We’re so pleased to welcome author Varian Krylov today, with an excerpt and giveaway of her upcoming novel Trasmundo: Escape. Varian’s offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of the book. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
Blurb: Strange, quiet Luka doesn’t live in this world; long ago he took refuge in his art, escaping into surreal mindscapes inspired by his favorite painters. In the beautifully monstrous realms of his imagination, he is safe from the pain of his losses: his family, his friends, his hope.
Until war breaks out, and he is forced to flee the only home he’s known since he was thirteen.
Captured by an enemy soldier, young Luka is marched across brutal terrain, toward a fate known only by the bearded menace holding him prisoner. Quick with a knife, tireless and strong, Tarik guards the purpose of his mission as he takes Luka deeper and deeper into enemy territory.
When the soldier discovers the painful secret he has been hiding since childhood, Luka fears he is about to endure a new kind of cruelty, worse than being abandoned, ostracized or beaten. Or is it possible the soldier holding Luka prisoner is the one person who isn’t afraid of the truth behind Luka’s silence and lies?
A haze of sadness dimmed Tarik’s eyes. “When I got into your sleeping bag with you, it wasn’t to fool around. I just wanted to take care of you. Keep you warm. Help you feel safe.”
The murky deep swallowed up the faint light in Luka’s eyes.
“Wait.” Tarik touched Luka’s chin and made him face him again. “I wasn’t planning on trying to fool around, because of everything that’s happened to you. I didn’t think you’d want that, last night. But when I realized you were… excited, I got excited, too. Got carried away. All day today I’ve been worried I pushed you too hard. That maybe you didn’t even want me to do that to you last night.”
Luka barely gasped out a desperate little, “No.”
Tarik smiled. “But you didn’t touch me. You didn’t let me kiss you.”
Blushing. Quiet. “Did you want to kiss me?”
“I was nervous. I was…”
Tarik remembered Luka hiding his face, hiding his tears, hiding his embarrassment at being hard, at being so desperately aroused. And he had the feeling, even now, Luka wanted to bow his head, hide his burning face against Tarik’s chest, that Luka was forcing himself to keep his chin lifted, to keep meeting Tarik’s eyes. Tarik waited, then finally asked in a quiet voice, “What?”
Luka’s quiet confession made Tarik’s throat go tight. “I’m sorry I scared you. After what those assholes did to you—”
“I wasn’t afraid of you like that.”
“Why were you scared, then?” When Luka didn’t answer, Tarik lifted his hand, hesitated, then caressed his cheek. “Are you scared now?”
“But last night…why?”
“Because when…when that happens, people always get angry.”
“When what happens?”
It was agony, looking into the collapsing darkness of Luka’s eyes. “When you first got in the bag with me, I didn’t mean to… Sometimes I can’t help it.”
“You were afraid I’d be angry that you were hard?”
As if he’d wanted to say something, Luka’s lips parted. But before a single syllable emerged, his eyes flooded with tears and he bit down on his lips.
“Couldn’t you tell from the way I was touching you, I wouldn’t be mad? Couldn’t you tell I wanted you, but I was holding back?”
“That never happened before. I didn’t know how to be.”
“Never?” Tarik was speaking softly, but beyond his control, his question spiked with surprise. “Hasn’t anyone ever touched you? Kissed you?”
For some reason, Luka looked surprised by Tarik’s surprise.
A flood of diaphanous ephemera: Luka skulking off when Tarik had forced him to bathe. A dozen flashes of shy eyes turned away whenever Tarik blithely stripped to change clothes or wash himself. “And all this time…” Tarik sighed. God, he’d been obtuse. “Is that why you’ve been so skittish every time you needed to bathe? Or change clothes? Every time I got undressed? You were afraid I’d get angry if you…”
“If I stay away, no one can accuse me of doing dirty things.”
Heat flamed through Tarik, a chemical fire of anger, not at Luka, but at whatever had filled him up with so much doubt and shame. “Do you think what we did last night was dirty?”
“I guess I feel dirty when someone feels disgusted by me, afraid of me.”
Tarik smiled through the sadness pressing down on his chest. “I wasn’t disgusted or afraid. I wanted you hard for me.” A twinge squeezed his heart, seeing Luka startle and blush. “I wanted to touch you. I wanted to kiss you, Luka.”
Brave Luka, fighting himself, holding Tarik’s gaze. “I didn’t know you’re…” His blush darkening second by second. “I never would have guessed that you’re…”
Tarik’s grin was a dare. “What am I?”
“You like men.”
“I like you.”
Luka went stark still, eyes wide and bright, fixed on Tarik in incomprehension or incredulity. His lips parted, and maybe he said, “I…” or “I’ll…” before his pink cheeks went crimson.
Tarik leaned in an inch or two closer. “Will you let me— Do you want me to kiss you now?”
For a few seconds, Luka didn’t answer. It didn’t even look like he was breathing. Then his lips parted. Tarik could hear him suck in a breath. Then, barely audible, “Yes.”
A wild, startling thrill tore through Tarik in the wake of that single, fragile syllable.
Holding himself in check, Tarik went slowly. Brought his hands to Luka’s flushed face, soft skin hot under his fingertips. Luka’s eyes big and watchful and frantic and intense, hopefully with anticipation, with want, something close to the dizzying desire Tarik was feeling, and not fear. Luka’s warm breath on his lips. A brief caress, almost as light as the sigh that came after. Sweet soft press, lingering. Slow rising hunger, like nursing. Wondrous, thrilling touch, soft wet tip of tongue pleading for the parting of Luka’s lips. Luka yielding, whimpering against the tongue touching his tongue.
I’ve always loved the music and substance of words, always loved writing in well-worn notebooks by hand, tapping at the keys of the computer, and, of course, conjuring up stories.
And from my earliest memories, I’ve always been fascinated–maybe obsessed?–with sex and sexuality.
In my writing, I poke at social issues, but more than anything, I dig into the psyches of my characters. Sex is the medium, the expression, and the tool of discovery for their insecurities, the needs that drive them, the comfort they can’t live without, the joy and relish of life that makes each of them intense, strange, and alluring.
Like most writers, I love hearing what you think of the stories I’ve written. All honest feedback is truly appreciated.