When two of the guards took a position on either side of Todd and one pulled Todd’s hands behind his back to cuff him again, Nick couldn’t stay still any longer. A huge bubble formed inside his chest, threatening to burst through his ribs. His guts tightened down, and he couldn’t pull in enough air for a decent breath.
Lurching forward a few steps, heading for his mate, Nick garbled, “No. We’re sentries!”
Raleigh laughed, loud and obnoxious. “You think that matters to me?”
“Since sentries are the people who can get rid of the scum he uses, all the more reason to get rid of us, Nick,” Todd said.
He yanked his arms away from the guard, took a step closer to Nick, and waved his hands in a come-here gesture.
One of the guards sidestepped, blocking Nick’s path and shoving him back. The other guard grabbed both of Todd’s arms, stopping him from going any farther.
Moving fast, Witze got between them, holding both hands out. “Quit,” he snapped at the guards. “Give them a minute.” Turning to Raleigh, Witze shook his head. “They’re not going anywhere. Todd’s already given his word. Let them say goodbye.”
“Witze, your sentimentality is nauseating.” Raleigh nodded at the guards. “Let them go, but any suspicious moves, shoot them both.”
Nick didn’t waste time. The second the guards’ hands were off him, he closed the distance between him and Todd and stopped when Todd’s hands came to rest on either side of Nick’s face, holding him so Nick was forced to look only at Todd.
“Nick, you listen to me. Go with Mr. Witze and do what he tells you to, okay?” For a split second, Todd’s gaze flicked to Witze before coming back to hold Nick’s.
Nick could do no more than nod. His throat was too tight, and there was no way he was going to let Raleigh hear the wet, broken quality his voice would have if he spoke aloud.
“That’s my boy.” Todd pulled Nick closer, pressing a kiss to his forehead, then cheek, before wrapping both arms around him and pulling him in for a tight hug. Nick bent his head so his face pressed to Todd’s shoulder, sucked in a shuddering breath, and nodded again. He turned his head a bit to the side when Todd whispered in his ear.
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My snippet this week is from Together Bound (Sentries book 2)
When he arrived, he scanned the large room, searching out his mate. The slaves were working as servers, and Nick was among them. Moving toward the bar, Todd said hello to a few of the people he’d met earlier in the day. Biting back a smile, Todd sipped his beer, gaze slipping to Nick every few minutes. His heart fluttered along with his stomach.
The way Nick’s eyes raked over Todd, the shocked expression on his face, quickly covered, the way Nick’s breathing sped up for a few seconds, and the thick, slow swallow accompanied by the slight flush rising up Nick’s neck, Todd knew.
Nick liked the suit.
Todd had heard the rumors and stories of special slaves, a group kept secret by the government for years and had no idea how Nick or his ability were involved, if at all. Todd wasn’t even sure he completely believed all the rumors, which were sketchy at best. Even those rumors couldn’t explain this.
Mind racing, he went through scenario after scenario, not wanting to face any of them and completely panicked by the realization he’d have to face them all.
Pounding on the front door made him start and gulp air into his constricting lungs. Three days, the letter said three days; why was someone here now? It took a few seconds for him to process that someone on the other side of the door was calling his name and it was a voice he recognized.
Todd staggered from the kitchen to the front door, and yanked it open without checking to see who it was, something he’d never done before. Apparently, Nick wasn’t the only one who was going to freak. Todd was well into his own freak-out.
His vision swam, and he stood staring at the man in front of him for a few more seconds before croaking, “Jimmy?”
The older man brushed past him and into the apartment before shutting the door firmly behind him. Hands gripping Todd’s shoulders hard, Jimmy gave Todd a slight shake as his eyes scanned the apartment.
“They can’t do this!” Todd backed up a step. “No one can do this. They can’t just take him. Can they?”
Jimmy’s hands dropped to his sides. “Hell, kid, I wouldn’t have thought so. I don’t know. Todd, where is he?”
“Eminent domain is for property, to build roads and hospitals. Not to take people.”
“Todd! Where the hell is Nick?”
Blinking, Todd lifted his gaze from the paper in his hand to Jimmy’s face. “He’s…it’s Sunday.” Jimmy literally snarled at him. Shaking his head, Todd cleared his throat and concentrated. “It’s Sunday. When we’re in town, we get breakfast at a café near here. He went to pick it up. That’s where I get the coffee you and Nick like so much. Nicky loves the coffee…” Todd’s voice trailed off.
Did Jimmy mean to imply they’d snatched Nick off the street?
BDSM Without the Toys
When most people think of BDSM they often imagine rooms filled with a variety of equipment and gadgets, otherwise referred to as toys. There are floggers and gags, cuffs, chastity devices, cock rings in seemingly endless supply. Reading about our favorite characters using all their toys is fun and exciting.
However, there is a whole other side to BDSM. It’s a lifestyle and it’s an attitude. One doesn’t need all the ‘stuff’ to have great BDSM sex. First and foremost, BDSM requires willing participants, no one should ever be forced into it.
When I was writing the beginning of the Sentries series I faced a bit of a conundrum. My first obstacle was because in the world I was creating there weren’t going to be the selection of manufactured toys we have available today. I realized BDSM has probably existed long before we gave a name to it and catalogs of equipment came to life. So, in the case of Todd and Nick Ruger, their version of BDSM focuses on mind, attitude and emotion.
My next hurdle was that in the story Nick is an actual slave. He wears a collar designating his status and there are laws and rules of their society that governs some of his interactions.
Todd introduces Nick to a sexual Dom/sub and BDSM life. It’s something Todd enjoys and he hopes his new partner will enjoy it as well. As it turns out, Nick enjoys it very much. What Todd in actuality does, is offer Nick the freedom to explore his sexuality, something Nick had never done before. Being a naturally very curious person, Nick wants to explore this new part of his life to the fullest.
While they use some simple devices, cloth restraints, a feather, and a tether, as well as putting Nick’s collar to some creative uses that’s about it for their array of toys. Their BDSM is raw emotion and their imaginations. Instead of using a gag to prevent talking, Nick keeps silent from sheer self-control. Orgasm denial is not attained through a chastity device, but from willpower. Using the mind and emotion in place of BDSM toys is very powerful. The characters need to draw on each other and their desire to please their partner without artificial aid.
Like every healthy BDSM couple, they balance what they desire in bed with their day to day lives. They spend time learning what each other desires from their sex life and what they enjoy the most. Outside of their bedroom and despite how their society designates their roles. they are a true couple. They each have equal footing in their relationship. They depend on each other and often place their lives in the hands of their partner.
Todd may be an actual owner and Nick an actual slave, but that is only one small part of their relationship. They’re a team, a willing team in all aspects of their life. They’ve spent time learning about each other. As the series progressed their relationship grows and becomes stronger.
So, what's your opinion? Which do you enjoy better lots of toys and equipment with your D/s and BDSM or the simpler approach that focuses completely on two people?
Join the conversation to be entered into a drawing to win one ebook copy of the Sentries book of your choice. Or an ebook copy of For the Long Run, my other BDSM book, that one has lots of toys!
To enter the blog hop contest see the earlier post HERE.
I'll announce my winners Sunday evening US Eastern time.
Today is a special day for me, it was three years ago today the first book of the Sentries Series, Marked Yours was released! So, in celebration of that I am delighted to announce Tethered Pair (book #5 of Sentries) will be coming later this autumn.
I'll be posting excerpts and updates in my newsletter along with many other goodies including what does a riverboat have to do with the next Sentries book?
newsletter sign up: http://elizabeth-noble.us7.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=5b9a8ba3a29e49d14defa8788&id=98457588c9
A few weeks ago I was privileged enough to have Lex Chase interview me and post said interview on her blog. I'm reposting it here for anyone who didn't see it when it originally went up.
Dreamspinner Press author Elizabeth Noble may appear like an unassuming veterinary nurse, but in fiction she delights readers with post-apocalyptic worlds and the will to survive. Her new release in the long running “Sentries” series is the fourth volume called “Collared Souls” is due out April 3, and she elaborated on the next chapter in the characters Todd and Nick’s lives.
“The story takes place in the future, several hundred years after a natural disaster drastically alters society and things as we know it,” she said via email interview. “There is sex, monsters, horses, fights, betrayal, something for everyone. The series centers around Todd Ruger, a very special kind of hunter and his slave Nick. Bonded as children they become true comrades in arms, fighting side by side against foes both seen and unseen. Bound by love, they are mates for life, each willing to do what it takes to protect the other. Fourth in the series is titled ‘Collared Souls’ and our guys go back to the village where Nick was raised. There they not only discover personal history, but uncover a conspiracy that could determine the fate of a war.”
THE WORLD OF SENTRIESWhen it comes to the intricate worldbuilding featured “Sentries,” Noble maintains it’s not necessary to plot out every blade of grass, every star in the sky, or need hands-on experience in knife fighting. Wait. Knife fighting?
Noble offered the answer.
“I have a friend who is disturbingly good at things like knife and fist fights, so I have to credit her with making mine flow so well. Actually I’m afraid not to…,” she said with a laugh.
Senseless violence aside, Noble elaborated upon another kind of violence such as natural disasters and how they factor into “Sentries.”
“In order to make this sort of story line plausible I had to reinvent society and the world,” she said. “I did that, in part, by using the Wyoming Supervolcano. There is more to that particular part of the story and ‘Collared Souls’ gives us much more detail on the how and why things went the way they did including the evolution of sentries and how the slave industry was established. Basically, I had a good idea of the geographical location of the story, what it would be like in terms of climate and if there were any changes from how it looks now.”
Between just winging it and hoping for the best, and having ideas, Noble explained the difference.
“I had the basics of the society and added to that and developed it from there as the story progressed,” she said. “I worked out the generalities, and allowed the world to evolve as I wrote. Societies, people and planets are not static, they change. I try to allow that to happen in the creation of my worlds.”
Noble gave her biggest tip for authors new to building extravagant worlds.
“Know what you want and be flexible in the worldbuilding,” she said.
REDEFINING MASTERS AND SLAVESNobel maintains “Sentries” isn’t the typical Dominant/submissive book, and she went out of her way to make her own twist on Masters and Slaves.
She offers the origin of Todd and Nick, and well as the origin of “Sentries” as a whole.
“I was reading the posts on a LiveJournal community where people searching for a certain story, or type of story leave messages,” she said. “I read a post where someone was looking for a story featuring an arranged marriage between the two main characters. The very next thread was someone looking for a story about two people who knew from the time they were very young they were always meant to be together.”
You could say the rest is history, but Noble had some logistics to work out, she explained.
“My use of an Owner/Slave relationship is a bit different than most,” she said. “Todd, the owner, was forced into his role as a child. His slave becomes the center of his world, the true partner and family he’s always yearned for. Nick, the slave is smart, educated and prides himself on being an asset to Todd. The Owner/Slave system was one thing I did put a lot of thought into and had all sorts of details worked out beforehand. While there is a D/s relationship little of that is because one is an Owner and one is a Slave. It’s more of a result of the fact it’s something these guys like.”
She elaborated further on the twists and turns she made the standard Dominant/submissive model most readers know.
“As the series progresses it becomes more and more apparent that the roles each plays within their relationship have come about because of each man’s personal wants, desires and likes,” she said. “Their sexual relationship, as is most couples’, is independent from their jobs and place in their society. I think they would have the same sort of relationship if there was no Owner/Slave element to the story. There is a lot of variation on how slaves are treated by various people, not everyone has the same opinion and I try to show that.”
What does this mean for Todd and Nick? Noble continued.
“Nick wears a collar and has Todd’s initials branded into the inside of his wrists,” she said. “To him they do not symbolize captivity, but the partnership he has with Todd. Slaves receive varied and extensive educations in order to be an asset to their eventual owners. I think one aspect that sets them apart from other slave books, is Nick is very accepting and proud of his position. It is Todd who was forced into becoming an owner and struggles through the times he has to act as Nick’s master not his mate.”
THE FUTURE FOR NOBLE Noble says with her constantly full schedule, she lives by the productivity apps such as Microsoft OneNote on her smartphone to keep her on task. She lamented she almost never uses her phone to make calls. But what’s on her phone besides her life? Noble dished on her upcoming projects.
“I’m currently working on the fifth book of the ‘Sentries’ series, ‘Tethered Pair,’” she said. “Most of the book takes place on an old time riverboat. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine to write that type of story. There are gamblers and demons to name a few things.”
But if that wasn’t enough, Noble says she’s also cooking up an urban fantasy series with Dreamspinner Press author Anne Barwell called “Sleepless City.”
“It’s an urban fantasy that involves vampires—good and bad—and some werewolves. We hope to start releasing them this year,” she said. “The first book, which Anne is writing is ‘Shades of Sepia.’ Anne is very nice to work with. She’s very open to ideas and we spend a lot of time in chat plotting and planning the series and our books. She and I both like paranormal books, movies and TV and the whole thing sort of blossom out of our mutual interests and tastes. We had many of those ‘I’d like to read a series like this’ sort of conversations. The idea of an urban fantasy with the vampires was hers, and I just sort of horned in on it.”
WHERE TO BUY all books available from Dreamspinner Press.
Join Lou Sylvre and me, Elizabeth Noble, in spying on Todd Ruger and Luki Vasquez! Afterward, leave a comment and be entered to win our prize--one book from each of these series—Lou Sylvre’s Vasquez and James, and Elizabeth Noble’s Sentries.
Winners to be announced June 15, 2013.
It’s the 2013 annual meeting of the Fictional Badass Association (FBA), and the keynote address is scheduled to commence in twelve minutes. There is the usual low, echoing roar of scraping metal chairs and mostly phony expressions of friendship. The wide, vaguely beige hall boasts poor lighting—overhead canisters that glare, yet somehow manage not to throw enough light for Luki Vasquez, with his sometimes uncooperative left eye, to read the program.
Luki (mumbling and fumbling on his hated pince nez): “God damn it, these chairs are fucking uncomfortable! This is the badass association, people, not numb ass. Or maybe I just shouldn’t have let Sonny have his way with me before I left.” He chuckles without smiling and tries to find a spot of light to situate the program in. Then, suddenly, someone’s large feet are standing close, and someone, presumably the owner of those feet, is clearing his throat overhead. Luki looks up to find a rugged looking man with a good-natured smile—a man who looks familiar. Recognition strikes. “Oh, Todd… uh… Todd Ruger.”
Todd: “Hey, Luki Vasquez, right? I think we met briefly on Lou Sylvre’s blog? Listen, do you mind if I sit here? Most of the people here….”
Luki: “Yeah, sure, join me. I know what you mean. Slash is seriously underrepresented. And have you seen who’s on for the keynote? Fucking Frodo!”
Todd: “No shit? Well… you know one doesn’t simply walk into Mordor.”
Luki shakes his head: “Yeah, well if any of that bunch should be involved with FBA, it’s Sam Gamgee. Not Frodo. Although I admit in the movie version he made sounds of pain a human male could not reproduce. But how about Boromir, eh?”
Todd: “I've never seen a movie, not actually sure what one is, but I've read and, Hell no! Aragorn has my vote.”
Luki: “I would never vote for Aragorn! I mean… Sonny really likes him, and all.”
Todd: "So, your idea of a badass is to sit around and watch stuff? I didn't manage to get rid of a few shifters and fight in a war, you know an actual war with bullets and explosions and stuff sitting on the side lines watching some wannabe badasses pretend."
Luki: "Geez, dude, this is a meeting, not a boxing ring, calm down. I suppose the people in the movie might be wannabe, pretend badasses, but I’m not in a movie—and if you want to know what one is just sit tight for a while, they’ve got clips cued up to demonstrate Frodo’s alleged badassness. You might even see Aragorn whining around. But you know besides Boromir, there’s also Gimli! That dwarf can throw an axe, baby.”
Todd: “Aragorn. To hell with the rest.”
Luki: “Broken record.”
Todd: “What’s a record?”
Luki: “But as for me, I've got bullets, and explosives, and I hate to boast and so forth, but I can pretty much take a guy out and make it seem I’m hardly moving. Tai chi. And more. Then, should I need it, I have a security team—all badasses in one way or another, especially Jude, who runs the office.."
Todd: "I don't need a team. Just me and Nicky, he’s psychic. As for entertainment, I'm not sharing the details of what we do."
Luki: "Oooh such a gentleman. What in the hell would make you think I’d be telling you what I do in private with my husband?”
Todd smiled, clasped his hands behind his head, leaned back in his chair and stretched ridiculously long legs out in front of him. "Dandy like you probably couldn't handle it."
Luki chuckled, shook his head, and put his own muscled arms, in their tailored shirt sleeves with their white gold and sapphire cufflinks behind his head, mirroring Todd. “Fuck you, Ruger. Or rather I wouldn’t. But if we’re all done playing cock o’ the walk, for now, I have a serious question for you.”
Todd: “You are a rude son-of-a-bitch, aren’t you.”
Luki: “Leave my mama out of it. Here’s the thing, though. See I’m ridiculously in love with my husband. So much that I can’t imagine living without him. What’s it like for you, Todd? I mean… don’t get me wrong, but Nick’s your slave? Would you love him even if he wasn’t? Would he love you?”
Todd heaved a long suffering sigh. He couldn’t believe even someone like Luki Vasquez couldn't get it. "There is no law that says an owner, or a slave, have to have fond feelings for one another, or even love. I have to provide for him, nothing more. I worked hard to earn his love and I work to keep it. I've known Nick since he was five and I was twelve. Let me ask you, would your husband so much as give you the time of day if he'd known you that long?"
Luki: “Todd, relax. I get it. I do. I asked you an honest question, I’m not so sure the question you asked me is in kind, but I’ll respond as though it is. "
Todd: “I asked an unfair question? You're the one who insinuated that because my relationship with Nick started out differently from you and your husband's it's not real. We still chose to mate, both of us, freely. Nick was never forced."
Luki: “I said I get it, about you and Nick. Do you think I’m lying, or do you think I’m too dense to understand? Or maybe you’re just on the defensive. I don’t need a response, though. I’ll say it one more time. I get it. You love the man and he loves you. That can’t be bad. As for whether Sonny would love me under those circumstances… who can say? The first decades of Sonny’s life he endured horror stories piled one on the other—no less than what Nick went through. He pulled through it and made something beautiful of his own life, and thank the saints, when I stumbled into his domain, he was able to open up for me. So your question makes no sense, because in the world Sonny knew as a kid… well, there just wasn’t any room to admit someone like me. But speaking for me, I’m 42 and I’ve never been in love, until Sonny. But to my heart it feels like he was always there and I just didn't know it.”
Todd: "And you didn't answer my question. Would he still love you having known you since you were twelve?"
Luki: “As I tried to explain, the question makes no sense in the context of Sonny’s life. And I don’t have a backward crystal ball any more than I have a forward one. And when I was twelve, he was one year old, for god’s sake. As I said, my husband and I love each other, and I’m willing to accept that though your relationship is not one I understand, you and Nick love each other, too. And you’ve told me about evil in your world—demons and things like that, horrifying! Well my world is full of evil, too, and just because it’s human doesn’t make it less horrifying, or less deadly.”
Luki waited for Todd to speak, but the man just stared straight ahead, so eventually he concluded. “I know what it’s like to be willing to give up anything, even your life, in a fight to save the man you love, Todd. People will be reading soon, Ms. Sylvre hopes, about how I had to win against a man who kidnapped my husband and poisoned him—yeah, evil. Every bit as awful as those demons you fight. Believe that love and goodness and strength matter in my world. And in that weird world Ms. Noble created for you, the same things matter. So as annoying as you’ve been, I want you to know, young man, that I’m glad you’re there to fight that brand of evil, and I’m glad you and Nick have your brand of love…. Hm, I think Frodo’s at the podium.”
Todd: “Yes, I know what you mean, about fighting for your man’s life. I recently spent weeks getting Nick from the clutches of a psychic vampire, and a few more getting him to stop blaming himself for something he had no control over." Todd stretched in his seat and stared forward. "I can’t see anyone up there.”
Luki: “I know. But I think Frodo’s at the podium.”
Todd turned in his chair and looked Luki up and down, speaking in a soft voice, "For the record, some people are worse than demons and are monsters."
Luki chewed his lip in order to stop the smile that wanted show itself. “Yes,” he said, “ and short."
Anne Barwell asked me to write a bit on how I thought up my Sentries series. She posted this on her Blog back in March and this is a repost.
One of the questions I’m often asked is, where did my concept and use of slavery in my series the Sentries originate?
It’s sort of an interesting story, at least I think so.
The whole thing started one lazy afternoon when I was trolling through a community on Live Journal. In this particular community people post summaries of things they’ve read/watched, or would like to, to see if someone might know the fanfic/movie/book. One such summary caught my attention; it was basically about two people who grew up knowing they would marry and be together. Then I read the very next entry, which was someone looking for stories in general about arranged marriages. To complicate matters the one after that talked about wanting to find stories with slaves who were not abused.
That’s when my brain had an ah-ha moment.
Then my brain had to do some real work to meld those ideas, which are sort of opposites, into one story. I started with working out how all these ideas might work together. From there I stumbled over the idea of one of my MCs being a slave. One character being a slave allowed me to weave my three main concepts together nicely. Obviously, this wasn’t going to be set in our world today, so my next step was to do my world building homework and create a society that would also fit. I prefer scifi and future settings so that part was the fun part for me.
The more I planned, the more involved and intricate the development of both slaves and sentries became. In Sentries, the slaves are not captured people, but children bred specifically to be slaves. These children are highly educated so as to benefit their future owners.
In Collared Souls, Todd and Nick Ruger discover their roots, as sentries, and how the slave industry came into being. The men learn their ties to both sentries and slaves go back to their youngest days, as well as generations preceding them.
Making the character Nick a slave allowed me to do a few things with both the characters. It gave me the chance to have the characters know about one another, have some contact via correspondence, and still be somewhat unsure how their prearranged pairing would go once they were together. While they came from the same society, the culture and atmosphere each man grew up in, and was shaped by, was different. It was a meeting of opposites, taking them and turning them into a strongly bonded couple.
Slaves have certain advantages their owners do not. Nick uses the fact that to some people he’s invisible, a piece of property owned by Todd, nothing more, to allow him to develop covert skills of observation. Todd, of course, has his own unique talents, and the two complement each other incredibly well. Their lives intertwine and affect each other from the time each of them is a young child.
My biggest challenge was making the slaves and institution of slavery in my books different from others out there. Todd is not the typical slave owner. Nick isn’t forced into their relationship, Todd spends a great deal of time in the beginning of the series wooing his newly acquired slave. As the series progresses we see how these two very opposite men come to love and respect one another while doing a very dangerous job.
Their love for one another and their teamwork is highlighted in Collared Souls and is what carries them through the challenges thrown in their path and in the end brings Todd and Nick even closer together.
The most difficult thing about publishing is promoting, not because in and of itself it is a hard thing to do, but because I'm not good at 'tooting my own horn' so to speak.
I have four books out as of today, with a fifth on the way in a few month. Three of those are part of a series I have no problem talking about since I love it dearly!
Chained Hearts is the latest release and third in the Sentries series. It finds our guys deep in a war where battles take place on physical and psychic battlefields.
This series takes place in a future that has drastically changed, some for the good and some for the bad. The series revolves around the lives and love of our two heroes, Todd and Nick Ruger.
They are sentries, protectors against the natural and supernatural, keeping the good citizens of their world safe. Todd was born into a family of sentries, Nick was born a slave and bonded to Todd at a young age.
Through it all they become not only partners but a family.
Marked Yours starts their journey and cements their relationship.
Things in this society are not always what they seem, and that holds true for the owner/slave aspect.
While Nick is proud of who he is, and who he's owned and bonded to, Todd isn't thrilled to be an owner. That doesn't stop him from falling in love with Nick.
Together Bound chronicles maybe one of their most important missions and throws them into the middle of political intrigue and war.
They face a deadly and clever enemy that nearly tears them apart. In the end they both learn the meaning of loyalty and love, teaching them each what is important, and that is each other.
Sentries series is love, adventure and some good old-fashioned ass-kicking. I hope you'll join me on the journey and enjoy it as much as I love writing the story of Todd and Nick Ruger!
All three books in the Sentries series can be purchased from Dreamspinner Press, as can my other title, Strays.
This post is part of YAM's incredible week long Blog-a-thon. Please check it and all the other talented and wonderful contributors.
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