Friday, April 3, 2009

Scentsual by Victoria Blisse

As soon as I stepped off the train I was soothed by the scents, even in the middle of town. I could smell the sea, a light, crisp edge to the cool breeze and the fish and chip shops left a vinegar tang to the air. The smell took me back to my childhood, when we used to come here for our holidays. We spent a week in Scarborough each year. My parents loved the sights and sounds. I fell in love with the smells. The sweetness of donuts, the sharp salt on the breeze, the comforting odour of the damp sand beneath my feet. I regularly visit my childhood sanctuary to rest in the comforting scents and take in the familiar sights. It is my escape when work just becomes too much for me.

Despite being late September, the town was busy. I walked down the main hill, enjoying the thrill of being on holiday. We all get it, from being a kid to being a pensioner; that surge of joy and energy as we realise this is it, now we can do what the hell we want. We’re on holiday.

I dropped off my bag at the small bed and breakfast I always used. I craved the scents of my childhood, but as I aged I also craved the softness of a real bed and the warmth of brick. I was well past the age of caravanning even ten years ago, and now I appreciate the comforts of life all the more. I do have my attachments to The Empire, though. The first time I stayed here, I fell in love with the clean smell of polish and old pot-pourri. The first morning I woke in my room at The Empire to the smell of bacon, sausage and egg clinched it for me. It pervaded every floor of the tall building in the mornings. It smelled like a home.

I met a guy, that first time I roomed at the Empire. Tom, he was called. He was a young lad, around eighteen, and he was reluctantly on holiday with his parents. We met up in the lounge one morning, where I was seduced by his sweet, soapy smell and his candour.

I took his virginity, in the middle of the day as he faked a headache to avoid the monotony of a wet afternoon looking at museums. He was willing and eager and oh so pliant. When I think of him, a shot of desire runs straight to my pussy and I get the urge to stop and masturbate wherever I am. His innocence was delicious and the scent of his new, barely used cock was a delight.

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Tempting Turner by Marie Rochelle

Sitting on his newly remolded deck of his Florida beach house, Dave Turner stared out at the calmness of the ocean. The warm night air-dried the sweat from his body after his nightly run. He had been home close to four months now, and he still couldn’t get her out of his mind.

The last time he saw her was inside the hospital parking lot as she hurried past his black truck to her car. He had wanted so badly to jump out of his vehicle and stop her, but Charisma Miles wouldn’t have stood for that.

He didn’t understand why Charisma was putting up such a fight when it came to them. He knew that she felt the same intense attraction as him; however, she acted like he was a school boy with a crush. Hell, he left his boyhood in the past a long time ago. He was a grown man, and he wanted Charisma the only way a man craved a woman.

Sighing, Dave picked up his bottle of water and took a long satisfying drink. How in the hell was he going to fix this problem? He already had so many obstacles in his way. The timing was totally off. Plus, he didn’t have any extra time to chase a woman who was pretending she didn’t want him. His plate was full with raising his teenage sister and keeping her out of trouble. Did he want to add a partially snobby, yet drop dead gorgeous, woman to the mix?

Hell yes!

Dave knew that Charisma would fit quite nicely into his life, his bed, on top of table, and anywhere else he could get that sexy body of hers. But none of that would happen with him here in Florida and her hiding out in Los Angeles. He had picked up the phone numerous times to call her, only to hang it up after the second ring.

When he used to date the beach bunnies, he was usually the man with “the plan.” But Charisma was pure class, from the top of head to her sexy toes. The first time he visited her office, it made him very uncomfortable. The men there had looked at him like he didn’t belong. Sure, he still got the long lustful looks from the women, but he wanted more than that now.

Picking up his water, he took another lengthy drink while he thought about how tonight’s college class was going to turn out. He signed up for a double major with computers and business administration, but the classes were kicking his ass. The computer part wasn’t as hard because he got some early help from Jenisha Campbell. However, the business classes were way over his head, and most of the time he was too proud to raise his hand and ask questions since he was the oldest person in class.

The other students would stare at him like he was a big dumb muscular jock. He knew that he was intelligent and could accomplish any construction job that came his way, but Charisma needed more than that. She deserved a man who could pamper and spoil her. Shit, he wasn’t a quitter. No matter how long it took, he was going to stick with the classes and graduate. When the time came again, he was going to be the man that won the body, heart, and soul of Charisma Miles.

“Hey, Dave. Why are you sitting out here staring out into space?” his sister asked, falling down into a patio chair next to him. “I thought you had a class tonight. Do you need me to help you with your homework? Make sure you answer all the questions right?” she teased.

Dave took his half-full water bottle and poured it over Brittney’s head. He laughed as his sister jumped up out of the chair and brushed the water from her face. “Hey, you aren’t funny!” she screamed. “This shirt cost eighty bucks.”

“It better be your eighty bucks and not mine,” he growled. “I’ve told you to stop writing checks on my account. You know I’m saving that money up so I can buy some stock into Campbell Construction and Design.”

Brittney crossed her eyes at him before falling back down on the semi-damp patio chair. “You know that Hayward and Clinton like you enough to sell some stock to you at a lower price.”

“Brittney, I’m not telling you again,” he hissed. “Stop writing checks, or I might have to send you to that group home.” Dave knew that Brittney wasn’t in fear of him doing that to her.

“Yeah right, Like you would send me to the same place Mom and Dad pitched you at until you turned eighteen,” Brittney sighed, placing a piece of grape gum in her mouth. “What’s with you anyway? Ever since you came back home, you have been a bear to be around. Did you not get laid while you were in L.A.?”

Dave jumped out of his seat and glared down at his baby sister. “Why are you asking me something like that? Don’t you have some kind of homework that needs to be done?”

Mumbling under her breath, Brittney dragged her five-foot seven-inch frame off the patio lounge. “God, you’re really bad at changing the subject,” she complained, popping her gum in his face. “I still think you’re just pissed because you didn’t get any while you were away,” his sister hissed before she brushed past him.

“Don’t worry about my love life,” he snapped as Brittney closed the sliding glass door behind her. Massaging his shoulder, Dave walked down the steps at the side of his deck. The second the sand touched his feet, he felt all the stress leave his body.

This stretch of the beach was so peaceful this time of night. There weren’t any people on it, and the wind mingled with the ocean air perfectly. He was only missing one thing, and he was going to get her no matter how long it took. The sound of his cell phone ringing drew him away from his Charisma fantasy, but it didn’t matter. He could get back to it tonight in his bedroom. Taking the phone out of his shorts pocket, he answered it.

“Yeah, speak to me.”

“I need you to come over here,” the woman cried on the other end of the phone.

“Trish, stop crying. I’ll be there,” he said quickly, ending the phone call. Rushing over to his black Explorer parked in front of his house, Dave pulled out of the driveway, leaving a cloud of dust behind him.

Whatever was going on must be pretty bad for Trish to call him crying, he thought.

The last time Trish Mason called him for help was over two months ago. Back then, she wasn’t looking for a helping hand when she called in the dead of night. He didn’t even think that she still had his phone number after all this time. Trish was like no other woman he had ever met. She had an old soul about her that he admired and a way about her that drew attention.

Driving into the long spiral driveway of the three story red brick house, Dave got out of the car. Running up the steps, he only knocked on the door once, and it was jerked opened. A tall, slim brunette stood there tears pouring down her perfectly made face. “Thank you for coming. I need you so much,” Trish whispered before she yanked him into the house and closed the door behind them.

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Bound by Leather by Mychael Black and Shayne Carmichael

Raphael lifted his hand and gestured for Nathaniel to join him. Swallowing hard, Nathaniel stood and walked across the room to where Raphael sat. Unsure of what to do, considering Raphael was not his Master, Nathaniel opted for the respectful approach and knelt before him.

“Thank you, Master Raphael,” he said quietly.

“Not necessary, Nathaniel." Raphael motioned to the chair beside him. “There is nobody here you have to kneel before until you make the decision for yourself. I simply wanted to talk.”

Nathaniel sat down in the chair and smiled at Raphael. “Thank you, Master Raphael.”

“You enjoyed the demonstration? Mistress Candida is well-known for her skill, as are many of the others here at the club.”

“Yes,” Nathaniel said. He cleared his throat. “I did. It was very…stimulating.”

“You can relax, Nathaniel. There’s no reason to be nervous here.” With a light touch, Raphael reached out and patted Nathaniel’s hand reassuringly. “You can observe everything that happens here and decide for yourself if it’s for you. Nobody expects anything from you.”

Nathaniel sighed and slumped back into the chair. “I wish it were easy,” he said as he watched the others mingle. Jacob had one of his subs at his feet, fingers through the young woman’s hair. “Do you know what an empath is?”

“I do. Would you prefer a quieter atmosphere?”

“I don’t wish to take you from anyone. I imagine there must be several waiting for you.”

Raphael stood in answer and held his hand out to Nathaniel. “Nobody is waiting for me at all. We can go to the library for a quieter discussion.”

“Thank you. There are things I don’t wish to be overheard.”

“Then I would be the one to talk to about such things.”

Raphael led Nathaniel into the library and shut the door. He sat in one of the chairs near the fireplace and motioned Nathaniel to sit in the other. Settling himself in the plush leather chair, Nathaniel already felt more at ease. While he didn’t mind crowds so much, the situations presented in the other room were almost too much to handle. He let out a slow breath.

“This is much better. Thank you.”

“I generally talk privately with new members, so it’s no problem. You can speak freely to me. Nothing said will go beyond these walls.”

Nathaniel bit his lip again, wincing when a tooth broke the tender skin once more. “I…” He trailed off and sighed, staring into the fireplace. “I am more sensitive than most, to many things. As an empath, I can feel emotions, yes. But I can also feel physical sensations: pain, pleasure, and anything in-between. I suppose you could say my senses are razor-sharp.”

Raphael gave him an understanding look. “It would probably be easier for you to attend our social gatherings without the displays.”

“Yes, I imagine so.” Nathaniel looked over at Raphael, judging if he could read the man enough to tell him more. “There is something I think you need to know, if only for background purposes, about me.”

“As I said, whatever you say goes no farther than me." Raphael didn’t appear surprised, and he waited patiently for Nathaniel to explain further.

“Do you know what a lycan is, Master Raphael?”

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Caesar's Mercy of Love by Penny Ash and Jade Morrison

“My Lord,” she bowed her head her cheeks reddened in embarrassment and anger. Silently she vowed he would regret his treatment of her. She was the only daughter of Antonius, powerful and well respected in the Senate, even Caesar would think twice before angering her father. She had given herself to him recognizing the opportunity to rule Rome.

Her father had raised her to have pride in her family, in their history, and to dream of one day rising to the ultimate power. No, Antonius would not be pleased to hear of his daughter being so grievously mistreated by Caesar.

She allowed herself a small private smile and followed Caesar out of the Colosseum. It had cost much and the old woman had veiled her prophecy in threats of dire consequences if Tacita were unfaithful but she had the word of the soothsayer she consulted she would be empress. And once she was crowned empress, well, empresses had ruled alone before.

Tacita followed the rest of the court, ignoring the furtive glances of speculation and pity. She would remember who had joined in her humiliation and who had not. And when the time came, her revenge would be cold and sweet.

Her gaze fell on Senator Marcellus. He favored her with a small wintry smile. She raised one eyebrow and was gratified to receive a faint nod. He did not like Laurentius Caesar any more than she did, even though she slept with the arrogant man. And worse Caesar was a poor lover, always wanting to be gentle and loving.

* * * *

Laurentius walked down the great hall toward his chambers seething inside, the brief amusement afforded by embarrassing Tacita swept away by his anger. The more he thought of her betrayal the angrier he became. Tacita had dared to shame him by taking another into her bed. Many other men as well, from what his spies told him. Of course, she had to have known her indiscretions would be discovered and she would never be his empress when he found out. She could not be so stupid as to think she could deceive him.

He thought for a moment and almost stopped to confront her again. Yes, she could be, and was, that stupid. Suddenly all the pieces fell into place. Taci had always been ambitious, always plotting and scheming. He remembered a chance remark made not long after he had brought her from her father’s estate outside the city. “An empress may rule in her husband’s absence,” she had said, her tongue unguarded after making love. He had thought it concern for him at the time, now he knew better. Stupid of her to entertain thoughts of betrayal. And even less prudent to think she could plot against him.

He slowed as he entered the polished white marble audience hall of the palace and his gaze fell on a small figure kneeling on the floor. A servant. One did not usually notice them at their work, but the way the lamplight fell on this one’s pale hair invited closer inspection. Laurentius couldn’t remember having seen a slave with hair that looked like spun sunlight even as dirty as it was. At his nod his private guard quickly moved toward the huddled person, intent on removing the offense to Caesar. With a second thought, Laurentius lifted his hand and they halted, awaiting his orders.

Ordinarily he would have the unfortunate recipient of his attention taken out and beaten. This day was different, this day he was in a harsh mood. He would see to the punishment himself, he had the need to take his anger out on something.

He walked slowly toward the worker, moving to stand in front of the palace servant. He mistook the slightness of shape for one of the slave children at first, but she pushed her hair back over her shoulder and he saw the full breasts and taut nipples of a woman. Breasts yet again, he thought with a heavy mental sigh, the bane of all men. He moved to step in front of her and she raised a slender arm, stopping his progress. Anger flushed his skin, it seemed to be his day for uninvited contact. He waited for an explanation, his hand on the pommel of his sword.

* * * *

Auriel worked as quickly and silently as possible, scrubbing the floor of the great audience hall. She truly hated to be given chores anywhere near the royal apartments. Usually she managed to avoid them by doing the less pleasant tasks no one else wanted to do. But Rufa was ill and Pulvillus was hiding somewhere, so it fell to her.

Born a slave in a Roman garrison deep in the wilds of Britannia, she had long ago resigned herself to her fate. When she was old enough to lift a bucket she was put to cleaning floors. In her tenth summer she was sold into the household of the governor of Gaul, caring for his three small children. And when the children had been carried off, one by one, sad victims of illness or accident, the governor had returned to Rome and sold her to a senator.

She had learned to avoid attention quickly when she saw how the other young female slaves were treated. Survival lay in hiding her hair and budding body under several layers of filth and loose rags. The senator had finally married and, seeing through the dirt and grime, the jealous and shrewd new wife promptly gave her to Caesar.

Given her own choice, she would have been content to go unnoticed in a minor land owner’s house somewhere far from Rome. But a slave’s life was subject to the whims of her master, or her master’s wife, and so here she was in the palace of the ruler of the civilized world scrubbing a fine marble floor and thinking of maybe sitting in the kitchens with Amandus when her work was done. Amandus looked beyond her protective camouflage and indicated a certain interest.

Auriel sighed and let her thoughts wander to Caesar. She had seen Laurentius Caesar a handful of times as she went about her work, and while she did think he was beautiful with his thick dark hair and green eyes, she would rather go unnoticed by him. She was content with the attentions of another slave and to admire Caesar from afar. She had learned in her short life that, like all men of power and wealth, a man on his level was dangerous. And she very much liked being alive.

Intent on her work and the wandering of her thoughts, she did not hear the sound of footsteps until they drew near. She quickly raised her arm to stop whoever it was from marring her newly cleaned and polished floor. The hall floor was large and she did not want to have to repeat the chore of washing it. Turning her head to see who she had stopped, she expected to see another slave or one of the guards. Her heart nearly stopped when she saw the richness of the sandals ornamented in gold and precious gems. This would not be good. She sighed, resigned to whatever would happen, and looked up into the angry deep green eyes of Caesar himself.

“My Lord, the floor is wet and slippery, dangerous to walk upon,” she said, her voice shaky. If she was lucky he would merely have her beaten. If not he would strike her down where she knelt for daring to touch Caesar. Silently she apologized to Rufa. Blood was so hard to clean from a marble floor.

* * * *

Laurentius saw the fear and resignation in the deep grey eyes and unaccountably his anger dissipated. He raised one eyebrow at the girl, remaining quiet for a long moment. He could have her executed on the spot, and in fact he really should. Let one slave get by with something and they all would expect it. But he had never been wasteful and the girl was shapely. And, of course, there were those breasts he would like to get his hands on.

His gaze traveled over the lush curves her loose slave’s dress didn’t quite hide. Or, he could be generous and merely beat her, the slaves would learn from that as well. For some strange reason he found the idea of harming this girl distasteful. He wondered what she looked like under all that dirt. Those breasts looked to be a nice handful. He felt a stirring of desire low in his belly.

“Thank you,” he said softly in a voice only she could hear. Amusement tickled, one did not thank slaves. He smiled then, an expression of malice, an idea of the perfect revenge for Tacita’s arrogance slowly formed in his thoughts. He let the smile slip from his face and took a deep calming breath. Yes, this would be satisfying in more ways than one. And Tacita would be thoroughly humiliated.

Turning quickly before he betrayed his growing lust, he strode back to his entourage. He motioned his guard over and stepped away from the others, taking care to be within earshot of Tacita. “Take the girl to my private bath. Have her bathed and clothed in something blue, dress her hair, and deliver her to my chambers in one hour. I’ve a taste for something fresh and clean tonight,” he said with a glance at Tacita. She was livid. The guard nodded his understanding, saluting and turning to carry out his orders.

“Oh, and Cassius,” Laurentius said conversationally, “no one touches her aside from the bath servants, no one looks at her, she travels the corridors veiled.” His instructions delivered, he turned to the others, a wolfish smile on his face, and motioned them toward the palace atrium.

“I have been informed the floor is not safe to tread upon, let us go and refresh ourselves in the atrium,” Laurentius said with a smile. “Tacita,” he said coolly, halting her as she passed him.

“My Lord,” she purred. He could see the anger snapping in her eyes. His smile widened.

“The gold belt,” he said, naming his most recent gift to her. “Have it delivered to Cassius in my private bath.” Tacita clenched her fists and glared at him, unable to quite contain her rage. He turned and continued toward the atrium dismissing his former concubine with a gracefully negligent wave of his hand.

“Immediately, Tacita,” Laurentius Caesar’s voice rose above the murmurs of his entourage. He did not bother to look back and see if she obeyed him. Open disobedience was death. She knew this and would do as she was commanded. And it would gall her cheating and haughty heart tremendously. He laughed and those with him followed suit, hypocrites that they were.

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