Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

The Dangerous Allure of Secondary Characters

I was chugging along on Carnally Yours, making decent (if not speedy) progress. Then, I went and wrote this scene (warning: dirty words and still a first draft!):

“Maybe if I suck you a bit more, you’ll be able—” The courtesan broke off at Nathaniel’s warning glower.

He sat on the edge of the velvet-upholstered armchair next to the bed and pulled on his breeches. For the first time in his life, his cock had failed him. Never before in his life, even at his most inebriated, had he failed to make wood at the appropriate time.

But tonight, despite being ridden hard by nearly a week of unrequited lust, his prick had simply lain there, limp and unresponsive. Even when he’d closed his eyes and tried to imagine it was Eleanor fondling his balls, Eleanor taking his cock into her mouth, he hadn’t been able to rise to the occasion.

Because his senses knew she wasn’t Eleanor. She didn’t smell right, didn’t taste right, didn’t feel right.

Calliope sighed and stretched to a sit. “I suppose this means you won’t be coming back,” she said, reaching for the silk robe draped around the bedpost.

Nathaniel stopped in the midst of pulling on the first of his Hessians. Though her expression remained carefully neutral, there was no mistaking the disappointment in her tone.

“Probably not,” he admitted.

“A pity.” She slipped her arms into the garment, then ran the backs of her hands under her hair to free the blonde tresses. “You’re my best customer, you know.”

“I know. I’m very reliable.”

Whenever he came to the Red Door, he always requested Calliope first. Of all the girls who worked for Madame Upshaw, Calliope best suited his taste in women. Tall and pale-skinned with small breasts, narrow hips, and long, slender legs, she was his idea of the perfect fuck. Or had been until Eleanor had burst into his study and into his heart.

Heart? That was getting a bit sentimental, wasn’t it?

Maybe too much self-abuse made one soft in the head. He resisted the urge to look at his palms to make certain they hadn’t sprouted hair. At least he was certain he
hadn’t gone blind.

Calliope smiled and shook her head as she tied the sash around her waist. “I don’t mean it that way. You’re not the only gentleman who prefers blonde and bony—”

“You are not bony,” he interjected.

She chuckled, but held up her hand to forestall further protestations on his part. “You are my best customer because you always give as much pleasure as you take.
And so I shall miss you.”

Nathaniel’s throat thickened, and so he merely nodded before returning his attention to donning his boots. Sentimentality apparently was caused by excessive wanking.

“You must love her a great deal.”

He jerked his head up to stare at the pretty Cyprian, realizing that while he’d known her repeatedly in the Biblical sense, he didn’t know her at all.

“No, I don’t.” The denial sprang reflexively to his lips. Love was for the lovable. Not for him.

Calliope raised her eyebrows.

For some inexplicable reason, he felt obligated to explain himself. “She’s a lady. Unmarried. An Eligible. I have to marry her to fuck her, that’s all.”

The courtesan’s lips formed a skeptical grin. “Perhaps. But that’s not why you couldn’t fuck me tonight.”

I finished the scene, but once I was done, I couldn’t move on with the story because Calliope interested me. Who is she? What’s her background? Why did she become a prostitute?

So what did I do instead of writing the next scene in Carnally Yours? I wrote this:

Caroline James had learnt at the age of fifteen that she had precisely two saleable talents, both of which involved spending a good deal of time on her knees. That was the spring she’d hired on as a scullery maid in a wealthy lord’s London townhouse and, within a few days of taking the position, began serving her employer in a much more entertaining capacity. Before long, she was performing similar favors for the lord’s oldest son and the butler, a turn of events that pleased her greatly. Fucking men was, in her opinion, a great deal more enjoyable than scrubbing floors and the three of them kept her rather too occupied to do much of the latter.

Matters might have gone on in that fashion indefinitely had the cook not complained to the lady of the house that none of the scullery work was getting done, and quick as you could say mince pie, Callie was tossed out on her ear with neither pay nor references. She’d couldn’t have cared less about the lack of references, of course—one wasn’t usually asked for them when selling one’s wares on a Picadilly street corner—but she’d missed the money rather acutely, for sleeping in alleys had a way of making one rather less attractive to even the most desperate members of the opposite sex.

What a long way she’d come since then. Gone was the gutter born and bred Callie James, replaced by Calliope, an alluring fiction as flimsy as the diaphanous white gown she wore to mimic the Grecian goddess from whom she’d taken her name. No one from the Seven Dials would recognize her now, a posh and perfect lady in every respect but one.

God help me, I already love Calliope and must write her story. Like I don’t already have enough to do! This happens to me all the time–my secondary characters just demand to be written. Anyone else suffer from this problem?

Speaking of things to do, I’m putting important papers into boxes and packing up the family photos on account of this:

This is southeast of our house and it doesn’t look like it’s going to reach us unless the winds change direction significantly. Still, it’s a possibility.

Finally, pimpage:

From now until Halloween, the Manuscript Mavens are putting on a Halloween-themed Choose Your Own Adventure® story, where You The Reader get to vote on what happens next, and a different author will continue the story each day based on your feedback. The Mavens are giving away tons of prizes to commenters, including autographed books. Definitely bookmark it!

Choose Your Own Adventure is a trademark of Chooseco LLC, Waitsfield, Vermont. Check them out at www.cyoa.com. The trademark has been used by permission herein. Thanks, CYOA!

1 Comment

  • Emma Petersen October 22, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    I can see why you fell so hard for Callie. I would too. Wow. Sometimes (well all the time) you amaze me. With just that scene you made me want so much more than a passing glance. Now I want to know how she ended up as a courtesan. Le sigh. I bow to you!


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