107,200 words; 344 pp
The ebook edition is also available at: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo & AllRomanceEbooks.
The best erotic science fiction and fantasy as determined by the annual contest run by Circlet Press. Rewarding originality and positive sensuality, the contest inspires well-known and unknown writers alike to excel in this provocative genre. Erotic sf/f combines erotic and sexual themes with magic, futurism, high fantasy, cyberpunk, space opera, magic realism, and all the many other sub-genres. The 2006 winner is a multi-genre writer from Canada Arinn Dembo, whose Monsoon draws on the mythic tradition of India. Second and third place went to two well-known erotica authors, both of whom have published with Circlet Press before, Thomas S. Roche for The Night the New Hog Croaked and Jason Rubis for Circe House. Over 400 manuscripts were submitted and only 20 were chosen for publication.
Monsoon by Arinn Dembo
Venus Rising by Diane Kepler
Marked by Cody Nelson
The Harrowing by Corbie Petulengro
Capture, Courting, and Copulation: Contemporary Human Mating Rituals and the Etiology of Human Aggression by Carolyn & Steve Vakesh
Copperhead Renaissance by Argus Marks
The Night the New Hog Croaked, Or, The Lascivious Dr. Blonde: A Romance by Thomas S. Roche
Nocturnal Emissions by Joe Nobel
Hot and dry excerpt:
Monsoon by Arinn Dembo
It was June in Maharashtra, and the monsoon would not come. The
whole district lay panting in the heat, the burning sky clapped tight
overhead like the lid of a tandoor oven. Lean goats stumbled down the narrow alleyways, udders hanging slack and dry beneath them; beggars cried for water in every village. Dust-devils swept over baked clay and through the dry weeds, whistling and shrieking. Hot sand blew into the eyes of torpid bullocks as they leaned into the yoke, whips snapping over their bony backs. A single stream crept along the valley floor, shrunken and muddy, and women stood ankle deep in its shallows, beating their laundry against rocks that rippled and danced in the sun.
Benton watched those women from behind his mirror shades, their
saris wringing wet and clinging like crepe to their bodies. The trip
to Wainganga by Jeep was long, particularly in a Jeep so old and
decrepit as this one; any distraction from the heat and the choking
clouds of dust was welcome.
He held up his fist abruptly and Charanjit brought the vehicle to
a shuddering, squealing halt by the side of the road, burying the two
men briefly in a whirlwind of fine grit. “How long, my friend?”
the driver asked. He turned his wrist proudly, showing off the
glittering face of a new watch.
“Das,” Benton said, climbing out of the passenger seat with
his cameras swinging around his neck. He could speak relatively
decent Hindi, and Charanjit’™ English was impeccable, but the two
men chose to communicate in monosyllables and hand signals more often
than not; they had worked together before. Charanjit would now wait
ten minutes before he began to lean on the horn imperiously,
demanding that Benton return.
The white man limped down the hill toward the water, his right leg
aching and stiff with travel. The women continued their work in the
riverbed; he crouched beside a thorn bush and took several pictures
of them, focusing his lens on wet bellies… brown breasts… flexing
thighs… streaming, sopping masses of black hair. It was a
prosperous family, the daughters plump and smooth.
The shutter clicked and whirred like the wings of a locust. One of
the younger girls looked up suddenly and saw him across the river.
Her black eyes flashed. Just moments before her voice rang out in
warning, Benton captured one last perfect image of her face, her pale
pink tongue-tip passing over the ripe curve of her upper lip. Then
all the women were standing, laughing, scowling, chattering to one
another in Hindi… all the while drawing the folds of their wet
saris about them, arms crossed over their conical breasts to fend off
He turned away and went back to the Jeep, half-staggering on the
incline. The passenger seat had been repaired so many times with
silver duct tape that none of the original upholstery could be seen.
Benton sat down heavily, letting his long, lean body drop into the
burning chair. He massaged his aching thigh absently and drew his
filthy red bandanna up to cover his mouth; the taste of dust was
thick on his tongue, but he could not slake his thirst here.
Benton had been dry since Mombasa. His original plan had been to
stop in the Old Town there. Among those twisting alleys there was an
oasis where the caramel-colored daughters of the Faithful could be
bought as easily as a dish of fried casava or a handful of sticky
dates; it was one of his favorite haunts in the city. He liked the
kohl-rimmed eyes of the dancers, lustrous and burning over their
filmy veils. In the leaping shadows of the back room, he had drawn
aside those veils more than once to kiss the forbidden lips of a
Time had not allowed for his little diversion, however, and once
again in Mumbai it was the same: no brothels, just an endless hurry
through passport offices and transit bureaus to get his papers in
order. As the Jeep jounced and rattled along the dirt road, Benton
counted the days since he had laid hands on a woman.
Half the reason for his choice of profession was the love of
women; he always devoured them greedily when he was abroad. He
couldn’t capture the flavor of a place until he made love there.
The women were as inseparable from the mystique of a foreign land as
its music, its language, its liquor and food. Every country offered a
subtle variation on the eternal flavor–he sampled them all, like
the alien fruit and curry in the marketplace.
The women he could not bring to his bed, he collected with his
camera. If possible, he would always do both. He was paid to take
pictures of mountains, rivers, rice paddies and ruins–but it was
his dream to someday publish his thousands of photos of women. He
would present the beauties of the world, all the bright vivid
creatures from Mandalay to Manhattan: they would be his gift to the
For now, however, he was simply suffering, and it seemed that the
whole earth was suffering with him. The sere hills of Pusad gave way
to the Upper Bhima Valley and then the plain of Nagpur, a broad flat
slab that stretched for miles in the blinding sun. The wind roared
like a furnace at the nape of his neck. Dead, brittle cotton still
stood in the fields; dry leaves rattled, and stinging dust slashed
across the faces of water-bearers walking by the side of the road.
The women and boys were black and thin beneath their ceramic jars,
their arms and legs bent like wrought iron.
When the Jeep passed a town, there were always red-eyed men taking
shelter in doorways, sitting on overstuffed sacks and smoking. Water
salesmen pedaled along the streets, selling a single drink for three
rupees. A sudden gust would turn the sky the color of dried blood;
weak, irritable-looking mothers looked out their windows at the
passing shadow, holding listless babies in their arms and searching
the sky for clouds.
The monsoon was coming–this time it would not tease and then
retreat. He picked up his camera in the last light of day to
photograph the clouds that natives called “the army of Indra”–a
towering range of rolling thunderheads, black with promise, which
swept across the entire eastern horizon. Lightning glinted in the
depths of the oncoming storm; Benton let the frames snap through the
end of his roll, hoping multiple exposures would give him at least
one perfect frame of that scintillating mass.
Thunder thrummed across the plain, still many miles distant. The
tamarind tree trembled in anticipation. Benton heard the rattle of a
door, and then the quick pit-pat of bare feet across the pebbles;
here was Jeevan, carrying two big bowls. Benton brushed the cherry
from his cigarette on the doorframe and pocketed the unlit remainder,
smiling as the shy boy sidled up to his hut. He reached into his
pocket, taking out two coins, and traded them for a bowl of saffron
rice, pretending not to notice the distinctly child-sized bite
missing from the edge of the scoop on top. Jeevan handed him a second
bowl, filled with fragrant curry; three warm loaves of bhakari bread
served as a lid. Then the little monkey skipped away back to his
mother’s house. He held his coins in two cupped hands, like a
captured cricket, and shook them next to his ear to hear them jingle.
Benton sat down cross-legged in the doorway, removing an old
stainless steel spoon from his suitcase. The woman had gone out of
her way to earn the ten rupees he was paying for this meal. Her curry
was rich, a pool of spicy oil and chunks of tender goat’s meat–so
good that he saved the last oily cake of flat bread for the end, to
mop every last speck from the bowl. The rice was sweet and sticky,
heavily laden with golden raisins, minced mango and crumbled almonds.
He decided to save most of it for the morning, laying a pair of heavy
hard-bound notebooks across the top of the bowl to keep the bugs out.
After a quick visit to the family outhouse in the garden, Benton
returned to the empty little shack. Darkness had come. He sat down
and took off his shoes, balling up a sock to stuff into each one
before he put them down beside the bed. He relaxed, stretched out to
luxuriate in a full belly and a cool breeze, smoked the remainder of
his cigarette in the dark and then crushed out the stub against the
wall. The ambient temperature of the room had dropped several
degrees, and for the first time in days he rolled himself up in a
thin blanket to sleep. He drifted off painlessly, listening to the
lullaby of distant thunder and the croon of an east wind.
He woke in the pitch black, wind whipping over him in cool velvety
billows. Benton sat bolt upright in bed, blinking against the
darkness. His heart was beating fast and hard; the air was heavy with
the weight of another human presence, and he strained to pinpoint its
All he could hear was the thin whisper of rain, hissing across the
gravel outside, sifting through the canopy of the tall tree,
trickling and dripping from the roof, the windowsills, the leaves.
Lightning flared somewhere in the night, casting a split second of
harsh illumination–in that light he saw her standing in the
doorway, muffled and hooded in her sari.
“Who is there?” he demanded in Hindi. Brain still fuzzy from
sleep, he fumbled for a name from the mechanic’s household.
Her low, musical laugh trickled across the space between them.
Thunder suddenly split the night with its roar; as if in answer, a
fierce new sheet of rain swept across the village. Benton reached
hastily into his shirt pocket and removed his lighter. He held it
aloft and flicked it alight.
“What do you want?”
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust. She was still standing in
the doorway. Her body was wound in a royal blue sari, embroidered
with glistening silver thread; the fabric had soaked up so much rain
that it now appeared almost black. Her face was wrapped in a twist of
the silk which served as both headscarf and veil. As he watched, she
reached up with bare arms and unwound it, letting the sodden tail of
fabric fall behind her shoulder.
His heart tumbled out of rhythm. Her face was a round soft circle
the color of honey, framed with a coil of jet-black hair. Black brows
arched like wings over huge, luminous eyes; no caste mark was painted
between them. Her nose was straight, nostrils sweeping to the side in
delicate curls. Her mouth was broad, sensuous, lips lush and full and
dark. To reveal such a face was like drawing a sword. Benton had
never felt quite so defenseless, sitting alone in a bed.
She smiled slowly, and in her eyes he read the wicked intent of
every woman since Eve. “What do you want?” she said, touching her
dark lip with a rosy tongue. She had simply repeated his words, but
her softly teasing tone made him shiver. She turned her head to the
side, one hand slipping to her nape, and suddenly her hair was free,
spooling down her slim neck. She closed her eyes, thick black lashes
stark against her pale cheek, and teased the rope with her fingers;
the strands separated into fat, looping serpents.
The beast inside him answered with a roar. He sat stock still,
breathing deeply, as her delicate hand went to the brooch just below
her left shoulder. If she released that pin, the sari would fall; she
cocked her head at him coquettishly, her eyes asking the question–
“Should I?” For a moment he let his eyes drop from her lascivious
face to the soft abundance of breast and belly below. The wet folds
of her dress muffled her curves, but even at this distance he could
see her nipples standing hard beneath the silk.
He raised the lighter’s flame higher and made a beckoning
gesture with his free hand.
She came to him slowly, sinuous hips shifting as she moved with
the rhythm of the whipping rain. He looked down at her little feet,
and the heavy, sodden hem leaving a dark trail across the floor; it
was odd that she wore no rings on her toes or fingers. Looking up, he
found her standing beside the bed; he inhaled sharply as she bent to
kiss him, her eyes half-closed. Her lips were cool and soft. The
smell of rain was powerful. Her hand touched his, and he suddenly
realized that the burning hot metal of the lighter was scorching his
thumb; the flame winked out as it fell from his hand, clattering to
Her mouth parted over his, the tip of her tongue touching him
softly; her wet hand found his hot neck and trailed down the open
shirt-front to the matted hair of his chest. Hungrily he reached
down, finding his own buttons easily in the dark. With both hands she
pressed the shirt back over his shoulders; she broke her kiss as she
pushed it down his arms and then tossed it away. He gasped with
pleasure as her lips found his shoulder and neck; already her mouth
was growing warmer.
With her palms she forced him back onto his elbows; there was
something ferocious about the way she pulled the blanket away from
his legs, twisting her way down his belly with open-mouthed kisses.
He found himself hissing each breath between clenched teeth, lips
drawn back into a half-snarl. He put his hand to the back of her
head, holding her for a moment as her tongue trailed along the border
of his waistband and her fingers worked busily at the zipper of his
pants. Already he was rampant and aching for her, thinking of the
moment when those sweet lips would engulf him; he could feel himself
drip in anticipation of that pleasure.
“Wait.” He tried to stop her, seized by sudden doubt. A
whirlwind of fears went through him, not least the length of time
that had passed since he had a proper shower.
“I cannot. I must taste you, ishta.” Despite himself he shook
at the sound of her husky voice; he could hear the need in it, as
stark and urgent as his own. Her lips found him, even through the
barrier of thin cotton, and hungrily kissed the length of him. His
hand clenched involuntarily in her hair, and he lifted his hips for
her as she skinned off his jeans…
To read the whole story and the dripping conclusion, buy the ebook now!
The best erotic science fiction and fantasy as determined by the annual contest run by Circlet Press. Rewarding originality and positive sensuality, the contest inspires well-known and unknown writers alike to excel in this provocative genre. Erotic sf/f combines erotic and sexual themes with magic, futurism, high fantasy, cyberpunk, space opera, magic realism, and all the many other sub-genres.
Also available in paperback.
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