I find myself in a precarious position. First, I must give you the sequence of my WIPs for you to fully understand my dilemma.
… and possibly Monster- Ava.
One would assume I’d be diligently at work on Silenced, being as it is the next book in my series… believe it or not, Integrated is complete and with the betas, several have returned their edits already. It’s slightly longer than The Hunter, maybe 400 ebook pages. Currently, Silenced is 10,000 words in length with a daunting outline- totally at odds with the light, sexy story I’d originally planned to tell…
The Dilemma: As a writer, you are subject to your creativity- inspiration- the muse. We have a short attention span- yes, that sounds strange coming from creatures that must have intense concentration to build worlds from nothing. But we most certainly have short attention spans. Like a shiny object to a cat, a light will catch our eye and our minds flit… “Oh, shiny- a new story to weave.”
Novelists write in intense bursts of creativity- speaking of my own experience, I can go 70 hours of non-stop writing, 50,000 words in three days… and then pass out. Burn out. After which, I tell myself to slow down, LIVE a little… experience life instead of writing about it. But the siren call is so much stronger… and I’m pulled back in within days.
As a slave to inspiration, you need to determine if your muse is truly leading you astray or towards destiny. Next, you must decide if you are being indulgent with your creativity. Are you allowing yourself to be led to greener but never better pastures, or is it the path you should take.
Here is the issue: I want, no, I need to write Hero. It’s thrumming within me- screaming. A character needs voiced while it’s still fresh in my mind… but does it truly, or am I just scared to dive into the pain that Grant has to show me when Caleb is promising… hope. For Silenced is just the beginning of Grant’s journey while Hero won’t necessarily be an HEA book, it’s pushing into one… Silenced will open up to another much more pain-filled book that I don’t know when I will be emotionally ready to write- if I’ll ever be emotionally able to write.
So here I am… I have a book completed with the one that I should be writing shelved… and then I want to skip yet another book to write the one following it. Here, have a visual,
Silenced, Integrated *completed*, Prince, Hero.
But what readers won’t understand until they get their hands on the story within… those books are so interwoven that Silenced & Prince will be written together… and The Hunter, Integrated, and Hero are simply extensions of one other….
So, do I indulge my muse, leaving me with a huge backlist of books to publish once I get their predecessors written… or do I push through and fear ruining the story I weave?
Then there is the fact that it could just be a shiny object being dangled in front of my face, enticing me, seducing me when it’s the wrong path…
My books are complicated to say the least. The beginning books not so much, but as you delve into my series, you see why I must have 5 or more books outlined in order to keep A-Z straight. So one book interconnects with one several books into the reader’s future but they are my present… all of these books encompass the same time frame and cast of characters.
When I find myself hesitant to thoroughly commit to a project, it means there is an issue. I already broke form by writing Integrated before Silenced. When I finished, I completely revamped Silenced outline from being a fluff piece to something rivaling Faithless and the soon-to-be written Master. How Grant ended up with an epic book is beyond my scope. While in awe, I’m a so pissed at my muse I could shriek while yanking my hair out!
Yet again, after enthusiastically reworking Silenced outline, Hero is calling me.
One thing you must understand, when I commit to a story, I write it in its entirety without interruption- without living. I say without living because I become my characters. Don’t get me started on the fact that I wanted to bite faces off while writing Faithless… Syn was a hard girl to have within your mind for 330,000+ words… Ugh! Cort was a breath of fresh air… Ezra, not bad, surprisingly. So when the choice is a sardonic yet playful submissive dealing with an abuse victim, an eighteen year old man-child, or a stern yet compassionate Marine…
yeah, I’m a 35 yo woman… snorts. Yeah, none of them fit the Erica profile- but amazingly so, I write men better than women. I guess I go with my gut… much to the readers’ dismay with having to wait extra months for releases, but will get a bounty of the dang things in a month’s time- like four books dropping one week a part.
And then I say, “Erica, cut yourself some slack. Big-time authors only write one or two books per year, about 200k words, tops… you’re almost writing a million words a year (I just bypassed 800k in less than 9 months, in case you’re curious). Take a fucking nap it’s 5 am and you’ve yet to go to f’n bed! Tomorrow is another day, but it’s already upon you!”
I just feel pressure.
I have pressure mounting me from every direction- it’s why I often fantasize of a world of only my creation, and get mightily pissed when yanked from said world.
I guess, in a nutshell, and it answers my dilemma, other than the pull of creation, Hero isn’t pressuring me- it’s enlivening me.
While I may write it from start-to-finish, or I may write a chunk and return to the one known as coward… who knows. But I just realized the irony that I’m debating the coward vs the hero… *rolls eyes*
This is an odd posting, but in light of The Hunter premise, recent activity on my fan page, and my feelings as I write Integrated, I felt the need to get something off of my chest. I’m sure I will piss some readers off, and perhaps spoil some shit. You can dissect my words for clues on Integrated and so forth. But this is simply in defense of Katya Waters.
As I’ve interacted with readers and read reviews… People HATE Katya’s f’ing guts. It’s an everyday occurrence that I get an ‘I hate Katya’ from someone on my various pages. I’ve had actual death-threat emails over this, I shit you not. Katya is a fictitious character… ya know. I mean, kill her? Yes, death-threats. *smh*
It’s an interesting dynamic for me. I’m not trying to sway your feelings over the character. I actually want to know your view, because it helps me with character development in the future. I’m curious to see where I went wrong, or if it is simply a case of we see ‘this character‘ with ‘this character‘ and will accept nothing less.
It’s a phenomenon in psychology, how we gloss over the huge shit going on but pick on a character that has blended into the background as we hear about her through a tainted lens.
At first, I was waiting for someone, anyone, to stand up for Katya… when readers kept hating on her, I kept making it more obvious… and still… nothing. No one said, “Help Katya. This isn’t right. Why are you doing this?” Since I am a maniacal bitch, I started bashing Katya through the narration of other characters just to see if anyone would say anything.
You are aware that Katya is Ezra’s WIFE, right? No? Because we don’t seem to care that Ezra has NEVER acted like a husband…
My stories have STRONG females. Females who believe in empowerment and are borderline cock haters. A few are huge feminists. The readers love Faith and Regina. LOVE. & this pleases me to no end. I’m proud to make inspiring characters…
BUT, and yes, this is a huge but, it’s okay for said strong females spouting empowerment to bully Katya- both of the favorites do. They bully Katya for actions out of her control. & I had Faith say some nasty shit about a Tonka truck… and ya know what? That wasn’t even about Katya, that was about EZRA & CORTEZ… yes, that’s right. It was the disrespect they showed Katya. But, nope, the readers blamed Kat. And while written with a humorous twist, it was rather gross of Faith to think those thoughts about Katya and not blame the men. Again, no one noticed, or Faith was applauded for being nasty.
For me, it just shows how women think and behave. No matter what, we pit ourselves against one another. We won’t stick up for each other. But we will fight over a cock, even a worthless and faithless cock. Time and time again, I made it to where Regina and Faith could have stepped in and rescued Kat, but I didn’t have them do it to show how women do not stick up for each other…
I wrote the story this way for a reason. It was on design for what is to come. I’m known for cerebral fuckage. But I was astonished by the hate-on the readers had for Katya, how they felt no compassion towards her but felt it for her abusers and bullies.
It’s interesting. Lends to the blame the victim mentality. By no means should behaviors be forgiven because you were once a victim. But what about those victimizers that are so nonredeemable but we seem to love them anyway…
I just really feel the need to defend my creation. I just don’t see where this anger is coming from- this hypocrisy… and as I continue to write a story that Katya hovers around, I’m left feeling frustrated. Yes, I wrote it this way. It’s the readers’ perceptions that are baffling me…
I mean, it’s not like Kat is a whore, a murderer, a serial rapist, a criminal, a drug lord… that’s all good, right? I mean. we can just forgive that shit, right?
Kat’s only crime is that she wants to be the best at her profession instead of staying at home with the kids.. It’s the only thing Kat has any control over, and even then, it’s only perceived control. I’ve heard the mother complaints from a lot from readers. I’m a huge advocate for stay-at-home moms, I was raised by one. We are all different. Some ppl are not meant to be mommies. Neither is better than the other, it’s just lifestyle choices… choices written in a series about alternative lifestyles, I might add. Ironically, what’s perfectly fine for the beloved women in my series isn’t for Katya. Think on that for a moment… …. …. okay, Regina and Faith have careers. I actually did that to see if anyone would bitch, but they never did. Just about Katya.
Kat has sex. OMG! Yes, why, yes, she does… It’s dark erotica… aren’t they all fucking someone? But Katya isn’t banging husbands behind their wives’ backs… that’s okay for the beloved characters to betray Katya with Ezra, though, right? & the readers don’t even blame Ezra or Regina. That’s perfectly acceptable behavior… if your name isn’t Katya.
But Kat is dog shit because she doesn’t want to be humiliated and disrespected by the very women that spout empowerment and feminism? Everyone is huge Regina and Faith fans. While I love and respect my creations, I love them equally, and I made them equally as flawed as they are good.
This is something I’ve been examining for well over a year, and when I went back to fix Restraint & Unleashed… I was like, “wow. I never noticed that before.” I just want to give Katya a fucking hug.
& yes, this is raw in my mind because I wrote a 6,000 word chapter today on this very subject within Integrated. & I could list the merits of Katya Waters vs her bullies or copy/paste segments of what I’d written. But I won’t because I don’t want to taint your view of the books. I go into great depth with this, and I could now. But if you don’t realize Katya’s motivations right now, I’d rather you just read about it in Integrated.
I hope when you read Integrated that you regain your compassion and actually see things clearly. if not, I tried my damnedest through 6,000 words of my character bleeding out…
Katya is my stalking horse… You guys might not love Kat, but she is my creation… my very first creation… and more than 75% of her personality traits, physical characteristics, and even the town she lived in and the life she had led… was all me. I’ve used her to express how I’ve felt: violated, trapped, confused, lost, alone, trapped, scared, and tortured. Kat has been living how I lived, in a much more fanatical way, obviously. Right now, she is lost and trapped, and stepped on…I’ve been there- we all have. That is what is baffling me- the lack of empathy and compassion as we praise the victimizer and blame the victim… just step back and truly think on this. Your feelings of all the characters and why.
I use Katya as an example of life. We all overlook what the cocks do… and we will take sides with the vaginas, even if it’s the wrong side. But there is always one person that we hate for no fucking reason at all. Think about it… it’s true in all walks of life, every part of the world, and in every age group… and for some fucked up reason, just among the vaginas.
Interesting… as I said, never forget, I write by perception. One person’s lens may be tainted because they aren’t in the other character’s head. And everything I write is for a reason- and most likely, a psychological reason.
Please, feel free to tell me your thoughts. It’s why I wrote this. Join us in the M&M of Restraint Closed group on Facebook or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hunter: Mistress & Master of Restraint, #10 is Live on Amazon for $4.99. Will be available on B&N shortly. You can add it to your Goodreads shelves as well. Cortez would appreciate it if you could share the links and spread the love around.
Cortez Abernathy, the modern day whipping boy. The orphan always walked alongside the man he was destined to shadow, enjoying the wealth, the indulgences, the influence, and the opportunities of the elite. Ezra Holden Zeitler was coddled, protected because he was the last of his family’s line. The heir would act out, and fearing Ezra’s tantrums and his mental illness, Cortez took the blame… the consequences… the punishments.
From the outside looking in, Cortez is selfish, lazy, and untrustworthy. Cortez tries to scream the truth, but no one ever takes him seriously- never listens. “Ezra did it!” In actuality, Cort is brutally honest while his lips twist into a charming smirk and his eyes glisten with amusement.
This life, this game, Ezra, has taken a toll on Cortez. The whipping boy only had one thing to call his own. It was inborn, a passion for words. The latest punishment rendered Cortez blocked, left to walk an endless abyss of an empty imagination. Without Cort’s ability to delve into his imaginary worlds, he was forced to live in reality.
Lost… confused… Cortez Abernathy struggles to survive.
One simple acknowledgement frees Cortez’s words. “Daddy.” The muse awakens from her long slumber and demands that Cortez go back to the beginning. Cortez Abernathy begins writing a memoir, The Hunter. As he pours his soul onto the pages, he begins to heal.
No longer lost or confused, Cortez realizes he doesn’t have to walk in Ezra’s shadow. Whether beside Ezra or without Ezra, Cortez will survive.
Jaded, Queened, and Checkmate also available in a discounted omnibus edition- QUEEN.
Begin the Playroom series with Good Girl. Playroom #2, Widow, coming soon…
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Silenced, M&M #11, Grant Whittenhower. September.
Integrated, M&M #12, Ezra Zeitler. October
Widow, Playroom #2. September/October
I updated the coming soon tab on this website. I thought I should expand on what I’m up to.
The books are listed in the order I am writing them, not the order of release. I write out of order and 3 to 4 books at a time. I will list the release order at the bottom of this posting.
The Hunter is in the final stages, and I should be pressing publish on Sunday Nite. It will be in Amazon & B&N’s hands after that. I am pushing for an August 20th release. The Hunter is the 100,000 word first part of a two part story that ends in the Grand Ballroom at Whittenhower Estates. The cover reveal, blurb, and the first three chapters are available on this website.
I am currently writing Integrated, Ezra’s story. I guesstimate that it will be around 100,000 word as well. Maybe slightly shorter. It is the second half of The Hunter, but it is not to be read immediately after. A generous release date of early October. I believe it will be earlier than that, but that depends on other factors. No more than two months will pass between the release of The Hunter-Silenced-Integrated.
Note: The Hunter & Integrated are not a twisted ride of WTF! It’s an emotional journey. The Hunter is written half in the past and half in the weeks before the explosive Christmas Meeting. Integrated is a push into the future, starting with the meeting. Combined they are the resolution for Ezra and Cortez- they’ve earned it since I’ve toyed with these two characters for 12 books. Warning: do not expect the usual. I’m just saying this because I don’t want emails and reviews and comments wanting to know where the kink is or the game playing. These books are about the characters and absolutely nothing else.
Widow: is currently 87,000 words (expected length 120-140k), read thru 4 times, and has the last of the scenes heavily outlined. M&M kept dominating my time from this story. Some if it is because I’m on the fence over a part of the storyline- omit it or evolve it- does it lend to the story or just twist it. This is the nexus novel of the series. It’s the ties that bind the next 5 books. This is pure romance. You start the book knowing how the end of the book will play out. Completely different from anything I’ve written before. But it’s necessary to glue the rest of the books together. That storyline thread is a twisted one. I fear my fans will find my detour boring if I don’t kink it up. But that isn’t what this series is about. This is real life versus M&M’s twisted insanity. I’m marinating on this while I finish Integrated and as I reread Widow from the beginning… again.
Silenced. Grant Whittenhower’s novella. It’s about his naughty exploits within the game to get a woman’s attentions. This book is a palate cleanser between The Hunter and Integrated. The blurb is currently available on this website. I will NOT be posting the first chapter of this novella- it would spoil way too much from the past books as well as the entire premise of the novella.
Prince: Niel’s book is time sensitive. It’s no secret that he has a big secret about to enter the world in less than 5 months. Niel will be the first of Generation Next to have a novel. He will be sharing it with one other character. I am debating on going against the series’ norm and writing it as a dual perspective with the mother-to-be. I won’t know until I get there.
Hero: Caleb Green, our war hero comes home to a life he hasn’t led since his eighteenth birthday. Haunted by the past, he sees something within a woman that intrigues him- pain and the eyes of a survivor, a fighter- when he looks at her he sees a mirror into himself.
Master: Marcus Zeitler, the fallen Master of the Universe. This will be a 20 year epic journey that will take me a very long time to outline, write in a piece meal fashion, and I will have to go back to the series as a whole to make sure that every detail is accurate.
After Hero’s completion, I am investing my sole focus on Master & the Playroom series. Master will be that difficult to write. Faithless took a lot out of me, and I believe this will be far worse. I will write scenes of Master while completing the Playroom series.
The Playroom series isn’t infinite as M&M is… 7 books are outlined, and only 7 books will be written. The main cast are the only ones who have a voice, with each book having 2-3 narrators.
After Master, it isn’t the end of the M&M series. I am offering resolution to the well-loved and most known characters to open up the ability to expand on the members of Generation Next (the kids) and the side characters. They are clamoring to tell their stories.
I have several projects outlined that I cannot get to since I will not write more than 2 series at once. Completing the Playroom will allow me to explore other avenues.
Very Tentative release dates:
The Hunter: August 20th
Silenced: Late September/early October
Integrated: Early October
Master: Late 2014/Early 2015
(working titles) (Narrators do not denote couples)
Wayward (Augustus, Isis, Robin)
Waver (Willow, Kieren, Devon)
Warped (?,?) <- narrators would ruin the surprise.
Wicked (Raven, Violet)
Wanted (Seth, Weston)
My brain is bleeding… seriously, that’s how it feels sometimes. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. Happy Wicked Reading, and thank you to all that interact with me on a daily basis, share my books with friends, and just make me laugh!
I’m off to enter the mind of madness known as Dr. Lunatic!
Passages are written in chapters. The chapters with the heading Cortez Abernathy are in the present, while the chapters with the heading TheHunter are passages from the past, written within the pages of Cortez Abernathy’s memoir, The Hunter.
Note: Cortez Abernathy is romance novelist. Cort is highly sexual, romantic, and extremely emotional. Since this book is written for him, about him, and takes place within his mind, the usual linear storyline would not suffice. In essence, this book is Cort.
The blinking cursor of death.
I’m not used to this insanity. Well, I’m used to actual insanity, as in the kind in actuality. What I’m not used to is… Ugh, I can’t even think it.
I suffer from the dreaded writer’s block. I’ve been suffering for almost a year. It was a big joke between Ezra and me when I wrote my first shitty book. I wrote it on purpose. I wanted to see how Katya would react, whether or not she’d do her job versus falling for my charms.
Kitten did her damned job, alright!
The book I gave my wife was a shit-fest. I deliberately messed it all up. It was a test, or so I told myself as Ezra maniacally laughed at my plight. I was able to resurrect the horrid creation, and it hit number five on the New York Times best seller’s list. It stayed there for many weeks in fact… and then life got in the way. I lost track of the days that I didn’t write, when previously it was unfathomable that I go a few hours without putting words to page.
In the past, writing was as essential as breathing, an involuntary compulsion. I had to create to release the pent-up pressure inside my mind- the emotions, the thoughts, the sensations that choke the very life out of me. For me, writing was an emotional pressure release valve. I grin and charm my way into people’s lives. I smile when inside I feel raw, an open wound that will never heal.
First, life got in the way: relationships, family obligations, mystery illegitimate children, secrets and lies and betrayals of the deepest kind, marriages, and threats. Then the emotions came and rolled me under: Fear, jealousy, friendship, love, betrayal, fear, jealousy, betrayal, bitterness, and love. These emotions were so strong that no words could be uttered. My mind was a blank canvas without its usual colorful imagination. I was a black hole, devoid of anything but an infinite stretch of silent pain.
The first stirring appeared after I felt safe, the tingling at the back of my mind. It’s a slight sensation, rather pleasant and titillating. It was my muse awakening from a long slumber. She… and I have no idea why as a male I have a female muse, a muse I refuse to name. She stretched and yawned, and then she smiled at me, the smile of an angel. I blinked back tears, realizing that her visage is that of my long dead mother- but we all have our issues, mine just happen to be of the mommy kind.
I was elated. I was sitting on the sofa watching a movie with my family. I burst up from my seat, knocking poor Kitten off of my lap. I’d frightened Diane to the point that she gasped, a huge expression for the ultra-controlled women. Marcus knew. I could tell by the sparkling in his eye and the hearty laugh as he gazed at me in wonder. I’d shouted, “I’ve got to write. Disturb me and I’ll hurt you.” I ran to my office and sat down to write. Laptop booted up, a carafe of coffee, the whirr of the air purifier singing its song of contentment. Hell, the air temperature was perfect. I was at peace, the pressure ready to be relieved.
… And then I checked my messages. All one-thousand-four-hundred of them.
A while back, I’d joked about Bitch-Slaps through the laptop screen. It is a turn of phrase I created as Grant and I commiserated over the horrors of being a published author. Grant and I have long discussions about how reader interactions make us feel- the inspiration, the anxiety, the fear. The majority of the interactions are life-changing, friendship-building, inspiring. A scant few are like cancer, they bleed into your creativity and deplete your motivation, hell, your will to live even. Demands, ridicule, people speaking to you as if you are not a human being, but just a source of their unlimited entertainment- a puppet that’s strings get pulled for the price of your book.
I was in Hell- I burst into flame. I incinerated in my horror as my muse shriveled up and died within that special place she dwells at the base of my spine. My angel, my muse, the unnamed inspiration that I refuse to admit is Celeste Hunter. My mother died again for me that day, and I haven’t written a word since, not even a grocery list.
The demanding hands came through the laptop screen and choked me- they had me by the throat. The screams were deafening in their silence. Words of malice formed perfectly placed plunges into my heart. It was the game reawakening and ruining the only thing I had left to call my own. Ezra isn’t mine. Faith isn’t mine. Katya isn’t mine. Ava and baby Ez belong to Ezra and Katya. Zane belongs to Ezra and Faith. Azriel is mine by genetics, but she belongs to all of us. I’m not even mine. I’d freely give myself to Ezra in all ways, but the game owns me. I have no rights to anything. I thought my passion was something that couldn’t be taken from me.
… And I was wrong. My passion was torn from my soul- ashes of who I used to be, who I should have become.
I paid the penance for whatever tantrum Ezra had thrown within the bounds of the game, and the payment of that consequence was my life’s blood- my life’s work.
Thousands upon thousands of emails, comments on my websites, Facebook and Twitter were blowing up with malice… and then the reviews started. Reviews are the bane of my existence. Perfect, five-star reviews manage to hurt my injured psyche. I think to myself, what did they really mean by that? Was the tone insulting? You never know, but the mind always sees it as a slight. I don’t read reviews on principal, but how can you not when you are inundated with thousands overnight?
The mean reviews, bashing, personal attacks, suck the life from your soul. You would think because someone received my book for free, or as an ARC, or for Lord’s sake, pirated the cocksucker that that gives them the rights to taint your name. Line-by-line they shred your story, and you try not to take offense, but how can you not? You created every word, you breathed life from nothing. While it may just be a book to them, a few minutes to snicker as they taunt like schoolyard bullies, it was thousands of hours of your life put into word form. Each and every book is remembered within you mind. Just the title itself will ping memories and emotions of how you felt as you birthed your story.
The worst are the reviews when you know they didn’t even read the dang book. They take apart a few chapters, totally annihilate your work, all the while getting it wrong because they didn’t even read it. But you can’t defend, you can’t even respond, you can’t even speak out in your own private medium on your own websites. You will be scorned for life. Stoned in the way of social networking. The scarlet letter, but in this case the A stands for Author.
I was ruined.
Ordinarily it would have washed over my back as soon as I began writing again, or read a book, or hugged my children. Any sort of positive interaction to remove the darkness that smudges my soul. But over a thousand is not a handful, and the reason for the well-placed strike was another mini-death- the betrayal.
Doesn’t everything in my life boil down to Ezra and his many explicit betrayals? I was distraught, raw. It felt as if Ezra personally attacked me. Hell, at the time, I figured he did. But I knew that if Ezra hadn’t betrayed me, then it was Faith, which was just as bad. Worse actually, Faith using me to hurt Ezra, and Ezra allowing me to take his consequences- it’s a double fist to the ass, that.
For months I pretended to write, which is with great difficulty when you live with your editor and your boss. Breakfast conversation was tense to say the least, especially when asked how my work in progress was coming along. Yeah, thanks for the advance, but I ain’t got shit on paper. Unless you want me to take a crap and wipe my ass and hand it in as a manuscript. I might be able to do that at least by the rapidly approaching deadline- I hope.
Finally, after questioning concerns and plenty of razzing, they all realized I had a real problem. So instead of indulging in writing, my soul cleanser, I ignored my issues and became the best father on the planet. Never having a father myself, I took all the qualities I respected in Marcus, and all the mistakes everyone was making around me, and tweaked it to how I thought a father should react.
I’m paralyzed by fear, by suffocating emotions that have no outlet for release, by the life I’ve chosen to lead but curiously believe it’s the wrong path. This isn’t how I saw myself. I’m living in our allies’ estate with my family and children, seeking refuge from the shit-storm Ezra rained down upon our heads. I feel immense guilt as I withhold everything from the ones I love. Our hosts are being tormented by the ones they house. It’s wrong, and my mother raised me better than that, and I should be raising my children better than that.
“Daddy,” Baby Ezra’s tender voice flows as he paws at my thighs, and just like that, Celeste Hunter takes the first real breath she has had in over a year. Not the resurrected breath of rebirth, but the dawn of a new life. My muse, my mother, she croons in my mind. If you can’t live with it, don’t accept it. Change!
… And like a lightning strike, I take a deep breath and my fingers fly along the keys. In order to be reborn, one must start at the beginning…
“Wait up!” I shout at Ez’s retreating back.
This summer, Ezra is obsessed with hide and seek. We take turns seeking each other. Once caught, we go back to the center of the lawn, and begin again. He makes us do this from dusk ‘til dawn. I just want to hang around the pool with Divina and Aaron, reading books and listening to music. But Ezra stares me down and says, no, do as I say.
In the past month, we’ve expanded our game to almost a hundred square acres. Now we use compasses, and we’re working up to the seven-hundred acres surrounding ShadowHaven. Ezra expects it by the time school starts. I learned forever ago, just give Ez what he wants.
We play The Hunter, as Ez likes to call it, and he won’t tell me why. He just mumbles, it’s what you do, isn’t it? You hunt your prey, don’t you? I try to tell him that I meant: why do we play it, not why is it called The Hunter? But he always ignores me.
I can tell Ezra is holding something back for me, he’s distancing himself. He knows something I don’t. I’d asked my mom about it because Ezra was getting obsessed with hide and seek… Mom didn’t say anything, and she didn’t need to. Her petrified expression said it all. Now I wish I hadn’t said anything, because Mom and Diane keep looking at us like we’re going to turn into freaks or some shit. The little brat, Aaron, tattles on us every time we do something that they think is nature versus nurture– whatever the hell that means.
An old dude keeps coming around and trying to chat us up. After several times, I figured out that he was a headcase quack. He’s stopped talking to me. But four times a week, Ez and the Doc lock themselves in our bedroom for two hours at a clip. Ezra threw a temper tantrum, so now he only comes after dark. Dr. Weiss was cutting into The Hunter time.
It’s days like today that I get jealous. Ez is only a month older than me, but he’s huge. Ezra is all long arms and legs, which eat up the distance of our hunt. It takes me twice as long to do our route. He hated it when I called him lollypop, but it’s not true anymore. All this hunting has beefed him up. I try not to notice, but it’s impossible with him constantly strutting around naked. It’s like he wants me to see that he’s manlier than me. Divina has seen all of him, too. Ezra just laughs and looks you in the eyes- pervert.
Ezra is a good four inches taller than me. After twelve years of being identical in all ways, I’m pissed. I still look like a kid and Ez is running around with hair on his body. I try not to compare us, but it’s difficult not to when everyone else does. We get a lot of sidelong looks and people calling us twins. I don’t know why, but it annoys Ezra so much that he gets confrontational. I’ve never told him that it hurts my feelings when he goes on the attack. Our lives have always been parallel: no fathers, raised as brothers by our single mothers, we even look alike. Why would Ezra be ashamed to be my brother? I guess he just doesn’t like my skin color. He teases me about being half Hispanic all the time. I’m too tan for Ezra’s white, rich world.
“Don’t be a twit,” Ez taunts, running backwards on his muscular legs- show off. “You’ll never catch me.” Ez whips around and lopes off into the woods, sinister laugh fading in his wake.
“You’ll regret making me chase you,” I shout. “Someday, you’ll be the one eating my dust!” Ez’s answer is his creepy laugh. After a heartbeat of hurt because Ezra left me behind, I go after him.
Pumping my arms as legs as fast as I can go, digging the treads of my sneakers into the ground, I try to gain on Ezra. I slow to yank off my t-shirt and swab my face dry. It’s so humid you can practically see the moisture in the air. It’s ninety-three degrees today with the sun directly overhead. The canopy of the woods isn’t offering any relief. It’s just moist, hot, and buggy.
I’d rather be in the pool, casting looks at Divina’s bikini top. Ez would throw a fit, though. Last week he beat me for looking at her titties. I told Ezra Divina wasn’t my cousin, so I can look all I want. I was just curious. I ended up with a black eye and Ezra had Dr. Weiss for extra sessions.
One advantage of being shorter, the limbs aren’t whipping me in the face. Ez keeps cursing every time he gets lashed. I snicker as he calls a spruce a cocksucker.
“You can’t hide if you keep bitching at inanimate objects,” I sing. “Defeats the purpose of hide and seek.”
“So does chasing me, dumbass,” Ezra shouts at me from somewhere deep in the woods. “The whole point is learning to track… which you suck at.”
“If you’d shut up, I’d look for you. You might as well throw up a flare, since your chatty ass won’t zip it.” Truthfully, every time I’ve found Ezra was because he was bitching at himself or a tree, sometimes a leaf or a bug. He’s silent in the woods. His feet barely touch the ground. Ezra stalks like a perfect predator. I never even hear him breathe. It’s these random outbursts that betray his position- without fail. I know he’s not… right in the head. He’s just Ez.
The whisper of fingertips on my chest awakens me, enlivens me. I’d know these fingertips even in nonexistence, and they just may be the very death of me. The fierce hunger I feel, the pit of ache in my stomach, causes a starvation that threatens to emaciate me unto death.
“Ezra,” his name flutters, quivers from nervousness, from my parted lips as I press his palm to the center of my chest, directly over my rapidly beating heart.
The kiss is soft, a declaration of love as much as a silent apology of guilt and remorse. Ezra hovers over me, hands pressed into the mattress on either side of my shoulders. It’s just him and me, laying in our bed, as it should have always been. Gray eyes, the same shade and shape as my own, gaze down at me in wonder. Twin storm cloud asking for redemption… forgiveness.
Before the words flee my mouth, Ezra’s lips descend and consume me, suck my life down within himself, exactly where I belong.
This is like breathing. This is breathing, for without Ezra I cease to exist. We may have not shared a womb, a fact that I would’ve felt jealousy over if it weren’t for the problem of being in love with one’s twin brother. It’s bad enough that we are both men, men who are related by blood. We shan’t complicate it any more than it already is with pure incent- cousin is bad enough, but not illegal.
Ezra is my world. Ezra is my obsession. He builds me up and destroys me time and time again, and I gladly take it just to be near him. Ezra is my Sun, and I am a budding planet on the fringes of our solar system. I can never be close enough to him. I’d do anything to be as one entity. I crave the sensation of slipping my skin and entering Ezra, or him entering me, joining as one. Just as the Sun does to the planets that are sucked within its orbit- I implode. Ezra destroys my very being with a simple kiss.
“Please,” I beg, salaciously offering myself to anything he wants. A sardonic brow pops as a smirk pulls at Ezra’s cruel lips. I put all of my need into my expression, voicing without sound how very much I need him, how much I need to be with him. Ezra’s answering smile catches the very breath in my throat. It’s the smile that is only reserved for me. No matter who Ezra is: Ezra, Master Ez, or Ez, they all smile at me like that- just me, only me. Just as it should always be.
Muscular thighs part my own as Ezra settles his lower body along mine. I eagerly allow it, I crave what I shouldn’t. But this is not about fear, or right or wrong. This stolen moment is about Ezra and me, us, as it should always be. I allow Ezra to touch me in ways that most men would beat another for stealing, for violating a sacredness of privacy. But between Ezra and me, there are no line worth drawing.
Betrayal, lies, the agonizing torture that Ezra has put me under means so very little when I can smell his musky masculine scent, feel the movement of his chest against mine as he pants from excitement. The sensation of his skin touching my starving flesh has me whimpering in disbelief. It’s been too long. I’ve allowed hurt feeling to warp my love for the man that means the world to me- the man that is my life.
“Make love to me,” I forcefully demand while raising my lower body off of the mattress, trying to grind myself into Ezra. My heels dent the bed, toes curling for leverage. “NOW!”
“With pleasure,” Ezra murmurs with a smile. His tone is part sarcasm, part lust, and a whole heluva lot of amusement. His fingertips skate down my chest, outlining my abs, to my disappointment they veer around my cock. I watch in wonder as Ezra grips his flesh in his fist and pushes into me.
“Ezra,” I scream his name in exquisite torment, ecstasy isn’t a strong enough word. As a word weaver, I don’t have a word in my mental thesaurus to use for the sensation of Ezra joining us as one, as we should be… forever.
“Holy Fuck,” Kitten says with a sharp laugh. “That surely wasn’t a nightmare you were having.”
My eyelids fly open, hating the fleeting dream, despising myself for going there, even in my own mind. My wife stands beside our borrowed bed at Whittenhower Estates, fresh from Restraint and her naughty games with Dexter and Monica. She looks amused as she gazes at the sight I’ve made of myself.
My body is twisted in our sheets, sheets that only cover one of my thighs. Sweat slicks my body, as I pant, still stuck in my imagination. It’s discombobulating, the sensation of being in another time and place. The time was the future or the past, hell if I know which. The place was Ezra and my bed at ShadowHaven, the bed I miss, the bed I’ve shared with the love of my life since I left the cradle.
Tortured, I cry out, hating that my abs and chest are covered in the obvious reaction to my fantasy. I’m covered in my own ejaculate. Rivulets of semen speckle my flesh, covering me in an outrageous amount of proof of what I am, what I refuse to acknowledge. I never cum this much with anyone but him, even in my dreams.
I shade my eyes in humiliation, quickly ripping away the sheet that is twisted around my quivering thigh. I scrub my shame away. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
“Make love to me,” I beg my wife, but the tone is different than the one from my dreams- distant, pained… desperate. Obvious. Katya’s amusement disappears in an instant. Her vibrant green eyes change, not to lust as I’d hoped. I need her to distract me from the agony. Her eyes change to pain, deeply lancing pain.
“It’s against the rules,” Katya says as an excuse, an excuse as obvious as the reason I asked her to make love to me in the first place.
“You’re my wife. Don’t we make the rules? If you really wanted to touch me, you would,” I easily manipulate, shoving the pain down and employing my charm. “Kitten, I’ll make you purr until I render you speechless.” The desperation is only thinly veiled. I need touch. I need centered. I need comforted and cared for. I need Ezra. And in his place, anyone can substitute. Katya is the substitute Ezra provided me, but she won’t comply. She’s too smart for our game, our ruination. She’s too smart to lie still while the avalanche of torment sent from the fates buries her with the rest of us. Katya is a fighter- a survivor.
“Go to him,” Katya breathes out, and agony is written across her face. “You really have to go to him- forgive him. I heard you. I watched you as you dreamed. Just as I’ve done since we started sharing a bed. You don’t dream of me, you don’t dream of anyone… but him. Get over yourself and fix this.”
“I can’t,” I cry out in shame. The pain tightens my chest, threatening to kill me with the vise-like grip clenching my heart. “You don’t understand,” I whine, and how could she, I can’t tell her the fucking truth.
“You are a selfish piece of shit,” Katya growls at me. “Grow up and fix this! Not for me, not for you, not for Ezra. Because I don’t know what is going to happen to us. Do this for our children!” Katya screams at me.
“It’s not my fault,” I shout back. “Everyone blames me when they should be blaming Ezra!”
“Bullshit,” Katya calmly says over her shoulder a second before she locks herself in the en suite bathroom.
“But it’s not,” I whisper to the Heavens. “If you only knew, you’d stop blaming me.”
Frustrated, pained, and horny, I stalk from the bed and yank on a pair of pajama pants. I can’t sleep. But I could write. With a deep breath, I smile. I can write again. The block is gone, and it’s time to heal with my words.
Whittenhower Estates is a strange, place- ominous. It’s perfect if you wanted to write a gothic novel of pain and misery. You can feel it bleeding from the walls, weeping from the mortar. I catch a flash of black and purple as Faith ghosts down the hall and rounds the corner. Yeah, just that split-second opens the wound in my heart and I start to bleed out. I lean against the wall, holding my chest against the suffocating nature of betrayal.
Another flash of color and my world fractures. I stare at the door with a cheery teddy bear plaque. I want to gouge that reminder of the past from the door with my fingernails, leaving blood and flesh from the splinters. I love Daniel, Whitt, Pretty Boy, whatever name you want to call him. Whitt is like the brother I never had, and I truly love him. Better yet, I like him. But right now, I could take a page from Faith’s playbook. I want to twist Whitt’s nutsack until it pops from his body and shove it up his virgin asshole.
That flash of color was the absence of color- white. The white-blond hair on the top of Ezra’s head as he snuck into the door with the taunting teddy bear plaque. At least Ezra asked this time, it’s not a true betrayal. Hot twenty-something pretty boys who eagerly shout their gaydom are a huge draw for my husband. Whitt is so gorgeous that it hurts to look at him, and then you melt when you hear his voice.
I’ve never wanted Whitt, I’ve never seen him as anything but a brother. But I can see Whitt’s appeal to both sexes. The perfect bastard has always wanted to take what’s mine, and I allowed it because it was a test- a test Ezra failed miserably. I’d be angrier if it weren’t for the fact that it’s caused Ezra to be even. I love Ezra enough to be happy that he is happy- that he is even. Yeah, I’m so jealous I could… tear my flesh from my body while screaming like a lunatic, but my name isn’t Ezra.
I retreat towards my office, surreptitiously wiping the betraying tears that flow from my traitorous eyes. I’m not sad. I’m not crying because Ezra is happy from playing gay-games with Whitt and his exotic boyfriend, Dalton. Ezra must feel like he died and went straight to heaven.
I stare at the floor as I enter my office, not giving a shit if obstacles take my life. It’s too bad that my office wasn’t on a different floor, I’d chance the grand staircase with my eyes shut. It would be a sweet surrender to exit this torture. Some days I feel as if I were the tortured hero written within a dark and twisted novel. Will my creator finally set me free?
“Ah, you look like hell,” Marcus wryly says, a smirk on his taunting lips as he sits at my desk, researching something on my laptop.
I sigh in relief- comfort. Thank you, Lord, comfort. “I’m no longer blocked,” I announce.
Copyright © 2013 Erica Chilson