The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Ten

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Content Warning: Strong language


It didn’t take long for May’s cheerful excitement to give way to unease.

“As much as I’d like to believe you just wanted to surprise us, something -” she glanced back at Dom’s unfamiliar travelling companions “- tells me this isn’t a social visit.”

Dom’s jaw tightened. He gave May’s hand a quick squeeze.

“I wish, Maybe. I really do.”

“What’s going on?” Worry settled heavy across her brow. “Who are-”

“Let’s wait until we’re somewhere more private before we get into it, okay?” Dom cut her off. May didn’t argue.

They made their way out the back of the tent and into an open lot teeming with activity. May waved and exchanged quick words with the fellow cast and crew milling around. The last remnants of the night’s props were being locked away in the shipping crates and boisterous laughter drifted from an inviting-look dining tent. Beyond that, a sea of mobile trailers clustered just out of the tent’s circle of light.

“You’ve gotta tell me what this “Ginger” thing is all about,” Dom remarked after a fourth person referred to May by the name.

May laughed quietly. “We’re on the run, Dominic. It wouldn’t make much sense to go by our real names, now would it?”

“Fair enough.” He gestured at the scene around them. “Nice work hiding in plain sight by the way.”

At this, May beamed. “Yeah, we’re pretty proud of ourselves.”

“You must be happy to be dancing again.”

“I really am. I didn’t realize how much I missed it, to be honest.”

A voice was cleared from behind the pair, who looked over their shoulders in unison.

“Your performance was very lovely,” said one of the two women who followed them with a soft smile. “You’re very talented.”

May flushed; for someone who loved to perform, she was still getting accustomed to praise.

“Thank you! That’s very sweet of you to say.”

Her gaze lingered on the woman a moment longer. She was striking; warm brown skin that was etched with painstakingly detailed tattoos on her face and forearms. But it was her brilliant golden eyes that held May’s attention the most, their familiarity causing her to shiver involuntarily.

Giving her head a slight shake, May hoped she hadn’t been staring too long and changed the subject.

“Rose was in the shower when Bertram came to find us,” she said, speaking Rose’s name slowly as though she were still getting used to it herself. “But she should be done by now.”

They made their way through the small village of trailers to one with fairy lights framing the door. May skipped up the steps and poked her head inside.

“Babe?” she called and listened for a reply. Jeremy tensed and shot Dom a look who pretended not to notice. “Huh. Maybe she went looking for me. Would you like to wait inside?”

The troupe filed into the cramped trailer – a space not suited for quite so many bodies – and clustered in the awkward silence that followed.

“Sorry it’s so small,” May murmured, bashfully shoving stray laundry out of sight. “The other trailers have more room but we took this one so we wouldn’t have to share with anyone else.”

“Smooth,” Dom replied with a chuckle. He nudged at her with his elbow, bringing the blush back to her cheeks. She gave him a swat.

“So what’s going on?” She gave the group of strangers her full attention for the first time. She tried to ignore the anxiety that gnawed at her gut under the intense stare of the man with fiery hair. He had been fixated on her from the very first moment – the entire walk to the trailer she had felt his dark eyes boring into her, but now she couldn’t avoid them. “Is everything okay?”

Before Dom could reply, the red-haired man reached into his pocket and produced a tattered, folded piece of paper. Opening it carefully he stepped forward and handed it to her without a word.

Panic gripped May’s insides when she saw the photo – herself and Em, caught on a security camera in Tenna nearly a year ago. She could pinpoint the moment precisely, her shoulder wedged under Em’s arm as the two wove through alleys to escape a Loyal agent named Melanie.

“Why do you have this?” May’s voice hitched, her breathing shallow. Her eyes darted fearfully from the man to her friend. “Dom, what is this?”

“May, listen,” he tried to sound reassuring but there was grief in his expression that filled May with dread. “You’ve got to hear them out.”

But her mind was already racing.

“We trusted you.” May felt as though she were looking at a stranger. She couldn’t imagine anyone who knew about that day in the photo having anything but bad reasons for wanting to find her and Em – surely Dom realized that. “Dom, how could you bring them here?”

With her heartbeat thundering in her ears, May could see that the others were talking to her but she was too busy scouring the room for a way out. The strangers blocked her path – would she be able to fight her way through?

“We’re not here to hurt you,” insisted another one of the strangers; the other man, beautiful and earnest. He reached tenderly to her as though she were a wounded, frightened animal and she jerked away only to back into Dom.

“C’mon, Maybe,” he pleaded. “Just list-”

Panic overcame her and she screamed. Aliases be damned, she screamed Em’s name and lunged for the door just as it swung open. Dom and the strangers pulled back in surprise, leaving room for May to stumble into the arms of a woman with pearlescent skin. Hair like polished silver poked out from where it had been hastily tucked beneath the ragged ball cap Dom has often seen her wearing in the photos she sent him. She clutched May close while her haunting diamond-blue eyes took in the scene.

The room went silent and she spoke.

“What the fuck is going on?”


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Ko-Fi May

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter One

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Content Warning: Brief, non-explicit insinuation of past sexual assault 


May should not have been standing at that door.

There was a foggy sense of purpose egging her on from a dark corner of her mind. Her hand trembled as she raised it to knock weakly. If someone had asked her in that moment why she was there, she wouldn’t have been able to answer, aside from insisting it was something she needed to do.

It wasn’t until she heard the lock click that the bottom of her stomach gave out. Her extremities tingled and a roaring filled her ears.

No. This isn’t right.

From across the threshold, Kane smiled down at her with cruel satisfaction. Dim light from his apartment framed him in the night; a dark and dangerous silhouette.

Wait, no.

He didn’t touch her – didn’t say a word – just stood back to let her in.

As if under a spell, she stepped past him and listened in dread at the sound of the door closing, the deadlock clicking into place.

Stop. Stop, what are you doing? Go back.

He was on her in an instant, his hands rough and unforgiving. She cried out of fear. She cried out of shame and pain. But he didn’t stop.

He never stopped.

It was only while she was in the thick of reliving one of her worst memories that May would realize that’s all it was – a memory. A dream.

She’d wake up in a cold sweat, often in tears, shaking and confused. It didn’t happen as often as it once did – before Em had washed up into her life – but that didn’t make it any less terrifying when the nightmares came.

Tonight’s dream was no different. May fought for wakefulness to escape it.

“Hey,” a soft voice came from beside her in the darkness of the room. “Hey, it’s okay. You’re alright, babe.”

May felt Em’s arms encircle her, strong and warm. She collapsed into her and took a few deep breaths. Em’s familiar, airy scent filled her senses and grounded her in the present.

“The dream again?” Em squeezed May’s shoulders gently. May nodded against the crook of her neck.

“I’m sorry, babe.”

Pulling back, May brushed away a stray tear and exhaled. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Moonlight streamed in through the open window and lit Em’s pale diamond eyes; her gaze was full of loving concern.

“It’s alright,” May mumbled, trying to bury the fading visions from her mind with a light shake of her head. “I woke up a lot sooner than last time.”

Em frowned. “It’s been such a long time since the last one. Is everything okay?”

It was a difficult question to answer given the circumstances.

The pair had been travelling for months; so many May long since lost count. They moved frequently but made their stops memorable. May had done more since she and Em fled Hoku than she had in the rest of her life combined. The rich, earthy scent of the vineyards they were working on wafted in from the window; it must have just rained.

But for all the amazing experiences and wonderful people they met along the way, it was never far from May’s mind that they were on the run. They had only come to this vineyard a few weeks ago, making money by working the vines by day and enjoying free wine and each other by night. Yet they were already making plans to leave. Where to head next had been the last thing the two  talked about before falling asleep that night.

May bit her lip. She didn’t want Em to worry – to think she was having regrets about leaving her home behind. But Em was giving her that look and she knew dancing around the truth wouldn’t get her very far.

“I think…” May swallowed. “I think I might be a little tired.”

It took a moment for Em to catch on. “Is this about the move?”

With a shrug, May nodded sheepishly.

“It might be. I can’t say for sure. But…” she let out a sigh. “I don’t know. It’s not like I’m not happy or enjoying seeing the world. I just-”

“No, I get it.” Em gently brushed a rosy curl from May’s forehead. “You’re right – this way of life can be exhausting. Being on the lam is stressful. Maybe we can find a place to settle for a while. A bit of routine couldn’t hurt as long as we don’t get sloppy.”

May smiled in appreciation; Em always found the words when she couldn’t. She took Em’s hand in hers and pressed it to her lips.

It was only then May realized Em was sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Were you already up?” She glanced back at Em’s side of the tiny bed they shared. The blankets were tossed aside, the pillow was on the floor.

“Couldn’t sleep.” Em’s eyes flitted to the window and at once May understood.

“Still nothing?

“Not a thing.”

Try as she might, Em hadn’t been able to make contact with Welkin. She spent long nights casting her vibrations into the sky and receiving nothing back but the regular noise bouncing around the universe. Em tried her best to downplay her concern, but May could tell not knowing what had become of the Star was wearing on her. Her gaze was unfocused, her thoughts far, far away.

“They’ll find their way back to us sooner or later,” May assured softly, trailing her fingers up and down Em’s forearm.

Em blinked, bringing herself back to the moment. She smiled at May. “Yeah. I’ll try again some other night.”

Still far from being ready to go back to sleep, May returned Em’s smile before leaning in, letting their lips meet in a soft, slow kiss.

“Want to make out until we fall asleep?” she asked in a honey-soaked voice. She trailed her fingers all the way up Em’s arm this time and used them to trace her jawline with a feather-light touch.

Em raised an eyebrow. “I would hope making out with me wouldn’t put you to sleep.”

A playful look settled across May’s face.

“Maybe we can keep each other awake instead.”

With a sly grin of her own, Em crawled up May’s lap and crushed another more urgent kiss against her lips.

“Now that I can do,” she murmured, her voice low, mouth still grazing May’s with tantalizing proximity.

They fell into one another, letting the softness of skin on skin and the heat of desire drown out all the worries and fears. Both knew they were only putting off the inevitable; neither could shake the sinking sensation that the gap between them and danger was quietly closing.

And while they couldn’t have known it for sure, they were right to worry.


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Ko-Fi May

 

 

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

I see that got your attention.

Seriously though, I do want to take a few moments to talk about sex. Sex in my books, to be more specific.

But first, let me back up a little.

I’ve already mentioned that I have the rest of The Starborn Series outlined and have jumped head-first into the second book. Even though it’s still a long way off, I can’t help but think about my plans for when the series is actually finished.

I know I’d like to publish and I’m still kind of leaning towards going indie (I’m a control freak PLUS I think these books might be a bit too niche for the traditional scene). To do that, all of the stories in the series will eventually need updates and revisions, not just because I will have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t but I’d also like to give people who’ve already read the story a reason to invest in an official copy (think extra/extended scenes, corrections, etc.)

I was thinking about all of this just the other day when a good friend slid into my DMs and asked me the question I’ve been struggling with the most:

When I do finally publish The Starborn Series, will I keep the sex scenes?

If you’ve read The Star and the Ocean on my blog (the Wattpad Edition is the SFW version of the story) you know that, while there isn’t a lot of on-the-page sex, there is some. Those scenes also leave very little to the imagination.
I’ve honestly been conflicted about this for a while. On a personal level I feel those scenes (the quasi-infamous “camping scene” in particular) are important: sex-having women loving women deserve to see sex-on-the-page from our own perspective. The camping scene is also a pivotal part of May’s healing.

But what does it do to the overall story?

I get a lot of comments about how fluffy TSATO is (heads up: book two won’t be nearly as fluffy. If that’s what you’re on board for, I apologize in advance) and, on occasion, I’ve seen some people trying to categorize it as a romance. But it’s not; TSATO and, ultimately entire The Starborn Series, is a fantasy story with a queer romance secondary-plot.

Does the sex distract from that? Personally I don’t think so, but perhaps I’m too close to it to be able to tell for sure.

And then there’s that bit about my audience.

I’ve never really been able to figure out what age category TSATO is for. The main characters range from their mid-twenties (May, one of the youngest, is 24) to mid-thirties. By default I believe that disqualifies it as Young Adult.

But it doesn’t quite feel like it fits in the New Adult category either. Yes, May and Em are the right ages, but at least anecdotally a lot of people have come to associate NA stories with sex – and lots of it. While there is sex in TSATO, I don’t feel it’s so central to the plot that it should influence how the story is perceived any more than I think the romantic elements should.

So where does that leave me?

Here’s the thing: for these characters sex is, at least in some small way, part of their relationship dynamic. I think it’s important for queer, sex-having, female-identifying people to see their sexuality represented in a way that is healthy and not just as a fetish. May and Em are consenting adults. Neither of them are virgins when they come together. They care deeply for one another. Sex for them is part of their human experience and how they connect with each other.

But does it have a place in this story?

This is the question I’m left with. I know what I want my answer to be is, but every time I think about it I waffle.

So I pose the question to you, dear reader:

 

I’d also love to read your thoughts (be they about the sex in TSATO or books in general) in the comments!