Saturday, April 22, 2017

Interview with Zen Ahbramez from Gimme Shelter by Kate Steele

What kind of job do you have?
Captain of the Starship Brizo. My crew and I buy and sell trade goods, haul cargo, do salvage work, transport the occasional passenger and have even hunted down a bounty or two, though that's not something we favor.

Describe yourself in three words.
Determined, efficient, compassionate.

Who is your love interest?
Shanrem de Nebral. My crew and I rescued Shanrem after he'd been tortured and set adrift in a shuttlecraft to die alone in space. Within hours of first seeing him, I knew he'd become someone special in my life.

Tell us about your first kiss with Shanrem.
It was pure impulse. After an encounter with Shanrem's former captors, the Dukati, he was naturally upset. I gave him time to come to terms with his feelings which turned out to be a big mistake. Shanrem worked himself into a state of panic. I tried to get him to talk to me but he was crying and completely torn up about it. I was so thrown by Shanrem's pain I had to do something, anything, so I kissed him. Like I said, pure impulse. Turns out it was the right thing to do. What happened after that… well, let's just say I gave him something else to think about and we both took a lot a pleasure in it.

List three things about Shanrem that turn you on.
If you're talking physical, first I'd say his eyes. They're this gorgeous silver color with a hint of blue. They remind me of twin stars. That's why I call him hosh nara which in my native language - Tulensian - means little star. Next I'd say his hair. Soft silky curls, dark like the depths of space. Love to wrap them around my fingers when we kiss. And finally well, his body, just Shanrem himself, everything about him is just right. When he's under me, I watch his face, listen to those sounds he makes, see his muscles flex and how they gleam with sweat. It's just… ahem, amazing. I think I got carried away. Can we edit this? You know what? Never mind. I love him. Everything about him turns me on. His voice, his laugh, the way he's a little bit naive. I don't care who knows, though if he reads this, Shanrem will probably have some choice words for me. He's easily embarrassed. It's cute.

Would you share the blurb from your story?
Captive of a violent warrior race, deliberately injured and set adrift to die alone in space, Shanrem De Nebral is rescued by Zen Ahbramez and the crew of the starship Brizo.
For Shanrem, raised to be nothing more than property to be sold to the highest bidder, the freedom, friendship and love he finds aboard the Brizo is more than he ever dreamed of. But even the best of dreams end, and for Shanrem there's nothing but trouble ahead.
With the near perfection bred into him in ruins, his own people would rather see him dead than returned and the Dukati warrior who owned him wants him back. To keep Shanrem safe and sheltered within his loving embrace, Zen's strength and resolve will be tested to the limits.
How about an excerpt?

To wake was akin to a slow crawl on hands and knees through thick, cloying mud. As his mind neared a conscious state, memory presented him with remembered agony, terror and the specter of death that grasped him in its greedy clutches before merciful darkness liberated him.

The soft murmur of voices drew his nerves taut. Soul deep quivers shook him from head to toe. Sweat and chills fought for supremacy at the realization of having been sent back to that vicious, nightmarish reality. Overwhelming dread returned in a rush so fierce, it set his heart thundering at a pace that had him a hairs breadth away from blacking out. A harsh, despairing cry tore from his raw throat.

From the corner of his eye he could see someone approach and he fought to move, to flee, but his struggles were in vain. He was bound, his wrists and ankles secured to the flat, padded table on which he lay. He flinched as a shadowy figure squatted down, bringing them face to face.

“Shh, it’s okay. You don’t have to be afraid. You’re safe here,” the man softly comforted. “I’m sorry about the restraints. We didn’t know how you’d react on waking so we thought it would be better to do things this way rather than have you accidentally reopen your wounds. I’m Zen. Can you tell me your name?”

He stared wordlessly into eyes of warm tawny gold, so different from the wintry disregard of the Dukati. Realization of the absence of pain made his knotted muscles slowly relax. Whoever had taken him in, it seemed their intention was to help rather than hurt. His heartbeat slowed and he took a much needed breath.

Parting his lips, he tried to speak, but the word he managed to utter came out a barely there whisper. “Shanrem.” The effort to say it, carried on a shaky exhalation, drained what little was left of the strength he’d recovered. A blanket composed of pure exhaustion settled over him. Though he tried to keep his eyes open, his lids refused to cooperate.

“Shanrem,” the man repeated. His deep voice was soft, a soothing caress that calmed Shanrem’s frayed psyche. “I know how tired you must be. Go back to sleep. I promise you, no harm will come to you here.”

The last thing of which Shanrem was aware after hearing that solemn pledge, was the touch of gentle fingers sliding lightly over his hair.
* * *
One last time, Zen’s fingers glided through the dark silk of their wounded passenger’s hair. He eased back and sat on the edge of the treatment platform next to the one on which the young man rested.

“Shanrem,” he whispered.
Despite the bruise-like shadows under his eyes and the easing lines of anxiety that creased the space between his brows and pinched the corners of his mouth, their unexpected passenger was beautiful. When Shanrem had opened his eyes, Zen felt himself drawn into their silvery depths. Like many a star he’d seen, they held the barest hint of blue and Zen felt, given the opportunity, he would welcome the chance to stare into them while trying to unravel the secrets they held.

Under the circumstances it was an odd notion, but Zen had been taught never to dismiss his feelings out of hand. Even the strangest of musings could have merit if given enough time to fully reveal themselves.

His gaze moved from Shanrem’s face to the damage done to his back. Even after treatment and smothering in a semi-transparent layer of sluget gel, it was a sight that stirred a plethora of feelings -- anguish, fear, helplessness. Zen’s hands fisted. He closed his eyes and leaned forward slightly as thoughts of the past stirred nausea in his belly and a red haze colored his thoughts.

Memories of destruction, of the bodies of friends and family left dead in the wake of a Dukati raid played across Zen’s battered consciousness. The images were debilitating, but he refused to relinquish himself to the weakness they stirred within. Instead, he called on the inner strength and calm that kept him moving forward, breathed deeply and opened his eyes to the sight of Shanrem lying so still, so brutalized, yet still alive and with the potential to put the tragedy of his captivity behind him.

Images of Zen’s missing sister and brother overlaid the young man before him and he could only pray that they had never been subjected to the cruelties Shanrem had suffered. The steps Zen had initiated in an attempt to discover their whereabouts had yet to bear fruit, but he was nowhere near ready to give up. Shanrem’s appearance, no matter how coincidental in the grand scheme of things, seemed to Zen as something of a sign. Perhaps the fragile hope to which he’d held so tightly the last two years would yet prove to be more than just a balm to assuage his own pain.

The urge to touch Shanrem once more pulled at Zen as though Shanrem had become a talisman against Zen’s deepest fears. Before he could give in to the impulse, the med bay door opened behind him, signaling Doc’s return.

“Anything happen while I was gone?” Doc asked.

“He woke for just a few seconds.” Once more Zen let his gaze rest on the young man’s face. The lines of tension had eased and peace had settled over his features. “His name is Shanrem.” So saying, Zen felt a tug, a stirring of something inevitable. He wondered if it might be fate.
* * *

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Author Bio:
Having been an avid reader of romance for years, and being possessed of an overactive imagination, I decided to try my hand at writing. I discovered that, like reading, writing romance has become addictive. Whether writing paranormal, contemporary or science fiction about werewolves, otherworldly creatures or the average Joe, I found the perfect creative outlet.

I enjoy life in a turn-of-the-century house located in the midst of
Indiana farm country. My family keeps me company, along with dogs and other assorted pets. When not writing, I read, am an enthusiastic grower of iris, and a fanatic fan of Japanese manga and anime.

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