Book Blitz & Excerpt: Various Persuasions + Giveaway

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Various Persuasions

by AE Lister

General Release Date: 23rd March 2021

Word Count: 67,764
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 273

Genres:

BONDAGE AND BDSM
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
TRANSGENDER

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Book Description

A non-binary Dom. An eager young sub. Service, orgasm control, bondage. An initial encounter leads to a synchronous exploration of identity and intimacy.

Nic Walker is not your typical Dom—physically female but identifying as male. And Vincent Blake is not your typical twenty-four-year-old straight guy—seductively submissive with a penchant for lacy underwear.

When Nic’s Dominatrix friend Daphne encourages them to get together, she can only hope they recognize the compatibility of their desires and personalities.

Nic has been holing up alone in their townhouse for too long, getting over a bad ‘relationship’, and it’s time for them to start living again. When Nic meets Vincent, neither expects the tentative relationship to take off like a runaway train. But each layer of the attractive and seemingly vulnerable young man Nic exposes ignites their own desires and leads both on a path to revealing the most interesting parts of themselves.

Who knew piano practice could be a form of sexual service? Or that a pair of overpriced panties could inspire such devotion?

Through bondage, service, objectification and the purchase of large quantities of lacy unmentionables, as well as a few specific sex toys and devices, Nic explores how far Vincent will go to please them and how much of themself they will risk to have him.

Reader advisory: This book contains mention of a Dom’s abuse of a sub, anal play, and public sex.

Excerpt

The call came in near midnight that Friday.

I was sitting down with a beer and my remote to watch The Great British Baking Show when my phone started playing Sympathy for the Devil—Daphne’s ringtone.

What could she possibly want from me at this hour? She should have been working. I knew she was working. It was Friday night, for fuck’s sake. But the curiosity got to me.

“Hey, doll.” My standard greeting for Daphne.

“My lovely Nic. Are you busy?”

“Never too busy for you, Daphne. What’s up?”

She giggled. I pictured her face, its pixy-like innocence that belied a very dark soul. “I have this client—”

“No,” I said without thinking. I knew what she wanted, and the answer was no. It was always no.

“But, Nic, I haven’t even told you—”

“You know I don’t do that anymore.”

She sighed. “Just listen, okay? Just listen to what I have to say.”

My jaw tightened and I wanted to hang up, but I wouldn’t do that to Daphne. We’d been friends for too long. She’d known me, like…forever.

“Fine. But the answer is still no.”

Not to be deterred, Daphne continued. “This client… His name is Vincent.”

I snorted with derision. “A guy, Daphne?”

“Yes, Nic, a guy. Get over it. You, of all people, shouldn’t get hung up on gender.”

I mean, she was right. But…still. “I don’t have experience with guys, Daphne. You know that.”

“Look… Hear me out. Please, Nic.”

I looked at the clock above my flatscreen. It was twelve-oh-four. “You have five minutes.”

She giggled. “Okay. So, he just left. And our session was…interesting.”

“Really.” I tried to sound remotely engaged.

“I don’t think he’s into women like me,” she said with a pout in her voice.

“Huh.”

“I mean, he’s into submitting. That’s for sure. And he did submit for me. And he liked submitting for me. But…”

“But?” I picked up a pen from the coffee table and started pushing the button with my thumb. It made a comforting clicking sound.

“I think he needs something else. I think he’d respond better to something else.”

I closed my eyes. Click. “To what?”

“To you.”

“Are you fucking kidding me, Daphne?”

“No.”

I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to be reeled in. “I don’t do that anymore.”

“Well, that’s a damn shame, Nic, because you were the best at it.”

I snorted again. “That’s debatable.”

“Not by anyone I’ve ever spoken to about you.”

I held my breath. “Who have you spoken to?”

She hesitated and I knew the answer.

“Fuck you.” Click, click, click.

“I mean, I know a lot of people who knew you when you—”

“Daphne,” I said and closed my eyes, leaning my head back against the wall. “Did you talk to Zane?”

She hesitated again and I knew she had. “He misses you.”

My heart shattered a little bit, but I put it back together with sheer will. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Nic, he didn’t mean to treat you badly.”

“Doesn’t matter. He did.”

“But you don’t have to stop doing what you’re good at.”

My voice, when I found it, sounded small. “I’m only good at it…because of him.”

“I know he taught you. I know he mentored you. But you surpassed him a long time ago.”

“Daphne, that’s not true.”

“It is true. And he told me that.”

That surprised me…and didn’t. Zane had never been one to hand out compliments directly. It figured this would be how I found out.

“He did?”

“You know I wouldn’t lie about this, Nic.”

“I know.” My voice was barely above a whisper.

She continued in a soft voice. “Can I please just tell you about Vincent? Please?”

Maybe it was because she was such a good friend. Maybe it was because we’d known each other for so long. Maybe it was because what she’d just told me about Zane was something I’d wanted to hear for so long.

“Fine. Tell me.”

“Okay. Well, he’s twenty-four and cute as shit. You know I only agree to the cute ones.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Daphne had high standards when it came to physical attractiveness. I’d never cared about that as much as she had. Still…

“Twenty-four? That’s way too young, Daphne.”

“Too young for him to know what he wants?”

“I thought you said he’s not working out.”

“Yes, but that’s my fault, not his.”

“Why is it your fault?”

She giggled again and I heard her self-deprecating sigh. “I’m too girly.”

“Fuck, Daphne.”

Honestly, she was girly. She was fucking high heels and corsets and ribbons, doling out praise and punishment with crops and paddles and rulers. Most of her clients dug that. Maybe not this one?

“It’s true. He needs something else.”

“Um, like a guy maybe?”

“Not exactly. Like you, Nic.”

“Is he gay?” He might have been gay and closeted—trying to get off on a Dominatrix when he really wanted a Dom.

“I don’t think so. Maybe bi. He likes lady parts. I mean really likes lady parts.” She paused. “I think he’s attracted to the masculine but not necessarily to men.”

“So, what am I, Daphne?” That was the question I’d been trying to answer my whole life.

“You are my Nic. You’re a guy, a man for all intents and purposes. Except you have that unique element…”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “A pussy?”

She laughed too. “Well, yes.”

Honestly, I didn’t feel like a man or a woman and I didn’t feel like I had to choose between those two things. I was myself. I was Nic Walker.

My name had been Nicole, but people had started calling me Nicky, then Nic. That was probably because I’d never really looked like a girl—and I’d never really acted like a girl and I’d never really felt like a girl. But I’d never questioned what I was.

Physically, I was female. I had a pussy and I had boobs, albeit really small ones—small enough that I could ignore them for the most part, which I generally did. I didn’t need a bra or a binder. If I had been stereotypically female, their size would have been a problem. I could pass as male most of the time. I did pass as male most of the time and I had no problem with that, except romantic relationships could be tricky.

I had predominantly dated women. I was predominantly attracted to women. There had been the occasional man—like Zane—and I’d always regretted those experiences. But Zane had taught me to embrace my Dominant side, and he’d taught me the practical skills to do it—not with him, but with women. Daphne had helped too. She had helped me to accept who I was and what I liked to do.

When Zane and I had ‘broken up’, for lack of a better term, I had turned my back on all that. And here was Daphne bringing it back up when it was really the last thing I wanted.

“What’s his story?”

“He’s lost, Nic. He’s shy and he’s ashamed of himself and what he wants. But he’s at a point that he can’t deny himself anymore. So, he came to me. But I think he needs you.”

“How do you figure?” Click.

“He’s not looking for stereotypes. I don’t…do it for him.”

I leaned my head back against the wall and propped one bare foot on the sofa. It was small, perhaps the most feminine part of me and the reason I generally wore boots and clunky shoes. I didn’t deny I dressed like a guy. I looked like a guy. I felt like a guy most of the time. But I didn’t hide the fact that I had female parts. It simply didn’t come up in conversation. I wasn’t ashamed to be atypical. To be honest, I liked it. I strived after uniqueness. I didn’t want to be like everyone else, and I wasn’t.

“You’re not a stereotype, Daphne.” I felt like I had to say that, even though if you looked up ‘Dominatrix’ on Google, you’d see Daphne or someone who looked a lot like her.

She laughed again. “I kind of am.”

“Okay, you kind of are, but you’re lovely.” The truth of this choked me up and I realized I’d missed her. “I don’t think I can compete with you.”

“I’m not asking you to compete with me. I’m just asking you to meet with Vincent and see what happens.”

“Have you told him anything about me?” Click.

“No. I feel like he should make up his own mind.” She said this with confidence.

Daphne was perceptive and smart. “Good.”

I heard a squeal on the end of the phone. “Then you’ll meet him?”

What am I doing? “Okay. Sure.”

“Yes! Even if it doesn’t work out the way I think it will, thank you for agreeing to do this, Nic. It means everything to me.”

“Sure. I know.”

She cleared her throat. “I should mention that he’s not a paying client. I took him on as a favor to someone.”

“That’s fine. You know I don’t monetize this sort of thing.”

“I know, and you’re nuts. Do you know how much money you could make?”

“Yes, Daphne, I know. I’ve really got to go.”

“Listen… He’s really sweet. You’re going to like him.”

“We’ll see.”

“Love you, Nic.”

“Love you, Daphne.”

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First For Romance

About the Author

AE Lister

AE Lister/Elizabeth Lister is a Canadian non-binary author with a vivid imagination and a head full of unique and interesting characters. They have published 10 books, one of which received an Honorable Mention from the National Leather Association – International for excellence in SM/Leather/Fetish writing.

“Sensual and visceral BDSM.” – Amazon.ca

Find out more about AE Lister at their website, and follow them on Instagram and Patreon.

Giveaway

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AE Lister Various Persuasions Giveaway

AE LISTER IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 6TH April 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Adorned in Blood + Giveaway

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Adorned in Blood by L.S. Barron

Word Count: 52,184
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 201

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
CONTEMPORARY
GLBTQI
SWEET ROMANCE
TRANSGENDER
VAMPIRES
YOUNG ADULT
YOUNGER READERS

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Book Description

Once Jenna, now Michael…soaked in blood but cleansed by love. I sink my teeth into the pulsating artery. Crimson red blood sprays across the misty fog.

Michael is a transgender teenager who is well on his way with his gender transition and finding a life path that better suits him. And as if that weren’t enough of a freak-out for the teen, he’s been turned into a vampire…a Nosferatu!

Luckily, Michael has a group of good friends to help him through his struggles, and who would think that this would be when he’d find love for the first time?

But just to keep his already-interesting life in a wee bit more turmoil, a murder leads to a discovery that could change not only his life but the lives of everyone he knows…and loves.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and murder, the death of a parent, attempted suicide, and bullying.

Excerpt

The golden rays from the alleyway streetlamp glimmered through the mist and fog. The drizzly rain fell lightly upon my eyelashes. I felt the coldness as it wreaked an ill chill through my body. Somehow, the thirst had taken over once again. Everything else in my mind had been put aside.

The back door of the diner opened. It was a shabby place—hardly even a rat dared linger there, except the rat that ran the place. There in the mist was the man himself, throwing out the night’s garbage into the already rank alleyway. He was a savage of a being. He was mean to my kind, mean to all kinds.

“Hey, kid, what are you doing back here?” the crotchety man asked.

I wiped the rain from my eyes. The saliva ran down the side of my mouth. Attack!

It was soon over. I so liked the color blue and how it looked on me. I thought it brought out more of the blue in my hazel eyes. Almost all my shirts were some shade of blue. Dang, I shouldn’t have worn my favorite.

The blue T-shirt had streams of crimson red blood running down it, like it was a newly designed pattern, meant to be that way.

The savage lay at my feet, lifeless. No more will he be unkind to me…or to anyone, for that matter. I pushed the man’s side with my sneaker to make sure he was now lifeless. There was no movement, no breath. Dead.

I wiped the blood from my face on my arm. I looked up into the drizzly rain, letting it rinse my face clean, erasing my sinful act. I admired the rays of light from the streetlamp. I felt pure, rejuvenated. I was not mournful for the beast of a man. There was no regret. I felt renewed and fell into a deep, restful sleep.

My alarm clock sounded. Morning had quickly arrived, with the memories of the night only a fleeting moment in my mind. The school day ahead was not what I was worried about. I combed my now short blondish-brown hair as I stood in front of my bedside mirror. I glanced down at one of my old swimming trophies. ‘High Point Award, 9–10 girls, Jenna Holliday’. Jenna Michelle Holliday, hmm… I chuckled. Yes, that once had been my name. Now, however, it is simply Michael Holliday.

I repeated that in the mirror out loud. “Michael Holliday.”

The name flowed so much better off my tongue. It felt right. It felt comfortable, fitting.

When did I know that I was Michael and not that lost girl Jenna? Probably before I even had memories. My mom told me that by the time I was two, I had already started showing preferences toward the other gender. She told me that I would just drag my doll around by its hair like I hated the thing. Then I would fight the neighbor boy for his Matchbox trucks.

In my memory, I’d known by kindergarten at least. I’d known for sure dresses were out. All I’d wanted to wear were jeans and a T-shirt so that I could play roughhousing games with the boys any chance I got. I’d loved to fight, play football and wrestle. I’d wanted everything in a boy’s life. I’d found no use for my girlie body and didn’t feel like it belonged to me. I’d kept it at a distance, almost, like looking into the mirror and not seeing my real self.

Things have changed now. I was F2M post-op, at least the top half of my body, which I now loved. I was going to leave the lower stuff alone for now. Mom and Dad had been super supportive, so that was pretty cool, not like some kids who I’ve seen struggling. I’m on the T—testosterone injections. I was starting to finally show some facial scruff. That was pretty sick. I could do without the excessive underarm odor, but that was what Axe was for, I guessed. I have noticed of late that my shoulders are getting broader, but I also work out in the gym pretty hard.

However, right now, besides all this, I have this new thing to deal with. It’s not like being sixteen brings enough problems already. Now I’m cursed with this bloodthirst too. I can’t even remember who did this to me, but I’ll find out. I’m going to have my revenge!

I had my suspects. Number one on my list? Mr. Drakon Branikov, my high school’s history teacher. I think he’s from Bulgaria—or maybe Hungary. I’m not sure, but he’s definitely not from around here.

Mr. Branikov has long hair that he keeps pulled back in a ponytail and dark brown eyes, almost black. I feel like he could stare into my soul, though the girls seem to gaze at him in adoration. He dresses strangely, almost old-style, yet he seems young. That brought another question to my mind. Why does he always seem to look the same age? Other teachers had gotten older over the years. Not Mr. Branikov. I had lived in this town all my life. I had paid attention. This teacher was not what he seemed.

I had permission that night to go out with friends after the high-school football game. My plan, though, was something completely different. I would follow my suspect.

There had been criminals missing around town. There had been missing girls, not schoolgirls but ladies of the night, the skanky kind. I had done my research at the library. It seemed that the local papers showed that there had been several unsolved deaths and missing persons in recent years. Guess what? All since Mr. Branikov and his family had moved into town.

It seemed the cops didn’t care much. Why would they? The town was becoming a safer and nicer place to live.

It had been a while since anyone had been missing or killed. I figured, if Mr. Branikov was like me, it was time to rejuvenate. I knew I could go a month or so, but not much longer. I didn’t know about Mr. Branikov. Is he an old Nosferatu? Did he draw the blood from my body first? Did he cause my thirst? Why?

This notion that one should be moral and only live on animals? Yeah, that didn’t work. I’d tried. No, only the pulsating blood of a human would suffice. So, I’d choose the most immoral beings that I could find—at least I’d try.

This would be a good night to feed. Town would be busy. Lowlifes would be crawling about, looking for trouble. If my suspicions were right, Mr. Branikov would feed and I would be there!

Mr. Branikov departed the stadium from the back entrance. It was dark and quiet, leading down the back alleyway of the high school. I followed at a distance. I thought we were alone.

“Hey, Michael…or is it Michelle? No wait! Wasn’t it Jenna?” I heard from behind me, along with sudden laughter.

I turned. It was James Day and his pack, some of the popular boys who I found to be very irritating.

“Come on, James. It doesn’t even know what it is,” another boy said, as they all laughed again.

The pack walked closer to me. James looked at me and shook his head. “Well, it got rid of its boobs. Maybe we should see if it has any balls.”

My anger rose and I saw the vein in James’ neck pulsate. He was a jerk. I was losing my thoughts. Everything was starting to spin. Attack!

In the blur of the moment, out of the darkness, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Not now. It’s okay,” a calming voice whispered in my ear.

I turned to find Mr. Branikov behind me. I heard the pack of boys scatter. Mr. Branikov was standing there. He smiled, pushed the hair away from my eyes and gently said, “Walk with me.”

I learned that night that Mr. Branikov was who I’d thought him to be. However, he had not doomed me to this life but had saved me. I learned that while I had still been Jenna, before I had come forward about my true self, I had been very unhappy. Mr. Branikov told me that he’d found me below the old town bridge with hardly a breath left. He’d chosen to save me.

I didn’t remember any of this. It was after this moment that I had gone forward in my life. I’d found my new self. I found new meaning. I’m a new creature—actually two new creatures—although I think I’ve always been the one. I’ve found happiness at last.

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

L.S. Barron

Laurie enjoys taking advantage of the warm desert air in the winters and roams the mountains of Colorado in the summers. She is a retired fire captain and is now taking advantage of her time to develop her writing skills. On many occasions you can find her at the local coffee shop working on her next story.

Laurie likes to point out that her six grandchildren contribute many of the ideas for her stories and she often uses their creative thoughts in her books. Their language skills come in handy when working on any middle-grade or young-adult book. “Bro, that is so lit!”

Find out more about Laurie at her website.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a First For Romance Gift Card!

L.S. Barron Adorned in Blood Giveaway

L.S. BARRON IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 6TH April 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

 

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Electra Rex + Giveaway

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Electra Rex
by April C. Griffith

Word Count: 68,269
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 269

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
COMEDY AND HUMOUR
EROTIC ROMANCE
FUTURISTIC
FUTURISTIC AND SCIENCE FICTION
GLBTQI
MULTICULTURAL
TRANSGENDER

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Book Description

Electra Rex, self-appointed ‘galaxy’s greatest starship captain’ and last known human, is going to save humanity or get rich trying!

Electra Rex, the last human in known space, is broke—worse than broke, deeply in debt and out of options. After a desperate, drunken attempt to fix her faltering life, she finds herself in a deeper hole after stealing the most stylish starship she’s ever seen, but it comes with a massive lien.

She’s left with a fast ship, a nearly indestructible debt-enforcement robot named Letterman watching her every move and a lead on a lucrative job with the mysterious organization known as Bi-MARP, which is set to rebuild Earth on the two-thousand-year anniversary of its destruction.

Across two galaxies, she struggles to stay one step ahead of space pirates and creditors, all while trying to catch the eye of a beautiful, vivacious bisexual clone named Treasure, who was recently rescued from a top-secret university lab run by academic squids.

She succeeds in seducing Treasure—or perhaps it’s the other way around—while they run scams to find earthling relics like the original formula for Coca-Cola, a 1968 Volkswagen Beatle, a mostly complete Monopoly board game and a largely accurate, if not small and green, clone of an elephant. All the while, Electra has to hide the fact that Treasure is actually the most valuable item on the Bi-MARP list—a fertile human female.

When the truth of humanity’s demise and the goals of Bi-MARP are uncovered, Electra, the galaxy’s foremost transgender hero, decides that the riches and fame aren’t worth the sacrifices, and she turns on her former employer to rescue Treasure a third time, completing her search for money, what it means to be human without the rest of humanity and, most of all, love.

Excerpt

“I am the last of my kind, and I suck,” Electra mumbled to herself, throwing back another drink. On the first night of a planetary holiday, Electra Rex was drunk, scorned and looking to buy a gun. She couldn’t recall exactly which holiday it was, though, since there were so many. The planet took time off constantly to celebrate a googolplex of different accomplishments, important figures and momentous occasions across hundreds of alien species. It was a wonder anyone did anything but observe holidays. She sat in a window booth, watching ships both large and small land at the valet pad while she waited.

Little of her Embarker pedigree remained after years away from the flotilla. Endless toil and nomadic life marked her people’s existence, even if it didn’t describe her life. She’d lived in an apartment in Authrillia’s largest northern city for more than a year, which should have made her itchy to get back to spacefaring, but she wasn’t. In fact, she wasn’t much of anything. Apathy had settled heavily over her and it had made her careless—at least, more careless than she’d already known herself to be. To pay the bills, she engaged in the least Embarker type of work she could find—being a professional party guest. ‘Come see the last known human woman, drink with her, maybe even…’ But that was over. She’d frittered away too much money on fleeting things, another Embarker no-no. A job meant to replenish her account at the last moment and save her apartment, her precious creature comforts and allow her reckless lifestyle to continue for another month hadn’t paid out. Now she had only the clothes on her back and the cash in her pocket. Enough to buy a gun, she hoped.

She’d given the DJ of the club a copy of Margaritaville, promising a transcendent experience. Jimmy Buffet sang while a dozen different species of aliens attempted to dance on the multi-tiered dance floor to the ancient Earthling music. Electra’s dad had loved Jimmy Buffet. ‘The finest music in the galaxy,’ he’d said. Even with great effort and a good deal of booze in her system, she couldn’t hear what he’d heard. She must not have inherited his ear for classical music. What the hell is a flip-flop anyway?

Normally leering over spacecraft cheered her up, which was why she’d selected a window booth near the landing pad. She wasn’t into the functional caravan freighters that comprised Embarker fleets. She liked the chic, silky, beautiful spaceships that focused on form over function. The bleak, unrepentantly crappy mood that had clung to her throughout the day lightened an iota at the arrival of her dream ship in the valet station directly below her window. An oval saucer body, three hundred feet long, sleek and stylish, with three classic fins off the back, it was—it had to be—a Cadillux 1959 Dorado edition. And it was pink, the brightest, most beautiful pearlescent pink trimmed in the shiniest of chrome. Electra stood on her knees on the booth’s bench and pressed her face drunkenly against the glass. She wanted to lick it. She didn’t care that the thought was absurd. That ship was so gorgeous that it deserved to be licked.

The transparent arrival tube extended to the ventral port while a valet-bot lowered onto the dorsal spine above the cockpit that sat directly in the middle of the oval. Electra wanted to see what wondrous creature possessed such a magnificent spaceship. After several agonizing moments, the owner of the ship passed from beneath the edge within the arrival tube and Electra’s elation turned to fury—Weisella. Fucking Weisella. Her need to buy a gun redoubled, not to begin a life of mercenary work—which was the Embarker way after going bust—but for murder, satisfying revenge on the woman who had thoroughly screwed her. The fact that such a heinous, underhanded creature could own such a glorious ship was a crime on par with regicide in Electra’s inebriated mind.

Weisella was a Panaeus, a vaguely humanoid alien species with advanced telekinetic and telepathic powers. She was only a little taller than Electra’s five-and-a-half feet. Her heart-shaped face had two enormous black, almond-shaped eyes, no nose or mouth. Frilled spines replaced what could be called hair. A cluster of five ephemeral tentacles stood in the place of an arm on each side, and instead of legs, she had what looked like a jumbo, curved shrimp tail. Indeed, the only attractive features Electra saw in Weisella were her money and her strangely perfect breasts—three of them across the center of her chest, prominently displayed since Panaeus didn’t wear clothes. Weisella liked jewelry, though, and she was sporting a shiny new metal ring on her tail that was probably just brimming with expensive tech.

Electra’s memory of the night before was fragmented at best. She’d been hired to attend Weisella’s gala for the Panaeus New Year, partially as the spectacle of having a human in attendance and partially as Weisella’s date. Electra didn’t mind the escort portion of the work. Weisella was rich, enchanting, well-traveled and she’d paid extra for the pleasure. Except she hadn’t actually paid. The transfer had bounced back in the morning when Electra had tried to use the money to get the foreclosure lock off her apartment door. The timer on her lien had expired and everything in her apartment had gotten incinerated while she watched through the little glass window on the door. Everything her parents had ever given her, every keepsake from Transition Island, every souvenir she’d collected in her travels was gone in a flash of white fire and a quickly ventilated puff of smoke, all because Weisella had ripped her off.

Electra had done her part. She’d danced, charmed and been better than presentable in her skin-tight Utopalex pants, knee-high go-go boots and a black corset that made the most of what she had. The Panaeus guests had loved her. Weisella had loved her. By every measurement, Electra had performed perfectly. They’d retired to Weisella’s bedroom at the end of the night to continue the festivities. Things hadn’t gone as smoothly behind closed doors. Electra had been intoxicated from drinks, a few drugs she wasn’t familiar with and the high oxygen environment created in the penthouse, plus she’d never slept with a Panaeus before. The swell of Weisella’s backside, what looked like a delightfully curvaceous butt? Nope, that was a nose and ‘Please stop fondling it.’ Okay, the breasts were breasts, right? Close enough. Fondle those, lick them and fall asleep face-first in them. Was that why Weisella had bounced back the payment? Failure to consummate? It was explicitly stated in Electra’s contract that sex was not a guaranteed part of any escort arrangement. It was her prerogative. Besides, she’d tried. There simply weren’t obvious sex organs on a Panaeus—at least none Electra could find in her sloppy groping.

The valet-bot guided the Cadillux away after Weisella entered the club a couple of floors beneath Electra’s booth. The little bot was flying the beautiful ship toward the stacks. Not the stacks! That was where someone parked a junker that nobody would want to steal. The stacks were for heaps with so many scratches and dents that a few more might go completely unnoticed. The Cadillux could be scraped, dinged, stolen or breathed on wrong in the stacks. Only the worst kind of philistine would park such a beautiful vessel in the holding pen for pig ships!

“That tight little butt could only belong to the Electra Rex,” a gravelly voice sounded behind her.

Electra sat back down and glared at Fizan. Her underworld contact was a Gromphra, essentially an eight-foot-tall cockroach in every despicable sense. Fizan was too large and inflexible to actually sit in the booth, so she stood at the end of the table, inspecting Electra with her dead bug eyes. It wasn’t that Fizan was a particularly vile example of the species—all Gromphra were lecherous and blunt. It was considered a badge of honor to gross out other species—at least, that was what Fizan claimed.

The seemingly transparent shell on the front of Fizan’s torso opened up like a flasher’s raincoat. It was clothing and body armor mixed and wasn’t actually transparent. Within the shell, guns, knives and a dozen other nefarious items were concealed behind the projected image of her chitinous trunk.

“See anything you like?” Fizan asked.

Electra had enough cash on hand to afford a decent gun. A carbine worked best for mercenary work, although a small pistol would be ideal to assassinate Weisella on a crowded dance floor. Shooting anyone or anything wasn’t really her style, and the reality of what she was doing rolled over her in an unpleasant manner, accompanied by a wave of nausea. Electra scrunched her nose while she considered the weapons until she spied something entirely different.

“How much for the ID-clone?”

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About the Author

April C. Griffith

April Griffith is a lesbian, a rogue academic, and a giant nerd. She’s from Oregon, but calls San Diego her home. Her passions include LGBTQ+ political activism, creating safe places for women in Dungeons & Dragons, and writing the books she wanted to read when she was a kid. April worked on the Amazon Gladiator series (Anaxilea: Amazon Princess and Anaxilea: Gladiatrix) under a pen name.

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