Our giant twenty-fifth anniversary collection is now available for download! Twenty of our best stories of the last five years.
285 Pages; 94,000 words
Funded through a Kickstarter campaign run in 2017– the year of Circlet’s 25th anniversary– Superlative Speculative Erotica features stories voted on by the Kickstarter and Patreon supporters and reflects many of the genres published by Circlet Press: a little cyberpunk, a little high fantasy, a touch of horror, some superheroes, a bit of space opera, some paranormal… What unites these stories is their quality. Check this amazing list out:
Bête Noire” by Annabeth Leong from A Beastly Affair
“An Analog Christmas” by Kal Cobalt from Jingle Balls
“From The Shallows, Cold As Death” by Bernie Mojzes from What Lies Beneath
“Double: A Tale of Love and Engineering” by Nobilis Reed from Like A Love Triangle
“The Secret Life of Ramona Lee” by Michael M. Jones from Puxhill by Night
“Deflowered” by Avery Vanderlyle from A Beastly Affair
“Crow Luck” by Dame Bodacious from Like Fortune’s Fool
“Enchanted” by Shanna Germain from Charming
“Stolen Days” by TS Porter from Hard As Stone edited by Julie Cox.
“Bridge Over Shifter’s Chasm” by Raven Kaldera from Extraordinary Deviations
“Questing” by Charles Payseur from Nights of the Round Table
“The Night Air” by Mary Anne Mohanraj from The Stars Change
“The Closing Shift” by JJ Poulos from Coffee: Hot
“Wizard’s Staff” by Julie Cox from Hard As Stone
“Disarmed” by Vinnie Tesla from Silent Shadows Come
“In The Blood” by Kathleen Tudor from Like Fortune’s Fool
“Evidence of Things Unseen” by A.C. Wise from What Lies Beneath
“Season of Fire” by Sasha Payne from Wired Hard 5
“Primè Nocta” by Kierstin Cherry from Like Myth Made Flesh
“I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Circlet Editor” by H.B. Kurtzwilde & Alex Picchetti from Like A Circlet Editor
The anthology, like the cohort of authors and staff of Circlet Press itself, features characters who identify as lesbian, gay, genderqueer, bisexual, trans, and heterosexual. The erotic activities expressed within the stories cover a similar variety, though it’s not an identical match: a gay male author can write a lesbian witch who has sex with a gender-changing demon. What label do you put on that? We call it… superlative speculative erotica.
Here’s a little taste of the very first story: Annabeth Leong’s “Bete Noir:”
For a while, Beauty and I made each other invincible. She relished every beastly part of me, and so I found myself trusting her with anything and everything—even secrets I hid while I was still a lady.
I saw subtle changes in her as well. Her swagger lost its self-conscious embellishments and more closely resembled the walk of a veteran. We shared long stretches of comfortable silence. While I loved the bravado of her grin, sometimes I caught her smiling, softly, to herself.
The taste of her blood or cunt always seemed to be in my mouth back then, the scent of my fur on her fingers.
We chased rumors of Orlagh, but at times the effort felt like an excuse to camp together each night, to lie down under open skies, to greet the dawn with arching gasps and unabashed screams.
One morning when we hadn’t slept, she turned in my arms and rubbed her cheek against the fur over my breastbone. “I want you,” Beauty murmured.
I chuckled, too satisfied to consider her meaning. My physical limits were hard to exceed, but I’d crossed them, and my body ached for it. “You’ve had me.”
“No,” Beauty said. “You’ve had me.” Her fingers, teasing down my belly, made her meaning clear.
I stiffened, and Beauty froze. She sat up, the gently glowing clouds above us seeming to tangle around her head as if trying to replace the hair she’d chopped short. “Is that not something you enjoy?”
I coughed. “You’re the first to express interest since Orlagh transformed me.”
I struck a pose, knowing how ridiculous my solid, hairy limbs would make it look. “Before? I was a proper lady, darling. I would never have dreamed of letting anyone put fingers—or anything else—into me.”
Beauty’s wicked grin spread over her face, and I had to wonder where the woman found the energy. “I’m starting to understand the fuss people make over undiscovered territory,” she observed, leaning over me to press our foreheads together. “Are you curious? Interested? Excited? Or does a growling beast prefer a lady keep her fingers to herself?”
Her tone was teasing, but I recognized the space she was giving me, the choices. I rested a paw on the small of her back as I considered, and let my other paw cup her breast. Her body fit itself into my grip, and I realized I’d do anything for this woman. “Maybe curious,” I said, “but also nervous.”
“We’ll go slow,” Beauty promised.
I didn’t know how to hold myself as she began to explore me. I knew she craved the sensation of my teeth and claws, but it was hard to believe she’d simply want to look at me. As her fingers found my folds and parted them, I protracted my claws, feeling obligated to immediately return any pleasure she gave me.
For the first time, Beauty pulled my clawed paw away. “No,” she murmured. “Not now. I can’t have you distracting me when I need to focus on you.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
She laughed, but her eyes gleamed with sympathy that made me uncomfortable. “Feel it,” Beauty said. “Stop me from doing things you don’t like. Encourage me to do things you do.”
I sighed and tried not to imagine how I looked with legs spread—ugliness, I had learned, did not confine itself to the face, and Orlagh had been thorough. Was Beauty staring into a monstrous sex? I could not even have begun to resolve the question, and so I had no choice but to trust that she had chosen me.
Because of my anxiety, it took some time to register the way her fingers felt. She was stroking me very lightly, her hot breath nearly as present as her touch. My limbs began to shake. Beauty rested one palm on my trembling thigh. “What is that? Pleasure? Fear?”
“I don’t know.”
She made a soothing noise and continued stroking. “I’m not going to do anything else unless you ask for it. You’re safe with me.”
It was an absurd thing for her to say. I was three times her weight. I could have torn her head away without effort. And yet the words made me groan.
Gradually, like a message coming in over telegraph, symbols of pleasure began to assemble inside my body. I became aware of the slipperiness between her fingers and my skin—that was me, wet with arousal. Something, not quite a tingle, more like the buzz of ordinary air in a time of lightning, traveled from her fingers, down my lips, and deeper into my pelvis. Inside me, tightening. An ache began to spread from the juncture of my legs.
“More,” I whispered. “Please.”
A slight increase of pressure provoked a dizzying array of responses. My hips, as if acting on their own, thrust toward her. I snatched my paws away from her so I could grip handfuls of the dirt to either side of my bedroll. I bit my lip until I tasted my own blood, and when Beauty darted forward to lick the wound I cried out.
“Do you want me inside you?”
“Oh. Oh yes.”
Her index finger traced the shape of my entrance. I looked down at Beauty’s hand. She could seem so delicate at times, and it frightened me to think how much of her might fit inside me, how much of her I might want.
She watched me as she pushed her finger in. I knew nothing was hidden from her. My fearsome face could not mask my fear. My inhuman features could not conceal my lust. And my ugliness could not obscure the beauty of my love. I felt it shining out of me, the openness of my heart allowing the openness of my legs, my body.
I could not have pointed to the moment when my feelings for Beauty definitively became those of love, but that was the moment I recognized them for what they were. My body gripped her finger. It panicked me a little to let her in, but it would have been impossible to let her go.
In the back of my mouth, I tasted words of love wanting to form, but I pushed them away. I didn’t want to be like Beauty’s other beast, demanding what she couldn’t give. I told myself my feelings didn’t matter anyway—her true love was what mattered, and she hadn’t written me any sonnets.
“You’re gorgeous right now,” Beauty whispered. “So brave, and so soft and warm inside.” Her finger curled within me, and the exquisite sensation brought my whole body with it. My spine mirrored the shape of her finger. I roared as if wounded.
Something was happening in the depths of my pelvis. I thought it was an orgasm, so I asked for more. She gave it to me, another finger, and then another, and for a few glorious moments I surrendered to growing sweetness.
But where an orgasm would have burst forth, this sank in. It settled into the marrow of my bones, where it began reshaping the most fundamental things. The scent of roses blotted out desert and blood and the animal smell of my own body. The memory of Orlagh’s curse acting on my flesh flashed through my mind—skin stretching, hair thickening, muscles cording.
“Stop!” I cried. “Beauty, wait!”
She snatched her hand away. My body ached as if she’d taken half my bones with her, but pleasure denied wasn’t what left me gasping. She asked what was wrong, but I was too occupied with holding onto myself to answer.
Beauty moved to stroke the matted fur over my forehead, but I sensed what would happen if she did. “Don’t touch me!” I shouted, summoning enough force to scramble away, off the bedroll.
I hurtled into the early morning like a hunter chasing the swiftest prey. Soon, I embraced the image and ran down a rabbit, filled my mouth with its blood. This is who I am, I insisted to myself, and the sense of being changed from inside out began to fade. I breathed once, slowly, and walked back to where Beauty and I had made camp, bringing what was left of the rabbit with me as an offering.
I decided that Orlagh had been able to curse me in the first place because when I was beautiful I also didn’t know who I was. I was stronger now. But when I saw Beauty sitting beside a freshly stoked fire, only half clothed, arms wrapped around her lower legs, I recognized my own wishful thinking. I could tell myself whatever I wanted, but it still wasn’t safe to let her touch me.
I deliberately made a noise as I approached. Beauty glanced up, her lack of sleep showing on her face where I hadn’t noticed it before.
“Bête, are you okay?” she asked. “What happened? Did I hurt you?”
I tossed her the rabbit, and she caught it one-handed. “You love me,” I said.
“What? I mean, of course, but not like….”
“You want to write me a sonnet.” There was tenderness in my voice along with accusation. The beast’s heart in me wanted to fling her onto the bedroll for ten more hours and celebrate the feelings that had grown between us in a wild union of blood and sex. But doing that would lose me what I’d gained, so I simply repeated myself. “You love me.”
Beauty’s face fell. “I thought we’d been over this. I thought you didn’t want to get changed back. It’s not fair to expect a thing like that from—”
“You almost did it. Just now. And you’re right, I don’t want to get changed back. I ran to keep you from fucking the beast right off me.”
“What are you talking about?” I could see on her face that she knew more than her question let on. Her eyes told me I was right, and now that I knew it was there, I could feel the beautiful, horrible ferocity of the love that tied us together, as surely as if it were a strong rope we’d been braiding through days and nights in each other’s company.
I sank to my haunches. “Darling,” I said, “things between us are going to have to change…”
For the rest of the story and nineteen other wicked tales, download the ebook today!