Monday, October 31, 2011

Cutest. Holiday. EVER! Oh, and a story.

I can see why people have kids.  It all makes sense to me now.  It's so they can parade them around in adorable costumes and listen to us ooh and ahh over how incredibly cute their little princesses/supermans/ninjas/frogs are.  Good reason, I say.  Kudos to the girl who came as a crazy cat lady.

I wish I had a really Halloween-centric story or snippet to give you guys, but it's already late into the holiday and in all likelihood you won't read this on the 31st anyway.  I still want to give you a treat though, so you get the short story posted below, vaguely Halloween-themed.  I originally wrote it for a contest but it got rejected, so please don't expect my best work here.  It is fun, though, and M/F/M, which is a genre I don't often write.  And R rated.  Very R rated, so if there are any virgin eyes out there, cover them or prepare to be violated.

Tomorrow a snippet of A Blinded Mind, and Wednesday is the contest.  I am all about posting lately, huh?



Within and Without

By Cari Z


He fell through the metal doors and out into the snow, stumbling to his feet and fleeing down the alley. The command reverberated through his whole body, erasing conscious thought and emotion, erasing everything except the need to obey.


He ran, sliding on the slick, icy pavement, colliding first with a wall, then a trash can. His breaths froze in his lungs, becoming sharper with every step. He was still charged with the adrenaline the command engendered, but gradually he was becoming aware of the cold, and the fact that he had on little more than a black net shirt and leather pants. His boots thudded against the hard-packed snow, arms pumping, lungs forcing breath through a body that cried out against it. Vaguely he was aware of wanting warmth, craving the comforting heat of an embrace. Of several embraces.


The strength of the command began to die in his mind. He became more aware of his surroundings, of the deserted street and the ghostly yellow light of the streetlamps illuminating brief patches through the gray, misty night. His body began to slow, pain and exhaustion slowly creeping back into his consciousness. Why was he running? From what? He remembered strobe lights and the coppery undertone that always accompanied a vampire’s club. He remembered the press of gyrating bodies and the sudden, shocking realization that he and Liam had been separated, and that the target knew what he was. What they were.

Cal’s breath sobbed in his throat as he fought to stop moving. Run. That had been the last thing Liam had been able to transmit to him, their eyes linking across the room as they realized what was happening. Cal had been separated from his partner, his lover, his master; the owner of the club and his nest turned on them when they realized the building was being surrounded by federal agents, and there was only time for the briefest communication between them. Cal wasn’t like Hailey; he hadn’t been with Liam long enough to hear his thoughts without making eye contact. Even as the master vampire who owned the place had closed on Liam, Liam had ignored him long enough to send his final command to Cal.

Run. It had come with a shower of dark blood as the other vampire struck at Liam’s throat. Cal didn’t know what happened afterwards. He had immediately turned and sprinted towards the nearest door, evading the clutches of a dozen grasping thralls sprinkled through the press. He’d taken several hits, and when he raised a shaking hand to his face, Cal realized his nose was tender and bleeding. Maybe broken; he couldn’t tell. He was too numb to know. He turned around and looked back the way he had come. Cal was alone, the only sign of his passage the scrape of his footsteps in the snow. Liam wasn’t here. He wasn’t coming.

Cal fought down a wave of panic. He hadn’t planned on being separated from Liam; neither of them had. This was supposed to be a relatively simply operation: infiltrate, ingratiate, choose the best time to strike and then do so, fast and hard so the master vampire who ran the club, aptly called Agony, couldn’t secret away his newest batch of human bait, people who weren’t members of his nest that were kidnapped and used like cattle. Hailey was monitoring them both from a secure location nearby, in the company of other feds. She and Liam could maintain telepathic touch, but Cal was on his own. It wouldn’t have mattered if they’d managed to stay together, but they hadn’t.

There was still the locator. Hailey was freaking out, Cal knew it, and as long as Liam was all right she’d be sending someone after Cal right now. He could retrace his steps, but Cal was alone and unarmed. All he had going for him was the locator beacon in his right boot’s sole and the knowledge that Hailey was looking for him. He had no idea what was going on at the club right now, and it was very possible that if he went back as he was he would only end up making things worse. He got out of the circle of light he’d come to a stop under, choosing the shadows of a store awning off the main route. It wouldn’t stop someone from finding him, but it might give him the time to determine whether they were friend or foe.

Hailey would find him, and Liam would come. Liam was okay. Cal had only been a member of Liam’s very small nest for six months, but still he thought he would know if something truly dire had happened to the vampire. Cal was in the very beginning stages of thralldom, a willing partnership that some people termed slavery between vampires and their human families. He hadn’t gained very many abilities yet, not like Hailey, who was both telepathic with Liam and highly empathic with everyone she came into contact with. It made her an excellent interrogator, but in large groups it was a weakness, which was why Cal had been chosen to partner with Liam for the operation.

Cal tasted blood in his throat and grimaced. He spat a mouthful of it into the snow to his right, then froze as he watched more splotches of blood join his own, drip-drip-dripping from above him. Cal slowly lifted his head, forcing himself to stay calm as his eyes found his new and unwanted companion.

A creature grinned down at him from the fire escape overhead, clenching a severed hand between its teeth. The hand was humanoid, masculine and pale. Cal refused to look at it. It wasn’t Liam’s; Liam was too strong for something like this to destroy him.

There was more than one vampire in that club, though, and some of the master’s thralls were very powerful. Like this one. A master vampire could shape a thrall to some extent, enhancing certain characteristics while diminishing others. This one had clearly abandoned the appearance of humanity long ago. It was slinky and lean, and its hairless form was naked except for a loincloth. The tiny shriveled buds of breasts indicated that it used to be a woman, or possibly a female child, before it had been added to the master vampire’s menagerie. Now it was something other, something twisted.

It dropped the hand to the ground. “Tastes good.” Her voice sounded like glass scraped over concrete.

“Stay away from me,” Cal said, starting to back away. He glanced around, looking for anything he could use as a weapon. Damn it, where was Liam? Where was Hailey?

“But you’re fresh,” the creature purred, dropping down from the fire escape. “A fresh taste of an old, old bloodline. My master has tasted your master’s blood, and it is dangerously sweet. How do you taste, newborn?”

“I said stay away. I’m a federal agent.” Cal’s fingers found a loose piece of siding on the building. He gripped it and prepared to yank it off.

“But your blood sings to me,” the creature said, stalking on all fours across the sidewalk. She moved lightly, her spine arched like a grotesquely misshapen cat. “Sing inside of me, newborn.”

Don’t—” That was all Cal had time for before she lunged, her fingers splayed like talons. Cal wrenched the siding free and dodged to the side, but she moved with him and leapt forward, crashing against his chest and driving him onto his back. She snapped at his throat but Cal got a hand around her skinny neck, and held her off long enough to drive the hard plastic siding into her chest. He was strong enough now that he managed it with relative ease, pushing the rigid sliver into her torso just beneath her diaphragm. She screamed hoarsely, wrenched free of him long enough to rip the siding out and then plunged back down onto him in a frenzy, clawing and biting.

Cal wrapped his arms around his head to protect it from her blows, wincing as she sank her too-sharp teeth into his forearm. Flesh ripped and it was his turn to scream with pain, to feel the brief heat of pulsing blood pour down his arm before he took a hit to the temple, and his world went from gray to black.


He woke up surrounded by softness and warmth, especially against his chest and face. His head moved with gentle breaths, and slender fingers stroked through his dark blonde hair. He felt sore but not broken, and wondered how that was possible.


The faint scent of vanilla teased him, comfortingly familiar, and he nuzzled into the softness beneath his cheek.

“Cal.” Lips pressed a kiss to his forehead. “Welcome back, sweetheart.”

“Hailey?” he mumbled.

“Hey, baby.” She kissed his forehead again, then his nose. Cal opened his eyes and realized that his head was cradled on Hailey’s soft breasts, her arms holding him close to her body. They were lying in the bed that the three of them shared, only Liam wasn’t with them.


“He’s healing,” Hailey soothed gently. “He had a hell of a fight, but he made it out in time to find you. He killed Arin’s thrall and started repairing you immediately.”

Cal glanced at his arm. There was a scar but it looked surprisingly whole given what he remembered feeling. He looked up at Hailey’s face. Her usually rosy cheeks were pallid, and there were grainy semicircles beneath her eyes. “He had to feed from you.”

“He could hardly feed from you,” Hailey said with a smile. “You needed it, Cal, and I’ve pulled double duty before. You’re my guys, I’ve gotta take care of you.” She leaned in now and kissed his mouth, and Cal felt the sudden tremble in her body. All of a sudden he was holding her, not the other way around, and her kisses were tinged with desperation.

“God, Cal,” she murmured against his lips. “I was so afraid we had lost you! Liam got you out of the club but then he completely lost contact, and I had to try and find you but I didn’t know what had happened or even if Liam was going to get out alive for awhile, and then when he did find you you were so hurt, and Liam tried to feed you but he didn’t have any more blood to spare and I almost didn’t make it to him in time and…Cal!” She buried her face in his shoulder, spilling her jet black hair over his neck. Cal just held on, let her shiver and sniffle as she tried to rein in her tears. Hailey didn’t cry often, but when she did it usually turned into a storm, and he knew she hated that.

“You can’t die!” Hailey wailed. “You and Liam have to be more careful! We only just found you, Cal! It would kill me to lose you, and Liam would never get over it.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Cal promised. It was all he could do, even if it was a lie. “And I think you’d survive as long as you and Liam had each other.”

“No, Cal.” She pulled back, her eyes puffy and red and Cal remembered for the first time in a long time just how old Hailey really was, and how much she had been through already. “We can’t. We tried, remember? Liam can only feed from his nest, and I just can’t give him everything he needs. And if I keep breaking my heart I wouldn’t want to. I love you, Cal. We love you so much.” She leaned into him and kissed him with need this time, hard and hungry.

Cal was suddenly, pointedly aware of Hailey’s glorious nudity, her body warm and inviting. The vanilla scent grew stronger, and her nipples peaked as their chests rubbed together. “Cal,” Hailey murmured, “fuck me.”

Whoa. Hailey didn’t use that word often; she’d been raised during a time when it was highly improper for a woman to swear. Saying fuck meant she didn’t want seduction or romancing; she just needed him inside of her, and Cal was more than happy to do that. Except…


“Is here.” The vampire’s voice was low, almost inaudible. Cal started to twist around but Hailey held him tight. “Eyes on our girl,” Liam said. “I won’t be pretty again for a while, Cal. You don’t need to see this side of me yet.”

“When were you ever pretty?” Cal joked, but he still felt uncomfortable, like one of his limbs was asleep. After a second the bed behind him dipped, and then Liam’s cool body was nestled behind his, and his arm came around Cal’s waist.

“You need to take care of our girl,” Liam told him, his voice rough and husky. “And I’ll take care of you.”

“Oh God, I love that!” Hailey laughed breathlessly. “He gets this look in his eyes when we both have him, it’s just amazing. I come so hard seeing the two of you like that.”

Liam entwined his hand with Cal’s, then trailed them both down Hailey’s abdomen, through her nest of soft, damp curls and into the slick crevice between her thighs. Hailey moaned and drew her knees back, cradling Cal with her hips, encouraging him to enter her.

“Feel how wet her pussy is,” Liam murmured, his lips right beside Cal’s ear. “How hot and sweet she is.” He pushed several of their fingers inside of her at once and Hailey gasped, clenching around them. “Think of how good that will feel around your cock.” He lowered their hands to Cal’s throbbing dick and stroked it, coating him with her juices.

“Now,” Hailey begged. “Now, please!”

“You heard our girl,” Liam chuckled, and then he settled his own cock against Cal’s ass and pushed forward, not entering him, just guiding. Cal slipped inside of Hailey, who arched and sighed with contentment. Liam let go of Cal’s hand, then reached his own hand around and pressed the tips of his fingers against Cal’s tight ring. Liam rested his chin on Cal’s shoulder, covering every inch of his back like Hailey now covered his front. “You want more of this?”

“God, yes,” Cal groaned, thrusting erratically into Hailey as he grappled with the urge to both push forward and press back. “Touch me, god, Liam, anything!”

Liam moved just long enough to slick his fingers and then he was back, and not one but two of them slid steadily into Cal’s ass, pushing him deeper into Hailey’s pussy. The burn was more sudden than he was used to but Cal didn’t care. He wanted, he craved the physical connection. He needed every reminder that his lovers were with him and touching him and fucking him.

Liam pulled his fingers back and Cal followed, withdrawing from Hailey just to plunge back in when Liam pushed inside again. Liam played both of them, manipulating the speed and intensity of their pleasure, drawing it out and heightening it. Cal could come just like this, fucking Hailey who looked like she was higher than the moon, coming against his vampire’s fingers. He could come right now and it would be amazing. In fact, there was only one way that it could be better.

“Fuck me,” Cal gasped, fast and desperate. “I want you inside of me, Liam, all of you inside of me. I need to feel all of you, everywhere. Please, please.”

“I’ll give you anything you want,” Liam told him, and his voice was a snarling promise, dark and guttural with the evidence of his change. “Everything you want.” His fingers jerked free and Cal cried out in denial, but a second later Liam’s cockhead pushed through Cal’s loosened ring, burning anew as it stretched him even further. It was hard and fast and exactly what Cal needed, and he braced himself on his forearms and dropped his head against Hailey’s neck and just let himself be a vessel, a conduit between his lovers, both of them using him for their pleasure.

Hailey suddenly came hard, her voice a quavering scream as her pussy spasmed around Cal’s cock. It was almost enough to push him over the edge, but he knew Liam would make restraint worth his while, and Cal loved fucking Hailey when she was happy and pliant in the aftermath of an orgasm. He thrust into her harder, bearing Liam’s weight, groaning with the thickness of his cock plunging in and out of him over and over. Cal’s balls tightened, his groin ached and he knew he was going to come any second.

Liam shifted minutely, just an inch to the left and then it wasn’t his chin on Cal’s shoulder, it was his mouth, and he sank his fangs into the base of Cal’s neck. Cal gasped with pain and pleasure as his orgasm exploded forth, his cock flexing as he filled Hailey’s pussy with his release. He felt the sudden surge of heat in his own ass and distantly recognized it as Liam coming before his mind went dazed. All he felt were the embraces of his family, their love and the intimacy that they shared. Liam gradually stopped drinking and licked the wound he’d made closed, then press a tender kiss to the spot.

“Cal,” Liam whispered, and it was the soft voice of the lover that almost no one ever heard.

“Love you,” Hailey sighed, rife with satisfaction and adoration and sheer relief.

There was too much to say, and it stopped up his throat. But fortunately Cal didn’t have to say it. They both knew it all anyway.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Snow. Who is prepared for this?

Actually, I'm probably the only Coloradan who isn't prepared for the snow that's falling, but c'mon people, it's the first one I've been exposed to in over two years where I was expected to do more than sit comfortably in front of a fire, basking in the amenities of a first world country.  The last 2 Christmases, I was in Germany visiting my folks in between Togo stretches.  This year, I'm back in Colorado, and we just got 8 inches overnight, and it's still falling.  Beautiful.  Novel, yes.  Cold as fuck, too.  And me?

Brilliant me is borrowing my husband's hat, going without gloves until I runs to a thrift store later and wearing a down vest over my only sweater, because I don't rock the preparedness scale today.  I'm like a two out of ten right now.  If my father were dead he'd be rolling over in his grave.  As it is, it's all to the good that he doesn't know this blog exists.

Anyway, I just randomly felt like sharing that while I sit in my car, with the heater blowing, trying to work up the will to brave the sloppy stretch of pavement between me and my place of work.  Vive le people who are little boy scouts in the winter.  Come and find me and let me partake of your wisdom, and maybe your snow tires.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Upcoming Contest...totally serious here

So, the art of self promotion is something that I’ve yet to fully conquer. I realize that I’m supposed to push my work and let you know when something is coming up, when it’s getting a good review, and give you bits and pieces of it that will tantalize your curiosity. Ok, I can go there…it’s the contest thing that’s still bugging me. I haven’t done any contests yet, but the standard of giving something out one of the bunches of people who comment on your blog feels like overreaching to me, because I don’t get that kind of traffic. Yet! Not yet! Feeling confident, but still…

I’m going to hold a contest on November 2nd, when my novella A Blinded Mind comes out from Dreamspinner Press. All you have to do is leave me a comment that includes, hopefully, something nice to say. If there are five or fewer comments left on that post, I’ll contact every one of you lucky people (one comment apiece, please) and either send you an ebook of mine you haven’t read yet, one of the paperback books with my work in them that accumulated while I was in Africa (includes several anthologies) or something new and exciting to beta read (providing I adore you, which is always possible:). If there are more than five comments, then a random number generator will help me give the same offer to two people.

I’ll do a big and flashy post on the 2nd and remind you about the contest. In the meantime, here are some nice reviews. I’ll do a snippet later this week for my upcoming release. Huzzah!

An excerpt from, for I Like To Watch (found here)
I LIKE TO WATCH is a collection of seventeen gay erotic short stories edited by Christopher Pierce. Although the stories all revolve around voyeurism and exhibitionism, they are very diverse in content. From solo shows to hook- ups to falling in love, from vanilla sex to fetishes to BDSM, there is something for everyone in this steamy anthology.

Other noteworthy entries include Good Boy by well-know author Jeff Mann and Table Topped by Cari Z. Both of these stories are about office romances, and I found them to be perhaps the most erotic in the collection.

From, for Wild Passions (found here)

Anthologies for me are not always a great experience. I am always disappointed in a few stories, and wish others were a bit longer. This anthology had the disappointment, but with some good news. I am totally in love with the last two stories in this book; it’s as if they saved the best for last. The whole book deals with interspecies hook-ups, animal/human hybrids, and if I am not stretching too far some social and political issues. It all could just be my interpretation. Therefore, I will break down my review in terms of each story.

Opening Worlds by Cari Z

This was one of my favourite stories in the entire anthology. It just felt right and complete, and made me happy with its conclusion. A captain of a passenger freighter, and the alien from another planet. A human and alien love story in the greatest form. Jason Kim the captain swore never get involved with his passengers, but there is something about Ferran that calls to him. He is willing to break all the rules at a chance at happiness, but there is more to Ferran and will Jason be able to live with losing him. Just really adored this one.

Thanks to both those reviewers for having nice things to say! For those who are interested, my story in the Wild Passions anthology will be released as an individual ebook in December, so just in case you were waiting because you aren’t an anthology person, fear not. It’s on it’s way.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pandora Post #25

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Five: First Separate, Then Recombine

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. But where’s the R-rated stuff?!? It’s coming back soon, promise.


In the three weeks his trip took, Garrett almost burned his engines out pushing them to get to Paradise. It was easier not to sleep and have to deal with the dreams that inevitably came with it, so he stuffed himself with all the stimulants the autodoc would give him and spaced forty-hour periods of wakefulness with five hour stretches of sleep, over and over until he finally got the proximity alert for Paradise. An extremely thorough check with the tower got him access to the private landing pad for the governor’s mansion, and Garrett didn’t care that his ship’s landing probably looked like a drunkard slumping to the ground, he was just ready to be out of there.

He raced out of his ship and into the safe zone, where Claudia was waiting for him. A second later they were in each other’s arms, and Garrett couldn’t tell who was clutching who harder. She smelled different than she used to, warm and somehow fresh, but overlaying that was the slightly sour scent of fatigue, and she was trembling just a little bit. They didn’t speak for a long time, didn’t even move until one of the marines on protective detail cleared her throat and gently touched Claudia’s shoulder. “Ma’am, we should move back indoors.”

Claudia pulled back a little bit and wiped her eyes with the edge of the long white shawl wrapped around her shoulders and neck, then nodded wearily. “I know, Therese.” She kept her arm around Garrett’s waist and he kept her tucked close to his side, and they walked into the mansion flanked by eight wary, gun-toting marines.

The marines left them alone once they were in the private family wing, except for the woman, who after a nod from Claudia set down her rifle and moved softly into one of the back rooms. Garrett kissed his stepmother’s dark hair and gave her a squeeze. “Are you okay, honey?”

“No,” she whispered, her breath hitching in her chest. “But I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Is Renee okay?”

“Oh, God, yes,” Claudia replied, actually managing a chuckle, “Renee’s fine. She’s in perfect health, she’s noisy, she’s so beautiful…Renee is the one good thing I’ve got right now.”

“I take it Miles is still being difficult, then?” Garrett teased her.

“Don’t make jokes,” Claudia begged. “Not about Miles. I’m going out of my mind worrying about him, and the doctors still don’t have a good idea of when he’ll come out of the coma.”

Garrett couldn’t say he was sorry because he wasn’t, really. Jokes were how he dealt with his father. Thinking serious thoughts right now, when he was sleep deprived and skirting the edge of overdose on stimulants, wasn’t something he could handle yet. “He’ll come out of it sooner than anyone thinks. Miles is impossible to keep down.”

“That rocket did a pretty good job of keeping him down,” Claudia said bitterly, moving out of Garrett’s arms and towards the kitchen. She started making tea, the old-fashioned way, with a kettle and everything. Garrett sat on a bar stool and watched her move. Claudia had changed a little with her pregnancy, become a little softer, a little more curvaceous. To him she looked absolutely gorgeous, and he could only imagine how his father had looked at her. Claudia had gone from an environment of love, comfort and security to pain and panic overnight, and she wasn’t dealing well with the changes. Not that anyone could really deal well with something like this, Garrett allowed, but he was suddenly extremely glad he’d come, because Claudia looked like she was headed for a breakdown, and he needed to help her release some of that pressure.

“The doctors didn’t think Miles was going to survive at first. He was badly burned over most of his body, and then there was a lot of shrapnel.” Claudia’s hands shook a little as she poured the hot water into small white cups. “His head was mostly uninjured, but there was significant swelling in his brain before the doctors managed to get everything stabilized. He’s not healing as quickly as they thought he would. They don’t know when he’ll wake up, and even when he does they aren’t sure what he’ll remember.” Or if he’ll remember anything, her body language screamed.

“He’s in the barracks medical bay, in a separate room from the others who are being treated. Wyl’s there too—did I mention that?”

“You did,” Garrett said quietly. “Why is Wyl in a coma?”

“It’s just until the Regen is done working. You remember what a hard time he had watching Robbie go through the regrowth process on his leg…Wyl couldn’t handle watching it happen to himself, he was having panic attacks. He asked to go under until the process was finished.” Claudia glanced over at Garrett. “Do you want milk? Sugar?”

“Sure.” Not that he ever drank tea, or really cared what went into it, but she needed something to do right now. “So Miles is in a separate room?”

“Yes, it’s more secure, there’s a DNA scan to get you in. It’s only keyed to allow the doctors, Robbie, and Renee and I in so far. And you,” she added. “I put you on the list even though you weren’t here, because I knew you’d come as soon as you could.” She came over to Garrett and handed him the steaming cup of tea. “He’s locked in a Regen chamber, of course, but the doctors set it up with a microphone system that lets out voices get transmitted through the walls so that Miles can hear us if we want. They thought it might be good for him to be able to listen to the sound of our voices.”

“Right.” More likely they thought it would be good therapy for Claudia. “What’s Robbie up to?”

“Oh, poor man,” Claudia sighed, sitting down on a stool next to Garrett but not touching her tea. “Well, the parliament never got around to electing a lieutenant governor, so after the attacks a de facto martial law went into place, and Robbie is the highest-ranked military official, so he’s taken over almost all of Miles’ responsibilities. Of course the parliament is taking up a lot of his time, and he’s still running all of the security operations.” She shut her eyes for a moment. “If only Jane was still here, this would be a lot easier on him.”

“How did she die?” Garrett asked gently, taking one of Claudia’s cold hands in his.

“Jane was close to the epicenter of the blast in the barracks. Doctors determined that she died instantly, but it took a while to find the body.” Tears slipped down Claudia’s cheeks. “Robbie was frantic, you know, because Jane and Wyl were both missing and we didn’t have enough emergency responders who had security clearance to get survivors out quickly. Robbie found Jane first, and with her being the way she was when he found her, he got kind of…he was…”

“It’s okay.” Garrett put his tea down and pulled her in for another hug. “It’s okay, I get it. I know how Robbie can be.”

“Would you talk to him when he gets in?” Claudia sniffed. “I think he needs help, but he said he doesn’t have time for anything but working right now and that I shouldn’t worry, but you know me, I always worry.”

“I’ll talk to him,” Garrett promised. He knew what was probably going on with Robbie, and the answer right now wasn’t going to be pity or commiseration. Tough love could wait, though.

Just then the marine came into the kitchen. She’d taken off her armor and was carrying a squirming bundle in her arms. “She’s getting a little fussy, I thought you might want to feed her.”

“Renee’s always fussy after naps,” Claudia sighed, but a genuine pleasure seemed to light up her eyes. “Thank you, Therese.” She held out her arms and the other woman carefully handed the baby over.

“You’re a bodyguard and a nanny?” Garrett asked curiously.

Therese blushed slightly. “Bodyguard first, but I have three younger brothers that I helped bring up, and Claudia needed the help.”

“Therese is from Kalmia, like me. The same city, even,” Claudia said as she lifted the infant to her breast. The baby latched on quickly and began to nurse, and Claudia sighed.

“You should go lie down,” Garrett told her. “Get some rest. You look exhausted.”

“I’m fine,” she assured him. “I can stay up with you.” She tilted her head suddenly and stared at him with curiosity. “Did you change your hair again?”

If only you knew. “Not since I cut it short. And you don’t have to play hostess with me, Claudia, we’re family.” He reached out and stroked his little sister’s forehead, his fingers lingering on the tips of the downy-soft fuzz covering her head. “I want to go look in on Miles anyway.”

“If you’re sure…” she wavered, glancing longingly towards her bedroom.

“Completely sure.”

“Well, at least let Therese show you the way,” Claudia insisted. “And let me know as soon as you need something. I’m happy to get up and keep you company.”

Clearly she was determined to be helpful. Garrett decided trickery was the best way to go. “I’ll do that,” he lied courteously. “Go on, go lie down. Snuggle your baby for a while. Get her ready to deal with me.”

“Oh, she’s going to love you.”

“How could she not?” Garrett agreed. “Now get.”

Once Claudia was gone, Garrett turned to Therese. He could see a marked resemblance between the two women: both slender and fine boned, both dark haired and pretty. Probably distantly related, like everyone on the tiny moon of Kalmia was. The original settlers had been insular but very prolific. “I have no intention of waking her, just so you know.”

“Good,” Therese replied bluntly. “I’m glad I won’t have to lock her door to keep you out, then.”

“Ouch,” Garrett said, but he was smiling. “Feeling a little protective, are we?”

“Claudia has been through a lot. I was a little worried that you coming here would sap her resources further, but I’m pleasantly surprised to find you reasonable.” She motioned towards the door. “The infirmary is this way.”

They left the family wing and headed towards the barracks. “How did you pull guard detail?”

“It was left in Governor Caractacus’ instructions to staff in case of emergency,” Therese said, opening another door. “He wanted to make sure Claudia was looked after. He left instructions about you as well, but they were a moot point after you left.”

“You sound almost accusatory,” Garrett noted as they entered the infirmary.

“I don’t mean to be accusatory, sir.” Her tone was perfectly even and formal.

“It’s all right if you do, I don’t mind.” Honestly, Garrett didn’t mind; it was actually kind of funny to him. He couldn’t seem to do the right thing whether he chose to go or stay, on either Paradise or Pandora. Story of his life, and right now he was too wired to feel either affronted by the marine’s presumption or self-pitying over her insight.

They walked in silence through the infirmary, pausing only so that Therese could point out Wyl’s Regen chamber. His was the third in four rows of fourteen, almost all of them occupied. “Mr. Leyton is enclosed right over there.”

“Good to know.”

At the end of the main hall was a small, securely sealed door marked PRIVATE. To the right of the handle was a medical gauntlet. “Just let that take your reading and you’ll be let in.”

“Thank you.” Garrett watched Therese walk briskly away, then put his hand into the gauntlet. A tiny prick and a few seconds of whirring, and then the security system acknowledged him and let him in. Garrett shut the door behind him and walked slowly into his father’s private room.

It was cold in there, the faint light emanating from the walls and ceiling hardly enough to illuminate the chair beside the Regen chamber. Garrett walked over to the cylindrical healing unit and inspected the top. There was no window to look in at the patient, but there was a readout showing the current state of regeneration. Fuck, Claudia hadn’t been kidding when she’d said Miles had lost a lot of skin…he was only at sixty percent across his legs, eighty percent on his chest and back.

The chair next to the chamber was hard. It felt quite fitting, considering the mausoleum-like atmosphere in this damn place. Garrett sighed, then flicked the microphone on.

“So.” He felt like his voice should be echoing in such an empty place, but the room was too small for that. “Here I am. And there you are. You know, I really prefer being the one in the box. It’s a lot less work, none of the emotional baggage that comes with waiting for the other person to wake up. You could drown in the sentiment floating around here, and I’ve only spoken with two women and a baby so far. Not that Renee had much to say, but I’m sure she’ll be a stunning conversationalist given time.

“Claudia’s holding it together. This is probably more difficult than anything she’s ever gone through before, and she’s been doing pretty well from what I can see, but the cracks are there, and they’re getting wider and wider. I’m going to do my best for her, but my best isn’t you. She needs you, Dad, as fast as possible. If you could come back with your memory completely intact so we don’t have to go through any awkward explanations and additional emotional anguish, that would be infinitely preferable.

“Speaking of angsty subjects, thought, I’m perfectly fine with appealing to the lesser parts of your nature to get you to wake the hell up,” Garrett continued, letting a little of the anger and worry he felt creep into his voice. “You are an incredibly lucky son of a bitch, you know that? You have a gorgeous wife and a beautiful baby girl and, last but not least, me. You’re loved and respected by everyone on this planet who isn’t a terrorist. You’re in a position of power on a world in chaos. These aren’t the kind of responsibilities that benefit from time away from you while you mosey your way back to health. You’re fucking all kinds of shit up by taking your goddamn time in this fucking chamber, so get your mojo going and speed up your goddamn engine already!”

Garrett rubbed a hand through his hair tiredly. “I have to get some sleep, I’ve been up for a few days…maybe a week. I’ve lost track. I’ll be back later, though. Don’t think you’re getting out of this by ignoring me.” After a moment’s hesitation, Garrett laid one hand on the chamber, let the feel of its quiet thrumming soothe him. “I love you, Dad.” He couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually said those words out loud to his father. It made him a little uncomfortable, even though he was sure that Miles couldn’t actually hear him. “Wake up soon.”

It was somehow both a relief and wrenching for Garrett to leave Miles, but that was characteristic for them. There were other people who needed his attention right now, though. With that in mind, Garrett went to look for Robbie.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I feel like Christmas!!!

Why do I feel like Christmas, you might ask?

Because my longest individually-authored publication to date, A Blinded Mind, not only has a release date (November 2nd) and a url where you can find it (A Blinded Mind with Dreamspinner Press), it also has a blurb and, more importantly, cover art!  It's like being given the gift I most longed for two months early.  I've been on pins and needles waiting to see this cover art and I love it!

Let me share the joy.

I mean, yum, right?  Captures the dystopian feel of the subject matter (the story occurs post-WW3) while being totally hot.  Thank you, Anne Cain, for being awesome, and thank you Dreamspinner Press for letting me pick her and not just saying, "You take what you get, suck it!"

Not that that's ever happened to me, exactly.


Anyway, how about we round this post out with a blurb?  I'll put a snippet up later this week to give you a feel for things. 

PS--I wrote this story in Togo during the dryest, dustiest season of the year, and some of that bleakness comes through in the writing, but you all know I love romance and happy endings and I would never torture you.   Not unless you asked for it :) 


Jonathan Hatcher has led an interesting life. Once the psychic protégé of Dr. Nelson Cagney of the Bureau of Psychological Corrections, he escaped and went on the run through post-World War Three Europe, scraping a living out of the ruins of civilization and avoiding the mindless vics: humans turned berserker by exposure to biological and chemical weapons.

Once again at Cagney's mercy, Jonathan is stuck in PsyCo's high-security wing with no idea whether Sam, the man he thinks he may love, is alive or dead by his hand. Though at first he only plays along for news of Sam, soon Jonathan sees the conditions in the warring European Coalition are desperate. Sam and Jonathan must make a choice: make for France and a life together… or team up with their captors against a devastating new threat.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A few "make my day" cool things:)

One, thanks a lot to the people who commented, emailed me and overall persevered (despite Blogger making things difficult) about Pandora.  I'm so glad you're enjoying it and never fear, all shall be resolved.  I'm sorry Jane had to go, but look a the silver lining: it wasn't Wyl. 

Two, my short story Different Spheres got accepted for publication by Dreamspinner Press and will probably be coming out in February/March with them.  I'll let you know more as I do, like what the cover will be etc., but thanks a lot for the kind words about the snippets I posted.  I'll throw you a few more before it's published.  Maybe even do a contest; I'm back in America, I have contest capacity now.  I totally need to get with it as an author/promoter and make you yearn for more, yeah?  Yeah.  I'll work on that.

Happy Wednesday, guys.  Keep your chins up:)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pandora Post #24

Title: Pandora

Part Twenty-Four: Tipping Point

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. I know, I know…how can I leave it like this? Don’t worry, I can’t, not for long.


The day started with a fight. Not the kind of fight that Garrett preferred if one was inevitable, full of angry declarations, wild claims and drama that was resolved either with brutal makeup sex or a badly needed break from each other. It wasn’t the kind Robbie preferred either, which was purely physical, any interpersonal conflict resolved with fists and feet, knees and elbows, and perhaps a shock baton if you were feeling vindictive. No, this kind of fight was the kind that Jonah seemed to lean towards, which was to say that it wasn’t really a fight at all, more like a mass of unresolved feelings that tainted everything you did and said but maintained deniability.

Garrett had been expecting a fight. Truth be told, he would have welcomed a fight at this point, in the way that a child welcomes the sting of a needle because it means the shot will be over soon. It was time to stop living in a fantasy world where he could stay with Jonah and Cody without having to stay here, on Pandora, forever. Yes, he’d finish out the contract here, and if things went the best way Garrett thought they possibly could, Jonah would accept his lover’s decision and decide that they could still be together for the remainder of Garrett’s time here. If things didn’t work out, well, at least then they both would know and could move on, instead of being trapped in the limbo that was “maybe”.

Garrett had had his new eyes for close to a week, and in two days Jonah and Cody were moving into their new house. Cody talked on and on about how great it was and how much Garrett was going to like it, and both of the adults had been indulging his fantasy, but the issue remained, well, an issue between them. Jonah wanted Garrett to move with them; Garrett wanted to keep his apartment on board. Garrett had suggested splitting his time in an effort to compromise, but Jonah had been pretty adamant that he wanted Cody to be able to depend on Garrett. “We’re not part-time people,” Jonah had said, almost angrily as they went to bed last night. “I told you that from the start. Cody doesn’t need you around some of the time, he needs you to be there for him all the time. So do I.”

Garrett had rounded on that, ready to argue his side, but by then Jonah had sighed, apologized and gone to shower. By the time he came out he was mostly silent, not angry, and he clearly didn’t want to talk about it. “Not my place to tell you what to do,” he’d said before kissing Garrett firmly on the mouth.

It honestly wasn’t surprising that Jonah was a passive-aggressive arguer. He’d been raised a Drifter, and Drifters had to be charming as hell if they were going to make berth at any place in the central system, but once they docked they had to be prepared to bargain hard for the best deals they could in the time they had. Also, most likely the last time Jonah had had a huge fight with a lover was when he’d split with Jack, and that had resulted in a tacit exile from his family. No wonder he was cautious now with Garrett.

Especially because he loves you. Garrett knew Jonah loved him. They hadn’t exchanged those words but it was there in his movements, in the way he touched Garrett when they were together, the way he held him at night, the way he smiled. He hadn’t said it yet because Garrett hadn’t, and Garrett wasn’t going to, either. It was bad enough that he’d already admitted it privately to himself.

Which means you’re giving up on any possible future with the man you love, and his wonderful child, because you’re a selfish bastard. Yeah,well, of course it sounded bad when he put it like that.

The day didn’t improve with work. Garrett’s climate modeling unit crashed during the first hour, and the technical support staff were all busy out in Pandora City doing custom power and appliance installations for new homeowners. That left Garrett with trying to repair it himself, and while he was an excellent climatologist, he was a terrible mechanical engineer.


“That’s the fifth fuck this hour,” Lila commented from her workstation. “Don’t you want to just leave this for a professional.”

“I am a—fuck it—a professional. I can do this. I just don’t have the right tools, I had to jury rig the right soldering tip and the welds aren’t sticking.”

“You can’t use a soldering iron in one of those,” Shekar objected. “The backing is a non-conductive alloy, it won’t bond with typical solders. Let me see the module.” He wiggled his fingers imperiously.

“Fine.” Garrett gave the piece up reluctantly and watched sullenly as Shekar immediately discarded the soldering iron and began rummaging through his station for tools of his own.

“Someone’s being Mister Grumpy,” Lila said quietly.

“You’ve been spending too much time with your kindergarten teacher lately,” Garrett replied. “And how is Mr. Hugelin-Padin?”

“He’s fine, and don’t change the subject. What’s the problem?”

“Not one I want to share in any form or flavor, thanks.”

“Is it about Jonah?” she asked. “Did you guys have a fight?”

“What part of ‘not going to share’ don’t you comprehend?”

“Oh, you did,” she cooed sympathetically. “You know, it might help to talk about it.”

Garrett shut his eyes for a moment. “Lila…you are not Glinda the Good Psychiatrist. You don’t get to psychoanalyze me or encourage me to talk about my feelings, not if you want to maintain a decent working relationship with me.”

“I thought we were friends as well,” she said with a frown. “Friends share things that are bothering them with each other.”

“I have nothing to share. I’m not bothered, Lila, this isn’t my bothered face.”

“You shouldn’t lie to yourself like this, Garrett.”

It was becoming perilously easy for Garrett to picture himself bopping Lila upside the head with the soil sample she was currently analyzing. The sounding of his com saved him from too much temptation. “Yes?”

“Sir, you have an message coming through marked urgent.”

“Where is it from?”

“Planet designation Paradise.”

An urgent message from Paradise could only be bad. Garrett hadn’t heard from anyone there since his father introduced him to Renee. “I’ll take audio now.”

“Connecting you, one moment please.”

A second later Garrett heard Claudia, and a second after that he was glad he was sitting down.

“Gare, it’s me.” Her voice was nothing like he was used to hearing, husky with exhaustion and something else. It sounded like…pain. “There’s been an attack—well, there were a couple really, but they all happened at the same time. Terrorists launched rockets at your father’s motorcade yesterday while he was heading to the Parliament building and two of the vehicles were destroyed. Six people were killed…not Miles, thank god, but he was very badly wounded. He’s in an artificial coma for the Regen work and probably will be for weeks.” Her voice hitched and he could almost see her passing her hand in front of her eyes, trying to keep it together. She went on after a moment. “A bomb went off in the motorcade next to the barracks and blew up most of our troop transports, too. Wyl was injured, and Jane Freeman is dead. Robbie was out on patrol though, and he’s fine, he’s just fine.” Claudia sounded like she was reassuring herself as much as Garrett.

“Gare…I need you to come home, please. Just come home, for now, please. I need you here, Miles needs you, and Robbie is…Gare, come home to us. We’re your family, and we need you.” A pause, then she said, “I have to go. Come as fast as you can.” The message ended.

Vaguely Garrett could hear other people’s voices, a hand on his shoulder, overtones and gestures of concern, but for a few moments none of it really registered. Every fuse in his mind had blown, and it took several seconds for reality to seep back in through the haze of anxiety that Claudia’s voice had left him with.

“I have to go.”

“What?” He could hear Lila clearly now, and see her beside him, looking at him inquisitively.

“Never mind.” Garrett stood up, relieved his legs were steady, and headed out of the lab without another word. He ignored the shouted questions and forwarded the message to Jezria, walking fast along the hallway towards the nearest lift. By the time he reached her office, she was ready for him. Steven opened the door at Garrett’s first knock and got quickly out of the way.

Jezria was standing in the foyer, her face serious and sympathetic. Her voice, fortunately, was nothing but professional. Garrett couldn’t deal with comfort at the moment.

“When do you want to leave?” she asked.

“As soon as possible,” he replied.

“I’ll tell the control tower to be ready to open the environmental shield on your signal. Does your ship need fuel?”

“I’m not sure. Probably.” Garrett hadn’t been on his ship in months, he barely remembered the last diagnostics he’d run.

“I’ll have the technicians see to it. It will take as much as an hour for them to remove the locks and ensure it’s ready to fly, though.”

“That’s all right, I have to pack.” Reality flooded back into his brain and he groaned under his breath. “And I have to tell Jonah and Cody I’m leaving.”

“And a little more, maybe.”

“Yes,” Garrett sighed. “And a little more.”

“You’ve never shared very much with him about your family, have you?”

“He’s talked to them,” Garrett said defensively. “He knows where they live, he knows my dad is a politician, he knows I have a little sister.”

“That’s it?”

“What else does he need to know?”

“Oh, Garrett.” Jezria sounded disappointed. “Well, now’s not the time to be worrying about those sorts of things. Go and pack up, I’ll make sure everything is ready with your ship and call you when it’s done. Do you want to send a message to Claudia from here? I can give it priority.”

“No, I’ll call her once I’m underway.” Garrett began to turn, but then Jezria opened her arms and gently pulled him into a hug. He tensed, stiff in her grasp, until she sighed with exasperation and let him go.

“Get there safely,” she told him. “No pushing the engines too hard, because the last thing you need is to break down in the middle of nowhere without anyone there to help you.”

“Yes, Mother,” he said sarcastically.

“I wish I was, sometimes,” Jezria replied. “Give your family my love, please.”

Garrett flushed, feeling inexplicably embarrassed. “I will.” This time when he turned to leave she didn’t do anything to stop him.

Garrett had been planning on calling Jonah and Cody once he was all packed and ready to go, but someone had beaten him to the punch and they were waiting for him when he got home. Cody launched off the stool by the counter as soon as Garrett walked through the door and latched around his waist. “Garrett! Where are you going? Why are you leaving?”

Oh, wonderful. Garrett could have killed Jezria. The urge to snap and snarl was almost overwhelming, but he knew he couldn’t afford to give into that temptation, not with Cody. Once he was thinking straight he’d never forgive himself, and neither would Jonah.

“I have to leave,” Garrett said, and he thought his voice sounded pretty calm, all things considered. “My family was in an accident, and they need me.”

“Are you going back to Olympus?”

“No…my family lives on a planet called Paradise. It’s a little closer than Olympus.” Garrett slowly detached Cody and pushed him back a few steps. “I have to get ready to go, okay?”

Cody looked distressed, but he nodded and didn’t try to cling again. Finally Garrett raised his eyes to Jonah, and the flat, expressionless look on his lover’s face made his chest ache sharply. “I’ll help you pack.”

There was going to be no avoiding this. “Fine.”

“Stay here, bucko, we’ll be out soon,” Jonah told his son, ruffling his curls before heading back into the master bedroom. Garrett followed him, feet dragging a little, not looking forward to what was coming, not wanting to talk, or think, or do anything but fly into the black of space and leave everyone and everything behind for a while.

Jonah had stopped next to the bed but Garrett continued to the closet, pulling out a storage kit and laying it open, then turning to contemplate his clothes. Funny…they took up nearly two-thirds of the space in there, smooth and shining next to Jonah’s simpler things. Had it always been this way? The closet would be practically empty once his stuff came out, and that would just be…odd. What to bring…Garrett reached for his favorite blue suit.

“So. Your dad’s a governor.”

“Yes.” The blue suit went into the kit, followed by a dark gray pinstripe that looked fabulous on Garrett but that he hadn’t worn for months.

“The governor of an entire planet.”

“He had to do something after his military career.” Purple suit…no, kind of ostentatious, not the image he wanted to project when he got to Paradise, which would be…what, grieving son, stalwart friend, support staff? All of the above?

“Is all your family that illustrious?”

“Or infamous, take your pick.” The white, definitely, both of them.

“So you were never even considering staying here,” Jonah said, his voice hard in a way Garrett had never heard before. “Why stay here when you’ve got all that wealth and power waiting for you back there?”

“Yeah, and look at what that wealth and power is getting me right now!” Garrett rounded on Jonah furiously. “My father almost died, he’s in a coma. My stepmother is taking care of an infant and an insurrection on her own. One of my friends is in all likelihood running the entire military operation on that planet, another is injured and a third is dead. I get that you’re upset at me, but the last thing I’m going to do right now is let my family down because I’m wasting time trying to soothe your hurt feelings.”

There was a long moment of complete silence, with the two of them just staring at each other. “Got it,” Jonah said at last. “I’ll clear your things outta the bathroom.” He disappeared into the small side room and Garrett pressed a hand to his eyes, trying to control the sudden burning feeling. He couldn’t cry now, he couldn’t, this was not fucking happening…

“Hey, no, I’m sorry.” Arms came around him a second later and Garrett tensed like he had before, but it felt too good. He turned into Jonah’s chest and squeezed his eyes shut. “Don’t do that, I’m sorry, darlin’.” Jonah rubbed Garrett’s back slowly and rhythmically.

“My father gave up everything for me…” That was all Garrett managed before his throat closed off.

“I understand. He’s your dad, of course you’ve gotta go. I didn’t mean to start a fight.” Jonah kissed Garrett’s temple. “Better finish packin’.” He drew back from Garrett and squeezed his shoulders briefly before letting go. “Y’all right?”

Garrett cleared his throat, with some difficulty. “Close enough.”

“Good.” Jonah glanced over at the storage kit. “You want help in here?”


They packed the rest of Garrett’s things in silence, exchanging brief touches here and there, but they were friendly touches, not particularly warm ones. They were comforting but not really loving. Garrett felt the distance but there wasn’t anything he could do to bridge it, not when this was Jonah’s chosen way of dealing with Garrett leaving. Almost immediately after they were done packing Garrett’s com signaled him.

“Your ship is prepped and ready, sir.”

“Thank you.” He took the communicator off and set it on the bedside table. “I won’t need that until I get back. Will you hold onto it for me?”

“Sure.” Jonah glanced down at it, then back at Garrett. “Until then.”


“Hope your family pulls through this okay, darlin’.”

“Me too.”

“Let us know how you are, all right?”

“I will,” Garrett promised, his arms shaking with the urge to pull Jonah into his grasp and never let him go. He didn’t want to face this alone, he really didn’t, but there was no way he could ask Jonah and Cody to come with him. He filled his arms with his belongings instead and walked out into the living room.

The goodbye with Cody was long and loud, and by the time Garrett got to his ship his shirt was damp with a child’s tears and he felt so low that the autodoc on his ship insisted on giving him a mood enhancer before allowing him to pilot it. It was raining as he pulled out of the Neptune’s hangar, pouring down in hard sheets, and outside of the environmental shields the rain fell twice as hard. Garrett accelerated into the upper atmosphere and watched the water peel away, the final few droplets freezing against the hull as he emerged into space. The dark blue and purple of Pandora drew back, and as he accelerated away Garrett numbly mused that the planet was actually quite beautiful, much more so than he remembered it being when he first arrived.

Very beautiful. But gone in minutes.