Valentine's Slay by Denise N. Wheatley Genre: Steamy Sci-fi/Fantasy Romance Novella
In the land of Zanalia, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of war. When two of the realm’s fiercest foes go head-to-head over the sacred ritual, sparks unexpectedly fly, igniting an explosion of love, lust, and ultimately, broken traditions.
In a world filled with warriors, Valentine’s Day means war for the creatures of Zanalia. Mina, queen of the disciplinarian tribe, is responsible for spearheading attacks on the land’s worst enemies.
Spike, the son of king Theo and Mina’s biggest adversary, no longer believes in provoking battles on this love-filled holiday. He secretly encourages the Zanalians to put away their weapons and spend time with their loved ones instead. The absurd suggestion goes against the territory’s oldest tradition and is rejected by many, to the point where Spike receives death threats. His father grows worried for his son and orders Mina to stage his kidnapping, then provide him with personal, around-the-clock protection.
Mina is infuriated by the mission as she’s being forced to protect a disloyal traitor. She vows to make Spike’s time with her as torturous as possible until she unwittingly finds pleasure in the pain she inflicts upon him, while he seemingly relishes in her harsh punishments. Emotions run high between the pair, and Mina realizes that Spike’s wish to spread love this Valentine’s Day just may come true after all.
Mina slowly climbed the winding, glass staircase inside of Spike’s compound. She pressed her back against the wall while watching every angle around her. In order to gain access to his home, Mina had utilized her narcoleptic machine gun, which was capable of putting its victims to sleep within less than a second. She’d shot several darts into the necks of four armed guards manning the exterior. According to her surveillance, there were only two guards inside of the complex. Mina planned to quickly knock them out, grab hold of Spike, and get him inside of the transporter.
When she approached Spike’s master bedroom, Mina pressed her ear against the door and listened as he and the creatures spoke in hushed tones. She slowly turned the knob and cocked her gun. The minute she swung open the door, Mina shot a dart into the neck of a watchman standing to her left, then the one to her right. Spike made a run toward the bathroom, but just as he reached the threshold, she fired a dart into his throat. He fell to the floor, and along with the other two guards, fell into a deep, snoring slumber.
Mina swooped in immediately, lifting Spike up off the floor, carried him out of the house and threw him inside the transporter. There was a comfortable velvet couch that had been placed in the back, but instead of lying him there, she dragged his body onto a hard, cold iron bench.
“You’re going to pay for disrupting my retirement as Queen of the Disciplinarian Tribe and betraying our beloved Zanalian tradition,” she said, her wicked tone filled with satisfaction.
Mina stripped Spike down to his scant undergarments. She handcuffed his wrists and ankles, then wrapped a heavy metal chain around his waist and secured it with a huge padlock. As he lay there knocked out cold, she looked down at his muscular body, handsome face, and soft, vulnerable expression.
“Don’t you dare start that,” Mina told herself, shaking off the feeling of lust that briefly overcame her.
She headed to the front of the transporter and typed the name of a secret back road into the navigation system that would lead them far away from Spike’s compound and in the direction of her quarters. Once a map popped up on the overhead screen, Mina signaled to the horses that it was time to take off then sped away into the night.
Mina’s ears perked up while she listened to Spike scream from the back of the transporter.
“What is going on?” he screeched. “Where the hell am I? Somebody, please, help me!”
“Ugh,” Mina moaned, ignoring his pleas. She grabbed hold of the steering bar and maneuvered the vehicle through a dark, dank, hilly road. According to her digital dashboard, they had been traveling for well over three hours. Mina had been in constant contact with Theo, who warned her to remain on the outskirts of Zanalia as Spike’s protestors were circling every inch of the land, waiting to attack him the moment he appeared.
“Whoever is holding me captive,” Spike called out, “you must release me at once! Do you know who I am? Do you know who my father is? I am the prince of Zanalia, soon to be king!”
“Please, shut up,” Mina muttered, unsympathetically. She pulled the steering bar back, anxious to get through the swampy territory and onto smoother terrain. When the chargers slowed down instead of speeding up, Mina realized they had yet to stop and take a break and assumed they were exhausted.
She directed them toward the side of the road, then grabbed several buckets of food and water and carried them outside. Once the chargers began feeding away, she hopped back into the transporter and headed toward the back where Spike was being held.
“What the…” he yelled the moment he saw her. “What is going on here, Mina? Where are we, and why am I in shackles? Release me, now! I insist!”
“Unfortunately for you, Spike, that is not going to happen. You see, because of your little attempt to disrupt Zanalia’s Valentine’s Day tradition, your father ordered that I kidnap and hold you captive until the holiday is over and our battle against Raynalium is complete. If you’re angry, be mad at yourself, but you should actually be thanking me, because I’m the reason you’re still alive.”
Spike glared at Mina. “If you do not remove these cuffs and chain at once, you will forever regret it,” he spewed, rattling the restraints to the point they almost tore into his skin.
“If you keep threatening me, you’ll be the only one with regrets.”
Spike tried to sit up, but the chain around his waist forced him back down onto the freezing bench. He jerked his head toward Mina and let out a resounding roar.
“My guards will know where to find me,” he told her. “The second they free me, I swear I’m going to kill you!”
She walked over to Spike and leaned in so closely her face was mere inches away from his.
“You know what? I was going to play nice with you. Well…semi-nice. But now? Playtime is over. You’re going to be sorry for the way you just spoke to me.”
Mina sauntered toward the front of the transporter, ignoring Spike’s cries as he called out her name. She grabbed the metal suitcase she’d secretly packed before heading out on the mission in the event she’d need its contents. Judging from Spike’s rebellious behavior, Mina realized that she had done the right thing.
“What are you doing?” he asked when she opened the case and pulled out two steel clamps. “What are those?”
Denise N. Wheatley is a lover of happily-ever-afters and the art of storytelling. She is best known for her chick lit novel I WISH I NEVER MET YOU, which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2004. Since then she’s written (and ghostwritten) numerous novels and novellas that run the romance gamut, from contemporary to paranormal, sweet to steamy.
Denise strives to pen entertaining stories that embody matters of the heart, while creating characters who are strong, colorful and relatable. She is an RWA member and received a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the city where she was born and raised. When Denise is not sitting behind a computer, you can find her in a movie theater, on a tennis court, watching true crime television or chatting on social media.
What are you passionate about these days?
I am really into true crime television, so right now I’m addicted to watching Dateline, 20/20 and 48 Hours. I’ve also been binge-watching The Unicorn on CBS and The Righteous Gemstones on HBO. Aside from tv, I’m really passionate about my writing. I’ve got a chick-lit novel coming out later this year titled SHE GETS WHAT SHE WANTS about a jilted Midwestern woman who believes she can conquer Hollywood, so she does. I’m also working on a couple of romantic suspense series, and would love to write the sequel to my novel I WISH I NEVER MET YOU. So basically, I’ve got my work cut out for me!
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Compassionate, upbeat, caring, impatient, and talkative.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I’d spend the day with Devon Jacobs, the main character in SHE GETS WHAT SHE WANTS. Devon lives in LA (my fave city) in Beverly Hills (my fave neighborhood) and write for a television sitcom (my dream job). She’s friends with all the hotties on the show and has access to some of the coolest spots in town. I imagine we’d spend the day on the set then hang out that night at a fun bar, club or restaurant.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I like to write with a bit of noise. Nothing too loud, but I always need a little bit of activity buzzing in the background. As strange as it may sound, total silence can be disruptive when I’m writing.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
My characters absolutely have the reigns of my story! A perfect example would be the protagonist and antagonist in my novel THE ROAD TO BLISS. When I began writing that book, I had a solid idea of how it would progress and how things would end. But as the storyline took shape, certain characters pulled me in unexpected directions, which completely changed the course of the narrative. Surprisingly, my heroine did not end up with the man I thought she would!
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing short stories and poems for as long as I can remember, and began penning a novel right out of college. My first book, I WISH I NEVER MET YOU, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2004.
How do you handle writer’s block?
When I get writer’s block, I don’t let it stress me out. I realize that I’m not going to always be on a roll, and even if I spend a whole day on one paragraph, then so be it. I’m just glad to be making progress. One tactic that I use during bouts of writer’s block is to just write whatever comes to mind without judging it. No matter how terrible the words may seem, I just write. And usually, when I go back and edit what I’ve written, it isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be.
What are the first four things you do when you decide you want to write a book?
First, I try and come up with an idea that’s solid enough to carry a 250+ page manuscript. Second, I write a synopsis then a full outline, which will act as a guide throughout the writing process. Third, I create character profiles and lay out their specific traits. Fourth, when I’m ready to start writing, I make sure that I don’t stop and edit as I go. I like to write straight through then edit once the book is complete, which is a very efficient process for me.
What makes a good story?
For me, a good story always involves an element of romance. That, along with strong, complex, relatable characters, a thoughtful, interesting plot, and unexpected twists and turns.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I’d tell my younger self to be confident in my work, don’t take rejection as defeat, always study the craft and ongoing trends in order to stay on top of the game, and never get too comfortable. More importantly, I’d tell myself to remain consistent and keep writing!
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