Today I have Grace R. Duncan on my blog and along with her are Bathasar and Temin, the main characters of her new novel, Choices. The cover alone sold me (but then again, I have a thing for collared men). So come meet Bathasar and Temin and there is some cool stuff at the end.
GRD: We're here today with Malik Bathasar ibn Mukesh and Teman ibn Basara. Welcome, you two! *Bathasar looks uncomfortable*. Oh, Bathasar, are you still getting used to being called malik?
*Bathasar chuckles*. Yes, I really am. It's still very new to me.
GRD: Teman? Are you still getting used to him being malik?
*Teman shakes his head*. Not really. But then again, he was amir, so the step up to malik wasn't that much different for me.
GRD: Yes, that makes sense. So, Bathasar, what was the first thing you noticed about Teman?
*Bathasar clears his throat and color rises on his cheeks*. I'd like to say it was his determination or strength. When I saw him for the first time at the presentation to my father, he was incredible in the way he held on against the things that were done to him... *He pauses and shakes his head*. But... if I am to be truly honest, he was just gorgeous.
*Bathasar laughs*. Are you fishing, love?
*Teman sniffs*. I don't know what you're talking about.
Bathasar: Sure you don't. *Bathasar laughs and shakes his head again*. Gorgeous, yes. Done up as he was, he was very hard to ignore.
GRD: But he wasn't the only one being presented, was he?
Bathasar: No, his best friend was there, too. But... I didn't notice Jasim. Not like I did Teman.
GRD: So, Teman, what about you? What drew you to Bathasar?
Teman: That's easy, his eyes.
GRD: They are unusual for your part of the world, aren't they?
Teman: Well, yes, but it's not so much the color - although I did notice that. No, it was that they held something I couldn't quite identify. I knew just by looking - and I shouldn't have been looking, mind you, but I couldn't help myself. But I knew, just by looking that he wasn't like his father. I just didn't put it all together for a while.
GRD: Teman, do you think your friends were jealous of Bathasar at the beginning?
Teman: Jasim wasn't, but I think that was mostly because he'd already fallen in love. Teman chuckles. I don't know about Cyrus and Nadir, but I think they might have been.
GRD: Can you speculate why?
Teman frowns. I think Cyrus and I — had it not been for Bathasar and Nadir — might have fallen in love. I don't know and we are with Bathasar and Nadir, so we'll never find out, but I was very drawn to Cyrus when I first came to the palace. I think, maybe, he might have felt a little something, too. Teman shrugs and sighs. As for Nadir, well, he is a lot like me. Teman glances up at Bathasar, who drops a kiss on his temple. He likes to serve, like I do. I think he would just like to have someone to serve - again, like I do — full time, I mean.
GRD: Tell me about that. Serving? What do you mean?
Teman glances up at Bathasar, who speaks. He likes to do for me — anything I let him do. Sometimes it’s sexual, most of the time, it’s things like taking care of me. He chuckles at the look from Teman. If I let him, he'd do just about everything for me. But when I do let him do for me, when I encourage it and praise him, it helps him feel really good about himself, boosts his confidence.
GRD: I see. Let's switch direction, now. What color do you think the other looks best in?
Bathasar (at the same time): Green
GRD: *laughs* Favorite color?
Bathasar: Well, actually, my favorite color is blue, but he looks amazing in the green silk robes we have. He glances over to the ones Teman is actually wearing now — emerald green silk robe and pants. It just works really well with his warm skin.
GRD: I can see it. Okay, another switch... Given the chance to do one thing differently, what would you do over? Is there anything you regret?
Teman swallows, dropping his eyes to his hands, which are gripped tightly together. I wouldn't leave. I think that was the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life.
Bathasar kisses him on the temple and whispers to him. Shhh. It's past. He kisses Teman again before answering for himself. I'd ask him to stay. I don't know if it would have been the right thing, but I think maybe not making it clear how much he was wanted might have been a part of the problem. I don't know. I just wish I could take back the hurt he went through over it.
GRD: It's not always easy to know what we could have done differently. Maybe it still would have gone that way. But you're together now, yes? And happy?
Teman and Bathasar both smile at each other then turn back and Bathasar speaks. Very. He is the best thing in my life. Teman nods, smile spreading to a grin.
GRD: So how happy? Have you two gotten into any arguments yet?
Teman laughs. Oh, we still argue sometimes, but it's small, silly stuff. Like wanting to do something for the other one or something like that. Little things, really. And he doesn't like it if I want to protect him — he'll get really cranky if I put him behind me when we're out somewhere.
Bathasar grumbles. I don't want you in danger.
Teman chuckles. And I'd want you in it, instead?
Bathasar's reply is a very put-upon-sounding sigh.
GRD: *chuckling* Okay, let's get a little personal now. Teman, is there anything you'd like to do sexually that you don't? Anything you wish Bathasar would do with you that he doesn't right now? Or Bathasar, is there anything you'd like to do or try that you haven't?
Teman's face turns very red and he stutters. Bathasar, face equally red, ducks his face. He... uh, Teman keeps me very happy there. I have no complaints.
Teman: Right. Bathasar definitely keeps me happy. He clears his throat and looks away.
GRD: *laughing* Okay, I got it. Alright, one more. Here's one for each of you ... and no looking at each other when you answer ... what character trait is the one defining thing that you think about when you muse over why is it that you love the other so much?
Teman drops his eyes to his feet and chews on his lip in thought. Bathasar considers it in silence for a long moment before speaking. Teman is strong in the places I'm not. When I need to think about a solution, he finds things that are outside of the normal ideas. He reminds me to stop and smell the flowers, to get outside and feel the sun, to remember what it is to enjoy life. He's taught me the value of not always having a set direction but letting the wind take us where we should go. At the risk of sounding really corny, he is what makes me complete.
Teman nods. That's exactly it. There are times I can use grounding, remembering that roots aren't a bad thing that not everything and everyone needs to go with the wind. We really do complement each other and I think that's why we work so well. I think about his steadfastness, his unwavering care - for me and those around him.
GRD: Those are great answers. It sounds like things are going well for you both. Thank you very much for talking with me. I hope that the readers enjoy this peek into your life.
Teman and Bathasar both smile and Teman nods. I hope so, too. Thank you for inviting us.
You can read all about Teman and Bathasar's story in Choices coming from Dreamspinner Press on Monday, March 4th! To win some great swag clicky including a signed bookmark and handmade keychain along with other book-related stuff, just leave a comment below. I'll pick one winner to send the stuff to. Each winner will be entered to win a signed paperback copy of Choices. So be sure to leave your comment below.
To pre-order Choices, go here
To follow Grace and see all the rest of the great extras and what she's up to this month, check out her website and blog! Don't forget to like her on Facebook and follow on Twitter so you don't miss anything.