I realize that I can’t stay here any longer as your live-in mistress. I need more than that. Please, do not search for me. Sell my car and jewelry and keep whatever money you get as partial payment for the rent that I owe you.
“Where to, lady?”
“You realize I got to charge you out-of-city rates since you’re more than ten miles outside the airport?”
“Yes, I understand.”
“You got it, lady.”
The driver wasn’t chatty, which she appreciated. He dropped her off at the correct terminal and unloaded her suitcase. She paid in him cash, including a modest tip. Luckily, the past six months of living rent-free with Pyotr had given her a fat bank balance. She felt guilty about sponging off him, but now she needed that cash to carry her until she could find a job.
Having never flown before, she carefully read all the signs in the airport before proceeding to the ticket counter. She waited in line for what seemed to be an inordinately long time until she could speak to the attendant herself. After showing her identification, confirming that she was checking just one bag, and answering a few other questions, she began to wonder why she hadn’t just driven to Texas. Oh, yeah, it was a long, long drive through areas that saw real winter.
“Your flight’s on a one-hour delay,” the attendant informed her as she handed Cecily her boarding passes. There were no direct flights from Cleveland to San Antonio. “You won’t have to rush through security.”
Cecily thanked her and made her way to the security line where she realized that there was absolutely no rushing through security. Moving with all the speed of a crippled tortoise, the security line finally cleared her. She put her shoes and coat back on and collected her purse. Reading the overhead signs, she proceeded to the gate where she found a seat and waited.
“May I speak to Cecily?”
“She’s not here today.”
“What do you mean?” He walked to the bedroom and stood in the open doorway. His heart thudded a rapid beat inside his chest.
“She called in sick.”
Pyotr saw the iPad he had given her lying on the nightstand. He rushed over to the dresser and yanked drawers open. His keen eye for detail immediately noticed clothes missing. He jerked the closet door open. More missing clothes.
“Nyet!” he shouted. “O, Cecily, gde ty?”
Emotion demanded that he drop to his knees and weep. Training ordered him to think, damn it, think. On stiff legs, he walked back to the kitchen, figuring that he might as well do something productive—like wash the dishes—while he thought. When he reached the sink, he noticed the note lying flat on the counter beneath two sets of keys. Before reading the note, he realized that Cecily had not been forcibly abducted; she’d left of her accord.
He read the note. Tears brimmed, blurring his vision. Pyotr leaned against the counter.
“Zachem?” he asked as his heart shattered into tiny pieces of pain. Why?
He picked up the keys and dumped them into his pocket. They hit bottom with a clunk that reminded him of the small box he’d carried with him all day, the box that he never got around to giving to Cecily that morning before his clumsy tongue had driven her away and Maksim’s call had pulled him away.
Like an automaton with stiff, jerky movements, Pyotr washed the dishes and wiped down the countertops. Then he sagged and staggered to a chair. Again he pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed.
“Vitaly, she left me.”
“Cecily. She left me.”
The scenario is familiar: human female explorer gathering information on an alien planet is captured and forcibly "mated" to a native. Of course, she enjoys it. That's typical for this type of romance. Realistic? No. Common? Yes. The native's race--of course--faces extinction due to some catastrophe that wiped out (or nearly so) their females (especially, the fertile ones). If it wasn't already, the native society becomes supremely male dominant with biologically compatible females needed to repopulate their species. In these stories, the males protect their precious females from serious harm and seek to produce as many offspring as possible. Of course, this means that these males demand and expect obedience from their females. The women, after some initial rebellion, always comply and find contentment. The woman gives up everything for the pleasure of that man (or men).
It's a pretty fantasy, isn't it? The fantasy builds upon millennia of indoctrination: exchange freedom and occupation for safety and security. My own romances take cues from that cultural fantasy: a protective and possessive male who sees to his mate's every physical need. Let's face it, ladies, we are physically weaker than men. We can be strong in our own right, but we don't have their brute strength. A lack of physical strength, however, does not correlate to a lack of mental strength or weak principles.
Something's missing in this book and all of those like it. While we cannot ignore our biology, we must acknowledge that we are more than our biology. Beyond fulfilling physical need, the mental and emotional aspects of humans also require nurturing and care. In the romance such as I began reading, I fear that the heroine will acquiesce to eternity, submitting entirely to his culture and failing to introduce any change either to his culture or to his perception and treatment of her.
Thus comes the "I can do better than that" challenge.
So, I'm writing an alien abduction romance that's also a reverse harem romance. (Hey, why not add another SEO keyword?) Yep, the reverse harem is another female fantasy. Men have enjoyed multiple wives and concubines for ages, so what's good for gander must also be good for the goose. The upshot is that my heroine reacts more like a real human being, more like a woman of modern times, more like a woman whose principles don't dissolve beneath the deluge of lust. She's more than just her hormones; she has a mind and isn't afraid to use it. Here's where the real twist comes in: the three males who capture her as their shared mate find themselves adjusting to fit. In short, both sides must compromise.
The story will end in an HEA (happily ever after). That's a given, because the book is a romance. I daresay the book will fade into eternal obscurity immediately upon publication, because it doesn't stick to the well-worn, familiar, and--dare I say--comfortable trope. That happened with The Barbary Lion and Russian Gold. (Reviewer response can be summed up as "How dare the heroine demand autonomy and respect?") But I hope it won't. I hope readers will find the story well-written and the characters relatable. I hope readers will appreciate my stretching the barriers of the sub-genre, perhaps even break through them just a little without venturing recklessly where no man or woman has gone before.
Take a walk on the wild side where adults find happiness through compromise as well as passion. I'll keep y'all posted on the progress of my next book, Triple Burn.
I listen to a mixture of music, mostly depending upon my mood and the season. For some weird reason, I listen more to classical music in the autumn months. I particularly enjoy Spanish madrigals. I don't know what makes them Spanish madrigals, but whenever I hear one my reaction is, "I liked that."
I enjoy classic rock and some not-so-classic rock. From the Animals to the Zombies, if it's got a good beat and at least a catchy refrain, I'll bop in my seat for hours. I also enjoy the softer stuff, pop, Top 40, etc. Air Supply gets a lot of derision, but I always did enjoy their music. Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Eagles, Simon & Garfunkle, Fleetwood Mac, Carly Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, Dan Fogelberg ... it's all good. Heck, let's throw in some ABBA and KC & the Sunshine Band, too. Then we'll swerve to Hozier, Theory of a Deadman, Fiver Finger Death Punch, and Disturbed.
When my preference doesn't really veer to rock 'n roll or classical, I'll turn on country. I particularly like 80's and 90's country: Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Wynona Judd, Clint Blank, Andrew Jackson, etc. But I also enjoy listening to more recent stuff from Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Josh Groban, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, etc.
And then there's the outlier, the "where in the heck did that come from?" contingent of my musical preferences. We're talking about Celtic folk music, from the haunting strains of the soundtrack of Last of the Mohicans to stuff called "Lords of Iron" and other such dramatic names. And Enya. Can't forget Enya. If only I could sing like her ...
When I sing, dogs howl.
Jazz? I can take it or leave it, but I don't seek it out. I dislike rap and hip-hop. You can argue all you want about the merits of those two genres, but you won't convince me to like either. I like big band, too, even though I don't seek that out, either.
The pleasure I take in music in no way translates to any musical skill of my own. I took piano lessons as a child and was no more--and often less--than an indifferent pianist. I disliked music classes taken in school, having no interest whatsoever in music theory. I inherited much of my musical preferences from my father and grew up listening to the tunes of his youth, particularly the Beach Boys. I still like 'em.
Sometimes, however, silence works best. It all depends upon my mood and what I'm working on .
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
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Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
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