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Publications…Excerpt from “Hunter, Prey”

Don’t forget, you can still vote for “Hunter, Prey” to be included in Circlet Press’s Best of Circlet’s Digital Library Print Anthology. Vote here! Voting runs through March 15, and I thought I’d share an excerpt from “Hunter, Prey” here. If you like it, the full story is available in Like Tooth and Claw.

Meanwhile, come meet feisty, sexy Aisha and her new golden boy Finn.

Excerpt from “Hunter, Prey”

The last native wild mountain lion in Missouri was killed in 1927. Hunters have been telling stories of mountain lion sightings ever since.

One

I met him at the sixth stop on a Halloween bar crawl. My friends and I had a list of ten bars, but at six, we were almost done. It was my favorite, and I felt good enough to stay put.

Better than good. I was sobering up, but still riding a delicious buzz. I noticed him because he was still and silent when everyone else moved around the room, their voices loud and bright.

I twisted my glass of water against the top of the bar and shifted my weight so I could bounce my right heel. I had too much energy to sit.

“We could go dancing,” Shelley offered. She’d been my best friend since birth, when our dads took us to play dates together, and knew my moods better than anyone else.

I shrugged and cast another quick glance in his direction. She followed my gaze, then raised her eyebrows. Didn’t say anything, just took a drink of beer and carefully wiped her mouth after. The understanding between us went both ways. I knew what she was thinking, and she was absolutely right. I didn’t hook up with strangers. I didn’t have much time to date. Anytime I wanted uncomplicated sex—which I frequently did—one of my friends was up for it, too. We were a casual, open bunch.

Shelley glanced at him again and nudged me. I stepped to the side, sure she wanted me to make room for Erica—one of her partners. Trace, the other one, was at work—to join us, but she only nudged me again, harder.

Oh. It was a go get him, tiger nudge.

“He’s hot, Aisha. Go for it.”

I drained my water and looked over again. This time he looked at me, too, and our eyes locked. His corner was so shadowed I couldn’t tell what color his were.

It gave me an excuse to take a closer look.

I took my time crossing the room. I thought it was clear I was headed his way, and I wanted to give him time to give me a signal he didn’t want company. Plus, people kept stopping me to talk.

He was still in place when I got away from the others. A hopeful sign, but there was no guarantee he knew I’d been giving him an out.

“Want some company?” I put my hand on the back of an empty chair, but didn’t pull it away from the table.

He stared at me for a second. I didn’t mind. It gave me a chance to look at him. Up close, he was golden—the long hair in varying shades of blond, the beard and the scruff across his cheeks, and the way the dim light played off his skin—as if he’d been dipped in honey. ost striking of all were his eyes, golden-brown but strangely lit from within, like a candle behind stained glass.

He breathed in through his nose, then nudged the chair toward me. I pushed it closer to the wall and sat sideways in it, one arm looped over the back.

“Werewolf?” he asked. It took me a second, frowning, before I got it, and heat rushed to my cheeks. Probably he wouldn’t be able to tell in the low light. I touched the pointed ears sticking up from my twists. Shelley had made them out of soft black fur only slightly darker than my skin. It didn’t look like wolf, but most people couldn’t tell.

“The Big Bad Wolf.” I grinned and pointed out Shelley. “My best friend is Little Red Riding Hood. There’s a woodcutter around somewhere, too.” I half rose and angled my body so I could shake my ass at him. “Even got the tail. Sexy, huh?”

He chuckled and grinned. It flashed a deep dimple on the right side of his face and teeth that were crooked and sharp. “Very.” I wanted him to speak more. His voice was deep and slightly growly, but it had a hint of an accent, and I couldn’t yet place it.

“What’s your name?”

“Finn. Yours?”

Didn’t he ever use more than one-word sentences? “Aisha. You’re new around here.”

“That obvious?”

Okay. Two words. His reticence wasn’t horrible, though. I didn’t want that lush mouth of his for conversation.

“It’s a local bar. There are plenty closer to the highway. That’s where people stop if they’re passing through and where the college kids go.”

“I noticed. Too crowded for me.”

“So you made it all the way out to this little hole in the wall. Lucky me.”

He scratched the stubble on his cheek. “Want something to drink?”

“Water with lemon. I want to be sober for this.” I flashed him another smile and was inordinately pleased when he grinned back. I bit the inside of my lower lip to keep my joy from bubbling up. It was just a smile. I hadn’t caught him yet.

I made sure to watch him carefully. He might have been hot, and his jeans fit close to nice thighs and a firm butt, but he was still a stranger. Better safe than sorry when it came to drugged drinks. Shelley was watching us, and she stood next to him when he ordered. I trusted her to keep an eye on my drink. She stopped him when he turned away from the bar, all bouncy blonde ex-cheerleader, grinning and tossing her curls and ruffling her skirt at him. I looked good as a modern Big Bad Wolf, leather pants and boots and a distressed gray wrap shirt with a forest of pine trees trailing down the side—another of Shelley’s handmade items, she was so artistic it sometimes made me sick—but she was absolutely gorgeous in her black leather skirt and her tiny red hooded T-shirt. It showed off the shiny jewel in her belly button.

I’d left my truck a couple blocks away at the start of the night, pretty close to the last few bars on our list. There were streetlights, but all my windows were tinted, the back doors limo dark. I hit the unlock button on my keychain, but before I could open the door, Finn pushed me against it and put his mouth on my throat.

He ran his hands up my sides, under my shirt, until his thumbs brushed the bottom of my bra. My nipples tightened still further from the mix of his touch and the cold air. I hooked a leg around his calf and urged him closer, up between my thighs.

His hair was rough and thick around my hand. I palmed the back of his head and forced his face up. His mouth was open, his breath heavy, and I brushed my lips against his once, twice, before kissing him deeply.

He tasted like lime and beer. He shoved my bra up and strummed his thumbs across my nipples, catching my moan and swallowing it. Swallowing me. I rocked my hips forward, rubbing against his thigh. My bra was tight against the top of my chest, constricting the blood flow, and my breasts tingled.

Finn kissed the corner of my mouth, the edge of my jaw, the curve of my shoulder, and then licked the hollow of my throat. His tongue traced designs on my skin. I tilted my head back, gasping for air, and my breath hung in a white cloud overhead, melting away slowly. I tugged hard on his hair. He groaned and pulled against my grip, but I knew that sound, that movement. He wasn’t trying to get away. I fisted my hand and twisted it in his hair, giving myself a much better grip, then pulled again, hard and steady, moving him where I wanted him to go.

“I want to see you naked,” I ordered and reached behind me to open the door. I shoved him inside, scrambled in after him, and locked the doors behind me, trapping us.

Publications…Vote for “Hunter, Prey” for Circlet Press’s Best of Circlet’s Digital Library Print Anthology

Vote for “Hunter, Prey”

Circlet Press is celebrating its twentieth anniversary of “celebrating the erotic imagination,” which is a damn fine thing to celebrate. As a part of the celebration, Circlet is releasing a print anthology of the Best of Circlet’s Digital Library. The editors have shortlisted stories from Circlet’s ebooks, and now readers get to vote on their favorites for inclusion in the print anthology and some monetary prizes.

My story “Hunter, Prey” was shortlisted! Originally published in Like Tooth and Claw, “Hunter, Prey” is the story of Aisha, a black woman in her thirties who loves to hunt, both animals and sexual partners. Her Halloween fling with the strange and sexy Finn becomes something much more when she’s attacked by a mountain lion while deer hunting in the wilds of Missouri and suddenly she’s faced with a whole new meaning for the word hunter — and the word prey.

Asylumgirl at Night Owl Reviews had this to say about “Hunter, Prey”: The attraction between the characters is immediate and something that the reader can feel and be a part of. The sex is hot and rough, with bites and bruises to go around. Hunter, Prey is an excellent example of shapeshifter romance, full of raw animalistic eroticism.

I love kinky, dominant Aisha and golden big cat Finn, and am absolutely honored that “Hunter, Prey” was shortlisted, particularly because I did receive some negative feedback about it because Aisha was a dominant woman and Finn willingly submits to her. I normally try to take what I can from negative feedback to improve and don’t let it bother me, but since the core of some of this feedback was simply that women shouldn’t be dominant, it got to me, a little. Being shortlisted like this reminded me that not everyone feels that way. (I talked about this in more depth here.)

I would really appreciate your vote for “Hunter, Prey” if you enjoyed reading it. Other stories I particularly recommend include “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment” by Elizabeth Reeve, the story I love despite disliking Austen, and “The Dancer’s War” by N.K. Jemisin, which is breathtakingly hot and made me want to dance.

Vote for “Hunter, Prey”

Links…Bits and Pieces (Saturday Link Round Up)

If You’re a Bigot When You’re Angry, You’re a Bigot All the Time by Tami from What Tami Said, Guest Blogging at Transgriot

Tami addresses Kelly Osbourne’s nasty, transphobic comments during her recent breakup and how making an excuse for bigotry because of anger does not work.

Quote: When you believe that a group of people intrinsically have value equal to your own, you believe it all the time and deep in your heart. This belief is not contingent on your being in a good mood. The belief doesn’t go away when a marginalized person makes you angry or annoys you. If you have it in you to use epithets when hurt, then you have it in you all the time.

Beauty Myths: Terrible Things Await Women Who Use Men’s Razors, Gillette Says

Apparently, Gillette has a new ad campaign out trying to get women to buy razors and blades for “women’s razors,” not the ones for “men’s razors.” I don’t have cable television and haven’t for awhile now (I am well pleased with a mix of Hulu, Amazon on Demand, and Netflix on Demand, though I’m considering dropping the Netflix at some point), and I don’t read Cosmo and similar magazines (actually, I don’t really read any magazines anymore, and I don’t actually know when that changed. Huh), so I haven’t seen any of the ads, if they exist, but Jezebel addresses an article in Cosmo about it. One of the things that was said is that women mistakenly believe men’s razors are sharper than women’s razors. Jezebel talks about how women’s razors cost more than men’s razors, at least generally.

I prefer men’s razors to women’s, especially electric razors, because I have found they do work better. I have very thick, coarse hair, and when I decide to shave, the men’s razor handles the hair so much better. So I side-eye the claim that women’s razor blades are just the same as men’s, at least from my personal experience.

Kardashian in Trouble with Native American Group for ‘Indian Giver’ Comment at Colorlines

Quote: The phrase “Indian giving” is wrong and hurtful,” she added. “The cultural values of Native Americans are based on giving unconditionally and empowering those around them. Instead this cultural value is forgotten when negative stereotyping of Native people occurs.

Thandie Newton Takes ‘Vogue’ to Task for Lack of Black Women on Cover at Transgriot

Quote: I personally don’t read Vogue, because I am not interested in fashion, and I certainly would not support a magazine that cannot be arsed to have someone who looks like me appear on even a semi-regular schedule; however, I recognize what this lack of exposure is doing to young Black women. There is a reason why even today despite all the gains of the Black community, that Black children continue to prefer the White doll. Everywhere they look, everything that is constructed as good, pure and beautiful is White. From the television shows that they watch, to billboard and magazine covers they are shown, to be White is to be worthy of attention and adoration. No matter how hard a parent tries to invest a child with racial pride, they are fighting the institution of White supremacy, which is determined to enforce the exact opposite. We need Black women on the covers of magazines like Vogue, if our children are ever to see themselves as valuable. We need these covers to dispel the idea that Black women are just born unattractive. There is absolutely nothing neutral about erasure and until we address the fact that it essentially amounts to a value judgment based in racist ideals, we are going to continue to have a divided society in which some people are privileged over others, simply based in the Whiteness of their skin.

‘A Year Straight: Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Lesbian Beauty Queen’ Will Piss You Off at AfterEllen

Quote: The second problem: Bisexuality is not once mentioned. The idea of either being a lesbian or being straight is the perpetuation of a terrible stereotype. Elena doesn’t even consider the fact that her attraction to men could mean she’s interested in exploring her sexual fluidity instead of a quarter-life crisis indicating she’s meant to be with a guy. In fact, the whole reason she starts dating guys is because she felt a connection with her yoga instructor. And when she shares her crush with a coworker and gets a Brazilian wax, she decides to keep trying to date men because she didn’t want to let all that go to waste.

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Writing…Dominant Women, Submissive Men (for Hack Gender)

At one point, I saw a review of Like Tooth and Claw that was pretty negative overall. I’m not linking to the review because the review itself isn’t the point. People should be encouraged to leave honest reviews without feeling like the author will come and yell at them for writing a negative review. However, the review did make me think. When I saw Hack Gender start appearing on Twitter, I decided to finally put down some of my thoughts.

The part of the review that stood out for me was when the reviewer basically said zie couldn’t identify with the characters of my story, “Hunter, Prey,” because the woman was dominant and topped the man and the man was willing to be dominated.

I’ve run into this before, both as a writer but also as a kinky woman, especially as a kinky queer woman who is considered dominant. (Theoretically, I’m a switch, but there are very few people for whom I bottom [so far, exactly one], and I am far more likely to be the top when participating in the kinky community.) When people discuss kink — whether they themselves are kinky or are simply analyzing it from outside — most of the time they assume dominant man and submissive woman.

That is not my kink.

One reason it’s not my kink is that a lot of the time, there is no man involved in my kink. Most of the people I played with were women and they were either bottoms or switches who bottomed for me. And yes, I think there is something beautiful about the women writhing in pleasure-pain.

There is something beautiful about men in the same situation.

But this isn’t about my kink. It’s not about your kink. It’s about the assumptions of people — here, readers, but I think this applies in other situations as well — when addressing something considered unusual. A dominant woman and a man happy to be dominated.

I intentionally wrote Aisha to address some of the things which bother me about paranormal romance — and romance in general. Aisha isn’t a virginal slender young white woman. Aisha has a lot of sex without being in a relationship, she is in her thirties, she is fat, she is black, and she owns a construction company and fights to hold her own space in a very masculine field. At the beginning of the story, Aisha picks up Finn — a stranger — in a bar for an uncomplicated one night stand. (Finn later complicates it.)

She is hard to identify with because she dominates her romantic partner in the story.

Women are not supposed to be dominant. Women are supposed to be taken, not to do the taking themselves. Women are not supposed to go after what they want, and they are certainly not supposed to get off on holding power in a sexual situation. They are not supposed to enjoy denying their partner’s orgasm, especially when the partner is male. They are not supposed to enjoy tying up their partners and beating them.

Women are not supposed to have power, and if they do have power they are certainly not supposed to enjoy it.

This is bullshit.

Edited to Add: It has come to my attention that at the end of this post, it may not be clear that I am expressing anger via sarcastic commentary on what people have told me about women and sexuality. I am a dominant woman who enjoys power and sex and fully support dominant women who enjoy power and sex. I apologize for not saying this clearly.