The city of Venice has been rebuilt on the far planet of Cydonia. Despite the uneasy presence of the mysterious, only part-human Sand Riders who roam the Cydonian deserts, The Black Carnival has become a celebration of beauty and lust known all over the Galaxy.
Ivory Blake, a young artist from the conservative Central Planets, is thrown in the middle of the festivities to illustrate a new book about the Black Carnival. As a guest of the glamorous art collector Lukan Løvensgård, her professional assignment quickly turns into a highly emotional exploration of sensuality in all its most varied aspects, from BDSM to romantic love, passing through obsession, fear, jealousy and passionate, tender complicity.
He laughed and lifted a hand to caress my chin. He brushed a strand of hair back, tucking it behind my ear, and then he put down his glass, brought both his hands behind my head and undid the lacing of my mask. I didn’t say a thing. As the mask was taken from my face, I felt more naked than I had ever felt since coming to NeuVenedig, and yet I felt no uneasiness at all. If anything, I began to unwind and took a deep liberating breath. I smiled at Laz’law and shyly, lightly caressed the tiny scales on his cheekbones, the rougher, thicker scales on his eyebrows, the beautiful strange mask that could never be taken off.
“Lovely,” said he and I at the same time, and we laughed.
“So beautiful,” we said again absurdly, improbably, in unison.
It was uncanny. It was fantastic.
He grinned widely. I am sure that he had quite some practice at being adored. I was not used to be called beautiful; men in the Central Planets were too correct and formal, or, perhaps, just plain shy, for such wildly romantic statements. I had been called pretty, cute, sweet and even hot, but never beautiful.
Obviously, I blushed.
Lune put two fingers around my chin to turn my face to him. He looked at me tenderly and softly kissed my temples, my eyebrows, my cheekbones, all those places that he had never seen before. I closed my eyes, smiling a small beatific smile as I went more or less limp in his arms. I heard them both laughing, but I didn’t open my eyes.
Laz’law took the almost empty glass from my hand; I heard him getting up and walk off towards the bar, but by then Lune was kissing my mouth in intense, hot, tongue-and-teeth kisses, and I was quite distracted. I felt Laz’law sitting back on the sofa and lifting my skirt up. He took off my tall, soft suede boots and began caressing my knees, just under the edge of the skirt, then further up, running a flat warm palm along my legs. When his hand reached the naked skin of my thighs I shuddered with pleasure and finally broke the kiss, opening my eyes to look at him.
He smiled at me, and kept caressing me in flat even caresses as if savoring the smoothness of the silk stockings and of my skin. Lune looked at him with a curiously affectionate smile, and then he said to me, “Come here.”
He pulled me to sit in his lap, and began kissing me again, running his searching lips on my mouth, my throat, my neck. I sighed, my head thrown back, quite abandoned in his arms, when I felt Laz’law standing up behind me. His warm hands began to massage my naked shoulders, as if to ease my nerves. I didn’t think I needed any easing, but his warm fingers seemed to unravel my back as if it had been knotted. I bent my head forward to invite his hands higher. He obliged; his palms rubbed warmly along my neck, crawled in circles on my skull, loosening my hair, then descended again. He caressed my tightly corseted breasts and sides. Then he lifted my hair out of the way and started kissing the nape of my neck and my spine, between my shoulder blades.
I was melting like chocolate.
I pressed my face in the curve of Lune’s throat, opening my lips to taste his skin. Laz’law kneeled on the carpet behind me, lifted the skirt up around my waist, and went on kissing his way down my back as his hands caressed my legs and then my buttocks. His breath puffed warm through the crisscrossing lacing of my corset, making me shiver in anticipation.
I think I could have gone on like that forever, but after a while Lune sat up and moved further back on the deep sofa.
“Turn,” he whispered, pushing and pulling me around until I turned in his lap and sat facing Laz’law, who smiled, running his hands lightly along the inside of my legs.
I relaxed against Lune’s body, my back on his chest. I parted my legs a bit, feeling wonderfully exposed, slutty and happy. Lune lowered the zipper of my corset and, as my breasts spilled out of their almost painful confinement, I sighed and put my arms up around his neck, turning his face down to mine, silently begging him to kiss me again.
He was more than willing to comply, and kissed me deeply, hotly, his lips covering mine entirely, his tongue lashing down my throat, circling in my mouth, searching and teasing, pinning my head irresistibly against his shoulder. He kissed in fierce, carnivorous kisses, in surprising, delightful contrast with the quiet courtesy of his manner and the sweetness of his smile.
One of his hands had taken hold of my left breast, and he was squeezing my nipple, softly at first and then harder, rolling the tender skin between his strong fingers until it almost hurt. He smoothly pushed his knees between mine, and spread my legs wide with his, opening me to Laz’law’s kisses. My breath was quick and shallow in his mouth.
I could feel Laz’law’s rough, scaly, metal studded brows brushing on the skin of my thighs, his warm mouth open on the almost transparent lace of my panties. His tongue was even warmer, and he ran it flatly on the damp lace a few times before untying the two twin bows that tied the panties around my hips. When my sex was naked and open before him, I pushed it upward towards his face, with a tiny pleading moan. When he stooped forward, I began rocking against his rough chin; he laughed softly and started lapping me in brief quick laps, retreating out of my reach after each lap, until I strained and arched my back for more.
“What a hot little thing she is, indeed,” he said, and Lune broke the kiss again to nod and laugh.
“Told you,” he said.
They both stared at me, and I suddenly felt somewhat self-conscious at the thought that they had been talking about me, although it was quite natural, I guess. I sat up a bit straighter, closing my legs somewhat. Laz’law smiled up at me, caressing my thighs, murmuring something unintelligible but soothing while kissing my knees apart again, but in that moment I felt Lune’s hands gently pushing me off his lap. I stood up and he carefully unbuttoned my skirt, which slid down my hips with a silky rustle. I kicked it off, and Laz’law, still fully dressed, still on his knees on the carpet, pulled me toward him and pressed his mouth hard on my sex.
That is when the last of my shyness went overboard.
In defence of quiet heroes
I admit to having a tendre for quiet heroes.
Maybe it’s because when a man opens his mouth more than twice in a row inevitably he ends up talking about either cars or football. Maybe it’s that I spend way too much time with horses, and dialogue is not their strongest point. You can whisper to horses, and even talk to them, but they seldom answer in words, although they may throw in a chuckling nicker from time to time.
Maybe it’s that all the guys I really liked in my life were of the taciturn persuasion and I really cannot figure a hero prattling away like a damn radio all through a book.
Maybe it’s just the mysterious allure of a man full of long silences and quiet gestures. It puts so much more emphasis on his eyes, smiles, hands. Maybe I tend to associate chatty guys with car dealers (cars again!) and sport commentators (football again!).
No, no. If I need a hero, I’ll take a quiet man any day, thank you very much.
There are of course, caveats. You may never know what is going on in the head of a quiet hero. It would appear that Black Carnival’s hero, Lune, may be too quiet for some. Despite my charming editor’s best efforts to draw him out, Lune remained stubbornly quiet.
So here I am, to offer a little insight in this silent hero’s life. Being so silent he refused to appear himself, of course, but I have leave to disclose a few facts. So, ask away.
Q- Well, reading this excerpt, I have to ask, what is a Sand Rider to begin with?
A- Sand Riders were artificially bred over more than two hundred years by the Cydonian Institute of Genetic Research. On a planet freshly terraformed and still challenging to human settlers, the genetically enhanced Sand Riders served as scouts, hunters and rangers. In these easier times they still lead a rather rough and roaming life in the desert, divided, by law, from the human inhabitants, with the sole exception of the Carnival festivities, which have a certain character of Thanksgiving, a reward from the human settlers to the efforts of the Sand Riders in the colonizing of Cydonia.
Q- But these Sand Riders, what do they look like?
A- Why, mostly like humans, really, except that they tend to be on the athletic side and have this scaly half-mask around the eyes.
Q- Scaly? Like a fish?
A- More like a snake. It’s a genetic marker left in by the Institute to make them instantly distinguishable from humans. It also has some practical purposes, but I won’t go into that for now.
Q- So, Lune… how do you pronounce his name, again?
A- Lu-nay. Not Loon.
Q- Ok… so he doesn’t live in Neu Venedig?
A- Not outside the Carnival festivities, no. He just spends some weeks in Neu Venedig each Carnival, like a holiday. He is based in the Cydonian desert’s capital, White Sands, although he spends several months a year in the desert itself.
Q- Doing what exactly, if I may ask?
A- Exploring, and botanizing. He is a biologist by profession, and a horse trainer by passion. That may account for his quiet, soothing manners and low, sexy, whispering voice.
Q- But all this being quiet and silent, One wonders, does he have some secret?
A- Well, something mysterious is going on, that is for sure. These Sand Riders have been demanding independence for a while now, and there is indeed a suspicion that our Lune maybe involved in some very delicate negotiations requiring utmost discretion. This will stay between us, understood? A man can get in trouble for this sort of things.
Q- So, he is some sort of politician as well?
A- No, no, I would not say that. Rather an idealist.
Q-I see. Well, let’s talk about important matters now. I see from the excerpt that he has a lover, a young fellow named Laz’law, right?
Q- So, what’s he doing with Ivory? Carnival dalliance or true love?
A- Eh, that only the end of the story can tell. But we are talking hero, here, not asshole. Of course since humans and Riders live strictly separate lives, Lune is understandably hesitant to get involved in a serious relationship with a human girl.
Q- And Laz’law, does he have something to say about Lune’s interest in Ivory?
A- My personal feeling is that Laz’law, while he may probably turn out to be jealous as hell of other men, is rather more tolerant of Lune’s female love interests. Not to mention the fact that he seems to stray out of strict fidelity himself, on occasions. Besides, he appears to be quite happy to share Ivory with his lover, and he looks pretty smitten with the girl himself. No, I would not worry too much about Laz’law. Actually he’s a fine guy.
Q- Someone suggested that Lune seem to like Laz’law better than Ivory. Is that so?
A- Well, the two relationships are really hard to compare. Lune and Laz’law have been together for a decade, and know each other very well, while Lune is still tiptoeing around Ivory and their complicated situation. It goes without saying that he is more readily and openly intimate with Laz’law than he is with Ivory.
Q- We know that Lune is a talented lover…
A- Ahem, apparently he is, yes.
Q- Is he also a romantic at heart?
A- We have private intelligence that he has been known to write love poems.
Q- Will they be published?
A- Go figure. But he is, as I said, very private. We may have to steal his notebooks to see them!
I am on Facebook and Twitter as Katherine Wyvern and @KatherineWyvern and my blog
Black Carnival is available from Amazon.