So I'm 42,000 words into THE HEALER'S KISS and having a blast with what is happening in the story right now. Boca is being trained for the mission, but is having some issues. For starters, Dorian is trying to get to let go of her anger and fear so she can meditate.
“Ensign Ador--your spiritual issues will not be resolved by hiding out in my meditation room paralyzed by your own inaction. You should be asking yourself why the Creators would compel the non-committing Greggor male so strongly to mate with you when it is well known Chiang does want such an alliance. He persists in his unnatural celibacy because he fears you will reject him if he seeks relief from other females. Now I am not saying his lack of ease is your responsibility—”
Dorian stopped, laughed, and reconsidered.
“Well, actually I am saying it’s your responsibility. You can ease each other without a full mating. Sirens are the not the only ones who can do this. Sumerians are just as capable, but you must learn to think more clearly about your situation in order to see the divine truths in it.”
“I cannot do as you suggest. Chiang will not stop at partial bonding. I have sensed it,” Boca choked out. “I cannot--will not take the risk of permanently binding myself to another controlling male. You might as well put my controller back in another Lotharian owner as for me to even partially mate with Chiang.”
“That is your fear talking. The Greggor cannot not control you if you don’t let him,” Dorian said easily. “No male can.”
Boca pulled herself up until she was stiff as a board. “I am trying to hear you as a spiritual teacher. It is very hard. What exactly are you suggesting I do?”
“Make a bonding agreement and insist he keep it,” Dorian advised. “Then end his celibacy and yours. Give yourselves some peace in this one matter at least. But I warn you that if you are true mates, vibrational sharing will only soothe a short while. You will both need and crave the full physical connection. It will become an even bigger distraction than you feel now.”
“What if I cannot bring myself to make an agreement with him?” Boca asked.
“Then I believe you will fail on this mission. Ensign Karr is not experienced enough to handle himself among arrogant Lotharian males who view females as objects to own. In his training, Chiang wore a Xendrin collar for a long time. He understands how it is to be both slave and master,” Dorian said sincerely.
“But how can I trust him?” Boca exclaimed, too irritated to still her tongue or her thoughts. “Males say whatever is needed to get what they want. No male in my experience has treated me differently.”
“If you cannot face the Greggor’s affectionate ownership of you bravely, you will never succeed in facing the Lotharians more sinister one again. Do you not see? Fear of Chiang is an emotional mirror of your captivity—and I suspect of your previous mating as well,” Dorian said finally, speaking the truth he hoped she was ready to admit. “I don’t think Lotharius was the first time you were treated as a sexual slave. What say you to that charge, Ensign?”
And Gwen, who knows full well the kind of mission returning to Lotharius is likely going to be, isn't happy with Boca getting beat up by the ensigns all the time.
“Bring them back. I can handle another hour of fighting,” Boca said.
Gwen shook her head. “No, you can’t. I admire your perseverance. It shows you’re a natural survivor. This isn’t about your physical strength giving out, even though I know damn well you’re ready to collapse. Stop trying to fool me because it isn’t happening. This is not about acting like a warrior, but rather about truly being one.”
“What must I do then?” Boca demanded. “Give me a task to improve myself. I intend to go to Lotharius. I am capable.”
“What would happen if Chiang walked in here right now and yelled at you?” Gwen demanded.
Boca’s gaze went immediately to the door. When she moved it back to Gwen, the female was shaking her head.
“That reaction is exactly what I mean. There are all kinds of fear,” Gwen told her. “And we both know just how bad it hurts is to be strapped to the wiring table while they poke wires through you and listen to your screams of pain.”
Boca nodded and looked away.
“Yeah, the wires hurt, but they weren’t half as bad as not being able to stop them from removing Zade’s energy from me. It was the mental and emotional violation that caused the most damage. All I have left from the wiring torture is a scar on my thigh, but I hold a clear memory of myself weeping over Zade,” Gwen said.
“But they did not break you. You were cursing the doctor when we rescued you,” Boca declared.
“I guess that depends on your definition of broken. They broke me mentally because I wasn’t strong enough to deal. I wept over Zade full of regret because I was still in damn denial over our mating when they captured me,” Gwen explained. “The Lotharians will destroy you because you have nothing inside you strong enough to survive that process. If you have to endure the process of having Chiang’s energy removed from you, you’d go right back to being the victim you were when first captured.”
“With all due respect, I must disagree with your assessment,” Boca said, hoping her voice didn’t sound as unsure to Gwen as it did to her. “I survived the removal of Rogan’s energy. I would survive losing Chiang’s, especially since I never wanted to share his in the first place. It would be easier this time, not harder.”
“I think that’s a bunch of Klageldon dung. I also think Chiang is the reason you can’t fight. You better show me something different tomorrow,” Gwen informed her. “If you don’t, I’m damn well asking Synar to send Ambassador Onin instead, no matter how much I detest her.”
“But Commander. . .” Boca began, only to stop when Gwen held up her hand.
“Our discussion is over, Ensign,” Gwen said firmly. “Fix your energy before you return to my mat. Dismissed. Now get out of here while I work off some steam of my own.”
Okay. I hoped you enjoyed this brief glimpse into the first half of the book. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go help Boca get a good night's sleep. She's going to need some serious help. Tomorrow, the crew is getting tattoos. Oh, and the new lieutenant has arrived. Yeah, that sure didn't turn out like I thought it would.
Maybe I will post a couple more snippets later. Let me know if you're interested.