Sneak Peek Sunday is a weekly blog hop in which writers are challenged to post six paragraphs, no more and no less, from a published work or work in progress and then invite other writers, readers and random bloggers to read, critique and comment. Visit their site by clicking on the button below for a list of other participating writers and share the love!
As I said in yesterday’s post, today’s sneak peek comes from Heat, which has the distinction of being the first book I self-published, way back in the yesteryear of 2006 (prior to that, I sold both Olivia and Heat through an online publishing house of the fly-by-night variety. The editor there chopped both books to hell and back, demanded twice as much sex and half as much plot, and the marketing that I paid two hundred dollars for consisted of one line in their spam-email “newsletter”. I sold maybe three books in two years and when I refused to renew my contract, the editor told me I was a pervert and a talentless hack. Seven years later, I can hold my head up with pride and say, “You’re only half-right, lady.”).
This excerpt focuses on the protagonist in Heat, Tagen, otherwise known as “the alien who is not as cool as Kane”. For that, I am entirely to blame. When I was chopping up Heat at the behest of the online publisher who first sold my book, I had to cut half the book out and then double up the sex scenes. Because Tagen was the hero and because he had invaded Daria’s home, I had to kind of let the two of them settle in and fall in love before I put them into bed, whereas Kane could just fuck his way across Earth from the get-go. When I got the rights to Heat back, I restored it as much as I could, but because I was young and exceedingly stupid, I had deleted the scenes I’d cut out before—scenes that were largely Tagen-and-Daria specific—as opposed to just moving them to another file and only had the scenes I had because I’d written them out in a notebook. I could have recreated them, but by then I’d had to rewrite the book twice: once at the evil editor’s behest, and once because my younger sister reformatted the hard drive without backing up my books. To be perfectly blunt, I wanted to live in Arcadia at the time and rewriting Heat was a hassle I didn’t need.
So I let it go. And for the most part, I am happy with Heat, but when I read it, I can’t help but see the empty places where there should be scenes, and while the book as a whole may not suffer for it, Tagen and Daria definitely do. Theirs was the very first great romance I ever tried to write and I can’t help but think I didn’t do right by them. The (slightly-edited to fit) excerpt I have for you today is, in my opinion, one of the best between them and I’m proud to share it today.
“I wanted you,” he breathed, and pushed her shirt up in pools over his hand to lick at the sweat between her breasts. “Did you think I did not want you? How could I tell you? When you have been so afraid that I would force myself upon you? I have seen that fear in you from the day that first we met. And then you did allow me to sex with you, because you did not wish to see me suffer, you said. On my world, we would not consider that a passionate invitation. Gods, can you know how cruel you were in your compliance? To permit me to come to you in Heat, when I wished only to come to you like this?”
He cupped the full curves of her bottom and pulled her hard against him, shaping her to his rampant desire, and thrusting his hips at hers. “You said if I were human, if you knew no fear, you would have taken me to your bed before this,” he growled, biting and sucking at her jaw, her neck, her breast. “You said you found me attractive. You could have drawn a knife and stabbed me with less pain!”
“Then why didn’t you—?”
“Because I am Jotan and I am male, and we do not go to females, they come to us!” Tagen forced his hands to release her and he stepped away, breathing fast and hard. “Tell me what to do,” he snarled. “Tell me how to win you. Tell me how to please you. Tell me anything, but tell me, Daria Cleavon! You expect me just to know these things!”
“I know.” She was flushed and would not meet his eyes. Her hands rose and rubbed at her arms as though she were cold. Her face was pinched with hurt and unhappiness, but more than anything else, it was a lost and child-like confusion that haunted her eyes. “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I don’t know what I want. I just know that you’re the first…the first man that I…”
Her hand found her cheek, covering that small part of her that she had allowed to become her whole self, her whole world, and suddenly Tagen was furious. Not at her, but at Earth, at this hot, miserable, poisonous planet that had first spoiled and then forsaken her.
He let go of her and grabbed at the shirt he wore, ripping it when he could not seem to pull it off fast enough. He caught her hand again and slapped it down over the keloided scars left by some years-past blaster fight, a starburst of raised flesh he had never bothered to have repaired. “Do you know what this is?” he demanded. He seized her head when she tried to wrench away and made her look at him. “It is skin, Daria. Skin. It keeps the life in our bodies and it keeps the weather from getting in. It does not define us. It does not command us. It is only skin.”