Or is there still room for more?
I spend a lot of my writing time, when I have it, scanning the Calls for Submission in the erotica genre. Sometimes I’m lucky and find that I have a story that fits what they’re looking for with little tweaking necessary, and sometimes what they’re looking for will spark an idea.
A while back I got an idea for a story about a sexy ghost. I wish I could say I remembered what triggered it. I posted it bit by bit in the forum where I used to hang out and it was interesting to see people’s reactions to the characters as the story progressed. In a way, I think the plot was driven in part by my trying to elicit responses from the readers. Sometimes I make otherwise likable characters do awful things to see how far I can push it before sympathy wanes.
In the cheating story I wrote for Not Safe for Work, “Dirty Little Secret,” I found it interesting that as the story unfolded, that as the man in the story became a first-degree cheater with a girl half his age, the readers’ sympathy was with him. Considering that many of my readers were married women, I was intrigued that very little–if any–thought or compassion was given to the wife. Granted, I infused her with some of the worst characteristics that most of us are guilty of from time to time. She took him for granted, had lost interest in sex, focused on the kids and ignored him, valued him only as a breadwinner, and used him to get things done around the house. The intimacy in their relationship was gone, and I drew him as a man wanting desperately to connect with the woman he loves but being unable to, so in a fit of frustration, he looks for it elsewhere, and finds…well, not what he’s looking for, exactly, but some truths about himself and his life and he teaches his young partner something about herself as well. She, too, becomes a sympathetic character, and when I looked back and read the posts and the reactions, it still amazes me that a cheating man and the girl who steals another woman’s husband are both sympathetic characters, while the wife–the only victim in the story–was the villain of the piece. Of course I’m simplifying, but in a nutshell, I made something bad palatable. In the end, these two people who have done a bad thing are both still likable.
With the ghost story, I pushed that envelope a bit harder. I set it up so that a woman working in a historic inn meets a ghost who, for reasons that are still a mystery to science and para-science, can only be seen and felt by certain people, and it’s been decades since this particular ghost has had any human contact. I made him awesome. I created him to be the exact kind of man any woman would want to be with. He is a heroic figure, a bit tragic, very romantic, and I set up a love story for the ages. Swoon-worthy, you might say.
And then, I made him do something bad. Really bad. The kind of bad that made everyone reading exclaim, “Oh, no! He DIDN’T!” Yeah, he did. I don’t want to give too much away, but suddenly I yanked the rug out and left the man they really liked and the couple they rooted for stumbling and falling and crashing badly. There was serious backlash against our romantic hero. And the challenge for me, sitting here behind my monitor reading the visceral reactions and being wholly inspired by them, was how to make those same people sympathetic to him again. The challenge I gave myself was to make them fall back in love with my protagonist, despite what he did. They had to forgive him. I was going to make them love him.
In the end, what I like about my ghost erotica is that it’s less about spooky, paranormal coupling and all about real human emotion. Arthur the Ghost, despite his non-corporeality, is still very much human.
The story is all but done. It’s a full-length novel at this point, albeit a short one. Maybe a novella. I’m never sure what the criterion for length is. It currently stands at right around thirty thousand words. Way too long to be a short story, but too short for a novel which I believe is over forty thousand. Maybe when it’s finished and the last two scenes are added and fleshed out, so to speak, it will be a proper novel. Then what? I don’t know.
I keep reading that sexy ghosts are overdone, overused, and folks are bored by them. I don’t wish to be boring. But I wonder if anyone will want to publish or read it. Then again, with the appalling lack of time I’ve had to write these days, by the time it’s done ghosts might be hot again. It’s as true of writing as it is of sex and life in general: timing is everything.
Anyway, you want to read some ghostly smut? Okay, then. So, Kate has come to work at a Victorian-era inn and on her first night in the mansion meets the resident ghost, Arthur. They have an instant attraction and spend a most pleasant night together in Kate’s bed. In this scene, Kate wakes up to the all-too-common “Did I dream this?” feeling, made even more powerful by the fact of, oh, ghost sex. What happens the next morning? Let’s watch.
Kate woke in the morning to the Spring sun reflecting brightly off her white sheets. She opened one eye and squinted at the alarm clock, and with a groan made a mental note to buy shades for the eastern-facing windows before the day was out. She rolled away from the windows, pulling the comforter over her head and burying her face in the soft, feather pillows. She stretched out her arm across the warm bed and froze.
She opened her eyes and looked at the rumpled bedclothes, the dented pillows, and her discarded shirt from the day before tossed carelessly on the wood floor. For a second, she wondered if it had all been a dream. She pulled back the covers and looked down at her nude body. Her normally light pink nipples were a darker purplish color and very sensitive from being sucked on, and she ran her finger over one lightly, causing it to spring to life. In the bright morning light, it was easy to see the already darkening bruises left by Arthur’s fingers on the milky-white skin of her full breasts. She ran her hands over them gently, tracing the outline of each finger. She shivered, partly from pleasure and partly from the early-morning chill in the room, and pulled the covers back up to her neck.
“Oh,” Arthur said, appearing suddenly. He was perched on the arm of the sofa, dressed in another soft, flannel shirt, worn jeans, and a pair of wool socks. “Don’t stop on my account,” he continued with a half-smile.
She looked up at him, startled, and then grinned. “Don’t ghosts ever knock?”
He shrugged. “Only when we want to be noticed. When we want to watch a beautiful woman touch herself, we stay very, very quiet.” He crossed to her and sat on the edge of the bed, leaning in to kiss her. When her arms went around his neck, the comforter slid, exposing her breasts. He scooped up the soft globes in his hands, and she winced.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, letting her go.
She looked down. “I bruise like an over-ripe banana.”
He looked crestfallen. “I’m so sorry,” he said, kissing her lightly on each breast and rubbing the skin very lightly. “I got carried away.”
“We both did,” she said with a smile, as she shuddered again. “Damn, it’s cold in here.”
He kissed her nipples again, making her squirm slightly as the all-too-familiar tingling in her pussy started up again in earnest. With a smile that was half-promise and half-tease, he pulled the covers back up and tucked them in around her neck. “Oh, why’d you stop?” she asked, pushing her lip out petulantly.
“Because I came up here to tell you that I have a pot of coffee on in the kitchen and a roaring fire going in the dining room fireplace, which was no easy task considering I had to get wood in the house without it looking like logs were floating across the back porch.”
“That sounds lovely,” she said, leaning back into the pillows and smiling contentedly.
“Did you want to come down and get warmed by my amazing fire, or would you prefer to take your coffee up here, madam?”
“I will make myself presentable and join you in the dining room,” she said, grinning as he stood and bowed formally.
“Very good,” he said, kissing her on the forehead and walking out of the room straight through the heavy oak door.
“Show off!” she called after him, and heard his laugh in the hall.
The fire in the dining room was an impressive one, and the dry logs crackled a greeting as she walked into the large, brightly lit room. The floor-to-ceiling windows were full of sunlight, and through the wavy, blown glass panes, she could see the light green buds on the lilacs just starting to unfurl. A small table near the stone hearth was set with a crisp, linen tablecloth and polished silver and antique china gleamed. She sat down in the heavy chair, enjoying the feel of the warm fire on her back, and smiled at the artfully folded napkin on her plate.
“That was fast,” Arthur said, coming in from the kitchen with a silver coffee pot.
“This is lovely,” she remarked. “And the napkin swan? Too much.”
He laughed and poured out the strong, hot coffee into her cup. “There was a housekeeper here once who could make napkins into the most fantastic shapes. And she did it so fast it was like magic. I used to follow her around, waiting for her to do her thing and then I’d study what she did. I mean, I spent hours watching this woman fold linen napkins, and then when everyone was asleep, I’d practice all night trying to get them as perfect as she did.”
“That’s dedication,” she said, sipping her coffee.
He shrugged. “I have a tendency to get obsessed with things,” he confessed, plucking up the swan by one wing and shaking it out with a soft snap before draping it over her thigh. “But then with unlimited time, one needs a fair number of time-killers.”
She chuckled. “Sit,” she said, gesturing to the empty chair next to her.
“I will,” he assured her. “But first, what would you like to eat? I’m not much of a cook, but I think I could manage toast without much trouble.”
“You’ve done enough,” she said, putting her cup down on her saucer. He quickly filled it and set the pot down. He pulled up a chair and sat close to her, and took her hand in his.
“Kate, I don’t feel like I can do anywhere near enough,” he said, pressing his lips to her hand. “Last night was…” He paused, looking for the right words.
“Yeah, it most definitely was,” she agreed with a naughty smile, putting her hand on his thigh and leaning in to kiss him.
He kissed her passionately, and Kate felt the delightful tingles return. “Breakfast can wait,” she said, forgetting everything else but the feel of his lips on hers.
Arthur’s hands slid up under her wool sweater, feeling her skin through the clinging softness of her silk camisole. He pulled the warm garment up, letting go of her mouth long enough to pull it over her head. He leaned back and smiled, admiring the curve of her breasts beneath her filmy undergarments. “So beautiful,” he said, and lowered his head to her chest, his lips warm against her.
She ran her hands through his hair, holding him as he nuzzled her hard nipples through the thin silk. He pulled the straps off her shoulders, letting them fall on her arms and sighed as the wisp of fabric slithered off her bare breasts. Gently, he took a rosy tip into his mouth, sucking gently and making her squirm delightfully in her seat.
“You’re insatiable,” she said, giggling as his hands worked the button on her pants. He let go of her nipple and looked up at her.
“If you want me to, I’ll stop,” he said, arching an eyebrow playfully.
“Don’t you dare,” she said, leaning forward and pushing him back his chair. She stood quickly and shimmied out of her jeans, sliding them down her thighs while smiling seductively at him. She straddled his lap, wrapping her arms around him. “Where were we?” she asked, slipping her hands around his neck and kissing him deeply. Kate ran her hands down his chest, releasing his lips only long enough to inquire, “Don’t you feel a little overdressed?”
He smiled, and closing his eyes, he made his clothing vanish. His cock was suddenly hard and hot between her legs and she moaned at the sudden contact. He shuddered too. “That feeling right there is the best part of being able to do that little trick.” She moaned her agreement, kissing him on the lips before sliding down off his lap. She knelt on the hardwood floor and cradled his cock in her hands. “Oh, God,” he said with a groan as her lips closed around him.
Kate pressed her lips against the head and let them rest there. She kissed him gently, first on the tip, then down the shaft to the thick nest of dark curls. She ran her tongue along its length and teased the tiny eye with the tip of it.
He leaned back in the chair, his ass nearly off the cushions as Kate pleasured him, his growing desire making her own pussy throb and hum in sympathy. He moaned and twined his fingers in her hair, his firm pressure on the back of her head guiding her speed and depth. He was rocking his hips back and forth, meeting her motions with small thrusts of his own. Her hands gripped him tightly and stroked him hard and fast in time with her bobbing head and sucking lips.
Kate could tell Arthur was close to coming, and she stopped, looking up into his eyes. The sight of her smiling at him, her lips full and wet and her hands still stroking him lightly drew another groan from his throat. She kissed him lightly on the tip, causing his cock to jump in her hand, and she stood, her knees marked with two red circles.
In an instant, his hands were on her hips, guiding her onto his lap. He slid into her easily, and she moaned as he filled her. His need for her was intense, and the feeling of his strong hands urging her on, holding her fast while he directed her movements went to her head in a rush. He was impaling her, hitting secret spots inside her that were making her legs shake with passion.
His face was buried in her bouncing tits, licking and sucking her swollen nipples and nipping the already tender skin. Her thoughts rushed and swirled in her head, hedonistic and wild, blinding her to anything but her need for his cock and his hands and lips on her body.
Her orgasm hit her like a tidal wave, crashing against her and breaking apart. Her hands went around his neck as she braced her feet firmly on the floor and rode his cock hard and fast. “Come in me,” she commanded, her voice husky and deep with lust. As if he had been waiting for her command, he groaned and held her fast while his own pleasure exploded and he swelled and throbbed deliciously against her clit.
She leaned her forehead against his, breathing hard and rocking her still-sensitive clit against his pubic bone, shuddering at the powerful sensation. His touch was light, his hands stroking her warm flesh, caressing and adoring her.
Her legs were still shaking slightly when she lifted herself off of his half-hard cock and stood naked before him, her camisole still crumpled around her waist and her cheeks flush from the warmth of the fire and their exertions. With trembling hands, she slipped her arms back into the straps of the thin undershirt and pulled it up, shivering at the touch of the fabric, light as it was, over her hard nipples.
She couldn’t remember a time when a man had so driven her to distraction the way Arthur did. He sat in the antique dining chair, still slumped against the velvet cushions, smiling at her through heavy-lidded eyes. His strong, lean body was as it had been in life; he was the picture of young virility and sated passion, but the eyes that watched her dress were old eyes–eyes that had seen so many things, yet they bore the sadness of one who had seen but been unable to partake. There was another emotion there, she thought, but she couldn’t quite place it. It tugged at her heart.
The chair creaked as he stood, as if to protest their harsh treatment of it. He stood before her in the window-shaped patch of morning sunlight. Gently, he put a finger beneath her chin and tipped her head to look at him. She smiled up into his handsome face, and he kissed her. “I never want to let you go,” he said, and put his strong arms around her, holding her close. She rested her head against his chest and sighed with pleasure.
Should I publish it? Or are ghost stories passé?