In the opulent palace of Ctesiphon, the capital of ancient Parthia, lives a princess who searches for the stolen throne of her kingdom, the sella regia. She engages the services of a palace eunuch in her quest, a handsome and astute advisor. Over the years, respect and esteem transform into love, love deepens into trust, trust sparks sexual exploration.
Thus is the set up for my two short stories “An Unexpected Discovery”, an erotic romance, and the follow up, “The Eunuch”, a BDSM flash fiction erotica short. In “An Unexpected Discovery” the Parthian princess Roedogune searches for the sella regia with the assistance of Arashis, the eunuch assigned to her by her husband. It’s an erotic romance, so it’s not really giving it away to say Roedogune and Arashis end up together — romance is about the emotional and physical journey since readers already know there will be a happily-ever-after.
Creating a romantic connection between characters is what a romance writer does. And sometimes that writer is given an opportunity to explore the relationship beyond the happily-ever-after, to take a peek into the life of a couple after that first flush of excitement.
Continuing a romance is especially wonderful if the characters are beloved characters, more so if these are characters who almost did not make the page.
The Story Behind The Story
Backtrack to several years ago when I was writing my historical erotic epic Hadrian and Sabina: A Love Story. Roedogune is a minor character in Hadrian and Sabina. She is based on the real-life daughter of the Parthian king Osroes. When the Roman emperor Trajan invaded Parthia, he took both the daughter and the Parthian imperial throne — the sella regia — back to Rome as captives. The Parthian princess was held in Rome for about twelve years, finally released during the reign of Hadrian. The throne, however, was not returned with the princess.
For Hadrian and Sabina, I had developed a whole post-captivity story line for Roedogune, where she falls in love with a palace eunuch, and this parallels other relationships in the book. But my beta reader said this story line didn’t fit with the rest of the book. So I cut those bits out of Hadrian and Sabina, and filed those scenes away on the computer.
In early 2017, when I was thinking of a story for the Naughty Literati’s summer release, Naughty Getaways, I revisited those deleted files. I reconstructed and fleshed out the story, setting Roedogune’s continued search for the throne of her ancestors in the palace at Ctesiphon, and not from a prison in Rome. She’d fall in love, of course, but I had always envisioned her lover would be a palace eunuch, and as I delved further into her character, I realized the bittersweet nature of this union. A princess would be married to a prince. However, as any writer of history knows, marital arrangements of the past did not necessarily mean connections based on love. Usually the connection was based on economics and power.
And so it was for Roedogune. She found her lover in “An Unexpected Discovery” a story told entirely from her point of view.
Beyond the Happily-Ever-After
But what about her lover, Arashis?
Funny thing, that. I got an email one day from Rachel Kramer Bussel, my editor in a couple of anthologies (The Big Book of Submission, Volume 1: 69 Kinky Tales and Begging For It: Erotic Fantasies for Women). She was putting together Volume 2 of The Big Book of Submission and did I have anything I could submit? 1200 words or fewer. She gave me 10 days.
I had just finished “An Unexpected Discovery” and was thoroughly inspired. The set-up was perfect. I would tell Arashis’s story. He was a palace servant. He had to submit to his mistress’s desires. His past was based in fealty. His relationship with the princess, while on the surface one of mistress and servant, was complicated.
His side of the story is told in “The Eunuch”.
I am very pleased to publish both stories together for the first time in Ancient Shorts: An Ancient World Romance Collection.
What About the Throne?
The sella regia has never been found. Or, rather, the throne, like the story of my characters, is waiting for the moment when it can be discovered.