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I haven’t had a whole lot to announce in the way of acceptances lately — part of the reason for that is that I’ve been freelance-, teacher- and novel-focused, which means I haven’t had much time to write or submit poems or short stories. So it’s such a delight when the work that I sent out a while back comes back to me with a sweet, sweet yes. Today brought two such (after, I should say for full-disclosure, a bunch of rejections), and I’m delighted to announce that two completely different stories have found homes.

The first is my sensual, other-worldly, subversive fantasy tale called “Seed,” which found a home in a collection that includes some amazing, incredible authors. I don’t think I can say more until all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed, but suffice to say, I’m super honored and excited.

The other story is my funny, paranormal erotic piece, “Devil’s Food,” which has been accepted for Kristina Wright‘s awesome collection, “Dream Lover.” I don’t know the entire line-up yet, but I do know it includes some of my fave authors, including Nikki Magennis, Justine Elyot, and Lucy Felthouse.

Here, for your reading pleasure (I hope), is a bit of both stories. First up, “Seed”:

Clark has come with his cherries again. Carrying them in his ungloved hands, their skins touching his skin.

I take them delicately and without flinching, as I have been taught, my bare palms cupped for his offering, his dark red fruits tumbling into my hands. They are too much, too visceral, their blooded curves beckoning my tongue in a way that is not for polite company. Not even polite, paid company.

“Thank you, Clark,” I say, now that his cherries are in my hands, and I can look away from them, to his face. He likes it when we address him by first name. Proper address — last, home, first — makes his ruddy cheeks go more red and plump, like his cherries. Smind Kaja Meira says this means he is embarrassed or angered. So we must never call him Tupelo Oklahawma Clark, only ever Clark, and we must let him dump his cherries into the bowl of our cupped hands until they overflow, and, if we can help it, we must not show our own embarrassment at their round, sweet scent against our noses.

“My pleasure, Sallie Kaja Arana,” he says. The words come off his tongue slow and careful, and I know he has worked hard to memorize my whole name, even if he doesn’t have the accents right.

“Just Arana,” I say. “If it pleases you.”

“It does,” he says. And then like always, as if he’s tasting my name in his mouth, a sound that makes me shiver and flush. “Arana.”

I think he is a pretty man, although I don’t know if that’s true by his own people’s standards. Big-bellied in a way that signifies his fecundity. Pale, barely pinkened skin that shows he spends much time in the common spaces. He wears many layers, his outfit cuts across him in funny places, belts at waist and ankle — but all of that serves to show more of his girth and weight, and perhaps that is the purpose. Still, I like him best of all when he is naked as the rest of us, just his skin and body, no artifices between us.

“Please make yourself at home,” I say. Clark is already doing just that, but it’s important to follow decorum, to say the thing that we wish for our clients. Even the ones who pay with such high, personal prices as bright red cherries for something we should gladly give away for free. Smind Kaja Meira says this is the way of things, that one person’s food is another person’s lying with, and we should take what he offers and be grateful. I prefer it, truly, to our own men, the skinny, boney ones who pay us in monies so that they may eat with us, so they may enter our private kitchenette spaces and feed us our own bits of day-old meat and scavenged berries. The way they watch my mouth chew and swallow, commanding me at their bidding. “Open your mouth,” they say. “Let me see your tongue, your teeth. I want to watch you bite this. Now this. Swallow, oh the gods, swallow. Yes.”

Their bare hands touching my lips, their fingers tasting the secret inner places of my mouth. In exchange for this great and private thing, our own men try to shill us, to never pay in foods but always in the small, plain monies of the worlds, hardly worth a loaf of bread, a piece of dead fish.

***

And then a bit from the opening of “Devil’s Food”:

The man had come in, so quietly she would never have known he was there if not for Margipe, the talking toad who sat by the bakery door and announced her incoming customers. The toad was supposed to say “Hello!” or “Welcome!” but his responses depended on his mood. The locals loved him — thought he was a riot — but strangers and travelers weren’t as thrilled. Lire hadn’t hired Margipe, but she couldn’t seem to get rid of him either. All she could do was beg him to be polite. Sometimes it worked.

This time, he’d croaked, “Ooh, big man! Big man! Big big big man!” and then burped in excitement, the sound so loud that Lire had banged her head on the glass pastry case.

“I’m so sorry about that,” she said, as she came up from her bent-over position, rubbing the side of head.

“Well, I am a big man.” The man’s voice, layered with a hint of tease, wasn’t quite bass, not that deep. Baritone, is that what they called it? Rich and resonating without sounding like it was forced.

Lire had owned Devil’s Food for six years, and while she’d seen a lot of angels and devils — both the human and not-quite-human kind — and even gotten pretty used to their odd comings and goings, this was her first glimpse of something like the guy standing in front of her. He wasn’t human, that much was clear, although she couldn’t have said how she knew it. Something about the way his body moved through the air, even when he was standing still. It wasn’t a shiver so much as a hum, a visible vibration that shook his edges like a song.

Still, a customer was a customer. If living in Hellsedge had taught her anything, it was that you didn’t discriminate. People—and even non-people—were still, well, people. And this people? He was stunning, that was one thing. Shoulder-length dark hair that fell in soft waves along the collar of his shirt, equally dark eyes, so dark you couldn’t tell where his pupils ended. Dressed in a simple navy t-shirt and worn jeans, he somehow looked like the outfit had been made for him, fitting just right over his wide shoulders and chest, down to the slimness of his hips.

***

Wee! Big fun, big fun! 🙂

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

***

PS — Fantastically gorgeous image from this artist.

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