Right now I’m going through Divine the Sin to do a bunch of edits, so I don’t have much writing, but i’ve started a new book, with the working title, "Mary’s Chocolate Walkabout", that is in the same world as "Nancy’s Sweet Spelling Bee".


Mary's Chocolate Walkabout opening

Busy busy days

Let’s see, with daylight savings, sunburn, lots o’ chores and such, I haven’t gotten to post what I’ve written. I’m actually about 500 words behind, unfortunately, but I am trying to make it up ASAP!!!

"Do not leave me, ashavi."

She gasped softly, once again alive within her fantasies.  This time, her inhibitions were gone, and she rose atop her lover as though she was riding a stallion. Cassandra was heavy with pregnancy, her breasts tender to the touch as he fondled them with loving care. She sucked in a harsh breath with each move she made, each touch seemed more real than anything she’d felt in her life. 

She could not wonder why the world shook beneath her, or realize that she was inside a wagon. The warm furnishings and the snow covered field outside the window barely entered her mind. Her mind and heart were centered on the beautiful man beneath her, who spoke loving words and growled passionate commands that pleased her deeply. She was a wild thing – taking her pleasure openly, riding astride her man’s hard cock, his hands lightly guiding her hips as she caressed her own sensitive breasts.

Great with child and yet the searing desire for her in his infinite eyes was only heightened. She’d thought of him, fantasized of him in brief periods of lucidity. No longer could she feel the difference between her imagination and her visions of him. All she new was that he was the only thing keeping her sane.

He thrust up into her sheath, and bliss broke over her, fire running through her veins and clearing out the lassitude induced by the endless rounds of drugs. 

When her eyes blinked open again, dawn was blushing in the sky. Ombra was no where to be seen this time. She’d awoken this time from something completely different.

There was too much sound in the house.

The door to her room slammed open, and her husband entered with one of his goons and the sullen serving girl who’d always refused to speak in her presence. She quickly shut her eyes and listened intently.

"Quickly, they expect us in only four days time. I can not afford to loose this chance! Get her up!" The Conte was speaking quickly, his voice filled with a manic hope that made Cassandra’s heart stop.

Before she could protest, she was dragged out of the bed by the strong man and the girl. She was half carried and half dragged to a chair, and through lidded eyes she saw another woman enter, the cook by the look of her clothes. 

"Stuff some clothes into a case for the Contessa, girl." The Conte sneered, though the cook was likely a decade older than himself, with half as many teeth.  "And you there," he pointed at the serving woman, "Get that rag off of her. Tony, stand outside the door…she seems too pathetically weak to make a run for it, but you never know these madwomen and their fits." Tony seemed distinctly disappointed that he would not be present at her disrobing, but Cassandra was willing to be slightly grateful to the Conte for that act. Still, his own eyes looked over her with sadistic glee as her nightgown was roughly pulled from her and she slumped slightly in her chair, naked to everything but the cold light of the coming day.

The Conte strode toward the window, taking a faded velvet tassel in hand as he nervously stared out the window, as though searching for vengeful creditors come to nip at his heels. "It is most unfortunate that the message only came by express at midnight. I should have liked the chance to leave my mark upon you before you left." It took all of her hard-learned discipline not to react to his words. She was leaving? Hope and terror warred in her breast. Terror won through. There was no way he would send her away to a pleasant seaside cottage to spend the rest of her days. She was being sent somewhere even more horrifying that her current existence.  

Emptiness flooded her, an icy coldness where her visions could not come. They refused to gift her with some image of her future, of whose power she would no doubt be sold into. The only thought that beat against the walls of her mind was the feel of her lovers kiss. Perhaps she really was going mad.

Like a rag doll, she was pushed and prodded into layers of petticoats and camisoles that had seen better days. Her good dresses had all been sold or disappeared into the bags of successive maids that had taken flight from the household. The thick heavy bombazine traveling dress she was thrust into smelled of too much perfume and too little washing, no doubt the cast-off of one of the Conte’s mistresses.  One of the cheaper mistresses at that. It was too loose in the waist and the bosom and hung off of her to a scandalous degree. But at least it was clothing. Perhaps somehow she could still make an escape!

"Tony, get back in here. You and Giovanni better be around to carry the Contessa. She seems too ill to walk to our equipage." The whining laugh that she hated rang from the Conte and she hoped to God that it was the last time she would hear it.

She feigned the lassitude of intoxication while she was half guided, half dragged through the house to the carriage. But her eyes still peeked through drooping lids. As she finally exited through the front door after a year of imprisonment part of her exulted, and the rest of her took in the coach loaded for a long journey, complete with her small trunk – no doubt carrying all her meager possessions. Her ears strained for the least bit of gossip from the maid who shuffled after them or the desultory coachman who absently checked the distribution of the ungainly load. It was an old carriage that had certainly seen better days, but she was sure the Conte must have had a good run at the card tables to afford even this.

There was naught but a tense silence as she was hauled into the equipage with an ominous creak. Her husband climbed in to sit across from her. One of the large men who had guarded her door for months attempted to climb within the tight confines of the cab, but the Conte gave him a haughty look and a dismissive wave – banishing him to the top of the box.

Cassandra let her body relax, her head leaning against the scratched windowpane, making it difficult for the Conte to draw the shades and ensure their privacy and her continued ignorance of their destination. She prayed that Ombra would remain quiet, tucked into the secret pockets of the cavernous dress she wore, the cast off of one of the Conte’s more generously endowed mistresses. The cat seemed to read her mind, pushing its nose against her purposely limp fingers with the encouragement that she was not completely alone on this journey into the unknown.

With a lurch they were off, the sky barely pink with the dawn and already the heat of summer was causing the carriage confines to be stifling. They rumbled through the outskirts of Ravenna and toward the main road. Through it all, the Conte was disturbingly silent, glancing at her with greedy eyes and taking sips from a hip flash containing some potent spirit.

She resisted the urge to fall into the blissful nothingness of slumber, her fear of their eventual destination overwhelming her desire to escape the potential advances of her hated husband. The carriage turned into the great road, their direction firmly to the north. Cassandra’s mind wandered, wondering what was to become of her. Was she to be sold to one of the famous brothels of Venice? Or bartered to the harem of a Turkish princeling? Nothing but tremendous monetary gain would make the Conte pay for almost decent horses and a passable equipage out of the town. Ravenna was forces to lend him credit due to ancient family rights. Anywhere else, he had no guarantee of such tolerance for his dissolute habits.

Her husband’s gravelly voice grated over the creaking of the vehicle. "I do hope you remember your French, my dear girl. You’re going to need it. Soult would not deign to interrogate you in lowly Italian."

Only the utmost disciple prevented her from flinching, or letting loose the tears pooling in the corners of her eyes risking her appearance of slumber. Marshall Soult was now second only to the Emperor Napoleon himself. She was being sold to the battlefront, to foretell the deaths of countless men in senseless bloodshed for political causes she had no understanding of.

A cold settled over her heart, stealing even the memory of sweet dreams of her lover. She refused to divine the sins of war.

She would die first.


Chapter Four



He’d taken to sleeping out of camp for the last two weeks. Tash’s restlessness had never been so strong, so compelling. Exploring the length and breath of the lush mountain valley in the Dolomites only allowed him to see the walls of his prison. The valley was too high to be permanently inhabited, but in summer it was pleasant, and the local shepherds who used it as pastureland let the Rom remain within for some bribes of warm food, company and entertainment.

The horses were happy here, the goats content, even Tash’s sister seemed pleased to have this little alpine paradise be the birthplace for her first child.

But Tash felt caged. His ashavi was out there, somewhere to the south. Somewhere close. His dreams grew more and more intense as days crawled past. He could feel her panic, her desperate need for him. Yet for him, one day rolled into the next with senseless repetition of actions and deed. Only his thoughts roiled under the surface, making himfrantic with the desire to act. The soothing whispers of the winding streams, the birdsong high in the pines, none of it would calm him. He could hear nothing but her need, coming ever closer.

The dawn had barely broken when the nightmare had visited him.  A confusing amalgam of flashes of light and ominous creaking and piercing screams, some human and some horse. Then the tumbling, falling horror, with the snap of breaking bones and breaking timber. Through it all the strange exultant knowledge that she could win her freedom…

But he had sprung awake horrified by her glee at the potential for death. He needed her and she needed him, and he had to find her before she gave up on their chance of a life together. This had been no soft dream of a blissful future where she traveled at his side along the routes the Rom had used for hundreds of years. No, this dream reeked of pain and the stark shades of the here and now.  He’d slung his pack across Bavol’s back before the dawn could turn the sky from blush to blue, and the chestnut stallion had snorted at the rush. Summer was his time to relax and eat sweet mountain grasses, but the restlessness of his rider had made him nervous and twitchy.

Once again, horse and rider crisscrossed the valley, searching for signs of a carriage accident, the smell of blood and death, the ruin of his life laid out before him. But there was nothing. Soon enough he came to the conclusion that he was going quite mad, and rode back to camp to seek solace in conversation with his sister. Bavol was glad of the opportunity to see to his girls, and whinnied in appreciation of the magnificent mares he called his own.

"About time you returned, you layabout!" Marna cried as he swung down from Bavol. She had one hand on the small of her back and the other caressing her enormous abdomen. Marna had soft look in her eye, and Tash knew she understood he was in pain. Her words belied her eyes, and she rattled off a long list of things that needed accomplishing. By the time he tried to pay attention, she had launched into the sorry tale of the goat mulling around her feet.

"Seraphina has lost her little Raphaelo. It would do you some good to reunite mother and son, bari."

Tash resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Marna always insisted on giving her nanny goats fanciful names, far from sensible Rom or Magi names. She’d read too many novels while huddled in the rocking wagon during their frequent travels.

She pierced him with the deep brown their shared. "Tash, you need something to do. You’ll go quite mad and hie off to climb one of these mountains barehanded or rescue a damsel in distress or something else stupidly foolish."

He grimaced. Yes, she’d read far too many novels, bargaining the best of her Rom embroidery for battered copies of romantic German drivel or lush French tales of love.   She was also too damned close to the truth of how he was feeling. "Any idea where this kid has disappeared to, or if it still lives?"

"Seraphina has been trying to run off due north all night. I would follow her instincts. No doubt little Raphaelowill still be close."

Tash raised his eyes to the heavens and stomped off toward Bavol, Marna waddling behind followed by the bleating nanny goat.

"You’d best take her with you, you impatient lout. The way you’ve been storming about you’d be more likely to step on Raphaelo than hear his distress, no matter what Gifts you lay claim to." Marna stopped suddenly, her hands clutching her swollen stomach, a look of distress on her normally composed face.

"Marna? Is it time?" Tash tried to force himself beyond his own world of problems, to take into account the profound change that was about to occur to his closest sister.

"It will be some time yet, bari. But soon." She winced. "Or I will surely go mad with this one’s acrobatics!" She gave a soft dreamy smile, no doubt thinking of the limber antics of her husband Luca, known throughout many bands of the Rom as a master of the dance.

"So, this little one already shows himself to have his father’s talent for excessive display?"

She arched a dark brow, "Or perhaps she will have my ability to twist all to obey my will!"

Despite the everpresent worry in his mind, he laughed. "All right, all right, I will take the fair Seraphina to search for he lost son." He made a graceful bow and was rewarded with a rare giggle.

"Thank you Sir Tash." Marna made an attempt for a tiny curtsy, and grimaced once more.

"Rest, little sister. Please."

She nodded and turned to waddle back to her wagon.

Seraphina the nanny goat brushed up against his leg, her eyes mournful if a goat could ever be described as such. Tash blew out a frustrate breath and could hardly believe what he was about to do. If nothing else, it would provide a comical story for the fireside, something to make the children giggle. Taking a length of rope from his saddlebags, he bound up the unprotesting Seraphina and settled her on top of Bavol, who gave an indignant snort at the strange burden he was being asked to carry.

"Don’t worry, boy. You’ll be back to your girls soon enough and have this silly beast off your back. If the kid is still alive, we’ll find it quick enough."

He swung up in front of the bleating goat and set back out into the pine forest. He tired desperately to calm his mind in the hour that followed. He needed a task, and this was a task, no matter how silly it might seem. Bavol walked leisurely as Tash lost himself within the minds and simple thoughts of birds and small animals. A ptarmigan, half winter white and half summer brown was too concerned with itchy plumage growing in to have noticed anything resembling a young goat. A red squirrel had seen nothing but a white blur, but a vixen had smelled a tasty morsel run by in the night, but she had to watch her kits.

He knew then that he was going in the right direction. But there was something else, something distracting. Something not animal, but full of the most basic of drives – survival. The flavor of those thoughts was alluring, fascinating him. If it wasn’t for the goat trying to eat his shirttail, he would have forgotten his mission entirely.  But it was probably just a shepherd, eager to get to the Rom camp for some warm breakfast. Though few people ever came from this direction into the valley. The main road was at the other end, and the rickety trail that skirted this end was too treacherous for anyone to pass through safely.

It was finally the excited chittering of a marmot that made him realize that this person was no ordinary visitor to the valley. Long fur and pale hide and one giant leg? This extraordinary creature had passed toward here toward the main river just after dawn. What could such a person be doing in the Dolomites? Best to investigate. If nothing else, it was another thing to take his mind from worrying over his ashavi.

March 4

Chapter Three


The tickle of whiskers on Cassandra’s nose brought her back with uncharacteristic kindness to a reality she detested. She fought to open her eyes, though part of her wondered why she bothered. Finally the sticky glue parted and let her pry open her bloodshot eyes to the moonlight streaming in through the gap in the dusty curtains.

Ombra gave a delicate lick to her nose – the same sensation that had pulled her out of her delicious dream. She didn’t now if she should be grateful or angry at her feline friend. She’d been in heaven in the arms of her lover, the man who called her that strange word, ashavi. He made her feel beautiful, cherished, wonderful. These dreams of him were the only thing keeping her sane.

Again he’d been above her, his eyes dark fire as his body worshipped hers. She did not feel trapped or ashamed, she could feel nothing but pleasure and the desire to please and be pleased. She luxuriated the feelings he drew from her, the sweet, tight pleasure as his tongue traced over her nipple, and his teeth drew it to a point.  The fragrance of his hair, clean and fresh with the slightest trace of the horses he tended – the smell of a real man, not a man befouled with perfumes and oils to cure his imminent baldness.  Her lover chased the very existence of her husband from her mind.

When his lips traveled up her neck to find her lips, she dodged away, intent on her one explorations. Her hands moved up to feel the hard planes of his back and buttocks when her tongue traced the cords of his neck. Driven by instinct rather than knowledge, she sank her teeth into the skin where his shoulder joined his neck, scrapping her teeth over his skin to taste him and feeling his cock harden even more where it pressed against the lips of her sheath. She opened her legs and wrapped them around his waist, leaving herself completely at his mercy and impossibly knowing that he would not disappoint her.

When he slid inside of her this time, she smiled in bliss, letting her pleasure wash over her with the sure knowledge that there was more to come. He rose above her slightly, changing the angle to increase both their enjoyment as he rocked slowly within her, teasing her with the soft, tender lovemaking that she knew would soon become hard and primal once he’d brought her to peak to his satisfaction. She let him play his game this time, surrendering to a sweet, simmering orgasm as his cock hit the perfect place with the perfect rhythm. How he could know her body so well, she didn’t understand, but she relished the results.

Again and again he’d shifted their bodies, thrusting slower or faster, deeper or shallow, all to wring her soft cries from her. When she was almost fainting with the pleasure, her orgasm one long shivering peak that did not end, he gave in to her pleading, thrusting hard and fast until she felt him grow huge within her and explode, carrying her up to indescribable heights. He held her softly as she fell, but before she could recover her breath and speak of how much she loved him, she’d awoken to her lonely, hopeless existence with naught but a cat to comfort her.

She had not the strength to sit upright, much less enough to walk to the window and look outside to a world she had abandoned long ago.  Escape was impossible, unless she simply lost the will to live and faded away.

At her bedside there was a flask of water and an evil bottle she knew too well. Laudanum.

Only a few days after the first time her dream lover had shown her what love could be like, the Conte had once again tried to exercise his marital rights. This time, she’d fought back with fervor, and for her trouble the Conte had broken her arm. Her screams had been such that he’d given up trying to rape her and sent for the apothecary to see to her after her "unfortunate accident".  The quiet, stern man had set the bone, and given her laudanum to dull her pain.

But it had not done its job. Instead, she’d been thrust into the midst of a battlefield, with men bleeding and dying, horses screaming and smoke as thick as mud.  Never before had her visions been so terrifyingly clear. The Conte had been delighted with such an effect, and he’d kept her dosed with laudanum since, though her arm had ong since healed. Cassandra didn’t know if it had been weeks or months that she’d been subjected to the drug’s effects, but she did now that she’d enough death and destruction, anger and pain to last a thousand lifetimes.




Alone for once, her sullen nursemaid no where to be seen, the bottle taunted her. Part of her longed for the strength to smash it against the Conte’s face or at least against the wall or the floor. But it would only mean another beating and another bottle of hell purchased to keep her vile visions flowing.

The other possibility was the drink the entire bottle and hope for the everlasting sleep of death. Ombra growled menancing as though she could read Cassandra’s thoughts. Briefly, the image of her dream lover, the mysterious dar man who loved her, brought forth a longing for life. A better life.

"Do not leave me, ashavi."

March 3

Note: This is much earlier in the story than the other bits i’ve been writing…I’ve got bits all over the place I need to string together into a coherent whole!!!!

"Oh brother, you look as though eagles have just flown off with your favorite fancy waistcoat! Why so forlorn?" She looked across the camp at the watchful eyes of their father. "Ignore him, bari. You do want you think is right. I’ve never seen you wrong in your life in your instincts."

Marna had more reason to believe in him than many. He’d found her once during the height of an icy winter storm when she’d been eight and he only six years of age.  It hadn’t been her weakening cries for help in the deep crevasse in which she’d fallen that had brought him to her, it was listening to his instincts – and the soft voices of the few animals who dared brave the weather.

Tash pursed his lips in a sullen frown and Marna slapped at his shoulder and rolled her eyes. "Try to think of something else, bari.  You’ve still horses and goats to take care of, and you said that wagon needed a last coat of paint. And if you’ve run out of chores, I’m sure I could think of something to occupy you!"

Tash held up his hands in mock horror. Marna excelled at finding tasks to teach young children their lessons when they disobeyed the rules. He had no doubt she would be able to set him some unpleasant job that would remind him to listen to her advice!  "I yield, sister. The horses need tending and I need to check their shoes."

Escaping the unending chores his sister would have soon thought of, he began the round of tending to the complaints of the herd sweet little draft horses that allowed their band to roam the high mountains of Europe.

Each of the horses calmed at his touch. He knew each of them as though they were other siblings, or perhaps children. Each of their whinnies had meaning, each complain tended to with a deft hand. He’d helped them through bitter cold, through famine, through childbirth, and helped the old ones to a graceful death. Sometimes, he felt more comfortable with the horses than he did with people.

Nisha nickered a greeting as he brushed her mane, and Poll butted his head against his shoulder with a friendly greeting. They understood him too. They knew he was sad and lost. But it did him no good to dwell. He groomed Nisha and Poll, and then called some of the idle boys over to help him finish caring for the coats of the rest while he checked all the shoes for the wear of the spring season.

A pet cat followed the boys, weaving through the legs of the horses with the ease of practice and came to greet Tash, as so many animals did. The horses were unperturbed, used to the chaos of life in camp. But Tash could not ignore the cat so easily. This cat was black and white, but under the bulk of the horses, it was gray. He remembered his dream, and the little gray cat that had stared at him with such brilliant green eyes. Years ago, he’d rescued a kitten which had almost drowned in a river he’d been fording. He’d raised it on goat’s milk and mashed trout until one day it hadbeen well enough to go out and explore the world, as cat have a fondness for doing.

He could have sworn the cat in his dreams was the same cat, small and sleek with those remarkably green eyes. Why would he see that little wisp of a thing again? Was he jealous that the cat could go out and search the world for her fate, while he felt compelled to stay and await the whims of fate? He did not think he could be so petty.

Tash tried to force his mind back to the horses, but even their soothing presence was unable to lift him from his thoughts. Again and again he say his love’s face, heard her voice, felt her laughter as he ran his fingers over her ribs and tortured her ticklish spots. He could smell the scent of her hair, the hint of lavender and spice that drove him wild. He knew the exact sound that their wagon would make as he drove into her. He could perfectly picture her beneath him on their pallet, her nails raking over his back, the muscles of her pussy clenching in perfect rhythm to drive him insane with the conflicting need to come and the more important need to drive her to ecstasy over and over again.

In a gruff voice, he left the boys and their cat with the horse. He was unfit to be in public, his erection too stiff to hide even in the baggy trousers he favored. Once again, he would escape to the woods and try to listen to the voice within him that counseled him to wait. She would come to him.

It had better be damn soon.

March 2, 500 words

Only Ombra remained. The little cat had curled up on the steps of the lovingly carved wagon Tash had shown to her after Marna and the child, Cassie, were settled.  He’d told her he’d made it for her – he’d always known he needed to make a home for them both. It was the wagon she’d dreamt of lying under with him, he’d laughed when she’d bent to look beneath it.

Ombra felt it was her home, just as Cassandra longed for it to be hers. The cat knew where both of them belonged, even when Cassandra herself was still in awe of the turns her life had taken.

Now she stood before the man she had called up out of a desperate dream. Tall and strong, tender and loving, passionate and intense, his deep brown eyes looked over her body with a possessive longing. She could not hold back the blush which traveled over her pale skin, from her breasts heavy with now familiar desire to her face.

Her own eyes took in everything with greedy hunger. The moonlight revealed feet that seemed huge compared to her own tiny feet. He had pleasing firm calves, strong thighs and a thick erect cock that her body longed for. She was already slick with need for him. Forcing her eyes to continue claiming the view, she followed the dark trail of hair up his flat, hard stomach, traced over the muscles of his arms and chest. She took a step forward, unable to resist the lure of the cords of his neck. Wrapping her arms around his waist, she rose on her tiptoes to lick a trace of sweat from under his ear. His cock pressed into her abdomen and she wanted him inside her. She could feel the tension in him as he held himself back – his desire warring with his need to protect her.

Cassandra didn’t need her visions to tell her what she would see in his eyes. She pulled back and his arms came up to stop her. The fire in his gaze delightfully burned her, warming her from the inside out. At the same instant they both moved, their mouths melding in a kiss that blazed through them. His tongue chased hers, stroking her, thrusting as his cock jumped against her stomach. Her nails dug into his back as her own tongue responded, thrusting back as her hips tilted against his, welcoming him with every motion. Her teeth nipped at his lip, telling him without words that she wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t some delicate flower. She’d been hidden away from the world too damn long, lost in her visions and trapped in a prison.

She’d broken out, and he was her freedom.

He claimed her ass with his hands, lifting her up as her legs wrapped around thick thighs. His cock slipped easily to graze against her sex, teasing her with the promise of more. The lips of her pussy parts and he hissed as she rolled her hips against him, ignoring the fact that if he lost his grip she would fall. She knew he wouldn’t drop her.

Instead, he began to walk into the icy cold water, the hardness of his cock rubbing against her nub with each step.