I've been busily penning a new WIP titled, Her Midnight Stardust Cowboys. And, yep, the erotic love story of Sherilyn, and her two shapeshifting cowboys, Zance and Dontoya, takes place in the area surrounding Talbot's Peak, Montana.
Since I've got tons of stuff to do tomorrow, I'll make this short and sweet, and simply say, here's my first flash with steampunk elements.
Steampunk Comes to Talbot's Peak, Montana
"Dark powers arise," Khamalia heard as she ran hunched over toward the mammoth-sized chest near one of the five towering masts of the steam-powered cloud galleon.
Like a wraith she silently slipped behind the chest most likely used for rigging. Its size concealed her well enough, and at her back the polished wood of a deck cabin also kept her hidden.
This was her one chance to escape the marriage her father had arranged to a horrid potentate with numerous wives. She didn't exactly blame him. The crates of gold, already delivered, assured the survival of her immense family and their extensive lands in a time when corruption ruled. When those with the blackest hearts ruined the lives of those who were honest in their trade and affairs.
Before the hour struck, Khamalia had managed to dress in her brother's sturdy outdoor clothing, even finding a pair of his childhood stealth boots. At that moment, she decided a higher power watched over her, and an unknown destiny awaited her.
"The wind is fair, and at our backs. Adventure claims us." Captain Zriker, also the pilot, boomed his words loud enough to carry across the top deck of the glistening and magnificent galleon.
The sound of his commanding voice also triggered the giant-to-tiny wheel mechanisms, as Khamalia thought of them, and they whirred into action. The distinctive hiss and rush of steam began, rising to mid-morning's brilliant blue sky.
Khamalia only knew Captain Zriker's voice, and that of his all-around mechanic and navigator, Lord Drevik, because she'd dared move near enough to listen as they conversed with her brothers during one of her family's dining entertainments.
"Lift off is achieved. To the sun, then to the stars, and onto another world," Lord Drevik sang as if he played the lead in an opera.
Knowing her only hope was to remain undiscovered until they sailed so high she could not be safely lowered into the arms of the authorities, Khamalia nearly held her breath. She clutched her knees tight turning herself into a ball as the air-worthy galleon ascended, slowly at first, yet faster as the great gears spun with ever-increasing speed.
She'd traveled on airships before, however none so powerful and resplendent. Certainly not a galleon that could journey through several dimensions. While Captain Zriker and Lord Drevik were renowned for the exotic goods they brought back for purchase, it was well known their true passion remained exploration of other worlds.
After Captain Zriker spoke several commands to the galleon, the immense sails unfurled. Shimmering in the sunlight, they moved angling to catch the full force of the wind.
The great bursts of steam being generated formed a gentle mist around Khamalia, and she risked a peek above the chest. In their heavy leather gear, their knee-high laced boots, their goggles and thin helmets, with their sidearms and fighting blades, the two men cut dashing figures.
They surveyed the galleon's whirling and pumping apparatus with an eye for anything amiss. Apparently satisfied, they devoted their attention to the sky kingdom they traveled through.
Once the galleon emerged above a layer of delicate clouds, and sailed at a rapid clip, cold seeped through Khamalia's woolen garments. She huddled against the side of the deck cabin, shivering. Soon violent tremors took over body.
Khamalia hugged herself trying to gain any warmth at all. As she attempted to decide whether to hide herself inside the chest, or reveal her presence, she heard the confident stride of either Zriker or Drevik moving quickly toward her.
Her heart tripped madly, and she froze not from the cold, but from sheer uncertainty. What would they do with her once...
"What a little fool." Captain Zriker's stern, arrogant voice addressed her. "Boy, get up. At once."
Not daring her gaze on his, Khamalia pressed her mitten-covered hands against the polished wood, then managed to gradually push herself onto her feet. The strong winds sliced the cold through her now.
"Your name, little fool."
When she didn't answer -- there was no use since her lips trembled and her words would have been garbled -- Captain Zriker seized her chin forcing her gaze to meet his. The startling color of his blue eyes, like beautiful clear glass, blazed inside her, and for moments she burned. Khamalia welcomed the warmth.
"What have we here?" Lord Drevik demanded in his imperious yet gallant timbre.
"I do believe we have a stowaway. One who refuses me the courtesy of a name."
"Ah then, a name we shall have. Then we will put the little bugger to work as payment for--"
Khamalia failed to hear Lord Drevik's final words. With her toes turning numb and her fingers aching terribly from the searing cold, she felt her head empty to nothingness. She knew she collapsed before the greedy arms of darkness embraced her.
Captain Zriker caught the lad with ease, his usual outstanding reflexes to the rescue. Only the soft curves that landed in his arms were that of a woman, a woman who felt particularly splendid. It had been her garb that fooled his keen eye.
"The lad would not be accustomed to the thin air at this altitude." Drevik kept stride with Zriker, and they moved inside the deck cabin. "A hot toddy once he revives will chase the blood through his veins. I'll attend to it."
"Our stowaway is a woman. I believe I recognize her face. In a few moments I'll recall who she is." Zriker strode toward the nearest bunk. It was imperative he warm her as quickly as possible, and the bunk had been equipped with its own heating device.
"A woman you say. Well, this is an unexpected, yet quite exciting turn of events. I shall concoct the toddy to her more delicate flesh."
After stepping on the brass peddle to start the warmer, Zriker placed his soft unmoving bundle onto the bedding. Her lips, tinted with blue, indicated a lack of oxygen, and he immediately switched on the atmosphere enhancer, then removed his gloves, goggles and helmet.
"Exceptionally charming, her features," Zriker remarked to his long-time friend and exploration partner. Both of them had been outcasts in their families, black sheep if you will, despite their superior talents as men, and now their current state of being materially rich.
"Even more exciting then. Perhaps, our need for feminine company at Dante's Interspecies Pleasure Club will not be required this time."
"Perhaps not." Zriker spoke above the tinkling sound of glass as Drevik prepared the medicinal toddy, an expertise of his.
After seating himself beside the woman who appeared to be about to awaken, Zriker removed one of her mittens. He pressed her fragile hand between both of his, and searched his excellent memory for her name, and for where he'd seen her.
She tossed her head, her eyelids fluttering. "You are quite safe, miss. We will not harm you. I promise."
"No... no... no," she uttered softly yet desperately. Her head whipped from side to side. "No, I won't marry him. I won't."
Reliable as always, his memory served up her name, plus where he'd briefly met her.
"Oh great Soren's ghost," he barked toward Drevik. "We will be accused of stealing Sultan Pharuque's latest bride."
There was a bit of a pause before Drevik spoke. "All to the good I say. Never liked the boring chap. He's about as bright as piece of winter sod. No wonder... what is her name?"
"Khamalia is her familiar name."
"No surprise our Khamalia bravely boarded as a stowaway. I say we keep her."
"It may be her only chance at avoiding horrific consequences." Without thought, Zriker removed her other mitten, and began warming her icy cold hand between his palms.
"The toddy is nearly complete. How fairs our lovely guest?"
At that precise moment, Khamalia blinked, gazing at him. Her eyes were as bright as amethyst beneath the midday sun. "Please...please, don't return me. I beg of you."
Captain Zriker knew there was not one chance on heaven and any Earth he'd explored that he would ever return her.
Johnny growled under his breath as he cleaned off one more table at Dante's biker bar. Thinking about what he could be doing instead, he grumbled and snarled as he continued bussing the empty tables.
Sure, he'd wanted to sneak in as an underage patron, impress Lola and hang out with the tough-as-hide crowd. That would have been a trophy kill for shit certain.
But to his everlasting and secret shame, Dante had ripped his furry butt a good one, and proven he was a werewolf not to be messed with. Ever.
"Never again," Johnny muttered to himself. Noticing the clock as he set the tray of dishes next to the giant humming dishwasher, he yelled, "Break time."
"Yeah, sure, kid. Just get you and your ass in here on time." Norbert, a polar bear shifter who'd spent many a year as a merchant seaman, and now cooked up his specialties, gave him the eye, the one that said, "I'll make you a tasty snack if you even think about crossing Dante."
"Yeah, yeah. Be back." After jerking his apron off, Johnny flung it close to the back door, then swung outside. Hell's own shit, the full moon blazed above him, and he was missing madness night out with his pack of buddies.
Pulling out his last cigarette, he lit it quickly and took a draw. The smoke had barely entered his lungs when he stopped cold and stared. Since the moon shone like a giant spotlight, Johnny didn't think his darn good eyesight deceived him.
In fact, he shit swore he saw a flying galleon cross in front of the moon, then begin to descend near the area where he'd entered the tunnel leading to the Midnight Stardust Supperclub.
What the scat fang?
He yelped as his ciggy burned his fingertips. Who would believe him anyway? Crap the shit, what had his life turned into? Turning, Johnny made his way inside just as Norbert lumbered toward him fast, a meat cleaver clenched in his hand.
~ Have a Magickal and Miraculous New Year ~
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~