By Alessia Brio
I find it rather mind boggling that I've been publishing Coming Together titles for almost six years. That's an Internet eternity! When I launched this labor of love, there was no Kindle, no Nook, no iPad. Smashwords and All Romance eBooks did not exist. The word "app" wasn't in our lexicon.
Publishing Coming Together coincides with my personal publishing odyssey. In fact, the former is directly responsible for the latter. While I have stories or poems in all but the single-author publications, I want to talk a bit today about why this endeavor means so much to me.
This is the inaugural post in a month-long celebration of Coming Together, generously coordinated and hosted by one of its staunchest supporters. For those who are not familiar with Coming Together, a little back story:
In the spring of 2005, a bunch of amateur writers from the Literotica Authors' Hangout forum decided to publish collections of their stories. Rather than mess with splitting proceeds a dozen or so ways, we chose to donate the revenue to charity. In the fall of 2006, Coming Together stretched beyond Literotica with a collection that resulted from an open call and was published by a small press.
It's just grown from there. We're an all volunteer effort. All the book proceeds are donated to charity. I like to think the contributing authors and poets are paid in karma. I've been told some consider it a badge of honor to be a part of the Coming Together family. That's very gratifying to me.
In addition to multi-author anthologies, we now also publish single-author collections and individual titles. We became an official "voluntary nonprofit association" along the way and now publish exclusively under the Coming Together label rather than that of a traditional publisher. Our focus is on ebooks, and we've never required exclusivity.
There have been peaks and slumps, of course. There have been days when I've wondered where I'd be if I'd focused all the time and energy I've poured into Coming Together on my individual success as an author, editor, and graphic artist. On those days, I remind myself that even though I'm not a wealthy or famous person, my life is bountiful. I wouldn't trade that spiritual bounty for any amount of money or fame.
I'm doing things I believe in with every fiber of my being. Not only do I believe in the rightness and the power of charity, I also believe in the rightness and the power of sex. Writing about sex, whether to educate or to arouse, brings it into the light where it belongs. Sex needs to be celebrated for the joyous, life-affirming, rowdy primal romp that it is. It is only when relegated to dark, forbidden places that sex becomes something shameful. Something that others—media, religion, politics, retail—can use to manipulate and control us.
Over the years, I've had the joy of donating thousands of dollars to dozens of charities. It's a serious rush, believe me. I've had the honor and pleasure of working with over 200 authors and poets, some "big names" and some not so well-known (yet), who've donated their words to my passion.
I hope you'll visit Lisabet's blog every day this month to "Share the Love" with some of Coming Together's many contributors. There will be sexy excerpts, prizes, and more each day. To sweeten the deal, I'm adding a Kindle Fire to the end-of-month giveaway. To be entered to win, visit this blog every day throughout the month of February, leave a comment on the day's post, AND share the post via Twitter, Google+ and/or Facebook using the tag #comingtogether. (See those handy little buttons at the bottom of each post? Use them!) A winner will be randomly chosen from those who've jumped through all those hoops.
While you're hoop-jumping, please add/like/friend us on your social networks: @Coming_Together on Twitter, +Coming Together on Google Plus, and erotic.anthology on Facebook. There is also a Coming Together group on Goodreads. I am hopeful that this month-long blog bash will spark activity on each network so that we can do many more kickass giveaways!
The excerpt I'm sharing is from my story "Butterfly." It appears in Coming Together: For the Cure, which benefits Susan G. Komen For the Cure. It is a first person narrative from the perspective of a woman who's undergone a radical mastectomy and is reclaiming her sense of self with an intricate tattoo. Deep stuff, indeed. Sex is powerful that way. Enjoy!
Let me tell you about my last night with tits.
Carl took me to my favorite restaurant—Hibachi—for dinner, then we went back to my place with dessert from The Cheesecake Factory and a handful of DVDs. There were fresh flowers all over my condo when we got there. Wildflowers, just like that first bouquet. We watched "The Princess Bride" and "History of the World, Part I". We fed one another with our fingers, and I punctuated the evening with random fits of sobbing.
He didn't ask me what was wrong or expect me to explain my tears. He just held me and waited it out. When I stopped, he'd pick up where we left off. I told him about the surgery and how I'd opted not to have reconstruction. I told him how I'd never again experience the rush of having my nipples bitten, never again feel my clit throb from a mouth tugging my nipples to hardness.
I apologized for not marrying him, and he cried. We cried. I shouldn't have taken pleasure in that, but I did. It warmed me to know that after all these years, he still considers me his soul mate. His wife is a wonderful woman, and they are a terrific team. I've enjoyed the times they've invited me into their bed. But we both knew—all three of us knew, really—that their passion wasn't anywhere near what Carl and I shared.
The surgery would take everything, including my nipples. I'd been informed that I would only be able to feel pressure through the scars. No other sensation. I told him my plans for tattooing my chest, decorating myself in defiance. He raised an eyebrow but knew better than to question my decision.
Around midnight, Carl took my beer out of my hand, winked at me through his tears, and repeated the first words he ever said to me: "Show me your tits."
I laughed then, a hearty, healthy laugh. But, I also took off my shirt and removed my bra.
Carl adored my tits one last time. Wet with both his saliva and his tears, I savored the rasp of his tongue, and before I'd allowed myself to think, my long lost libido began to awaken. The currents of passion flooded through my veins, pooling in my sex. His teeth scraped and nipped, pulled and pinched.
He squeezed them together in his impatience to move from one nipple to the other, decreasing the distance to require only a slight turn of his head. If he hadn't done so, I would have. I looked down at my lover, noticing for the first time the thinning of his hair. So bittersweet the memories. I wondered where we'd be if I'd trusted him to be my everything; if I'd taken the plunge all those years ago instead of trying to cross all of life's Ts and dot all its Is. I swallowed the bile of regret and turned my attention back to Carl's mouth and the pleasure it was giving me.
In spite of myself, I felt that internal connection between my erogenous zones thrumming with anticipation. I reached for his belt buckle, and he twisted to one side to give me access. He spoke to my breasts, whispered, sang—and my body echoed his song.
When I pushed him off me, he stood and quickly shed his jeans. As I tucked my legs beneath me and knelt on the sofa, Carl whipped his T-shirt over his head and stepped toward me. His cock found its home between my tits, and I enveloped him with my body. Fresh tears dripped from my jaw, following the natural curve into my cleavage as he began to move.
I met his cock with my mouth on the apex of each thrust and grieved its withdrawal on the latter half of the cycle. I tasted salt—mine and his—and felt the prickly sensation of his pubic hair brushing against my nipples. He took me with him when he came—without either of us ever touching my sex.
In the afterglow, in that peaceful bliss where anything is possible, Carl reverently placed his hands on my tits, fingers spread and thumbs atop my sternum. At that moment, I saw the design you've brought to electric life for me, taking my shame and my pain and making it beautiful. At that moment, I saw my butterfly.
BIO & LINKS:
Take one part Appalachian redneck, one part aging wet dream, and one part filthy-minded wordsmith. Mix well and serve with chocolate-covered cherries. There you have the one and only Alessia Brio. Alessia writes all colors and flavors of erotica, from heterosexual to ménage to same sex, and from twisted to humorous to deeply touching. She is also the driving force behind the Coming Together charity erotica series. Her work has earned her critical acclaim in the form of an EPIC eBook Award for Best Erotica (fine flickering hungers), two EPIC eBook Awards for Best Erotic Anthology (Coming Together: Against the Odds & Coming Together: Into the Light), two Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Erotica (Squeeze Play & Coming Together: For the Cure), and a Romantic Times Top Pick (Coming Together: For the Cure) in addition to a plethora of glowing online reviews.