The House of Elyot

Sex And The Stranger 2

Posted on: April 25, 2016

A couple of years ago, I had a story in a Mischief anthology called Sex and the Stranger. But don’t ask me what the story was, because I can’t for the life of me remember. Eventually I expect I’ll get round to it in one of my ‘oldie but goldie’ posts.

But never mind, because now there’s a second volume, due out on Thursday, and I definitely can remember the title of my story in that one. It’s called In With The New, and it’s set at the same time it was written – on New Year’s Eve.

Here’s a taster:

“You’re doing that wrong.”

I put down my bags and waited for the guy in the lumberjack shirt to set aside the axe and acknowledge me.

Before I go too much further, you must understand that this wasn’t a typical scene from my day to day life. Conversations with random red-haired Adonises bearing axes are not routine for me.

I’d come here to get away from routine, though, so this was good. And so was arriving at my rented cottage on New Year’s Eve to find a rather attractive man chopping logs for my festive open fire. No complaints there.

He put down the axe and wiped a hand across his brow, narrowing his eyes at me.

“Doing it wrong, am I?” he said. “Would you care to demonstrate, then?”

He took the axe’s wooden handle and held it out to me. Oh dear. I hadn’t meant to offend him.

“No, I don’t mean that. Your chopping technique looks good to me, not that I’m an expert. I just meant…you’re meant to take your shirt off.”

“I’m meant to what now?”

Gawd, I should probably just stop digging. And start chopping, before he chopped me in half for sexual harassment.

“No, I mean, when men do it on TV, you know. They’re always topless. Never mind, forget it. I was joking. I’m not great at jokes.”

“Perhaps you’re doing them wrong,” said my chopper friend, poker-faced.

He made me endure a few seconds of tension, then let out a broad grin.

“Yeah, normally I’d strip right down and rub baby oil all over my chest before lifting the axe,” he said. “But this weather.” He shook his head, gesturing at the still-frosty ground. “I guess I’m just not up to your high macho standards. I apologise.” He held out a hand. “Declan Ross, your personal axeman, at your service.”

“Oh, don’t apologise,” I said, putting my gloved hand into his. “I’m Abi. I’m renting this place for a few days over the New Year. You work for the rental company, I take it?”

“I am the rental company,” he said, and now we were closer together, I could take him in properly. He was tall, rangy and red-topped as I’d already seen, but he also had the palest skin I’d ever seen, the flush brought on by his wood-cutting activities glowing bright red about his high cheekbones. He was almost like a doll, if dolls could ever be sexy, which he definitely was.

“You run the business?”

“Well, no, not really,” he conceded, his hand still holding on to mine. “My uncle does. I help him out a bit here and there. Maintenance and stuff. Just during the university holidays.”

“You’re a student?” I said, a little confused. He was about my age, and I was here to take stock of my life before my thirtieth birthday hit me in spring.

“Lecturer,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh. “Sometimes I prefer woodwork to paper work. Clears out the old head, you know.”

“Oh wow. What’s your subject?”

“Theoretical physics. Are you a fan?”

“Um, I might be if I knew anything at all about it. But I’m thinking of retraining for a new career. If you can recommend it, I might give it a whirl.”

I laughed, a little giddy in the wicked beam of his eyes and his smile.

“I could give you a few pointers,” he said, and I positively crackled. Despite both our hands being wrapped in leather, there were sparks running from my fingers up my wrist and beyond.

“Why don’t you come in and I’ll put the kettle on,” I offered. “You’re more or less done with the wood now, aren’t you?”

“I’ve got plenty of wood, yeah,” he said. His full lips curved deliciously. “Do you want me to light your fire?”

“Best offer I’ve had all day,” I said, trying not to squeal like a little girl being given a pony.

God, I’d missed flirting. Why had I stopped doing it?

 

And where will it lead???? All will be revealed on April 28th, when the book releases.

You will also find stories by Rose de Fer, Senta Holland, Kathleen Tudor, Ludivine Bonneur, Tabitha Rayne, Heather Towne, Giselle Renarde and Olivia London.

 

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