Thursday, March 28, 2019

Identity in Writing Erotic Fiction

"According to a scientific study by researcher Harold Leitenberg of The Journal of Sex Research, women who read romance or erotic novels have an astounding 74 per cent more sex with their partners than those who don’t."
"Research from the Canadian company has shown when it comes to downloads and audiobooks, men are reading/listening to almost as much erotica as women, and account for around one third of erotica audiobook downloads."
So reading erotica isn't limited to one gender; it's enjoyed by all, and it's actually good for you! In addition to improving your sex life, reading erotica and romance can help you live out fantasies you may not be able to fulfill in your daily life, it opens doors to other sexual ideas, it allows a person to experience sexuality from the perspective of another person's identity, and it allows a person to do all of this and more inside the safety of their own head! Looking at Amazon's top 100 list for erotic fiction, you'll notice best sellers aren't limited to heterosexual stories. Like any genre of fiction, consumers from all sexual and physical identities are reading.

But what about the people who write these stories? Does an erotic fiction author's gender or sexual identity play a role in how or what they write? Do they know who they write for and is it OK to write from an identity not their own? I've asked a number of erotic and romance authors about this. Here's what they had to say:

Q: Are you aware of the gender demographic(s) that read(s) your work?
 “No, not really. Most of the comments on my blog posts are from women, but more men have been commenting recently. I suspect that there are quite a few men reading my stories, but are doing so quietly.” –Ria Restrepo
"Yes. Based on the responses and reviews I've received I do believe I have a pretty good idea. It is as eclectic a mix as the stories that I tend to write. Varying wildly from book to book and story to story. I have stories that are gay male, transgender, lesbian, May-December romance, interracial, and I have a dual collection of horror short stories that push all kinds of boundaries. My readers follow the same patterns.” –M.S. Tarot
“No.” –Delilah Night
“Judging by reviews and social media followers, I believe it is a fairly wide gender demographic reading my books. It differs by title, with more transgender or nonbinary readers picking up what I will call my ‘standard’ erotica, but the cross-genre books - those that blend horror, fantasy, and adventure with the erotica - seem to have reached a wider audience.” –Sally Bend
"Not precisely. It appears that there are more men than women, but I definitely have both. I couldn't say the precise breakdown." Reed James
"I’m not generally aware of who is buying my books, but I have heard that women tend to read more than men do, especially when it comes to erotica. Nonbinary readers seem to enjoy a fair share of erotica as well."Richard Bacula
Q: Do you have a target gender or sexuality that you specifically write for?
"I've actually struggled with who my target audience is. I've always written stories that turn me on, but when I first started writing erotica, my stories were what was traditionally considered male-centric fantasies. They were smut, porn, or whatever you want to call it. The writing was more vulgar and less nuanced. Even though my taste for down and dirty sex is still very much alive, I think the quality of my writing has improved.
Those early stories generated a lot of feedback from men—mostly hitting on me. It was flattering at first, but then I started feeling like an X-rated version of Pride and Prejudice. It's a truth universally acknowledged, that a woman who writes erotica, must be in want of a horny guy to fuck her silly in real life. That may be true for some, but for me it has to be the right guy.
At the same time, I was trying to write mainstream romance. I've always loved the romance genre—especially the steamier stuff—and wanted to be a successfully published author. Back then, romance was predominately targeted to heterosexual women. So I was torn between writing romance for women and dirty stories for men. Ultimately, I decided to go where the money was and that was in writing romance for women.
However, that decision wasn't as simple as it may have seemed. Love it or hate it, Fifty Shades of Grey changed a lot of things. I think it gave more women the power to embrace their sexuality. Hearts and flowers are great, but so is raunchy kinky sex. You don't have to choose between romances with sweet kisses and tender touches, or dirty stories featuring spanking, bondage, and domination and submission. At least in erotic romance, you can have it all.
Bottom line, I'm a heterosexual female who loves passionate stories about characters with a strong chemistry that have lots of dirty, kinky sex. So that's what I write. I think there are lots of women out there that enjoy those kinds of stories, too. Primarily, that's my audience. If there are men out there that enjoy my stories, too, all the better.” –Ria Restrepo
“By far the most well received of my stories have been ones with a younger man falling for an older woman. That being said I tend to make those young men more like the teens of my generation than the teenagers of the current day and time. This is deliberate. I'm trying to appeal to mid-forty to late sixty, heterosexual women. I make these young men seem like the young men they knew when they were that age. Or as well as I can without it being ridiculous.
Equally, I also tend to catch young hetero males who are attracted to older women with the same stories.” –M.S. Tarot
“My target demographic is myself. What do I want to read in romance?” –Delilah Night
“While I cannot say I deliberately write for a gender, I do expect my stories to speak loudest to LGBT sexualities. It thrills me to hear from ‘straight’ readers who had their eyes opened to the romantic potential in a transsexual partner, or to the erotic possibilities of a futanari lover, but I tend to write with the assumption that readers are, at the very least, bi-curious.” –Sally Bend
"I write erotica for myself. Since I'm a guy, it probably appeals more to men than women." Reed James
"I generally assume that my readers are women, but I try to write for everyone to some extent. I’m probably least popular with gay males, because I haven’t done any male/male stories as of yet."Richard Bacula
 Q: Does your gender identity influence your writing?
“Yes, I think so. I'm a woman who loves dominant men with a sensitive side. That's generally the point-of-view I write from, because it's what I know and I'm most comfortable writing. I haven't discounted writing from other perspectives, but I haven't felt the need to so far.” —Ria Restrepo
“Of course, there is no way that it couldn't. At times it makes it easier to write since I'm writing the familiar. But then again, at other times, it makes me have to challenge myself mentally. Taking on not only gender but culture, age, race, sexual discovery and all the rest ... well, that tends to bend my imagination into new and different shapes to help bring about the desired story. To me, it's all about emotion and story. Everything hangs on that.” —M.S. Tarot
“It's impossible for it not to. Just as my race, age, socioeconomic status, education level, and urban v rural upbrining influence my writing, the fact that I identify as a woman does as well.” –Delilah Night
“Oh, absolutely. I have used my fiction for a long time to explore and understand my own gender identity, finding a sense of comfort and acceptance on the page that I had not always felt in the flesh. I am at a point where my writing is more a celebration than an exploration, but part of me will always write for the anxious, lonely teenager behind me.” —Sally Bend
"I don't think to. It's not like I think about it when I'm writing. I think about the character, the scene, and what will make it a hot and sexy read."Reed James
"I’m sure that my gender identity does influence my writing. I’m a cis het male, and I’m mostly into writing about male/female sex, with female/female sex as a close second. While I research everything as best I can, I’m sure my gender identity does provide the occasional gaps in knowledge."Richard Bacula
Q: How do you justify writing from the point of view of a gender or sexuality you don’t identify with?
“People are people no matter their gender or sexuality. As long as a writer is clear on a character's motivations and desires, they should be able to write plausible stories from any perspective. There is plenty of variability in the genders to make anything believable. There are sensitive men; there are crass women.
Whatever the gender, a writer just has to be able to get inside their character's head and tell their story. I think I'm a pretty empathic writer and feel capable of expressing the feelings of characters of either gender.
Thus far, I've only written one story where I alternated from the female protagonist's point-of-view to the male's point-of-view. Sometimes you need to tell a story from more than one viewpoint, so that means you might need to get into the head of a character whose gender is different than your own.
Also, I think readers of either gender like reading the other gender's perspective. Surely you can't say all women feel the same way about something, but some do. I know there are heterosexual men who like reading stories from the female point-of-view—because they find it arousing and/or because to want insight into what some women feel about various situations. I also know that I like reading what the male characters are thinking, so I feel certain other women do, too.” —Ria Restrepo
“By being damn good at doing whatever it takes to sell that point of view. I will research to the hundredth degree if I must to bring that character alive in the minds of my reader.
I have also been told by several authors that I can write anything and make it hot. That comes not from writing scenes that sizzle but by bringing the reader into the scene. Hooking them not just with the story but with characters that they identify with and then can't help but empathize with. Emotion crosses all genders, touches all people. To paraphrase the song 'We're only human. Of flesh and blood, we're made.'
We all weep, some just hide it better. 
We all rage, some just channel it into ways that hide their anger.
We all laugh, even if some do it with only their eyes.
Now if a writer can make his characters cry, get mad, or laugh in a manner realistically enough that the reader feels like they are there with them, well then selling what that character does between the sheets is simplicity.” —M.S. Tarot
“Romance is a fantasy genre. My male characters fit that—they're interesting, educated, good in bed, and have more strongly held ethics than a great deal of men I've run across in my forty years. Writing from a gay male perspective is harder to justify. It's not my voice. But in both cases, I utilize betas who fit the gender identity of the characters (for instance, I wouldn't worry about having a male reader in my f/f novel, for example, but it would be nice to have a woman who identifies as queer beyond myself vet it. My betas know me well enough to know that I want to be called out and do better at representation.” —Delilah Night
“We are writers and creators, people of limitless imagination. Diversity lives in our imagination, and the page would be a very boring place if we only wrote about the experiences we have lived. I mean, I have written about futanari, dragons, dominant women, tentacle beasts, submissive sissies, mummies, gay men, giants, interracial lesbian, demons, and more . . . and I can only lay claim to a few of those identities. I think we owe it to readers to do our research, to educate ourselves on the genders, sexualities, races, or cultures we write about so that we can do them justice, but I reject the idea that we should have to limit or justify our narrative choices.” —Sally Bend
"Why do I have to justify writing any character? The author's job is to write whatever truth they can in their story. Does one gender, one sexuality, one arbitrary identity, created by a person who wishes to gain control of the chaos of the world by pigeonholing us all into one slot or another, hold truth? Or do we share it with each other in a continuous exchange of ideas that can only be held back by such reductive thinking?" Reed James
"I’ve never really worried about it that much, in part probably because while gender IS important, I don’t consider it to overwhelm all the other common experiences we all share as human beings. Also, I read a lot of Romance novels when I was growing up, and I’m very familiar with reading about sex from a female point of view. I’m sure this helps me be comfortable writing from the same view. 
Ultimately, I justify my writing other genders with the reactions I get from female readers. I turned in a female POV short (non-erotic, although there were some sex scenes) story in college once, and a man in the class challenged my authority to write a female character faking an orgasm, for example. The women in the class simply wanted to know how I wrote so WELL from a female point of view. I considered their responses an adequate answer to the man’s question."Richard Bacula
Conclusions: It seems that writing from the heart for the truth of a character is the overall consensus, regardless of the author's personal gender or sexual identity. The best way an author can write from another perspective is with respect, imagination, and appropriate research if needed. The purpose of fiction is to transcend the levels of our own world, to invest our time in another, to better understand ourselves, those around us, and all the possibilities that come with it. Keep an open mind. Stay curious. And keep reading!

Find These Authors On Social Media:

Ria Restrepo             M.S. Tarot           Deliliah Night

Sally Bend         Reed James          Richard Bacula  

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Dragon's Gift FREE READ

The Dragon’s Gift 
by Angora Shade

Copyright 2016 by Angora Shade
Edited by Paige Prince

Genre: Lesbian Paranormal Erotic Fiction

Note: The following is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author. This work may not be reproduced in whole or in part without explicit permission from the author. If you enjoy this work, please consider supporting other works by Angora Shade.

I hate dragons, but I love Maxine. Not love-love, but love in the way you love the best friend who might have been the love of your life. In my ideal world, we might have, could have, and should have been more. But Maxine, at the age of eighteen, was already busy with half the boys in town. It was obvious to me then she probably wouldn’t ever tip my way. 

Still, after years of friendship, she’s stuck with me through thick and thin, broken hearts, and missed opportunities. It’s fair to say we’ve built the kind of friendship to last no matter what. To me, the definition of real love and friendship are the same: it’s choosing to take on someone else’s shit and living with it, just because. 

And shit is what I have to sit through—another low budget, poorly written tech college theatre production, which will further solidify my undying, never-ending, shatterproof support of my best friend. I deceive myself with my actions, thinking continuously doing such things paints me in a good light. Although I’m pretty sure Maxine is straight, there’s still a little ball of hope trying to unfold inside my heart, encouraging me to be patient, pushing me to wait for the day Maxine might come around. 

Yes, I’m deluded. I can’t help it. Maxine shines the brightest in my world; always has, and undoubtedly always will. 

I shift my weight trying to become more comfortable in my ancient, worn out seat, and I force my eyes wide open, trying not to nod off in the relaxing low light of the room. A muted din of other supportive friends and family plays like white noise to my right and left as they chat about the production and examine the flyer they were given at the door. I glance down at my own and notice each actor’s goofy mug shot is plastered next to a blurb about their studies, past performances, and role in the current production of The Dragon’s Gift. 

I crumple my flyer in my fist without further examination. Fucking dragons. Of all the fantastical creatures out there—vampires, werewolves, zombies, shapeshifters—Maxine has to play a stupid dragon. It’s not even a mainstream fairytale creature anymore. It’s a lead role, which is great for Maxine, but I’ve seen a photo of the costume. It’s terrible. She’ll flow over the stage with a sack of frayed layered fabric trailing behind her like a grotesque rainbowed bridal gown. Atop her shoulders will sit an oversized bobblehead with large painted eyes and feathered eyebrows. And to make it worse, Maxine has told me the production is silent like ancient Asian cinema. The only sound I’ll hear from her will be the jingle she’s told me she’ll make due to the multiple bells attached to her sleeves. What a mess of creativity! All I can visualize happening in this production are overdramatized gestures, a weak interpretation of historical craft, and no one in the audience actually understanding what the hell is going on. 


If only this were a serious show. Surely a more intelligent director would demand proper—if not historically accurate— costumes. 

But this is Maxine’s big day. I’ll have to take it how it is and later lie like a traitor if necessary. 

At least there’s her promise for after the show. She told me there’s a surprise for me, and I have absolutely no idea what it could be. Knowing Maxine, it must be something good, even if it’s just an invitation to join the after show cast party. She knows I live for them; those things are always wild. 

I straighten up in my seat as the house lights flash their cue to the audience. A hush falls over the space, and like forced tunnel vision; the stage becomes the center of my universe. The orchestra begins a somber melody of oriental music while the long red curtains open, and an eerie fog blows in thick swirls, billowing off the edge of the stage and out into the aisles. A blanket of white puffy fabric is draped here and there indicating winter, and pale yellow overhead spotlights illuminate daytime. I exhale loudly and mutter my distaste through my teeth as I think that this set puts “low budget” to shame. 

A woman’s voice fills the theatre singing high and sorrowful through intermittent tears, while half her form is visible from behind a cardboard wall waving her delicate, pink favor. At the same time, the dragon—my Maxine—with her heavy unstable head and distinct jingle of bells, rushes out center stage, arms spread, appearing angered and distraught. 

I want to laugh, but suppress the urge by clearing my throat. Her costume is more awful than I thought. There’s a visible string connecting the dragon’s long tail to Maxine’s wrist, but what’s worse, the luscious curves of my best friend, which I have so often wanted to touch, taste, and explore, are completely consumed by her character. There’s not even a crack of skin visible where her delicately clawed hands and feet meet the rest of her costume as they scuffle in their erratic dance across the floor. Each lunge right and left sends her tail moving like a jump rope and Maxine’s head tipping in the opposite direction from her movement. I want to see a great tangle occur and her head fall from her shoulders. I chastise myself for the thoughts. Comedic accidents would be more entertaining for me to watch, but it would ruin Maxine’s big role. 

Cymbals clang, the dragon jumps with a loud tintinnabulation high into the air, and a handful of soldiers rush in stage right with their swords drawn and their gestures wild. The dragon’s hands clench into fists with anger as the music crescendos and the continued onslaught drives him away. The soldiers follow with pats on the back to one another, and the lights dim. If the story wasn’t so predictable, I’d be more interested. Of course soldiers are going to drive away the big scary dragon from the beautiful maiden! I curl my legs up onto my seat and rest my chin on my knees, hoping the new position will help keep my ass from falling asleep. 

The lights brighten to slower music and the rough cutout of a dark forest. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, but it reminds me of every cliché beast hideaway from childhood stories. I hear a fog machine kick on and soft, thin waves puff over the stage, muting the stale, stationary light around multiple traditional paper lanterns. Defeated and alone, the dragon’s form drags its feet and then collapses in a heap. Its bobblehead shakes like it was flicked by a child’s finger, an emotion I determine as sadness. 

I suddenly find my feet have found their way back to the floor as the beautiful maiden floats across the stage, her pink favor from earlier still clutched in her hand. Her hair is free and falls like black silken threads to her slim waist while her costume hugs tightly to her womanly shape. I don’t recognize her as one of Maxine’s friends, but I find myself suddenly more interested in the production. She’s the physical type I would go for: tall, busty, and glamorous. I make a mental note to ask Maxine about her after the show, fantasizing about a possible new date. 

The maiden spies on the dragon and then comes out of her hiding place. The dragon is startled and takes a defensive stance. I prepare for her bloody murder, but suddenly the dragon rushes to her side and embraces the maiden passionately while the accompanying music becomes soft and sweet. 

I smile when I realize this production is a love story. Maybe I don’t hate dragons so much after all, so long as they’re not the stereotypical demon whose life holds no backstory and whose future is set only to pillage, burn, and roast people alive. That story’s overdone. 

I feel my fascination with the attractive love interest and my best friend escalate as I continue to watch. Maybe Maxine isn’t into girls, but her acting ability has me believing the dragon absolutely is. The woman is scooped up into the dragon’s arms and ravished in the most intense PG sex scene I’ve ever seen. The music becomes intense, and I feel my heart beating with the same rhythm of a timbre drum. I watch their bodies entwine, their gestures fly in quick unison, and at their exquisite moment of climax, cymbals clang forcefully enough to leave a stinging reverberation inside my skull. I can’t turn away. It’s far too beautiful a thing. Sated with pleasure, the stage lights illuminate their satisfied forms in pale orange light like a physical afterglow while they hold and pet one another. 

Wow. I think, Go Maxine! 

The music begins to grow louder and alarm builds in the movements of the maiden and her dragon lover. The hair on my arms spikes and I notice the audience is still and on the edge of their seats, as if about to exhale the breath they’ve been holding in unison. Soldiers enter stage right, their weapons drawn. Lights flicker in angry shades of red as the dragon battles them with fire and fists, but the army’s strength in numbers quickly overpowers him. They surround the dragon in a tight circle, and the maiden screams silently as a soldier runs her dragon through. She collapses in anguish as the accompanying music becomes a dull hum. The lovers reach for one another, but make no contact. Darkness falls across the stage, and the music goes quiet. 

When the lights come back to the stage, it’s clear some time has passed. The white puffy fabric of winter has disappeared, and fresh flowers in multiple vases stand in a row across the front of the stage. The maiden enters stage left, singing a high, happy tune, rubbing and cooing at her swollen belly. Fog billows in a great wisp around her as she faces the audience and smiles. The fog follows her as she exits the stage, lights fade to black, and the curtain closes. 

I’m shocked. I sit with the audience thinking both bravo and what the fuck? The soldiers might have gotten the best of the dragon and “rescued” the maiden fair, but the dragon really got the best of them all. He said to hell with traditional coupling and followed his desires! I find myself feeling thankful for historical theatre and its ability to tell an entertaining story rather than the cliché Disney version. Fucking genius. I think that if more people had grown up with stories like this, society would have fewer issues accepting people for loving however and whomever they choose. 

I laugh at myself. Fuck Prince Charming—or Princess Charming even; give me a passionate reptile! 

House lights come on abruptly and the audience stands as a dozen actors take the stage. Holding their hands in unison, the performers bow to genuine applause. I clap with as much enthusiasm as I can, and give my loudest whistle knowing Maxine will know it’s me. I’m so pleased for her. I just wish I could see her face from behind her costume to determine her own emotions. I grab my jacket as the audience breaks. The actors take their leave, but Maxine makes sure to catch my attention before I follow the throng out the main entrance. She points to a side door near the front of the stage, and I beeline for it, excited to congratulate her on a job well done. 

The side door opens into a sparsely lit beige hallway that smells of stale air and the unmistakable aroma of heavy stage makeup. Door hinges creak loudly up ahead, and I turn to my right in time to see the train of Maxine’s dragon costume slide out of view. I pick up my steps and follow, finding a small, square wooden door resembling a maintenance entrance. 

A crack in the door reveals little of what’s behind it other than darkness. I find myself hesitating and wondering what Maxine is up to. In all the horror movies, this would be the part where the psycho killer lures the stupid slut to her death…but trusting my best friend, I crouch down and push the door open. 

The air is cool and even staler than the hallway, as if no one has been inside for a long time. There are cobwebs hanging from large wooden support beams, and the ceiling almost scrapes the top of my head as I straighten up. As my eyes adjust to the dim light of a single paper lantern in the center of the space, it becomes clear I’m beneath the stage. 

Maxine—still in full dragon costume—shimmies her hips at me and gestures me closer. I laugh at how ridiculous she is, but in this light, I think her costume looks more believable. The darkness pushing against the paper lantern seems to suppress the rough fabric scales I’d seen visible on stage, smoothing them out and giving them an almost fluid, snake-like luster. Even the head of her costume appears more stable, with a grin plastered across its lips I hadn’t seen from my seat. I can even forgive the jingle she makes when she moves; in this space, when she’s not running around with overdramatized gestures, the sound is almost pleasant. 

I scratch the back of my head and chuckle. “You were so great on stage,” I say. “I’ll confess I wasn’t expecting such a good story, but it really sucked me in.” I laugh again as the preposterous thought from earlier pops back into my head. “Your love scene had me wondering what it’d be like to fuck a dragon.” 

Maxine’s hands shimmy down over her chest, pressing firmly against her breasts. Their shape—presumably from the way the light hits it—no longer hides behind the sack I initially thought the costume to be. In fact, her wide hips bow on either side of her body as her hands continue their downward drag, round over right and left, and disappear behind her back where she grasps her ass cheeks. 

Another chuckle escapes my lips; she’s obviously making fun of me. Yes—sexy, sexy dragon. “So why are we under the stage?” 

A queasy sensation begins to rotate in my gut as my laughter resonates off the empty walls and bounces back at me. I’m not a fan of small, dark spaces to begin with, and I hate that I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t help but wonder if this has something to do with the surprise Maxine mentioned for after her show. 

Maxine tilts her head from side to side, but doesn’t speak. I feel almost like she’s studying me. She reaches her hand out to me, extending her delicately clawed fingers and grasping the digits I freely give her. It’s strange to feel the warmth of her skin without discerning the emotions from her face, and stranger still; she’s giving off more heat than usual. Perhaps she’s roasting under her costume. Surely, this stuffy room doesn’t help either. 

I gesture toward the sliver of light from the semi-open maintenance door, swallow hard, and mutter, “Why don’t we get out of here and—” 

A long claw presses against my lips, preventing my words from becoming anything more than unintelligible garble. It’s one of those sensitive places on my body; when touched under the right circumstances by the right person, I spiral into delicious shivers. The sensation penetrates both upper and lower lips like a delicate kiss, courses through my cheeks, and triggers my on button. And Maxine knows this. We’re friends—we talk about everything from our boring breakfast made by Grandma on vacation in the boonies, to the last person either of us fucked. My triggers are no secret. 

I gulp as her claw becomes the flat of her finger, tracing the outline of my mouth and further sending me alight. I want to close my eyes and accept the responses from my body, but my mind tells me I should see who causes them and understand why. But all I see is the dragon and the light of the lantern flickering, appearing and disappearing as the shape of Maxine’s costume continues to sway back and forth, repeatedly blocking it out. 

Why knowingly trigger me? Maxine is never cruel, nor does she make decisions lightly. She’s methodical in all aspects of her life, carefully choosing every move before its execution. I think surprise and want to melt into the floor. There could be no greater gift than finally experiencing the touch from the single most desirable person in my life, and no better place for her first experience with the same sex than the private dark under the stage where Maxine has just fabulously performed. 

A single clawed digit pushes into my mouth, spreading my lips apart and caressing over the flat of my tongue. I create an O shape around it and curl around her finger. The front of my tongue slides smoothly over her pointed tip as she withdraws, and I enjoy the light smacking sound our actions make from my suction once she’s left my mouth. My mind wanders as I imagine gliding in and out of multiple places…extra-long caresses reaching extra, extra deep…If this is really happening, I tell myself I cannot let her down. 

I reach with both my hands to grasp the hand still floating in front of my face. I kiss each knuckle in turn, and then lick the space between her thumb and pointer finger with the tip of my tongue. The texture of the costume is rough in the opposite direction of the layered fabric, and smooth as glass down the other way. I taste something I imagine to be the remnants of the stage makeup she might’ve helped a fellow actor draw on, but it’s the warmth radiating from underneath that lures me further; I want to feel it all over my body. Grasping her hand tightly, I place it over my face, guide it down over my features to my neck, and push into the dip of my shirt collar. I feel the trail linger like a mild burn long after her hand cascades onto my shirt fabric and pauses above my rapidly beating heart. 

My eyes closed sometime during the action, but I open them to confess what I’ve always wanted to say, “I want you.” 

Maxine doesn’t speak a word, but her head tilts from side to side again. I wish she’d say something—anything—to assure me of her intentions. A few touches, some light kisses—they mean less to me without the emotional connection inflicted by words. I’d like to hear her tell me she’s always secretly desired me, been curious. A confession of mutual love would send me over the moon…. But maybe she’s been afraid to explore the same sex. Maybe, up until today, she hasn’t had the courage because she fears rejection or she’s unsure how to go about things. Maybe now, under this stage with me, is the only way she knows how to pursue her desire, and perhaps remaining in costume makes taking the step from “straight” to “explorative” a bit easier. It’s also kinky as fuck, and I can’t help but grin. I know she’s into roleplay—she’s told me before. But I can’t let myself totally lose my head in the excitement. This is my Maxine and I’m here for her, any way she needs, wants… and always. 

The flickering shadows cast from the lantern gives the illusion of movement from the eyes of the dragon’s costume. They seem to scan over me, observe my body from top to bottom the way people secretly appraise the object of their desire from across a room. I feel like Maxine is looking at me for the first time—really seeing me. I feel adored and wanted. My heart skips a few beats as insecurity floods my brain—what if I’m not good enough, what if she regrets this later? But as I feel her two hands drag down my arms and hold me securely by my waist, and then turn me so my back is pressed against her front; I don’t care. As a hand gently kneads into my abdomen, and another hand pushes down my chest, invading over the skin inside my shirt—I forget I ever had a question. 

The silky touch of the dragon costume flows over my skin like a cascade of water rather than frayed fabric. It glides over me as both hands pull at my shirt in opposite directions— one exploring the divot of my navel and the other slipping inside my bra. Arousal stirs inside my chest and rushes to my extremities as another on button—my nipple—is gently brushed, then tweaked, flicked, and pulled. I hiss through my teeth as my flesh is slightly elongated, and as the hand on my stomach slides down to the waist of my jeans. 

Popping sounds echo around us as the multiple buttons of my jeans snap as they’re forced open. I feel hot breath on my neck and smell something reminding me of smoke. It makes me wonder if the fog machine’s chemicals imprinted onto the dragon costume or if the last person who wore it had a love affair with cigarettes. Strange…I wish she’d take the head off now and allow me to feel her lips and her tongue upon my skin, but instead, she continues to inch her hand into my pants, pulling the fabric down with her fingers until my jeans fall to the floor around my feet. Her other hand remains firmly attached to my breast. The tail connected to her wrist there drags softly along my torso, and for a brief moment I think it has a life of its own; it seems to rise up and down, curl under where Maxine’s fingers cup me, and caress me with a pressure of a more controlled appendage. 

But it’s just a costume. Imagination runs rampant in the dark. 

My heart beats with pangs I feel echoing in my ears. I think Maxine must feel it too, maybe even hear it as well. I want her hands to keep moving, to keep making me feel this way. Let her remain in costume if she’s more comfortable doing so. I can’t and won’t set rules for her. I remember my first time with another woman: a private place, a willing beauty, and the kind of partner who patiently allowed me a detailed survey of her body. Yes, I want the same for Maxine. Let her feel me—love me—and learn from my reactions what actions of her own are most pleasing. 

She drags both hands down over my navel and presses my back tightly to her again. Her breasts are squished to almost nothing, and I think I feel the poke of both her nipples, even when the logical part of me says it’s not possible; her costume is too thick, and my shirt’s in the way. 

We sway together for a moment as her little bells sing, and I begin to think she’s unsure of what to do next. “I need more,” I whisper, and hope it’s enough to encourage her, yet we only continue to sway. I think it’s only natural. Maybe she’s nervous. 

I reach my arm around behind me and trail the flat of my hand downward against her as smoothly as I can. I cup between her legs once I’ve trailed low enough, and I hear a soft hum come into my ear. Grasping Maxine’s hand still upon my stomach, I guide it down to mimic the position I hold on her, and press her fingers up and down my crotch through my thin cotton panties. The extra curled length of her claws seems to focus pressure more intensely, and I know I’m growing damp. Each slide upon my panties makes them stick a little more securely to my skin. The word sublime comes to mind as we stroke one another. This is my Maxine, and this is what I’ve always wanted. 

The maintenance door creaks and suddenly slams shut. A cool draft accompanies the sound, rushing past my face and blowing my hair toward the back of my head. I feel a deep breath from Maxine at my back, and watch as the shadows from the paper lantern flicker abruptly as the candle inside protests before snuffing out. The darkness around us is complete, save for a sliver of light visible from underneath the door; and all the hair on my arms and the back of my neck stands on end. 

But I’m not afraid. I’m with my best friend. Here in the dark, under the stage—the might have, could have, should have—is finally happening. 

I hear another hum in my ear, but it’s deeper and breathy like muted laughter. I add my own amusement into the dark as I embrace the moment, and push away the frightening thought of the closed door locking us inside. I can think of worse situations than finding myself trapped under a strange with a lover for an undeterminable amount of time…. 

Hands move upward over my arms and press lightly upon my shoulders. Guided down upon the floor, I feel its cool, rough surface contact my knees, and then my hands and rear as I sit down. I can’t help but feel nervous; I’ve dreamed of this happening for so long. I wipe my sweaty palms against my bare thighs and embrace Maxine’s midsection as she lowers me flat against the floor. 

My heart flutters. This is really happening. 

Another hum comes from inside Maxine’s costume. She takes my hands away from her body and lays them under her own. We drag our hands in unison down over my torso and bunch the fabric of my shirt together into fists. In a graceful movement, we’ve shimmied my shirt out from under my back, and discarded it over my head. The air is cool against my bare skin, but the contrast of Maxine’s warm touch flowing over me leaves behind a trail of sweet warmth. 

Maxine’s heavy costume makes a soft thud next to me as she settles at my side, shucking my shoes from my feet and tossing them. My jeans, in a rumple around my ankles, quickly follow, and I reach out to her again with both hands. I grasp nothing but air, but the tinkle of her bells tells me she’s there. 

Mouth; hot and wet. 

The sensation of slick searing tongue upon my torso is exquisite. And the play her hands make over my breasts; divine. Her claws drag over my bra straps and pull one down from my left shoulder with abrupt aggression, exposing my breast with the impatience of a child. Her hot tongue trails upward just as quickly, and I moan into the darkness as I feel my nipple engulfed. I’m glad she’s lost her bobblehead. 

I needed to feel her mouth, needed her to taste me. Yet it’s strange—the texture of her lips is rougher than I imagined they would be, and the muscle behind them is intense. Perhaps it’s only her desire to play rough. I remind myself that Maxine has never been a kitten. 

I’m flooded with lust as Maxine straddles over my upper thighs, her weight a reassuring blanket in the dark. She grasps both my breasts and squeezes, and then drags one clawed hand down over my torso while her tongue licks in a hungry trail down to my navel. Her saliva lingers like sticky paint, evaporating slowly, and I love it. I can feel her impatience; it’s electric in the air, as is my own. I simply can’t remain still. I want to feel her touch everywhere. 

My hands find her one hand lingering under my breast, but she moves further down where I cannot reach her. It’s a deliberate tease; she enjoys topping people. She loves control, and has told me numerous stories of doing similar things to her boyfriends. I don’t mind. It’s me she’s craving now. 

Her hot tongue dips into my navel while both her hands grip my waist. She swirls in and around, and then plants soft kiss after kiss downward until she’s come to the crest of my underwear. Her breath falls warm and heavy here, almost as if she’s pausing to watch what I know she cannot see happening in this dark—the ridiculously slow peel of the cotton. It’s a big step for her, diving right in. It can be a little scary. 

I raise my hips slightly to encourage her to pull my panties down further, and she does. I’m breathing so loudly now, I almost drown out the jingle of her belled sleeves. It’s a strange music, but it’s our music. As Maxine drags the fabric down over my ass and thighs, she comes to rest at a crouch around my bent knees, and I feel her wrap one arm around my left leg while the other falls softly against the top of my pelvis. 

Her touch is excruciatingly warm. I want to both move away and embrace the heat at the same time, but Maxine doesn’t move. We’ve reached a precipice. A decision must be made. She could stop, or she could pleasure me. 

Boiling in my lust, I encourage her. “Love me,” I whisper. “I need to feel you.” 

Maxine’s hand on top of my pelvis continues to remain in place, but I feel her hot breath come closer to my exposure. I close my eyes and feel a jolt of surprise rattle through me when her mouth makes contact upon my bare pubic mound, and when I feel the tips of claws trailing down either side of 
my labia. 

I release the breath I’m holding when her mouth trails lower, licking my folds and searing my flesh. It’s almost too warm to endure, and I find that my body fidgets with indecision of whether the heat belongs there. But it’s wonderful and it’s slow. For her first time with a woman, Maxine is really taking her time, as it should be. She presses with the flat of her fingers over my petals, peels a side back, licks with the tip of her tongue, moves to the other side to plant a kiss, and then explores my very center with a depth no one has managed to make before with only the use of their tongue. 

Exquisite. Perhaps Maxine is not the novice I thought she was. She doesn’t fumble, doesn’t make a mess of things. Each touch, tap, and probe is deliberate and makes me verbalize my pleasure aloud. Yes. I am her maiden fair, ravished and consumed. 

My back arches slightly and I feel the arm Maxine has around my upper thigh move underneath my backside. She squeezes me tightly; the points of her claws dig into my flesh with a motion that falls into a strange synchronization with the repeated plunging of her tongue. I push my pelvis slightly up to her, wishing for a deeper reach I know she cannot make, and my body writhes with beautiful frustration. My legs are sweating from the heat around my lower body, my nipples are hard peaks of neglected flesh, but changing her position or touching myself to bring more pleasure would be blasphemous. I want to see what Maxine can do to me. I want to let her have control to make me feel whatever it is she pleases. 

Her mouth moves upward and her free hand on my outer petals comes to my center. Her tail, still attached at her wrist slithers across me with her hand, and I feel her excited probing at my opening. Just as I think I can take no more teasing, I feel her tongue fly upon my clit. I cry out. My heart thunders and I push down around the invading penetration. 

My flesh is pushed and stretched, my muscles hugging and releasing a thick intrusion. My mind wonders how many fingers Maxine is using, but the thought doesn’t remain in my mind for long. I’m too warm, my body writhing, my toes curling. The tightness I always experience at climax is building quickly, lengthening like a rubber band about to snap as her rapid motions push too deep for my usual comfort. Her tongue curls around my hardened bud, and oblivion tumbles all around me. 

I see stars. They’re all about me, flashing this way and that like dust cascading through a stream of light. I could pluck them individually like jewels if I were capable of movement, but I feel perfectly still—without breathing or even the desire to—despite my shaking limbs and my burning lungs. It’s almost as if I’m looking down upon myself. I witness the continued attentions from my lover as she rocks me with pleasure, and it only makes the tightening in my abdomen grow again, sending me a second time into the twinkling night sky. 

And it doesn’t stop. She drains me; my internal muscles pulse around her impaling digits, the pressure of her body around me the only thing capable of taming my spastic motions. 

Oblivion feels like a malleable substance when her attentions come to a halt, and only a satisfied ache remains inside me. Time is meaningless, and I wish to remain in the dark—exploring, existing, loving—until Maxine and I become the subject of fairytales. But no moment is permanent, or no moment would hold meaning. My will to move returns with this knowledge, but I find I’m only able to toss my head from one side to the other. The desire to hold Maxine is great, but she seems as exhausted as I am, and remains where she is between my legs. Her hands have come to rest below my navel, and I feel the press of her costume rough against my thigh. Rapid, hot breath falls against me, and neither of us speak a word. 

A sudden chorus of excited voices from the hallway carries over into our room under the stage. I feel Maxine’s hand startle, and move away with a lurch that sends all her bells into an angry rhythm. I hear her breath suck in harshly as she stands and abruptly stops short. 

“Where’s the cast party at?” I hear a male voice ask. 

Maxine tiptoes closer to the door as the voices grow louder. They seem to have paused directly in front of our only exit. 

“At the Irish Pub just off of campus,” someone answers back. 

“Shit! Can I get a ride with you?” 

Maxine sighs loud enough for me to hear. I can understand her concern; she’s probably not ready to face the world about her blooming sexuality. Discovery here is out of the question. 

My body still feels too ravaged to walk, but I roll onto my side and fumble about the floor for my things. Liquid trails down my thigh, still warm and sticky, and I’m both shocked and amused I could produce such quantity, but then I think I’ve never orgasmed so long or violently before. Perhaps I squirted—must have; I’ve heard that can happen. Who knew it would be the touch of my best friend to bring me to physical places I’d never been before? 

I quickly shimmy back into my pants when I find them in a clump next to a shoe, and then continue in my search for my discarded shirt. I hope Maxine isn’t upset, but there’s no time for me to equally and thoroughly explore her here when she’s supposed to be somewhere else. The fear of discovery seems to have upset her anyway. I’d rather take our time on our own terms in a space where she feels more at ease. 

“You have no idea what this means to me,” I whisper. 

Maxine turns to look at me, the crack of light shifting from underneath the door backlighting her silhouette. Her shape is magnificent, even in costume, but she’s more than physical beauty. She’s graceful and talented, motivated, unstoppable…I wonder what she’s thinking, and I hope she expects a role reversal sometime soon. It’ll be on my mind until it happens. I’m already imagining how she might taste, how she’ll feel under my skin without the hindrance of a costume. Maybe I could wear one for her. I’ve always wanted to show her my Wonder Woman…. 

The conversation outside continues as I search about for my other shoe and throw it on. 

“Yeah, of course you can ride with me….” 

The voices trail down the hall, and I hear Maxine tentatively open the door, flooding the floor around me with light. Strangely, I see a thin blanket of smoke has covered the surface like a morning mist, and I think maybe the person in charge of the of the fog machine during the performance forgot to switch it off, and now it was flooding the stage above us, somehow seeping down through the floor of the tech school’s old stage. 

I frown and turn to Maxine, the light from the hallway a bit too brilliant to withstand. I blink several times before I notice she’s plopped her bobblehead back on. I frown again, wishing I’d have seen her beautiful face after our fabulous lovemaking. 

She gestures to the door. 

A pang of disappointment hits me, but I know she’s right. We can’t enter a room with other people at the same time. I’m probably flushed as hell—not to mention extremely sweaty—and she probably wants to return her costume to the proper place before we all take off. 

“Right,” I mutter. I smooth out my shirt and make sure I’ve secured all the buttons on my jeans. 

I squeeze past Maxine, rounding my left hand over her side and hips as I approach, and then grasp her hand as I move into the hallway. Her digits wrap around mine, her claws pinching together on top of one another. Fog begins to billow out at our feet, and I quickly lean back to kiss her bobblehead where I think her cheek should be. In proper light, up close, I think she’s really quite detailed. There’s even an iridescent sheen to the individual scales as my view of the light shifts. I decide the costume’s fabric isn’t the cheap kind like I initially thought; it’s much too firm, too smooth. I instantly regret my negative thoughts from earlier, and I tell myself I’ll be more optimistic over Maxine’s shows in the future. 

Laughter down the hallway distracts me and I release Maxine’s hand. 

“Just give me a minute,” a voice echoes. 

I can’t see who it is, but I make out their shape drawing closer. I turn back to Maxine who has stepped back into the room under the stage, holding the door open a crack, exposing only the eyes of her costume and a few clawed fingers gripped around the wooden doorframe. 

“Hey!” I hear the echo of quick steps falling against the cold, hard floor, and turn instinctively toward the familiar voice. My heart thunders to a rapid halt as the form moving toward me comes into focus. She slows her pace when a few yards remain between us. “You coming with us?” 

I turn my gaze back to the maintenance door in time to watch two large eyes blink. I take a step back, and brace one outward stretched arm against the far wall. The door opens a fraction, pushing more fog out in a slight gush, and revealing the movement of relaxed lips pushing upward into a satisfied grin. My breath catches in my chest, and the door softly shuts. 

“Where’ve you been? I thought you’d take that side door and meet us in the rehearsal room.” 

I can’t move, can’t breathe. Something cracks loudly, but it’s a sound without physical form. I think perhaps it’s the sound of my stomach dropping out from beneath me, or something akin to reality cracking, where childhood fears are made flesh. 

“You all right? You’re all sweaty and…” She takes my face in her hands and looks me deep in the eyes, but I don’t really see her. My vision has gone fuzzy, and I feel I might collapse. “You’re so pale. Are you feeling alright?” 

I look down at my feet where the last wisp of fog swirls and dissipates, as if it was never there to begin with. 

“If you’re not well, we’ll skip the cast party,” she tells me. “I just need to drop someone off at the bar.” 

Maxine’s hand is sturdy and a normal temperature as she pulls me away from the wall and leads me toward a back door at the far end of the hall. I glance behind us, but there’s nothing there. Opening the exit, she steps through and waits for me to do the same. I cross the threshold and feel my hands shake. They fall instinctively to my belly where an unfamiliar presence dominates. 

“So what did you think of the show?” 

A cold sweat breaks over me as the cool nighttime air hits me and the full moon above shines intense brilliance upon my face. The world sucks me into madness as the door behind us closes, the faint jingle of bells ringing before falling silent when it finally shuts. 


Time passes in a blur of seasonal change around me. I find myself feeling giddy, light as air, and more carefree than I ever have in my whole life. Maybe it’s the way my body and mind are responding—my swelling midsection, my growing breasts, or the fact that I’ve always wanted a family—or maybe it’s how Maxine has become enamored with me. “You have the most beautiful glow,” she often tells me, and “motherhood suits you.” 

I begin to notice that her attentions have become more physical, with her hands exploring my belly, her body more often than not angled and aimed toward me, her usual casual proximity abandoned to the point where our bodies are almost always touching. It’s nice to be near to her and not have to answer questions that everyone else asks. She understands. It doesn’t matter what happened or how, because it’s happened to me. And love, maybe not the love-love you have for a partner, but the love you have for a friend, supports you through thick and thin, good and bad, no matter what, because that’s what true love is. And Maxine is the love of my life.