La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess
By Mariana Gabrielle
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Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting Mariana Gabrielle. Welcome Mariana! I'm so excited to have you here today! Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?
Mariana: Hi, all! I’m a writer, editor, and designer in Denver, Colorado, where (thankfully) I make my living with words every day. Typically not fiction, but putting one word in front of the other has always been my calling, even if the words form a technical document in the end.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
Mariana: This is an excerpt from the scene wherein Kali loses her virginity. (PG-13)
Instead of enjoying the supper her new cook had prepared for them in the elegant three-story house Fitz had provided not a mile from his own, Kali spent the entire meal twiddling her fork in one hand, digging her nails into the palm of the other, pushing her food about the plate and sipping an extraordinary claret as though it had no flavor. The fact of her virginity—her very expensive virginity—hung in the air like the clang of a clock chime, unavoidably deafening, known to all and mentioned by none. After dinner, she told him she had stocked his preferred port and Spanish segars. He suggested an early night.
He removed his cravat and jacket in her new bedroom, which showed no signs of her taste and quite clearly demonstrated he had none: red walls and gold gilt, the gaudiest of fabrics and over-decorated furniture.
“Your hands are shaking, and I believe the champagne is your third glass of wine since I arrived. Not that I mean to count.” He stared so intently she dropped her lashes over the edge of the glass, until he asked, teasingly, “Is it even possible for such an elegant tawaif to exhibit nerves? Did I contract for that?”
Kali could barely bring herself to answer, only nodded and whispered, “Yes, my lord, it is possible.”
Mayuri had done her no favors, preparing her for the worst. Fitz had no reason to be gentle, she had been warned, no cause to concern himself with her wishes, desires, or fears. No matter how handsome, how charming, how solicitous in the drawing room, Mayuri had said, there was every possibility he would be driven entirely by his own lust, disregarding even the most basic courtesies. And no matter what he did, Kali was to pretend she had never been more excited by anything in her life.
She turned away to stare into the corner of the garish red-and-gold room, wishing it felt less like a cheap brothel, fingers tripping over the buttons of her dress, trying to speed things up to be finished that much faster.
She couldn’t help glancing at the bed, with a frame as large as a farm wagon. Piles of pillows in shades of rose, bed curtains of garish silk velvet, and a red satin eiderdown quilt nearly as thick as the feather-filled mattress. As comfortable as it all must be, she glared like it concealed a hungry crocodile.
He tugged the shirttail from his waistband and unbuttoned it over his broad chest, then came to her and held her hands motionless, kissing her fingertips.
“I will not hurt you, my sweet, I promise. No more than a pinprick, as with any woman’s first time. Mayuri explained?”
She nodded again, trying to bring her voice back under her own control. “Yes, my lord.” She’d known exactly what to expect for at least ten years.
“My name is Fitz,” he said, recalling her attention to his face, “not ‘my lord.’ I cannot bear such formality from you, Kali. Can you indulge me?”
“Much better,” he said, kissing her cheek, then her earlobe, murmuring, “Now then, I prefer a woman who would invite me to her bed for the enjoyment, so I plan to ensure it. May I bring you pleasure, sweeting? Will you allow it?”
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess?
Mariana: After a vague conversation with a friend about Mata Hari, I first came up with the idea for a heroine who was a spy, then decided on industrial/corporate espionage, but neither of those ideas lasted long enough to make it into the outline. Then I took a class with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers called Heroes, Henchmen, and Sidekicks: A Characters-first Approach to Plot, taught by Angie Hodapp, where the characters and loose plot emerged. Most things were very different by the end of the first draft, but the hero, heroine, and most prevalent villain remained, mostly intact, as did small elements of the original spy concept.
Crystal: What are you currently working on?
Mariana: Multiple projects. Three novellas are in the works, prequels about secondary characters from Royal Regard, my first Regency. I’ve just contracted a mainstream historical novel called Blind Tribute, about a Civil War newspaper reporter with conflicted loyalties, and I have the beginnings of a Regency family series outlined.
Crystal: Do you have any special routine that you follow when you are writing?
Mariana: Sit at the computer and write.
Crystal: Did you have to do a lot of research for this book or any other? If so do you have a fascinating fact that you have learned you would like to share with us?
Mariana: Since I write historical fiction, research is imperative. Fun fact from La Déesse Noire: I found it very interesting that traditionally, tawaifs, a female caste of courtesans to the nobility (of which my heroine, Kali, is one), were not only a huge influence on Indian artistic culture, through dance, music, and literature, but were also considered the highest authority on etiquette and protocol.
Crystal: Who are some of your favorite authors that you like to read?
Mariana: In historical romance, I just love Lucinda Brant. In general historical fiction, John Irving and Ken Follett. Somewhere in the middle of those two genres, Alexandra Ripley has been one of my favorite authors since I was a teenager.
Crystal: Is there a genre you haven't written that you would like to try?
Mariana: Book-length nonfiction. I’ve written long nonfiction—100 pages or so--but nothing for publication. I am in the early stages of a collaborative project with a colleague, Jude Knight, compiling a marketing guide for indie authors. We share a similar marketing and communications background, and are very excited to talk about our approaches.
Sired by a British peer, born of a paramour to Indian royalty, Kali Matai has been destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful noblemen—though she hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn. Finding herself under the control of ruthless men, who will not be moved by her legendary allure, she has no choice but to use her beauty toward their malicious and clandestine ends.
When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.
Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Multicultural Romance
R for sensual content, 3 out of 5 flames
R-rated (18+ ONLY PLEASE)
Kali Matai’s head bowed under the candlelight of dozen of chandeliers and the mirrored footlights at the edge of the stage. The silence of the scene, the quiet of the spirit of the dancer before them caused a hush across the theatre. La Déesse Noire would perform only once the men settled themselves to give their full attention.
The shapely form was held in perfect abeyance, clothed this night in gold-shot emerald green, which might as easily have matched any jewel tone: deep sapphire, royal amethyst, garnet red. The flickering lights from all sides reflected the rhythmic bass note of the tabla drums, shaking in the jeweled bangles of her gold chain girdle. The bells began to shake along the edges of her sari as her lithe shape trembled under the sheerest silk in England. The audience could not see the secrets of her body, but would swear they might with the next movement, shake, twist, turn.
The fabric was like water flowing down her collarbone, curling around her shoulder, drifting across her bosom and around her trim waist. With a twist of ankle, the jeweled rings on her toes sent flashes of light tripping across the assemblage, sure to blind a few men, leaving them, for a few moments, with only the thought of their last vision of her. The bracelets shaking at her wrists added a sharp note to music already carrying her body through the steps of the mujra dance.
The sound wafting off the sarangi strings seemed to stroke along her inner thighs, her legs twisting to the melody underneath the full silk skirts, caressing her hips and buttocks, the length of her sari slipping on and off her shoulder, covering and revealing her face, rubbing across any part of her body to which she wished to call attention.
Her hips began to shake like they might atop a man lying prone, side to side, fore to aft, hands tracing her legs, a rhythm known only to her, which might take her blissfully into la petite mort, if a man could but imitate it.
The steps took her to her knees, her body writhing like a snake might, wrapping its coils around the legs of any man in the audience who could visualize it, her eyes in the candlelight glowing, face flushed, as though by sitting with her knees parted at a man’s feet, rubbing against his calves, her face against his groin, she might achieve her own, private ecstasy.
With an unhurried stroke of her arm against her cheekbone, Kali finally loosened the first strand of her tightly bound hair. One gold-and-diamond pin at a time, she continued as the music worked back into a crescendo, until her skirts were like waves crashing against a sea wall, her black tresses whipping around her face like ash and smoke left by the fires of a vengeful goddess.
Slowing her limbs to a near-stop, she draped herself backward, one hand and the top of her head not an inch from the floor, the silk of her sari now loosely covering, outlining, the treasures between her legs. Turning on her heel, the view shifted from the crease of her thighs to the furrow between her bountiful breasts, set off by her slack lips, reddened like they might appear after rough use. Before the gentlemen looked their fill, slowly, letting the silk caress her fingers, body loose and limber, Kali rose languidly from the contortion as gracefully as a raven might stretch its wing.
As the music once more gained speed and volume, her body followed, beginning to turn, spin, to keep the rhythm with wrists, hips, and toes, heels keeping time with the pounding drum. The faster she spun, the more the skirt rose to show her ankles, her knees, covered in diaphanous muslin, another layer of translucence keeping her all but nude for her audience’s pleasure.
One quick twist of her gemstone-covered fingers released a gold chain strung with beads from the girdle about her waist, letting it fall among the lengths of her skirts to shimmer among the shot threads of silver and gold, Her hip set the chain swinging in unison with her turns, and she loosened one bell-strung chain after another, until the half-dozen that had circled her waist now draped her hips, tinkling more raucously in their freedom.
When the turns had entirely mesmerized the men, all eyes following her curves in unison, she collected her movements once more, her feet almost motionless, the rest of her body undulating in every direction at once, letting each man in the room believe he was the one for whom La Déesse Noire might be reaching.
Her body had been trained for a lifetime to exhibit and elicit the sexual hunger of the most passionate bed: the depths of her dark eyes, the tangling of her heavy, black-satin locks, the negligence of her smile, and the outline of her quivering body undulating under silk, all brought to mind nothing so much as the way she might look being stroked to completion under a man’s hand.
Mariana Gabrielle is a pseudonym of Mari Christie, a professional writer, editor, and designer with almost twenty-five years’ experience. Published in dozens of nonfiction and poetry periodicals since 1989, she began writing mainstream historical fiction in 2009 and Regency romance in 2013. In all genres, she creates deeply scarred characters in uncommon circumstances who overcome self-imposed barriers to reach their full potential. She is a member of the Bluestocking Belles, the Writing Wenches, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Her first Regency romance, Royal Regard, was released in November 2014.
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