Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dark Since Forever

by Giselle Renarde


I've spent the past three weeks working on a submission for a dark romance anthology. That's way too long to spend on one relatively short story, but I have a checkered past when it comes to the dark stuff.

See, my writing's been dark since way back. Darkness and despair tend to appeal to readers like me--fans of literary fiction. I want my characters to be miserable.  That's why I've all but given up on writing anything close to romance. That's also why it takes forever when I do try my hand.

It's hit and miss for me, when I send out dark romances for submission. A common reaction I get from editors is along the lines of: "Wow, you went waaaaay darker than I was expecting!"  Sometimes that leads to: "I can't resist! I need to publish this!"  Other times it's: "Ummm nope."

I'm never entirely sure which way it'll go.

To prove that I've been into the dark stuff right from the start, I'd like to share with you a dark tale I wrote many years ago. It's one of my most rejected stories of all time.  In fact, it would still be unpublished to this day if I hadn't included it in a paranormal erotica box set I put together myself (aptly named Paranormal Erotica Box Set--real original!):


A Jealous God
by Giselle Renarde

«Dieu aima les oiseaux et inventa les arbres.
L'homme aima les oiseaux et inventa les cages.»
~Jacques Deval


“You are My creation, wicked Eve.”

“Creator made Eve for the pleasure of knowing her and loving her.” She bowed her head as in prayer. Even with the Creator standing right in front of her cage, she cast her gaze downward. It would be presumptuous for a mere mortal to look upon such a luminous being.

“You are mine for the taking, and mine for the keeping,” He instructed. “You are mine to do with as I desire.”

“Eve is His creation,” she repeated, bowing lower, until her forehead met the ground. “He does to her as He pleases.”

She was merely the plaything of her all-powerful and all-knowing Creator. Without any right to self-determination, how could she contemplate the meaning of I? Eve had never heard of identity. She saw the world through the camera lucida of His gaze. With Him as the closest she knew to a mirror, how could she view herself as anything but contemptible?

Her cage was made of chicken wire, but escape never crossed her mind. If she left, where would she go? Better yet, why would she go? Eve sat each day in patient silence, waiting for Him to appear. She did not sleep while He was away, for fear of missing out on the thrill of His arrival.

The chicken wire cut her flesh if she held the same position for too long, so she tried not to move. Her knees were scarred red with pointed ovals like eyes without irises. Eve was blind to life beyond the chicken wire.

All day, she waited to hear His key enter the front lock. The door would open and then squeal shut, but Creator never entered her room right away. Her room was, of course, a faulty descriptor. It was not her room in any sense—it was merely the room which her cage occupied.

When He entered, she cast her eyes suitably downward. Offering neither greeting nor request, she waited for Him to make His demands.

“Foul beast of the earth.” His voice boomed as He caught sight of her piddle in the corner of her cage. “Go on the newspaper. What do you think it’s there for?”

Eve cowered, but made no reply. On days when pain from the chicken wire made her faint, she liked to sit on the newspaper for relief. She couldn’t do that if it was soiled.

“A dog can be housetrained,” He spat. When she made no response, He commanded, “Lie down. Are you no better than a brute? Present yourself to me like a dog.”

Sinking to her hands and knees, Eve backed up against the cage. She raised her posterior high in the air to ensure her two holes would be aligned with the padded opening in the chicken wire. She could never be sure whether He might fuck her pussy or her ass, or her pussy and then her ass. But without any sense of self, Eve had no concept of preference. She existed solely for the enjoyment of her Creator.

When she pressed her chest to the floor, her tender nipples caught the chicken wire at the base of the cage. She began to nudge her forearms underneath her breasts to alleviate the pain, but Creator caught sight and cried, “Stay!”

Eve allowed her face to fall against the floor, and the wire dug into her cheek. Still, she stayed. Though she averted her gaze, she could tell He’d worn his chaps. The scent of leather surmounted even those of urine and sweat.

“Have you any desires, filthy beast?” He bellowed. “Do you wish for me to fuck you?”

“Eve has no thoughts or wishes that are not aligned with Creator’s,” she replied. “Creator will tell Eve what to think and what to wish for.”

“You will think nothing,” He snapped. “You will neither wish, desire, nor long for anything at all. You are merely a vessel to receive the bounty I come to bestow upon the earth.”

“Eve is an empty vessel waiting to be filled with the gifts of the Creator.”

Creator never sank to his knees; He graced the ground with their pressure.

Through the hole in her cage, Creator watched Eve’s purple asshole throb and grasp. He poked it with His thumb, and her assring undulated like a brainless deep-sea organism, drawing in every unsuspecting lurker.

“Your ass is begging for it,” He mocked, pulling out His thumb. “Do you want to feel my cock plunge inside your tight little hole?”

Puzzled, she replied, “Eve seeks only to please her Creator. She has no desires but His desires.”

“A body doesn’t lie. Your asshole is praying to be fucked.”

“Then it would be pleased if Creator fucked it,” she replied, as though her flesh possessed some independent capacity for perceiving pleasure.

“It would,” Creator reasoned, “but there is an important lesson every asshole must learn.”

“Ah, yes?” Eve remained ready to accept any word or action. “What is this lesson every asshole must learn?”

“Most prayers go unanswered,” Creator replied. Reaching through the hole in Eve’s cage, Creator gave her pussy lips three preparatory smacks. “I shall fuck your cunt instead.”

Bracing at the sweet sensation of sharp slaps against her delicate flesh, Eve wove her fingers through the chicken wire at the base of the cage. “Thy Will be done.”

Into the clear juice of Eve’s pink pussy, He pressed a thick middle finger. Her grasping cunt drew Him in as her asshole had done before. Creator forced an index finger inside that moist hole. When she whimpered, lifting her wire-marked face from the floor, he fucked her with three fingers, sticky and wet from the liquid of her arousal.

“Your cunt now implores my compassion. I hear her fluid prayer.” Creator growled, His voice thick with displeasure. Frowning at the sight of her pussy juice on His fingers, He cried, “Wicked Eve, has your cunt learned nothing from her neighbour?”

An obedient student of her Lord and Master, Eve replied, “Most prayers go unanswered.”

“Correct,” He exclaimed, beaming with a bizarre form of pride. “Your asshole prayed to be fucked, and that prayer went unanswered. Now your cunt prays for my cock, and neither shall her desires be met.”

“Almighty Creator,” Eve entreated, her voice soft as linen. “How might Creator’s humble servant give herself to Him?”

“Make no mistake: you do not give to me; I do not receive from you. The Creator takes, and his servant is taken from. Now get on your knees, sinful creature.”

Eve followed His simple command, rising to kneel. She placed herself before Him, her lips level with the higher of the two padded apertures in her cage. Never meeting His all-knowing gaze, she opened her mouth and extended her tongue to receive the blessing of His cock. She closed her eyes. The scent of leather grew pervasive as His smooth head brushed salty fluid down her tongue.

“You see, my sinful child…” He gasped as He swept the seam of His tip into the pool of precum. “No spiritual plea goes unheard…”

“God hears all prayers,” she echoed. With a cock against her tongue, the words were mumbled.

“Precisely,” He exclaimed, almost a cheer. “All of humanity’s bitching and moaning irritates the hell out of me. Sometimes it puts me in such a mood that I give those importunate whiners exactly the opposite of what they want.”

All she could do to set His mind at ease was wrap her lips around His cock. He released an animal moan as the silken walls of her mouth closed around Him.

Grasping the grotty lumber at the top of Eve’s chicken wire home, He plunged His cock deep in her throat. She resisted the physiological urge to sputter and choke. After a few thrusts, she would grow accustomed to the pounding.

There was no expectation that Eve should ever thrust, suck, grind, or provide any indication of enjoyment during a sexual act. Her duty, as she was so often reminded, was simply to be and be taken.

“Then there’s you, Eve…” Creator grasped her erect nipples through the gaps in the chicken wire. “Always praying for me to join you here in this slum. When I arrive, your anus calls to be filled and your cunt implores that I pump it full of cum. Do you know why I chose to fuck your mouth instead?”

Eve began to nod, but realized Creator anticipated a negative response. Instead, she shook her head no.

“Your mouth was the only part of your body that wasn’t asking to be stuffed with cock. I did it with the deliberate intent to displease you.”

She pulled away to reply, “No action of Creator’s ever displeases Eve.”

Even the most thoroughly reflected responses were seen as smart-ass comebacks. Eve’s Lord and Master held tight to her nipples with the tips of His fingernails. He twisted them away from each other until she winced, then thrust his cock down her throat. It had no choice but to be receptive. He pulled on her tender nipples to bring her closer. To encourage motion, He allowed Eve to fall back a bit. He plunged again down her throat, tugging her tits through the chicken wire. There were no friendly apertures for winter-white breasts; the antagonistic wires left red marks on her skin.

“It is not merely to prevent your enjoyment that I fuck the lips of your mouth. Wicked, wicked Eve,” He scathed, jerking her tits tight against the wire. “I do it that you may not create life inside of you. It was I who created you. It was I who caused all things to be.”

“Creator brings forth all life,” Eve replied, her words once again garbled by His cock.

“You are but an empty vessel. I hold the power to generate life within you.” He grasped her tits through the chicken wire. “It’s a gift I deny.”

He fucked her face with a kind of brutal frenzy only He could succeed in. Piercing her hard nipples with His fingernails, He pulled her tits while He rammed his cock down her throat. Tears welled in the corners of her closed eyes, wetting her lashes before trickling down her cheeks.

She accepted the collision of cock and mouth with a virgin’s tender grace. As He tugged on her tits, her body hurled itself at Him like a doll, halted only by chicken wire. The scent of leather overwhelmed her senses, until she could feel nothing but the flavour of His coverings. Its aroma surpassed even the taste of cum as it hurled past her lips, barely settling on her tongue before coursing down her throat.

Clutching her nipples with all His force, Creator cried, “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!”

Gasping for air, she choked on His cum. The cock still lodged in her throat hindered her cries of devotion. When He pulled out of her mouth and released her stinging breasts, she fell back on her ass, whimpering, “Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.”

“What was that?” He mocked, turning to depart. “I didn’t quite hear you.”

Cackling like the devil, He closed the door behind Him, leaving Eve alone in the chicken wire fortress. “Praise Him according to His excellent greatness,” she whispered when he had gone.

Her fate was to live out her days in captivity, waiting for the Creator to appear unto her. She might love Him, if she only knew how.

He was in the next room now, cracking open a bottle. Eve wondered if He could hear her voice over the blaring television. “Praise Him in His mighty expanse.”

Her cage had no lock, but Eve knew nothing of freedom.



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"The Hounds of Heaven" A Dark Story

A Baptist minister was expected to be beyond mere carnal temptation, which maybe he was.  But carnal wasn’t how a man like Roger fell from grace.  It was loneliness.  Joan was as often oblivious in her bottles as not.  A life held delicately out of sight from the congregation of a small and intimate church.  But people could always feel the energy between a lonely man and the woman he desires and who desires him.  And that was Olivia.

Their moment had come on a rainy afternoon, after Sunday service.  Olivia’s car wasn’t working.  She had texted to say she wouldn’t be coming to service because she wasn’t in the mood to see the church.  Was thinking of leaving it for something else.  Maybe becoming a Buddhist or a Unitarian.  Roger visited her after service and found her in her night clothes looking desperate.  They had hugged.  He pressed her tight, felt her breasts up against his chest.  Found his lips touching her warm, unwashed neck, his fingers twined in in the curlers embedded in her morning hair.  An hour later he sighed against her ear as his orgasm swelled and throbbed inside her and felt her belly tense and twist with her feral heat under his thrusts, in the sheer joy of his pleasure in her.  

“Should we be together?” she’d asked.  “If people love each other, does it have to be a sin?”

“We don’t know what God’s will can be,” he’d said, and kissed her ear.  “Maybe we could.”

“Can’t we ask?” she’d said.

“Sometime,” he’d said.  “Not now.”


When Roger had dressed and kissed Olivia goodbye, he’d arrived home with the smell of her body in his clothes.  Joan was drunk.  She was drunk almost daily now.  Her intuition was at its sharpest when she was drunk and some devil whispered in her ear.  It took less than ten minutes to break every dish and cup on the tiled floor at his feet as she screamed her pain at him.


The next Sunday’s sermon was about humility before God.  There was a reading from Genesis and Rev. Roger Amberson re-told the old story of Noah and the Ark, and then of Abraham, called to sacrifice his son.  About searching out the will of God and about obedience even if that will was a mystery.  And then he did a fatal thing, exhaling the curse in the air like a cough.  “Let us take a special moment in prayer, “ he said to the little congregation of thirty souls.  “Let’s all of us take a moment to ask God to tell us His will for our lives.”

The room grew silent as heads dipped and lips moved.  Whispers filled the air like distant bird song.

Then the gasps came, moving like a wave through the room.

Then the tears came.  The muttered protests. 

“Halleluiah,” said one.  Finally the tears of denial which shook the congregation for an hour.



A cemetery at mid-morning has the gloomy loneliness of a shopping center waiting to open.  The sky was gray, the air cool but not cold.

Up the road to the gravesite a familiar gray Honda Prius approached slowly, reluctantly.  Olivia knew that would Roger.  He was driving alone, unless he had brought his dog along.  She clenched her teeth against what she knew was coming.

The car turned off the pavement onto the grass at a cautionary distance.  She turned away and looked at the thirty objects piled on the ground in a neat row.   A distant, soft shutting of the car door.

Roger stood in front of the car.  Seeing she would not come over, he leaned and then sat against the hood and waited.  They looked at each other across the expanse of frost glinting grass.

She glanced at her watch.  The funeral members would arrive in twenty minutes.  Roger had gotten up off the car, still standing, hesitating. A soul twisting in the wind.

I don't twist, she thought.  That part is done. 


Another car came up the road that would be Bruce and Bobby's car.  Another one of those couple situations that a small congregation discreetly looked away from.   Now things would be difficult, she thought.  Difficult because in their own way they were as stubborn as she was.  They would not twist in the blowing wind of God.  They parked next to Roger.  The two men sat in the car for a long time consulting between themselves.  She saw their faces touch affectionately and they came out of the car.  Roger went over to them and the three men huddled for a long time in the cool, shadowless gray of the cemetery, discussing her.

I don't want to do this, she whispered to the wind.  Lord, don't let me weaken now.  This is my offering.  Let me make it alone.  I can do this alone.

The three men were coming.  Bruce and Bobby holding hands defiantly.

Soon they were close enough for her to read their faces.  The two men in love both wore dark glasses against the sun.  Against her eyes.

"Morning," called Bobby, raising his free hand.

"You don't have to do this," called Roger.

"Morning ya'all," she said.

"We came here to talk," said Roger.

"Talk's what you're good for, Roger."

"Olivia."

"My mind is set."

"You don't need to do this," said Roger.

"You mean, I don't want to do this," she said.  "Reckon neither do you.  But."  She folded her arms and stood a little taller.  “Anyone else coming?”

"We need to talk about what you're doing here," said Bruce is that gentle contralto that hooked men and women alike.  "This ain't kind.  Kind still counts."

"It ain't about kind," she said.  "It's the will of God, is all."

The men gathered around her.  Bruce and Bobby put their hands in their pockets.  "You think,” said Bobby, “this is your little ark you're building here.  Don't you?"

She looked up at the cheerless gray overcast.  "Looks like rain to you does it?"

"Olivia."

"No, Roger.  No.  It's done and sealed.  You can do what's right in your eyes or you can get on with your life.  But my place this morning is here."

They were coming now.  There was a black shiny hearse parking.  For a moment she was afraid she had chosen the wrong spot and they would pass her.  But the open grave was over there, right over there.  The hearse settled into the place she had expected and waited.  Several more cars all with their headlights on followed and parked close to the hearse.  A pair of white government Ford vans pulled up and men in blue uniforms and white caps began to spill out and receive their wooden carbines from the back.

"Look at them,” said Bruce.  “You got to call this off.”

"You still standing there?" She said.  "Let’s get to it.”

"You don't need to do this."

"There's where you’re wrong," she said.  "I - WE need to do this.  Ya’all know you do.  God spoke to me, Bruce.  Roger.  God said the same thing to every one of you.  Same message, up and down, just like it is, and you know what you have to do.  When God speaks, you got to."

"How do you know its God anyway," said Roger.  "What if it’s the devil?"

“Oh hell no. It’s way worse than that. It’s way worse than that. Making a deal with God, it’s not any different from making a deal with the devil except if you have to choose the devil, the great deceiver, might keep his word. Like a contract.  But the Bible says ‘who can call God to account?’  God doesn’t have to keep his word and who’s going to make him? It’s all corrupt, all the way through.”

She was about to speak when she saw a familiar car approaching.  The last car she had expected.  Joan.  For the first time she was truly afraid.

The car parked next to Rogers and Joan began running up the hill.  There was no twisting in the wind in this woman.  She panted up to them. "What's everybody standing around for?” she said “Let's go."

Olivia stared at her, feeling desperate.  "Joan, you know why we're here?  Why I'm here?"

"God spoke to you, I know all about it."

“Roger told you.”

“No,” she said, “God did.”

Olivia trembled, suddenly feeling oddly jealous of this woman in a way she had not felt over Roger.

"God told me exactly the same thing,” said Joan.  “Now I'm here.  Lord gets ready, you got to move."

Roger stepped away from her, as though seeing her for the first time.  "You?"

"Me!" snapped Joan.  "The fallen woman.  You think God doesn’t speak to fallen women too?  And I know what God told each of you, and I'm here because I'm on it.  Is that a sign there?"  She pointed down.

"Goddamn you Joanie" yelled Roger.

"Damn right!" She said.  "Damn right.  Without my even asking, God spoke to me.  How about that?  Didn’t think God would speak to some fucking drunk like me?   I didn't even believe in Jesus or none of that phony shit.  And you know what?  I'm fucking here.  How about that shit?  You see that, God?"  She looked up.

"You see that, Roger," said Olivia.  "She wasn't even a believer.  And she got the very same thing God told me when I prayed.  You prayed.  All you prayed.  You have to believe now.  Everyone the same.  It's a miracle."

"Fucking miracle!" screamed Joan, and Olivia wondered if she was high on something.

"I know he did," said Bobby.  "I just don’t know why."

"I tried to kill my ass last night," said Joan.  Everyone looked at her.  "I put a belt round my neck just to see how it felt.  I tied it to the shower rod and sort of jumped and the rod came down on me.  I just lay on the bathroom floor crying.  And God spoke in my ear.  And God told me what He told you."

"This has got to be the damnedest, and I mean damnedest idea anybody had," said Bruce.  "Bobby and I are in love.  And we're good for each other.  God wouldn't forbid that.  This is from the devil."

“You know what’s wrong with you people?”  said Joan.   “You thought you were going to be Noah.  You thought you were going to be like the last motherfucker standing.”

Olivia glanced across the street.  The mourners had  gathered and were looking at them, wondering. 

“She’s right,”  said Olivia.  “The devil gets you by your worst.  Give me this, I give you that.   God gets you by your best. You thought you were going to be like Noah, build an ark, be the big lone hero, and be the last man left standing. Get the last laugh when everyone sees  you were right because they’re drowning and they’re not laughing anymore. Let me ask you – You ask God his will, He tells you to stop playing the lottery and build an ark.  So you build your big ass ark, and it never rains?  What then?  You still got to build it.  The rain and the how and the why ain’t your business. Your business is to build the ark and let it go. God told you and you did it and if you look like a fool and wreck your life, and wreck your family and spend your savings and lose your house and go bankrupt and homeless and everybody hates you and it doesn’t even rain?  Who you going to complain to when it doesn’t even rain?”

“God will keep his promise,” said Roger.  “Even if we don’t know what that promise is.”

“What if the blessing isn’t meant for us?  Maybe it goes to somebody else and all we do is pay the check for it.  You ask God to know his will all the time, I heard you pray this at the church all the time.  But that's because you don't really think God would ever take you up on it.  And then He does."

"You trying to make people hate couples like me and Bruce?" said Bobby

"No, Robert.  Not in a million years.  You ever see those news clips of the Civil Rights marches in the '60s?  You know who was the best friend Civil Rights folks ever had?  Bull Conner.  That white cracker that put fire hoses on women.  And police dogs tearing the clothes off men and kids right in front of the TV cameras.  That's when that shit got real.  That's when people started to feel it.  You don’t get to be a hero every time.  Someone has to put the hounds out to tear at some hearts and put a face on things.  That's what's happening here.  Now you - "  She stabbed a finger in Roger's chest.  "You pick up that fucking sign.  If you got the balls."

Roger hesitated.  He looked down at the signs as though he'd discovered a rattlesnake at his feet.
"You do it like this - asshole!"  It was Joan who grabbed a sign and waved it over Roger’s head.  The sign said "God Hates Fags".

"Jesus Olivia” yelled Bobby.  "People are going to hate you for this!"

"I KNOW!"  Her eyes welled with tears.  She dropped to her knees.  She touched a wooden stake nailed to a poster board sign.  The sign said "Your Homosexual Fruit Faggoty Soldier Son is Burning in Hell"

" .  .  .  I know .  .  .  ."

She wrapped her fingers around the wood and lifted it. 

The people were coming down the pavement in front of them, dressed in black.  A group of eight men in dress blues and sharp white marine caps with red bands were carrying the flag draped casket.

"God hates fags," she whispered.  Then louder "God hates fags!'  Her stomach rolled with agony.  "God hates fags!"

Joan began waving her sign.  "Fucking A,” she whispered.  Then - "Hey!  Your fag son is fucking ass in Hell!"

A local TV van had pulled up.  The satellite antennae rose erect and a pair of reporters with video cameras ran to them.

Bruce waited until the camera man had come close, the black glass eye sweeping the scene.

He waited, looked at Olivia, and spat on her face. 

Olivia shook back her tears.  "I know," she whispered.  She stepped back and shrieked "God hates fags!"

Roger picked up his sign limply, but said nothing.  Joan turned, reared back her left leg and kicked him hard in the ass.  Roger staggered. 

Joan stood in front of him.  “You know what God would say?   God would say ‘That rain ain’t none of your damn business. Build the ark.  And you think maybe you don’t want to build an ark and maybe fuck up the rest of your life because you don’t get to be the last man standing, then God is going to say ‘maybe then you need to shut the fuck up Roger boy and grow a pair and stop asking Me what My will for your life is!’  This is the life you got!“

“Stop! Stop!”  Roger lifted the sign a little higher.

Bobby was staring at the grass blankly.  His knees wavered and for a moment he looked like he would fall.  The black eye of the video camera was staring at him, panning back across the scene.  Across the street, the people in black were aghast.

"God hates fags!" Yelled Olivia and Joan together.

Bobby picked up a sign.  Bruce was backing away from him shaking his head.

“How long we got to do this, Olivia?”

“Till God tells us to stop.”

“And when’s that?  An hour?  Forty days and forty nights?”

“Maybe never. “  Her eyes were hard as marbles.  “Maybe that’s what it takes.  Joan’s right, maybe this is the life you got now.”

Weeping, Bobby lifted the sign, shook off the tears.  He looked at Roger, bared his teeth in a dog snarl. 
As the men waved their signs in front of the TV cameras, they joined the women in their chants. 

A soft rain began to fall.



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Dark/Gay Side of the Force

The Dark Side… that’s the topic this fortnight.  With that in mind, and given the fact that this is an erotic authors blog, my mind went in only one direction.

Gay erotic Star Wars fan-fiction.

Gay erotic fan-fiction, or slash fiction as it’s often called (named so for the slash that appears between romantic pairing’s names — Kirk/Spock, for example), has been around since the days of the original Star Trek TV series.

Pretty much any major sci-fi franchise has fans writing dirty stories about the guys they wish could just get together and fuck.  (This seems to be primarily a sci-fi fanbase thing, though it does occasionally crop up in other non-sci-fi franchises.)  This seems to pop up regularly on Tumblr — when I have some time to kill and scroll through my feed there, I see a *lot* of Teen Wolf chatter.  I’ve never seen the show — I don’t even know if it’s still on or what channel it’s on — but I know all about the smouldering sexual tension that fans see between the two male leads.  There might even be some minimal gay subtext to their relationship on screen, but the internet has taken it and run with it.

Slash fiction seems to be incredibly popular.

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens came out in December of last year — about four months ago.  Fans, particularly LGBT fans and lovers of slash fiction, picked up on some sexual tension between the new characters of Finn and Poe.  Indeed, even the actors who portray Finn and Poe have spoken about sexual tension between their characters.  Unfortunately, as the article I just linked to pointed out — there’s probably little chance of seeing such a romance between these characters, particularly since they are lead characters.  I know I wouldn’t mind seeing them get down and dirty, though. :)



I was curious who prevalent Finn/Poe slash fiction is, given the huge popularity of slash fiction and the huge popularity of Star Wars.  On one site — *one* site — there are over 2,100 Finn/Poe stories listed.  Yes, there are a lot of Star Wars fans out there and a lot of slash fiction writers out there, but that number still astounds me.  While that site I linked to — Archive of Our Own — is, to my understanding, one of the larger fan-fiction sites on the net, there are still several others that would have their own database of Finn/Poe stories.  There are thousands upon thousands of stories of Finn and Poe getting it on.  (Since I’m a huge Star Trek fan, I had to know… there are over 12,000 Kirk/Spock stories on Archive of Our Own, which makes the number of Star Wars stories even more astounding, as Star Trek is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year -- it's been around 50 times longer than Finn/Poe, but only has 6 times the stories.)

It makes me wonder if it would actually be a good business move to make the characters gay in Star Wars: Episode VIII… though I suspect it still won’t happen.  Partly because of the business reasons mentioned in the article listed above — that this would probably get the movie banned in China, which is a huge market — and partly because such a move would, unfortunately and irrationally, drive a lot of conservative Christian folk to boycott the movie.  Even in this age of growing equality, it’s still solid business advice to keep your characters straight — at least your main characters.

But if it were to happen, if Star Wars were to make these characters fall in love, I wonder if that would actually reduce the interest in Finn/Poe slash fiction, since it’s no longer a “taboo” thing.  I suspect part of the appeal is that slash fiction writers know there’s little to no chance of it happening on screen, so they come up with ways to explore the characters’ unacknowledged lusts and the taboo nature of their steamy affair.  If they were a couple on screen, then the illicitness of the pairing is lost.  We know they’re in love, they’re a couple, and they likely fuck regularly.  While there are still many people that would love to write and read stories about an already-established couple, I suspect it would lose its appeal to slash fiction writers.

Slash fiction is about exploring the dark lusts of characters, of what happens when they finally give in to what they know in their hearts to be true, and it’s a re-invention of a sci-fi franchise, giving it new life and breath for fans.  It’s also about getting off. ;)



(Speaking of getting off… in my Googling, I found a photo manipulation blog.  It’s like slash fiction but in X-rated pictures.  Check out Finn and Poe finally giving into their burning need for each other, and check out some of the other pics on the site, too.)



Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Seduced by My Best Friend’s Dad (co-written with Sandra Claire). He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dark Magic



By Lisabet Sarai


[This is a repeat of a post I wrote the last time the Grip topic was "the dark side", back in 2012. When I re-read it, though, I knew it was worth sharing again.]

She's so gullible. Over Thanksgiving dinner (an unexpectedly wonderful feast at an atmospheric inn they'd stumbled upon, tucked away in the hills), he'd dropped hints about magical powers inherited from his Celtic ancestors. She'd swallowed his tale as eagerly as the turkey and the red wine, hanging on his words, focused on his face, wet (he knew) as she anticipated what might occur when they returned to his apartment. Her plump, perennially erect nipples teased him through her turtleneck jersey. His nipples, now, to play with, to torture, though perhaps she didn't think of them that way – not yet.

How had he managed to lure her here? He'd surprised himself with the success of his epistolary seduction. Before, in graduate school, they'd been only slightly more than friends. When he vanquished her at chess (despite the distraction of her bra-less state), there had been flickers of something less innocent in their interactions. Then he'd left, moved west, and one day, on a whim, written her a clever, flirtatious letter, fantasizing all the while about her lush breasts, parted lips and the nicely-rounded ass he'd never seen. He hadn't really expected her enthusiastic response, especially not when he broached topics like spanking, bondage, and melted wax. Clearly he'd been right to trust his intuition more than his intellect.

His bedroom is shadowed, lit by a single candle that spikes the air with patchouli. He hovers over her, weight balanced on his arms, the contrast between his big frame and her petite body making him worry. He wants to hurt her, but not in any way that causes damage. A half year's worth of fantasies – both the ones they've shared and the darker ones he doesn't dare expose – have him achingly hard. He jerks a bit, so his cockhead brushes her tangled pubic curls. They both shiver.

Her cunt draws him, but he resists that magnetic pull a while longer, making her wait for what she obviously wants. Control is difficult but necessary. He hasn't bound her (though there are holes drilled in the bed frame and a coil of rope ready in the bed table drawer). He hasn't marked her yet. Candlelight dapples her fair skin, previews of the stripes he hopes to leave there. Tonight though, there's just her voluptuous, eager body and his, primed by hours of self-abuse (the term seems apt, given the images that obsess him). They could be any pair of new lovers. But of course that's not true. What binds them together is more urgent than mere passion, darker than love.

She does not speak, though he has not enjoined her to silence. Her eyes are wide, riveted to his. When he finally allows himself to enter her juicy depths, she gasps, though he's on the down side of average in size. Still, the fit is tight and sweet – it stokes his fever. Pulling back, he rams into her, letting loose all the frustrations built up in month after month of solitary imaginings. He reads her face as he does, ready to stop if she seems to object. They are, after all, practically strangers, despite the explicit letters and breathless phone calls.

There's no resistance in her, though. She keeps her wrists crossed, arms above her head, exactly where he placed them. The position highlights those outrageous nipples she flaunts with such apparent unconcern. Leaning towards her, he catches one in his teeth. Her body ripples and her back arches, driving him deeper.

Fuck me, her eyes say. Use me. So he does, pounding her with his cock again and again, rough and raw, reveling in the slick grip of her cunt around his impossibly hard dick. His thrusts are brutal, but he hears no complaints. Amazed, almost disbelieving, he understands. She wants this as much as he does.

You're mine, he thinks, exulting in his power. He wills his cock to grow and swell. He wants to fill her completely, stretch her to her limits and beyond, tear her apart. It may be suggestion, but he feels huge inside her. Her eyes are pools of wonder.

It's all that he had imagined - no, better, because she's soaked and hungry and more open than he could have dreamed. Then unexpectedly, reality shifts. Some sort of psychic conduit opens between them. Her emotions flood his senses, her desperate need and her profound surrender. All at once, he really can hear her thoughts, and he knows, with complete certainty, that she can read his.

Mine. Mine!

Yes, yes – please...

Be still.

Her writhing ceases. Her tiny moans quiet. He ravages her with his gigantic cock and she takes it - willing, trusting, grateful.

She is truly his slave, bound by his command, and he is her born master, caring or cruel as it suits him. She has died for love of him, and he's taking his last pleasure from her still-warm corpse. He is the devil and she's the soul he has ensnared and lured into darkness.

Yes.

He comes with shout of triumph, pouring his seed into her welcoming heat. Her climax shimmers through her, and he feels that, too, the inevitable welling up of sensation so different from his own sharp release. For an instant he really can't tell which feelings and thoughts are his own and which belong to her.

A spark of fear – a flutter of rebellion – she pulls away from him the tiniest bit, reclaiming her will. The crystalline energy between them clouds. He does not fight the change. No one could bear the intensity of that connection for long. They lie in each other's arms, exhausted and groggy with joy.

The candle gutters and winks out. They sleep. He wakes a bit after dawn to find his bed empty. Did he imagine it all? Was this just another fantasy?

Rubbing his eyes, he wanders out of the bedroom. She is seated at the dining room table, naked in the pearly light of a foggy morning, writing in her journal. Her bowed neck speaks both of submission and strength. He sees that despite her tiny frame, she's anything but delicate.

Barefoot, he steals up behind her, cupping her luscious breasts, twirling her nipples. She leans back with a sigh, her curly locks soft against his bare chest. He nips her earlobe, runs a wet tongue along the line of her jaw.

What are you writing about, Sarah?” he asks, a bit afraid of the answer.

Her face is luminous as she turns to him.

Magic.”

Friday, March 25, 2016

It's Complicated

by Jean Roberta

Like many other media-watchers in Canada, I’m confused and disappointed by the verdict in the “sexual-assault” trial of former talk-show host Jian Ghomeshi (formerly of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). He was acquitted due to inconsistencies in the testimony of women who said he choked, hit and restrained them during sexual encounters that started out consensually.

Here are some links which might work if pasted into your browser:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ghomeshi-verdict-judge-neil-macdonald-1.3506958

http://www.macleans.ca/society/the-jian-ghomeshi-verdict-is-in-but-the-story-isnt-over

The most public complainant, actor Lucy De Coutere, apparently sent him some flirtatious messages after the alleged assault, and this only came out in court during cross-examination. Her behaviour does look illogical.

But so does the reported behaviour of an attractive man who seemed to attract hordes of women, yet seemed touchy, self-centred and manipulative at work and at play, according to many witnesses. His claim that he is “into BDSM” has already been debunked by educators on all things kinky. Rule #1: find out who you’re playing with, and ask for consent.

What does all this have to do with forgiveness? When I was as young as Ghomeshi’s dates (he is in his forties, but prefers women in their twenties), I was constantly encouraged to forgive men who seemed pushy, manipulative, or even violent. After all, I was told, when there is conflict between two people, there is always fault on both sides. I was reminded that human beings are only human.

Maybe Lucy De Coutere internalized some form of this advice, so that her responses to unexpected violence were confused and inconsistent.

The other uncomfortable parallel between my previous relationships and Ghomeshi’s messy track record is that I’ve always been attracted to people who claim to be leftist, anti-establishment types who are against every form of oppression and aggression. I came of age during the War in Vietnam, when redneck men in the U.S. wanted to sign up to fight for America, and hip, sensitive men wanted to sneak out of the U.S. to avoid the draft. (Some born-Canadians even wanted to pass for U.S. draft-dodgers to give themselves more cred.)

Ghomeshi was apparently so far to the left in his student days that he was highly visible in campus feminist groups. I’ve met men like this, and they always made me uncomfortable for reasons I couldn’t clearly explain when I was younger. In some cases, they started conversations with, “Well, if women really want equality . . .” They were the experts in other people’s experience as well as their own.

Whenever a leftist man or woman lets me down (as they have done with shocking regularity), I’ve been advised to stop blaming him/her/them. I am either supposed to believe that a socially-conscious platform trumps abusive behaviour or that whenever I become disillusioned with someone in my life, that is a sign of what is wrong with me.

The problem with being opposed to the currently unjust and unsustainable state of the world is that simply being opposed to THIS mess really isn’t a sign that one wouldn’t create a different but equally messy mess, given the chance.

I’ve been urged to attend workshops on forgiveness. Wouldn’t I like to let go of whatever old grudges I’m still holding onto? Wouldn’t I like to achieve a zen state of peace, tranquility, and acceptance of everything? Not really.

I’m a fan of forgiveness AFTER the harm has stopped and after the perpetrator has done everything possible to make amends. If someone stole something from me and then gave it back, with an apology, I would be happy to let bygones be bygones. (Note on this point: when my first woman lover stole the contents of my bank account, approximately $1600, she defended herself by telling me that her parish priest had promised her God’s forgiveness. I promised her my own forgiveness if and when I had been paid back. She never returned the money, and for years, she advised me to forget our little misunderstanding.)

Spouse and I have a bisexual friend who wants to travel with us in the winter of 2017, when I will be on sabbatical. (However, I will be paid 80% of my regular salary, so I won’t have unlimited wealth.) This prospect makes me increasingly uneasy because of the way she drove us out of a local queer organization in the 1990s. I have noticed her long-term pattern of being overly generous, a wannabe salon hostess of the queer community, who seems to need unquestioning agreement in return. She has a fluent vocabulary of psychobabble. For some reason, she now treats Spouse and me like friends, but I’m fairly sure that for about 20 years, she warned others to avoid us.

I am tempted to express my concerns to this person in a public place before making any agreement to go anywhere with her, but I can easily guess the response: why am I so obsessed with the past? (And besides, I misinterpreted everything she did.) Why can’t I let it go? My distrust is so unhealthy!

Spouse didn’t seem to remember our old conflict with “Friend” until I spelled it out for Spouse in detail. In situations like this, I sometimes wonder if I do have an uncanny memory for minor offenses, little dents that other people have accidentally put into the vehicle of my life.

Be that as it may, if “forgiveness” means deciding to trust someone who has shown herself/himself untrustworthy in the past, I can’t do it.

If “forgiveness” only means not hiring a hit person to track down all my enemies, I can resist the temptation to do that. I can be gracious enough not to carry a concealed weapon in my boot or my bra. I can even tune out fantasies of inflicting medieval torture on a deserving victim and justifying it as a spiritual duty. I try not to be a hypocrite.

However, as long as “forgiveness” (without that other thing that is often dangled in front of unhappy people, “closure”) is recommended, over and over again, as the appropriate response to every offense, I can’t buy it. This may be my fatal flaw. I can move on, but I can’t simply clean up the screen of my mind by deleting everything negative until there is nothing left but greeting-card slogans.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Scent of the Violet

by Annabeth Leong

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

The quote above has saved me from a trip through what I often find to be insufferable and pedantic territory.

While forgiveness is beautiful and important, I’m very concerned by all the self-righteousness around the concept that I come across in my general reading and living of life. I think it’s an act of grace and mystery, and by its very nature it’s about going beyond what’s required. So what bothers me is what I see as intense peer pressure, particularly in communities focused around self-help, religion, or other similar pursuits, to forgive people in all circumstances, sometimes far more rapidly than seems reasonable to me. This is often accompanied by a slew of platitudes about forgiveness, why it’s important, and how it works.

Something I’ve been thinking about for a while is that mainstream culture isn’t monolithic, so problems in it often come in pairs. This can make it confusing to criticize mainstream trends without sounding like you’re taking up the other common side. For example, with respect to forgiveness, there’s another mainstream thread of implacable and vengeful anger. See, for example, the various horrific things that U.S. Republican presidential candidates are saying about the vengeance they wish to take in response to terrorist attacks (which often describe acts that would harm many innocent people). I don’t endorse that at all.

To me, this sort of vengeful anger seems like the flip side of pressure to offer kneejerk forgiveness. Both stem from a lack of understanding of forgiveness as a process, and beyond that of the reaction to violence as a set of complex feelings. The mainstream view toward the aftermath of harm looks to me like a binary switch: be vengefully angry forever, or forgive immediately. In my life, probably unsurprisingly to those who know me here, things are far more complicated than that.

I’ll focus on the forgiveness side because that’s our topic.

It’s been complicated for me to get at what forgiveness actually means. At times, I’ve treated it as a thing that totally wipes away whatever wrong was done, in such a way that I placed myself in situations where I was harmed over and over again in the same ways by the same people. At times, the concept of forgiveness (which I might describe now as formally releasing someone, either in your own heart or through conversation, from an obligation to somehow “make it up to you”) gets mixed up with the concept of erasing your anger. I think it’s possible to forgive someone but still feel angry about what was done, and that in many ways that might be a healthier view of what forgiveness could look like. At times, I’ve felt pressured to tell someone I forgave them, particularly in the immediate aftermath of an event, and then found later that I was still suffering from what they had done. At that point, it felt like I’d be making myself a liar if I brought the issue up again.

I’m really concerned about pressure to forgive, for example, ongoingly abusive family members, especially depending on how forgiveness is being defined. If forgiveness means mentally releasing them from some sort of perceived obligation to change but feeling okay about avoiding them forever, then that seems okay to me. If, on the other hand, it means showing up at Thanksgiving and going through more abuse, I’ve got some questions about whether this is really a good idea.

Most importantly, though, for forgiveness to preserve its essential grace, it can’t be obligatory and it can’t be flippant. It needs to be seen as the act of unnecessary generosity that it is. It needs to be seen as the product of time and self-reflection. It needs to be seen as something that can’t necessarily be performed on command. It’s also not easy, and it may not necessarily make things right in any obvious way.

This brings me back to the quote. Though often attributed to Mark Twain, it’s apparently actually of unknown origin.

What struck me, though, is that it preserves the complexity of forgiveness. It’s a lovely image, full of the sort of grace and mystery that the concept of forgiveness possesses to me. It also raises a lot of questions, and doesn’t shy away from the disturbing elements involved.

The flower in the quote has been crushed. There’s no question being raised about whether real harm was done (another issue that often muddies forgiveness—”no harm done” is, I think, a different circumstance). The flower has been crushed and will go on as such. There is no evidence that the foot that crushed it paused, tried to help, or even noticed. It is possible that no amends can be made, and that the crushing is irrevocable. And yet, there is that beautiful fragrance.

But what is that fragrance for? Aside from the beauty and mystery it possesses, it may well go unappreciated. The owner of the heel may never notice the scent. Releasing a lovely scent may do nothing for the flower. And yet it’s undeniable that there is something better about a world in which this image exists.

That last paragraph is really important to me because it counteracts what can be a frustratingly utilitarian view of forgiveness. Accompanying the pressure to provide it rapidly is often the idea that it’s “good for you.” As if it were a way of eating one’s spinach. It is often true that forgiveness, offered sincerely after time and self-reflection, provides a sense of spiritual release, and that it may ultimately be better for one’s psyche than nursing a longstanding grudge. On the other hand, that “good for you” idea feels far too simplistic to me.

If forgiveness is an act of generosity, which I think it is, then focusing on oneself while offering it seems to come at it from the wrong angle. And, as I’ve brought up before, I don’t think forgiveness is good for you if it leads you to continue suffering harm (for example, by forgiving an abusive current partner and then deciding for that reason to stay in the relationship). I’d rather take “good for you” concepts as side effects rather than essential motivation for the act.

The flower may die. It may be crushed again. And yet the scent remains. There’s something lovely and hard to grasp about that, and that gets at the essential nature of forgiveness as I see it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Please Elaborate

Elaborate, Please


“I’m sorry, Bill.”

“Sorry, Annette? Sorry you did it, or sorry you got caught?”

“Of course I’m sorry you found out. Not this soon.”

“Jesus. How do you think that makes me feel? You’re saying it was okay if I didn’t know?”

“Not yet. I planned to tell you when it was appropriate”

“That you’re seeing somebody else? What kinda lag is appropriate? It’s just fine that everybody in this goddamn town knows, but not me? I have to learn from fucking gossip that I’m the town cuckold?”

“You don’t know the whole story.”

“I’ll bet. What? You’re gonna say you were drunk? That somebody raped you? What the fuck could you possibly say that would make this okay?”

“I—I thought it could improve our sex lives.”

“Dammit, Annette. What are you trying to pull? Somebody taught you sex theory, then assigned lab work?”

“No. But I thought another person in our lovemaking would rejuvenate us somehow.”

“Bring this guy into our bed? What? I’ll feel better if I watch you suck his cock?”

“She doesn’t have a cock. It’s Ramona.”

That gorgeous Ramona? The yoga teacher with those great tits?”

“Fine ass too.”

“Tell me more.”


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

When should I forgive? by Suz deMello

I had a hard time forgiving my father before he died for all the bad parenting he'd committed. About three years later, I realized when my eldest brother was diagnosed with stage four cancer that I'd better get the knack of forgiveness, fast, because he wasn't going to be around much longer. So I learned to forgive, though I'm not quite sure how. I think I looked at the way he'd evolved since he'd been my nasty childhood tormentor. Mostly due to the influence of his second wife, I think, he'd eventually evolved into a pretty nice guy.

So these days I'm good at forgiveness. Mostly.

But there are some transgressions that are very difficult to forgive.

In a book by an otherwise good person who will go unnamed (I wish to spare her embarrassment and public humiliation), she wrote that the detective hero had helped the prosecution's case with his testimony on appeal.

This happened early in the book and, unforgiving, I did not read another word. Even laypersons who have watched a highly publicized trial (or are addicts of TV shows like Law and Order) are aware that testimony is never taken on appeal. In their decision-making, appellate courts are limited to the record, i.e., the evidence presented at the trial court level.

Several years passed. This same nice lady's career advanced, and I decided to try another of her books. Though I didn't read anything as egregious, still, the second book of hers I tried was simply a mess. It bore all the hallmarks of a series opening novel in which the author leaves all kinds of loose ends in order to have something to tie up in later books. A paranormal romantic suspense, it was well out of her comfort zone (she usually writes contemporary RS with a strong police procedural feel) and it was just bad bad bad. Predictably, the series sputtered and died after only one or two more books, when quite clearly the author had planned for several based on the characters she'd introduced.

I had forgiven her too early. Maybe I should not have forgiven her at all.

In another very nice lady's first book for Harlequin, she began with the heroine awakening from sleep by an odd noise, and then spent several pages with the character thinking about her situation. In other words, the author dropped an info dump on the unsuspecting reader starting at page one. That never works with me. I hate info dumps even when they're only a paragraph, and they just don't belong in the beginning of a book. Get me to care about the character before you lay a whole bunch of backstory on me. Otherwise, that's just boring. Actually--info dumps don't belong anywhere. Slip in the info cleverly, without me noticing. 

Though I really respect this author as a person, I haven't read anything by her since, and it's been a very long time. I've tried--I swear--but after a couple minutes of struggle, I give up. I just don't like the writing, though I admire the person.

Other authors may slump and with me, my interest never recovers. And it's sad. I used to adore Jayne Ann Krentz in all of her personae, especially as  Amanda Quick. I loved her historicals! Then the dreaded series bug bit her--or maybe it bit her editors. She began writing these very formulaic books, mostly three part series. They are awful, stilted, predictable bores. 

I don't understand why an author of her stature bothers. She can't possibly need more money or fame--she's already there. 

Maybe I'm probably too picky about what I read, and often find myself moping around grumbling that there's nothing to read, it's all crap, I might as well go reread something I know will be good.

Should I be more forgiving?



Monday, March 21, 2016

The Quality of Mercy

Sacchi Green

When you can’t seem to get a grasp on a topic that really deserves to be considered seriously and in depth, who can you turn to?

Shakespeare, of course. By way of Merriam-Webster:

Simple Definition of forgive
: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)

: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)

: to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)

You know where I’m going with this, and you know I’m stretching a point to equate forgiveness with mercy, but not stretching all that far.  The Merchant of Venice is very much about forgiving a payment, that “pound of flesh” that was put up as collateral for a loan, but it’s about other kinds of forgiveness as well, and about a mercy that includes forgiveness.

Shylock, the Jew who has made the loan, is both villain and victim. He has suffered massive amounts of bigotry and scorn and ill-treatment, some of it at the hands of Antonio, who has been granted the loan to help out a friend. We can understand why Shylock can’t forgive the treatment he and his people have suffered, and Shakespeare even makes us understand how being unable to forgive hurts those who bear a rightful grudge. (I should note here that there are many conflicting interpretations of the various aspects of this play, so I’m choosing an interpretation that fits my needs, while admitting that I am in no way an expert at this.)

I’ll also admit that my main interest in the play has always been the fact that the most impressive character is a woman, Portia, masquerading as a male lawyer to plead Antonio’s case. And what a plea it is!

"The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthron├Ęd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there."

Shylock is, of course, unmoved by this, so the presiding Duke rules that his price must be paid…until Portia, as lawyer, says okay, take your pound of flesh, but not a drop of blood, or your lands and goods will be forfeited under Venetian laws. In fact threatening to take a citizen’s life leaves Shylock, as an “alien,” subject to loss of property and possibly even his life. The Duke, possibly influenced by Portia’s speech, pardons Shylock’s life, and Antonio agrees to let the property go eventually to Shylock’s daughter, Jessica, who has married a Christian Venetian greatly against her father’s wishes. There's some level of forgiveness all around, except that Shylock is unlikely to be any less bitter.

I’ve read Portia’s speech several times, and memorized the first half-dozen lines when I was a teenager, but this time I paid more attention to the later parts, and was struck by the references to mankind’s need for mercy and forgiveness from God, which should lead us to show mercy and forgiveness to each other. Which of course echoes the lines from the Biblical Lord’s Prayer I learned as a child; “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” There it is. Forgiveness is essential for us, in the giving as well as the giving. (My own thoughts on the concepts of sin and guilt could lead me widely astray here, but for now let’s just leave it at that.)

Wait a minute, though. We’re erotica writers. Shouldn’t I feel guilty quoting from the Bible here? Will you forgive me if I quote just a bit more from the work that surpasses even Shakespeare as a source of inspiring quotations? How about the Old Testament book The Song of Solomon? Just one lovely erotic verse among many:

“My beloved is mine, and I am his;
    he grazes among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
    and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
    or a young stag on cleft mountains.“

Excuse me. I’ll be in my tent, not feeling at all in need of forgiveness just at the moment.