Josee, thanks for inviting me to join you in celebrating the season! I love giving away books and hearing from readers!
For me, I celebrate Christmas, which has always been magical for me, in large part because of the sacrifices my parents made to make it so for their seven children. We never had a lot, but we always had a special gift, games to play with each other, stockings stuffed with candy, nuts, and the treasured tangerine, and a kitchen filled with home-baked cookies. (German springerles and delicate oatmeal lace cookies remain my favorites and no Christmas gathering is complete without them in my family.)
Here’s an excerpt from the Christmas scene in Nobody’s Perfect, the fourth book in my Rescue Me series. To set up the scene, incest survivor Savi ran to Denver two weeks before Christmas to escape once more her abusive father and his business partner, Lyle, who had beaten her and threatened her daughter, Mari. This Christmas morning, there are lots of surprises in store for Savi and Marisol (her daddy uses her full name, Marisol).
“Maman, did Santa come yet? Daddy said he would find me all the way in Colorado.”
Savi groaned to herself. Damn Damián for making promises like that. All of Marisol’s gifts were back at their house in Solana Beach. Savi had found a few things at a local thrift shop and a discount store this week, but there was nothing nearly as nice as the toys she’d purchased over the last six months with whatever remained from each paycheck. All had been left behind when she’d had to run. Savi damned her bastard father once more, this time for ruining Christmas for her daughter. She hoped he would rot in hell one day soon.
“Maman. Are you awake?”
“Yes, baby. Just resting my eyes.” Savi blinked several times, stalling for time. “Feliz Navidad, sweetheart. Why don’t we go fix Dami…Daddy some breakfast before we open presents?”
Savi still couldn’t get used to calling Damián “Daddy,” but her daughter certainly had no problem latching onto the name from the night they’d explained to her that Damián was her father. Heck, Mari had called him that even before she’d known there was a biological connection.
Not having experienced a father’s love, Savi wasn’t sure how to analyze the bond forming between the two of them. She’d fought hard not to impede their relationship, but she still kept a watchful eye on them. Men could change, just as her father had done when Savi was eight. Watching Mari’s face light up whenever Damián called her his little doll or teased her about something made Savi long for that kind of love and acceptance.
Right now, though, she watched the light go out of Mari’s eyes, because mean old Maman wouldn’t let her dive into the mountains of presents she expected to find under the tree they’d decorated together last week. Mari’s disappointment would only grow worse when they went into the living room and saw that Santa hadn’t really found her in Colorado, after all.
“Can I look under the tree before we go to the kitchen?”
Savi swallowed against the lump in her throat. “May I?” Savi prompted, still hoping to postpone the inevitable.
Mari sat up on her heels and stared down at Savi. “May I look, Maman? May I?”
Savi tossed the blanket off and fought back a moan as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. She sat until she could get the pain in her side under control. She still couldn’t believe that Lyle had broken her rib.
Not sure she could stand to see the disappointment coming, Savi nodded and let Mari scamper off the bed, get into the wooly slippers she’d gotten at Marc’s outfitter store, and pad to the door. It was still dark outside, but when she opened the door to the living room, the lights of the Christmas tree illuminated the bedroom. Damián certainly had used a lot of lights on the little tree. The smell of fresh spruce wafted to her. The tree they’d cut was so much more beautiful than anything Savi would have found back home. Mari had been half-asleep when Damián had carried her into the apartment after they’d returned home from midnight Mass not so many hours ago, but he had turned the lights on for her to see before they tucked her into bed. He was sweet to leave the tree on all night for their daughter, in case she got up and peeked.
Their daughter. She couldn’t wrap her mind around having to share Mari with anyone.
The squeal she heard from Mari set off warning bells and Savi rose more quickly than she should have. After regaining her equilibrium—and breath—she held her side as she hurried into the living room. Her eyes opened as wide as Mari’s at the sight. Around the tree were dozens of gifts—including an enormous wooden dollhouse Mari was checking out at the moment. Many of the other gifts were wrapped, but there were so many more than the few Savi had placed there. She looked over to find a bare-chested Damián sitting up on the sofa, a sappy grin on his face as he took in the experience of his first Christmas with his daughter.
“How did you…?”
He turned toward her shaking his head as he placed a finger against his lips. Savi rubbed her chest to ease the unexpected ache there.
“Maman, Daddy was right. Santa did find us! Look what he brought me!” Her daughter peeked inside the dollhouse shaped like a log cabin and began moving tiny pieces of furniture around. The look of awe and wonder on her face reminded Savi how resilient children could be. Her whole world had been upended two weeks ago, but this morning, all was right in her little girl’s world because Santa hadn’t forgotten her. Savi blinked against a burning in her eyes. An image of a past Christmas flitted across her mind.
“Maman! Look what Santa brought me. Barbie’s house!”
Maman, dressed in her maroon silk robe, sipped hot tea and watched seven-year-old Savannah open her presents. Father read the newspaper, disconnected from the females in the scene, but Maman’s brown eyes shone with happiness. Maman loved Christmas more than any other holiday.
“Open another present, chére. What else did Père Noël bring you?”
The blonde-headed little girl pulled another box from under the enormous tree and opened it to find a Holiday Barbie doll in a sparkling green-velvet gown. A big bow was set at an angle on the doll’s blonde head. She looked like a princess, without a tiara.
Her mind flashed forward to what might have been the next Christmas…
The little girl crawled under her bed, clutching the blond-haired princess in her hands, trying to hide from Father…
The pad of Damián’s thumb brushed against her cheek, and Savi nearly came out of her skin.
“Whoa, querida.” Damián reached out to steady her, grabbing her by the upper arms.
Savi looked up at him, drawing a few ragged breaths as she fought to regain control. His hands were so strong. For one weak moment, she wished she could lean on him, but she needed to pull away instead. She followed the instincts that had kept her safe for so long.
His look of hurt made her feel guilty after all he’d done for them, but she wasn’t ready to have any man touching her. She’d never give her body to another man, especially not as payment for services offered. Never again.
“You were a million miles away.”
She blinked and wondered where that flashback had come from. She hadn’t thought of those Christmas memories in…forever. Even now, Savi felt as if she was watching a scene from a Christmas classic movie, not remembering a part of her own life. No, not her life. Savannah’s. All emotional ties to that tragic little girl had been severed for a very long time.
“You okay, Savi?”
She nodded, but needed to put some distance between them. “What can I fix you for breakfast? Pancakes? Mari’s probably hungry.”
“She won’t be thinking about food for a while.” He studied Savi’s face with concern in his eyes, and she had the feeling he was seeing more than he should. “You sure you’re okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Savannah’s Maman disappeared when she was eight. The little girl’s spirit died soon after, right after her father molested her and began more than a decade of abuse and torture on the innocent little girl’s body and mind.
The only person in the flashback scene who had survived unscathed was Savannah’s father—and she wished she could send him and all monsters like him to the pits of hell where she could watch them burn.
* * *
Well, at least he’d brought a smile to the face of one of his girls this Christmas morning. Damián tried to hide his disappointment. Last week, when he’d heard Marisol chatter to Santa at the mall about the things she wanted to receive, he’d gone to work trying to make his daughter’s Christmas dreams come true. That Josefina doll had taken a chunk out of his dwindling checking account.
He’d hoped Marisol’s happiness would bring a little joy to her mama, too, but no such luck.
Clearly, Savi wasn’t interested in anything he had to offer. The look on her face made it obvious the holiday wasn’t as special for her as it was for him. Maybe sad memories from her past clouded the joy of the season for her. The holidays weren’t happy for lots of people. Adam, well, Dad now, for years had gone into a funk in the fall until he got through the holidays. Damián hoped he and Karla were making new memories this Christmas morning to replace the sad ones.
While he didn’t think he could do anything to change Savi’s state of mind, Damián was determined for Marisol to have nothing but pleasant memories, and he was ready to start celebrating.
He’d never managed to go to sleep last night partly because of his excitement at seeing Marisol’s face in the morning and partly because he’d had a helluva lot of toys to assemble. When Luke Denton, a new member at the club and Marc’s SAR partner, had texted him to come down to the parking lot, he’d helped the carpenter carry up the log-cabin dollhouse he’d made for Marisol. Luke, also an artist, must have worked on the house night and day all week. He’d heard about Marisol from Marc and, like a man on a mission, wanted to help make her first Christmas special. Damián had been blown away by the gesture.
Today, Damián had a lot planned, including playing Legos again with Marisol. He hoped he’d connect with Savi on common ground at some point.
My series is not a stand-alone one. The FREE introduction and first book in the series is Masters at Arms (a 58,000-word novel told in five vignettes showing major turning points in the life of each man, and two of the future heroines in the series, as well as how the three men bonded in a firefight in Fallujah).
Next is Marc and Angelina’s story in Nobody’s Angel, but Adam and Karla’s journey toward each other is a major part of that book, which is why it’s important not to skip ahead. These romances can’t be contained within the bindings of a single book. Third is Adam and Karla’s continuing story in Nobody’s Hero, which includes a major subplot with Damian and Savannah (now Savi).
Then comes the fourth story in the series, Nobody’s Perfect, telling in a realistic way how much time and patience it takes for an incest survivor to learn to trust a man and to fight her way back to being whole again. Damian and Savannah met as 19-year-olds and formed a bond that resulted in the birth of Marisol, but circumstances separated them after only one day together until Savannah/Savi met him by chance in Nobody’s Hero. The book is someone controversial in that Damian will use sadomasochism to help Savi heal. This sounds incongruous to those not familiar with the BDSM community, but is based on many interactions I’ve had with submissives who were abused in the past and find healing in the kink community.
While I write an erotic romance series centered around the owners of a kink club, it’s very much the story of the men and the women they love and the family they are forming in their community. The characters don’t go from kinky scene to kinky scene. In fact, there are few club scenes in the first three books in the series. Many who’ve never read a BDSM story, or have read ones that leave them horrified that people can engage in such activities, come away with a new appreciation and understanding of this alternative lifestyle. As one reader said, the stories show that it’s not about the kink, but how kinksters form a community to help each other put their demons to rest. It’s all about loving and supporting each other.
Please share a comment describing a special memory from this time of year (no matter which holiday you celebrate, or even if you don’t celebrate religiously but secularly). One lucky commenter, chosen at random, will receive a copy of an e-book in the Rescue Me series—one that’s already published, or book five, Somebody’s Angel, due out in early 2013. You’ll also receive something in the mail including a Kallypso purple pen, booksmarks, and Romance Trading Cards for the first three books in the series.
This drawing will take place on or after December 12th and the winner will be announced in the comments. Please be sure to leave an e-mail address so we can contact you for your book preference and mailing address.
To learn more about the books in this series, or for buy links to the seven booksellers that carry my books, go to Books by Kallypso Masters
If you get hooked, after you catch up with all available books in the series, join in my discussion group on Facebook—Rescue Me Series Open Discussion. I’m all about Facebook and rarely venture into other social media forums (although I occasionally use Twitter), so the best place to find me online is on Facebook.
Here are some of my links to help you find me online:
Website: http://www.kallypsomasters.com/ (sign up for my newsletter here)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kallypsomasters, https://www.facebook.com/KallypsoMastersAuthorPage, and the series discussion group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/282370991862753/