Guest Author: Benjiishnael’s Guilty Pleasure by Nicole Blackwood

I am excited to welcome author Nicole Blackwood, one of the contributing authors for the anthology Demons Imps and Incubi. Just as exciting, she’s here today to give us a glimpse of one of her characters from her story, Dromtsiirin at the Tiki Lounge, and his guilty pleasure.

Antho-Demons Imps and IncubiDromtsiirin at the Tiki Lounge
At last, Benjiishnael’s long years of exile are at an end. All he has to do is keep his human ward safe until his master’s fiendish deal is done, and Benji can return home to Dromtsuul. But the deal unravels, and worst of all, Benji is becoming inexplicably… aware… of his ward.

Demons Imps and Incubi
Demons, Imps, Incubi: dark, powerful, and forbidden. Only the foolish would seek one out for seduction, and yet . . . deals are struck. Souls are ensnared.

But must a demon’s agenda always be demonic? Can he be redeemed? Or does being bad feel too good to bother with redemption? Long ago, imps were more mischievous and playful—naughty, perhaps?—and perceptions of them have only grown more sinister over the centuries. The incubus craves sex, but what makes us crave him?

Explore dark and sensual worlds with eight brand new stories of magic and seduction that will set you aflame by Cori Vidae, Alexa Piper, Erzabet Bishop, Mark Greenmill, Nicole Blackwood, J. C. G. Goelz, Jeffery Armadillo, and M. Arbroath.

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Benjiishnael’s Guilty Pleasure

For the past few weeks, I’ve been falling prey to random fits of giggles. Why? Because one of my stories was accepted into the romance anthology, “Demons, Imps, and Incubi,” slated for publication in late June (it officially released the day before my birthday, so it’s been a pretty awesome gift).

But better than the timing, or simply being published, is the fact that this is my first-ever published story. I’m grinning like a loon just thinking about it. This isn’t the first story I’ve written, but it’s by far the best. It challenged me to plot better, and taught me to write shorter — which, for me, is akin to pulling teeth, or folding clean laundry.

The most enjoyable challenge, though, was writing from a male perspective, and a non-human one, at that. My protagonist, Benjiishnael (Benji), wormed his way into my heart despite being very much the anti-hero. He’s grumpy and tries to be aloof. He thinks humans are disgusting. He wears a long-haired, scruffy human disguise in the hopes that people will leave him alone.

And, as you might imagine, he’s got a secret, soft little under-belly. Although it’s usually Kiki who finds it, I’ve discovered one of his guilty pleasures that didn’t make it into the story: ice.

Wanna see a big, tough, dragon-like demon-thing reduced to a puddle of happy? I do, so I conjured up one of his closely-hidden memories. Even Kiki doesn’t know about this one. Enjoy!

*****

Benji ground his belly scales against the lumpy layer of ice at the bottom of the swimming pool. The rasp of it didn’t echo in the ice-cube clogged water, but neither was it as muffled as he expected it to be. He stretched his wings and let them rest as they would amid the frozen lumps. He lay peacefully for long moments, remembering his first time swimming in the Arctic Ocean.

There wasn’t any ice on Dromtsuul. Or, if there was, it lay so far from any inhabited place that no one had ever seen it. His first winter on Earth took him by surprise. Snow frightened him. Frozen water seemed like some awful, dark magic. He’d stayed inside for weeks, uneasy, until another Dromtsiir who’d been in this realm longer explained it to him.

It didn’t take long for Benji to discover he loved the cold after that.

Nor was he slow in realizing other Dromtsiir hated it. He hid his fascination around them, but found excuses to stomp through the snow or brave the ice in his car at every opportunity. When he saw a video of humans jumping naked into icy water as some odd challenge to each other, he knew he had to try it.

He didn’t tell anyone his plans. Between jobs for his master, he traveled to the Arctic, dreaming of glacier-bound lagoons. He had to pretend to be a scientist on a research trip to do it. Sneaking away from that group was risky enough, but shedding his human disguise to swim was damned-near suicidal. If Azrubley knew he’d done it, he’d have been punished for sure.

But Az never found out. No one did. Even the real scientists he mimicked didn’t question his absence, thanks to some frozen animal excrement he brought back and presented to them. Scientists liked that kind of thing, though he couldn’t fathom why.

He’d gone far from the group to find a sheltered place to swim. The light edging his scales had dimmed as soon as he slithered below the surface. It took only minutes to realize that was because the fire in his veins was cooling too much, too quickly. He repeatedly drew on his magic to warm up again. Each time he did, the water around him wavered with the heat, or ice melted as his touch.

Now, in the basement of the cabin he’d bought in secret, Benji could warm up easily by just crawling out of the pool. But he wasn’t ready for that yet. The sluggishness of hypothermia was only a hinted hazing at the edges of his mind, so he wallowed in his self-made lagoon. Scraping his shoulder blades against the icy bottom now, he shoved his feet out of the water and flexed his toes.

After a dozen joyous ice-cube-churning rolls, numbness began to seep into his limbs and tail. He cursed inwardly, but rose. Just beneath the surface, he spread his wings out of the water, then snapped them back in and around himself, trapping air beneath him. It snaked upward in streams of bubbles. They tickled as they curled around him, catching against his scales momentarily before sliding free. He couldn’t laugh, so he writhed helplessly, delighted.

This was the best part. This, he would never confess if caught indulging his guilty pleasure. By the time most of the bubbles had escaped to the surface again, the air in his lungs was stale and dizziness made his joy all the more intense.

Lifting his snout to the air and dragging in a burning breath took more effort than it should have. He heaved out of the pool with clumsy, half-frozen limbs and lay in a heap on the tiled floor. If someone broke in now, he’d be helpless to stop them — not that he really feared that. But the idea of another Dromstiir finding him like this, nearly senseless with cold, sobered him.

What would Beirak say? Probably call me a stupid hatchling, tell Az I’m not ready for real jobs yet.

Benjiishnael shut out such thoughts with a sneer and called his magic to re-ignite the fire in his veins. Minutes later, exhausted but happy, he staggered up the basement steps in his human disguise. The heater was blasting in the cabin above, and hot coffee waited for him. He paused at the landing, casting one last, longing look at the ice-choked pool below.

Can’t do this again, he sighed. Too risky, and not just because I might get caught.

Nicole BlackwoodHe’d stayed in the ice too long this time. Even warmed up, he couldn’t feel his fingers and toes as well as he should. With a sigh, he closed the door on his secret and headed for the kitchen.
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Meet Nicole Blackwood!

Nicole Blackwood lives in the mountains with two cats (who speak with demon tongues) and an imagination that keeps her up at night. She spends her free time scaring herself silly exploring secluded forests and imaging they’re haunted. She draws and writes about things she dreams up, and is still disappointed that dragons aren’t real.

Contact Info: Twitter

About Jackie 3208 Articles

I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.