The following is one of my favorite passages in my upcoming book, Slaves of Destiny, because is shows the struggle between two young people of whether to nurture or abandon the feelings they have for one another. Their choice could mean the difference between life and death and no one understands that better than this young man.
“I went from hut to hut making notations about how they were different. Some had one room and others had two. Some had an area for a fire pit while others did not. I wanted to ask someone why that was but since Stud wasn’t speaking to me anymore, I wasn’t sure who to ask. I remembered that Gus warned me against coming here for fear of the men mistreating me. But I wasn’t worried about that. They were more gentlemanly than Gus, for sure. I was inside a small hut looking at the make-shift beds, the clay pottery, and wooden utensils. I turned to leave and stopped in my tracks. Stud stood at the door blocking my exit. My heart began to beat wildly and I gasped.
“Didn’t mean to startle you, Miss Sophie,” he said quietly. I suddenly felt self-conscious.
“Stud,” I whispered, “What are you doing here?”
“I live here. May I ask why you are here?” Now I felt intrusive. I was in his home. It was one with only one room and no fire pit. I was confused. I knew that most overseers received the respect of a nicer place than the other slaves. Yet, this was one of the smallest.
“You live here?” I asked, trying not to sound judgmental. He just nodded. “Well, I’m glad to know it. I’m actually making notes of how to improve the quarters. You deserve better than this.” He stepped toward me and I stayed my ground. He came up until he was about two feet from me but it seemed much closer in this small room.
“You need to be careful, Sophie,” he almost whispered.
“What do you mean?” Was he warning me about the others as Gus had done?
“You, well, you are beautiful. And you don’t even realize how beautiful you are. We slaves never laid eyes on another woman so beautiful.” His eyes kept mine from wandering. He held me captive and my heart raced. I wanted to reach out and touch him. I wanted to kiss him but I knew that this would be so far from acceptable that I would put us both in danger. But I wanted to so badly. “You quite literally took my breath from me when you stepped out of that house.” He stepped a step closer and leaned in toward me. “You smell so lovely, too. Nature doesn’t even compare to you.” I felt frozen in time, afraid to move yet utterly wanting to join my body with his.
“Stud, you’ve been avoiding me all month. Have I done something wrong?” I tried to distract us both yet my voice came out as a whisper.
“No, ma’am,” his voice was husky and deeper than normal and for the first time, I noticed he was cleaner than I’d ever seen him. His natural heady scent assaulted my nostrils in a way that made me want him like I’d never wanted a man, not even Liam. “I’ve been avoiding you because I don’t want to get hanged.”
“What are you talking about? Why would…”
“Gus would love any excuse to hang me. If he saw the way I look at you, he would do it before the sun set on the same day.”
“The way you look at me? You don’t look at me at all.”
“Sophie,” he stepped a little closer and was now close enough that I could feel his breath on my cheeks. Somehow I knew I should leave but I couldn’t. “I can’t tear my eyes from you. I see you when I close my eyes. I dream about you. You walk down the stairs like a vision from heaven. I know it’s wrong. I know I’ll die for it but I still can’t help myself. And the craziest part is, I’ve convinced myself that you look at me the same way, that you are looking for me when you go to the fields or when you’re sitting on your terrace. I want it to be true but…”
“It is true,” I stopped him. He appeared almost distraught and I knew it took great courage for him to even admit feelings toward me. If I did not reciprocate them, I could have him hung. “I can’t stop thinking of you either. You are a magnificent man, Stud.” My eyes roamed over his large, strong body. His arms were massive as if attached to a beast. His chest was broad yet his waist narrow. His legs, stout and solid, looked like logs. All my self restraint I required to stand my ground and not kiss him. I wanted to touch him, his beautiful light brown skin that looked soft despite the hard work I knew that he did on a daily basis. I wanted to run my hands over his muscles to see if they were as hard as they looked. When I answered him, I hoped for an exclamation of joy, rather, he sighed a huge breath and looked down at the floor.
“Sofia, we can’t, we just can’t do anything about it. We must work together to resist this,” he motioned between us, “whatever this is.” I knew he was right and yet my heart felt it would burst from sorrow. I lost Liam, my family, any plans for a happy marriage, and now the last shred of joy or love I could hope for was vanishing right before me. I turned to walk out of the door but there was really not even enough room for me to do it gracefully and my dress caught on my heel. I fell into his arms, would have fallen on the dirt floor if he had not caught me. There we stood, he embracing me. I could feel the muscles in his arms and chest constrict as I pressed against him. My breath was shallow, which made my breasts heave up and down and before I knew it, his lips were upon me. His kiss was the most intimate experience I ever enjoyed. His tongue explored my mouth causing sensations to ignite that I’d never felt before. Impassioned with new zeal, I pulled his head toward mine trying to meld our bodies together. His sturdy arm brought us closer and I felt his hand begin to explore my body. Enlivened by this passion, I felt as if doused with fuel, my body took on a life of its own and I could hear myself moan yet it felt like a distant sound. Consumed with passion, we were oblivious to the world outside of that little shack.
“Sophie,” he pushed me away from him, “we must stop. This cannot and will not happen.” I ignored him, pulling him back to fulfill my desires but he was stronger than I was and he succeeded in making me awake from my passionate euphoria. “Stop. We must stop now.” He backed away from me with a jerk and I fell toward him from the jolt. He caught me but held my elbows only and at arm’s length to keep our bodies apart. “Are you steady now? Can I let you go? Because I swear woman if you touch me again, I cannot be held responsible for what I will do.” I nodded and he let me go.
“Stud, we have to work something out. We cannot pretend this didn’t happen and go on our merry way. We…”
“That is exactly what we will do. Our lives depend on it, Sophie.”
“But I…” he turned and walked out the door, leaving me standing almost in tears.”
Slaves of Destiny will be available on November 19, 2015. I hope you’ll add it to your Christmas list, or better yet, download it quickly with your Kindle app at Amazon.com.