Arcanium’s getting a little more twisted…
After one too many demons leave her for other women, Valorie, the circus contortionist, is thinking about quitting Arcanium. It’s not that she hates performing, but she’s been in Arcanium for almost twenty years. She’s bored, feeling neglected and rejected, and there’s nothing keeping her there anymore.
Until ex-lover Bell, the fortune teller and owner of Arcanium, gives her the fire-eater—bound and gagged—as a present and a bribe to convince her to stay.
John—cursed into Arcanium and heavily scarred from fires gone out of control—turns out to be an adequate distraction. He’s almost sweet, in spite of the bad person he used to be—a decent enough pet willing to work his way to redemption in Valorie’s collar and under her command. Valorie’s just not sure whether he’s enough.
Especially when her former fiancé from twenty years ago stumbles upon the circus and discovers where his would-be wife disappeared to.
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and horror; features femdom, flexible autoerotica, collaring, bondage, spanking, orgasm denial, adultery, voyeurism, a scene of non-human sex, and a scene of demon/human FMF ménage.
General Release Date: 22nd December 2015
Lately, Valorie had been feeling more solo.
Most evenings these last few years, she’d done her act with fellow tumbler Lennon. Victor, the Man Made of Stone, had been thrown into the mix a few weeks ago to add some dimension to the routine, more as a launch pad than anything. The group act made a nice change from the six to eight hours or so of contortion she did on Oddity Row before the evening performances.
But she and Lennon were old hat at their routines, even with Victor added in. It had been a while since she’d made something up for herself and herself alone. Seth and Lars choreographed most of their own performances now, and she did her Oddity Row routine on autopilot these days—graceful but more sculptural than dance, demonstrations of flexibility rather than real skilled artistry.
Still, almost twenty years at Arcanium and she still got clammy hands before going out on her own before an audience.
You can’t fall. You can’t fall. She knew that. Twenty years, not a single fall. Plenty of jumps, but no falls, no broken bones from any of her acts—not a one. She couldn’t make a fool of herself if she tried, and her solo performances numbered in the thousands. But her nerves didn’t care what she knew for a fact.
Lennon came up behind her where she leaned against the ladder to the catwalk and whispered in her ear, “Nervous? Your hand is clammy.”
“That’s just you,” Valorie replied. “It’s a wonder you don’t mold.”
“You always did know how to cut a man’s heart to ribbons.”
“Thanks,” she said absentmindedly, staring at the red curtain that separated backstage from the evening’s fare.
Lennon kissed her neck. He couldn’t kiss her lips when she was painted up like this. Arcanium loved its Halloween season, the performers taking on their creepier and more fantastic personas from October to February, although the color palettes shifted to more wintery than autumnal in December.
She’d taken a cue from the clowns, who weren’t the only scary monsters in Arcanium during the Halloween run. Her lips had been painted a rich dark red, smeared along a thick fake scars running along the hollows under her cheekbones. She’d painted over her eyelids and lower-lid line in the same bloody red, her inch-long false eyelashes emerging from black Harlequin markings that stretched from both eyes. Blood-like paint dripped from the scars down over her chin. She planned to go back to her original color eventually, perhaps in the spring, but for now her hair and her eyebrows were a dark purple.
Lennon had taken his Halloween cue from Troy, the Tattooed Man—though he’d kept his shoulder-length black hair untouched while Troy regularly shaved his head to show off the full extent of his body art. Lennon’s eyes glowed electric blue in his darkened sockets, almost as though with contacts, and his teeth were demon sharp, framed by black and white paint that transformed his face into an eerily realistic grinning skull.
If Valorie hadn’t known him, he would have been quite frightening. But there were more frightening things than a painted tumbler in the world—hell, even just in Arcanium.
“You’ll do fine. Just imagine them all naked. After Lord Mikhail and Lady Sasha finish, that should be enough to take the jitters right out of you, don’t you think?” Lennon murmured against her shoulder, his lips brushing the scrolled filigree of tattoos she’d commissioned from Troy, one section of her body at a time. That had been a painful but exhilarating series of weeks. Troy hadn’t had Christina yet, so she’d thanked him the usual way a person thanked another in this peculiar circus. His small trailer had rocked almost every night until all the tattoos had healed.
“Or you’ll fall in front of everyone, and they’ll laugh at your grisly injuries,” Lennon added.
“Very helpful,” Valorie said drily.
“How’s this, love? You get through your performance, and we can have a night of it—just you and me.”
Valorie gave him the side-eye.
He’d been living with her for a couple of years—ever since Bell had moved in with Maya, leaving Valorie to her own devices in her expansive RV and no man to warm her bed. Lennon had his own trailer, but it was significantly smaller, and only a stupid person said no to extra accommodations in exchange for regular sex just the way they liked it—fast, rough and without strings. Lennon wasn’t stupid.
He’d just been distracted lately, but Valorie’s sex drive hadn’t waned in the meantime.
“I’ll put you through your paces,” Valorie said, not quite managing to hide her intrigue. “You’ve been very neglectful.”
“I’ll apologize several times over. Cross my heart and hope someone else dies tonight.”
“Deal,” she said. She reached behind her, searching before stroking the front of his black leather trousers. Oh, he was as attentive as a soldier, this one. Lady Sasha must be doing her snake dance out in the ring right now. Lord Mikhail hadn’t performed yet, or else the slow simmer low between her hips would have become a rolling boil by now.
“Not so fast, love,” Lennon said, although he certainly didn’t try to get away as she rubbed along his length—prodigious, considering his shorter stature. “That’ll be one less apology if you keep at it.”
“No, it won’t,” Valorie murmured, her lips less than an inch from his as he panted over her shoulder. “You can’t fool me. Besides, we all know what the chicks want from you, don’t we? A nice, thick piece of meat they wish they could tear into. But they can’t. Because you’ve promised yourself to me, Lennon. All of this… This is mine tonight. Which means I don’t care what Lady Sasha’s doing out there, whether she’s gone all the way and done a striptease and plans to take Lord Mikhail right in the middle of the ring. You’re not going to come. You’re going to go out there and do flips and handsprings and splits with a raging hard-on, and you’ll do it gladly.”
“Gotta give the customers what they want,” Lennon breathed, swaggering British bravado gone as he tightened his painful grip on the slight flesh of her strong but thin arm. She had to stay thin. She was too tall to fit into a box that would impress, but she needed to fit into one of those hard vintage suitcases in her exhibition tent on Oddity Row—and sometimes during an evening performance, depending on the night.
His hand on her skin made him look especially pale—white like the underbelly of a fish, although not as sickly. And it made her look especially dark, although she had more than a handful of creams in her coffee and sometimes looked more Latina than black to other people, especially when she dyed her hair blonde.
They couldn’t touch lips, but he met her tongue with his, the tip strangely pointed. She licked his tongue with a playful flick before sidling away. In the low light, his erection was nevertheless apparent. Those leather pants Lady Sasha made never hid anything, especially if it varied at all from the norm. That’s what they’d been made for.
“You’re a bitch,” Lennon said, shifting from one foot to the other as he adjusted to his new state and the new fit of his trousers. “Thanks.”
“Any time,” she replied.
Then she shimmied up the ladder, but not before he gave her latex-covered ass a good smack.
He wasn’t really mad. Lennon had gone out and performed with worse. Most of the men had. At least for the women, arousal was easier to conceal from the view of the audience.
In most cases, the audience wouldn’t blame them, being surrounded by foxy women and crazy fit men—with a few exceptions, of course. Arcanium was first and foremost a freak show, but not all of them were visibly freakish, and even the freaks had their charms.
As a contortionist, Valorie straddled the line between oddity and performer. She could twist her body into shapes that made people hurt just watching her, but it wasn’t conceited to admit she was more conventional than the average oddity, attractive and slim enough for outsider approval—not as slim as Sandra, of course, but no one expected Valorie to be slimmer than the circus’ Human Skeleton.
Her confidence began to return up on the catwalk, and not just because her dark purple and black harlequin latex costume made her imagine herself as some kind of superhero scaling city heights. Up here she felt like she was already in her performance—the long walk to its start, her feet bare and sawdusty but graceful as she made her way.
She wished her costume matched the red of her makeup, but she had to distinguish herself from Maya’s year-long palette of black and red. The girl rocked it better than any other variation, so Valorie let her have it, but that eliminated a sartorial favorite if Valorie wanted to stand out at all. Arcanium went default black leather when the Halloween season came up, but late spring, summer and early fall was the fantasy faire circuit, and they’d go more into subdued browns and creams. Valorie could rock white, cream and gold so much better than Maya, so she had that going for her during the hotter part of the year.
Valorie had lost all her jealousy for Maya’s relationship with Bell, which had arisen after Bell had spent seventeen years with Valorie and discarded her practically the minute Maya was cursed into Arcanium. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t be petty and jealous of Maya for other reasons—the kinds of things that a woman was often jealous of in another woman. Two of them were quite prominent on Maya’s chest.
But Maya couldn’t lick her own pussy if such a thing struck her fancy, so that was another point in Valorie’s favor.
The latex molded itself to her body. It was an unforgiving fabric, even more so than leather, but Valorie prided herself on there being nothing to forgive. With a little help from Bell and Lady Sasha, it became supple enough for her needs but didn’t stretch itself out after only one or two wearings.
God bless dark magic.