Today is a Wicked Wednesday and I’m featuring my good friend and fellow author Dee Carney who is guest blogging for me about torturing her hero who is – what else? – a vampire! Please give Dee a warm welcome!
If you’ve read any of my paranormal books, you can be pretty certain that the hero’s going to be some poor, tortured soul who shouldn’t have the will to live yet does day after day. Don’t ask me why, but I want the man who’s been blinded, who’s watched his family die, who’s been beaten or enslaved. The one who still goes on after an event that would have crippled other men. A man’s man, if you will. I’m not saying he won’t have some serious baggage afterward to deal with–because believe me, he will–but I want someone who is willing to go on despite all odds against.
My debut Carina Press release has such a man in it. Corin is a former gladiator, enslaved for his unwillingness to kill after being ordered to. It shapes him into the vampire executioner he’s become today. Here’s the defining moment in Corin’s life; the scene that alters his future.
“He is a senator, Corinius. Why? Why, for gods’ sakes, would you defy him?”
“So I am Corinius now? Have I lost your favor as well, and ‘Titus’ is no longer fitting between us?” The cold manacles’ bite made his arms break out in gooseflesh. Either that, or the tickle of his own blood as it dripped down his outstretched appendages caused them. For that matter, it might have been his nudity left to fend against the cold air. He didn’t know any more, not that it mattered. Hanging from chains secured through an iron bolt in the ceiling, he supposed he had better things to worry about.
He squinted through swollen eyes to watch the agitated pacing of his former mentor. A man who, until now, he’d considered a friend.
Marcus Flavius Gaii filius, one of the greatest gladiators to ever be liberated from the bloodsport, shook with rage. He whirled on his feet to face Titus. “You were everyone’s favored. Mine. The public’s. The Dominus’s. Why would you not do this one thing?”
“You make it sound as if taking a man’s life is no more monumental than ridding myself of excrement.”
Marcus’s voice went flat. Cold. “You and I have killed more men than anyone I know. It is never an easy task, but while under his patronage, it is your duty.”
Titus jerked down on the chains, his frustration a living thing in the damn room. “He was not much older than a child! He yielded and the senator had no right—”
“It is very much his right, Titus! It was what the crowd wanted and like the smart politician he is, he bows to the crowd’s wishes. You had no right to defy him.”
True. Gods, he still couldn’t say what stayed his hand. Standing over that boy, watching the urine spread across his groin as he’d bled as copiously from a dozen other wounds, Titus turned over in his mind what he was being asked to do. A life in exchange for a few gold coins, and appeasing the crowd’s lust. To what purpose? His reputation had been solidified almost a year ago. Now he was little more than a puppet for his lord.
Titus glanced at the bruising around his wrists. “It is done, my friend. What happens now?”
Marcus sighed, his face twisting into a grimace. “You will be held here for three days. On the fourth day, I am to hobble you and take you into the arena to meet your fate.”
“You are arguably one of the finest gladiators in ten leagues. Sending you in there as you are would do more harm to the others than to you.” Marcus chuckled lightly, but none of the amusement reached his sad eyes. “You will be starved over the next few days, and I will slit your calves before you enter the arena.”
He choked out a sound very much like a sob before he could recall it. Titus closed his eyes, fighting to remain calm. “Just kill me now and be done with it. I will be a dead man before the others in that condition.”
“And that is the point. And because my dominus commands it so, it is what I must do. It is what you should have done, son of Corinius.”
There was nothing more to be said. Titus had made his choice. He now only had to face the consequences of his actions. Still, better to be killed by his fellow Romans before the glory of the public than sold into a lifetime of slavery. Then again, if he evaluated his so-called life, he’d been living as a slave for three years now, despite the appearances the dominus presented. Yes, better dead than another forty or fifty years of this, not as a gladiator in the arena, but as a slave in the dominus’s household. Once upon a time he might have believed in being allowed to be freed, but Marcus was testament to that lie. His freedom still kept him tethered to the gladiator life.
Yes. Better off dead.
Marcus’s footsteps slapped against the cold stone floor as he walked away. Titus didn’t bother to watch him leave the room, knowing full well he couldn’t bear the sight of his friend’s departure. The next time he saw the man, he’d be within an hour of his execution.
The chains kept his hands elevated above his head, the slack in them just enough to allow him to take a single step in one sideways direction or the other, but left little room for anything else. With perverse admiration, he recognized how they forced him to remain standing, his muscles practically immobile. By the end of three days, he’d be so stiff and miserable, if he managed to walk under his own power, he’d be impressed with himself.
Perhaps only minutes later, a sound outside of the door caught his attention. He turned as much as he could toward it. “Back already? Stay of execution?” he asked dryly.
A man much more slender and definitely more refined than Marcus stepped into the light. He was tall, thin. His dark hair framed his face in a style that suited patricians, rather than the common man. Slender hands held a cloth to his face, helping to muffle the thick scent of sweat and blood in the chamber room. Green eyes blinked lazily as they studied Titus’s frame from foot to manacled hands. He felt uncomfortable beneath the scrutiny. It spoke too much of sexual wantonness.
“Do I know you, friend?”
“Would a stay of execution please you, Titus Corinius?”
Titus turned, keeping the man in full sight as he circled him. He had the unnerving feeling the man was only seconds away from trailing his fingers over the muscles of Titus’s body. “Who are you?”
“Come into my service, and I promise you a life you have never imagined.”
He didn’t bother to get his hopes up. “My life is forfeit. There isn’t anything you can offer my dominus to change his mind.”
“Do not be so sure.” His steps were slow and confident. He made his way around Titus without physically touching him as he feared, but he could feel the weight of his gaze on his backside. Relief filled him when the man walked into his sightline again. Damn the chains for leaving him so exposed.
“If you have me freed, what would you want from me in return?” Titus hissed as the man made a single step forward and cupped his cock in his hand. He tried to jerk himself free, but the man kept a firm grip on his member.
To his horror, the man began to stroke on his length. And true to form, his cock stirred to life.
“I am no boy lover,” Titus barked.
The man stroked faster, his touch as sensual as a woman’s. Titus gritted his teeth, holding his hips still against the pleasure. His mouth went dry, and he swore he’d bite his tongue in half before allowing a moan to break past his lips. By the time he was fully erect, his testicles heavy and aching, sweat peppered his brow and he tasted blood.
The man bent over him and licked a pebbled nipple before gazing into his face again. Titus’s heart plummeted when the man said, “Fortunately for you, I am.”
Hunger Aroused is available at Carina Press as an ebook or at audible.com as an audiobook. I hope you get a chance to read Corin’s story, and see how through one incredible woman, he’s turned his past around.
Bestselling author Dee Carney writes about tortured men and kick-ass women. Read more about her books by visiting her web site, www.deecarney.com.
Happy Wicked Wednesday!