This week’s teaser is from Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale
This week’s selection is from the start of the book. The writing is a little raw, being my first book and all.
While this scene seems like simple exposition, just a gladiator choosing his armour while a shop attendant flirts with him, it is meant to plant a few seeds in the reader’s mind. The first is the question of objectification. Gladiators are performers, after all, and crowd appeal is at least part sex appeal. The second is underlining that the rules of the arena are not meant to simulate those of battle. There are no spectators showing thumbs on the field of war, after all. The third is to remind readers that weapons and armour were subject to a fair amount of fetishism in warrior cultures.
“Um… Hello. I need armour for a match… this afternoon,” Gavin said a little nervously as Isabelle met his eye. He silently cursed his voice for not sounding as suave and heroic as he imagined it should.
“Well, unfortunately, that leaves out anything custom fitted; I can only do minor alterations in that span of time.” She allowed the barest hint of reproach to be heard in her voice, so that he would feel that she was doing him a favour. She smiled inwardly at Gavin’s shyness; the game was already won as far as she was concerned. “What armour class are you?”
“Middle,” he responded, unable to take his eyes off her as she closed in on him. “I’m looking for a breastplate, bracers, greaves, and also a shield.”
“Have you given any thought to style and colour, Honoured Gladiator?” she used the proper honorific to tickle his pride while she stopped at his side, just near enough to occupy his personal space.
“Um…” His thoughts were suddenly dashed upon the rocks as he became acutely aware of her scent and the nearness of her body. Her lips were a glossy crimson colour.
“Did they not teach you about the importance of style in your training?” She sighed, turning and moving away, rummaging for the tools she would need. She heard him let out his breath. Long ago she was surprised at how many novice male Gladiators did not pay attention to such an important facet of their career, but she had long since gotten used to it. She walked past him toward the fitting section, making sure to brush up against him, just so, as she did. “Follow me, please.”
She continued her lecture as she led him deeper into her shop, keeping her tone light with a hint of helpful amusement. “A Gladiator’s armour is not merely for protection; it is about how you present yourself to your audience. If you wish to be called to the Grand Championships, you will have to become famous as well as skilled. If you wish to become famous, you will have to win over the support of the people. And I must tell you that people respond very well to style and proper presentation Honoured Gladiator. It is part of building your legend.”
“I think you should go for a more classical, heroic look, bright metal, silver and steel; pure and honest,” Isabelle said as they stopped at a well hidden fitting room. She handed him a mithril breastplate sculpted to look like the face of a ferocious roaring lion that she’d grabbed on the way. “Take off your tunic please. Let’s see how this looks on you.”
She watched as he stripped off his plain white tunic, enjoying the slight reddening of his cheeks. His arousal was obvious to her expert eye even through the conservative undergarment that he wore. For a moment she was tempted to act on her desires right there; she’d chosen the most remote fitting room just in case, but she kept her demeanour professional. With some men this would have been the perfect time to pounce, but she sensed this one was a romantic whose passions were best kindled a little more slowly. For the briefest moment she wished that she had met him when she was young and romantic herself, but she quickly slammed the door on that stray thought.
“Hold this to your chest while I put the straps on. You will be able to devise a glamour to help you put it on yourself fairly easily,” She said moving around behind him. “My name is Isabelle, by the way.”
I’m not certain how effective this is as a seduction scene, but it gets the point across. I’ve always wanted to revisit Isabelle, that carefree sampler of Gladiators, although I realize now that it is kind of a creepy relationship from our viewpoint since Gavin is around 16 at this point in the book… whoops.