exclaimed, pulling her witch’s cloak tighter around her body. She took in her little cousin’s stunned, blank expression and shook her head. “That’s it, we’re going home.” It was too blustery and cold for David to be out tonight. “C’mon, Davey.” He didn’t move when she tugged on his hand. “Davey?”

“He had a horse.”

“Who did?”

“And dogs. And he had antlers.”

“What, like a costume?” Megan looked around briefly. “There’s no one else here, Davey. Let’s go home, okay?” She pulled again and this time he came, still silent but at least walking in the right direction.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pandora Post #2

Title: Pandora

Part Two: Happy Mask

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The first part can be found a few posts down. Don’t read it if you don’t want to, people. If you do want to and you like it, throw me a comment, make me eager to continue :)

There were live musicians playing the waltz, their instruments perfect replicas of the archaic wood and metal that was the standard for old Earth. Garrett enjoyed the sound of the instruments, the richness that their close, physical reality lent to the performance. He let that enjoyment have free reign in his mind, driving his social ability for the evening. If it gave his comments a more detached air than his usual witty lasciviousness, most people were too drunk or distracted to notice.

There was no shortage of individuals who did know how to waltz, and no shortage of dance partners either. Garrett had his pick of among the glittering constellation of guests, and he passed from one pair of arms to the next, always smiling, charming and attentive. He chatted up the gossips, conversed with the philosophers, and listened to the folks who needed an outlet. He made people feel special, noticed, at ease. Garrett wielded his attractiveness like the weapon it was designed to be, toeing the line between uncomfortably beautiful and approachably handsome. He avoided Wyl and Robbie when they came back into the ballroom, and steered clear of his father and Claudia as well. He wasn’t feeling like having any more introspection pushed on him that evening. Unfortunately, he couldn’t anticipate everyone.

“Senator Dowd,” he greeted one of his father’s former contemporaries from the inner colonies, “it’s lovely to see you. You’ve come a long way.” He took the small, rounded woman’s hand in his own and inclined his head briefly, a familiar salutation between natives on her home planet of Olympus.

“How could I pass up the opportunity to break my journey in your excellent company?” the senator replied, a small smile on her face as she tilted her head in the traditional response.

“So you didn’t come just for me?” Garrett pressed one hand to his chest. “I’m crushed.”

“You’ll weather the disappointment somehow,” she said, tightening her grip a little before releasing him. “I was more than happy to accept the invitation. I’ve got a lot to do before I get to Pandora.”

“Why would you go to Pandora?” It was a fair question. Why would anyone go to Pandora? It was on the outskirts of the fringe, the edge of the inhabited planets. Most of those planets were “inhabited” only because the inner colonies had vastly overrated the speed at which they would need more space, and so had staked their claims centuries earlier. Huge amounts of money and resources were spent preparing planets for colonization that likely wouldn’t be needed for a dozen generations, even with the prolonging therapies that extended people’s lives by so many years. Olympus had begun transforming the harsh, uninhabitable landscape of its extension colony Pandora over three centuries ago. Garrett had no idea how far along it was, but he did know that their population wasn’t large enough to merit shipping people out there yet.

“I’m conducting a review for Olympus’ ruling council,” Senator Dowd replied. “Pandora is finally approaching livable conditions, and while we don’t have any immediate need to colonize, there are plenty of special interest groups who’re looking for a place to put down roots.”

Garrett raised an eyebrow. “You’re considering selling space to zealots?” ‘Special interest’ was almost always synonymous with ‘the fundamentally faithful’ these days, and they tended not to make for the best tenants. These were people who lived by faith, any faith, but let that faith dictate their actions to the impediment of living a regular life in regular society. Although, Garrett allowed, ‘regular’ was a loaded term. But what the hell; he wasn’t a sociologist or a psychologist, he didn’t really care about the nomenclature. Garrett dismissed the thought and turned his attention back to the senator as she answered.

“Not all special interest groups are zealots,” she said mildly, her expression imperturbable. “Living in the fringe is comparatively hard work, but there are advantages. Independence with the assurance of home-colony support as long as connections are properly maintained, fewer restrictions on social or medical issues…as long as they’re not reverting to savagery or illegal activities the benefits outweigh the difficulties, at least at first glance. That’s one of the reasons I’m going, to assess whether or not we can safely and stably initiate a real, productive colony on Pandora. If we can, the first expedition will be largely scientific, getting the facilities in place for larger groups. We’ll need a good climatologist,” she added, that same little smile glinting on and off in her face.

Garrett arched an eyebrow in genuine disdain. “Jezria, do I look like the kind of person who would enjoy a stint on the stormy ball of ice water that is Pandora? Who named it, by the way? It was either someone with a feeble sense of humor or a vicious sense of irony.”

“That would be my great-grandfather,” she replied.

“I see. I’m going with irony, then.”

“What are you doing here on Paradise these days, Garrett?” Jezria Dowd asked, sipping briefly from a glass of what might have been champagne, but was the color of a starry sky.

“I’m consulting with the Terrestrials Corporation.” Or he had been three months ago. That contract was over and while he’d been approached with numerous offers, he hadn’t accepted any.

“Well, if you go freelance in the near future, you should consider a tour on the fringe. You look like you could use a bit of a shakeup.” The senator leaned in slightly, confidentially. “It’s hard to mask the eyes, my dear. You do a flawless job with the rest of yourself, though.” She restored the space between them, her expression as contentedly placid and bovine as ever. “Now, do you think you could help me elbow my way through the crowd so I can go and congratulate your father?”

“My pleasure.” Which was only a very small lie, because Garrett usually enjoyed watching Jezria and his father go at each other in the politely vicious fashion of two respectful opponents, but he was already feeling a little shaken tonight. There was nothing for it, though. He held his arm out to Jezria and slid back into the throng.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Myths and Magic

I have another short story coming out in an anthology with Dreamspinner Press on the 15th.  The antho is Myths and Magic, the story is The Wild Hunt.  Let me link you.

I'll add cover art once my connection stops being a little bitch.  This story takes place in Colorado (and technically in an Otherworld with a portal in Wales) and writing it made me homesick.  There's going to be a release party on the 16th through Dreamspinner, and I'll hopefully have a post or two up there.  Written in advance, naturally.  I will respond to you if you comment, though.  I get back to people, people.  Just ask Tiffany.

In other fun news, I'm going to be published with Total E-Bound.  Woot!  The novella comes out at the end of January 2011, is called Surviving the Change and will be utterly beautiful, because their books always are.  Oh, and it's well-written and entertaining and completely hot thanks to my editor, who made me increase the heat until it was up to their standards.  More sex to write, such a heavy burden...