What happens when you set multiple stories in the same fictional world? Set up a meet and greet so that the characters get to know each other. Here is Belinda McBride to talk about how individual stories insisted on becoming a series.
One of the first books I wrote was a space opera called Belle Starr. It was a rowdy, rollicking story and I took months developing planets, governments and alien species to populate the Coalition Universe. When I finished the book, I wasn’t finished with that world.
Later, I was writing this little m/m space opera. It seemed to make sense to set An Uncommon Whore in a universe that had already been created, but in a setting completely unrelated to the previous book. So as I named planets and built the pseudo Greek culture of Helios and Griffin, I kept thinking about the Coalition and all the people who were waiting to walk back into the fabric of a story. But An Uncommon Whore was really just meant to be a simple boy meets boy love story, without dipping into the devious politics of the Coalition. My editor and I agreed to keep that story true to its original vision and save the intrigue for the following book.
When I got to AUW2: When I Fall, the image began to focus. Like the werewolves in Belle Starr, Helios and company are smaller parts of a much larger world. The people of Neo Domus finally met some of Belle Starr’s werewolf characters. Species like the Somian and Vash entered the picture, and that all laid the groundwork for The Bacchi and the very important Bacchi Guild.
I initially pictured The Bacchi as something separate from the other books, but I’ve finally given in and admitted that while not a series, my space operas are all under one big umbrella of the Coalition Universe. There are times I lay in bed and future stories play out…I’ve got Timber from Belle Starr playing a major role in the next Helios and Griffin story. Ghlenn (the Somian who lost his twin) from When I Fall may step into the world of Lefi and Afton. And Taurean, who plays a pivotal role in The Bacchi, was initially written as a love interest for a woman in the Belle Starr universe.
Confusing? Imagine me as all this stuff plays out in my mind. Imagine me trying to keep the m/m separate from the m/f, when some of the most important characters are third gender.
Pity my editor.
I do my best and try to keep all the threads of all my worlds straight and organized. Because there’s also Arcada and Truckee and a few other worlds that are still germinating. Did you know the werewolves in Truckee and Arcada are the forerunners to the werewolves in Belle Starr?
And here’s a secret…if you are a fan of the Uncommon Whore books, an important Easter egg is hidden in the Bacchi. Well, maybe it’s not hidden, its pretty open. You won’t want to miss it.
The Bacchi Lefi Dhrahn lives a life of luxury and decadence, but is tortured by memories of a lost love. He survives the pain by surrounding himself with sex, beauty, and all forms of self-indulgence. When he meets the alluring Inspector Afton Teris, Lefi believes the detective will make a very nice addition to his string of conquests.
Afton Teris is a Valoran hermaphrodite, and like all members of his species, is stern, cerebral and disapproves of the frivolous prostitute. Afton orients as a male, but the beautiful Lefi Dhrahn stirs him sexually, making him question everything he knows about himself. To further confuse his emotions, Afton finds himself tempted by the forbidden pleasures surrounding the Bacchi.
When a kidnapping ring strikes close to home, the two go undercover on a brothel barge to investigate a slavery operation. There, Lefi is confronted by painful memories from his past, while Afton is faced with a horror that threatens his future, and perhaps his very life. Their survival lies with one another, but only if Lefi can set aside his pain and listen to his heart.
Publisher’s Note: While primarily a male/male love story, this book contains one or more instances of male/female interaction. It also contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: exhibitionism/sex in public, male/male sexual practices, violence.
Buy Link: Loose-Id
EXCERPT: (Note, this scene takes place as Afton spies on Lefi, who is with a client)
“Do you ever climax, Lefi?”
“Sometimes. If that’s what my client needs.”
“What about your needs?”
“My needs?” He leaned back, his eyes dropping closed, his hair hanging in an arrow down his back. “You fulfill my needs. When you climaxed now, you gave me such happiness.”
“You know that isn’t what I mean.” She pulled her hand away and reached to the side, where she found a silken robe.
Lefi stripped off the condom and discreetly disposed of it. “Sometimes I take a lover for a time. That’s all I need.” He rose gracefully, and Afton’s heart stopped for the briefest moment. In this light Lefi’s skin was luminous, his hair inky dark. His eyes were shadows in his face. His body was sculpted and perfect, broad shoulders angling to narrow hips. His erection had faded, but his cock was still thick and heavy. Afton caught his breath, his skin flushed, and his cock ached with excitement.
He’s a man. A male! The words echoed in his mind, effectively killing his arousal. For the moment, anyway.
“Do you still want to learn how to pleasure a man?” Lefi had deftly turned the conversation back to his client.
Bashfully she nodded.
“Well, next time we’ll work on that.”
“Will you climax?”
His laugh was beautiful. “Of course, for that is the purpose of the exercise, is it not? You’re afraid. Can you tell me what you’re afraid of?”
“Just…you know…you in my mouth.”
“You worry about my coming in your mouth?” She nodded, and even in the candlelight Afton could see her blush. “Then I certainly won’t, if that worries you. I’ll wear a sheath. But Judith?” With a finger under her chin, he tilted her face up to his.
“Every man has his own taste. My semen is sweet. If you want to, you can taste it. Next time.” He helped her to her feet, and in his skilled hands, the small, round woman appeared graceful and elegant.
“Next time…” Her eyes went unfocused, and the tip of her pink tongue showed briefly at her lips. “I’d noticed…that your sweat isn’t salty. Not much, anyway.”
He chuckled, put an arm around her shoulders, and walked her out of Afton’s sight. “No, it isn’t. Later this week you’ll come back, and we’ll talk some more…” His voice faded away, leaving Afton standing alone and awkward in the tiny room.
Behind his trousers, Afton’s cock was hard and urgent again; an insidious dampness escaped his body. He clenched his fists, his fingernails nearly drawing blood. A moment of focus allowed him to recapture his Valoran dignity. Then he heard movement outside the door. Lefi was safely wrapped in a floor-length robe as he moved around the living space, picking up objects and putting them away. His client was still in the house, and Afton decided it would be best if he remained hidden for the moment. He took a deep breath and turned to examine his surroundings.
The room was small—not a closet but clearly designed for storage. It took only a moment to ascertain what Lefi used it for.
One wall contained hanging floggers and manacles, leather straps, and exotic devices Afton couldn’t make sense of. There were shelves with dildos of all shapes and sizes, as well as other toys, lubricants, and massage oils.
And then there were the costumes.
The Bacchi had everything ranging from fetish gear that consisted of a few leather straps, to flowing robes from a Warlan fantasy. Afton moved hanger after hanger, then finally broke into a grin. There were several outfits clearly designed for women, along with wigs and shoes. They would fit the Bacchi to perfection.
“See something you like?”
Afton whirled around, the smile fading from his face. The Somian in the doorway didn’t quite tower over him but was tall enough to intimidate. In reaction Afton returned to his own instinctive military posture.
Lefi reached past him and brought down an outfit that consisted solely of drapes of brightly colored, silken scarves.
“I dance in this one. The client likes to strip me naked, one scarf at a time.” He flashed that brilliant smile and hung the skimpy costume back on the rack. “It’s called the Dance of the Seven Sins. Borrowed from Earth, of course.”
He lifted down another. “One gentleman—and I use that term loosely—enjoys seeing me dressed as a female. This little green schoolgirl dress is his favorite. We can only be grateful he acts out his fantasy with me rather than…otherwise.”
Afton finally gave in, smiling and shaking his head. The old-fashioned jumper had a silky blonde wig with it. Another Earth-based kink. While he was tall, the Somian was willowy and beautiful enough to cross gender.
“So what compels you to intrude while I’m with a client, Inspector?” Lefi turned away, leaving Afton to follow him into the main living space. He opened a panel and brought up the lights in the room. An elaborate golden Bacchi bracelet dangled from his left wrist, shimmering and catching Afton’s gaze. An electric-blue credit chit dangled from one link, and the various acts the Somian was proficient in were advertised by the numerous dangling charms. The precious metal indicated that among the Bacchi, he’d achieved mastery within the guild of his profession.
It seemed Lefi Dhrahn was no common prostitute. Afton had never really noticed the bracelet before. He had the odd impulse to examine it, to see just what the Bacchi did for his clients.
Feeling the warmth of a blush on his face, Afton reached into his pocket and extended the warrant just as Lefi turned away and swept into the kitchen in a flutter of black silk. With the lights up, the gem-green tones of his hair sparkled, matching the iridescent flush of green over his cheeks. When he turned back to Afton, his vivid purple eyes gleamed with humor. He offered a glass to Afton.
“It’s only juice, as you’re on duty.” He smiled again and sipped his own drink.
“I have a warrant.” Afton handed him the paper, leaving the glass untouched as Lefi studied the document. One arched brow rose.
“In less than an hour.”
The prostitute rolled his eyes and sighed in exasperation. “Fine. Give me ten minutes.” He finished his drink, leaned back against the marble counter, then studied Afton’s face.
“So tell me, Inspector, did you learn anything today?”
“Only that having an audience doesn’t impair your performance.”
The Somian laughed, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “Then you weren’t really paying attention, were you? I found your presence quite…distracting.”
Afton felt his skin darken in embarrassment, and the response annoyed him; he should have been well accustomed to the Bacchi’s relentless flirtation by now.
“Why did you strike her?”
Lefi gently set the glass on the counter, then turned back to Afton. Humor still danced in his eyes.
“Some people find punishment cathartic. It allowed her to break through the emotional barriers that kept her from culmination.” He pushed off the counter, and the silk of his robes brushed Afton as he passed by. “I keep a light touch with her. Judith only needs the suggestion of punishment to purge her guilt.” He gave Afton his elegant profile. “You might try it sometime, Inspector. As a Valoran I imagine you carry far too much guilt.”
For a moment Afton froze. How could he possibly know such a thing?
He followed Lefi back into the main room of the apartment. With the lights up he could see that the far half of the room had been arranged for relaxation—and sex. The floor was thickly carpeted; cushions of all sizes littered the space.
“This is the main living area. I’ve got another room with more specialized equipment. That’s where I usually…work.” He spoke casually, his tone friendly and open. “Please, make yourself comfortable. I’ll be only a moment.”
He was gone, leaving behind the fragrance of exotic spices, sex, and aroused Somian. Afton shivered as his cock hardened once again. With a frustrated sigh he flopped down onto a luxurious honey-colored chaise and waited.
Copyright © Belinda McBride, July 2012
All Rights Reserved
Belinda is offering up a digital copy of The Bacchi. To enter, comment below about “Space Operas.” Open until Friday, August 10th at 11:59 pm (PST). Winner will be selected and notified on Saturday.
Belinda has added a print copy of Blaque/Bleu to our GRL Reading Challenge Grand Prize. Remember to post your list for your chance to enter.
Won’t have my camera until later today … and the names were all written on very thin napkins … but I didn’t want to make you guys wait till tonight to know the winner.