My lesson from the experience aside from squabbles produce little or no fiction, is that people will write things that scratch their own particular itch no matter how wrong or even disturbing that itch appears to other people. For a time, I tried responding to fiction I found confounding or even offensive with a story that would show those problems I have in sharp relief then mock them. No one noticed. I mean, the stories would go over well, but no one got why I originally wrote the story. I'm used to that. I once wrote a piece that was so full of references from The Simpsons, it could have been a script from the show. No one noticed. Whatever.
Then, I decided to do like Joe Haldeman when he wrote The Forever War . He wrote the first novel in response to Starship Troopers . Thus, my career in erotic fiction largely stems from being annoyed at something I read at some point in time. This even applies to Demon Under Glass to some extent. I've published stories about Simon and Joe that I didn't agree with while wearing my Editirx hat. No, I'm not going to go into the minutia of what I didn't agree with or to what degree. If you've followed the Delphi List for any length of time, it's fairly clear what my point of view on those characters and who they are and are not. I even wrote a non-canonical story, Identities, for one of the collections to show how I would throw Joe and Simon together romantically as a response to similar stories. But annoyance cannot fuel an entire novel. What's been happening is I get the spark from an annoyance but at the end of many weeks and hundreds of pages, My characters have taken on a life of their own in a universe of my own creation, much like The Forever War. Sometimes, I even lose track of what originally caused me to write the danged thing because I've become caught up in who the characters and their worlds evolve into being.
Why am I bringing this up? Don't I already have four charismatic male characters whispering in my ear for attention? And aren't I almost too fatigued to write more that a page every few days? Why yes, I am. So, of course, I have a whole other novel barging into my brain looking for attention. This began with a series of Japanese novels and an OVA (mini-series) called Ai No Kusabi Or The Space Between. It's a riveting series that scratched many of my itches. However, the internal contradictions in the novels and OVA and the ending made me absolutely nuts. I won't detail them lest someone here wants to read for themselves. Everything is in the Wiki link. Strangely, I haven't read much of the fanfiction. It's not easy to find, for one. And for two, the pairings I've found have made me run in the opposite direction. It's clear to me that most of the fanfiction I've found has been about putting pretty people together and very much not about who the characters actually are. I was annoyed enough from the original novel and OVA. I didn't need to get more vexed.
Out of all of this, Ensnared was born, and Darius and Andreas joined the men rattling around my brain seeking my attention. Both this book and the Soldiers book are moving at the same pace. I fit my latest Demon Under Glass story in between them. I suppose Simon is getting the most attention overall as he is in the Soldiers book and the short story. He would like it that way. This particular story is one I've wanted to write about Joe and Simon for quite a while. It's running longer than expected. I'm sure Simon likes that as well.
As for Ensnared, it's set in a post apocalypse Earth well into the future. The world that arose from the ashes has a strong caste system and, despite the existence of government and law, is truly ruled by what had been an underworld gang that has existed since the disaster that destroyed the original civilization. The Cosimo or Cosi are run by Darius Galatea. One night he has a near scandalous encounter with Andreas Hesper, an underworld Crew leader who has dealt with the Cosi often but never met Darius. At the same time as this relationship is brewing, someone with a lot of money and power is trying to have Andreas killed. When he discovers that he is not safe anywhere in his own territory, Andreas reaches out to Darius for help. The price is a year of service as Darius' Damian or tame plaything. The answer to the mystery not only turns the caste system on its ear, it threatens the growing attachment between the two men.
Here is an excerpt:
The morning brought no answers for Andreas. He couldn't stay in the hotel another night. Someone would tip his pursuers soon. That would make other hotels in the area out of the question. Andreas was running out of options. He decided to take a risk. He went to the communications console and put in a call to Cosimo Tower. The receptionist was beautiful but very snotty when she got a look at Andreas, but he insisted that Lord Galatea would speak to him. She all but rolled her eyes when she put him on hold. He prayed she hadn't hung up on him. Seconds later, Darius was on the screen.
“Forgive my intrusion on your day, milord.”
“Darius. Have you forgotten?” Darius asked mildly.
“No. It's just that I missed being killed last night,” Andreas replied. “Whoever is after me has a lot of money, and I'm running out of places to hide.”
“Do you still have the pass to Amara?”
“Come to me immediately,” Darius said. “How close are you to the border?”
“I'm just on the other side at Octavius checkpoint.”
“Get across the border. My security will meet you there.”
“Thank you, Darius.”
“It will be my pleasure. Move now.”
The screen blinked out. Andreas threw on his clothes and jacket, checked to make sure he still had the pass and the paperwork from the professor. At the last minute, Andreas decided to take the back stairs that led directly to the garage – the preferred method for Elite guests to leave. Just as the door to the landing closed, Andreas heard the elevator ping. Then there was running down the corridor toward his room. Andreas ran down the rest of the stairs. He figured that they would have broken down the door and found him gone just as he swung onto the motorcycle. As he peeled out of the garage, Andreas saw that there were two black vans parked across from the hotel. One still had men in it. They spotted him as he roared toward the checkpoint. There would be no time to clear the pass. He could still be attacked while at the checkpoint itself as it was considered part of No Man's Land. Andreas gunned the engine and jumped the barrier at the checkpoint. The police would be on him before he could get much further. He just prayed that they wouldn't shoot first.
Patrol cars barreled onto the scene just as the black vans smashed their way through the checkpoint. One police car blocked Andreas from moving forward while another got between him and the black vans that were still advancing. Andreas shut down his engine and put his hands on his head. The black vans stopped, but the occupants filed out and drew weapons. Andreas was still not safe. Cops on both side of the border were not known for honesty. He held his breath waiting for the 'stray' shot that would end his life.
Suddenly, a phalanx of sleek, powerful vehicles appeared blocking the vans and the police from Andreas.
“Relax, Andreas,” a voice said from behind him.
Andreas put his hands down and removed his helmet. Darius was walking toward him with the air of a man in full command of a situation. His beautifully long, silken hair gently stirred in the breeze. His eyes were covered by sunglasses, making his face look cold. Andreas wondered if he should be worried as he came very close. Somehow, he found the courage to get off the bike and face him.
“What happens now?” Andreas asked trying not to tremble.
Darius removed his sunglasses and gazed warmly at Andreas.
“I will offer you my protection in my home while this contract on you is investigated,” Darius said. “It is obvious that the only way you will be completely safe is in my custody.”
“I can't argue that,” Andreas said. “But what do you want in exchange for this protection? I don't have very much.”
Darius smiled at him. It was a beautifully predatory smile that sent a chill down his spine.
“I want you, Andreas. Wasn't that clear the other night?”
“You want me...as a lover?”
Darius shook his head. The smile, like his eyes, grew hotter.
“We will be lovers, but that isn't enough for me, exquisite Andreas,” he said softly. “I want you to be my Dami. I want to own you body, mind and will for at least a year.”
Andreas felt like the ground dropped from beneath his feet. His body was reacting even as his mind was rebelling. He wanted Darius like he'd never wanted anyone before, but could he give himself so completely to someone he barely knew? Could he risk turning him down? What would he become if he accepted?
“Trust me, Andreas, and submit to me completely. Now.”
That voice made him hard and weakened everything that was trying to fight this. His final thought before he spoke was that Viktor would never let him hear the end of it.
“Yes, Darius,” Andreas said softly as he met the Cosi's gaze. “I will be your Dami. I submit.”
“Good,” he murmured taking Andreas by the hand.
They threaded their way through the vehicles until they could see the would be hit squad. They were quite safe as the Cosi security team outgunned them and were on a hair trigger for any movement. Andreas couldn't believe that they remained with all that firepower and the police still there. How much were these guys being paid or what were they facing if they failed?
“Attention,” Darius said in a booming and commanding voice. “Andreas Hesper is under my protection from now hence. He is my property and as such, you will have to take on the Cosi and me to get to him.”
Andreas inhaled sharply causing Darius to turn toward him. The Cosi's eyes were hot as he dropped Andreas' hand to grab him by the hair at the back of his head. Finally, those full, firm lips were on his then that tongue was pushing inside his mouth, claiming him more forcefully than words could. The kiss was voracious and demanding. Andreas responded even as his knees weakened and he sagged against the larger man. Darius lifted his head and smiled down at him.
“Yes, Andreas. You are mine,” he murmured.
The hit squad peeled off back across the border. The police also departed.
“I'll have the motorcycle brought to my garage,” Darius said. “Come with me. We're going to my home. I think you've had enough today.”
Andreas looked at him gratefully then followed wordlessly to the private car that waited just beyond the perimeter. Darius guided a then shell shocked Andreas into the car then buckled him in.
“Try to relax, Andreas,” Darius murmured. “My staff is working on their connections in Kacia and beyond. And with you out of harm's way, your Crew can focus on finding out who is behind all of this.”
“Why did you let them go?”
“They are little fish who probably only know a low level go-between,” Darius said. “We need to find out where this money is coming from.”
“And letting them go means whoever hired them knows that the Cosi are involved,” Andreas said. “What if they back off?”
“Doubtful,” Darius replied. “They kept coming despite our inquiries, and they crossed into Amara and faced off against the police.”
“Yeah,” Andreas sighed.
“This is all very inconvenient for me,” Darius said. “I had plans where you are concerned.”
“No worries, I've got a good handle on the wine gig,” Andreas assured him. “I think the research for it saved my life yesterday, because I wasn't anywhere anyone would expect.”
“That's good to hear, but I meant it was inconvenient for my seduction of you,” Darius said.
“But you got me to be your Dami in less than 48 hours.”
“I would have preferred to draw out the dance and have you walk into the arrangement – not run into it,” Darius said.
Andreas found himself exasperated and amused.
“But you have me.”
“I have your body,” Darius countered. “But your mind is in several different places. As it is, I'll have to feed you and see that you've made contact with your crew and otherwise relax you until I can have you.”
“You're going to let me have contact with my crew?”
“Of course,” Darius replied. “You will still run your crew. Your mind is too agile to remain completely idle, and you have a job to complete.”
“Why didn't you tell me that straight away?”
Darius glanced at him with that predatory smile. “I wanted your surrender to be absolute. No conditions. No haggling.”
“You wanted my trust.”
“I must have your trust.”
“And all of this firepower and effort are ultimately aimed at your own pleasure,” Andreas chuckled. “Isn't that a little self absorbed?”
“Not at all,” Darius replied. “If I am allowed my pleasures, I am relaxed. If I am relaxed, I am better at my work.”
“So the fate of the world depends on your orgasms?” Andreas asked incredulously.
Darius laughed. “Well, yes. You are a cheeky one. I can't wait to train you.”
Andreas smiled his most winning smile. “I don't know if that can be trained away. Many have tried.”
“We'll see,” Darius murmured.
Things are still moving slowly according to my energy levels.