58650 words; 192 pages
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Includes stories by A.R. Morlan, Susan Elizabeth Gray, Rhomylly B. Forbes, Catherine Lundoff, Deb Atwood, Gary Bowen, David May, Thomas S. Roche, Raven Kaldera, and Robert Knippenberg.
Look under the cut for a hot excerpt…
from “El Tigre” by Catherine Lundoff
I have but recently arrived in this new land, sent from my home in disgrace for believing the seductive words of a young noble from the court. He took advantage of my naivete, and now both my child and I will pay the price: she raised as a bastard in convent in , and I sent to this cursed land conquered by barbarians who call themselves my countrymen. I was told that I am to be the new “companion” (a term that I believe to be synonymous with “maid”) to a Doña Fernanda, a widow related somehow to the Viceroy, as well as distantly related to my cousins and myself. It hoped by my cousins, the only family that I possess, that here in Mexico, far from my disgrace, I will find a suitable marriage. I hate them all.
Closing my diary, I find my gaze drawn out out the window to the courtyard below. Dimly lit archways open onto a dusty open patio, circled by some small orange trees, with an even smaller central fountain, a sad replica of the great palaces of the Moors in my beloved Spain. I lean on the edge of the window, inhaling the warm evening air in great breaths as I not to weep. A noise below causes me to pull back into the shadows. In the dusk, I see a cloaked figure emerge from one of the archways on the floor below and walk swiftly toward the stables. Surely it is some other servant of the elusive Doña Fernanda, whom I yet to meet in my two days here. A servant on an errand, yes, that’s it; thus, I try to dismiss my curiosity. But my gaze follows the figure as he emerges, leading a black horse, mounts, and rides rapidly from the courtyard. What errand could call for sending a man out onto the dirt roads outside of Veracruz, just as night falls?
I ponder this question as I draw the shutters closed. There are many such thoughts for me to mull over, first and foremost concerning the purpose of serving as a “companion” to a woman I have not seen. At least my room is plain and comfortable-far from luxurious, but better than the convent. The bed, with its carved wooden posts, seems large enough for two, and there is a strange and beautiful woven cloth draped over the wardrobe which holds my attention each time I it.
I my head for the prayers that do not come before the image of the Santa Maria which rests on the carved wooden shelf on the wall opposite from my bed. Then, placing my rosary on the shelf before her statue, I read the Bible in the wide bed with its woven coverlet until I fall asleep, one of the few things that I thank the nuns for teaching me. I with a gasp many hours later, my nightdress open at the throat, shivering in the night breezes from the open window. But surely I closed that, think to myself as I dash across the room to shut it again.
It only when I return to the large soft bed that I remember my dream. A dream about a woman, wearing the clothing of a man(!), standing over my bed, and gazing down at me. She is tall and lean, wearing a long black cloak and carrying a sword. Her high cheekbones and long black hair mark her as mestiza, whom my countrymen see as “tainted” with the blood of the unfortunate indios of this land. She is beautiful and even in my memory, I am drawn to her. Drawn to her, perhaps, more strongly than to the young lord whose words brought me here. I find that I want to taste her lips, as thoughts that had been carefully forced down in the convent return once more. I remember lusting after Sister Teresa, the strongest and most comely of the nuns, remember desiring her attention, even her punishments. Here is another such a one to awaken that desire I thought long dead within me.
My awareness shifts as her hand brushes my hair away from my face in this dream of mine, the most vivid I have had in some time. As her hands brush my face and neck, I find my lips caressing them. I blush somewhat to think of it, but only a little, for I am a fallen woman, even at only eighteen summers, not some convent innocent who has never known carnal desires.
I draw her onto the bed in this vision of mine, reaching out to pull her lips to mine for a kiss. Even though it is just a dream, I feel the heat rush through me as I remember the imagined touch of her lips. Her lips part and she showers my neck with kisses, as she unfastens the top of my nightdress to expose more of my shoulders and neck. In this dream, I know that I will give her anything she wants, though I should burn in Hell for eternity as the priests told me. I feel her bite my shoulder, then a dreamy lassitude overtakes me and I fall into a deeper sleep.
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Ten tales of vampires whose hungers go beyond the need for a nightly drink. These vampires–gay, lesbian, bisexual, kinky, gender-bending, and otherwise–seek out humans for erotic fulfillment and even for love and companionship… but they remain dangerous creatures.