Friday 3 December 2010

“It is simply another word for romantic. An even more romantic word for romantic.”

— Gwynn, “Gwynn gives another word”

You know, there is not much good, clean sex in this story.

This seemed like an easy second Top 10 List because I knew what #1 would be. But then I realized I was going to have a difficult time coming up with nine more.

What I looked for

I wanted hot stuff—not necessarily explicit sex. Certainly not sexual assault. And nothing creepy-​sexy like Leof breathing down Cat’s bodice (or stuffing ladies’ hands down his pants, or all those other things Leof does so well). Nor anything like naked Egelric crawling all over Maire, or Dre hitting on Lar. Nor Imin existing.

I’m looking for sexy, steamy, exciting moments. Romance is optional but remarkably useful. Even sex is optional. You know what I mean.

What I looked for is the erotic—in relationships that are maybe awkward or ambiguous, but still positive.

And I thought… well, I haven’t written much in that vein. :-/ 

Let’s talk about…

“Girls! I do not think we should talk about what is… erotic…”

—Hetty, “Gwynn gives another word”

You all know I’m not writing erotic literature, wherein the sex scenes are the purpose of the exercise. I like my chapters to contain conflict and tension, and hopefully each advances the plot at least a little. Usually, as soon as the chapter’s central conflict is resolved, the curtains come down.

Thus that leaves me little room for sex scenes that do not advance the plot or contain conflict (and hopefully both).

Which means the average happily-​married Lotherian couple can mate like bunnies and we’ll never hear a word about it. (Young Sigefrith, I’m looking at you.)

Which means that as soon as Warring Couple finishes their argument and moves on to the make-​up sex, we’ll be fading to black and moving on to the next chapter.

Furthermore it’s really hard to write about sex without making people snicker. Making a scene more explicit can make it less erotic. All those body parts have to be named!

So what’s left?

O Mother, was there more than erotic?

—Finn, “Finn is a fairy tale hero”

What does that leave us? Well, I looked, and I found:

  • sexual tension
  • barely repressed longing
  • reluctant surrender
  • fumbling first times
  • sex before intimacy
  • intimacy before sex
  • sex as a form of argument

In other words, much more than I expected. Plenty of tension, plenty of plot advancement, just not much plain-​old ordinary sex.

For a long time I was very shy about writing anything overtly sexual, so this story is a little tame overall. But I think I’m getting better at writing about sex and intimacy, so I expect it will get a little racier in coming months and years. I do at least have a promise of CLIFF SECKS to fulfill. ;-) 

So break out your fans, for these are the 10 Hottest Moments of Lothere… to date. O8) 

10. Conrad stakes his territory in “Margaret is stung”

Published: May 20, 2008
Chapter Date: December 131085

Last night, in Conrad’s absence, Margaret planted a “squishy, smooshy” kiss on Cynan—supposedly to save Gwynn from the desolation of being forced to kiss him.

Conrad is none too sure he approves of this, and asks for a demonstration.

“Sounds like fun,” he purred. “Show me.”

“You wouldn’t like it,” she giggled breathlessly.

Oh, she was being just as stupid as her stupid, silly sister, and she could not make herself stop! Was this how it felt to be Gwynn? Would she never be calm, clever Margaret again?

“Show me,” he whispered.

'Show me.'

His face was so close to hers she could feel his breath on her cheek. The taut smirk of his mouth had eased, and his lips hung soft and ready to be kissed near her lips. He would kiss her one way or another, and suddenly she had forgotten how to refuse.

Her only chance of avoiding the kiss he had in store for her was to give him a different one of her own. She braced herself against the wall, counted down from three as she had the night before, and then she leapt at him.

She leapt at him.

For an instant he was as stunned and helpless as Cynan. Even his usual barrel-​like immobility was broken, and she knocked him back against the opposite wall. For an instant it was very like that stupid, senseless, squishy kiss of the night before, and she was only smashing her unyielding lips against his.

Then he recovered his balance and stood himself straight again, sweeping her up lightly along with him.

Then he recovered his balance and stood himself straight again.

Last night she had been a little surprised to observe that Cynan’s mouth did not feel like Conrad’s, but now she was flatly disconcerted—Conrad’s mouth did not feel like Conrad’s either.

Had it been so long that she had forgotten? It felt softer and wetter and hotter, like something molten that more easily molded itself to her own. With his lips he seemed to be chasing a tiny moving target all over hers, and even when she twisted her face away, his lips kissed their way across her cheek or chin until they found it again.

“It was not like this!” she protested in a gasp.

Conrad only turned his lips aside long enough to whisper angrily, “It had better not!”

'It had better not!'

Then he kissed her again, and finding her lips parted now he thrust his tongue inside.…

Kids, kids!

And oh, Conrad! You and your “It had better not!”

9. Gunnilda stands up to Ethelmund in “Gunnilda tells Ethelmund what happened”

Published: November 16, 2006
Chapter Date: August 81083

Gunnilda is annoyed to find Ethelmund awake and waiting up for her, since she knows what he’s waiting for. While waiting for her to get undressed, he mentions how gossip had once hinted at an affair between her and Egelric. Gunnilda denies it, but Ethelmund is strangely unruffled by the idea.

“You may be certain he will not try to seduce me!” she cried. “He’s not the least bit interested in me!”

Ethelmund leapt from the bed and caught her as she moved to take a nightgown from the wardrobe.

“I’m not certain of any such thing, when I look at you.” He pressed her naked body all against his. “Any man who saw you as I have seen you would want you.”

'I'm not certain of any such thing, when I look at you.'

As he spoke, he went stumbling across the floor with her to the mirror, and he held her against him with one arm while he licked the fingers of his opposite hand and pinched the first candle into darkness.

“You may be certain he wanted you, Gunnie.” He ran his hand up and down her back over the slick carpet of her hair. “Perhaps that was what Githa saw, and what made her say the things she did.”

Gunnilda trembled with shock and anger. He was not attempting to soothe her. He was not attempting to excuse his first wife’s gossip. He was delighting in the fact that another man had wanted her. The very idea seemed to excite him.

He bent her over backwards so that he could lean over the second candle, and with a sharp puff of breath he blew it and them into darkness.

Gunnilda was transfixed by a sudden passion that he had never inspired in her before now, whether for good or ill. Nor had poor, placid Alwy brought it out of her. She had only ever felt anything like it for one man, and this, it seemed to her, was the opposite thing. This was a passion like hate.

This was a passion like hate.

And yet it felt much the same to her: the same flush of heat, the same sweat, the same pounding of her heart that was like an ache in her throat. There was the same roiling fire in her belly, and his touch burned her in the same way, though she had never before felt such a touch all up and down her naked body. Her limbs quivered and seemed ready to snap, as if her seared flesh were shrinking away from her bones.

She thought she hated him, and she thought she wanted to hurt him.

“Something did happen,” she said.

“Wha?” he choked. Ethelmund was a very tall, very strong man, but at that moment Gunnilda in her little naked body was the stronger of the two.

“He kissed me once!” she cried as if it were a victory to her. “In my bedroom! When Alwy wasn’t home!”

'He kissed me once!'

Ethelmund was speechless, and she charged on over him.

“It was six years ago, before Angnes died. He was trying to tell me he was a bad man, and I said I didn’t believe him, so he decided to show me! He decided to teach me a lesson.”

“Gunnilda…” he breathed.

“And I fought him! But he was too strong.”

“What did he do?”

“He only kissed me. But he could have done anything, and I couldn’t have stopped him.” She said it as if it were the pride of her heart.

“What did he do?” he whispered again.

'He caught me off-balance like this!'

“He caught me off-​balance like this!”

She threw the weight of her little body at him. He was startled enough that she knocked him back into the tall wardrobe, and she fell heavily against him.

She twisted one hand in his long hair and hissed, “And he grabbed my hair in one hand, and held me with the other. And I pounded and pounded on him with my fists, and I don’t think he even noticed. And he kissed me. Hard!”


She was too small to reach his mouth unless he bent his head to her, so she buried her face in his chest, and savagely kissed his neck, and scraped her tongue and her teeth over his collarbone.

She was too tiny to reach his mouth unless he bent his head to her, so she buried her face in his chest.

He had sucked in his breath in a gasp at the first, and then he held it, as if he feared to breathe. She could feel his heart pounding beneath her face, but otherwise he was petrified.

How she hated him! How he frightened her by wanting her, and knowing what he wanted to do with her, and doing it, and liking it! And he always thought that she would come to like it, too, but she would not!

It only lasted as long as a man could hold his breath. He breathed out again in a long sigh, and then it was his hand twined in her hair, and her fists beating on his ribs, but now she was only a small, naked woman. His arms alone were strong enough to lift the entire weight of her body, and he picked her up and carried her over to the bed. He could do anything, and she couldn’t stop him.

He picked her up and carried her over to the bed.

Dear Gunnilda, I think you are coming to like it in spite of yourself.

8. Young Aed says goodbye to Congal in “Congal is left a lone man”

Published: August 14, 2010
Chapter Date: March 51086

Aed stepped up to Congal and grabbed him by the shoulders. Congal felt the stick pressed against his arm like a riding switch.

Aed hunched his shoulders together as if to protect his ears, and leaned in to kiss Congal’s cheeks, one and the other.

Aed leaned in to kiss Congal's cheeks, one and the other.

Congal’s voice quavered like an old woman’s. “Fuck you, Aed.”

“Fuck you, too, Congal. Now go on, it may already be too late.”

Congal shook his head.

Aed shooed him away. “Be getting on with you. And on my father’s tomb I swear, if I hear you howl on your way out, I am coming after you, and I am going to rip out your tongue with my bare hand. Through your asshole.”

Congal wanted to laugh. He wanted to laugh, but he could not breathe past the pain in his chest, so he threw his arms around Aed and crushed his startled body against the ache.

They met with a clank of matching silver medallions, Saint Ninian and Saint Columba and all the saints whose holy places they had visited together, and Aed’s stick fell and rustled the grass. Afterwards the only sound was the keening of the women, and when Congal turned his head a little he heard Aed’s breathing in his ear.

When Congal turned his head a little he heard Aed's breathing in his ear.

Congal feared that he had taken too much of a liberty, but in the end it was he who let go first, with a final solid pounding of his fist against Aed’s back.

“If you see Gaeth…”

Aed stepped away from him, and away, and kept on going. “I shall pinch his scrawny ass and blame it on you. Be getting on with you.” He waved Congal off like an exhausted housewife sending her children out to play, and then he turned and walked.

7. Osh kisses Flann in “Liadan wins”

Published: September 15, 2007
Chapter Date: November 111085

For the first time Osh and Flann have the house to themselves for a night, and they plan to use it. Though Flann is eager and excited, the evening gets off to an awkward start when she finds Osh’s strange elven kisses too much for her. But Liadan cries and interrupts before she panics outright, giving Flann time to calm down.

When Osh returns after soothing the baby, he and Flann both seem to be coming round to their purpose.

He only bent his head and kissed her.

He kissed her like a man now, mouth to mouth, and like a man he ran his hands over her body. At first they seemed uncertain, but one soon settled on a firm, toe-​curling stroke from her tailbone up to the nape of her neck and down again, fitting the curve of her spine to the curve of his body. On the next stroke, the first hand was joined by the other, and both of them grabbed a handful of linen as they went up.

She squeaked in surprise.

She squeaked in surprise as the fabric dragged up her legs, followed by the cool air, but the hands did not hesitate. When the hem reached her hips, one of the hands dropped to catch it, and then the other, and suddenly there was nothing for her to do but to lift her arms like a toddler and let him slip her shift off over her head.

She cheeped again at the shock of the cold air, but it was followed immediately by the heat of his skin as she fell against him. He tipped her head back and kissed her and caressed her—like a man now, perfectly sure of himself. He lifted her up and set her down so that her bare little feet were posed on his boots, and when he found something that made her squeak or sigh, he did it again. Even when Flann tried to prevent herself from squeaking and sighing, he would find something else she could not resist.

At last her body was coming to life.

At last her body was coming to life, blossoming with heat like cold embers flaring up and beginning to glow, and it was all at his hands; he was master of her body, though it still belonged to her.

She was as dizzy as a drunk. She wanted him to lie her down on the bed and do to her whatever she wanted—and even if she did not yet know what it was, she was certain he already did. Her lips tingled as they did when she drank too much wine, and her tongue was heavy and slow, but she turned her mouth away from his and sighed, “Oshhhhh…”


He reached a hand up beneath her hair and caught a fistful of it at the nape of her neck, tipping her head back still farther, but holding it still.

He lowered his mouth to hers as if he meant to kiss her, but he stopped short and only sighed. He held his breath until she took a breath and released it again, and then he was breathing with her, in with her out, out with her in.

He lowered his mouth to hers as if he meant to kiss her.

And once again Osh makes with the elf-​kiss, and once again Flann panics, and the moment is spoiled. He still has a lot to learn about making love to a human woman (or fairy as the case may be) but one gets the impression that as a lover he will be worth the wait.

6. Aengus and Maire make out on the bench in “Aengus wears the hand of fate”

Published: January 26, 2009
Chapter Date: December 181085

Aengus and Maire have been estranged for over half a year due to Aengus’s affair with Lena. Aengus is dying to win her back, and due to trauma that Aengus does not yet guess, Maire is weak and vulnerable enough to want him.

Her pride relaxed enough to let a little laugh escape, and that was enough for him. He slipped his arm around her shoulders again and kissed her conclusively.

He slipped his arm around her shoulders again and kissed her conclusively.

Oh, Maire! It had not been so long that he had forgotten, but it had been long enough that it all felt a little unfamiliar, a little new. He felt a little young and reckless again, with his hair tied back to keep it out of his eyes as he climbed the wall, and with his daring, dangerous love for this woman too impossibly magnificent for him.

He kissed her lips right and left, randomly, making her chase his mouth with hers. He teased her tongue out of her mouth and into his. He squeezed her so tightly in the crook of his arm that he felt her breasts flatten against his hard chest with her every breath. She was his! He had found his way home.

She was his!

Maire! Maire! Aengus had not felt such taut, urgent desire since he had been twenty-​five and maddened by it. He had been wanting her for so long, so long…

Oh, there had been that Icelander on the island, but that woman had only made his hunger for this one harder to bear—not even a bite to tide him over, but merely a savory odor to sharpen his appetite.

That woman had not helped him forget but made him remember. When she had turned away and bent over to pull up her stocking, balanced on one leg, her white ass in the air, something about her curves had so cruelly reminded him of Maire that he had bit down on the heel of his hand to keep from crying out her name.

Maire! He could speak it now. He lifted his lips from her neck and moaned, “Maire, Maire…” He could hear her gasping breath hissing at his ear.

He slid his hand down her back, down her soft flank, and tried to slip it beneath her, but with her legs in his lap she was bent in a V and sitting with all her weight on her behind.

He tried to slip his hand beneath her.

Frustrated, he drew himself back like a bow and groped down her leg, down her soft thigh and round knee and hard shin, and past her fluttering hem to find her ankle.

Her stockings! Tonight he would peel them off himself, on his knees, his face nuzzling into her fur—and in the morning he would lie lazily and watch her dress again, her white ass in the air…

He slipped off her shoe, and she cried out in surprise when it hit the floor—another sharp, startled cry. Suddenly that warm, stockinged foot she planted on his thigh was the most erotic thing that Aengus had ever known.

She cried out in surprise when it hit the floor.

He tightened his arms and drew up on her body until half her weight was bearing down on her foot and he held her taut as a bow. He had to get away with her now, or he would take her on the spot, in spite of guards and servants and of drunken, disoriented fathers who might stagger in at any moment.

“Let’s go back to bed,” he murmured, though they had last left it together months before.

'Let's go back to bed.'

Poor Aengus! He’s on his way to what looks to be phenomenal make-​up sex, but a chance observation by candlelight sets off a series of life-​destroying events.

What I love about Aengus is his boyish (if somewhat indiscriminate) enthusiasm for sex; and how his usual well-​intentioned cluelessness is occasionally relieved by flashes of a lovely sensibility. As a lover he is the polar opposite of his cousin Magog, and yet in his way I imagine he is equally as good in bed.

5. Magog has his way with Maud in “Maud is defeated”

Published: January 17, 2006
Chapter Date: September 101072

Oh, Magog, you rake you. After convincing this supremely haughty woman that you have stood her up…

The door swung shut with a faint clink.

The door swung shut with a faint clink.

“Here we are,” he said softly. Maud spun around—he had been hiding behind the open door all this time!

She could do no more than gasp before he caught her and, pinning her arms against her sides, bent her backwards and kissed her.

He bent her backwards and kissed her.

Her senses cried out in alarm at the unfamiliarity of him. This was not the mouth she knew—not the lips, not the tongue, not the beard, not the nose that was pressing into her cheek, not the breath, not the silky hair that fell over their faces. He kissed her as if he would devour her. He kissed her whether she would be kissed or no, for he was stronger than her, even in all her fright.

When he let go of her arms, she tried to scramble away, but he only caught her by the shoulders and pushed her against the wall and kissed her again.

He pushed her against the wall and kissed her again.

He was growling in his throat like a wolf when he breathed—or perhaps he was speaking to her in Gaelic, it could sound much the same to her. She was growing dizzy; no matter which way she turned her head, his mouth followed her own.

Finally she let out a weak wail.

He took a step back, still holding her against the wall.

He took a step back, still holding her against the wall.

“Go on with it,” he whispered harshly. “If you want to scream, scream. Else you stay quiet.”

She opened her mouth, but she could not make a sound. She trembled so that she felt she might be sick.

He relaxed his hold on her then but stood waiting, his hands ready. Maud only slumped against the wall.

Then he bosses her around, talks to her without looking at her, obliges her come to him, makes her undress in front of him, then holds her against him while he squirms out of his own clothes, and finally, when she feebly protests yet again…

“No more talk,” he interrupted. “Enough of your barbarian tongue. I shall teach you the Gaelic you need to know.”

Defeated, she let herself be kissed. It was sweet to be wanted by a man who wouldn’t hear nay.…

He had a way of bending her over until she lost her balance and could only hang onto his neck and trust he wouldn’t drop her. But suddenly she felt that they were truly falling and she yelped—but he was only laying her down on the chest that was pushed against the wall.

He was only laying her down on the chest that stood against the wall.

“No, no, no—not this!” she whispered frantically, protesting for the last time.

“Am I hurting you?”

“No, but—”

“Whisht!” he said, and closed her mouth with a kiss.

'Then hush.'

That’s right, Magog. “Shut up, baby, I’m busy here.”

I have to assume that he knew just what Maud wanted him to do, feeble protests notwithstanding, because he is awful here. But it’s a guilty-​pleasure kind of awful. I don’t blame Maud for putting up a symbolic fight, because you hate to admit to yourself you willingly slept with that. And yet you willingly slept with that, several times in college…

Oh, the growly kisses, oh the last pictures on top of the chest…!

4. Egelric gets close to Gunnilda in “Gunnilda has a late visitor”

Published: December 19, 2005
Chapter Date: July 181070

“Why, Egelric,” she said softly when she looked back at him, “I believe you’re crying.” She reached up automatically to brush a tear away with the back of her hand, as she would have done for Sigebert, or—well, anyone, she told herself.

She reached up automatically to brush a tear away

Startled, Egelric grabbed her wrist, but he didn’t pull her hand away.

He didn't pull her hand away

He held her slender wrist lightly and bent his head to look into her eyes, but she avoided his gaze and intently fingered his hair, her hand occasionally brushing his cheek.

He was deeply moved by the gesture. It had been years since his wife had done anything of the sort. He wondered how long she would keep it up if he didn’t disturb her, and so he kept very still and watched her face as she played with his hair, apparently fascinated, her dark eyes shining in the dim light of the young moon.

After a while she seemed to realize what she was doing and stepped back, shyly smiling.

She stepped back, shyly smiling

Still he did not let go of her hand. He studied it for a moment, and then, impulsively, bent his head to kiss it.

She stepped back, shyly smiling

Surprised at first, she soon began to laugh. “Oh, Egelric, you’ve been spending too much time with the noblemen!”

She soon began to laugh

He grinned up at her, still clasping her hand in both of his.

“That’s not how we common folk do,” she scolded.

“How do we do?” he asked.

“With a big hug!” she said, and threw her arms around him, laughing.

She threw her arms around him, laughing

He laughed too, at first, but—God, how he had needed to touch somebody, to be held by somebody. He had been shrinking from his wife and everybody else for so long that he had begun feeling like an outcast from humanity. He held her tightly—ferociously even.

“I guess you needed one,” she said as her laughter faded. He didn’t answer. A moment later she giggled nervously and asked, “Are you planning on letting go of me sometime?”

'Are you planning on letting go of me sometime?'

“Damned if I will,” he growled.

Gunnilda gave a sobbing sort of laugh and then fell silent, but she laid a hand on the back of his neck and held his head against her shoulder.

She laid a hand on the back of his neck

“You like playing with my hair,” he said finally, smiling to himself.

“It’s soft,” she explained, feeling foolish.

“So are you.”

“Oh!” she cried, self-​conscious, and tried to squirm away.

“Not…yet…” he cautioned, holding her firmly. If he knew the contrary nature of women, she should like nothing better than to be carried with a rather high hand, having ruled supreme in her domain for years.

After she stopped struggling, he waited a moment longer and then stepped back from her, saying softly, “Now: let me look at you.”

'Let me look at you'

She couldn’t hold his gaze for more than a few seconds, but more than that he couldn’t see in the darkness. He was sure of one thing, however. “You’re beautiful.”

“In the dark!” she laughed, grateful to find a chance to lighten the tone.

“In the dark, and in the day as well,” he said, stroking her cheek. “I don’t know how I never noticed before.”

He stroked her cheek

“That’s because Elfleda is so beautiful,” she said fretfully. How often had she envied Elfleda for her snowy skin and perfect composure! Gunnilda always felt so brown and bedraggled next to her.

“Elfleda is only beautiful in the light.”

She let her arms drop to her sides and looked down, her heart pounding. She had deliberately said Elfleda’s name, and yet it hadn’t broken the spell.

He stepped closer.

He stepped closer

“I shall never forget how you looked tonight,” he whispered. So close to her, he could smell her neck and her hair. A bit like fresh bread, he thought, and a bit like the green wheat in the dew or after a rain. He chuckled.

“What is it?”

He murmured into her hair

“Nothing,” he murmured into her hair. “I was just thinking that I would make a dreadful poet.”

“A poet?” she asked weakly. Her arm twitched as the back of his hand brushed her fingers.

The back of his hand brushed her fingers

“Nothing,” he repeated. He left his arms at his sides, wanting to see whether she would let him stand long so close to her without being held. Her whole body trembled but she didn’t step away.

When at last she moved, she lifted her hand and sought the hollow of his neck with her fingers.

She lifted her hand and sought the hollow of his neck with her fingers

He held perfectly still, scarce daring to breathe. For long minutes she studied the curves of his collarbone with the same rapt attention she had paid his hair a while before. He knew something of women, but this one with her innocent ways was something he had never experienced, or even imagined.

It’s one of my earliest chapters (only three weeks into the story!) and a far cry from my style of today, but there remains a surprising amount of eroticism in this scene. One minute he’s holding her so tight she gets nervous that he won’t let her go, and the next he isn’t holding her at all, just standing so close to her that they’re almost—not quite—touching.

They aren’t in love yet—I don’t think that has occurred to either of them before this moment. But they’ve started something here that has kept us holding our breath for five years.

3. Estrid drops her cloak in “Estrid is the craziest dream”

Published: March 1, 2009
Chapter Date: December 191085

After a super-​awkward first time in K’s shop, Estrid is back again, and in command. She wants K to fit her necklace again, and like last time takes off her scarf and cloak. K is expecting another incongruous party dress, or perhaps a suit of mail…

Instead she was entirely naked.

Instead she was entirely naked.

She struck out first with her hip and strode towards him, clop-​clopping like a man, but swaying as only women and reeds can sway.

She struck out first with her hip and strode towards him.

Her breasts swung slightly with every step and jumped as if startled at every crack of her heel, and for an instant there was nothing in the universe but Kuntigern and those impertinent little half-​spheres.

She stood on one toe and spun about with a scrape of her sole, then leaned back just until her shoulder blades brushed his bare chest. He tried to lean away to spare her soft skin the grime of his sweat, but that only pressed his groin against the unexpected swell of her behind.

'My necklace?'

“My necklace?” she prompted.

“Uh! Right!” he gasped. He glanced aside in search of his missing towel but decided he could likely manage the delicate work with his fingertips and avoid touching her neck.

He lifted the chain over her head and pulled it up around her throat, unintentionally dragging the pearl up between her breasts and onto her collarbone, making her shimmy and sigh. He gently pushed her braid aside with his little finger and picked at the clasp with his thumbnail. He did not remember it being so contrary the last time, nor his fingers so fat.

At last it clicked into place, and he let the necklace drop with a sigh of relief. But Estrid wriggled her shoulders to make it settle, thereby arching her back until her behind bumped firmly into his groin again. By now he was hard enough that he felt himself fit against its cleft in spite of the heavy wool of his kilt.


He gasped, “Princess—” but he remembered that he could not push her away or turn her around until he had wiped off his hands. He backed away and looked desperately for something he could use. “The devil take that towel!” he wailed.

Estrid spun about to face him, giggling wickedly. “Perhaps the devil did!” she said. “That would be just like him!

For a moment he forgot everything else and simply laughed with her. “As if he knew!

Naughty devil!

She slid a hand around the small of his back and pulled his hips against hers, shoving his erection back down against his leg and scraping its sensitive head roughly across wool. It was shockingly erotic in spite of the brief discomfort, and he thought she must have felt it too, for her hips twitched away from his before settling gently again.

Naughty devil!

It amused him to drawl, “Careful, Princess…”

“Did I hurt you?” she whispered. “You must teach me.”

“Teach you!” he groaned.

He was becoming groggy with desire; he remembered there had been a painfully unpleasant conversation at some point in the morning, but he could not remember why it had bothered him so much at the time.

She grasped his wrist and pulled his hand up to her breast. He clenched it into a fist just in time and pleaded, “Wait now, let me clean off my hands at least—”

“Oh, bother! It’s skin, it will wash.”

She twisted her fingers into his palm until he finally surrendered and opened his hand to let her press it flat over her breast. She was soft and warm as only a woman could be, and he told himself she had much to learn about men if she believed his hand could rival this.

He told himself had much to learn about men if she believed his hand could rival this.

He slid his other hand up the curve of her waist and closed it over her other breast.

“Good…” she breathed. She laid a hand over the back of his wrist and held it firmly for a moment before sliding her palm up to cover the back of his hand. Her skin was smooth and cool and noble, and a queasy sense of his own crudeness and clumsiness rose up in him again.


She worked her hand over his until she had pinched her nipple sharply between his thumb and the side of his finger. She squeezed, and he resisted.

“Harder,” she whispered.

“I know what I’m doing,” he snapped—not because he was offended, but because he was afraid.

Estrid fell against him, crushing their hands between their bodies, and sobbed into his shoulder, “Don’t be like that!”

'Don't be like that!'

He pulled their hands free and wrapped his arms around her to hold her own arms harmlessly against her sides. His kilt was uncomfortably heavy without being heavy enough, and he pressed himself tightly against her hip in search of some relief.

“Why should we fumble and pretend?” she whimpered. “I want to teach you everything about me. Why wouldn’t you want to know?”

“You’re killing me, Princess,” he pleaded.


He nearly said “mad”, but it occurred to him in time that the better word might have been simply “bold”. Perhaps in her family the mere risk of death was not enough to turn one aside from what one wanted to do. It certainly never had stopped Brass-​Dog.

“…the craziest dream I ever had,” he sighed. “Pink laces! When I wake up, remind me never to eat pickles and milk before bed again.”

'...the craziest dream I ever had.'

“Pickles and milk!” she laughed. “Do you do that a lot?”

“Never again!”

“Are you certain about that?” She slid her hand down his belly and over his belt buckle to catch his erection as soon as she twisted her hips to the side. It struggled to spring up all the harder as she struggled to smooth it down.

“I’m not the man for you, Princess,” he croaked.

She lifted both her arms and stood on her toes to wrap them around his shoulders.

She lifted both her arms and stood on her toes to wrap them around his shoulders.

The gesture disarmed him; the front of her body was pressed tightly against his from knees to shoulders, but the embrace was more warm than hot. He gently stroked her back with his grimy hands.

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing, Princess?” he sighed.

“No,” she mumbled into his shoulder. “I want you to teach me.”

'I want you to teach me.'

2. Estrid calls on K in “Estrid is made molten”

Published: November 28, 2008
Chapter Date: December 171085

Bored and lonely housewife Estrid has visited the new silversmith with a feeble pretense in the guise of a silver necklace she needs shortened.

She bowed her head, and the smith passed the chain over it. The backs of all his fingers brushed the back of her neck as he closed the clasp. The pendant slid suddenly down to the length of its line and hung dead. All the pretense had drained out of it. It was done.

Then she felt the man’s warm breath exhaled slowly upon her spine. Her skin tingled and tickled all over like the surface of a pond in a drizzly rain.

“Better now?” he murmured.

'Better now?'

She lifted a hand and dabbed at the necklace. “I suppose so…” Her own breath was sharp and shallow.

He leaned over her, attempting to see over her shoulder. His warm breath flowed down into the hollow of her collarbone and spilled across her breast. He paused a moment, breathing faster as though his breath was twining with hers.

Then his hand slid off her arm and over her bare skin in search of the pendant. His fingertip found it—she felt him rolling the dark pearl experimentally beneath it—but the palm of his hand lay over her ribs, and she knew he could feel her heart’s thudding echo like a drum.

His fingertip found it.

She threw back her head to protest or to squirm away, but it bared her neck to him, and he dipped his head down to plant a kiss on it.

They both held their breath for a moment, but Estrid could not hide the galloping agitation of her heartbeat. She did not know what to do. Her pretense was spent.

They both held their breath for a moment.

The smith seemed to decide her immobility was assent, for he exhaled deeply a last time and began kissing her neck truly: hot, wet kisses with dabs of tongue behind her ears; firm nibbles of his lips down her neck and shoulder; and when her awkward writhing turned her head towards his, hungry kisses to her jawbone, as though he longed to reach her lips.

Estrid melted. She felt like a fat candle long abandoned to devour itself into its own deep hollow, suddenly turned over to spill out its pent-​up inner lake of molten wax.

Estrid melted.

She had forgotten how her cheeks could burn, how her heart could gallop, how her belly could spin, and how she could ache and throb between her legs. So often she had desperately focused on vague, faceless fantasies, frantically rubbing herself beneath the sheets while Brede staggered about and undressed, trying to get herself at least wet enough that he would not hurt her. She had thought her ability to feel desire had run dry. And now she was liquid, melting…

“I don’t even know your name!” she whispered.

'I don't even know your name!'

“Call me K,” he murmured between kisses.

“Just K?”

“Just K.”

He slid one hand across her lower ribs, and she felt the weight of her breasts settle on the back of his arm and strain against her gown. The linen shift that had seemed of such silken fineness now chafed her nipples into an exquisite sensitivity.

“Is it short for something?” she panted.

'Is it short for something?'


She squirmed and squeaked and laughed to prevent herself from giving in. She had not thought it would be like this. Her vague and faceless fantasies were never so breathtaking.

“May I try to guess?” she giggled.

“You won’t.”

“Knut? Kormak? Does it start with K?”

“Don’t try,” he whispered firmly.

'Don't try.'

“But what will happen to me, if I don’t?” she gasped. “Krumplestiltskin!” she laughed. “You will come to claim my first-​born son!”

“Your next-​born,” he corrected.



His arm tightened suddenly around her waist, pulling her back against his naked chest. She felt the taut strength of his biceps drawing on his forearm, and knew it could have been tighter. Her belly seemed to swell out beneath the pressure of his arm, and she thought she felt the weight of her womb within it. Between her legs she throbbed so hotly that she spread her feet farther apart on the floor to seek some relief.

The smith caught her off-​balance and spun her around to face him. He kissed her at once, as though it was just what he had been longing to do.

He kissed her at once.

Estrid struggled weakly and squealed into his mouth, but it only made him moan. Then she was moaning too.

She had forgotten why she had ever so enjoyed kissing that she would risk being punished to sneak away and partake of it. She had forgotten why she had ever willingly taken a man’s tongue into her mouth. She had forgotten that men’s mouths did not universally taste like sour ale or partially-​digested wine.

The smith was strong and steady on his feet.

The smith was strong and steady on his feet, and she could lean back in his arms without fear that he would fall on her or drop her. She had forgotten how it felt to trust a man with her body.

“K!” she whispered when he moved on to kiss her breast. “I feel silly calling you just K,” she giggled.

'I feel silly calling you just K.'

“I feel silly calling you Princess, but I do it anyway.” When he did not try to make it mocking or gentle, his low voice was as deep as a growl.

“Why do you?” she asked softly. “My name is Estrid.”

“Does anyone else call you Princess?”


“That’s why.”



He adjusted his arms around her, gathering her up and settling her down, until her arms were around his shoulders and his hands on the backs of her thighs. He kissed her again, but less passionately, as though his mind were elsewhere and he only meant to distract her.

Meanwhile his hands were passionately squeezing her hips and thighs and behind, stroking her silky dress over her curves, teasing her legs apart. The weight of his kilt was no longer enough to hide his erection from her, and she felt it pressing against her thigh or jabbing the fabric of her gown and shift between her legs.

This was not how it was supposed to be.

This was not how it was supposed to be. She had not imagined this. She felt as she had on horseback, her body perilously slipping around inside her cloak, perhaps to slide out at any moment and fall in a shattered-​legged heap upon the snow… and yet she had been laughing…

Then she felt a breeze on her bare calves, and she realized he was slipping her gown up her legs with his squeezing and rubbing.

She was horrified—not at what he was doing—and she did not even think of what he intended to do—but because she feared he would see her ugly boots after all.

She was horrified.

“Wait!” she panted. Vainly she lifted one foot high in search of her disappearing hem. “I’m not—”

The smith caught her off-​balance and lifted her up by her thighs to toss her onto the edge of his table. He pushed her skirts all the way up her legs, and with a sweep of his hand lifted his kilt up over them to make a tent. For an instant she held his naked hips between her knees.

For an instant she held his naked hips between her knees.

“Wait!” she squeaked. “I’m not—”

With his first thrust he found her. She was so wet he slipped easily where he was supposed to go, down into her molten hollows. Their bodies had been made for this.

With his first thrust he found her.

With his second he sank all the way into her. She cried out sharply, not because she felt pain, but because she felt pierced. She knocked over a jug or pitcher of some sort with her elbow as she tried to struggle into a position to hold herself up.

Then came the third, just as deep. She cried, “Wait!” and scrabbled to get her arms beneath her. She thought he ought to stop a moment and hold still, simply savoring her. She thought he ought to at least let her get her balance.

She scrabbled to get her arms beneath her.

Then came the fourth, and the fifth, the sixth. She twisted her hips and arched her back, and nothing could make him falter. He had perfect time.

Seventh, eighth, ninth came, and she gave up counting. She gave up struggling too, and she threw her arms around his back, trusting her balance and body to him.

She threw her arms around his back.

He pressed his cheek against her cheek and moaned, “Princess…” but he did not lose his rhythm. She tried to lose herself to it, but she could not. She thought only of the fogged windows and the door. She thought of her clunky boots wagging in the air behind his back.

She felt a man slipping in and out of her, and though her body had so desired it that she felt her desire dripping down onto her gown beneath her, she could not bring herself to feel any pleasure in it now. This was not how it was supposed to be.

This was not how it was supposed to be.

She tried moaning his name, but it made her feel silly. She kissed his cheeks and clean-​shaven chin, but his eyes remained tightly closed, and his rhythm never altered. He scarcely knew she was there.

Finally she arched her back and lifted her knees, trying to pull him farther in for herself, as if there were something there he had not quite reached. On his next thrust he slid deeper and pressed against something in her depths, but he darted away again; nothing could hold him or even slow him, it seemed.

Finally she arched her back and lifted her knees.

The next, and next, and next came, and Estrid tipped back her head in defeat. Abruptly he stopped. The muscles of his shoulders tensed into hard knots. Estrid had an instant of panic, fearing she had hurt him.

Then he breathed shakily in her ear, and she felt him twitching inside her, immobile. He took another breath and moaned, “Princess…” She felt his pleasure rippling into her in concentric waves.


Brede never stopped grunting and slamming into her until he was well finished and ready to roll directly off her or fall asleep on top of her. She had never known that a man could simply hold himself still inside of her at that moment—that she could feel it. He had let her feel. She felt strangely blessed, and she wanted to kiss his face, and she did not dare. It looked so helpless and pained.

'It looked so helpless and pained.'

At last the pleasure she had not felt began to swell up in her, spreading out in interlocking circles like ripples reflected from a shore. The mere fullness of his motionless girth and weight inside of her was more pleasure than she had felt in years. She wanted to hold him still and savor him.

But he had finished, and he stepped back and slipped out of her. His kilt flapped neatly down over the naked front of him before she even saw.

His kilt flapped neatly down over the naked front of him.

For Estrid it fizzled out towards the end, but that has to be the most explicitly erotic scene I’ve written to date. I think it is no coincidence that I wrote the sexy part in a single night when I was sick and had a high fever. Lucky how that worked out. It could have been a … Sigefrith chapter, or something! :-) 

1. Magog kisses Lasrua in “Malcolm goes out into the rain”

Published: July 22, 2007
Chapter Date: October 131085

Magog is about to return home to Scotland after a very short visit to Lothere. He regrets he hasn’t had time to flirt with Lasrua, but fortunately she steps out into the rain when he’s leaving—supposedly to say goodby to Finn.

Malcolm gets in a little flirting after all, and has just been told that Lasrua’s former sweetheart is dead.

But when he bowed his head in sympathy, she bowed her head closer to his.

“I must be taking my chances then,” he sighed.

“I beg your pardon?” she asked.

When he leaned towards her, she drew up her body shyly, but she did not exactly step away. There remained only a few inches of rain between them.

“I cannot be asking him whether he would mind me kissing you.”

'I cannot be asking him whether he would me kissing you.'

She tried to protest, “I beg your—”

In spite of his age and his limp, Malcolm could still pounce like a cat.

Colban and Olaf groaned, Domnall applauded, Finn stopped in mid-​babble, and Egelric laughed aloud.

Egelric laughed aloud.

Those first instants were all Malcolm knew of their reactions. Even at his worst moments—even with Maire’s cook—it could not be said that Malcolm could kiss with his lips while his mind was too far elsewhere, but this elf-​lass captured all his attention.

Suddenly he was a boy of less than fifteen himself, kissing a girl for the first time, learning how a mouth besides his own could taste and feel. He was old and jaded, and he had kissed hundreds of girls, but nothing had prepared him for Lasrua. Her mouth was cool and wet and sweet, like a ripe plum plucked at night and bitten with the dew still on it, and it only made a man hungrier the more he ate of it.

Lasrua's mouth was cool and wet and sweet.

As for him, never had any comparison of passion to fire seemed so apt, however poetic. In a few moments he would be consumed entirely, like a log in a furnace—but perhaps logs too gloried in the flames. Surely their entire tranquil lives as trees were meant only to prepare them for their passionate deaths. Malcolm was not certain he had not been born for this.

She had only struggled briefly and soon relaxed, opening her mouth to him and letting him guide her as if she too were kissing for the first time and trying to learn. Perhaps she truly was.

Her lips were alive and rippling beneath his, but her body went limp, almost pouring itself out of his grasp. When he lifted his head to look at her properly, her face fell as still as a quiet lake, in spite of the rain that pattered over it, in spite of his breath.

Her face fell as still as a quiet lake.

Malcolm knew that look, but he had never called it forth merely by kissing a girl.

He saw now he had wasted more than an evening. His entire future seemed as bleak as the day. He would spend the rest of his life trying to recapture that kiss on other lips, growing old and bitter with the searching. If he rode out into that rain now, it would never stop falling, and the sun would never shine again.

If he rode out into that rain, he would never see the sun again.

He whispered, “Lass…” It was not meant to tease her, but it was all he could find to say. It seemed to him that if she did not understand without being told, there was nothing to say anyway.

Egelric coughed discreetly, but that was not enough to catch Malcolm’s attention. The sound of the front door flying open and slamming against the wall was.

There’s a lot of cool and watery imagery in that scene, which makes it a surprising choice for #1 Hottest Moment, but that kiss!

The graying, potbellied, formerly-“magnificent young lover of a queen” has just met his match. :-) 

Recap of the Top 10

  1. Magog kisses Lasrua in “Malcolm goes out into the rain”
  2. Estrid calls on K in “Estrid is made molten”
  3. Estrid drops her cloak in “Estrid is the craziest dream”
  4. Egelric gets close to Gunnilda in “Gunnilda has a late visitor”
  5. Magog has his way with Maud in “Maud is defeated”
  6. Aengus and Maire make out on the bench in “Aengus wears the hand of fate”
  7. Osh kisses Flann in “Liadan wins”
  8. Young Aed says goodbye to Congal in “Congal is left a lone man”
  9. Gunnilda stands up to Ethelmund in “Gunnilda tells Ethelmund what happened”
  10. Conrad stakes his territory in “Margaret is stung”

Some Runners-​up

  • Cat and Paul’s literally firey first time in “Cat learns what kisses are for”
  • Osh and Flann’s airy “elf kiss” after Osh draws the heart in “Flann learns to write”
  • Sir Sigefrith skips straight to second base with Wynflaed in “Wynflaed is kissed”
  • Iylaine climbs all over Malcolm’s half-​naked, slick-​with-​rain body in “Iylaine sees what she wants”
  • Young Iylaine crawls all over Malcolm in bed in “Iylaine comes as an assassin”… doubtlessly more aware of Malcolm’s hard-​on than Malcolm thinks she is.
  • Lord Colban and Lady Maire exchange a glance in “Cearball learns the conditions”:

    She patted her husband’s breast and stepped between him and Cearball on her way to the stairs. Colban snatched her hand and pulled her arm taut. He gave her that hungry stare men tended to wear when they found Cearball in close conversation with their wives.

    He pulled, but Maire stood firm. She waited in silence until he kissed the back of her hand and let it drop. Then she gave him that sly smile, full of promise, that women gave their husbands when they both knew Cearball was only a toy.

  • Britamund enjoys foreplay more than she wants to admit to herself in “Britamund becomes a wife”
  • Lar and Imin exchange several smoldering, sweaty glances in “Lar becomes the nameless thing”
  • Finn gives a “real kiss” to Connie in “Finn is a fairy tale hero”
  • Cearball’s caravan kiss with Gwynn in “Gwynn is left with nothing to say”

    With one last, fluttering glance of her right eye she saw her father’s face, but Cearball kissed the outer corner of the other, and like a key turning in a lock, they both fell closed.

    All down her cheek he trailed tiny kisses until his lips reached hers, and then they lingered. He slowly kissed halfway across the upper, then he nudged them slightly apart with his and kissed the rest of the way along the lower, harder and more hungrily the more it trembled.

    When he reached the opposite corner of her mouth, however, the kisses turned tiny again and trailed off along the edge of her chin, like a caravan moving on after stopping to take refreshment at a well. When he lifted his face away from hers she could feel the cool tracks drying in the air.

    He traced the curve of her jaw with his finger in conclusion. “So,” he whispered, “our first word together was a kiss.”

    'Our first word together was a kiss.'

    It might have made the Top 10 if only it weren’t Cearball making us cringe with his Cearbally Cearballness!

  • And finally that one picture of Magog in “Malcolm breaks a thousand mirrors”

    Malcolm stripped and and went down to the water.

    …with his fine butt. ;-) 

Your thoughts

All the above are totally my opinion, of course. I don’t know what can be more subjective than what turns a person on.

So what do you think? What moments did I miss?

And does this story need MOAR SECKS, or are we doing fine with the smoldering stares and the kissing? What unconsummated longing should I tackle next? >8)