Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Straight from the Mouth of Charmaine Pauls, Author of Aeromancist

Thanks for letting us interrogate you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

I am a storyteller. Imaginary movie clips are constantly playing off in my mind. As a child, I made up stories to escape ‘unpleasant’ situations, such as going to school (*smile*). I carried a miniature Kewpie doll in my blazer pocket. Pretending that she lived in my pocket and making up her daily adventures in my mind, got me through many a long mathematics class–my least favorite subject.

To be honest, I never thought that I could or would be an author. The dream seemed too impossible. I loved writing since a young age. Although I wrote in many professional capacities, including journalism, advertising and public relations, it never crossed my mind to write a book until I hit my forties. Writing novels wasn’t considered a career or a feasible occupation to pay the rent in the time and culture when I was at my peak professional performance age. I enjoyed all of my vastly different occupations, but always knew that something was amiss. I wasn’t doing what I was meant to be doing.

As fate would have it, when I changed jobs for career satisfaction, sacrificing a substantial remuneration for happiness, I met a Frenchman in the French company where I accepted the job, who turned out to be the love of my life. We got married. Later, when I followed him back to France and didn’t have a work permit, I rediscovered my true passion for creative writing. This is when I started toying with the idea of writing a book, and finally indulged in my fantasy. I just wanted to write a book. But then one story wasn’t enough. It kept on growing, until eight books and a few stories later, I am finally considering myself an author.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

I think authors are passionate about what they do. They have to be, to be able to spend hours in isolation, often working when everyone else is sleeping or having fun. Writing is a lonely job. You do it on your own. Often, especially in the final throws of a manuscript, I sometimes see no one except for my family (and only because we live in the same house!).

This type of work suits me fine, as I like long stretches of solitude and working on my own. I do have to pay special attention to balance in my life. Sometimes I have to force myself to let go of the world and people I am creating in my head to touch base with reality. I allow myself thirty minutes to become grounded again before my children come home from school. That way, I am in the present moment when I spend time with them.

The hardest is finding the time to do what I itch to do, and to juggle it with a family life. Keeping everyone happy isn’t always easy, especially if you have to explain to your husband why you spend more time with a fictional alpha male than with him! J

You need a lot of perseverance and dedication. As in any job, you need to work, regardless of your level of inspiration. Self-discipline is part and parcel of the requirements of the trade.

It can also take a very long time to build a fan base sufficient enough to become financially self-sustained. The marketing and sales part is never-ending, and also the part that I, being introverted, find most difficult and time-consuming.

With all that said, this is by far the most satisfying job I have ever done. I wouldn’t want to give it up for anything. There is something about the creative process that answers a need deep inside of me. For the first time in my life, since I started writing stories, I feel that everything is in place. All is exactly how it should be.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I am happy that I had the opportunity to follow both routes. I learned much from each respective process, and both had their ups and downs.

On the upside, self-publishing gave me freedom of choice regarding the cover and content, as well as more flexibility in terms of making changes or updating information (such as adding previews of new books at the back of the novel). It also gave me access to real-time sales data, which was especially helpful in determining promotional strategies. For example, when I detected a slump in sales, I could immediately implement a discount or promotion to give it an extra push.

A plus in having a traditional contract with a publishing house, is having a team of people to work with, and no expenses for the editing, cover design, and printing. I enjoy working with my publisher, who not only gives me input in my marketing strategy, but also pushes me to achieve a higher standard in the quality of work I put out. Working alone on my first book was hard. I had to learn everything by trail and error, whereas with a dedicated team and co-authors to support you, the road seems less daunting. The downside of having a traditional contract, is that you have less control, but in the case of my publishing house I am lucky, because we have a great relationship where the publisher and editors are always open to suggestions and input from the author.

Earning royalties as opposed to pocketing all the profit could also be a factor to be taken into account when weighing the pros and cons of the two routes. At the end of the day, writing books is a business, but it is also about much more than the money. In fact, the financial compensation takes a second place to the personal satisfaction and emotional gain I get from the process.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry (e.g. rejections, the long wait, etc.)

You need a skin as thick as a rhinoceros. Even if you receive countless rejections, you have to stay positive. A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that your work is not good enough. It could be that you are submitting to the wrong market. And rejections don’t always come with feedback. In fact, you are lucky if you receive personalized comments with your rejection letter.

If indeed the product you offer is not up to scratch, you have to be brave enough to admit it, and courageous enough to start from scratch. A positive attitude and a focus on your goal will mean the difference between giving up and realizing your passion. A good way to measure the quality of your product, is to present it to beta readers, pre-submission editors, and mentors. I used the one-on-one feedback with acclaimed novelists in several advanced writing courses to assure that I had a good product to sell before submitting it to publishing houses.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

Juggling family life and a writing career requires balance and good time management. I am lucky to have a supportive spouse who understands and encourages my passion. As for my (still very young) children, they remain my priority, and I write when they are at school. Weekends are family time, unless I’m in the middle of editing, or in the throws of an unusual creative spell.

I try to be as flexible as possible, and not to waste a single minute. I cart my laptop around with me and write during my children’s ballet practice and swimming lessons, in transit when traveling, and in doctor’s rooms while waiting for appointments. That said, some alone time is also part of my weekly agenda. I try to find an equilibrium between my physical, health, mental, creative, emotional, financial and relationship needs. A healthy balance makes all the difference.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

This story takes the cherry on my stress list: I try to celebrate each book with a live launch event, as every new novel deserves to be sent into the world with a welcoming bash. For the launch of my sensual wine romance, The Winemaker, I scheduled a winetasting at a popular venue in Johannesburg during my annual family visit to South Africa. At the time, I lived in Chile. Since a supplier in France was printing the books, I decided to have them shipped directly to South Africa to avoid having to pay double the tremendous shipping cost.

I arrived in South Africa two weeks before the event, only to discover that the books had been retained at customs because the identity of the recipient couldn’t be established. The supplier had forgotten to include a recipient telephone number, hence my mother (who had agreed to collect the books for me) was never informed that the books had arrived. At that stage, the books were about to be returned to France. To clear them from customs was a long, drawn-out process. As it was Christmas, the relevant offices on both the French and South African sides were closed until after New Year.

To make a long and very stressful story short, until the afternoon of the major launch event, I still didn’t have any books, except for the single copy I had packed in my suitcase. The guests and media had been invited a long time before, and articles about the event had already appeared in the local newspapers and media. The wine expert who would do the tasting had traveled from far, and the guests had paid for their winetasting dinner. On top of that, I had some journalists lined up to cover the event. It had taken a lot of marketing and relationship building to get them there. If I were to cancel, I’d lose their trust and support. I had a wonderful event lined up, and no books to sell. The predicament was one of the most worrisome book-related happenings of my life.

After much internal debating, I decided to stay calm, and not to cancel the event. If push came to shove, I would take mail orders at the event. With the mail delivery fee taken into account, it would have meant a major loss on each copy sold, but the purpose of the launch was creating a buzz and publicity. The aim was not making a profit, but marketing the book. The financial knock would have been a serious blow, but at that stage, salving my professional image, and relationship with the service providers and supporters I had committed to, was more important. If I blew this one, the book event venue would suffer a loss, and probably sue me for damages, not to mention that they would never host me again, and my reputation as a trustworthy author would have gone down the drain.

Remaining positive and not losing my cool took me a long way. After overcoming multiple hurdles, such as not having an internet connection at the place where I stayed, being on my own with toddlers to take care of as my first priority, not having international roaming to make phone calls, to name just a few, I finally got customs to clear the books one day before the event. And then they delivered them to my mother in the Cape Province, instead of to me in Johannesburg, more than 1500 km from me! The courier company told me there was no way they could ship the books back to Johannesburg in twenty-four hours, since there was only one flight a day.

I checked the time of the next available commercial freight flight, and with the help of my very convincing mother, we managed to persuade a private courier company to collect the books and rush them to the smaller airport of George. The shipping company who had made the delivery error was very supportive. By then, I had a team of people working from Cape Town and Johannesburg to try and solve my problem. The courier from Cape Town rushed the books to the freight plane, and made it in the nick of time, even if he called me several times, saying he was lost and needed directions (GPS doesn’t always function in those outlying areas).

A courier delegate was ready at the warehouse in Johannesburg to clear the books the minute they arrived. I had asked them to open a box in Cape Town to ensure they indeed had the right books, and by then everyone, from the receptionist to the pilot, were reading copies of The Winemaker, as I gave away complimentary copies to all the people who worked together to try and get my books to me on time.

The courier called me thirty minutes before the event was due to let me know that my books had landed at the Oliver Tambo airport in Johannesburg, and that the delivery van was on its way. Ten minutes later they called back to say that the driver was stuck in peak hour traffic, and was never going to make it in time for the launch. Their estimated drive time was two to three hours. By then the launch would have been finished. My brother, bless his soul, knew the back-roads and dirt tracks in the area, and sped off to meet the driver where he was stuck in a major bottleneck on the highway. My brother arrived two minutes before I had to leave, books intact.

The event was amazing. The winetasting was awesome. Nobody knew of the behind-the-stage drama or stress. As far as the guests and hosts were concerned, everything went smoothly. I managed to sell out, and to go home an emotionally and physically exhausted, ecstatic wreck.

From now on, no matter the shipping costs, I always ensure that I have my books with me before I fly to any launch event. On the upside, I lost a good few pounds from stress. J

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I think they all help in their own unique capacity, as each one has unique and differentiating characteristics. Due to time constraints, I decided to focus on two only, but to do them well, instead of doing everything in a half-baked way.

The first social network I ever joined, was Facebook. I decided to extend on that platform, as I was already familiar with its ins and outs. Next, I created a Twitter account, as this was the one that was recommended by my fellow-authors as the most valuable source of connecting with like-minded people.

My Facebook exposure has since become more limited, as the Facebook algorithms now determine to how many fans my posts are delivered, mainly depending on the level of interaction on the post. Slowly but surely, over time, my preference for Facebook was taken over by Twitter for its limitlessness in reach. The posts are not selectively delivered, and these days I make more sales through tweets than Facebook posts.

I would love to join other networks such as Pinterest and extend on my limited activity on other platforms such as YouTube and LinkedIn, but doing them all well will mean that I will never have time to do any writing. Until such time as my sales validates employing a virtual assistant, I’m working with what I can manage in my time, finding that my Twitter followers are outgrowing my Facebook fans.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

I wish I could say that my sales are where I want them to be. I only made two Amazon best-seller lists in the first week of my 8th release, Loving the Enemy, an erotic action romance, which is the prequel to the Seven Forbidden Arts series.

I believe that the first step in ensuring good sales, is having a good product. How do you know that your product is up to scratch? I sent my manuscripts to beta readers and reviewers, and even pre-submission editors and members of my writers and critique groups. Next, I enrolled in an advanced novel writing course with an acclaimed romance novelist with Writers Digest University, where I had one-on-one feedback on my writing style and skill. Since my series contain paranormal elements, I also worked with an award-winning, multi-published paranormal author for the development of the third book in series. The feedback I get from my mentors, critique partners, reviewers, readers and fellow-writers, ensure me that I have a product worth selling.

Four elements are essential in making good book sales: a great story, an attractive book cover, a catchy blurb, and the right price. If you have a traditional contract, you don’t always have input in all of these elements. Sometimes, your publisher may invite your input or feedback on cover design, but price is mostly preset according to word count and book format. In my case, I am fortunate to work with a publisher who is determined to put out the best covers possible, who involves me in depth in the design process, and who also discusses pricing with me as part of the marketing strategy.

Next, I develop a marketing, communication, publicity and promotions plan for each novel. This includes blog tours, radio and newspaper interviews, international giveaways, launch events, magazine articles, print and electronic paid ads, guest blogging, and social networking.

I am still learning from the experts. It is an ongoing process, as the market is ever-changing and evolving. It is important to always stay on top of the latest changes in your trade.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

My work has just been selected by the International Literary Society for an African short story anthology from across the continent. I am extremely honored to have not one, but two of my stories in this prestigious title.

Can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

I know I am meant to be writing when I switch on my computer in the morning and feel the release of endorphins in my brain. It is as powerful as the feeling of falling in love. For some, spending long hours in isolation, mulling over words, may seem like a punishment, but to me, the long stretches of solitude is paradise. I work best when I work alone, and coupled with my artistic nature, and perseverance as my biggest strength, my DNA was engineered for writing.

Thank you so much for having me on the blog today!

About The Book


Title:  Aeromancist
Book 2: Seven Forbidden Arts Series
Author: Charmaine Pauls
Publisher:  Mélange Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2015
Pages: 284
ASIN: B010766W5S
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Format: eBook / ePub / PDF

Preorder Book Buy Links:  Publication Date: July 6, 2015

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Aeromancist-Seven-Forbidden-Arts-Book-ebook/dp/B010766W5S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435679181&sr=1-1&keywords=aeromancist+charmaine+pauls

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/aeromancist-charmaine-pauls/1122220463?ean=2940151997492

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/554077

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25809530-aeromancist?ac=1

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Book Description:

Passion always comes with a price. 

All he could offer was thirty days of passion.

He condemned her to a terrible fate instead.

Now he’ll do everything in his power to save her.

He is known as the Weatherman. Lann Dréan is the last of his kind. A price on his head, chased for a power he should not possess, he can’t promise any woman forever. All he can offer Katherine White is thirty days of passion. But his uncontainable desire comes with an unforeseen price. Lann’s lust will cost Kat everything. Now he’ll do anything to save her from the fate he has brought upon her.

* This book contains adult content with explicit language and frequent, consummated love scenes, including light bondage, sex toys and breath play. Reader discretion is advised.

Book Excerpt:

Short Excerpt

From the expression on Lann’s face, Kat knew he hadn’t expected her. Alfonso hadn’t warned him of her visit. Lann sat behind his desk, very similar to the first time they had met, but this time he was in the library, and not in his office. He had probably been working on the restoration of his ancient books, because he wore his glasses. Removing them, he immediately got to his feet. The air felt lighter, as it always did in his presence. Wisps of her hair lifted as if to an invisible caress, but Lann didn’t acknowledge the subtle dance of molecules this time.
       As always he looked impeccable in tailored pants and a white dress shirt. He stood immobile, exerting calm, waiting for her to make the first move. Kat had never been fooled about the latent danger that lurked under his quiet sophistication and intellectual air. There was a raw energy about Lann that hinted at his wildness, even as his exterior was polished civility.
       “Alfonso showed me in,” she said.
       “Katherine.” His lips lifted in the corner, exposing his dimple.
       Her heart broke at his smile. It was the one he reserved for other people. Never for her. It was automatic, a practiced social stance, and she hated it.
       Hers was faint in return. She glanced at the employees who were handling his books with protective gloves. “May we speak in private, please?”
       He frowned. “Let’s go to my office.”
       He led the way. At least he hadn’t thrown her out on sight. She was walking the familiar path she believed she’d never walk again. The air gathered around his ankles as he moved, lapping at her feet as she followed in his wake. She had never felt it stronger, and yet, it should have been the reverse. She was supposed to be cutting the tie, not strengthening it, dammit.
       Inside his office he almost took a military stance, his shoulders straight, his arms behind his back, as if keeping them there would prevent him from touching her. But his eyes were filled with warmth and concern.
       “Katherine, I didn’t tell you I was back because I didn’t want to make it harder on you.”
       He didn’t owe her an explanation. She agreed to his terms. With her eyes wide open.
       “I came back to take care of the money,” he continued. “When Alfonso told me you returned everything–”
       “I don’t want your money.”
       “You can live in comfort. Why struggle, if I have enough to share?”
       “Because it wasn’t part of our agreement,” she snapped. She took a calming breath. “Because it’ll make me feel like a prostitute.”
       His expression was incredulous as he considered the statement, but after a moment he inclined his head. “Of course. I respect your decision.”
       “Lann…” She chewed her lip, thinking of the best way to tell him. Hadn’t she practiced her line a million times? “I wouldn’t have broken our agreement if it wasn’t necessary.”
       He stared at her expectantly. There was no easy way to break the news.
       “I’m pregnant.”
       He froze. The heat evaporated from his gaze. His upper arms flexed as he clasped his hands behind his back. She couldn’t tell if he was mad or disappointed. Either way, neither was the reaction she was hoping for.
       The silence stretched between them. For a while he seemed incapable of speaking or moving. Only his eyes lowered and rested on her abdomen.
       “It’s impossible,” he finally said.
       She opened her handbag, retrieved the blood test results and offered it to him shakily. Lann lifted one hand from behind his back and took the piece of paper. Kat watched him closely as he read it. His eyes widened and narrowed again. She presumed he was looking at the age of the child growing inside of her, doing the calculation in his mind. Emotions she couldn’t place played across his face. Was it sadness, envy, anger that made him press his lips so tightly together? Finally, he lifted his head. She didn’t like the way he looked at her.
            He handed her back the report. “Congratulations.” His voice was impersonal. “Who’s the father?”
       The words punched the air from Kat’s lungs with the same ferocity as when he had cut her airflow during lovemaking. Then it had given her an earth-shattering orgasm. Now it caused her pain, with the same intensity. She couldn’t believe he said that. Hurt and anger blurred her vision. She drew back her hand, and before she could stop herself, she slapped him. She took a step away from him, biting back the tears. The trace of her fingers lay red across his pale cheek. Lann accepted her abuse with a stoic expression, without uttering a word.
       “You bastard,” she whispered. “You needn’t feign your innocence by insulting me. Are you afraid I’ll ask you for child support? Do you think I expect you to play an unwilling role in this baby’s life? Maybe you think I’ll try to emotionally blackmail you into marrying me.” She clutched her bag to her chest like a shield. “I didn’t come here expecting anything from you. I want nothing. I only came because you had a right to know.” She took a ragged breath. “And to ask why you lied to me.”
       When he still didn’t speak, she nodded slowly, the unwelcome tears threatening to find their way to her cheeks. He wasn’t going to offer any explanation, any solace, any excuse.
       “I see,” she said. “Then we have nothing more to say to each other.”
       She turned for the door, but Lann’s voice halted her. “Please stay. You’re upset. I’ll take you home when you feel calmer.”
       To her dismay, a small gasp escaped her. Did he honestly think she’d stay after what he just said? Not looking back, she ran downstairs, not caring that Lann was calling after her loud enough for the building to hear, or that his employees were staring at her from the library window.

Long Excerpt

“You made your bed, you sleep in it,” my mother always said.
       I made this bed, with Lann Dréan in it. Only, he wasn’t anymore, not after thirty days of the best sex of my life. What remained were crumpled sheets and consequences.
       How could I not be attracted to him? I had a thing for intellectual guys, especially damaged ones. And Lann was damaged, alright. His father abandoned him at birth, never forgiving him for his mother’s death. It took some time before Lann told me how he grew up in the streets of Moscow, stealing and cheating his way to survival. He never revealed what he did for a living, how he became a self-made millionaire. He had pulled himself from the gutter and built a life. From the guards surrounding us, I knew he was involved in something dangerous, maybe illegal, but I told myself it didn’t matter because ours wasn’t a permanent relationship. It was a thirty-day contract.
       When I first met Lann it was in his privately owned library of ancient books. He had just bought the Santiago convent. The plan was to spend a month of holiday there before going home to New York. I had been rewarded a scholarship for an exchange program in Chile to conduct my thesis on daemon lovers. His handwritten books were invaluable to my research. He spotted me from his office balcony and when everyone else left, kept me behind.
       Lann was reserved, to the point of being recluse. Few photos existed of him, even as the paparazzi hunted and stalked him. Nothing could have prepared me for the tall Russian. He was lean, well defined, minus the bulging muscles I hated. His long, blond hair was mostly braided down his back. I preferred it to when he wore it loose, because that way I could admire his ears. He had perfect ears–beautifully proportioned, slightly elongated–but I never said as much because he was sensitive about them. A silver ring was pierced through the top left one. His dark Prada glasses gave him an academic look in a sexy kind of way. His most unusual feature was his eyes. In the dark they seemed yellow. In daylight I could see they were a mix of amber and brown flecks. And when he opened his mouth and spoke to me in his thick Russian accent, telling me I moved the air for him, my knees went weak.
       So, when he asked me to give my body to him for thirty days, exclusively, I signed my name on the dotted line. Although I had given him carte blanche, he took his time to lure me, to teach me what he liked. It was never a seduction. Unless I gave him permission, he didn’t move on. But I wanted it. All of it. All of him. Lann woke a dark side in me, a part I didn’t know lurked in the shadows of my desire. Only when I was comfortable with him did he tie me up, blindfolded and gagged me, and he didn’t introduce me to breath play until I trusted him. In those naked moments I made myself vulnerable, gave him control of my body, and he rewarded me with pleasure that wracked my mind and left me craving more.
       One day, he flew me in a water plane to a private lake for a picnic. It was the most perfect day of my life.
       We were sitting on the shore.
       “Lann, this is incredible,” I said.
       His palm smoothed over my shoulder. “You’ve been studying too hard. Been cooped up in my convent for too long.”
       “So this is my reward?”
       “No. I think your reward will come later.”
       “What a lucky girl I am.”
       “The luck is all mine, bella.”
       “Are you hungry?”
       “For food?” he drawled.
       “You’re impossible.” I gave him stern look and brought a piece of cheese to his lips. “Open.”
       He obeyed. He took the cheese, and sucked my fingers into his mouth. I could feel the atmosphere shift in a second. Lann had a hundred different moods a day, and I took pleasure in the knowledge that I started to understand how to navigate them. He allowed me to feed him some more, and after I had eaten, he got to his feet and started removing his clothes.
       “What are you doing?” I said with a laugh, looking around, even if I knew we were alone.
       “Come swim with me.”
       “The water will be freezing.”
       “Are you a pussy?”
       “You didn’t just call me that.”
       “Oh yes, I did.”
       I jumped up and discarded my clothes faster than him. Before he was out of his pants, I was running to the water, stark naked. I gritted my teeth when I felt the iciness around my feet. Looking over my shoulder, I saw Lann making his way to the water, a huge grin on his face. I held my breath and charged. It was so cold it felt as if it would stop my heart. I let out a yelp, and heard Lann’s laugh echo behind me. I dove in and swam furiously for a few strokes to warm up my limbs. When I turned, Lann still stood on the beach.
       “Come on!” I beckoned him with a curled finger. “Or are you a pussy?”
       He made big eyes at me. “What did you just call me?”
       “I said–”
       Before I could complete the sentence, he was storming me. I managed to splash him before he got wet, and heard his curse before he dove underwater to resurface in front of me. Laughing, I tried to swim away from him, but he grabbed me around the waist.
       “Not so fast, bella.”
       He turned me to face him and jerked me against him. His body was warm in the coldness of the water. I wrapped my arms and legs around him, pressing close. His erection strained against my pelvis. Lann wasn’t laughing any longer. He groaned, and his eyes turned a darker shade of gold. His hands went to my bottom, gripping me firmly. He lifted me slightly so that his hardness pressed against my folds. The water contracted my skin, and when he lifted me higher with one hand, spreading my opening with the other, an onslaught of cold water assaulted my swollen clit. Immediately the sensation was replaced with the warmth of his body as he lowered me onto his erection, sliding effortlessly into my lubricated depth. I arched my back, gasping as he claimed me with every inch he had.
       “God, Katherine, I’m buried so deep inside of you,” he said against my neck.
       He kissed me feverishly, sucking my skin into his mouth, making me scream as he bit down gently.
       “You drive me wild, krasota.” His tongue moved down my neck to the hollow of my throat, trailing a path to my breasts. He licked each upper curve, before he took a cold, hard nipple in his warm mouth. I moaned loudly. He started suckling me, moving me up and down on him.
       “Is this good, bella?”
       I whimpered. “Lann…”
       “Tell me, Katherine. Tell me what you want.”
       “Everything. I want everything.”
       “You don’t know what you’re asking,” he said darkly.
       “Then show me.”
       His mouth claimed mine with hard approval, his tongue sweeping over my lips before he drank the very breath from me. I struggled to draw air through my nose while he claimed my mouth like that. He kissed and kissed me until I felt the urge to shove away from him to draw air, but when I pushed with my palms on his chest, he only sealed his lips tighter over mine, at the same time increasing the pace with which he was penetrating me. My clit rubbed against his pelvis. One hand closed around my throat, applying gentle pressure, while the other spread the cheeks of my ass. Sensations slammed into me. His fingers around my neck tightened, cutting off my oxygen. I felt a finger rubbing down my cleft, and then I felt it there. I jerked when Lann pushed on that forbidden entrance. It was hard to think with my body craving air, craving him, and craving release. Already my orgasm was a tightly coiled cord, a second away from snapping. Just when I thought I was going to black out from the lack of air, he released my throat, at the same time pushing his finger inside my rear. As oxygen reached my brain, my orgasm exploded in me with an intensity I had never felt before. I clung to him, filled by his cock and his finger, as the waves crushed over me and continued to ripple long after he had spurted all of his seed inside of me. My strength gone, all I could manage was to lean my head on his shoulder, and to trust him to take care of me.          
       Lann kissed my hair and my cheek. He said gentle things to me in Russian, while he slowly pulled his finger from my slightly burning backside. I moaned, and he kissed my forehead. I felt like fainting from the aftershocks of pleasure. I tried to lower my legs, but Lann prevented me with his hands on my ankles.
       “Hold on, krasavitsa,” he said against my ear. “Don’t try to walk.”
       He gently cleaned me in the water, washing his semen from me, before carrying me to the shore. I had never felt more depleted in my entire life. It was worse than the time I had a few drinks too many at the student bar and my friend had to drive me home and put me to bed.
       I started shivering as Lann lowered me onto our picnic blanket. He stretched out on top of me and folded the blanket around our bodies. He kissed my neck and shoulder until I felt his heat penetrating my skin, and my body once more relaxed. When the shivering stopped, he lifted himself to look down at me.
       “The sun will warm you. I’m going to get off you now. At first it’ll feel cold with the breeze, but you’ll dry in no time.”
       I whimpered when he rolled off me, exposing my skin to the air. “No, don’t.”
       “I’m too heavy.” He rubbed my arms.    
       That was the first time I felt the air move around us. It shifted down from my shoulders to my feet, a blanket of clouds pulled over a naked body. This was the dance of air Lann had tried to describe to me, what he meant when he said I moved the air for him. At first the breeze made me feel colder, but then I gradually warmed as the sun dried my skin. I felt extremely lethargic.
       “What did you do to me?” I said, trying to focus on Lann’s face and not fall asleep.
       “I cut off your ability to breathe, just for a few seconds. The surge of oxygen that follows makes you come harder.”
       “That it did,” I said, closing my eyes.
       “Katherine, look at me.” I gazed back at him. His expression seemed concerned. “Did you enjoy it?”
       “Oh, yes.” I tried to nod. “It was the best sex of my life.”
       A slow smile curved his lips. “Good.” His eyes warmed. “Your trust means everything to me.”
       He lay down next to me and pulled me into her arms. We stayed like that until I felt some of my energy return. When I tried to sit up, he shook his head.
       “I need a drink.” I reached for my glass of champagne.
       “No more alcohol,” he said. He sat up and reached inside the basket, taking out a bottle of water. He unscrewed the cap, lifted my head and brought the bottle to my mouth. After a few sips, I lay back again, studying him.
       “You’re so handsome,” I said.
       “And you’re so expressive. I can never get enough of your face when it’s contorted with pleasure, knowing it’s the pleasure I bring you.”
       “You bring me lots of pleasure,” I said, mumbling my agreement.
       “Now I’m going to feed you strawberries.” His eyes went to my breasts. “And then I’m going to fuck you softly.”
       That was the day I knew I had fallen in love with him.

       By the time Day Thirty arrived, I was addicted. To him. But I had signed a contract to walk away, and never look back. And it wasn’t as if he gave me a choice when he left me behind. What I thought would be a harmless sexual adventure had burned a hole in my existence. I had fallen in love with Lann, when I promised I wouldn’t. But there was more at stake than my heart. I never would have guessed that accepting his contract was signing my death warrant. There was only one thing left to do. To sleep in the bed I had made. And it may just cost me … everything.

    About The Author

Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She obtained a degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, and followed a diverse career path in journalism, public relations, advertising, communications, photography, graphic design, and brand marketing. Her writing has always been an integral part of her professions.

After relocating to France with her French husband, she fulfilled her passion to write creatively full-time. Charmaine has published six novels since 2011, as well as several short stories and articles.

When she is not writing, she likes to travel, read, and rescue cats. Charmaine currently lives in Chile with her husband and children. Their household is a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.

Read more about Charmaine’s romance novels and psychological short stories here on www.charmainepauls.com.

Contact Charmaine at:
Website: www.charmainepauls.com 
Blog: www.charmainepauls.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charmaine-Pauls/175738829145132 Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharmainePauls Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AuthorCharmainePauls  

Contest Giveaway

Enter To Win Throughout The Tour!
The prizes include:
a set of 5 antiqued silver bookmarks,
a paperback copy of Aeromancist
and eBooks of the preceding books in the series:
Loving the Enemy, Pyromancist, and Aeromancist, The Beginning

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