Enter the freaky Twilight Zone of writing when I sound like a wingnut in need of psychiatric care.
Sometimes I can plan a book out in painful detail before I ever write a word. I know the characters’ background, greatest weakness, and every secret fear. I might run them through the Emotional Toolbox half a dozen times and even create a storyboard to capture elements of the story. Once I even needed three or four spreadsheets to track all the threads.
Othertimes, the story just comes from nowhere. Plop. Right into my head. I don’t know how it happens. I certainly can’t FORCE it to happen. I can’t recreate the situation at will in order to encourage a new story to take up residence. Sometimes it’s just there, almost fully fleshed out, characters living and breathing with wills and voices that I have not created.
That’s how Lady Blackmyre’s story has been. I told my friend Diana it was like taking dictation. Violet’s voice is so clear, so distinct, I can’t do anything but write down what she says. She came with a complete shitload of baggage that I keep trying to tone down and she just laughs and keeps right on telling me what to do.
I keep trying to tell her that maybe her name really isn’t Violet at all. I mean, I’m pulling some historic figures into this story — granted, with significant creative liberties! — and I have no idea what Wellington’s wife’s name was. I should go research that, I think.
But she keeps going on and on about why that doesn’t matter and I should just listen to her and go with the flow. It’s not like the real Duke of Wellington would ever have done half the things she’s telling me and the Britannia of Lady Wyre’s world isn’t real anyway, so who cares if Blackmyre steps in? Okay then, Violet it is.
I couldn’t sleep last night. By the time we finally went to bed, I’d broken 6K. I found myself lying wide awake plotting out each scene. Not just an idea of what would happen – the scene down to dialogue and action and everything that needed to happen. I figured out how Wellington plays in all this — and not the Wellington you met in yesterday’s snippet. *I know you’re confused but you’ll see how it all plays out in by the end. I was confused too but Blackmyre insists this is the way it is.*
I know how the end comes together. It’s just a matter of getting there before I lose it. And that, my friends, is what really terrifies me. All these immense passages of dialogue are solely in my head. I cannot type fast enough to capture it all. I also have this thing called a J.O.B. and K.I.D.S. and not to mention dinner and all the other things my family demands of M.O.M. I can type 100+ words a minute but that isn’t fast enough this time.
Lady Blackmyre had me up at 5 AM before my alarm even went off. We’ve almost hit 8.5K today between Dark & Early and lunch. No I didn’t work out today — I haven’t been able to get back in the swing of Power 90 since I got sick after RT. Besides she wouldn’t allow it. My mind is utterly consumed, filled to overflowing with her story. I have to dump it on the page before I either lose it or accidentally overwrite something else trying to hold it all in.
I just hope my wrists hold up. Hoping to break 10K before I go to bed tonight.
Next snippet: unedited first draft. This is where you figure out why she insists her story is titled Her Grace’s Stable. Squick warning: pony play ahead, some language. This snippet is also long – there just wasn’t a good place to break and the conversation with Dottie at the end is too fun not to share.
“I put him in here.” Cole paused outside the last stall in the far corner of the stable. “Forgive me, Your Grace, but I took him without permission. They’ll know I’m your man and someone will come to collect the expense. I’m afraid we busted up the place rather badly.”
“No matter, Cole.” At her voice, something thudded against the heavy stall door. “You know I trust your judgment. Tell me what happened before I see him.”
“Twas awful, Your Grace,” Cole whispered. Head down, he stared at his trembling hands. “He was screaming with fury and pain, enraged like a beast. They had him in a cage and kept poking him, stirring him up more and more. If he could have gotten a hand on them, he would have killed them. He’s that bad, Your Grace. I couldn’t leave him like that.”
Dread tightened her throat. “Who, Cole? Who did this?”
“I don’t know. The ladies and gentlemen weren’t known to me.”
So they weren’t part of Violet’s small, private circle that knew her proclivities and indulged in the same kind of play.
“He’s magnificent, Your Grace. Huge, powerful, a beast of flesh, and so damned defiant. Proud. Even what they’d done to him, he was still fighting, still determined to break free. He’d have killed them all.”
Her heart quickened desperately. The last thing I need in this condition is a challenge. “Let me see him, then. But if he’s that far gone, Cole, I don’t know what I can do for him.”
“You can help him. I know it.” Cole cracked open the door. “Shh, now, big fella. It’s me, your friend Cole, remember? I’ve brought some help. Nobody’s going to hurt you. I give you my word.”
Violet held herself very still, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkened interior of the stall. Straw rustled and something thumped against the wood again. A low growl came from the opposite corner, a raw animal sound of pain and hatred.
Cole turned up the lantern.
Dottie gasped. “Dear Lord, a man! I thought…” Her words stumbled into silence, as though her brain couldn’t even comprehend what she saw.
Even for Violet, the scene was bad. The poor man had been whipped and beaten so often that his body was a mass of bruises and welts. Even crouched in the corner, he was huge. His broad shoulders and heavily muscled arms looked like the work of a blacksmith. Still growling that low, vicious warning, he rose to his full height and her gaze went up and up. He had to be nearly seven feet tall. A veritable giant.
“The way your man was talking, I thought they’d trapped a bear or something. A man. God, Violet, what kind of person does this to a living, thinking human being?”
Me. Violet swallowed hard but she didn’t dare turn her gaze away for a single moment. Any sign of weakness or hesitation from her now, and he’d be gone. He’d be on her so quickly that Cole wouldn’t have a chance to shoot him before he’d snapped her neck like a twig.
“It’s all right now,” Cole soothed, his voice the singsong chant he often used on frightened horses. “She’s the Mistress I told you about. She’s come to help you.”
Calmly, she laced her fingers together at her waist and simply looked at the man, letting him look upon her likewise. “Dottie, I think you should wait outside.”
“I’m not leaving you. Violet, have some sense. He’ll kill you in a heartbeat.”
“No, he won’t.” She smiled at him serenely, ignoring the snarl that rattled from his chest. “I’m not going to touch him. I’m not getting any closer than this. I respect his space and his warning. He’s not ready for a woman’s touch. Cole, do you know his name?”
“No, Your Grace. If he can still speak, he refuses.”
“Dottie, be a dear and fetch that bucket I saw outside the door. We need some water to wash away the blood.” Grumbling beneath her breath about fools, Dottie passed the bucket to her. Violet set the bucket in front of her on the stall floor and backed away to the wall. “Cole, take off your shirt and use it to clean him off as gently as possible. We may have to sedate him if he requires stitches.”
Cole did as she ordered, still talking in that low, gentle voice that was almost a lullaby. With sure and gentle hands, he washed the other man’s upper body, stretching up to reach the top of his shoulders and his back. The man glared at Violet, his eyes black with malice, but he allowed the care and stood quietly under the other man’s touch. At least he was sure and steady beneath knowledgeable hands. Someone had handled him like this before, so his experience hadn’t been all fear and pain.
She knew firsthand the soothing, therapeutic strength in Cole’s hands. Muscle by muscle, the man relaxed under the thorough massage and Cole managed to slip the horse blanket off the man’s groin.
He hissed in pain, his muscles tightening, fists clenched at his sides. Violet closed her eyes a moment to try and make sense of what she’d seen while still giving him at least some privacy. A cruel trap enclosed his entire groin, tight wires digging into the tender flesh, and weights dangled between his thighs. Every time he moved, the agony must be unbearable. And if he became aroused…
She shuddered and forced her eyes open. Engorged and trapped by his own desire, his cock was swollen and so purple that she feared he might actually lose it. They’d tormented him not just with pain, but with desire, too, knowing the agony it would cause him. He’d been mutilating his own flesh, and yet powerless to stop it. No wonder he was lost in a killing haze.
“Get that abomination off him.” Cole flinched at the brittle, cold tone of her voice. “If he can release, let him, whatever it takes. But he might be in too much pain to even get the slightest relief until the swelling goes down.”
“Yes,’m.” Cole bobbed his head but kept his gaze down, his shoulders low and submissive. He knew that tone of voice all too well. “May I have permission to stay with him until he can be moved?”
“Yes. I’ll send someone with more supplies and food as soon as I return home. I’ll make arrangements with our host so that no one bothers you at least for a few hours. Do you think you can get him to Blackmyre by dawn?”
Cole gently worked the metal loose and tossed it aside with a clatter. Freed, the man’s erection rose hard and painfully huge. His singsong voice went sultry as he wiped the man’s bloody thighs with his shirt. “I’ll do my best, Your Grace.”
Keeping her head up and her manner as slow and regal as possible, Violet stepped outside the stall and firmly latched the door. The low murmur of Cole’s voice echoed through the stall, and the ragged groan from the man, whether in ecstasy or pain she didn’t know. Likely both.
She leaned against the wall for a moment and closed her eyes, concentrating on calming her breathing again. Yet behind her eyelids, she saw the tall, proud man again, his eyes bleeding death and rage while his monstrous erection rose up in defiance. A challenge indeed. She’d never beheld such a fiercely proud man with the inclination of pony play. He was truly a wild stallion, and potentially as dangerous. Would his desire be as ferocious?
I hope so.
Dottie wrapped her hand around Violet’s arm, drawing a soft moan from her.
“So that’s what you’ve been hiding from me.”
Violet opened her eyes and searched her friend’s face, but Dottie’s carefully schooled features didn’t reveal her thoughts. They’d known each other since their schooldays at Eton, and nothing had ever broken their friendship. Not even when Violet had done her worst to gain the black reputation of her House’s namesake. Losing her now would be a blow from which she might not recover, especially with her days already numbered.
Pushing that sobering thought away, Violet forced a light-hearted laugh and slipped into the practiced lazy saunter of the privileged upper class. “That’s my great secret, yes. The Duchess of Blackmyre occasionally finds herself rescuing poor mistreated creatures, yet I’m considered the vile blackheart of the ton.”
“That’s not what I meant. God, Violet, what was that? In all seriousness, I need to know.”
Violet let the fake mask of Polite Society slip away to reveal the harder, colder Mistress that Cole knew all too well. “There are some of us who like to subdue our partners before we take them to bed. In fact, some of our partners like to be trained and handled like fine horseflesh.”
“Like your man Cole,” Dottie dared, her eyebrows arching.
“Yes. He’s been my pony more than once.”
Dottie’s lip twitched. “Pony?”
“That’s the general term for people who like to be treated like horseflesh by their Master or Mistress,” Violet replied stiffly. “I assure you, I’ve never done anything to him that he wasn’t perfectly eager to receive, nothing like that poor man has suffered.”
“And you know people who do this? Regularly? Both the… master… and the… er… pony?”
“Yes.” Violet clamped her mouth shut, refusing to offer any entreaties or explanations. She’d tried to deny the darkness inside her way too long, afraid of the condemnation of her friends, the same as her mother. With Cole, she’d finally embraced her truest self. She’d found something that she not only enjoyed, she excelled at, damn it. She was a damned fine Mistress and had even competed in the ring. Granted it was a small community of people and the title meant nothing whatsoever to anyone but them, but it was the first time anyone had ever accepted the truth about her without a single reservation.
Dottie squeezed her arm harder. “And you didn’t tell me?” She made a noise that Violet hadn’t heard since their schoolgirl days giggling about the first boy they’d caught for a kiss in the barn. “Oh, Vi, I’m positively titillated. I can’t stand that you never told me!”
Violet blinked and tried to keep the silly grin from spreading on her face, but it was a losing effort. “Oh, Dottie, I never thought you’d care to learn about the pony games. It never even occurred to me.”
“Because you’re… so… normal.” And I’m so abnormal. She didn’t say that aloud, but it must be written in the sorrow on her face that had been present since her mother’s death.
“You’re the bloody Duchess of Blackmyre, easily one of the top five most powerful ladies in the known civilized universe,” Dottie said in a low, fierce voice. “If anyone dares say a derogatory word about you they’ll be meeting me at dawn.”
Violet patted her friend’s hand soothingly. “No duels, dearest. You know Queen Majel’s opinion about such frivolous acts of honor. Besides, I’m only Duchess at her whim. She refused to hear the Dowager’s plea to disown me since there were no other living heirs to Blackmyre.”
“Pish posh, the Queen’s lucky to have you as Duchess. Now about these ponies…”