Another thing I practiced with in this piece was sensuality. I’m not necessarily against sex scenes in books, but I feel like they’re overused for shock value. That and if you write a sex scene and market your book as a romance novel, you’re probably gonna have a few buyers–romance is the top selling genre, after all.
However, I think there’s something way sexier about not writing out the sex itself but instead letting the characters simply be sexual. Especially for this story, these characters, and the Race to which they belong, isn’t necessarily confined by the assumptions about sexuality that we are. That made this a fun exercise, for sure.
* * *
It was midnight. Link and I were sitting on the hood of his Camaro, looking out over the distant city from a secluded lookout point. After the heat and passion of a mid-summer escapade in the desert, we were letting our bodies, beaded in sweat, cool off in the soft night breeze. His skin was soft and smooth beneath my fingers as I ran my nails down his bare back. He sat in front of me, leaned forward with one hand on either of my calves as I traced nonsense on the hard ridges of his back. Every time I hit a particularly sensitive nerve, he would shudder. I smiled.
“Did you know,” Link’s voice broke the soft silence between us. My fingers didn’t stop tracing, but I tilted slightly toward him to hear better. His deep voice was low, quietly. “That in this city, the Race is outnumbered one-hundred to one, but worldwide it’s closer to five-hundred?”
I had known that. Blackout had been keeping record of those numbers for generations. Instead of lying to Link by pretending I was surprised, I stayed silent. This was common between us. It was my cue for understanding and wanting him to go on. Even if I didn’t care about what he was talking about, I enjoyed hearing him say it. His voice calmed me.
So he continued. “I’ve tried to stress this to Leo. We’ve always had small numbers, but this inter-family division is making it worse. The Race looks to the houses to take command, to do something and keep everyone getting along, but at this rate we can’t do it.”
His voice drifted off. I watched the skin under my fingernails twitch and clench in reaction to my stroking. He was very tense. I bit my lower lip.
“I think you can,” I finally said.
Link scoffed. “You don’t know the world like I do, Eve.”
The words stung more than I thought they should have. I didn’t know the world like he did? He didn’t know the world like I did. He sat, high and proud as the diplomat of one of the leading houses of the Race. I sat third tier in a covert organization of thieves, assassins, and spies, living one life and flaunting another. If anything, Link was the one who couldn’t understand.
But that wasn’t fair, and I knew it. Link was smart. He could understand if I gave him the chance. God, did I want to give him the chance. Sitting on top of that car, with Link’s strong body between my knees and my hands resting delicately on his back, I wanted to open up to him, to tell him about Blackout and my double life. I wanted him to know that I did understand where he was coming from. I understood the realities of the Race that only individuals in positions of power could understand. I wanted to tell him everything.
But I couldn’t. And in my silence, I felt Link’s body tense. He turned and glanced at me from over his shoulder, his dark eyes hard. At long last he said, “What’s on your mind?”
I watched back. Before I answered I looked to my hands again–I couldn’t look him in the eye when I lied anymore. “Nothing. You’re right.”
He didn’t believe me. Link got to his feet. “Let’s go.” As he walked around the car to dress himself, my chest tightened. I glanced at my fingers, remembered the feeling of his skin beneath my nails, and stood up. Link didn’t say anything to me as I got into the car. We drove off in painful silence.