Ranting Now in Progress.

Okay, so you read the subject title right? Don't say you haven't been warned.

This is a copy (more or less) of a comment I left on a discussion about the digital vs paper debate. It's an expanded and very much edited version, I must point out, and this is something I am able to accomplish easily and quickly and with complete convenience because I'm composing it on my computer. I'm not typing it on paper. I'm not writing it by hand. I'm a child of technology and damned proud of it.

Yes, My Side of the Mountain was one of my favorite childhood books. Yes, I want to know how to tan deerskin and hand-raise a baby falcon. Yes, the idea of living alone in a tree in the middle of the forest sounds positively idyllic...in theory. In practice, I want my modern conveniences and I want them now.

I'm old enough to prefer oil paints to acrylics, and I've yet to be convinced that digital pictures will ever match (or even approximate) the beauty of film--and if you think I'm nuts on the subject of film, you should hear my husband, the photographer/filmmaker rant! But, when it comes to books, I'm firmly of the opinion that reading is reading is reading and  none of the supposed advantages of paper over digital that I've ever heard--with the possible exception of sharing and recycling--really holds much water.

One of the first things people tend to talk about in these discussions is our dependence on technology and the disasters that will befall society should technology break down. What if your computer gets a virus, they ask, as if that's never happened. What if the internet goes away? What if there's a blackout? An earthquake? A flood? How're you gonna read your ebooks then????

And, you know, I'm sure this is a really valid concern. I suspect we'd all be inconvenienced if we had to do without cars, electricity, running water, phones...but, hey, that's no reason to turn all Amish either. Cars break down--so what?  Horses die. You wanna walk everywhere? Go for it. You're not gonna have much free time for reading anyhow. 

However, since the Kindle, nook, Sony Reader, et al,  can run for a considerable period--like a couple of weeks per charge--on battery power, I'm not really seeing this as an issue. Between that and the lighted screens--they're pretty much blackout proof, to my way of thinking, at least in the short-term. 

Here's my final word on the subject: If you're stuck without electricity for longer than a couple of weeks--and it's not by choice--then I'm guessing reading-for-entertainment is not going to be anywhere near the top of your priority list. And good thing, too, since you'll probably be forced to burn your paper books for fuel.

You also hear people complain about eye-strain. Trust me, this too is nothing new. All my life I've been hearing how reading too much can strain your eyes. Or how reading in bad lighting (like when you use a flashlight under the covers, 'cause it's bedtime and you don't want to stop) is bad for you.  Or watching too much TV. Or sitting too close to the TV.

Yeah, well, what can I tell you? People also used to say that masturbation would make you blind--and no, I'm not that old. Or that messed up.  However, I do not personally believe something as trivial as  fear of eye-strain has ever made anyone stop any of those activities. And it never will. In any case, the point is moot since the newest e-readers have been designed to be easier on the eyes than paper. 

As a matter of fact, they've been designed to be easier, period. Pretty much anything you can do with a paper book, you can do with your digital reader...although you might want to think twice before you throw it at the wall.

For some reason, the pro paper people (don'tcha love alliteration?) always want to talk about bookmarks, 'cause god forbid you lose your place while reading. Well, where's the prob? You can bookmark your place using an e-reader just as easily as you can with a paper book. More easily, actually, since virtual bookmarks are harder to lose and you don't have to desecrate anything by folding corners.

I don't know about the rest of you all, but I really hate folded corners on books. It's right up there with writing in books. Pisses me right the hell off.

Then there's the physicality issue. Really? You need to hold your book in your hands? Is this kindergarten?

I personally like the hands-free ease of reading on my computer. I'm not usually a big fan of multi-tasking, but anything that allows me to read and drink wine at the same time without juggling is a Very Good Thing, IMO.

But, you know, variety is the spice of life and it makes for a better horse race, or something. And that's why dedicated ebook readers exist. They exist for the pleasure of those who prefer a more hands-on reading experience. 

Why do the luddites not grasp this concept? Why do they not embrace it as their own?  

Because they have been ergonomically designed to feel good in the hands, ebook readers offer not just an equally sensual reading experience, but in fact a better one.  This is especially true if you have any medical or physical condition that makes holding ordinary books (not to mention turning the pages) difficult. Oh, and they're easier if you can only use one hand, too.

Of course, eye strain and dexterity aren't the only physical issues to take into account either. While it's true expensive electronic gadgets and sturdy don't generally belong in the same sentence, which might make them Not a Great Choice for Kids,  which would you really rather have to repair--a damaged e-reader or your child's spine?

I mean, have you hefted one of their backpacks lately? No, excuse me, let me re-phrase that. Have you tried to heft one of their backpacks lately? Scary, isn't it?

Next thing people complain about when it comes to ebooks is the fact that they don't physically exist. Um, yeah. I'm sure y'all have heard my thoughts on that. Again, I'm not quite sure why people think it's an advantage that books be so...tactile. Especially since this is somehow connected in people's minds with words like "real" and "lasting" and "permanent" rather than words like "heavy" "awkward" "cumbersome" and "really, really easy to damage".

I just don't get it. Did I somehow miss the titanium-reinforced-paper boat here?  You know, 'cause, really, last I heard, paper wasn't generally considered the most durable of substances. 

Water and paper? Not good. Fire and paper? Ooh, really not good. Dogs, damp, mold, mice, insects, time, children--did I leave anything out? These are all the mortal enemies of paper books.  Even the normal wear and tear of reading and re-reading them degrades them. And that's when you don't just lose them. Or leave them on a train. Or spill things on them...

Replacing them when they become--for whatever reason--unreadable is expensive and sometimes impossible if they've gone out of print. Most digital bookstores, on the other hand, keep track of your purchases, making it easy(and generally cost free) to replace your library in the unlikely event you simultaneously lose and/or damage all the electronic devices on which you've stored copies of your books. And, for the most part, ebooks are also less expensive to buy than print in the first place. More cost savings = more new book buying. Yay! Go, team!

Of course, it's true that if you get your e-reader wet, it's not going to work too well anymore--and since they're not currently inexpensive, I can see how that would be a bummer. But the same could be said of most electronics and yet we deal with that. I honestly can't recall the last time I heard about anyone refusing to buy...oh, let's say a radio...on the pretext that dropping one in his or her bath tub would render it useless. 

And, it seems to me that would be a lot bigger deal for them personally than having to replace the  ol' Kindle. Besides, since we're on the subject of baths, if you combine your ebook reader with another high-tech gadget--the plastic bag--you can read in the bath, or at the pool, or  in the rain safely and with ease. Ever try reading a paperback through a plastic bag? Yeah, not so much.

I guess I just don't understand why people feel there's something particularly sacrosanct about paper books. Letters written by hand, a personal note, an autograph, or anything that might reasonably be considered, in some fashion, a keepsake--absolutely. That I get. And, trust me, I'm as sentimental as they come. Much to my daughter's disgust--and my husband's too, now that I think of it--I happily schlep boxes and boxes of my kids' artwork, school work, birthday cards, letters, notes, scribbles, scrawls (virtually anything they've ever committed to paper) around with me through move after move. After move. 

My son, on the other hand, sensitive Pisces that he is, gets the sentimental thing. Then again, it's been kind of a while since he's been one of  the ones actually doing the schlepping, so it could just be he's humoring me.  

In any case, the point is, these are the kinds of paper products that will never be replaced by digital facsimiles...at least I don't think they will.  But mass produced printed material, on the other hand? No. Not even close.

Now, because I live in California...or, possibly more to the point, because my husband and I have produced a couple of documentaries on Old Growth Forests, I also have to mention the "green" issue as related to e-books vs print.

Economics and greed currently ensure that, when it comes to the publishing industry in particular, recycled paper products--or paper made from more sustainable resources such as hemp or bamboo--don't stand a chance. Perhaps, if print books become a rarity, valued as much for their beauty and craftsmanship as for their content, then making paper books more "green" will be an additional selling point. But, for right now, with the current mass-market book buying public already carping about the high cost of buying print, the clear cutting will continue. And that's just wrong.

For me, that alone would be enough to make paperless books attractive. I'll gladly forgo the somewhat dubious pleasure of having to hold a physical book in both my hands as I read if it means my grandchildren might someday have the chance to read one of my books in the shade of a primordial forest. 

Well, okay, maybe not one of my books...or, at least, maybe not all of them... But any book, even My Side of the Mountain.

 But, speaking of primordial, if it's heft and durability you're after in your reading material, why  do you wanna mess around with the modern-day equivalent of papyrus scrolls at all? Why not just go back to using stone tablets?  


Hard Work

Today's Thursday Excerpt over at Nine Naughty Novelists, is supposed to be "the scene you found hardest to write". Well, I had a problem with that. My hardest scenes to write all tended to be big time spoilers. Not wanting to give too much away I didn't know what scene to post.

So, the following scene is something of a compromise. It's the lead in to a much harder scene. I'd say "enjoy" but what kind of sickos do I think you are?

This is from Dream Under the Hill, book eight in the Oberon series. It's my darkest book to date--a title it will probably keep for some time, now that my daughter has succeeded in talking me out of killing off most of the vampires in my new Children of Night series. It's also my longest book to date  and that's really not likely to change! But it's a damn good book, if I do say so myself...

Why don’t you cut the crap and tell me what happened to your face?” Liam demanded as he tracked her into the kitchen. Cara was breathing hard, hugging herself again and staring into space as though pondering what her next move should be.

She turned and frowned at him, her expression cold. “I told you. I fell.”

“No, you didn’t. Now, quit lying. I want the real story.”

“Yeah? Well, I was there, so I’d think I’d know if that was the real story, or not.”

“Is that a fact? C’mere, sunshine,” Liam said as he grabbed hold of her arm. She yelped in protest, but he ignored it and dragged her out of the kitchen, through the butler’s pantry, back into the dining room and over to the mirror that was hanging above the buffet. “I want to show you something.”

“Now, look there,” he instructed turning her face toward the glass.

She did. Briefly. Then her gaze slid away. “I know how it looks, okay? I don’t need to–”

“No, you don’t know.” He lifted her chin again. “If you did then maybe you’d understand why no one believes you when you say you fell down the stairs.” Their eyes met in the mirror, he smiled at her grimly. “Now watch, and let me show you what I see.”

Gently, using the tip of one finger, he touched her face. The scrape on the underside of her nose. The bruise beneath it, just above her lip. The tiny rip at the corner of her mouth. The slight swelling on the edge of her jaw. Four marks. Evenly spaced. In a diagonal line.

“Do you see those?” he asked.

Cara nodded, barely breathing, her gaze fixed on his finger.

“Good.” Still watching her watch him, Liam made a fist. He brought it slowly to her face and positioned it just so, the knuckles lining up almost perfectly with the injured places...

Cara gasped. Her eyes grew wide as she stared at her own reflection. Liam knew the exact moment when awareness hit her, when the sight of the girl in the mirror, a man’s fist planted square in her face, struck home. A shudder wracked her whole body. He took hold of her shoulders and turned her toward him, holding her close.

“Shh,” he murmured, “it’s okay. Just tell me what happened.” She was crying so hard he didn’t know if she could even hear him and it suddenly occurred to him that they were in far too public a place to be having this conversation. He pulled her back into the pantry and closed the door.

Buy the book HERE

Read another excerpt HERE


Fill Your Reader Blog Tour

Hello, tourists! Welcome to stop #4 on today's Fill Your Reader Blog Tour. I hope you've been enjoying the scenery so far. If everything's proceeding according to plan, you should be coming from Tina Holland's Blog. If you've missed any stops along the way, get lost or just want to go back and start your tour over, Paige Tyler's site is where you want to be. When you leave here, you'll want to head over to: Sara Brookes' blog. But, don't worry about that right now. I'll remind you again at the end of the page.

Since it's January, I thought a little beach action was in order--a little sun, a little sand, some tropical foliage, and lots and lots of gorgeous scenery. So sit back and enjoy because here at Casa Forte, we aim to offer you a quality tour experience with a  full-service staff  on hand to fulfill your every need.

Why, here's the waiter now with your drink...

Our lifeguard is on duty 24/7 to guarantee your safety while getting wet...

Our yoga instructor is serenely anxious to assist you in finding inner peace...

And as for our towel boy... Oh, never mind, he seems a bit distracted at the moment. I think he might be on the verge of losing that towel...

How 'bout I send over a couple of spares, instead? These gentlemen--though slightly overdressed--look like they'd be rather handy...


And now, a little musical interlude...

Let's see how long it takes you to get that song out of your head! But now, sad to say, I'm afraid that's it for me. This would be the end of my presentation...

The end...get it? Yuk-yuk-yuk. Oh, c'mon...you knew I couldn't let you go without at least one good pun, didn't you?  Anyway, poor towel boy...I'm afraid he's quite lost his towel, so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have to go and help him find it... 

However, there's still plenty of fun awaiting you on the rest of the tour. Next stop is  Sara Brookes' blog.  And I hope to see you all in the chat room at Gem's Place.  And if you get lost somewhere along the way or the trail disappears, I've posted a trail map over at The Crone's Nest. Just ask the tour guide for assistance. ;) Good-bye for now and happy touring!

Thursday Excerpt: Hot Scene (Warning: Adult)

So today's excerpt theme at Nine Naughty Novelists is hot scenes. And I thought, "why not pick a hot stone massage scene?" I mean, since I happen to have one, after all. Right? So, anyway, my excerpt this week comes from Let Me Count the Ways. Here's the blurb:

As the owner of The Body Electric, LA’s hottest new exercise studio, sexy, former film star Claire Calhoun has her pick of studly young men eager to do her bidding. Small wonder she’s used to calling the shots, both in and out of bed. But everything changes the night the actress-turned-entrepreneur has one mojito too many at a party and decides it would be fun to pick up her accountant, Mike Sherman. She's thinking fling. He's thinking forever.

Claire has been Mike's fantasy since the first time he saw her bare it all for the camera. Now, she's in his bed and he'll do whatever’s necessary to keep her there. But he's not a stalker, right? He's just a devoted fan.

Buy book HERE.


This scene takes place the night of the party mentioned in the blurb. They're back at Mike's house and he's really working hard to make a good impression...

Back in the bedroom, Claire was snoring softly—not something I would have expected of her. What was even more surprising, however, was the fact that I found it charming. It made her seem that much more human, that much more real. I put the pot down on the floor near the bed and then hung up her dress and her bra before gathering the rest of what I’d need from the bathroom. When I was ready, I stripped out of my pants and pulled the covers away from her.

Her shoes were still on the bed, I grabbed them and set them on the floor in front of the night table. I sat down beside her and slipped my fingers into the top of one of her stockings, at the front of her thigh, and released the first clip.

Claire stirred. Her eyes slitted open and she turned her head to look at me. “Hi,” she murmured sleepily. “What’s up?”

“Nothing. I’m just trying to get the rest of these clothes off you.”

“Oh.” Closing her eyes again she snuggled back into the pillow. “Thanks, but not necessary.”

“Actually, it is,” I insisted. “I’m giving you a massage so, unless you want your underwear covered in oil, these clothes have to go.”

“A massage, huh?”

I nodded. “I’ve noticed you’ve been looking tense lately; I figured this might help relax you.”

“Tense?” That got her eyes open wide. She rolled over on her back, propped herself up on her elbows and gazed skeptically at me. “I look tense to you?”

I couldn’t help but grin. “Well, no, not now you don’t. But, speaking in general, over the last few months? Yeah, you have.”

She stared at me a moment longer, then shrugged. “Perhaps you’re right.”

Well, I already knew I was right, but it seemed less than diplomatic to say so. I gestured at her leg. “So? May I continue?”

Without answering, she bent her leg at the knee, giving me access to the clip at the back of her thigh. I took that as a yes and slid my hand there, reveling in the warmth and softness of her skin.

Eyes hooded, she continued to watch me as I un-did the clasp and then carefully rolled the stocking down her leg. With her foot in my hand I paused just long enough to press a brief kiss against the tops of her toes. Then I tossed her stocking aside and repeated the process with her other leg, trying not to stare too openly at the rise and fall of her chest, at her lush, round breasts with their hard, rosy peaks. Not that I altogether restrained myself either, of course. I mean, why the hell would I do that? Chances like this didn’t come along every day. I’d be a fool not to take full advantage of one when it did.

When the second stocking had joined the first, Claire lifted her hips in mute invitation. I hooked my fingers into the lace at either side and pulled garter and panties away from her. Her bare mound came into view, taking me somewhat by surprise. The total lack of pubic hair hadn’t really registered during the brief glimpse I’d gotten earlier and not even her movies had prepared me for the sight I’d just uncovered. My blood boiled as her legs fell open wider. I found myself staring, mesmerized by the sight, by the pretty pink folds of flesh that glistened so temptingly.

“I believe you said something about a massage?” Claire murmured in teasing tones.

“Hmm?” I wrenched my eyes away with difficulty. My gaze drifted up towards her face, taking the slow,
 scenic route past all her naked glory. “What?”

Claire arched one eyebrow. “My massage?”

Crap. So much for repairing the damage I’d done with my earlier performance. Here I was, acting like an ass all over again.

“Right.” Standing, I gathered up her clothes. “Why don’t you roll over on your stomach and I’ll get started.
Averting my eyes as she repositioned herself on the bed, I dropped Claire’s stockings and garter on top of her shoes. Her panties I let fall in the space between the table and the bed where I hoped they’d go unnoticed.

Inexcusable, I know, but given how badly I was screwing up, I suspected this was likely to be a one time event. That being the case, I knew I’d need something with which to console myself in the years ahead.

I lifted the bottle of massage oil from the pot of water, where I’d put it to warm up, and poured some into my palm. The heady sweet scents of almond, honey amber and musk filled the air as I rubbed my hands together. Using a light effleurage stroke I quickly covered Claire’s back with the oil, and then coated her arms and legs as well. Then I turned away to remove the first rock from the pot.

“Well, that was very nice,” Claire said as she started to get up. “Thank you.”

I glanced at her over my shoulder and frowned. “No you don’t. Where do you think you’re going? Lie back down. We’re just getting started.”

She looked surprised, but she did as I said. I squirted oil over the stone in my hand and then turned back to her.

That was not the massage,” I said as I brushed the hair away from her neck and then began to gently rub the stone in small circles down her neck and across her shoulder. “That was just getting you ready. Are you always this impatient?”

“Yes,” she replied, biting the word out sharply, and I couldn’t decide whether her tone was teasing or annoyed. “Actors have very short attention spans. Are you always so bossy?”

I sighed. “Probably. I’ve been running my own company for a long time now. I guess I’ve gotten used to it.”

“Hmph,” she muttered darkly. “You have an answer for everything, don’t you?” And then we both fell silent. The muscles at the back of her neck were knotted. I rubbed harder. I’d been right about the tension. For an instant, I actually considered telling her that. Luckily, I reconsidered the impulse. Being right was a lot like being boss. Invaluable in business but, more often than not, a complication everywhere else.

“Omigod,” Claire murmured a moment later. “What is that? Whatever you’re doing, it feels wonderful.”

“Haven’t you ever had a hot stone massage? The heat is supposed to help relax the muscles and the pressure is different from what you can get using just your hands.”

“I see. I guess you must do this sort of thing often.”

I switched hands and went to work on the other side of her neck. “Well, no, I wouldn’t say often. Occasionally though.”

“So... you just happened to have everything you needed on hand? Is that what you’re telling me?”

“It doesn’t take much, you know. Just massage oil. Rocks. A pot to heat them up in. It’s really pretty simple.”

“Simple. Right.” Claire shook her head. “Amazing. Fashion. Architecture. Decorating. Classic cars. Hot stone massage. Next thing you’ll tell me is that you mix your own massage oil too.”

My hand faltered. “Well, yeah, actually, I—I did.”

“Unbelievable. Mike, are you sure you’re an accountant?”

I laughed. “I guess you’d better hope I am, huh?”

“I guess so,” she muttered. “Jeez. You’re full of surprises tonight.”

“Good surprises, I hope?” I quipped lightly.

Claire sighed and it was a moment before she answered. “Very good. Just very... unexpected.”

I suppose that sigh, and the pause that followed it, should have worried me more than it did, but I was too focused on what I was doing to think that much about anything else. Taking a fresh rock from the water I massaged her arms and hands before changing rocks again and continuing down her back.

I mixed things up a little as I went along. In places I used one rock, other places two, and sometimes I used just my hands. When the urge arose to trail hot kisses down her spine, to caress the small of her back with my lips and tongue, I had to struggle to restrain myself. Once I started down that path, I knew I’d never be able to stop.

I gently plucked and pummeled the flesh of her butt cheeks and then stroked lightly along her crease with the backs of my fingers; longing to do more. I longed to take her flawless, creamy flesh between my teeth; to suck and nip until I’d marked her as my own. I wanted to slide my fingers inside her wet channel and test her warmth; wanted to spread her legs wide, pry open her lips, taste her juices on my tongue. Instead, I moved on. I massaged her legs—first one, then the other—slowly stroking and kneading all the way to her feet.

“Flip over and let me do you from the front,” I said as I reached for a fresh rock.

A soft, sultry laugh purled up Claire’s throat as she rolled onto her back and propped herself up, once again on her elbows. “You do know how dirty that sounded, don’t you?”

Dirty? I turned to face her and my gaze drifted hungrily over her body. As I said, up until now I’d been holding back; using mostly relaxing touches and strokes. But I’d paid the price for my manners. My balls were aching with unconsummated lust. “Not nearly as dirty as I could make it feel, if I weren’t trying to be such a gentleman.”

“A gentleman?” Claire’s eyes lit up at that. “Is that so?”

“Yes.” I smiled back at her. “It is. Why? Don’t believe me?”

“I’d never say that,” she murmured, lowering her eyes demurely. “Although, I must admit, I’ve never really thought being a gentleman was all it’s cracked up to be.” I waited, hoping she’d say more. Finally she shrugged. “So, if it’s dirty you want... why not just go for it?”

Which was all the encouragement I needed. Dropping the rock back into the pot, I picked up the bottle of massage oil, placed a finger beneath Claire’s chin and tipped her head back.

“Unh,” she gasped in surprise as the warm oil streamed over her, coating her neck, her chest, cascading between her breasts, flowing over her belly, all the way to her mound. I knew the bedcovers would be forever stained with the oil, but I couldn’t have cared less. Tossing the bottle aside, I straddled her hips.
I could feel her heart pounding as I skated my hands through the oil; up the center of her chest, up and around her neck; until they were buried in the hair at the back of her head. As my fingers massaged her scalp and the lobes and rims of her ears, I lowered my mouth to hers, and kissed her deeply.

“How’s that?” I finally lifted my head to ask.

Claire’s eyes fluttered open. “Don’t you dare stop now.”

“I won’t,” I promised, as I rubbed slow circles along her forehead and over her temples. “Now close your eyes again and lie back.”

“Yes, Mike.” She complied immediately.

“Good girl,” I murmured, rewarding her with soft kisses on her eyelids.

Pressing gently, my fingers slowly traced the shape of her eye-sockets and then the bridge of her nose. Then they moved down to her jaw line, to her throat, to her shoulders. And, all the while, I studied her face, searching for clues about what was going on inside her head. Her sudden show of submission had taken me by surprise. It wasn’t what I’d been expecting. Not that I really knew what to expect at this point. The whole evening had been one surprise after another. About the only thing that wasn’t surprising me was my own response.

The dominant side of my nature was something I’d long ago recognized. I’d told her I was used to being the boss, and that was certainly true. But what I hadn’t said was that the trait had never been confined to business. Command was something that had always come naturally to me. I liked it, felt comfortable with it, was good at it. Wanted it.

In the bedroom, however, it was something I generally tried to suppress. Claire’s every action tonight was making that less and less possible.

Unable to completely resist the impulse, I slid my hands down her arms and took hold of her wrists. Claire gasped in surprise as I swept her arms up behind her head “Grab hold of the headboard,” I whispered against her ear. “Keep your eyes closed and don’t move again until I tell you to.”

I told myself I did it mainly to test her. But I might have been lying to myself. I might have done it purely for the thrill it gave me. In either case, I knew I was safe. At this point I could still pass it off as a joke, if I had to. As it turned out, however, no such subterfuge was necessary.

A red flush stained Claire’s cheeks as she twined her fingers willingly through the wrought iron bars. Then she held herself motionless, seeming scarcely to breathe.

Dick throbbing at the sight of her tightly curled fists, I stared at her uneasily. Just how badly were the events of the night affecting my judgment? On one hand, I knew this was what we both wanted. On the other... what the hell made me think I knew anything about what Claire might want? She was an actress! This could all be part of an act, couldn’t it? Maybe I was imagining things—seeing only what I wanted to see. Maybe Claire had intuited my needs and was merely playing along, humoring me.

I stroked my hands down her arms again, taking comfort in the shivers that coursed through her, from the tiny smile that played across her lips. She could be acting, I supposed, but why would she do that? What was in it for her? A laugh at my expense? If that was all she was after, she was taking the joke a little far.

Her closed eyes made me bolder than I might have been otherwise. Bold enough to tell her what I was thinking. “I guess it’s no secret how I feel about you,” I said as my hands moved slowly over the top of her slick, oil-coated chest, gently kneading the muscles there, trying to proceed as planned with her massage. “You must have known it all along.”

A slight frown creased Claire’s forehead. “I’m not sure I—Known what?”

“How big a fan I’ve always been. The fact that I’ve loved you for years. You knew that, right?”

“Oh.” Her lips quirked. “Well, you, um, did sort of mention being a fan when we met.” She opened her eyes and gazed at me steadily. “I hope you know that’s got nothing to do with why I’m here tonight, Mike. Much as I appreciate my fans, I really don’t go around sleeping with all of them, either, you know.”

“I certainly hope not,” I replied, dropping my gaze. It was insane, I know, but I couldn’t help feeling just a little bit jealous at the thought. Sure, she said that wasn’t the reason she was with me now, but how did I know for certain? How could I separate the woman from the actress? Maybe that was exactly why she was here. Sex with an adoring fan—that would have to be a gigantic boost to anyone’s ego. Who wouldn’t want that from time to time?

My hands swept outward along her chest, curving down and around her breasts and then in again over her midriff, until my thumbs met in the center of her rib cage. “That would be a very bad idea,” I cautioned.
“You’d only end up completely exhausting yourself if you tried doing that.”

Claire’s body shook with laughter. “Well, yeah, exactly. Besides, with so many of them, how could I fit them all in?”

How indeed?

“I mean, I’d have to double up, or something. Take ‘em two or three at a time.”

Images appeared in my mind, conjured by her words, and my body flooded with lust and adrenaline. My hands stilled. I schooled my features into neutrality, glanced up at her face and frowned. “Did I tell you to open your eyes?”

“What?” Her eyes widened in surprise. She stared at me. I stared back.

“Close them.”

For the space of maybe three seconds we continued to stare at each other. Then she breathed out a shuddery little sigh, and did as she’d been told.

My hands went back into motion; slowly smoothing across her ribs and up her sides, retracing their previous movement. “These last months, working with you, I’ve been like some little boy with his nose pressed up against the candy store window; admiring all that lusciousness, coveting it, but never expecting to actually have it. Never even expecting to get any closer to it than I was. Until tonight.”

My fingers met each other again, in the center of her chest, and then parted, sweeping outward once more and then down and around. “Tonight, you opened the door. You let me come inside. You should have known what would happen if you did that, Claire.”

“What?” she asked again, breathlessly.

Although I hadn’t so much as touched her breasts, her nipples were hard and had been so almost since I’d started. Now, as I bent close and blew alternating currents of warm and cool air across the tips, she shivered in response. “You should have realized I’d have to taste every last piece of candy. That I’d never be satisfied until I’d sampled everything you had to offer. That, even then, I’d want to sneak back in when you weren’t looking and go for seconds on all my favorites.”

Claire’s throat worked for a moment. “Mike?”


“I’m not looking now, am I?”

I felt myself smile. “No, you’re not.” Leaning forward, I pressed a single kiss against her stomach, right below the notch of her ribs. “So, I guess there’s nothing to stop me from taking everything I want. Is there?”
She didn’t answer right away, but she was breathing hard and I could see her lower lip trembling.

“Is there?” I repeated softly. “Claire? Is there anything stopping me from having everything I want tonight? From taking the whole store?”

“No,” she said at last, in a voice even more breathless than before. “Nothing.”

“Good.” Abandoning any further attempts at massage, I slid down her body, leaving kisses in my wake, pre-cum leaking from the tip of my cock to mix with the oil. “Spread your legs,” I said, not really waiting for her to oblige, inserting first one and then the other of my own knees in the space between her thighs, gently forcing them apart. I could smell the scent of her arousal even as my hands slid up the insides of her thighs. Even before I pried her lips apart I knew I would find her wet and ready. “Yes. Like that.”

I stretched out on the bed between her legs, doing my best to ignore the urging of my cock, which wanted nothing more than to pump into her. To take her hard and fast, just like last time. No. Not happening.
This time I was determined to stay in control. I pressed my forearms into her thighs, urging her to open them wider. I leaned in close. Close enough to feel myself surrounded by her soft flesh and musky scent. Close enough to slide my tongue up and down along the length of her dripping slit, learning her taste by heart.
Claire moaned and bucked her hips as I continued the caress. I tightened my grip on her legs and held her still, methodically laving every inch, over and over again, until her breathing had become a series of ragged sobs. Finally, I sighted in on her swollen clit and dove. Taking the whole of the tender nub between my lips, I lashed furiously at the tip with my tongue.

Claire jerked and cried out, a little too sharply. Alarmed, I pulled back again and looked at her. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

“N-nothing,” she gulped, seeming to force the word out. Her face was flaming. Her chest heaved with each breath.


“It’s nothing. Your beard. I, I...”

My beard? Shit. What had I done now? My glance went to the bare skin of her mound, where I’d just had my face buried. Was it too red? Too sore? Had I been rougher than I’d intended? “Too scratchy? I didn’t hurt you, did I?” Oh, God, please say no...

“Mm-mm.” She shook her head, but her expression remained clouded. “No. That’s not what I meant.”


“Look, forget it,” she insisted, wriggling restlessly. “Everything’s fine.”

“That’s not how it looks to me.”

Sighing, she opened her eyes. “Well, looks can be deceiving, Mike. Haven’t you ever heard that?”


“Okay, maybe my arms are getting a little stiff in this position, but that’s it. Really.”

I could barely suppress my own sigh of frustration. “Then put them down, Claire. This was only ever a game, you know. It stops whenever you want it to.”

For a moment, she said nothing. Then, very softly, “I don’t want to stop.”

Well, I didn’t want to stop either, but I certainly didn’t intend to make her suffer. There’s pain and there’s good pain; and the latter was the only kind I was interested in causing. I thought for an instant. “Give me your hands,” I said at last.

Claire’s lips compressed. She looked like she wanted to protest. I held her gaze. Arching one eyebrow imperiously, I waited. Finally, she sighed and reluctantly lowered her arms. I took hold of her hands and brought them to her crotch. “Here. Now, spread your lips for me,” I instructed, watching as heat, and maybe a trace of relief, flared in her eyes. Her breathing picked up.

“Like this?” she asked, almost shyly; fingers trembling, once or twice losing their purchase on her slick flesh.

“Yes. Just like that.” I gazed hungrily at her exposed clit. “That’s very good.” It was fucking gorgeous is what it was, and, even better, her hands were perfectly placed to protect her more sensitive flesh from my beard—just in case it really was too rough. Another thought occurred just as I was about to dip my head. I glanced at Claire’s face and met her gaze. “Do you want to watch?”

I saw the realization hit her: I hadn’t told her she could open her eyes this time, either, had I? Her lips curved. Excitement darkened her eyes. Her voice shook a little as she answered, “Please, may I?”

I nodded. “All right.” I let my gaze sweep over her one more time, before returning to her face. “I’m going to go down on you now. I’m going to take you with my mouth and you’re gonna come on my tongue. Understood?”

Her mouth opened on a soft gasp. Her tongue made a brief appearance and then retreated, riveting my attention. I could no more tear my gaze away from those moist, trembling, red lips than I could fly.

I was on the verge of changing my mind, ordering her to take my cock in her mouth instead, when she nodded again and murmured, even more softly, “Yes.”

It was a struggle trying to think back far enough to recall what it was she was agreeing to. Later, I promised my aching, impatient cock; you’ll have your turn, just not now.

I didn’t exactly trust myself to speak, either. Who knows what I might have said at that point? So, I said nothing. I merely nodded and lowered my head.

The scent of her musk, the sweet taste of her cream, these were things no picture, no movie could ever capture. Until tonight, they were things I could only wonder about and imagine. Now, they were mine. Mine to sample and explore. Mine to revel and delight in.

It was like touching heaven when I thrust my tongue into her pussy and began to lap up her juices. When the first soft moan broke from her lips, it put me into sensory overload. I licked harder. Twisting my head to the side, I delved deeper. My fingers bit into her flesh as I took hold of her thighs and laid her pussy open. Mine. All mine. I wanted everything. I wanted to devour her. And I couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t get enough.

Claire. Oh, Claire. Oh, Claire!

I still couldn’t believe she was really here, that this was really happening. I was overcome with emotion, with the need to show my gratitude. I would have done anything she wanted, given her anything she asked for.
Maybe my being a fan was all the reason she needed for being with me tonight. Who was I to judge her motives anyway? It’s not like I could lay claim to any moral high ground. I knew she’d been drinking. I knew this was, most likely, no more than a whim on her part. I’d still caved.

And, come to think of it, why shouldn’t I have? Show me the man who wouldn’t jump at the chance to bed the woman of his dreams—for any reason, or none at all.

Copyright 2007 PG Forte All Rights Reserved.


Thursday Excerpt: Fun with Food (rated R)

Well, the holidays are over and that means the Thursday Excerpts are back at the Nine Naughty Novelists. The special on this week's menu is scrumptious food scenes.

My offering is from Love, From A to Z. This is April's introduction to pizza. Love, From A to Z was my spin on the ever-popular amnesia story. Something I swore I'd never write...and then did. *g* Oddly enough, it ended up being one of my favorite books. Enjoy!

The spicy aroma of pizza tickled my nose when Zach flipped the box open to hand me a second slice.

“Mmm.” I reached for it greedily. “Thank you.” Pizza was delicious, I decided, as I took a big bite.

The late afternoon sun moved slowly across Zach’s living room, gilding everything in its path with its warm, golden light. We lay on the couch; each of us propped up against one of the sofa’s arms; our legs entwined with one another along the seat. I took another bite and considered my situation. I felt a mass of contradictions at the moment; exhausted yet animated, happy and scared. I was lost. I was found. I was sated and spent. I was starving for more. What I should have been was sleepy--but I was too wound up to sleep.

After we’d finished in the bathroom, Zach had carried me into his bedroom, where he’d laid me on his bed and proceeded to make me scream several more times. By rights, I should have been depressed about that. At this rate, I was never going to make him my love slave.

You were never going to anyway, a tiny voice, way in the back of my mind, sneered at the very thought.

But, I didn’t know that. And, right now. I hoped the voice was wrong. I really hoped that, when I found out who I was, I would learn that I did belong in Zach’s strange world. That I was ‘his kind of woman’. And that I would find a way to make him my slave... at least part of the time.

Because, despite all the weirdness and uncertainty, despite having a lifetime memory that stretched back for all of about ten hours, at this precise instant, what I felt most of all was an underlying contentment. Some inner sense was telling me I hadn’t known too many moments like that in my life.

But I didn’t want to think about that. There was nothing I could do about it right now, anyhow. And, since that same inner sense was also saying this golden moment was not likely to last very long, I was determined to make the most of it while it was here. I took another bite of pizza and let everything else fall away.

Pizza, I thought, had to be the most perfect food ever invented, although, admittedly, my experience, at present, wasn’t all that wide. And pizza and beer together--now that was surely an unbeatable combination.

“What do you call this stuff again?” I asked, picking a small, white blob off the top of my slice and popping it in my mouth. Creamy and warm with a distinct salt tang, I loved the way it melted on my tongue.

Zach smiled. “That’s Feta cheese. You like it?”

“Mmm.” It reminded me of sex. “And the green stuff underneath?”

“Pesto. Basil, garlic, olive oil...I don’t know what else.”

“It’s good.” Pesto tasted earthy and pungent. It reminded me of sex, too.

“Yep,” Zach sighed, sounding pretty content, himself. “Green pizza and red beer. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Nodding agreement, I leaned down and retrieved my bottle from the floor. After taking a sip I smacked my lips. “Delicious.” But it was better than that; really. It was refreshing in a dark, vibrant, exciting sort of way; like a cool, wet, never-ending kiss...

Come to think of it, everything reminded me of sex just now, even the soft cheese that was layered beneath the pesto. Soft, stretchy, springy; it brought to mind the tender sac that held Zach’s balls.

I moved my foot a little, stretching my leg as far as it would reach, until my sole was pressed against the bulge at Zach’s crotch. I rubbed him with my heel, back and forth in a little semi-circle, testing to see how much of that soft springiness I could feel through the denim of his jeans.

“Hey.” Zach swatted at my foot. “Cut it out. Stop that.”

He looked amused, however, rather than annoyed, so I decided not to take him seriously. I scrunched up my toes and pressed harder. “Stop what?”

Mischief gleaming in his eyes, he swallowed the last bite of his pizza and put down his bottle. “You’re really asking for it, aren’t you?”

Was I? I nibbled at the edge of my own pizza while I considered the matter. Truth was, I was feeling a little tired. “Not just right now, thanks. Maybe later.”

“That’s what you think.” Shifting backwards suddenly, so that he was out of my foot’s reach, Zach swung his legs over mine.

I sucked in a quick breath when his big toe nudged my pussy. I was pinned beneath his legs, naked under the pink robe. A thin layer of satin was all that separated my most sensitive flesh from his marauding foot. Heat spread through me at the thought, along with a faint trace of alarm. “Zach, don’t.”

“Don’t... what?” he mocked, using his other foot to spread my legs apart.

Tears stung my eyes as laughter competed with nerves. I still wasn’t completely sure I could trust him, after all, and with pizza in one hand, beer in the other, what could I use to defend myself if things turned rough? My elbows? Ha. But, even so, desire curled in my belly. My nipples peaked. I felt anxious, vulnerable... and almost more excited than I could stand. “Please...”

“You know I like it when you beg,” Zach murmured as his toe massaged my clit. Then his smile widened. His eyes met mine and breathing became that much harder, I could tell he was feeling the same thing I was: my juices soaking through the satin. “You like it too, don’t you?”

His voice alone made my clit throb, so intense it was almost painful, reminding me I was feeling more than a little sore. I shook my head. “No.”

“No?” All movement stopped. Zach froze, looking startled.

My sex pulsed, mourning the loss of his heat, already missing his toe’s tormenting pressure. Screw the soreness. I rocked my hips, trying to rub myself against his foot.

Laughter rumbled from his throat; low, sexy, triumphant. “Liar.” Still laughing, he lifted his legs from mine and pulled away from me completely.

“Pig,” I muttered, feeling bereft, abandoned, frustrated. My chest heaved and I briefly considered which one to hurl at his head--the pizza or the beer--until Zach solved the problem for me by removing both from my hands and then pulling me down on top of him.

“You are such a nut,” he murmured holding me still so he could kiss me.

“Takes one to know one,” I replied straddling his legs and stretching out on top of him. No question about it, I liked being on top; liked the feel of his body, broad and strong, laid out beneath me; liked the feel of his big hands cupping my head, his fingers tangling in my hair.

His lips were warm. He tasted of beer and pizza and male. Did all guys taste this good, or was it just him? I sank my teeth into his bottom lip, frustrated by the fact that there didn’t seem to be any way to get enough of him.

“Ow.” Zach’s hands closed on my shoulders. “What’d you do that for?” He held me away from him while his tongue snaked out to explore the damage to his lower lip.

“I like the way you taste,” I explained, feeling completely unapologetic as I braced my hands on his chest and gazed down at him. It was his own fault, after all. He didn’t have to taste that good.

A startled smile curved his lips. “You do, huh?”

I nodded and lied. “Yes, I do. Almost as much as pizza.”

“That much?” Releasing my shoulders, he slid his hands slowly down the length of my back until they were cupping my ass. “Wow. I’m flattered. What else do you like?”



“Sex. Definitely.” With you.

“Good to know. So...do you like this too?” His hands tightened on my butt. Pressing my hips to his, he ground his hot cock against my mound.

I nodded. “Mm-hm.”

“And how about... this?” Curling up suddenly, he took a nipple between his teeth and bit down gently.

“Unh!” The air left my lungs in a rush.

“Was that a yes?” he asked as his tongue lashed the tender peak. Heat zinged, like an electric shock, from nipple to clit, robbing me of speech.

He glanced up at me, eyes flashing wickedness. “Well?”

I nodded again, still struggling for breath. “Yes.”

“Anything else you like?”

“Um, like what?” I asked feigning innocence. You, perhaps? I held my breath, wondering if he’d ask; wondering what I should say, if he did.

He gazed at me expectantly for a moment, then his smile softened. “I don’t know,” he said, taking hold of my shoulders and easing me down on top of him again. “Maybe that’s enough for now.”

“Yep,” I murmured, feeling relieved, but also disappointed.

“I like you, too, you know,” he said as he tucked my head beneath his chin. “More than pizza.”
Copyright PG Forte 2007 All Rights Reserved 
Buy the book HERE

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Tales from the Kitchen (Holiday Recipes, part 4)

Happy New Year, everyone!

I'm feeling especially hopeful this morning--despite the cloudy skies. Maybe that's because the oh-oh's are over. Maybe it's because we're at least back to our usual balmy temperatures here in NorCal. Or it could be the fact that I've just gotten finished watching the Rose Parade and eating my traditional New Year's Day breakfast--a piece of lemon pie.

The parade-and-pie tradition got its start way back in the early 1990s, when we were living in Orange County, surrounded by Meyer Lemon trees, and Clinton was in office. Now, I just have to stop and say a word about Meyer Lemons. They are divine, IMHO. They're juicy and sweet and the fragrance...well, let's just say the whole pie thing would never have happened without them. Okay, 'nuff said.

So, as I mentioned, it was almost twenty years ago, it was New Year's Day (or, to be accurate, a few days before) I had lemons that needed using and I'd already gone through my lemon curd, lemon marmalade, lemon cookies and lemon cake phases when I chanced across an article mentioning Chess Pie (see? There's the Clinton connection). Since I was a vegetarian at the time and already planning a whole black-eyed-peas-and-collard-greens traditional deep-South New Year's Eve buffet feast (less the ham hocks, obviously)the addition of a lemon chess pie was a no-brainer. The pie was easy to make, lovely to look at and delicious as well.

Better still, it was tart, not too sweet and, when paired with a nice hot cup of coffee the following morning, exactly what I needed to get my eyes open so I could focus on those lovely floats.

Btw, it's 72 degrees and sunny in Pasadena this morning. I'm thinking I might have to move back South. Then again, I think that every January 1st. That's part of my personal tradition too, I think.

But,getting back to our recipe. I've modified things, over the years because...well, that's what I do. This version is simple and good and my only caveat is this: don't try this with ordinary lemons. But maybe that's just me.

New Year's Morning Meyer's Lemon Pie


the zest and juice of 3 Meyer's lemons
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 Cups melted butter
1 9" deep-dish pie shell


I use unsalted Irish butter. Irish butter is like Meyer's lemons, IMO. Sure, you can get away with using something else--I guess--but, dear god, why would you ever want to? I'm a little crazy on the subject, if you must know. Also, if you're using ordinary lemons, there's not going to be as much juice. Period. End of conversation. Basically, you want about a cup of liquid, give or take, so if you're not using Meyer's lemons...you'll have to improvise.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grate and juice the lemons into a large bowl. Add sugar, butter and eggs. Mix. Pour into pie shell. Bake for approx. 45 min until filling is set and pie is puffy and golden. Allow to cool. Filling will settle as pie cools.

This pie has a lovely, tart flavor, which I particularly enjoy. It can be served with dollops of whipped cream, if you think you must. I've never felt the need for it although I must admit my daughter's variation--blending fresh raspberries and a little confectioners sugar into whipped cream--does have some merit. It's an interesting flavor combination and looks very pretty and festive..especially when served with Champagne Sunrises (Champagne mixed with orange-tangerine juice and finished off with cranberry Italian soda).

And now, a short glimpse of the Rose Parade. Enjoy!