Excerpt from "Where Willows Won't Grow", from the Goodread's 2014 Don't Read in the Closet event.
At the end of the north hallway, the double-panel doors were open, and Illythe--or the mentor--was standing in roughly the center of the room, dressed like a geisha. He wore all black, without the traditional makeup, and instead of a fan, he had a leather whip coiled loosely in one hand. His face was set in the kind of placid gaze that only one who has given up hope could achieve. Alex found it curious, and a little unnerving. Perhaps he was wrong, and it was only a species trait for this species he'd never known existed.
"This is Willow House," the mentor said, and his silver-glass eyes seemed to focus on the three of them at once. "This is the jewel in the Crown of Seven Houses. You are fortunate to be here, so please remember that throughout your stay."
He began to walk slowly in a gliding sort of half-circle, something so precise, it was nearly a dance.
"You will, at times, be allowed to leave the house and roam the grounds. Beyond that requires special permission, and a chaperon."
Mel was standing beside Alex, also watching Illythe with interest that bordered on awe. Bryant seemed more interested in the fake orchids standing in a planter.
"In your former lives, you did what men wanted you to do for money, or drugs. Here you will do what you are instructed to do by the house, for the house."
"Does that include dressing up like a woman?"
Alex could hear the weight of the air increase after Bryant spoke, then stood there with a self-satisfied smirk. Alex glanced quickly down a the whip and wondered if Mentor Illythe planned on using it.
"Bryant, right?" Illythe asked, softly as he stopped roughly a foot in front of the other man.Alex hadn't realized how tall Illythe was until he stood close to Bryant. They were approximately the same height, but Illythe was a lot leaner than Bryant, and he carried himself with the kind of aloof grace that could only be achieved after years of practice and self-awareness.Bryant didn't seem at all intimidated by Illythe. He grinned, showing his big, square teeth.
"Well Bryant," Illythe cocked his head pensively; his voice remained calm and bereft of any emotion. "Because I speak for the house and its master, you'll do anything I tell you to do and you will be honored to do so."
Bryant opened his mouth to say something that turned into a loud huff of air as Illythe punched him hard in the stomach, without so much as visibly tensing a muscle. With that same impassive grace, Illythe grabbed the doubled-over man by his spiky hair and forced him to his knees. He pushed Byrant's face against the black satiny brocade covering his crotch.
"If the house tells you to suck its cock, you will do it until you can't feel your tongue."
Alex swallowed hard; shocked, afraid, and aroused all at the same time. He glanced up and met Illythe's silver eyes.
"Alex, Mel, undo your pants. You are the house today."
Art from Friends
Here is some artwork created by friends for Where Willows Won't Grow, based on the descriptions of the characters. The first cover image is from Cinchbug, who did the cover of A King's Ransom, and whose work can be found on the
Daz 3D website.
The image of the two men (Alex and Illythe) is fellow author Gabbo de la Parra's artwork.
The final cover design (my artwork) is the one with the red background.