I really hope you noticed this by now, but in case you didn’t…I posted chapter 17 two weeks ago. Due to in-chapter wrestlings with concepts of love and killing, I ended up naming it “On the Kill Side of Love.”
This chapter was both very therapeutic and very difficult to write. I heard Akiyume when they reviewed:
“I’m glad she didn’t unrealistically greet him with open arms. It was time Bre needed to actually see for herself what the ‘beast’ is and decide whether to accept Rome or not.”
“Why can’t they just see each other’s love for one another!”
“With love comes trust, and he doesn’t trust Bre at all.”
Some of these are old comments, but they make solid points. Rome is distrusting, since he feels he’s already been betrayed. Both Rome and Bre are new to the idea of love, as unloved orphans, and are naive to the pitfalls of defining love against obsession and fascination, adult lust and childhood crushes. It’s part of what defines this story as less a “coming of age” tale, and more a tale of growing into oneself, of wrestling with those past experiences and hardships that make you who you are now, to choose who you will be. It’s in favor of making the hard choice, when the hard choice is the heart choice, knowing the consequences could be dire.
Through writing this series, I’ve come to realize why people usually don’t write romances with so many conflicts of interest—where both characters are virgin, let alone have a virgin antihero, or start off with the romantic love interests not just estranged but actually at odds. I’m also understanding why things like bondage and abuse are taboos. For those of you who haven’t muddled through writing these things in conjunction with one another, let me help shed some light: Every single one of the aforementioned conflicts propagate endless writing fuel, yet is long and difficult to resolve. If you’re a “pantser” (writing “by the seat of your pants”), like me, it means you have this many scenarios you’re waiting to pan out, without knowing the outcome—almost without knowing whether they will help the plotline progress or not. Maybe one of these conflicts is going to stunt the resolution of the other, and you won’t know it until 30 pages in. Maybe it’ll speed you into the next resolution so fast, the two “aha” moments blend into one.
The truth of the matter is, my story surprises other people because it surprises me. I lay down the ground rules, and the characters write the story. Then one character does something naughty, which the other character may or may not like.
That being said, I somehow ended up with a bastard half-noble child who was taught by his esteemed, deceased father how to break servants to preserve household order. And, well, you can see how that might be a problem, considering years (of antisocialness) later what he wants most in the world is to bed a servant—a servant who previously suffered from bullying, abuse and being broken.
At this point in the story, you probably see why Bre was so tame at the beginning of the story, at the opening of Book 1. Why she let the bullies kick her. Why she didn’t want to be noticed. How attractive it might have been to run wild with Rome before she re-entered what she perceived to be a tomb—a temple she only saw as a tomb after she met Rome, and saw what it meant to be wild and free.
Bre’s perception of Rome’s wildness is getting turned on its head now. She saw the freedoms of wildness, but not its hard edge, not its restrictions, not its narrowed perspective. In chapter 17, she’s faced with the question that’s been before her all along: Can she accept both sides of Rome’s wildness? Can she bed the killer with the boy? After judging him to be more dangerous than her greatest foe, does she even still want to be with him?
This chapter was hard to construct, because how do you get a temple servant to embrace a creature denounced by her religion? How do you get a second-guessing virgin to give herself up to an unruly man who admits to getting outside advice to make up for his lack of knowledge/experience? How do you get an abused girl to not cower before a torturer? How do you get a punished servant not to fear her chains? How do you get a self-conscious girl to let the guy she’s crushed on for a score of years see her naked imperfections? How do you get a lifelong servant to play like she’s worthy of a noble’s utmost attention?
And how do you get the torturing bastard not to look like a jerk?
A large portion of this chapter was a sequence of highly sexual scenes. And whenever I write scenes like that, I wonder how many people I’ll turn away, based on their principles alone. It would have turned me away, once. But, as I’ve read several erotica authors say, The sex isn’t why I write it. And in every sexual scene that I write, I’ve got to hope somebody sees more than pornography.
So, “thank you” to my reviewers, because I can tell not only that you’re enjoying reading my story, but that you’re seeing my characters as people with real struggles and failures and misgivings, in need of growth. I could ask for nothing more.
Stay tuned, because there’s about to be a whole lot of growth.
To my beloved reviewers, who always thrill me with their comments:
I’m so glad you both thought the chapter was “amazing,” and felt there was relational progress! Considering the height of the challenge to keep the characters’ reactions within their personality and development ranges thus far, I’m truly relieved to read your positive responses—particularly after my lengthy absence. So much enthusiasm! I was concerned that I was spending too much time on Rome and Bre, in the bedroom, but maybe that was a much-needed tension release?
trueBibliophiliac, I was genuinely surprised that you found the chapter “sweet.” It was a pleasant surprise. With Rome’s gruffness, and without switching to his perspective, I was worried he might come across too hard or too soft, and I wasn’t sure how much I could put the initiative into Bre’s hands without raising questions of why Rome wasn’t taking back control. If Rome came across as sweet, then his emotions came through to Bre’s perspective after all, and accurately. More on that at the beginning of next chapter. 🙂
You are right to fear for Rome. So if the chapter reveal about the nature of the beast is putting you on edge…good! Now you and Bre (and you other readers) have a better idea of what’s really going on here. And in the next chapter, some of the more antagonistic characters are going to begin to discover that as well. Bet ya can’t guess who just got themselves invited to the party!