50 Shades of F**ked up!

  This weekend marks the release of 50 Shades in theaters. I’ve wrestled with this and haven’t written about it until today.

I’ll admit it, I couldn’t finish the first book. For me there was a huge ick factor in it. The female is barely an adult and a virgin to boot. Losing her virginity to a Dom who is angry and jealous made me very uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because I know too many kids around that age, ( I know I’m showing my age here…lol.) including my now 18 yr old son.

Writing about this subject is a delicate thing. Fans of the books are naturally going to defend this series and will point out that writers who are against this are jealous. I freely admit I’m envious of the book’s success, who wouldn’t be? But, it’s the content of the book that has me shaking my head.

BDSM is a complicated thing and this movie doesn’t even come close to being a healthy relationship. There are writers out there who do it right and do it better. When VJ and I wrote our Cooperate Affairs series, we did an insane amount of research and continued to do so when we started writing our novella series Scenes from Velvet Ice.  The world of BDSM is so much more than being tied and whipped.

While the physical aspects are wide and varied, the emotional component is really what it’s all about.

Safe, sane and consensual are the main components of such a relationship. Negotiation paramount. The power exchange should always be understood and followed. Laymen need to understand that it’s the submissive who has all the power, not the Dom. Spelling out limits, respecting each other and trusting the other person completely are just a few of the things that MUST happen to have a true BDSM relationship.

What bothers me the most, is that readers or movie goers, who aren’t familiar with the lifestyle will experiment with it and may end up getting hurt, either physically or mentally.

“But it’s only fiction!” I can hear people saying that over and over again.

Yes, it’s true, its fiction but for those who aren’t familiar with the delicate dance that is BDSM probably see this as an actual portrayal of such a relationship.Practicing what they’ve seen on the screen in their own lives, without the knowledge of the emotion toll they weren’t expecting and don’t know how to deal with.

Playing Dom and Sub without understanding the entirety of this kind of relationship has the potential to move from sex to abuse, and eventually some will confuse the acts themselves.

True, subs will enter contracts that are very specific in nature. What the limits will be and what crosses the line. Both the Dom and Sub know exactly what to expect from each other. The potential for abuse is very real and anyone seeing this movie needs to understand that it isn’t close to the reality of a TRUE BDSM relationship. There are plenty of curios people who may not understand that 50 Shades is nothing more than fiction.

For some the idea of this kind of play will seem intriguing and it can be a very satisfying relationship but the reality of what it means to submit, to put all your trust in another person, riding the edge of your limits, is delicate. Playing these games without understanding the emotions behind them is pretty scary.

Giving another person your absolute trust is difficult in most circumstances. I shiver to think that movie goers will leave the theater and go home and try to do what they saw on the screen. Then might be left afterwards feeling hurt, shame, and a whole host of other negative emotions that will stay with you. Make you look differently at your partner, if they accidentally hurt you because neither of you have the experience because they didn’t do any research on what it’s like.  I worry that abuse could be passed off as BDSM. That people will think it’s all about pain and that it could put a big rift between couples if they take things too far.

The warm up and the aftercare are just as important as the scene itself. These are deeply emotional times and it’s up to the Dom to see to his subs needs.

I’ve put my total trust in a lover before and when that trust is broken it is devastating.

  If you’re going to see the movie please keep some things in mind. This started as a work of fiction. Fiction that started out as fanfic for Twilight, not for BDSM. Melding the two is scary. If you’re unfamiliar with the lifestyle you shouldn’t look at this film as a “HOW TO” but treat it as nothing more than a complete fantasy.

If you want to know what goes on in a true BDSM relationship, there are plenty of authors who write  the reality of such a relationship is.

The best example is Joey W. Hill. She’s written these stories for many years and is so damn accurate about not only the physical but the emotion toll these relationships can have. She’s a must read if you want a real portrayal of a Dom and his/her Sub.

Before embarking on this kind of play there are several things you absolutely should do.

Read on the subject matter. There are plenty of non-fiction books that detail a real Dom/Sub encounter.

Visit a real dungeon, so that you can see exactly what happens say when you get whipped and ask yourself the hard questions.

Will any pain you’re given enhance the sex you have?

Can you give up control to another person?

Do you both understand that as the Sub, you can stop whatever you’re doing at anytime when you feel uncomfortable?

Do you understand that a Dom/Sub relationship is much more than whips, ropes and toys. It’s an emotional connection, one where you are both on the same page.

This kind of relationship can be the best thing ever or your worst nightmare.

Nothing is more dangerous to the heart, body and soul, then when people may possibly get abused and mistaking it for BDSM. Abuse is abuse…period.

As I’ve said there are  plenty of great fiction that presents a truer perspective of BDSM. A lot of authors, including myself and VJ, who’ve been writing these stories for ten years. I like that this book opened up the door to this subject. Unfortunately the facts are wrong, this feeling it invokes in me are wrong.

Tread carefully and keep in mind this a fantasy and nowhere even close to reality. Indulge your fantasy, but always have the facts before trying anything.

 

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A Taste of Haven

    

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   A Taste of Haven By Sierra Summers

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http://www.amazon.com/Taste-Haven-Paranormal-Romance-Shifters-ebook/dp/B00A3KZLCE/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

Blurb-

Haven Smith is a shifter who has never shifted. She spends her evenings protecting women and children from the men who would hurt them. She likes her solitary life just fine, until one night she meets a man who changes her world forever. Adam is determined to take Haven to meet the family she doesn’t remember and show her that she deserves love—his love.
Excerpt:
“Do you always ask strangers to walk you home?” His smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. If she wasn’t a little tipsy she might have sworn she saw concern burning in his steely gaze. This was preposterous. This man didn’t know her at all, but she liked the look of him. She liked the way he looked at her even better. He’d come to her defense last night yet hadn’t taken advantage of that fact. Hell, he hadn’t even admitted he was there. Truthfully, everything about him was a total turn on, from the top of his light brown hair to the bottom of his shoes.

No one besides Harry and Fatima ever looked after her. She’d forbade Fatima to worry about her and since her friend knew what she was, it was easy enough for her to be more concerned with the females Haven brought into the shelter.

Leaning her chin on her hand, she reached out, touching the soft cotton of his shirt. “Actually I don’t. I guess you’re just lucky this evening.” He didn’t respond to her touch, nor was he smiling anymore. “Hey, forget it.” Haven hopped off the stool. “If you’re not interested I can deal with it.”

She beat it out of the bar, her face burning. What the hell was I thinking? The truth was, she’d never propositioned a man before and apparently she sucked at it. She headed out the door but didn’t make it two feet before she was caught from behind. She automatically swung her arm up, trying to break contact, but the grip on her remained firm.

Swinging her head around Haven sucked in a breath as she came face to face with Adam. He slowly backed her into a light post. “I never gave you an answer. You can’t make that kind of offer to a man and then disappear into the night.”

Haven was momentarily knocked off kilter; she’d been unable to break his hold on her. Her mind was telling her to take a step back but her body was not listening to anything other than the erratic beat of her heart.

Adam’s thumb rose and stroked her chin, a small gesture that made her practically pant. Her hands curled around his biceps, squeezing hard. His muscles were rock hard and felt impenetrable. She gave an involuntary shiver when his thumb crossed her bottom lip in a feather-light caress.

“Your eyes are incredible.” She totally was out of her element. The deep timbre of his voice slid down her body and made her shiver. Her wolf was whining inside her. It wanted to bed this man in the worst kind of way and was losing patience.

He moved in closer and she met him halfway. His head lowered as he gave her the barest kiss along her lips. In that instant the dam broke and Haven buried her hand in his hair. His mouth came back down and crushed hers. She actually whined when his silky strands tickled her fingers. She gripped his hair tight in her fingers. It was as soft as she’d imagined and felt so good sliding through her hands.

His hands came around to cup her behind; his fingers dug deeply in her rounded ass. His tongue breathed new life into her. It was slick and moist and drew noises from her she’d never known she possessed.

Suddenly he yanked her up by her arms. “Wrap your legs around me and tell me where the hell your place is.”

Haven held onto his shoulders and jumped up, her steel-toed boots locked behind his back. “One block south, first building on the right.” His lips never left hers as he walked quickly to where she’d directed. His strength bled through her, and he was strong. Haven wasn’t a lightweight by any stretch of the imagination but Adam carried her as though she weighed no more than a feather.

“Christ I never would have guessed you tasted this good.” He whispered

Sound Track for my new novel.

I haven’t made a specific soundtrack for any books since 2008. I always listen to music but back then I had certain artists/albums that were playing in the background, especially for The Worthington’s. Going through my music I found an album that spoke to me and to the story I’m working on. Kane and Josie are the protagonists in my new w.i.p. So I thought I’d share some of the songs from the cd title Amarylis. Scene after scene popped into my mind every time I listen to it.

These particular songs fit my characters as they deal with loss, mistrust, dark pasts and finally falling for each other.

Cooking & Reading

In the never-ending quest to improve myself, I’ve embarked on a cooking & baking frenzy. Now, I can honestly tell you I hate cooking & baking just sucks. But the more I explore, the better I’ve become. The cooking part has been a little easier. Trying new recipes, new spices and new foods for the family (I’m very picky but I do make what they like and if I don’t like it, I’ll just make me something small.) I still don’t really enjoy cooking. It hurts my brain trying to come up with a protein and an appropriate starch and veggies.  My kids have always liked my cooking and  they and the DH are enjoying what I’m giving them.

Baking, holy crap, it’s like being a chemist. You have to follow the recipes as closely as possible, making sure the measurements correct and in the correct order. UGH!!!!!!!! But in this area, I’m getting better as well. Last week I went to my bestie’s home and she, another friend and I baked cookies for about ten hours. Today I successfully made a cherry pie (no I did not buy a frozen one and pop it into the oven, though it would have been less stress) for my hubby. He loves fruit pies so I thought why not start making them as well as 6 dozen cookies for Christmas. The next hurdle to conquer is baking a home-made cake that isn’t lopsided. But there is something to be said for turning on the music and dancing your way around the kitchen while cooking. It’s slowly becoming more enjoyable.

 

Re-reading:

I’m back on a reading kick. It’s been way too long since I’ve dug in deep to read and some of my favorite authors have a lot of books I haven’t read yet. So my solution is that I’m going to start the series I’ve read over and read everything that’s been written up until now. It’s another step in my writing as these authors are what inspired me to write paranormal books.

First up- Christine Feehan- Dark Series

Christine’s books were my first reads where the hero’s were all flawed, very alpha and walked the line between good and evil very carefully. You’re right there when these couples fall in love. No purple prose- thank you.

So here’s the order and I hope to be through the entire series by the end of FEB…We’ll see, there are 28 in the series so far and here’s the reading order.

Dark Prince, Dark Prince, Dark Desire, Dark Gold, Dark Magic, Dark Challenge, Dark Fire, Dark Guardian, Dark Dream, Dark Legend, Dark Symphony, Dark Descent, Dark Melody, Dark Destiny, Dark Hunger, Dark Secret, Dark Demon, Dark Celebration, Dark Possession, Dark Curse, Dark Slayer, Dark Peril, Dark Predator, Dark Storm, Dark Nights, Dark Lycan, Dark Wolf and Dark Blood.

It’s quite a list but I’m also doing research as these books are all about the world she created for them. Since I really love to write in a series format, and it takes a lot of work but I’m giving it one hell of a try.

What I’m Working On.

This last year was the toughest year I’ve ever had where my writing has been concerned. The reasons aren’t important, my reaction to them are. I allowed other things that were out of my control to crowd my thoughts and second guess myself.

I’ve spent the better part of 6 months changing that. From letting go of old hurts and anger. To filling my life with family and friends. I spend a lot of time with my DH and kids, with my friends and my cousins. I started working out and getting some yoga in though I need to do much more of it. I found out that I have a pretty bad case of bursitis and since August have been dealing with the pain everyday. I’ve had cortizone shots in my hips for the last year as well as the joint at the base of my thumb. They don’t do anything so I’ve opted not to continue with them. Instead I’ve been reading up on different vitamins and minerals as well as stress reducing things and they seem to help a little. The pain and stiffness is still there when it’s chilly out but I’m getting used to it at this point. I’ve also lost 20 pounds in hopes that will help my joints.

There’s nothing like physical pain to relieve mental pain though and in an odd way, it’s freed up my mind. Over the past month I’ve been writing more than I have in over a year. It’s been fun because I’m writing because I love it, not because I have to.

Here’s a little what I’m working on now: Nolan’s Dark Sacrifice–The Alexander Wolves Book 4

Nolan Alexander gave up his freedom to the Dark Fae Queen in order to save his sister’s life and his new mate. When the Dark Queen released him, he showed up back at home, naked and beaten, battered and barely alive. He is nursed back to health by Rachael, the woman he agreed to mate with in order to gain his another sister’s freedom. He was violated body and soul when he was in the Dark Fae realm and doesn’t want to talk about what he went through. He’s the Alpha, his people come to him for help. He was the leader of the pack and it was his job to be strong, he couldn’t afford to be vulnerable. He had revenge to plan and if it was the last thing he ever did, he was going to make the Dark Queen pay for what she’d done to him.

Rachael Slater agreed to mate with Nolan so that her best friend Liberty could leave her old pack. Now Libby was reunited not only with her brother Nolan but with her two sisters Haven and Justice. What should have been a new beginning for them all turned into a nightmare when Clarinda the Dark Fae Queen demanded payment for the death of her son at the hands of Haven.

Nolan was a noble male and put his family before himself for year. When he showed up at home a broken shell of a man, Rachael almost fell apart. The normally shy woman found her voice when she took care of her mate as he healed. But Nolan came back different. He was distant and angry and didn’t want to talk about what he’d been through.

Rachael wasn’t accepting it. She’d finally discovered who she was and she wasn’t about to let Nolan shut her out when he needed her the most. She wasn’t giving up on him, not without one hell of a fight.

Driving The Wolf Crazy:

Petra is on the verge of losing everything she holds dear. She always dreamed of owning her floral shop. But when she divorced her ex opened up and started competing with her. After several disastrous events, she’s lost almost all of her business and she’s having a hard time making the rent of her shop. Jack, her hot, werewolf landlord didn’t care about her troubles and she was running out of options. But she comes up with a great idea that will have her smack dab in the middle of the werewolf side of town. Human’s and wolves didn’t mix too much. Neither trusting the other too much, but Petra wasn’t intimidated by  the wolves and it was going to take a lot more than a bad temper to deter her from her goal.

Jack owns the building where Petra’s business is. He’s ready to start the eviction process against her. He likes Petra, in fact he’s incredibly attracted to her curvy body and wouldn’t mind spending the night with her. But business is business and if he made exceptions for her, his other tenants would expect the same. Now she has the hair brained scheme to become the florist to the wolves. He didn’t like all the males who came sniffing around now and he was going to put a stop to it…now

 

VJ and I are tinkering around with another Velvet Ice novella. I’m also working on a dystopian retelling of King Arthur and am toying with the idea of trying to write in a few other genre’s. I love erotic romance but think it would be fun to try a thriller or a straight up -Not Erotic- Urban Fantasy. I’ve always been a panster when it comes to writing, these are some of the directions that I’ve been going to lately, so I thought why not give it a try.

I’ve had such great support from friends, family and readers during this past year. I’m so damn happy to be back in this place. To be back to me, with the kind of enthusiasm for writing that I haven’t had for a long time. It’s been a solid month of good writing and when you’re successful, you only want to do it more.

I think I’ve found a better balance between taking care of me and taking care of others. Allowing the kids to go their own way and explore things for themselves. I don’t make them the center of my universe anymore. Does that mean I don’t love them as much? Hell no. It only means that, they are doing their own thing and so should I. Spending time with “The Girls”. It’s so important to be able to sit around with the girls and talk, laugh and act as silly as we want to. Friends are essential to a long, happy life.

They say that people without their own friends (Not marital, shared friends) live longer and happier lives while people who don’t have friends tend to die younger and have more depression in their lives and I agree. Imagine you don’t have any good friends, the kids grow up, you look at your spouse and think now what? And in that moment a terrifying thought enters your brain- we have nothing in common. When you have friends this isn’t such a big deal. You can hang with yours, he with his and then time together. But if you have no one else to spend time with, you’ll get really tired of each other pretty fast.

So with my fingers crossed and getting ready to go into 2015, I can say that I’m happier emotionally, and mentally than I’ve been in for many, many years and I look forward to what tomorrow will bring.

 

 

A Taste of Haven, The Alexander book series #1

A Taste of Haven smashwords

Haven Smith is a shifter who has never shifted. Her mother warned her that if she gave into the animal part of herself she would turn into a beast capable of killing. Instead she’s able to push down the need to turn by spending her evenings protecting women and children from the men who would hurt them. She likes her solitary life just fine, until one night she meets a man who changes her world forever.
Haven discovers a family she didn’t know she had and that Adam’s been sent to bring her home. She’s been alone for so long and Adam is a temptation she’s ready to taste. All Adam wants is that there is more to the world then endless fighting in the streets. He wants her to experience the love of family and make her understand that she isn’t a freak or evil and that she deserves everyone’s love most of all, his love.
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Chapter One

Haven Smith stopped in front of a tall red brick tenement and peered around the corner, the barely audible mew of fear still echoing in her ears. There was a little light coming from a sickly yellow bulb near the top of the roof, but it didn’t extend to the lower part of the building. Her exceptional night vision allowed her to see what others might not, like the trash spilling over from large bins next to the Mexican restaurant opposite the low-income apartment building.
Her spine began to tingle as her wolf clamored for release.
Sorry girl, you don’t get to come out—ever.
She didn’t want to be here tonight, her body hadn’t quite healed from the last fight three days ago. But the scent of fear and blood hung in the air, calling to her and making it impossible to leave.
Another muffled cry sounded in the darkness. Keeping her back to the wall, she slipped around the corner and followed the pitiful noise on cat’s feet. She stepped in a puddle of unidentifiable nastiness she wouldn’t allow her nose to name and winced. She’d just bought the Rockports. Dammit!
Slipping behind the nearest dumpster allowed her to see what was going on while hiding her from anyone’s view. At the alleys dead-end a man had a woman pinned against the brick façade, her face smashed against the wall. He’d wrapped one beefy hand around her throat while his other ripped at her dress.
The woman’s cries were cut off by the fucker’s grip on her neck. Lightning-hot anger speared Haven’s stomach and she pulled her switchblade as if by instinct. With a quick flick of her wrist the six-inch blade came to life in her hand. The familiar weight of the weapon was always welcome. She crept from behind the dumpster and made her way to the would-be rapist and his victim. Her first instinct was to snap his neck, but that would be illegal. She might want to kill the bastard but she wouldn’t. This time!
Instead she threw her arm around his throat, catching him off guard. He was no match for her and even with his girth Haven was stronger… She scraped the blade along the side of his neck and he immediately let go of the female.
“Go get the police,” Haven snarled as the woman spun, clutching her throat.
Haven immediately recognized her platinum blonde hair and sunken blue eyes—it was Honey. She’d tried to get the woman out of the “trade” and into a shelter more than once—and failed. The woman pulled at her tor clothes and took off toward the front of the alley; there was no way Honey was going to flag down a cop.
Knowing that made her even angrier. Her mother had been steps away from the same kind of life until she died, rolling through man after man in a vain search for someone to take care of her and her daughter. Honey had just gone further down the rabbit hole, and Haven had made it her business to avenge these women from assholes like the one beneath her knife.
“You need to learn a lesson about trying to take what you haven’t paid for.” A low menacing rumble escaped her throat. Fuck!
“Fuck you, bitch. The only reason you’re still alive is because you got a knife to my throat.” Oh yeah, he wanted to hurt her; the stink of a madman dripped from his pores, but she really didn’t give a damn.
“You’re right. We can’t have a fair fight if I’m armed. So I’ll put my knife away and then I’m going to kick your ass.” She closed the knife on her hip, slipped it into her pocket and stepped back.
The asshole spun around. His fleshy face was covered in sweat, and he resembled a washed-out wrestler who’d taken too many steroids. His mouth curled up on one side and formed a snarl. He was Haven’s favorite type of jerk-off—big and burly, going around hurting any woman he pleased. She might have been too young to intercede for her mother but she was making up for it now.
He brought his fists up, readying himself for the fight.
She put her hands on her hips, like she had all the time in the world, and laughed. “Come on, fat boy, let’s see what you got.”
He cracked his knuckles. “You got it, bitch.”
He threw out one massive fist, putting all his weight behind the punch. Haven ducked and he sailed right past her. She turned, kicked and connected between his shoulder blades, but he didn’t go down. She frowned and ran at his back, kicking him in the side this time. She heard the crack of ribs through the padding of fat layering his middle. She wanted to end this quickly, but her inner beast was only getting started.
Her nostrils flared as the smell of real fear rent the air. He’d never expected her to kick so damn hard. She grabbed his thick wrist and spun him around to face her. He recovered more quickly from her kick than she expected and managed to clock her in the jaw. The left side of her face went numb from the blow and this time she let out a howl that caused the man’s eyes to widen and back away.
“What’s the matter, big boy? Scared of a little woman like me?” Haven knew questioning his manhood was the easiest way to antagonize him into continuing the fight. “I thought bad-assed men like you got off beating up a girl. God knows you couldn’t handle yourself with a real man.”
He grabbed his crotch. “Dumb bitch, I’m gonna show you what a real man is after I bust your ass.” Haven dropped into a crouch and beckoned him in a come-hither motion. “Bring it on, then. You hit like a girl.”
He moved fast for a fat slob, but not fast enough. He swung again. She stepped aside and he connected with nothing but air. She stuck her foot out as he lunged past and tripped him. Caught up by her foot, his body turned slightly.
The position gave him the advantage, and as he started to fall he grabbed her arm and hauled her down with him.
Haven’s back slammed into the rough pavement, knocking the air from her lungs. She was pissed beyond belief that she’d let him take her down. Asshole landed on top of her, taking what little breath she had left with him. He straddled her upper chest, pinning her arms at her sides, and smiled. “It’s your turn to bleed now, whore.”
She desperately tried to breathe; he was literally smothering her with his weight. He swung his hand and slapped her hard across the mouth.
“Someone needs to show you how to be more respectful.” Sweat dripped off his forehead, the disgusting droplets falling on her chin.
“Fuck you.” She spat, and blood mixed with saliva landed on his face. He raised his hand again and punched her in the nose. Blood squirted out, dribbling into her mouth and down the sides of her face.
A fire burned in her belly as she swallowed some of her own blood. The burning became more painful, spreading from her middle and out to her limbs. Her head started buzzing and the only thing running through it was kill, kill, kill.
With renewed strength, she bent her knees up and bucked him off. Rolling to her knees, she wiped the blood trickling from her nose across her sleeve.
“That’s all you got?” she snarled. “You’re a pussy.”
She watched him carefully, waiting for his muscles to tense. She held her closed hands to her chest. She never felt as alive as she did when she fought one of these bastards. Her senses were sharper, she could see better, her hearing was astonishingly acute. She inhaled when the breeze shifted slightly.
The asshole’s fear wrapped around him like a fur coat. He wanted to run, but his ego wouldn’t allow a woman kick his ass.
He lunged for her again, his heavy body moving a little slower this time. When he reached for her she threw out an arm, blocking his attack and smashed him in the nose with her free hand. He doubled over as blood spurted. Haven followed up with a quick jab to the chin. His head flew back a precious second before she kicked and connected with his balls.
He wasn’t going to get laid for a long time to come. Big boy went to his knees, cupping his crotch. He looked at her and spit. Haven kicked him in the throat in a coup de grace that kept him from crying out for help. He fell on his back with a hard thunk, little sobs coming rending the air as he cupped his balls.
Haven leaned over him and grabbed the shoulder of his dirty wife-beater tank top. “Don’t you ever fucking come back around here again-fat man. Next time you won’t be walking away from this alley.”
She let go of his shirt, and he fell back to the ground. Turning away from the heap he made on the ground, she jogged out of the alley and onto the empty street. Honey hadn’t called the cops, but she hadn’t expected the longtime hooker to go to the police. Honey’d been picked up so many times on prostitution charges she no longer trusted the police to help her. Haven would track her down later and try—once again—to get her away from her pimp and into Fatima’s shelter. She swiped at her bloody nose as she made her way back to her apartment.
Her face was already swelling. The blood flow from her nose trickled slowly but hadn’t stopped; she wasn’t healing as quickly as she used to. The beast inside rumbled its disapproval at her current state of pain.
She picked up the pace, not wanting to draw any attention. She needed to get the dirt, grime and stink from the asshole off her skin.
As she trotted down the sidewalk, the smell of pine and rain floated on the air. The scent was so out of place it brought her to a standstill. She inhaled deeply, enjoying the cleanliness of it. She turned around slowly, trying to find the source of the scent, but saw nothing on the empty streets. And as quickly as it had come, the smell was gone. Haven shook her head, sure she was imagining things.
* * * * *

She forced her sore, tired body back to her tiny apartment. The first-floor studio wasn’t much, but it was home. She unlocked the door and turned on the light, bathing the room in a soft, soothing light. She sat down in an overstuffed chair she’d picked up at a resale shop, her body sinking back against the worn fabric.
She was bone tired. It was getting harder to take a punch. She sighed. For a split second back in the alley she’d been afraid. The feeling had been fleeting, but for the first time since she’d begun her crusade she’d really been scared. The knotting sensation in her stomach wasn’t something she wanted to experience again.
Her nose had finally stopped bleeding so she peeled her t-shirt over her head, wiped her face and threw the shirt into the laundry basket placed squarely in the corner of the room.
She heaved her tired body out of the chair and walked grabbing a bottle of Labatt’s out of the fridge. Twisting the cap off the bottle, she took a long gulp. The cold liquid slid down and soothed her parched throat. She held the sweating bottle against her swelling eye.
Damn, she couldn’t believe the jerk-off had gotten in as many punches as he had. It was obvious her body was letting her know it needed to rest. That had to be it, didn’t it?
For some reason, the image of her mother was particularly vivid tonight, and with her at the worst possible moments. Like right now. The parade of men who’d traipsed through her life when she was growing up was never far from her mind. They were the reason she trolled for bad guys out to harm women.
In response to the memories, adrenaline pumped through her veins and her wolf demanded release.
She broke into a sweat as the beast scrambled to escape, howling in anger. Haven tried desperately to ignore her but failed as her mother’s dire warnings tolled in her head.
Shifting is evil. You’ll go crazy. Crazier than your father.
“Fuck. Why now?” She should have known better than let her mind wander through the past. Her wolf was a bitter bitch and it was getting harder and harder to control her. “You’re not getting out, so shut the hell up.”
Talking never worked, so she changed strategies and reached for her blade. The only way to keep the animal at bay was pain. The pain she felt now had come from the fight earlier. This called for a different kind of pain. Chills ran down her spine and her body started to shake as she battled for dominance. She snapped open the knife with a flick of her wrist, held her arm over the sink, placed the tip of the blade to the crook of her arm and made a one-inch slice. The pain served as a balm to the wolf at the door. She made a second and then a third cut. The pressure inside her eased. The last one finally slowed her heart rate and her breathing began to normalize. The anger slowly drained from her body and calm washed over her.
She hated doing this to herself, but it was the only way that didn’t involve drugs or a barrel full of alcohol. It was her one shameful weakness.
With the adrenaline rush gone, she grew even wearier. She moved to the only other room in her home, the bathroom, stripped off the rest of her clothing and turned on the shower.
She stepped beneath the spray, and the freezing temperature woke her enough to remind her that she was still covered in blood and alley grime. She focused on the bottom of the tub where blood and dirt circled the drain. When the last traces of grime disappeared in a swirl, she finally felt clean. She turned the hot water on and let the heat soak into her tired muscles.
After warming up under the heated water, she stepped out. Wrapping a soft white towel around her, she looked in the mirror. Her left eye already had a bruise and another was forming on her right. She opened the medicine cabinet and retrieved antiseptic and some pain pills. Dabbing at the cut across the bridge of her nose and another on her bottom lip, she winced at the slight sting. Hell, she could take a punch to the face and never make a sound, but wanted to cry as she cleaned the wound. The irony of it never ceased to amaze her. Patch job complete, she filled a glass with water then tossed back two pain pills. She needed to get horizontal since she’d be dead to the world in less than fifteen minutes.
Thank God for pharmaceuticals she thought, staggering to the bedroom. Dropping the towel on the floor, she peeled back the blanket and crept between it and the sheet. Grabbing the pillow next to her, she turned on her side, holding it to her stomach. It was the way she went to sleep most nights, and normally comforted her, but tonight was different.
Tonight, for the first time in a long time, Haven was lonely. It was the kind of lonely that left a knot in her stomach and an ache in her soul. Maybe it was because she was turning thirty and had no one to celebrate with. Maybe she just needed to get laid. Whatever the reasons, her melancholy would have to wait for another day.
Just as her lids began to droop and the magic little pills made a dent in her pain, the phone beside her bed rang. She blindly reached for the offensive thing and picked it up before it rang again.
“Hello.” Her voice cracked.
“Haven you sound like hell.” Fatima, the one person in the world she trusted. “Have you been out again?”
Fatima was the only one who knew about Haven’s nightly activities. The Lebanese-born woman understood her vigilante romps.
“Yeah, but I don’t have anyone for you this evening.”
Normally when she stepped into a situation where a woman was being abused, she would take the victim to Fatima’s shelter. Her friend’s sanctuary wasn’t known to social services. She was able to work outside the law when it came to housing battered women and children. Fatima was able help women disappear from the reach of their abusers.
“I understand. One of Donovan’s men brought in a woman and her three kids tonight.” Her friend sounded as tired as Haven felt.
Donovan was Fatima’s mysterious benefactor. He provided money and the building for her work. Haven never questioned Fatima about Donovan and her friend never offered any information. No skin off Haven’s nose. Whatever went on between the two allowed Fatima to save and care for hundreds of women and children who might otherwise be dead.
“Do you need anything?” She knew the answer before she even asked it. Another reason she loved Fatima.
“No thanks, I’ve got everything under control. Get some sleep. We’ll talk soon.” Fatima ended the call. They never said goodbye. Fatima thought it was bad luck.
She turned over to her other side, closed her eyes as the pain pills kicked in and allowed sleep to take over.

Music day!!!!

We’re having some bizarre weather in Michigan. 50 today and down to 31 tomorrow. I’m not surprised, this is Michigan but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel so bad for anyone living along the Northern and Southern East coast. Since climate deniers are still trying to downplay climate change, the east coast is getting some of the most FUBAR weather and it’s going to shape up to be another stellar winter for them. Cold from North to South and who knows how much snow will fall. I hope those of you who live in what a lot of people think is the weather hell mouth…LOL…(The Entire Eastern Seaboard), take care this season. Hopefully it won’t rise to the stuff you all had last winter.

Random music today. For no particular reason except that I like these songs. Okay let me take that back. The one from Shinedown is totally because I find Bret’s big, beautiful and bare eyes intoxicating. I’m so glad we fashioned Magnus Crowe ( Longfellow Seduced) after him. Magnus is the perfect Scottish Highland, Vampire, Rock god of my dreams.

Enjoy and Bang…Bang…Ladies…