Book Club Edition: The Internet is for Porn

Last Sunday, I was interviewed by Annie at New Books in Secularism about Charlinder’s Walk. The podcast isn’t up yet, but when it is, it’ll be the first fiction book featured on their site. She made me ‘fess up about things like Paleolan family values–they have strong family values, but not traditional family values–and Lacey. We spent a good deal of time talking about Gentiola, and also Lacey. She asked me about this one encounter that Charlinder has in a settlement with, as I put it, some “very strict rules about who can have sex with whom.” Those strict rules end up making life harder for some than others. I had some coherent things to say about Gentiola at first, such as her cultural background, and then we opened up a can of worms that led to me rambling on into McRandomness about some other aspects of Gentiola that are kind of tricky to explain outside the text. We talked a lot about sexual politics, religious beliefs, building families, language barriers and dealing with hunger.

However, one thing she did not ask me about was when Charlinder is actually shown enjoying some sexytimes. I have disclosed with a previous Storytime that there is Hawt Sex in this book, and you may get the impression from some reviews that the sexytimes happen with Gentiola. Since the reviews have been posted, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say: why, yes, they do. And I know I also said in a previous Storytime that I wouldn’t show you any more excerpts from Charlinder’s Walk, but today, I’m going to show you a little one.

Adult content after the jump!

***

Dinner was finished, plates were cleared, and Charlinder and Gentiola resumed their places nearer the fireplace. “I want to know,” she declared, “how you became a teacher.” She was lounging sideways in an armchair, her half-exposed legs dangling over one arm and her hair trailing toward the floor on the other side. “Were you the only one at the time?”

“Yeah, I was the only one; there are only about 150 of us, so we don’t need to have more teachers. In fact, sometimes it feels like at least half the village wouldn’t care if we didn’t have a school at all, but,” he trailed off, to Gentiola’s chuckling. “Anyway. I was the best student in the class, and my teacher suggested that I take up the job after he quit. I mean, he first made this suggestion when I was sixteen, and at the time I was horrified to imagine myself in his moccasins,” at this point Gentiola started giggling especially heartily, “but after I finished my schooling, I started thinking about it, and when I was eighteen, I went back and told him I was up for the job. He retired that summer, almost like he’d been waiting around for me to accept. Sometimes I wondered later if I should have just worked on my hunting and fishing techniques instead,” he mused, to Gentiola’s increased laughter.

It’s happening.

“I take it they were a bunch of disruptive little monkeys, your students?”

“Yeah, I felt that way sometimes. I loved it, though. I did it for two and a half years and couldn’t picture myself doing anything else, until I decided to come here.”

“I can certainly relate to the disruptive little monkeys aspect,” Gentiola shared. “When I was a teenager, and planning to get my education abroad, my family kept saying, ‘Why don’t you just go to university here and teach Biology at the local high school?’ Of course my parents weren’t actually at school with me. For my first couple of years of secondary school, we were under the dictatorship, and the schools were basically just training camps for the regime, but at least they were orderly.” She dismounted from the armchair and sat next to him on the sofa. “Then we transitioned to democracy, and the educational system was turned upside down, and not in a good way. And I saw what my teachers had to put up with, so I said, ‘You want me to do what?!’ And they got used to it eventually.”

Charlinder scarcely had time to ponder the differences between Gentiola’s and his experiences, when he was so focused on the woman in front of him. Her cheeks bore a lovely, rosy glow, probably from the wine she’d been drinking, but the cause was immaterial. She was a beautiful sight.

“Did you find another teacher to take your place?” she continued, still giggling.

“Yeah, of course. One of my best friends had a cousin who wanted the job, and I thought she was a good fit, so I trained her up before I left, and…I hope she’s still teaching now. It’s been a long time since I thought about that.”

“I’m sure you’ve had other things on your mind,” she said, “and that’s what I love about you.”

Charlinder met her eyes, and they both burst out laughing. She fell backwards in a semi-reclined sprawl.

“I just said that out loud, didn’t I?” she chortled. “Sorry.” She pulled herself back up and leaned toward him with her elbows on her knees. Her face looked too intense to be embarrassed. “It’s just been so long since I had someone here I could really talk to,” she explained. Her gown had moved around while she chose her position, and the back scoop draped wide open, revealing a lustrous arc of skin tanned at the spine and paler near the shoulders.

“You can’t have a good discussion with the local survivors?” he asked. He wanted to keep his eyes on her, to keep her sitting just like that.

“The survivors all died decades ago,” she breathed. “These are their descendants. And no, I can’t discuss with them like with you. They work so hard just to get through each day.”

“I know how that is. I never knew anyone else before who understood how I felt about some things,” he explained. “You know, broader and deeper things than just how we’ll get through next winter. Of course I haven’t been around nearly as long as you, either,” he reflected, “but, still.”

“No, you haven’t,” she agreed, “but you’re not too young to feel isolated.”

“Is there any such thing as too young to feel isolated?” he said.

“Not once you’re old enough to remember,” she answered with a sympathetic tilt of the head.

At that moment he couldn’t stop himself; it was more a question of “why not?” than “what are you doing?” He reached out and ran his left hand through her hair starting at the crown and drawing down. Gentiola’s eyes fell closed and she released a sigh too quick to be in her control.

“Stay right there, will you?” he whispered as he moved from where he was to just behind her. He swept her hair around her shoulders and out of the way. He pressed his hands into the exposed skin of her upper back. She let out a high moan as he massaged the muscles just above her shoulder blades. He worked his way down her back and she arched around his hands. Her hair fell back off her shoulder and covered her back, but just as quickly twisted itself into a bun at the top of her head.

Again, he could have stayed right where he was and kept on doing what he was doing, but the next thing was not only the right thing but the only thing to do. He took his hands off her back and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her in closer, where she leaned back on his chest and laid her head against his shoulder, with her eyes closed and mouth tilted up. Before he knew it, he was kissing her, and underneath the taste of red wine still in her mouth were her lips and tongue demanding his, like the differences in age, countries and powers were merely a game they had played and there was no spell needed to let them talk to each other.

He sank his hands into the springy curve of her stomach through the layers of cotton in her gown. Her waist contracted and relaxed with her breathing, which he felt in sharp puffs from her nose pressed into his cheek with his mouth still exploring hers. One of her hands moved upward; there was a sagging of fabric to one side of her body over his hands. He opened his eyes just enough to see that she had dropped a shoulder of her gown off to the side.

***

If you like what you see, the rest is available through any of the buy links to the upper left.

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