Today my guest is the amazing Christopher Hawthorne Moss. He’s brought an excerpt from his latest Harmony Ink Press (YA) historical novel, Beloved Pilgrim. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Elias, who has a female body but knows his mind and heart are male, is traveling through Italy on his way to take ship to the Sublime Port, Constantinople in Byzantium. He has run into one of the group of mercenaries traveling to the Crusades with him who decide to treat him to a night with a prostitute.
A flint sparked, and the scraps of linen in a tinderbox caught and flamed. Giuliana tipped a lantern so the wick caught. She blew out the flame in the tinderbox and replaced the horn cover on the lamp so a dull golden glow lit the space between her and Elias. She set the lamp on a table and looked at him. With her his hands on her hips, she said, “Can’t what? Can’t get it up? That’s my job.” She came to Elias and pressed her magnificent breasts against the front of his tunic. Elias closed his eyes and moaned. The woman reached down to put a hand on Elias’s groin. Elias felt his mound cupped and moaned again.
“Oh!” Giuliana exclaimed. She felt more searchingly. “You are a woman! Do they know? I will get them good if this is a jest to make a fool of me.”
Elias stepped back. “No, no, they don’t know. And please, I beg you, don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret.”
Giuliana smiled gently. “Clearly.” She looked Elias up and down. “But why do you pretend to be a man?”
Elias swallowed. “I—I am a man.” He had had no reason to concoct an explanation for what others might see as a masquerade.
Giuliana eyed him skeptically. “Not if you have a cunt, you aren’t.”
Now Elias subsided, his shoulders slumping. “This”—he indicated his body—“is a woman’s body. But in my heart and soul, I know I am a man.”
Surprisingly, the whore accepted the explanation. “Oh, I knew that some men feel they are really women. One of my girls at the bordello is like that. Clementina. There are plenty of customers who want to fuck her. But I did not know there were women who believe they are men.” She had an intrigued smile on her full lips. “Well, what do you want to do?”
Elias looked about the dim room. He could just make out a bed with the covers cast about. There was little else. The single window was shuttered and only a thin sliver of light showed where it was sagging on its hinges. “Can we just stay here? All night? So they think I… you know…?”
Giuliana gave him a wicked grin. “We can do better than that. You can’t fuck me, but we can still have some fun. In fact, for once it will be fun for me.”
She came forward and pressed her breasts against Elias’s again. She reached up with her arms and, putting them around Elias’s neck, pulled his stunned face down to hers. She put her lips on Elias’s and took in a deep, sighing breath. “Mmmm,” she murmured, and slid her tongue into Elias’s mouth.
“But… but… it’s a sin!” Elias protested.
Giuliana stepped back and put her hands on her hips. “Who says?”
“Well… the Church.”
“They are all buggering each other when they aren’t in here slobbering over my girls. And does it really say making love is a sin? In the holy books, I mean?” The woman cocked her head.
“Th-thou shalt not commit adultery, that is what it says.” Elias’s brain was too foggy to think further than that.
Giuliana stepped forward again and reached out a hand to toy with Elias’s cropped tresses. “I thought adultery is when you sleep with someone who is married already.”
Elias gaped. “Well, yes, but….” He supposed he ought to admit that he was, in fact, married, but for some reason was reluctant say it.
Giuliana leaned in to nibble on Elias’s throat. In between nibbles, she said, “I always thought they just didn’t want a lot of little fatherless bastards running about begging. And we can hardly produce any bastards, can we?”
“I guess not.” Elias raised his arms and put one palm on each of Giuliana’s breasts. They were firm to the touch. He kneaded and moaned. His thumbs found the nipples and discovered they were as hard as little nuts. “Touch me there again,” he heard himself entreat.
“Let’s get these clothes off you first,” the whore said. She expertly untied laces, raised the cloth, pushed down other cloth, and all the while her hands stroked the flesh through and then under it all. By the time he was naked, Elias was trembling all over.
“I want to see you,” he begged.
Giuliana smiled languidly. “Then take off my clothes.”
Elias reached around to untie the laces that closed Giuliana’s bodice down the back. This made him crush the woman’s breasts to his own, and he grinned. “You really like this?” he asked. “With a woman, I mean.”
“I like it, si, much more than with a man. A woman will seek to please me.”
Elias decided not to pursue whether he was or was not a woman. He was happy to play along. “And men do not?” He pulled the bodice forward so that it slipped over Giuliana’s shoulders. The breasts were now covered with only a thin linen shift. He took one in his hand and flicked the nipple.
Giuliana groaned with delight. “Some do. Some men know that giving pleasure makes the whole thing better. But they don’t have women’s bodies, so they don’t know what we like. Have you never made love before?”
Elias had loosened the tie that held up Giuliana’s skirt and let the garment fall to the floor. “Love? No, I have never made love,” he answered bitterly. Elias undid the drawstring of the woman’s shift and drew the neckline over her shoulders to expose her breasts. He sighed as he saw them. He leaned in to take a nipple in his mouth, licking and sucking.
Elias learned delights that night he could never have imagined. Giuliana’s hands on his breasts made them seem to swell with pleasure. After the woman lowered them onto the bed, she started to tickle between Elias’s lips within his mound’s soft downy hair, and he felt as if someone had touched him in his most sensitive place with cold steel. His orgasm came slowly, reaching inside him more sharply and strongly than he ever had through his own tentative explorations. He found himself crying out, sobbing, and moaning. He writhed on the bed, then lay gasping.
“Let me do that to you!” he pleaded. Spreading Giuliana’s lips and taking in the rich aroma of her sex, Elias dipped his tongue in a salty-sweet woman’s brew. He tried to remember the technique the woman had used on his. Whether he did it as well or not, Giuliana responded. As her cries and moans became louder, Elias begged, “Say, ‘Fuck me, Elias!’” When she smiled and complied, Elias hoped the mercenaries were listening.
Settling into each other’s arms, the two took turns resting their heads on the other’s shoulder. Elias discovered he was thinking that this soft, warm cuddling was almost—almost—as wonderful as what they had done first. The comfortable laziness was far from chaste, however, as they reached to stroke some special spot on the other, and the more active lovemaking recommenced.
At the sound of a cockcrow, Elias sat up, unsure at first where he was. Then he felt and smelled Giuliana next to him. Leaning over, he put one arm around her and pressed his chest against the warm, smooth back. His hand rested on a breast. He heard Giuliana sigh. “What is your name, amoro?” the woman crooned.
“Elias,” he whispered.
“Grazie, Elias,” the woman said.
She turned her head to be kissed. Elias was glad to oblige.
They both started when a fist hammered on the door. “Elias! That’s enough. Time to get mounted.” It was Ranulf’s voice, followed by guffaws.
Sebastiano’s voice jested, “Don’t tell him to mount. In fact, he probably already is in the saddle.” More laughter.
Elias called out, consciously deepening his voice. “Can’t you wait? I will be out in a minute.”
Three male voices made lewd sounds.
“All right, but hurry. Conrad wants to get back on the road.”
“Already?” Elias groaned.
After a short time, the door to the room swung in. Elias, fully clothed, stood with a mostly naked Giuliana in his arms, locked in a deep kiss.
The four men out on the rickety gallery stared. The whore had her hands clasped on Elias’s buttocks. “Come back, my lord, I beg you. I have never been fucked like that before. I want it again and again.
Elias gratefully smiled into the woman’s twinkling eyes. “I already did that. All night.” He bent in for a last long kiss. “Arrivederci, bella,” he said gently, then turned to the mercenaries. “Well, what are we waiting for?”
The men took the steps two at a time. After passing through another door into an alley, Ranulf and Leif put their arms around Elias’s shoulders, Sebastiano and Thomas throwing theirs over each other’s. “Hail the conquering hero!” Thomas began to sing.
Buy Beloved Pilgrim: Dreamspinner Press
At the time of the earliest Crusades, young noblewoman Elisabeth longs to be the person she’s always known is hidden inside. When her twin brother perishes from a fever, Elisabeth takes his identity to live as a man, a knight. As Elias, he travels to the Holy Land, to adventure, passion, death, and a lesson that honor is sometimes found in unexpected places.
Elias must pass among knights and soldiers, survive furious battle, deadly privations, moral uncertainty, and treachery if he’ll have any chance of returning to his newfound love in the magnificent city of Constantinople.
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