By the time her story, Rite of First Claim, came around, life had dealt Lyssa some nasty blows. It made her reassess what she wanted and how she was going to get it, which opened her up to looking at Mike differently.
When I consider what happened in the book, I'm surprised Lyssa decided to speak with me, but her answers were very enlightening.
Lyssa smiles and relaxes into the corner of her sofa, curling her legs under her. "I appreciate you thinking of me."
I laugh. "Considering the events you went through in Rite of First Claim I'm surprised you're willing to talk to me."
She shakes her head, her blonde ponytail swings against her neck and over her shoulders. "The results more than make up for everything that happened. Besides, I'm curious about the questions you could have for me."
I look down at the list. "Well, these are questions the authors on the Kinky Ever After blog came up with, so, first question, what is your favorite ice cream?"
Lyssa didn't even hesitate. "Neapolitan. That way I can have a bit of each flavor -- strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate -- if I want or just one."
I could see the logic in that. "What is your favorite thing about Mike?"
A soft smile lifts her lips. It isn't hard to see she's thinking about Mike in the way her blue eyes darken and a light flush colors her cheeks. "His possessiveness. It sounds silly, but when you grow up being told you were never wanted, having someone say that you belong to him -- not the icky stalker-obsessive-fan type of ownership, but a cherishing, protective possessiveness -- it makes you feel worthy of every loving touch and word."
I fought the urge to smile because I knew how important those feelings were to Lyssa's spiritual growth. "What does Mike do that is most annoying?"
Lyssa rolled her eyes and groaned.
I was pretty sure I knew what her answer would be, so I wasn't surprised when she answered.
"The picture thing. The man spent twelve years trying to get me to pose nude and now that we’re married he uses every opportunity to take pictures."
I knew the answer to the next question, but I asked it anyway. "How old were you when you lost your virginity?"
A visible shudder accompanied the grim look on Lyssa's face. "Because of the other things that happened, I try not to remember that night, but I was seventeen and it sucked. Turned me completely off the idea of sex for a very long time."
I nodded in understanding and hurried on to the next question, "What is your favorite sexual talent of Mike’s?"
Lyssa's face took on a dreamy expression and a blush turned her cheeks rosy. "His imagination and the amount of time he takes. Sometimes it’s fast and furious, but other times it seems like he takes hours drawing every sensation to the ultimate level. And he uses every sense from smell to taste and, oh my," her eyes closed as a blissful smile lifted her lips, "the sound of his voice..."
"What is Mike’s weirdest habit?"
She grimaced, sipped her tea, then answered, "Normally I would say the fact that he’s always carrying a weapon of some sort, but really, it’s how still he gets. It’s a bit unnerving to be out somewhere and turn around to see him looking at the people around us with this intense expression. I’ve asked him about it, but he doesn’t tell me all of it. I’ve been tempted to ask his daughter, Tuma, about it, but she gets the same look on her face sometimes and I figure it has something to do with the trauma that placed her in Mike’s path when she was twelve." Her grimace grew apprehensive. "And in a way, I really don’t want to know."
I didn't give away the things I knew about Mike because it wasn't my place, so I hurried on to the next question. "If there is something you could change about the first few weeks you knew Mike what would it be?"
"That I wouldn’t have dismissed my attraction to him so easily. Both our lives would have been a lot different, but I also realize that if I hadn’t pushed him away, Tuma wouldn’t have been saved. I don't think Mike or I could ever imagine not having her in our lives"
"What is your favorite movie?"
Lyssa gave a sheepish grin. "I know I should pick something related to the fashion industry since that’s what I do for a living, but my favorite movie is Buckaroo Banzai. I adore Peter Weller and John Lithgow, and the movie is just so campy! It's great."
"What is the craziest place you’ve had sex?" I asked as I tried to mentally flip through the various scenes from Rite of First Claim to figure out what she'd answer.
"Hands down it would have to be the supply closet at the Diablo Blanco Club. It was the first time Mike and I had sex and that night actually cured me of my phobia about closets."
I laughed. "Well, I guess that's one way to do it."
She nodded, "Uh, yeah. I guess you could say that."
"Which do you prefer? Coffee, tea, or…?"
She held up her half-empty cup. "Tea, mostly herbal, to help calm me down. Being with Mike can be intense — sexually speaking and a little down time makes everything stay in balance."
That was an understatement. "What addiction can you not live without?"
"Hearing Mike say he loves me. It took me so long to accept that he really meant it, that hearing him say it, even in the most casual way, makes my insides melt."
There was no disputing her feelings, I gave her a minute to bring her mind back to the present. "Describe your favorite pair of shoes."
She giggled and unfolded one her legs from beneath her and wiggled her naked toes before tucking her leg back under her. "None. I prefer to go barefoot when I’m at home and I tend to stay close to the house, what with a toddler and a baby to take care of and my designs to work on. Even when I’m at Mike’s studio I don’t wear shoes, it drives him nuts."
"What do you most fear?"
There wasn't a moment of hesitation. "Losing Mike and our babies. I know he’ll never stop loving me, I trust him when he says that, but he still takes the occasional assignment that puts him in harm’s way and I worry every second he’s gone."
I nodded my understanding of her sentiments. "What would you like to come back as if you’re reincarnated?"
"I don’t care what I come back as, as long as I’m with Mike."
I couldn't help but tease, "Hmm, I'm sensing a theme here..."
She shrugged and grinned. "Perhaps, but you know better than anyone how hard he worked to get me to see how we can be happy."
I knew just what she meant. "If you could be in a (different) book, which book would it be?"
"I’m already in Mattie and Bryce’s story, Unfair Advantage, that’s plenty of exposure for me thanks. I love my happy ending. I love my Dom. I don’t need anything else."
"If your life were a book, what would you prefer the author not tell readers about you?"
She looked pensive and hesitant before she answered, "The worst part of me was my refusal to trust my instincts, my inner submissive, especially with Mike. Once that was laid bare, there were no other secrets that didn’t touch on that insecurity that were left unexposed."
"Last question. Who, living or dead, would be your hero if you have one?"
"Oh, that's easy. Mike is my hero. No matter how much I tried to push him away he was determined to rescue me even when I didn’t realize how much I needed to be rescued. A man who opens himself up the way he did; who took rejection after rejection; attack after attack and still didn’t give up who he is and what he stood for — that’s a man to be admired. I’m very proud to say he’s mine."
I put away my notes and gathered my things. "Thank you again for letting me chat with you, Lyssa."
Lyssa unfurled herself from the sofa and walked beside me to the door. "You're welcome, Qwillia. Thank you for visiting. And for writing Mike's and my story."
Lyssa Lawrence fought her feelings for Mike Halsey, but when Mother Nature decides to play dirty, she does the one thing she swore she'd never do...attend the Diablo Blanco Club's Midnight Masquerade on Halloween. Which places her squarely under Mike Halsey's control when he enacts the oldest rule at the DBC -- the Rite of First Claim.
If you're interested in winning a copy of Rite of First Claim, please leave a comment (include your email) by midnight EST (3AM PST), May 2nd. On May 3rd the winner will be announced in the comments here.