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My Tic in Betrayed

Every book I write, I develop a certain bad habit and it follows me throughout the novel.

In Betrayed, the word is ‘it’. This pronoun can make a sentence passive instead of active and become a terrible tic.

I find I use the word when I’m in a hurry to get my sentences down, but in my rush the sentence can become ambiguous.

It, it’s, its – many can be refined into better sentences.
Let’s look at some of these in my WIP Betrayed:

Ugh. Rahzahn would find this amusing, but if it saved my life and the queen’s, I’d play along, so I translated.

Possible rewrite: Ugh. Rahzahn would find this amusing. However I decided to play along for the sake of my life and the queen’s, so I translated.

He stomped over, picked it up, and tossed it to me.

Possible rewrite: He stomped over, picked up my gown, and tossed it to me.

“Not funny. It still stings.”

Possible rewrite: “Not funny. My butt still stings.”

…I’m sure it will grieve you to witness how I really kiss.”

Possible rewrite: I’m sure to upset you when you witness how I really kiss.”

But instead Rahzahn punched Gardash in the face. “Take Aubrey home.”
“My pleasure, as it always is. Or should I say, for my pleasuring?”

Possible rewrite: “My pleasure, as always. Or should I say, for my pleasuring?”

What’s your tic in your latest WIP?

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The Yardanians Book One Betrayed

What would you do if you stumbled on a secret alien community that thought you were lesser than they? How alone would you feel? How well could you cope when you were told you could never leave, that you must become a servant for life? Would you beg? Cry? Try to run away?

That’s the situation Aubrey found herself in. Just a normal day at the mall, but a bad decision that changed her life forever.

Here is an excerpt from chapter one:

I don’t know what happened. Maybe I tripped again. Maybe I blacked out. All I remember is that I stumbled against a low cement blockade that separated the road from the sheer drop and somehow I tumbled over and down, getting caught in the loose chicken wire. I rolled across rebar, nails, thistles, broken branches, sticks, and sticky old garbage, unable to stop myself. Finally, my forehead rammed into a boulder at the bottom and my body landed at a weird angle. I was going to be tender everywhere tomorrow.
I fought my way out of the chicken wire and although guilt-ridden over my stupidity, I turned away from a sign that warned this was the nuclear dump. Two broken signs lay next to me. They read, ‘Nuclear Waste Below’ and ‘High Radiation Levels’. Great.
My blouse was ripped down one side with several large holes as I worked to free myself and remove debris. I brushed off my denim skirt that was covered in mud and dirt. Then I yanked out a bloody rusty nail that was stuck in the side of my shoe. I gasped at the pain and wiped the blood off my arch with a piece of my skirt. The other shoe had come unglued around the sole, so I carried them. At least the cool grass wouldn’t burn my feet.
My arms and legs were bleeding, my head was pounding, the middle of my back hurt badly, and the moment I touched a sore spot on my forehead I found a lovely goose egg that had me seeing stars.
My entire body complained and I imagined I was also quite bruised and grimy. If I hadn’t struggled against gravity, I might not be in this condition. And if I didn’t end up in a hospital, what a story to share with my friends, a real show and tell tale.
I stood up, but as soon as I did, my hearing and sight faded briefly, and then I became woozy. The humidity and heat were worse. I wasn’t good at science, but didn’t heat rise? Shouldn’t I feel cooler down here? Dusk was setting in. Shouldn’t that have made the day cooler?
I tried to look up the hill, but a bout of vertigo made my head spin. I glanced around at my surroundings. I was in a field of thick dark green grass, waist-high, that waved in the balmy breeze. That meant water had to be nearby, didn’t it? The welcomed breeze brushed across my hot skin and the lush grass in the muddy ground cooled my feet. I took in a deep breath and smelled corn and berries. Surely families lived nearby. The warning signs had to be old. Nothing this lush could be a nuclear dump site or I would have seen something on TV.
I walked on, barefoot, or I should say, limped, as my sore foot throbbed with each tedious step. Climbing back up the hill was not possible in my condition, but in soil this fertile, there had to be a river where I could soak my feet or a crop irrigation system to cool me off. I’d ask for a glass of water and to use a phone.
I’m sure I was quite the sight in a ripped and torn gossamer blouse soaked from sweat and stuck to my skin. If any passersby happened along, they’d see right through to my body, but that might make someone stop and ask if I needed help. My grimy skirt swayed as I plucked garbage and twigs out of my hair, hobbling along barefoot, and over-all scrungy. I was tired, thirsty, sunburned, and my lips were dry and cracked.
The humidity and high heat made me lightheaded, but I trudged on wobbling when I spotted farms just ahead. Yes! Surely, someone would give me water and let me use their phone to call Bill. Why wouldn’t they? I was right. The radiation signs were old. I was going to be fine.
Unpainted wooden-poled fences defined the plot of one farm from another. What a wonderful sight I had stumbled upon. I followed the dirt road past a dark brown two-storied wooden house.
Why didn’t I go to that first house? Because I noticed a stream up ahead and I only thought of wading and drinking. I didn’t even consider the possibility that the water might have contained bacteria. I just desperately wanted to quench my thirst, douse myself in the water, and clench the cool muddy bottom with my aching feet.
When I reached the stream, I noticed a farmer ahead bent over working his field. He was wearing blue shorts with, of all things, a long black fur coat underneath in this unbearable. Eccentric, but not my concern. I needed help. A wooden fence divided his property from the house I had just passed, and his parcel sat up about two feet from the stream. I started across the stream to crawl up the small incline, thrilled to find help.
Naturally, I slipped on debris in the stream and ended up face down in the water. Bill often joked that I was queen of the klutzes and I am.
I was drenched. At least the water cooled me off, but I became light-headed again and, silly as it seems now, I feared I’d drown.
With great effort, I crawled over the muddy embankment, slipping and sliding until I got a good hold of the ground then clambered quickly up the incline in a panic. Just as I reached my hands out to the fence to crawl through, I was grabbed from behind.
The arms that seized me weren’t human, but long and muscular and black, thickly covered in short gummy hairs. The hands had four long digits and a shorter one, similar to ours, but black and hairy with black pointed fingernails. The palms and inner sides of the fingers were hairless and padded, reminding me of a dog’s paws. The monster held me tight and its physique was the same as its arms – burly and covered in profuse short hairs that poked through the back of my wet blouse.
I screamed, but my throat was raw and barely a sound came out. I tried again, but only a weak moan escaped. The creature ran with me back towards the house that I’d passed. I kicked, flailing my legs ridiculously, hoping to hurt some fragile spot while I also scratched uselessly at the face. It didn’t react at all, just dashed in the house and up the stairs and then tossed me roughly on a bed in a stifling room the size of my master closet.
I gawked, traumatized by the hideousness of the monster who glared back at me. There was no fear in the eyes, only wariness. Short black hairs covered the round face and showed no damage from my clawing.
The mouth, shaped like a human’s with rose colored lips, emitted a snarl that showed a row of pointy teeth. Above the upper lip were brownish black whiskers like a mustache. The entire face was the same as the body – short black hairs, well groomed. Huge black lucent orbed-eyes, similar to some insects remained still, but I had the impression the being had a wide range of sight. Thick dark eyebrows moved up and down above the eyes. I wondered if the entity were thinking, scowling, or afraid. The weird creature leaned in and as the bulbous eyes stared, I saw my shocked reflection in them.
The viscous face hairs had been trimmed to the same length while the rest of the body’s hairs were different lengths, yet brushed and styled. The ears were curved like ours, but covered with those short hairs along the outside. Where our inner ears were flesh colored, its ears were black, and they moved back and forth like when an animal listens to a rhythm.
I was breathing in and out rapidly and I realized that its ears were reacting to my breathing. Longer, thicker, straight reddish black hair, waistlength and similar to human head hair, was brushed sleekly from the forehead down the back, behing the ears held in place by some sort of tie at the neck.
The being was tall, taller than my husband, and Bill is 6-feet. I guessed the beast was near 7-feet and wore only a multi-pocketed blue cotton bibbed shorts with straps that hooked in front. Attached to the center was a silver coin with a well-defined black zigzag engraved, like a backwards Z.
A closer glimpse at the body showed that the short hairs appeared silky and that this being was definitely well-built and toned. The shoeless feet were large and flat, with the same short hairs and three thick plain black toes. From the ends protruded small but sharp black claws.
Was I delusional? Perhaps I was unconscious, still at the bottom of the hill. I blinked then squinted at the thing hoping I was hallucinating, but the creature was real. I decided that I had either stumbled upon an alien community or everyone here had been affected by radiation. Or maybe I was hallucinating. Yes, definitely I was dehydrated and hallucinating. I shut my eyes again, but when I opened them, there stood the creature, grimacing at me.
The entity inspected me slowly, dwelling on my wet chiffon blouse and my chest, but then yelled at me in some weird language. Couldn’t it tell that I was hurting badly? That I wasn’t one of its kind? What would look so different from humans and possess that level of intelligence except an alien. Definitely. A male alien. I wasn’t hallucinating or delirious. This was reality. I never believed extra-terrestrials existed, but here one stood in front of me. I had to escape. I had to warn our government.
We stared in curiosity at each other, both of us scrutinizing one another. The eyes went back to my chest and I realized it was looking through my wet blouse at my lacy bra. I wrapped my arms across me. It frowned at me, took out a black box from one of its many pockets and punched three buttons then yelled into the hand-sized object.
That’s all I remembered before I passed out. I came to when the strange brute tried to get me to drink a gooey inky liquid. I refused to open my mouth, and we struggled. I shoved the drink away, spilling it across the bed. That act enraged this thing.
The beast ripped the sheet off and stomped to a drawer, retrieved a clean one, and fluffed it on the bed, throwing the stained one aside then tossing me from one side of the bed to the other as it fixed the new sheet, oblivious to my yelps. Obviously, gentleness wasn’t one of this alien’s attributes.

Tuesday Tidbits

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and believe me, I’ve missed your blog posts and sharing my own blogs with you. I’m grateful for every one of you, my friends.

Betrayed:

I’ve been working on my dark and steamy Scifi for quite awhile and I’m in the process of editing and rewriting.

(I’m still working on the covers, so I have none to post yet)

Here are 3 random sentences and paragraphs from each of the 3 books:

Book 1 Betrayed:

“Such well-shaped legs,” said Rahzahn. “How I enjoy them. We sit like this every evening…naked, of course. She soothes me and I soothe her, which we both find pleasing.” He took his time fixing my hair, running his hands through it, then put his arm around my waist and snuggled me to him, kissing my cheek. “So soft. Why shouldn’t I enjoy her?”

Bill jumped up. “Get your filthy paws off her.” The Yardan guards hissed and moved towards him.

Book 2 Consort:

“Quiet, woman. We’re here to rescue you,” said one of the men. “Quit fighting us.”

The bathroom stunk of Bill and human toiletries. The music and the familiar odors in the house overwhelmed me, and I was torn between my love for Rahzahn and being in the comfort of the home where I had once lived as a mother and a wife. I glanced in the mirror. I didn’t look anything like my old self. I had changed.

Book 3 Abandoned:

“Where are you going?” he asked. “You can’t escape.”

Gardash looked pained and stared out the window. He spoke softly. “She gave no sympathy. Instead, she ordered me to appear before her. The guards located me at Rahzahn’s and dragged me to her. She gleefully stated that she finally had me all to herself; that I was required to perform for her even more often. I was compelled to at that moment and throughout that day even though I was badly wounded and grieving. I begged her to give me time to mourn. She forbade me to mention any of my family. She owned me heart and soul now, she stated.”

The holidays are soon upon us. Check out ‘Gingerbread Castle’, children’s book about a castle made of gingerbread and the fun things inside just for children.
gc gingerbread castle w candies cover

Love, honor, and respect to all of you, my friends.

Vampires, Love, and a Curse

Chapter Sixteen ‘Time Forgotten’ from ‘The Dimidiums Book One Bound by Love’ is on Wattpad. https://embed.wattpad.com/story/71064732

Here are a couple of excerpts:
“This is wrong,” Trevor yelled. “It’s unfair.”
“Continue to complain if you wish,” said Stefan indifferently.
“You’re doing this to punish my wife and me.”
“Am I?”
“You know you are. Where’s Lainie?”
“She’s been attached to Ulan Bator, Mongolia for a few months. She left yesterday.”
“Is that supposed to be your idea of a joke? Sending her to one of the coldest places on this planet? It’s freezing there. Assigning me cold cases in a heavy wintry state in November? Very funny. A few of those open files are over fifty years old. See? You’re punishing us.”

He nudged her ear with his nose and whispered, “That was wonderful.” He kissed her ear and neck and scraped his fangs against her shoulder. Instantly, he tightened his hold on her, and their passion intensified, and he gave himself to her beyond anything she ever imagined; his eyes wild, his mouth sucking on her neck and shoulder, his body writhing from his cravings. And she, responding to his every need, savored every minute of it. He took her hungrily with a wretched aching, as if he would never see her again.

“Now,” commanded a deep voice.
“I’m doing it, Milosh.” The woman leaned forward, placed her hands on Janna’s temples, and issued a curse upon her that would affect not only Janna, but the townspeople, Trevor, his family, and the Los Angeles office and its subsidiaries.
Somehow, Janna managed a scream before she fainted and fell off the chair, hitting her head hard. She forced her bleary eyes open. It looked like an Accursed leaning over her, but when a breeze hit her from the tent door, he disappeared out the back.

Around the office, others stopped moving for mere seconds. When they continued what they were doing, no-one recalled that Trevor Dittmar was married, and there were no automated or manual records of such an event.

Bound by Love, available where-ever ebooks are sold.

Bound by Love Chapter Fifteen

Today, I’ve decided to post the entire chapter for you.
Janna, shocked that Trevor and his family are half vampire, half human runs away from him on their wedding night.
Forgiven by him and his family, she’s surprised by a second wedding, a human wedding. Janna decides to give Trevor a wedding night he could never forget.

Chapter Fifteen
A Celebration of Love

At the airport, Ulrich entered the aircraft first per Dimidium protocol.
“Ulrich is the First High Guard. He must check the plane before we board,” explained Trevor. “Karla can’t get on until he allows her. She’ll board next and go straight to her room. Then he’ll admit you and me, and finally Jeffrey, Second High Guard.”
Ulrich returned and nodded to Karla and she entered. After a few minutes, he motioned Trevor to bring Janna aboard. At the entrance, Trevor paused where a line of family members waited to greet her.
First Ina approached. “Mother Janna, allow me to introduce my husband, James.”
“You don’t have to call me mother.”
“She does,” said Trevor. “It’s our custom. Accept it.”
“Hey there,” said James shaking Janna’s hand. “Welcome to our strange world. I’m half Halbling by birth.”
“Father,” said Ina. She bowed her head slightly.
Trevor was taken aback by his daughter’s affection for him. He kissed her forehead. “My daughter.”
“Oh, Karla was right,” said Trinity. “Their union is auspicious for all of us.” Trinity ran forward and hugged Janna. “Püppchen. I’m glad things have worked out.”
Kamilla stepped forward next and embraced her. Kamilla was almost as tall as Jeffrey and big-boned too. “Do you remember that I’m Jeffrey’s wife? He adores you. I hope we get to know each other better.”
Margo and her husband Clive came to greet them, followed by Johanna and her husband Frederik, who said nothing, nor did they touch her, but bowed slightly and returned to their seats.
“The Council’s decision was a good one,” said Stefan rigidly. Janna gave him a smile and held out her hand, but he turned away and sat down.
Trevor led her to seats away from the others, and Ulrich permitted Jeffrey aboard. Jeffrey shut the door and sat up front while Ulrich sat in the far back. Once the plane was in the air, they stood, Ulrich in front of Karla’s door, Jeffrey facing towards Ulrich.
“They didn’t have to do this,” Janna said.
“They didn’t. Ulrich and I have been working on a secret since you and I went camping, and we invited them along. Come here.” He pulled her onto his lap and set the seat back. “You’re sure that you love me and want me?”
“More than anything. I’m sorry about ruining our binding. It’s just….”
“It was too much for you. I accept that. Our customs are different. I’ll make sure I explain things better in the future.”
“Your world seems to have way too many rules.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll live with your kind more often, I hope.”
“Trevor Ivarr?” Janna giggled.
“Mother wanted to name me after her long lost relative and father’s hero, who knew Eutychus personally, but he disappeared a long time ago. The name means warrior. Another story for another time.”
He held her and kissed her and continued to kiss her until they started their descent then he required her to buckle herself in her own seat. “Ulrich’s a stickler about buckling on ascending and descending.”
The door opened and when Janna got out, she knew instantly that they’d landed in Las Vegas. Several cars were lined up and took them to the same casino where the conference had been held.
“A Halbling owns it,” explained Trevor, holding her hand.
They entered the lobby and Trevor went to the reservation desk. When he gave Karla a nod, she, Trinity, Johanna, and Margot pulled Janna towards the elevator.
“Trevor wants it done your way this time,” said Margot, smiling. Janna didn’t understand, but she didn’t struggle.
In the same suite that she and Trevor once shared, the women hurried her to the bedroom where they undressed her. Trinity opened a large box and took out a floor length silk form-fitting white wedding gown with a lacey front and a long slit between her thighs. Chantilly lace straps fit just along the shoulders of the backless dress.
“I can’t believe he’s doing this for me.” Janna blinked to stop from crying.
“He loves you. You are his world,” said Trinity. “You brought life back to him and he realizes this. Where should your family be, if not with you right now? He told me to buy this dress, but is it for you or him?”
“Obviously for him,” said Johanna with a grimace.
Janna giggled nervously. “Definitely what he likes.”
They helped her into it.
“Interesting,” said Karla, scrutinizing the dress.
“Men,” said Margot.
“Trevor,” said Johanna.
“But beautiful,” said Trinity.
Karla held a familiar vessel. “This must be done. I insist.” She poured the oil and herbs on Janna’s head again.
“I’m fine with it. I understand,” said Janna calmly.
“What a sweetheart. Such a püppchen.” Trinity kissed her on the cheek then pinched the same cheek, which took Janna by surprise.
The other women laughed. “Trinity and her pinching,” said Johanna.
“Trevor could have had any woman he wanted, but his heart found the perfect one for him,” said Margot.
“I’ve attended many of your weddings,” said Karla. “I know this is your human custom and my son wants you to be content in your binding, but our ceremony is much more personal and sacred. Something old.” Karla hooked a diamond bracelet on Janna’s arm. “It belonged to my mother and now it’s your keepsake.”
“Something borrowed.” Johanna removed a lavender jade ring from her finger and placed it on one of Janna’s fingers. “I know you’re supposed to return it to me, but I want you to keep it.”
“Something new.” Margot grinned. “Trevor wanted yellow on you, but he doesn’t know what I made.” She slipped a yellow lacey garter with rhinestones on Janna’s leg. “Ulrich said brides wear these. Show him after the wedding. I think he’ll like it.”
“Something blue,” said Trinity, placing a pastel sapphire around Janna’s neck. Ulrich and my gift to our new daughter, a keepsake from her wedding.”
Karla put the short white veil on Janna’s head. “Did you see the bed?”
Janna glanced at it. Surrounded in a heart wreath of yellow roses was a small frame holding the two charms, both open and hooked together.
“Oh!” Janna put her hand over her mouth and she cried. She clutched Karla, hugging her. “He’s so thoughtful and loving, just like his mother.”
“Crying, a human thing?” Karla asked.
“Janna laughed. “It is.”
“So much emotions,” said Trinity.
The women guided her into the elevator and down to the reception room.
“Trevor arranged it all,” said Margot. “There’s even a groom’s side and a bride’s side. He hired a photographer too. How he loves you.”
Karla and Trinity rushed to take their seats. Margot handed her a bouquet of yellow peonies. Ulrich waited for her in a tuxedo. He held his arm out. “He asked me to research your human marriage customs. I hope we got everything right.”
Ina stood in front of Margot with a basket. “Rosebuds. Father said to toss them on the floor as we walk.”
The music started. Ina and Margot walked ahead while Ulrich and Janna came behind.
“I hope you don’t mind,” said Margot. “Ina and I wanted to be a part of this. I’m a matron of honor for you and will stand next to you. Trevor said it was okay.”
“I’m glad you’re both here,” replied Janna as she sniffled.
Buffet tables ran along one wall. Gifts were piled on a separate table. Janna could tell that her friends from her town attended, because there were homemade items she recognized; quilts, afghans, embroidered towels, and crocheted kitchen linens.
Every seat was filled. Janna glanced curiously at the bride’s side. Trinity sat in the front row, waiting for Ulrich to join her. Behind her was a couple Janna didn’t recognize sitting with Lainie who waved wildly at her and gave her a cat call. Janna giggled nervously. Behind them, as Janna suspected, sat many of her friends from Worthless, Nevada smiling at her. On the groom’s side was the Dittmar family, the guard Topu, and a Halbling that Janna didn’t know.
She looked ahead where Trevor and Jeffrey stood under a wedding arch. Her eyes filled with tears again and she sniffled harder and faster, but attempted a smile, albeit a nervous one. Stefan was there too. All three wore tuxedos. By the grin on Trevor’s face, he liked how she looked. Janna hoped this time he saw the love, devotion, and joy in her eyes.
As Janna and her group passed the rows, everyone stood and tossed rose petals at them.
“Such a strange custom,” murmured Ulrich.
Janna was astonished. After everything she’d done, her husband forgave her and planned this just for her. Even his relatives acted as though nothing happened. She thought of her human friends and family. They would never accept Trevor if they knew what he was. Yet, the Dittmars loved her.
Ulrich handed her to Trevor, who placed his hand lightly on her bare back and led her under a balloon archway. In the background, his favorite romantic songs played, the same ones that he once sung in part to her.
Janna trembled and sniffed, unable to stop.
“You do want this?” Trevor asked warily.
“As much as I want you.”
“But you’re upset?”
“I’m nervous and happy. It’s a human woman thing.”
He snorted. “Silly me.”
Stefan did a simple short ceremony. At the end, he pulled out a mini glass of wine with a cover from an inner pocket. Trevor hissed and Jeffrey growled. Stefan offered it to Janna, the look on his face expecting her to refuse. She could hear a commotion from the groom’s side.
“Father, no,” whispered Margot standing next to Janna.
“It has blood in it,” warned Trevor, but Janna looked Stefan squarely in the eyes and took the glass. She swirled it lightly and pulled the top off. “Hold it with me, Trevor, my husband,” she said, not taking her defiant eyes off Stefan. Trevor held it with her and she brought it to her lips.
“You don’t have to do this,” Trevor said gently.
She took a big gulp, and with a shudder, lifted it to Trevor. He downed the rest of it and threw the empty glass at Stefan’s feet with a glare, but Jeffrey couldn’t leave it at that. He stomped on it and crunched it to pieces. Looking at the audience, he gave a champion’s wave with his hands clasped. Everyone laughed. Lainie shouted, “Woohoo! Way to show him.” Stefan’s expression didn’t change.
“You are still husband and wife,” said Stefan formally.
Trevor pulled his wife into his arms and kissed her tenderly. Afterwards, the room transformed quickly into a reception. Individual tables with white tablecloths were brought in. Colorful roses held the tucks in the cloth and yellow rose centerpieces were placed in the center of each table. Chairs were put around them, but the middle of the room was left open. A 4-tiered wedding cake decorated in yellow roses, with the traditional bride and groom on top, was carried in and put on display up front.
Trevor led Janna to stand just to the side of the cake. “I think the guests are supposed to congratulate us. Did you mind Stefan marrying us? I thought it would help heal his ego. Apparently, he’s still miffed. Of course, he’s not used to someone standing up to him like you do.”
“I figured you asked him. It was a good try to mend our differences with him. Well, you’ve healed me anyway.” Janna wiped away her tears. “Another human sentiment,” she explained.
He kissed her head. “Full of emotions, mother Trinity’s püppchen.” He glanced at her body a few times, then looked her up and down with dismay.
“What?” she asked.
“What did Margot make that’s yellow?” He peeked down the front of her dress then ran his hand over her buttocks.
“Nothing there.”
“I can feel that, and I like it, but where’s the yellow?”
“Oh, you mean the pair of comfortable support stocking insoles for my shoes. Wait until you see them. You’ll wish she made you a pair.”
“How disappointing. I thought she’d get my hint. I hoped for a sexy piece.”
“You should have explained in detail. However, I find them quite comfortable.”
He snorted. “Funny, aren’t you? It’s time for you to throw your bouquet.”
“Now?”
“While Lainie’s here. Aim for her. Karma needs to bite her.”
Jeffrey lined up all the women but Karla and Trinity. Janna spotted Lainie and turned to face the wall. “I’m not good at this, but I’ll give it my best shot.” She froze for just a moment before turning. Lainie was eying Jeffrey with a strong desire. Janna blinked and looked away. She didn’t need the other Dittmars noticing.
She lifted her arm to throw the bouquet and Trevor reached up and smacked it backwards hitting Lainie in the face. Everyone laughed.
Lainie rushed to the front. “I’m in charge of the office, so I have to get back, but I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.” She glanced quickly towards Jeffrey then waved the bouquet at everyone and hugged Janna. This time, Jeffrey was eying Lainie.
“Is that karma I see coming?” joked Trevor. “Wait until she bites your ass.”
Lainie pretended to hit him with the bouquet and kick him then she left in a hurry.
A Halbling couple approached. “Thank you for inviting us, Trevor,” said Craig the office doorman, and he introduced his human wife to them both, “and for saving us a room. Turns out it’s right next to yours.”
Trevor shook Craig’s hand. “Enjoy yourselves,” he said earnestly.
Topu came forward and thanked Trevor. He was followed by Barkley, the Halbling Janna hadn’t recognized.
“Janna, this is my friend Barkley. Again, my deepest apologies for attacking you,” said Trevor.
“I would have done the same had you been stalking me,” said Barkley. “Congratulations to the two of you. I’m happy for you both.”
The townspeople wished them well and thanked Trevor profusely for hiring limousines and paying for rooms for anyone who wanted to stay, and they thought it was wonderful that he redid the wedding to make up to Janna.
After the greetings, Trevor moved his wife over to the cake.
“Are you in a hurry? Do you have something else planned?” she asked.
“Just the honeymoon night we didn’t get. After I take you home tomorrow, I have to get back to the office on Stefan’s orders. He’s going to make this difficult for us.”
Jeffrey handed Janna the cake cutter and whispered, “Like my artwork?”
Trevor and Janna looked at the cake. Jeffrey had painted fangs on the bridegroom.
“I couldn’t resist,” Jeffrey said, guffawing.
“Ogre,” said Trevor. But Janna laughed too.
She cut a piece of cake and looked at her husband. “You know how this works, right?”
“Ulrich told me. Keep in mind that I go after you.” He smirked.
Her hand approached his mouth, but she smeared the cake all over his face. Everyone laughed and clapped.
“Can’t stand it, can you?” She held up a napkin teasingly.
He licked a taste. “Too messy and sweet.” He reached for another napkin, but she put all of them behind her back.
“Panicking?” she taunted.
Trevor reached behind her. She giggled and tried to hold them away. He almost got them when Jeffrey grabbed them and held them above his head. Everyone was laughing harder as Trevor tried to snatch one, finally getting one, but Jeffrey wouldn’t let go and it ripped in half. Trevor leaped and took them all away from Jeffrey and wiped away the mess on his face. Janna swiped her finger across the frosting and wiped more on his face, and the guests broke out in laughter again. Jeffrey guffawed. Trevor wiped it off. She was about to get more when he grasped her hand.
“My turn,” he said with a glint in his eyes. He cut a piece of cake and Janna held still expecting him to smear it on her. She waited expectantly, but his lips caressed hers. He gently put a piece of cake in her mouth. She relaxed, and that’s when he rubbed it on her face.
“Way to go, Little Bro,” yelled Jeffrey.
He feigned innocence. “Is that how it’s done?” He wiped the cake off her with a napkin, then kissed her again. “Mm, tastes good on you.”
He ran his finger around the bottom of the cake and left a thick trail of frosting between her breasts. “For later.”
“It’s going to melt all down me.”
“I’m picturing it right now,” said Trevor.
A band started to play and he led her to the center of the floor.
“We did everything right so far, didn’t we?” He held her close, both his hands on her back.
“What is right, is that I met you and that you accept me. You told me that you had loved me from the first time you saw me? Just know that you captured my heart from that first moment in the store. I’ll do my best to adjust to your world. Just don’t ever give up on me. I promise I’ll never run away from you again.”
“And I’ll give you no reason to do so.”
“You don’t think that Stefan has forgiven us?”
They watched Stefan as he slowly pace around the room, purposely avoiding them, his hands in his pockets.
Trevor shook his head mournfully. “Sadly, no and I don’t think he appreciated this human rite. He will yet punish us, but he doesn’t risk touching you again. I think it will be Lainie and me. He’s already giving her extra work and told her she won’t be going home to her family for the holidays. He’ll get to you through me. I’m sure he’s devising a punishment he feels will be appropriate for me. Let’s not worry tonight. I have you in my arms and no matter the future, I will always love you.”
When the music stopped, Janna walked Trevor to Karla. “It’s proper to dance with your mother.” He took his mother’s hand and led her to the floor. Karla smiled lovingly at her youngest son.
Janna went to Ulrich. “My Halbling father Ulrich?”
Ulrich gave a slight bow and directed her to the center.
“Oh, isn’t she adorable?” asked Trinity. “Our newest daughter and so perfect.”
Ulrich guided Janna deftly around. “Trinity and I have discussed you often. Since we will continually stand in as your parents, we feel a responsibility to teach you our ways. Trevor is reluctant to do so; he’s afraid that you’ll never accept us. You must understand. Whenever humans realize what he is, they’re consumed with fear and revulsion such as you were when you two bonded. He forgets, though, that he catches the worst of them for punishment, so of course they’re terrified of him.”
“Father Ulrich,” asked Janna, feeling awkward as she said it, “can your mother really love Stefan?”
“Mother and father are deeply in love. Mother chose him. There were others that her parents felt more suitable for their daughter, but they trusted her instincts. We don’t protect mother just because she heads the Council; she’s the closest blood survivor of Eutychus and Agatha. Do you know their story?”
“Trevor told me about them.”
“Most of mother’s family died unexpectedly, but Accurseds killed two of them. The Council decided she must be defended at all costs. That means, everyone defers to her decisions, including father. Father’s parents were thrilled that the Eberhardts brought the marriage offer to their son. They’re third generation of the originals. There are second generations available, but mother didn’t want them.”
“I’m surprised he willingly submits to her.”
“It’s part of our heritage. She saw something in father. He was a dutiful son, so it didn’t matter whether he loved her or not. He married her. He felt it his obligation to do so. He follows our rules exactly, especially in the matter of mother. It’s a conflict for him. He’s someone who takes charge naturally. They walk a fine line in authority, but he must comply with her final decision every time.”
“I just can’t believe he’s even nice to her.”
“Father adores her. Eutychus set the standard for married couples. Eutychus wanted Agatha to like him even though he kidnapped her, but for months while changing, she suffered terribly because he needed to try so many different formulas. Yet, she was willing to continue the treatment because no-one else wanted her and she could see the good in him. He offered to end her suffering, but she refused and insisted he keep experimenting. Eventually, he discovered the right potion, but he didn’t know it at the time.
“He admired her greatly for her willingness to endure the different doses for him. He sat by her bedside, trying to make her comfortable through her anguish. Exhausted one night, he finally fell deep asleep. When he woke up, she was cleaning the lab and singing. He decided then that he would satisfy her every desire. She felt the same way and so as a couple, we work to keep our loved one happy and content. It’s most important to us. Father would do anything mother wanted. She insisted he not punish you again, and so he won’t.”
“He hates me that much?”
“He’s confused. Trevor is their favorite child, and Stefan and Trevor both despise humans. Stefan’s disturbed about the situation. He insisted Trevor let mother arrange another marriage with a Halbling woman. When Trevor refused, and then you admitted your love, Stefan could see no good out of your relationship. He was certain Trevor would be unhappy again as he was with Elene. However, he had no choice but to require that you two bond because that’s our law.”
“I love Trevor and look what he’s done for me, even though I hurt him so much.”
“He insisted on doing this wedding and inviting your friends. He even requested that Ina and James write out invitations.”
“He didn’t have to. It must have cost him a lot. I want to accept your world. You all treat me like I’m family. Mo…mo…mother Trinity especially.”
Ulrich smiled. “Very good, Trinity’s püppchen, and you are part of our family. Trinity and I were matched at a much younger age than usual. I was overly shy and chose to read rather than socialize. Mother found her. She knew she was what I needed. Once a week, we were permitted alone time together to get to know each other and Trinity let me read to her. Mother arranged for us to attend the same school.
“Trinity completes me, and we love each other very much. She has too much love to give out. She wants more children, but she hasn’t conceived again, so when Trevor requested that we stand as parents for you, she adopted you immediately and anxiously waited to welcome you.”
“I’m touched by her acceptance of me. My own mother never showed me this much love. Father Ulrich, you have to help me. I don’t know how to give Trevor the type of night he deserves in your way, how to please him like a Halbling woman could.”
“I know why he loves you. You’re a beautiful woman with such deep red lips. Halblings are attracted to rich red lips. Someday, that will be explained to you. You’re meticulous about your appearance, like Trevor is. And you’re considerate, like he can be. You’re different from humans he deals with. When Jeffrey came back from visiting you, he told me how cautious you were with each other, in words and actions.
“Did you know this is a strain on Trevor? He was chosen to be a Tracker because he relishes the hunt and is ruthless in capturing his prey. The chase fuels him into a frenzy. The game excites him. Did you know when he finds his prey, he plays music to frighten them and throw them off guard? It also spurs him on, but he finds some of his music tantalizing. Now, I’ll tell you what to do tonight.”
When the song ended, Trevor came back to Janna.
“Nope,” she said. She took him to Ina. “It’s a father and daughter turn.”
Trevor bowed slightly to Ina and held out his hand, and they danced. Ina beamed in happiness.
“Karla, look. My püppchen got them together,” said Trinity. “She’ll be a good luck charm for our family.”
Karla nodded. “I think she’s going to end up being more important than just a good luck charm. My instincts tell me there’s more to her than she knows.”
Janna wasn’t through exchanging partners. She searched the room until she located Stefan. “I’d be honored.” She pointed to the center.
He walked there and waited.
“What is she doing?” asked Trinity. “Ulrich?”
“I didn’t tell her to dance with him.”
Karla watched the couple closely, uneasy.
Stefan said nothing as they moved with the music. Janna could feel the family’s eyes on them, including Trevor’s.
“I apologize again for what I did to your family. I regret that I ran away from your son.” Although afraid of Stefan, Janna was determined to get through to him.
“You disgraced us.”
“Can you ever forgive me for that?”
Stefan didn’t answer. He held her stiffly and looked anywhere but at her.
“Please don’t punish Trevor and Lainie.”
“You don’t tell me how to do my job. You hurt my son deeply. I should have taken your life. You’re a weak human. What can you give him? He deserves a Halbling woman who can birth many healthy and strong children.”
Janna’s lips trembled. “I love him.”
“A human’s love is fickle.”
“I only ask that you give me a chance.”
“I gave you one chance. How many do you need?”
“You certainly don’t understand our kind,” she said defensively.
Trevor stopped dancing. Nothing was going to ruin this evening for his wife, but Jeffrey twirled Janna away from Stefan.
“I believe that’s called cutting in,” he said boisterously, prancing her enthusiastically around the floor, without regard to the rhythm of the music.
“Help me,” Janna pleaded. “I know Trevor saw that, and I’m about to cry. I thought I could make the evening better, but I’ve made it worse.”
Suddenly, Jeffrey threw her high into the air, laughing. Janna screamed. He tossed her up again and she laughed too. As she landed in his arms, she mouthed a thank you.
“She’s not a toy. Set her down,” ordered Trevor.
“You have no sense of fun,” said Jeffrey, but he set her down gently.
Trevor took her hand and walked away. “Ogre.”
“Grumper.”
Trevor and Janna swayed together to the song. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“It was fun being tossed like that.”
“You know what I meant.”
“It’s my fault. I thought if I apologized, he’d understand. I just made it worse.”
Trevor shrugged. “One day, he’ll be his charming self and he’ll never mention this again,” he said sarcastically. “Don’t worry about it. I’m proud of you, standing up to him; first by drinking the wine and then asking him to dance.”
“Perhaps you could talk to him and let him know I didn’t mean to make it worse. Maybe you two can smooth things over.”
“Right now? It wouldn’t help. He’ll get over it when he’s ready. Then, he’ll never mention it again.”
The evening wore on. The photographer continued to take pictures, especially of the bride and groom. One by one, the Worthless town guests left. Trevor said good-bye to his family and told Stefan he’d see him tomorrow. Then he and Janna went to their room.
When they entered, she went immediately to the ice bucket. “There’s no ice.” She pouted.
“I’ll call down and get some.”
“That takes too long,” she whined. “I’ll just go down the hall.”
“I’ll get it.”
“Get me a soda too? The ones on one floor below us are colder.”
He gave her a kiss and left. She took a pen and several sheets of paper, wrote one word on each, and then ran around and hung them. She scurried partly down the hall towards the elevators and then dashed to Craig’s door on the other end. She knocked and when he opened it, she ran in, and quickly explained what she was doing.
Trevor returned with the ice bucket and soda. “Janna?” There was no response. A note hung on the window blind spelled the word “COLD”. He set the items down. Déjà Vu hit, and he was anxious. The bedroom doors were open. “Janna?” he called, approaching the bedroom slowly. On the bed was another note that also read “COLD”. He looked under the bed. Another paper with the same thing.
He sniffed. Her scent hung in the air and not that long ago. He walked to the closet and opened it. Same note. Now worried, he headed to the bathroom. A paper on the closed door read the same again, but he opened the door anyway. On the counter lay the word “COLDER” and she wasn’t in there.
Torn between anger and trepidation, he walked back out in the hallway, but her scent went in both directions. He hurried to the elevators.
Janna slipped out of Craig’s room, hung a sign, and ran for their room, pausing to put a sign on their door. Inside, she stuck another paper on one of the bedroom doors and closed both. She waited by the bed holding another note.
Trevor was annoyed. She couldn’t have run away. She promised him that she loved him. He would find her, he was assured of that, no matter the cost. He proceeded down the hallway past their room, past Craig’s when he stopped. The scent ended at Craig’s. A sign read, “COOL.” He banged on the door and Craig opened it. With a nod of Craig’s head, he indicated their room.
“Wha−?”
Craig shrugged with a grin and shut the door. Trevor headed back to his room. A sign on their door now read, “WARM.” What are all these signs? He entered the room. Georges Bizet’s Carmen: “L’amour Est un Oiseau Rebelle” played from the bedroom.
He was mystified. He found this particular piece stimulating, to say the least. There was yet another note on one of the bedroom doors – “WARMER.” The piece ended, but it started again.
He threw open the doors with enough force to bang them into the walls. Consternation and aggravation filled his whole being. Janna stood beside the bed, swinging his music player and holding a sign that read: “PRIZE.”
“What are you doing?” he asked, confused.
“Humans have a fun game called ‘Catch Me if you can.’”
“Janna,” Trevor said gently, “I’m getting annoyed. You’re not going to run away again, are you? You know I can’t let you do that.”
She fluffed her hair out. “How frustrated for you that you can’t even catch a human female and make her obey, Ivarr.” she teased and hit replay then hung the player around her neck, and swayed to the music. “Come and get your player.”
Trevor’s eyes glinted with the promise of a hunt, but he calmed himself because it was Janna and he walked slowly towards her, still concerned about upsetting her. She kicked her shoes at him, giggling. He hit each one out of the way easily. His desire to seize her and end this silliness consumed him, but just as he reached for her, she rolled across the bed to the other side.
“Whee!” she said, “I got away again. You haven’t caught me yet.”
“Janna,” said Trevor, frustrated, “did you drink too much tonight? I’m trying to be nice, but I’m losing my patience. I pictured our wedding night a little differently.”
“Oh?” she said, taunting him. “Is the great mean Tracker Trevor Ivarr getting frustrated with the naughty human female? Perhaps playing nice isn’t the answer.” She leaned over, shaking her shoulders, and pointed to his player between her jiggling breasts.
He started around the bed to her, watching her intently, snarling softly. She lifted a leg onto the bed and her dress fell open, giving Trevor a clear view of the yellow sparkling garter and more, and he stopped, savoring the view.
“I even lied to you. Margot gave me this.” She snapped the garter against her upper thigh. His eyes opened wide, his breathing became ragged, and he realized that she was toying with him. No longer able to control his hunting instincts, he slunk slowly towards his prey, locked on her. He’d almost reached her when she rolled across the bed to the other side with a squeal.
He’d had enough. He jumped the bed grabbing her around the waist and pulling her down with him. He rolled on top of her.
“Did the Tracker finally catch the bad, bad girl?” taunted Janna. “Oh, Mr. Tracker Ivarr, I’ll do anything if you don’t take me in for questioning. Anything. I didn’t mean to steal your favorite toy.”
He pinned her down with his body, his body that was now filled with passion, and issued a long deep snarl. “You’re my favorite toy,” he grunted. He kissed her hard, his hand running down her thigh to the garter. He grasped it tightly while he rubbed the tops of her breasts with his other hand. He held up a finger, curious, and licked it. “Frosting,” he said gruffly. “I forgot about that.” He lowered his head and flicked his tongue across the remaining frosting. Janna squirmed and inhaled sharply. He attempted to take his player off her neck.
“It’s mine.” She stuck her tongue out at him. “You can’t have it back.” She wriggled to get away.
“I’ll let you go,” he murmured, holding her tighter, “when I’m through with you.”
She broke the cord on his player and stuffed it down her dress. “Come and get it if you can.”
He reached in to get the player, but she struggled and kicked him. “No,” she said defiantly, writhing.
He pulled out his player and set it to auto, savoring the game. He moved it aside then nibbled along her bodice dress line emitting a low growl and she moaned in response. His hand followed the Chantilly lace straps and deftly moved them farther off her shoulders then hastily undressed her. She was naked now except for the garter. She wrapped her legs tightly around him.
“Gotcha,” she said. “You fell right into my trap.”
He kissed her passionately and nibbled at her neck, removing his shirt and tuxedo jacket as fast as he could.
“Ulrich said you’d really enjoy this part.” Placing her mouth on his neck, she bit lightly and quickly, hardly pinching his skin, then licked the spot. “He told me how to do this. I hope I didn’t hurt you.”
A shiver ran through him and he exhaled yearningly. “Don’t talk about Ulrich right now,” he whispered. He lifted out of her embrace and was out of the rest of his clothes at once and back on her. “Harder.” He tightened his hold, pushing her mouth to his neck. “Try to break the skin.”
She hesitated, then complied. “Like that? Is that too hard or just right? I won’t hurt you, will I?”
“Too much talk. Bite.” He wrapped her legs around him again.
She ran her tongue over his neck then bit, clamping her teeth together tighter than before.
He emitted a long low moan of desire as a dribble of blood trickled out.
“Oops, sorry.” She quickly and bravely licked the blood.
Trevor instantly shuddered in response, his mouth against her neck, sucking fiercely and longingly.
“That was too hard, wasn’t it? I’ll get it right yet. I wanted to make tonight your night instead of mine. You’ll have to drink a whole case of vials after this, won’t you?”
“Janna! Sex first, tell me later.” His lips found hers, his lust driving him, his love for her stronger than ever, his conquest made, and he knew for sure this time that she belonged to him.