The struggle continues… with Bonus Excerpt!
FINALLY getting this website together.
What a pain in the ass.
Anyway. It’s moving forward, and that’s fantastic.
Also moving forward! Releasing Becoming.
Final edits are done and I’m getting ready for ARC readers in a week or so.
Here’s a teaser for those of you that might be interested.
This is from the Prologue, and our heroine is still in the process of Becoming – relegated to watching (and emoting) through the eyes of her host, Natalie, a college student at the University of Tennessee.
By clicking on the excerpt, you are attesting that you are aged 18 or older.
Friday, March 13, 2020
Year of the Becoming 9830
We glance up as Tyler approaches. Natalie sighs.
“What?” Cas asks, her Manhattan halfway to her mouth as she pauses, looking around the bar. “You can’t be tired already. We studied for hours! We need to blow off some steam…” Then her eyes land on Tyler. “Oh, god,” she groans.
I’m tempted – as usual – to handle the problem for Natalie; she’s too nice. It makes her less effective. I can’t act through her (yet) – the destruction I’d wrought at my rising depleted me, and I haven’t been able to do more than watch and… emote since then.
So I could, I don’t know… send her an emotion that says I want her to be more forceful?
I’m so powerless in this form.
Of course, I could call Shamash to take care of the problem. I look at our connection fondly; he wouldn’t mind, especially considering how interested Tyler is in our body.
Natalie offers Tyler a small smile. She’s trying to be kind, but I know it will only encourage him.
I remember being ‘nice.’
Before I came to Earth, before I went to a ‘university’ similar to this one to learn how to cultivate a world, before my Ziga-àm – my ascension to Nasaru – before I was Chosen, even. Back when I was a human, on a different world.
If I were still human, I’d be dust by now; but I’m not, and twenty-five thousand years is nothing to the age I will reach, so long as I am successful in defeating the Etu Daku.
I remind myself of the long game as Tyler slings an arm around us, his brown eyes crinkled from his smile as he nods at a glaring Cassandra before turning our swiveling bar stool to face him, “Natalie! It’s good to see you out! Can I get you a drink? A vodka tonic, right?”
I roll my eyes (not Natalie’s…I did that accidently once and she was terribly upset. Where’s that same aggression for Tyler?) when his pathetic attempts to schmooze his way back into our life—and Natalie’s panties—start up again.
His smile is earnest. I wish it were false, but it’s not; Tyler is sincerely interested in Natalie, and it’s fine that they were together before I was awake; he was her ‘boyfriend’… a stupid word that only annoys me even more when applied to Tyler.
And now I sound like a petulant child.
But I will burn the long game to the ground and call on my Judge in a Prime’s heartbeat if Tyler makes it to even ‘first base’ while I’m here.
I’m sure he’s done something to be Judged for.
Even if he hasn’t, I know Shamash will handle the issue.
I’m pulled away from happy thoughts of Shamash’s brutal reaction to a Prime fucking us when Cas steps in (certainly the less violent alternative).
Her impatience is apparent as she swivels us back to face her, “Tyler, stop it; you had your chance and blew it. Natalie’s told you no about a hundred times. No means no.”
His face falls as Natalie shrugs his arm off our shoulders, “I’m sorry, Tyler, I can’t.”
Tyler withers under Cassandra’s scowl and I watch with glee as he gives up, “Well, let me know if you’d like a drink, at least.”
“Thanks, but we’re leaving soon,” Natalie tells him, smiling to soften the blow, and I watch in disgust as Tyler perks up.
God dammit. Too nice. Far too nice.
Cas sees the same thing and my disgust turns to delight when she tells him baldly, “The answer isn’t going to change, Tyler. Leave Natalie alone.”
The ‘or else’ is understood – Cas is what Natalie calls a ‘Queen Bee’ at the university and her word is law. Her power is partly derived from her family’s wealth—which is immense (for a Prime)—but much of it comes from Cassandra’s personality; she’s been through a lot and grown stronger for it. I’ve only seen her in action through Natalie’s memories, but her ability to influence others is impressive.
She’s one of the most perceptive Prime I’ve ever run across, with the confidence to use it.
When we get back to the dorms Natalie is exhausted, and so am I. Tyler made not one, but two more attempts tonight, slinking over when Cas wasn’t around and generally being a nuisance. Natalie just sighed and let it happen, but fortunately (for Tyler), we’ve made it back to the apartment alone.
Natalie and Cassandra share this living space in the student housing at the university they are attending, and while it is… adequate, I am in no way impressed. The aeries of any one of my Chosen could fit ten of these ‘apartments’ with ease and I won’t mention the size of our Temples, monuments of architecture pulled from the ground as gravity-defying displays of our power and authority. Ashur built most of them himself; his love for building is always a surprise to me.
But Natalie is not Nasaru—she has no wings and stands several feet shorter than the shortest of my Chosen. A good, stiff breeze would knock her over. She’s small, and human…and tired. This feeling of sickness, this constant fatigue, is wearing; alien to me in a way not many things in my Becoming have been.
“’Night!” Cas calls out, disappearing into her room, and Natalie waves, shutting her own bedroom door behind us as she falls across the bed with a groan.
“Stop clocking Tyler like you’re planning something, Inanna,” she tells me.
I roll my eyes (a habit I’ve picked up from Natalie), sending her my feelings about Tyler as a counterargument.
Groaning, she rolls over, her voice muffled by the pillow, “It’s not really his fault we broke up; I just got so busy with school and the Student Government…”
I reiterate my feelings—forcefully—and she rolls her eyes, muttering against the pillow, “Fine, kill him then…at least then I’ll be able to drink in peace.”
That makes me laugh.
Sighing, she gets up to get ready for bed, peeling off her clothes and pulling her hair up into a ponytail for the night. She pauses, motionless, as a questioning tendril curls along our connection from Shamash. To my surprise, Natalie reaches out, stroking the tendril with our mind for a moment. She pulls back abruptly when he responds with a surge of desire.
“Oh, shit,” she whispers, and I agree—we’re on fire, Shamash’s banked need blazing at her touch and Natalie squirms, shivering from the heat.
At the same time, my heart is aching from the loneliness, the desolation I can sense from my Judge. Natalie doesn’t catch it, overwhelmed by a depth of need she’s never felt before, but I know Shamash inside and out, so it’s a clarion call to this developing heart of mine.
I can’t ignore it.
But every rule, every guideline there is for Becoming, tells me I must. I cannot intervene in Natalie’s life—how can I learn anything about how to be human if I step in and take over? I mull over the problem as Natalie gets in bed, her fingers quickly pushing us to a disappointing orgasm, and eventually she drags me down with her into sleep.
We’re dreaming of Shamash again; a memory from before I left to Become. His body is that of his younger self, gray wings shielding me as he takes me, and I want to lose myself in the remembered feelings, but I can’t forget that my Judge is alone.
Abruptly, I decide he doesn’t need to be. After all, Natalie is already dreaming of him. Prime are involved with the Chosen often enough it’s not unreasonable to say Natalie could be, as well. And I am awake—this Becoming has been abnormal from the beginning.
There’s no reason for him to continue to be alone.
So. I reach out to him.
In hopes he’ll respond in a whisper that does not disturb Natalie. But it seems five millennia of being alone has changed my Judge a little bit. Instead of a soft, gentle reply, his need barrels through our connection, blazing higher in the wake of Natalie’s dream.
And then we’re burning with him, Natalie jerking awake with a gasp and a moan, latching onto the connection as we climax, driving us higher as she instinctively feeds our response back to Shamash and, I swear, I hear his roar as he comes.
I push harder, reveling as Shamash’s need drives into us with the force of a hammer in response, and Natalie pants as we come again. Our muscles relax in degrees as we catch our breath, but Shamash is strained along our connection, his concern evident. Reaching out, I stroke the connection soothingly and he eases, only to tense once again as Natalie sighs, her hands covering her face as she sits up.
“You can’t just…connect without me knowing like that,” she groans, and I wince at the embarrassment in her voice. I really can’t remember ever being this embarrassed by sex—maybe it’s a cultural thing. The humans of Earth, particularly in this time, seem awfully closed-off from their sexual selves.
Flowing over her mind, I try to convey my thoughts, even as Shamash apologizes along our link, his words thick with horror, “Forgive me, Natalie—”
I’m surprised when she cuts him off, “Oh, for god’s sake, I know this wasn’t you Shamash. I’m talking to Inanna.”
Silenced, he backs away and I stroke our connection softly in goodbye.
I curse that I’m still so amorphous we can’t talk. Natalie is hurt, embarrassed to interact with Shamash because she’s a Prime – why she thinks in terms like this, I do not know – and I’ve pushed her into doing so, this anxiety so unfamiliar. She just can’t see that it doesn’t matter – she is me.
I am her.
She’s human, and that’s different, young and new to life, which can be exhilarating, but… she’s still me.
Which is why she also wants Shamash.
Shrugging, I let it go, sending her soothing feelings to promise I won’t do that again.
She falls asleep soon after and before I’m pulled down with her, I notice just how much power we’ve accumulated from this evening’s activities. It’s a lot of power, and if it continues to grow from our connection to Shamash, we’ll have to do something about it soon.
I smile at the thought.