The publisher I submitted Shane to in January has requested some revisions after which they want me to resubmit the book. One step closer. I’m currently working on those revisions, although it’s taken a little time to figure out how to work in the changes requested. I’m in the flow now, and I hope to have the revisions finished in the next couple of weeks. After that I’ll do a reread and then resubmit.
Meanwhile, here’s a little taste of our heroine, Adrianna. Her first scene in Shane: Tallavan Marshal current revision as of 2/11/2016.
Adrianna sat, the picture of training excellence: spine straight, hands folded neat in her lap, knees clasped together, feet flat on the floor. A slight whiff of musk and leather overlaid with a hint of something metallic stung her nose. The Frau’s personal fragrance was a scent memory that triggered a desire to scrunch into a tight ball and scream herself hoarse. It was a reaction she had not succumbed to since the first of many lessons with the Frau. The sweat inching its way down her back was the only outward expression of her inward struggle to stay unruffled, poised, confident. Adrianna hoped even that wasn’t obvious to Frau Heinrich, who, along with her mentor Master Trey, was conducting her exit interview.
Although the woman seemed to live on the scent of fear, Adrianna was damned if she’d let her visceral response oblige Frau Heinrich. No. She managed to breathe, projecting calm. She checked the time on her EBC again. Please make this brief. This interview with the intimidating, polished blonde was the last item on her required checklist before leaving the Opio Institute to meet her new employer.
“I don’t know whether Master Trey”—Heinrich made a tiny moue after spitting out the name—“has told you, but one of the offers you spurned was resubmitted. The terms would repay your Opio loans completely. If you like, I’d be happy to assist you in breaking your current contract and accepting this offer.”
Master Trey bristled. He wasn’t required to come to this meeting, but he’d insisted. His presence filled a room just by entering it, and his bulk wasn’t the sole cause of this phenomenon. At this moment, the chair he was sitting in shouldn’t be big enough to accommodate his size. Frau Heinrich’s last statement had elicited his heated stare and massing dominance.
“That is not appropriate.” He shot a glance at Adrianna. “We eliminated that offer for reasons other than money.”
Adrianna’s eyes had widened despite her efforts to remain expressionless. The infighting between Master Trey and Heinrich was often grist for the gossip mill at the Opio. Rumor had it Master Trey had pushed the board to rescind Heinrich’s right to mentor students. With no desire to get between the two, Adrianna nodded, keeping her eyes on Master Trey, waiting for the icy viciousness that was Frau Heinrich to respond.
“Trying to be helpful, Trey—dear. Nothing sinister.”
Frozen crystals filled Adrianna’s veins when Frau Heinrich’s attention turned to her. Everything about her was sinister, especially offers of help.
Adrianna responded to Heinrich’s offer with as neutral a tone as she could. “I have a signed contract. It would be unethical to break it.” If the woman already hated her for being Master Trey’s mentee, why worry about offending her now. The Frau couldn’t stop her from graduating. Her paperwork and accounts were all in order. The supposed point of this interview was to confirm that fact. Why couldn’t Heinrich just do her job?
The Frau’s eyes narrowed. “You seem so very tense, my dear.”
“Get on with it.” Trey’s voice was a guttural rumble.
The Frau’s teeth clicked shut and were now bared. “Don’t push me.”
Her civilized veneer settled back into place. “You doubtless understand that the premium paid for your special service will not apply to future contracts. Therefore, it would be to your advantage to learn as much as you can from your new employer and return to test with the Masters for additional sexual certification.”
Frau Heinrich continued, her voice a steady acidic drip. “Since you are a true submissive with mild masochistic tendencies, you are fortunate a Tallavan Marshal holds your contract. We are always pleased to place our students with a marshal from Tallav. They’re such an exclusive club of men.”
Exclusive club? It was correct only a man from Tallav could be a marshal. Wasn’t there a historical reason? Something to find out. And what was with the Frau’s sarcasm? Another mindfuck?
The Frau’s voice drew her back. “They take excellent care of all those under their control. You can expect him to be a forceful dominant but always mindful of your well-being. A marshal’s calling is to serve and protect; he states he is not a… sadist.”
The muscles in Adrianna’s torso clamped down on a shudder. Despite the information she had been given about her future employer, he was still an unknown. Her potential master had started as a dream with all the accompanying fancies of perfection. The closer he came to her reality the more dark possibilities impinged. Today, she would meet him. The Frau, true to her sadistic nature, was probing for painful reactions.
Trey reached out and took her hand, squeezing it. Adrianna squeezed back and then released it. It was time to stand on her own two feet again. Master Trey was protective, but he wouldn’t always be available to fight her battles. She’d allowed him to coddle her because it made him happy. That respite had come to an end, and he needed to realize it as much as she did. She braced herself to turn her focus on Frau Heinrich who pinned her with glacial eyes before continuing with a smirk.
“He will expect you to function as his assistant as well as his companion. Such a lot of responsibilities. The possibility for failure…” Heinrich waved a hand in the air, allowing Adrianna to finish the statement in her mind.
With effort, Adrianna kept from narrowing her eyes. “Yes, Mistress. I also completed studies in ship administration and supply, and basic maintenance and housekeeping for small space vehicles. Before coming to Beta Tau, I was already a certified low orbit shuttle pilot and emergency med tech.”
Frau Heinrich’s voice scraped across Adrianna’s nerves like the slender fillet knife she liked to drag along the skin of her bound students. “Yes, I’m sure all these extra abilities helped secure you the position. Nevertheless, you understand that you will be meeting his sexual needs also, and do not doubt that if you fail in that arena, you can expect to be released from your contract and dropped at the closest station. In that eventuality, please come see me. I’m certain I could help you find your—true calling.” Master Trey gave a soft growl.
Adrianna couldn’t stop herself from checking the time again. She steeled herself by looking at the picture behind and to the right of the Frau. It was a painting of smiling children. How very odd. Silence stilled the room. Did she miss a question? When she looked, the Frau’s sneer had faded, and she was businesslike once again.
“The paperwork for your debt repayment appears to be in order. I see you’ve opted to make quarterly payments. Hmmm.” She smiled. Adrianna didn’t trust that smile. “You’ve also made a substantial prepayment. If more girls came to us as unsullied”—she paused to smirk showing a glimmer of white teeth—“as you, my dear, they would benefit from paying down their loan by almost a full year. How lovely for you.”
“Yes, Mistress.” Adrianna was ready to leave and never meet Frau Heinrich again.
“Will you be meeting the Marshall on the space station?”
The question confused Adrianna. It was the kind of thing a friend might ask. Frau Heinrich was no friend. “No, I’m…”
“Don’t answer that Adrianna.”
Master Trey’s interruption was accompanied by a heated glare at the Frau. With pinched lips, the Frau ignored his comment, focusing on Adrianna. “Do you have any questions?”
“No, Mistress.” Adrianna kept her face blank. Please finish. To her surprise, she did. Perhaps because Master Trey was there. If he hadn’t been, the Frau would have drawn out the interview for the pleasure alone of tormenting Adrianna.
Once outside the Frau’s office, Master Trey asked her to come with him. He shut the door to his own office behind him and motioned her to sit. The room was a reflection of the man. Most of it was taken up by an arrangement of two oversized plush armchairs and a side table. The desk, standard in other instructors’ offices, was missing. A vid screen on one soft green wall was the only accommodation to the need for record keeping. Emotionally charged images of masters and submissives hung in rows in the remaining space. In the corner stood a spanking bench.
Rather than sitting, he balanced on the edge of the table, looming large above her, arms crossed over his chest.
“Adrianna, you are probably the most trusting individual I know. You’re submissive to the bone. It’s something I like about you, but it also scares the hell out of me.”
Adrianna attempted to digest that statement. Hadn’t her studies at the Opio been all about creating a relationship of trust between master and submissive? Wasn’t that the ideal they were all supposed to achieve? Her confusion must have shown on her face.
“Let me give you an example from today’s interview. You don’t always keep personal information to yourself. You need to be better about not telling people things they don’t concern them. Frau Heinrich had no valid reason to know your travel itinerary today. What the hell business was it of hers where you were meeting the marshal?”
He sighed and dropped his hands to his hips. “Trust needs to be earned. You offer it up to anyone you think is nice and some you hope will be nice.”
Her lips pressed together, she struggled to figure out what Master Trey wanted from her. Wasn’t it trusting him that brought her to the Opio in the first place? Where would she be if she hadn’t trusted him? “But…”
“You would have told the Frau where you were meeting the marshal. And, although she has access to the record of the classes you took at the Opio, she didn’t know you are a shuttle pilot and med tech. She’s exactly someone you shouldn’t trust. She may work for the Opio, but she has connections to some unsavory people.”
Adrianna’s mouth dropped open.
“That surprises you, but it shouldn’t. You trusted her because she works for the Opio even though you’re aware she’s deeply twisted. Assume the worst until proven otherwise. Understand?”
“Yes, Sir.” She bit her lip worrying it while her mind chewed on Master Trey’s advice. Trust the Frau? No, it wasn’t trust that made her respond to the woman’s questions. It was the combination of Heinrich’s position at the Institute and her shrewd exercise of dominance.
Trey sighed and scooped her hand into his. “I’m going to worry about you no matter what. I want you to be careful. I fully expect your contract with the marshal to work out. But, things happen. I’m here if you ever need me. Message me. Okay?”
“Yes. Thank you, Sir.” Adrianna tightened her fingers.
“We haven’t discussed how you’ll use your empathic senses once you leave the Institute.” He moved to squat in front of her. “Don’t tell anyone about your abilities or that you were born on Preatiens. People will use you for them. Even nice people.” Trey placed a finger under her chin and stared intently into her eyes. “That means the marshal, too. Don’t tell him. You’ve lived here at the Opio blocking them. It’s in your best interest to continue doing so. Promise me.”
Adrianna felt the full force of his personality behind the concern of his words. “I understand what you’ve said, and, for the most part, I agree with you.”
Master Trey’s chin dipped and his eyes narrowed.
She continued. “I appreciate you want to keep me safe, but it’s time for me to make my own decisions. So far I think I’ve done pretty well.”
After a moment of hesitation, Trey nodded. “You have…”
Adrianna held up a hand. “I’m making only one modification to your advice. I’m not going to block my empathic senses. At least not routinely. I won’t disclose I have them, and I will be careful how I use them, but they’re a tool. They’ll help me protect myself.”
Trey sighed. “I can live with that change.”
Adrianna smiled. “I’ll comm you regularly.”
“Good.” He stood and pulled her up into a hug. “Be safe.” He kissed her forehead, turned her, and with a hand on her bottom pushed her towards the door.
When she opened it, Adrianna looked over her shoulder, blinking back the tears that threatened to fall. “Good-bye, Sir.”