It’s First Chapter Friday, and you know what that means around these parts!
This week, I wanted to showcase a story which has never been published until now. There was a reason for that, as it turns out, and it’s an old story in publishing.
When I approached a publisher with “A Demon for Dinner,” I was told, “Hey, fine great! It’s a good story and it’s really well-written. BUT: you’re going to have to make at least one of them a male.”
I asked why that was, and was told, “First, lesbian erotica doesn’t sell. Second, lesbian erotica written by a man has NO chance in the market. But if you made it a GAY romance, you’ve got a good shot.”
If you’ve been following some of the eruptions in the writing world lately, you’ve probably seen at least one author parse the reasons just swapping genders about willy-nilly doesn’t really work. But my reasons were much more elementary: It was ALWAYS a story about a woman finding love with another women, which is a somewhat different matter than a “lesbian” story. Although yes, there is by definition lesbian sex in it, the main character is not actually a lesbian. In addition, the succubus is pansexual, which makes the “lesbian” label a bit trite and inaccurate, although I suppose we can argue that like most labels, it’s an acceptable shorthand if one doesn’t care to delve too deeply into picking it apart.
Finally, I wanted to write an MC most women I know could relate to: Someone who’s a bit older than she might wish to be, a bit larger than she was in high school, and who’s taken more than her fair share of knocks about being an average woman in today’s society. And for all that, someone who is worthy of being desired because of what she is, not in spite of it.
So, I didn’t publish it at the time. Instead, I sat on it and waited for the right time. When I put together Eat My Shorts!, I knew the time had come. So, gentle reader, meet Joanne and Mafelor. If you like what you see here, there’s plenty more where that came from. You’ll just have to pick up Eat My Shorts! to learn how the story ends!
The chiming of the doorbell brought Joanne’s head up from the laptop, where she’d been researching a very specific name to no avail. She glanced at the clock at the bottom of her screen: 5:43 pm. Her new houseguest was on time, or as close to it as didn’t matter. Joanne’s stomach performed a slow, queasy barrel roll at the thought. How was she supposed to deal with a demon?
She sighed and banished the thought. Demon or not, the government had seen fit to pair her with this extradimensional ambassador, and she’d be damned if she would give any guest less than their absolute due. As the thought passed across her mind, she winced. “Damned” might be exactly how she wound up if this little cultural exchange went south.
The doorbell rang again, this time accompanied by three soft but precise raps on the door.
“Coming!” Joanne called, rising to her feet.
She hurried from the desk in a corner of the living room down the short hall to the front door. A silhouette cut sharply against the leaded, colored glass in the shape of an abstract floral design, but she couldn’t make out any details except to note that the person on her doorstep was shorter than her by several inches.
At the door she paused and drew in one last deep breath, as if preparing to plunge headfirst into an icy river. Then, holding her breath, she opened the door slowly and stared, wide-eyed, at the demon on her doorstep.
“Good evening. You must be Mafelor.”
The demon, currently wearing the form of an inhumanly beautiful woman with skin the color of toasted coconut, bottomless eyes that turned slightly upward at the corners, and long, curly midnight tresses that curled around her face like a thousand caressing fingers, nodded. Her lithe, tiny frame was draped with a midnight blue sheath that accentuated the curves and valleys of her body to perfection. Joanne silently cursed her “dress for comfort” game plan for the night; against her faded blue jeans and cut-off red plaid flannel shirt, Mafelor shone like a priceless jewel in a cheap setting.
“I am. You would be Joanne.”
The way Mafelor spoke her name, rolling the syllables around her lips and over her tongue as if savoring a luscious treat, made Joanne’s knees go weak. Her brain overloaded as she studied the demon she would be hosting for the next three months. She didn’t have a bisexual bone in her body, but even she had to admit Mafelor was hotter than Hades.
She fought down a whimper as she imagined taking Mafelor out in public for a “girls’ night out.” Next to the demon, she could parade around wearing only Saran Wrap and never draw a second glance.
Just my luck.
Mafelor was studying her, the demon’s sweeping, aquiline features set in a frown of avid curiosity. “Is it not customary to invite guests in?”
“Oh!” Joanne’s face heated. “Of course.” She stood aside, waving awkwardly toward the foyer. “Please, come in.” Even if she was about to be living with a demon, there was no excuse for being rude. Her mother would undoubtedly snatch her bald-headed if she even thought her only daughter had forgotten her social graces, representative of Hades or not. She flattened against the wall, allowing access.
“Thank you.” Mafelor sidled past her slowly, as if trying not to alarm her. Once outside the swing radius of the door, she paused at the threshold of the short entryway and peered around the living room raptly. Joanne closed the door quietly and padded over to stand just behind the demon, trying to avoid breathing louder than necessary as she studied her new roommate.
Mafelor’s rear view proved to be just as interesting as her front. Her back rippled with tight, firm muscle, her glutes looked perfectly capable of cracking Brazil nuts, and the storm cloud of dark hair enhanced rather than concealing her lean shoulders. Even from three feet away, the demon exuded raw, animal heat that hung in the air like the moist tension heralding an oncoming hurricane.
“You have a beautiful home,” Mafelor stated without turning.
“What is it like?”
“What?” The apparent non sequitur threw the casual, normal tone of the conversation off course in Joanne’s mind.
“What is it like to have a home with such things? The, er…” Mafelor trailed off and pointed in the direction of the mantel.
“Tchotchkes,” Mafelor repeated, tasting the word like a food she was unsure whether or not she would like. “What a coarse-sounding word for such beautiful things.”
Irritation flared, but Joanne hurried to quell it. Remember where she comes from, she scolded herself. They may not even have frivolous decorations in Hades.
Aloud she said, “What about ‘knickknacks?’”
Again Mafelor repeated the word, and this time she nodded. Her hair fell forward, baring the gentle curve of her nape. “Yes, I like that word much better. ‘Tchotchkes’ sounds so…harsh.”
Joanne smiled. “Are you hungry?”
“Starved,” Mafelor replied, turning to face her. Her pupils dilated as Joanne watched. “I had thought humans didn’t offer such sustenance freely, or so soon after meeting.”
“Well, of course we do! Those of us with any manners, at least,” she hurried to add, thinking of her own momentary lapse at the door. “I can start some chicken cordon bleu. It’s my best recipe, everyone says so.”
“Oh.” The demon relaxed slightly, a look balanced on the razor edge between relief and disappointment.
“You meant food.”
“Of course I did. What did you think I—“ Joanne broke off as a suspicion hit her. “Wait. What do you normally eat?”
Mafelor’s deep blue eyes darkened a shade or two. “I can eat human food, if that is what you are asking. But for true sustenance, I require the energy of intimacy.”
“Intimacy…you mean sex?”
She nodded slowly. “Not always. I can feed just as readily off the desire that makes a person pleasure himself. Or herself,” she added, her eyebrows rising slightly on the smooth slope of her forehead.
“I’m terribly sorry. I had no idea you were, ah, one of those demons.”
“One of what demons?”
“You know. A, uh…a succubus.”
“What do you know about succubi?”
“Well…I’ve seen a few episodes of Lost Girl.” The admission sounded lame in Joanne’s ears, and she cringed imagining how they must strike Mafelor. Blood rushed to her face, causing her vision to flare a flaccid, sullen pink at the edges.
“Lost Girl?” One elegantly canted eyebrow lifted in a way that reminded her of Mr. Spock and raised her pulse all at once.
“It’s…a TV show. About otherworldly creatures.”
“Like succubi?” Mafelor raised a hand to trail it down her body by way of example. Joanne tracked the movement with her eyes, studying the supple curves the demon’s hand concealed and then revealed again.
“A succubus is the star. I have a few episodes recorded…” She trailed off, clenching her jaw so tight her teeth groaned slightly in their sockets as she forced herself not to blather.
“Perhaps later tonight we can watch it. For now, you mentioned chicken cordon bleu?” The French expression tripped as lightly off her tongue as if Mafelor had been raised to it. For all Joanne knew, she had.
“I did.” She flushed lightly. “Uh…will you excuse me for a few moments?”
Mafelor smiled, revealing killer dimples and gleaming white upper teeth. “Of course. May I sit?”
“Anywhere you like!” Joanne called back, hurrying into the bathroom.
Be sure to come back on Second Chapter Sunday for the rest of the story! But if you don’t want to wait, you can click here to purchase your copy of Eat My Shorts!