The House of Elyot

Posts Tagged ‘short stories

Back in 2010, I had thrown myself into sending material to new and different editors, and my next published story was another case. I knew and loved Kristina Wright as a writer, so when she published a call for erotic stories with fairy-tale themes for Cleis Press, I jumped at the chance. I don’t think there are many erotica writers who can resist fairy tales – from Bluebeard to Snow White, sexuality lurks just under the surface, as A.N. Roquelaure was quick to recognise in her Beauty series (one of the first erotic books I read).

Having chosen this winning theme, Kristina was inundated with wonderful work from writers at the top of the genre, so it was an honour to have my story Three Times included in the Fairy Tale Lust anthology.

It was a little bit kinky, a little bit tentacular, a little bit pansexual and a dream to write. I’m not sure the words have ever tumbled out quicker.

It sat alongside stories from Delilah Devlin, Andrea Dale, Craig Sorensen, Louisa Harte, Alegra Verde, Janine Ashbless, Shanna Germain, Allison Wonderland, Kristina Wright, Jeremy Edwards, Aurelia T Evans, Carol Hassler, Saskia Walker, Alana Noel Voth, Michelle Augello-Page, Charlotte Stein and A.D.R. Forte.

And what a dreamy cover…

Here’s how my story starts:

And so it was that a Proclamation went out across the land, from the river basin to the mountain villages, that whosoe’er should free the Princess from the shackles of vine would win her hand.

That day was a busy one in the Market Tavern, and Selina was rushed off her feet, running from barrel to bartop to table and back, trays of foaming beers held aloft in both hands so that all she could use to bat away the constant barracking and groping was her sharp tongue.  Between bouts of flirtation, the likely lads of the town formulated foolproof plots to unbind the Princess from her obstinate tethers and claim her for their own.

“She is fair – she will look well in my bed.”  General guffawing assailed Selina’s ears and she uttered a silent prayer that the unlucky Princess might find a more gallant rescuer than these thickset, foul-mouthed baboons.

“Can you imagine it – to make your fortune, and to fuck it too!”

“To fortune, and fucking!”  The toast was proposed and the tankards clinked together, spilling foam into Selina’s cleavage as she passed.  Fortune and fucking, she thought.  The prospect of either was as remote as the Utopian Peninsula.  She went to the back room to fetch the mop.

Princess Ellora had never looked so serene, so beautiful or so heartbreaking.  Against the bark of the silver vine tree she stood, still as a statue, her arms arched gracefully above her head.  Some of the tree’s pearlescent sheen had transferred to her skin, giving her an unearthly glow on those parts of her body that were unveiled; to the rest, a toga-like silken garment clung, outlining the teardrop shapes of her breasts and her lean young hips.  She looked like an exotic dancer, caught and frozen in mid-slink, her lips parted and the dark almonds of her eyes held in an expression of melting desire.  But for whom was the Princess feeling this eternal moment of exquisite lust?  Her arms and legs were criss-crossed with winding vines and, although her dress protected some vestiges of her modesty, it was clear that the snakelike plants holding her in bondage were also performing a secondary task.

The King sighed as he pulled aside the gauzy material to apprise his Lord Chancellor of the full seriousness of his daughter’s plight.

“Good Heavens!” exclaimed the veteran politico.  “Good…merciful…Heavens.”

And he had to retrieve his lorgnettes to make sure that he was seeing straight, for the vines slithered all the way up Ellora’s thighs, cutting into their white succulence, and then they passed between her labia to disappear inside her.  Around her breasts they were also tied, then wound around her nipples before curving back past her hips.  Pressed against the vine’s eerily phosporescent bark, Ellora’s buttocks were not visible, but it seemed fair to assume that the invasive plant was making its presence felt there as well.

“Does she…feel anything?” whispered the Lord Chancellor.

“I cannot tell.  Her heart beats, and the blood still flows in her veins…but she has neither moved nor spoken since the vine claimed her.”

“What is this vine?  I have seen nothing similar before.”

The King extended his hands, wringing them in frustration.  “I do not know!  Nobody knows!  I have had all the botanists in the land examine it, but they cannot pinpoint its provenance.  We know that it is unbreakable and poisonous to the touch.  Ellora stumbled into the leaves and was instantly bound tight.  We have tried knives, saws, even blowtorches – nothing seems to affect it.”

“And now you fall back on general competition?  With the offer of Ellora’s hand as bait?  Dear me, Your Majesty, there are laws governing a lady’s right to choose her own match now, you know.  Could I advise a different reward?  Some lands?  A diadem or two?”

“A diadem or two won’t cut it,” snapped the King.  “And besides, once some backwoods oaf has used his unexpectedly-magical axe to free my Princess, we can always…re-negotiate…”

“Re-negotiate, Your Majesty?”

“Fling him in gaol on a charge of assault or attempted murder or something.”  The King shrugged.  “Obviously I have no intention of tainting our bloodline.”

“Ah.  I see.”

“Well, then.  Let us waste no more time.  Open the gates and admit the pretenders.”

Selina saw them all, a steady stream of dejected faces trooping into the Market Tavern and calling for ale, one after another after another.

“No luck?” she would ask sympathetically, and he would slam down his pocket knife or diamond cutter or shovel on the table and launch into his tale of failure.

 

(As an aside, the naming of the Princess reflected some thoughts I was having at the time about whether or not to sub to Ellora’s Cave. In the end I didn’t. Phew.)

A new story from me is available now in the Mischief anthology Submitting. I enjoyed writing this one so much that I’ve started writing a book about the characters, covering the lead-up to the story and what happens afterwards.

Doing It For Emmett is about a submissive woman’s first experience of being shared, and is about how far you can go for love.

Here’s how it opens:

If you’re going to behave like a cheap whore, the best place to do it is an expensive hotel.

This was the thought running through my head as Emmett led me by the hand through the polish and glister of the lobby, towards the miniature fountain that signified the entrance to the bar.

I didn’t look like a cheap whore. Emmett had chosen what I was wearing: silvery silk shirt, knee-length pencil skirt, heels that were high enough to make me wiggle but not high enough to make me totter. I could pass as a delegate en route to pre-conference drinks, or somebody’s elegant mistress. Who would guess what I actually was?

We stopped at the fountain, and Emmett took my other hand, tilting his head and looking deep into me.

“Are you nervous?” he said.

“A bit,” I admitted. “I don’t want to let you down.”

He let out a breath, kissed my forehead, then my lips.

“You won’t,” he promised.

He walked me over to a corner table underneath a potted palm, where a pinstriped gentleman in his late forties sat working on the Times crossword.

Impressions of him were quickly absorbed and filed: elegant, distinguished, wealthy, watchful, intimidating, attractive. Everything Emmett had described.

The man looked up, and I turned quickly to Emmett, lacing my fingers more tightly into his.

“Your order, sir,” said Emmett.

The man – I knew his name, but the idea was to pretend I didn’t – stood up and shook Emmett’s hand.

“Thank you,” he said, then he looked me up and down with hard, grey eyes. “Yes, this one will do.”

Emmett nodded, unlocked his hand from mine, and went away to the bar. I put the hand he’d released on to my chest, clenching and unclenching it, and looked after him. Come back, I pleaded silently, but I knew I couldn’t say it aloud.

He would be in the hotel room later. He wasn’t abandoning me.

“You can sit down,” said the man. “I’ve ordered you a gin and tonic.”

“Thanks,” I said, following his instruction and taking a sip of the welcome drink.

“I’m Charles,” he said. “But you will call me Sir. What’s your name?”

“Suky,” I said.

He raised an eyebrow. “Suky? Suky Tawdry?”

He’d got the allusion straight away. I suppressed a smile. Emmett had said it was too obvious.

“That’s right, sir.”

“And is your boyfriend over there Mack the Knife?”

“No, sir,” I said. “He isn’t a criminal.”

“I should hope not, although I believe procuring is still a shade on the illegal side.”

“I don’t think it counts if no money changes hands, sir,” I ventured.

He smiled, running a finger around the rim of his brandy glass.

“You’re probably right. You’re doing this for nothing, aren’t you? Why?”

I clenched my thighs in an effort to stop them quivering. The tension of this encounter was exquisitely tightly strung. A barrage of conflicting feelings coursed through me with each exchange.

“I’m doing it for Emmett,” I said. “Because he told me to.”

“Ah, he told you to. And you do everything Emmett tells you, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” I whispered.

“Why is that?”

“Because he owns me.”

 

I’m in this one with some of my favourite authors – stories by Rose de Fer, Lily Harlem, Sommer Marsden, CeCe Marsh, Alegra Verde, Ludivine Bonneur and Kathleen Tudor can all be found behind this man’s chest.

submitting

Back to 2010 again, and the closure of Black Lace had forced me to gambol in some fresh woods and pastures new. One of the most fertile of these was Cleis Press, the veteran San Francisco-based indie publishing house behind one of my favourite contemporary erotic books, Carrie’s Story.

My story Sunday In The Study was the first of many to be accepted by one of the biggest names in the business, Rachel Kramer Bussel. It appeared in her male dom/female sub collection Please, Sir – and I can tell you, I was absolutely thrilled to bits when I got my acceptance. I felt like I’d broken America, hahaha. Well, it was a nice feeling while it lasted…

The book is an excellent hot read on one of my favourite themes and includes stories by Shanna Germain, Elizabeth Coldwell, Sommer Marsden, Mercy Loomis, Tess Danesi, Heidi Champa, Emerald, Yolanda West, Isabelle Grey, Remittance Girl, Evan Mora, Doug Harrison, Alison Tyler, Aimee Pearl, Kissa Starling, Charlotte Stein, Ariel Graham, Lisabet Sarai, Salome Wilde, Donna George Storey and Rachel Kramer Bussel.

And I love the coy look on the cover model’s face.

Here’s the opening of my story:

I never know how long he will make me wait.

 

Never less than five minutes, usually between ten and twenty, and on one unfondly recalled occasion I was standing hands-on-head listening to the steady tick of the grandfather clock behind me for over an hour.

 

This, he says, is Reflection Time.  I am to spend it thinking through any of the week’s tribulations or missed opportunities, and considering how I will account for them.  That is the theory, although in practice these tense minutes lend themselves to speculation.  How many?  How long?  What will he use?  Will I be able to sit at the family dinner afterwards?

 

Later I will find myself in reflective mode once more, but this time I will be facing a corner, holding my hands clasped in the small of my back, above my bare and throbbing bottom.  This is Recovery Time, and usually lasts half an hour – long enough for tears to dry and sins to be absolved before we move into the final stage of the process – forgiveness and reconnection.

 

You will gather from all of this that Sinclair and I are lovers of ritual.  What holds us together is something more than our mutual kink, our undeniable attraction and all the usual romantic folderol.  It is our need for this Sunday to be like every other Sunday in essence, even if certain elements are allowed to vary.  It is my need for correction and his for control.  When we were younger, my Sundays were spent in church, while he captained the school cricket team.  As adults, we have exchanged these rituals for their deviant counterpart.  He dominates, as he did his ten bowlers and batsmen; I submit, as I did to the God I worshipped.  But this time there is nothing unpredictable, nothing unknowable, nothing to fear.  It is all so much more satisfying.

 

Tick…perhaps the strap…tock…I hope not the cane…tick…but then again…tock…I like the cane…tick…I must be insane…tock.

 

The door opens.

 

I know the drill.  I remove my hands from my head and lower my eyes, letting them drift over the familiar pattern of the Persian runner, through the doorway and across the highly polished oak floorboards.  My feet follow their gaze until they are stopped by the obstacle of his desk.

 

I love his desk.  It is so antique it even has an inkwell.  When I am bending over it, I can see my face in the mirror shine, though I tend to screw my eyes shut rather than watch my contorted expressions.  Rarely, he requires me to keep them open – for instance, on the day that he invited his dominatrix friend to watch and take notes.  I had to look her in the eye through twenty four strokes of the tawse, an almost impossible task, though I am proud to say I managed it to their satisfaction.

 

He walks, always in a slow, stately fashion, from the door to the desk.  He stands on the other side of it, looking down at me with his more-in-sorrow-than-anger face for a moment.

 

‘Well, Beth, here we are again,’ he says.  ‘I wonder if the day will come when I do not have to waste my Sunday morning taking you to task over imperfections of behaviour.’  We both know it will not.  ‘No answer to that, hmm?  Well, it does seem a very distant prospect to me as well.  Now then.’

 

He seats himself and pulls over a large book, a leatherbound ledger.  Large as it is, after two years it is already half-filled with page after page of copperplate script, remembrances of crimes past and their associated sentences.  He opens it, flipping the leaves to where the ribbon bookmark lies across a blank expanse.

 

Not blank for long though, for soon a fountain pen is slanted between his elegant fingers, dipped in the inkwell and put to the page.  As he writes, he talks, his murmur following the looping progress of the pen.

 

‘Sunday June 18th,’ he says, then he holds the pen in suspended animation and looks at me.  ‘What should I write, do you think?  Any ideas?’

 

 

In April 2010, Xcite brought out another in their ‘Ultimate…’ series, on a theme that was right up my street. Ultimate Spanking contained my story Paying For It, about a woman who indulges her spanko curiosity by hiring a professional.

The original cheeky seaside-postcard cover with its pastel stripes along the bottom was typical of Xcite books of this era, though they had several redesigns and repackagings over the years. The most recent – before it went out of print – was a mysterious dark blue with misty fronds.

I think, by the time this came out, Adam had already left Xcite and editing was left in the hands of the enigmatic ‘Miranda Forbes’. It contained stories by a cracking roster of authors, though, many of whom had come over from Black Lace. Monica Belle, Shanna Germain, Philippa Johnson, Poppy St Vincent, Sadie Wolf, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Ashley Hind, Cyanne, Heidi Champa, Charlotte Stein, Robin Moreton, Amelia Thornton, Sandrine Lopez, Izzie French, Aishling Morgan, Laurel Aspen, Landon Dixon, Teresa Joseph and Philip Kemp are all represented in the contents list.

I recently re-read Paying For It, as I’m thinking of putting all my out-of-print Xcite stories together as a collection, and was surprised at how much I liked it. It’s hot and sweet and rather romantic in its way.

Here’s how it starts:

He makes a living from spanking girls – can you believe that? I told him it was money for old rope, but he said, ‘Nah, I do spanking, not bondage,’ then told me to get out the strap for making such a disrespectful suggestion.

‘What you don’t understand, Kat,’ he said, plying the leather and ignoring my gasps while I gripped the iron bedstead for dear life, ‘is that spanking is not easy. It isn’t just a case of throwing the lady over the lap and whaling away. There is finesse involved. Psychology.’

‘Ouch!’

‘Sensibility.’

‘Ouch!’

‘Sensitivity.’

‘Ouch!’

‘Good judgement.’

‘Ouch!’

‘Aesthetic refinement.’

‘OUCH!’

‘And maybe a soupçon of sadistic intent.’

The final stroke caught me at the top of my thighs and my resolve, along with my knees, buckled beneath it.

‘OK, I’m sorry,’ I panted, doubled over on the carpet. ‘It’s not easy. But please don’t tell me it hurts you more than it hurts me.’

He chuckled softly behind me.

‘No, I wouldn’t go that far. Back up, Kat, bending over the bed, please.’

‘Ohhhh,’ I pouted and put an authentic-sounding sob into my voice.

‘It doesn’t hurt me,’ he said, once my upper body was pressed to the quilted eiderdown while my bottom, tight with the heat of the strapping, faced him at a jaunty angle. ‘But I do have to make sure I maintain the requisite muscular strength. In my right arm in particular.’

I expected a smack just then, but I got something else – cold lubricant in that intimate pucker, and then he was easing one of his bigger-sized plugs into me, and I knew he was going to fuck me next, and I sighed, eyelids lowering in pleasurable anticipation.

But instead – and this was what convinced me that no ordinarily-wired man could do his job – he asked me if I’d ever been paddled with a plug in before.

Oh, the despair; the sweet, dizzying, dismaying, rapturous cruelty of it all.

The fucking came later, but I must make it clear that he rarely fucks the girls he spanks. Only, he tells me, the very naughtiest ones. The ones that really need it. Such as me.

‘Do you ever get…you know…emotionally involved with your…clients?’ I asked him afterwards, staring limply at his digital alarm clock, knowing he would probably have another girl to punish in about an hour.

‘Of course,’ he said seriously, then he reached over to ruffle my hair. ‘With all of them. In a way.’

‘Right.’

I showered and dressed and caught the bus home, grateful that there was standing room only, still feeling some of the residual heat my tights held into my thighs and bottom. I wished that the heat could last forever.

 

In April 2010 one of my favourite anthologies, including one of my favourite self-penned stories, came out. Sex in the City: London was the first in a series of city-themed collections edited by Maxim Jakubowski and featuring stories from a wide variety of authors.

I think what I still love about my story Thames Link is how unapologetic and no-holds-barred it is. There is no softening around the edges here, and the ‘hero’ doesn’t fit the romantic mould. And why the hell should he? I find him all the hotter for his slightly sinister aspect.

I always love London as a setting too – the pace, the heat, the crowds, the infinite diversity seem made for erotica. I’d love to have seen more London books in this series – perhaps there will be one day.

The book is out of print now, but still available secondhand from Amazon. It contains stories by Matt Thorne, Francis Ann Kerr, Valerie Grey, NJ Streitberger, Kristina Lloyd, Lily Harlem, Maxim Jakubowski, Elizabeth Coldwell, Clarice Clique, Carrie Williams and Kevin Mullins & Marcelle Perks.

Here’s how it opens:

I sing the praise of the sleazy man.

The man with the shifty eyes, the man with the floppy fringe, the man with the sensual lips, the man who drinks a little too much red wine and eats a little too much cake.  You might see him on the train; his eyes follow you over the top of his paper and you try not to recross your legs too often.  He might be standing at the bar so you have to feign enormous levels of animation with your companions.  Perhaps he works with you and there is a rota in place among your colleagues so nobody has to go into the photocopier cupboard at the same time as him.

He’s a creep, he’s a sleaze, he’s a perve.  He’s my kind of guy.

I know, I sound insane.  Who on earth likes men like this?  I suppose it’s his honesty that appeals to me.  No ‘I really like you as a person’.  No discussion of mutually admired bands and comedians.  No number swaps or long waits for the phone to beep.  Better than the man who moves in with you before revealing his wardrobe of skintight latex.  Better than the man that waits until you have his ring on your finger before asking you if you fancy a pint down the swingers’ club.  This is a man who wears his cock on his sleeve, and quite rightly so.

He’ll speak fluent innuendo.  He’ll sit too close to you on the bus.  He’ll walk behind you in the park, watching the sway of your backside.  In the ultraviolet light of the disco, he’ll try to get a hand up your skirt.

No, he isn’t a rapist, it’s not about power.  It is about sex.  He wants it.  Not you.  It.

And there’s something about that I find refreshing.

I have a sleazy man of my own, tucked away in my address book for days when I don’t feel pristine or perfumed.  On days – and they come all too often now – when I feel rumpled and seedy, when my tights are clinging damply to the crack of my arse and my skin is grimy with the London summer, I call him.

I’m going to call him now, actually.

‘Morning, foxy.  What can I do for you today?’

‘When are you free?’

‘Hmm…it’s looking like a late one.  Could take a two hour lunch break, though.’

‘Lunch sounds perfect.  Midday?’

‘Blackfriars tube.  Wear the green dress.  Hold ups.  No knickers.  Got that?’

‘No knickers,’ I repeat, my clit puffing up, my silky scanties already wet.  Who cares?  I will have to take them off before I leave.

‘Don’t forget your perfume, Jane,’ he says softly before hanging up.

How could I forget that?  The application of scent is the precious first step in the ritual, setting the tone for all that is to follow.

These are his rules:  I must draw back the bedroom curtains and open the window, so that the block across the green is visible to me, and I to it.  I must strip naked and lie down on my unmade bed.  I must take my vibrator and masturbate to orgasm, plunging it deep inside, juicing it up until it gleams.  While I am doing this, I must think of some of the filthy, slutty things I have done for him in the past – easy enough, for there are plenty to choose from.  Once I am red-faced and spent, I must take the vibrator and rub it across my pulse points, making sure I am generously anointed before smearing any remainder on to my nipples, breasts, belly, thighs.  I must dip the vibrator back in and repeat the process until there is nothing left to apply.  Only when my skin is stiff and heavy with the smell of my sex am I allowed to dress.

Today, a sheer white peephole bra, some nude laced-topped hold-ups and the green dress.  The dress I was wearing when we met – though that sounds grandiose, as if we have a story or a future.  The day we picked each other up, perhaps.

The dress is made of very light cotton in eau-de-nil.  It buttons all the way up and has a short, flippy skirt whose hem is only just beneath the lacy bit of my hold-up.  The merest breath of breeze is enough to give my thighs a tickle, and on some of the windier tube platforms I have to clamp it down with my palms flat on my legs, shuffling bent double like an ancient babushka.

Then it is time to slap industrial quantities of gloss on my lips and mascara on my lashes before slipping into strappy sandals and running for my train.

Once again, it is a hot day, humid and dirty, the way it was the first time we met.  The station platform is crowded – several previous trains have been delayed – so I know I will stand no chance of being able to hide my sex-drenched self in a corner seat away from the masses.  I will have to force it on my carriage-mates, mingling it in with their smells of onions and cigarettes and engine oil and boiled aftershave, all with a sweaty topnote.

Mischief Books have just brought out this hot little anthology, which contains my story Open Minded, about a woman who flatshares with a dominatrix.

It contains a slew of other stories as well by the likes of Ashley Lister and Rose de Fer, so there’s plenty of bang for your buck.

Here’s an excerpt from mine:

The advert had asked for an ‘open-minded’ flatmate, and when I asked her what she meant by that, she replied with breathtaking frankness.

“I moonlight as a sex worker,” she said. “Specifically, kinky stuff, a dominatrix. But you don’t need to worry about weirdoes hanging around the place – I know all my clients very well and they’re 100% decent, respectful guys. Most of them pretty well-off, too. No shifty types in raincoats, I promise.”

It took me a while to reply to this. I needed to take stock of her answer. The fresh-faced thirtysomething woman sitting in front of me in sweats and a messy ponytail was a…?

“I know, it fazes most people when I tell them,” she sighed. “If it bothers you, that’s fine, I’ll readvertise…”

“Er, no, no, hang on,” I said. “So you’re saying you meet your clients here?”

“I’ll have made enough for a deposit on a serviced apartment in the West End soon,” she said. “The plan is to move operations out of here as soon as I can. It’ll just be for a few weeks, I hope, until I’ve made all the necessary start-up costs.”

“Start-up costs?”

“You know, marketing, a new web page, maybe some hush money for the concierge. That kind of thing. I’ve already got everything I need for the job itself.”

“The job itself,” I echoed. “You mean, like, whips and stuff?”

“Yeah. Thigh high boots, all that.” She grinned suddenly over the rim of her coffee mug. “I know I don’t look the type. You can’t picture it, can you?”

“I can’t really,” I confessed. Shona seemed such a very typical kind of London woman – gym, office, wine bar, home. Not gym, office, wine bar, walk all over a man’s back in stilettoes. But then, perhaps there was no ‘typical London woman’. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have my own secret dark side, after all. In fact, Shona and I could almost be birds of a feather. Perhaps it was right that we should flock together. “I thought you had to be about six foot tall and built like Wonder Woman.”

“Hey, are you saying I’m not built like Wonder Woman?” she said with a fake pout and a laugh. “No, you’re right. But you can dress up to look like anything, really. And it’s all about confidence. If you can say the right things in the right way at the right time, you can look like a Cabbage Patch doll and still get clients. OK, I might be exaggerating that last bit – you do have to make an effort with your appearance. But it’s not as prescriptive as you might think.”

There was a pause.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can see this has knocked you sideways. I’ll let you get on.”

“No,” I said, shaking my head for emphasis. “No, it’s OK. Honestly. I said I was open-minded, and I am. I’m more fascinated than repelled, definitely.”

“So you might take the room?”

“Well, it’s a really nice one. And the location’s perfect, two minutes from the Tube. Price is right. I haven’t seen anything else half as good.” I muted my thoughts, to put the minus side to myself. “But it could be noisy, what with all the walloping and howling that might go on. And what if we get raided by the police?”

“It’s really a great area to live in,” Shona enthused. “The high street’s full of pubs and bars, there’s the cinema, loads of shops, leisure centre around the corner, park at the bottom of the hill…”

I made my decision. This was London. When it came to renting property here, there was always a compromise to be made. The question was only what it would be. I could cope with a few submissive blokes passing through now and then better than half an hour on top of my commute, or rising damp. Perhaps they’d even make me the odd cup of tea, or do the dishes for us.

“How often do you see clients?” I said.

“Not that often at all,” she said. “Two Saturdays a month, and one evening a week – usually a Wednesday, six till ten. I’ll always give you tons of warning. If you like, just go out for a drink on those evenings. Spend the Saturdays in town, or with mates, or whatever. It’s flexible, anyway. I’ll always take your needs on board.”

“OK, then,” I said. “I really like the room, and you seem really nice, and…and…OK then. Let’s do it.”

She clapped her hands. “Thank fuck!” she said. “Finally, somebody who knows what open-minded actually means.”

Hard Bargains: A Mischief Erotica Collection by [Mischief]

My crawl down Memory Lane has rung out 2009 and rung in 2010, and finds me existing in a post-Black Lace wilderness. Apocalyptic times indeed. Would my work ever see print publication again? I did wonder.

As it happened, about three months after the announcement of the indefinite ‘hiatus’, my editor popped up again with a new proposition. He’d just got a job as commissioning editor with independent outfit Xcite books. They were pretty new in the market, but they saw an opening and they got in there!

With renewed hope, I submitted to the new short story calls like billy-o, and the first out of the gate was a story called The Heart-Shaped Box, which appeared in the collection Sex, Love and Valentines, published in January 2010. This tale of a couple who prefer kinky toys to flowers and chocolates appeared alongside stories by: Kat Black, Jeremy Edwards, Shanna Germain, Landon Dixon, Roger Frank Selby, Lucy Felthouse, Primula Bond, Izzy French, Amelia Thornton, J Manx, Janine Ashbless, Sue Williams, Elizabeth Cage, Charlotte Stein, Alcamia, Lilli Lace, Sophia Valenti and Lynn Lake.

One of the nice things about writing for a new outfit was the expansion of my pool of fellow writers. New faces and old joined together and ‘erotic social media’ was a very fun place to be at that time.

Another ‘first’ was the offering of the book to Amazon Vine reviewers – which was a great way to get a lot of reviews, fast, but could be funny when some of those reviewers clearly weren’t expecting anything quite so rude!

The book is no longer in print, although a few copies are still obtainable from Amazon.

Here’s how my story starts:

I tend to ignore the advance of Valentine’s Day: the steady pink-and-fluffying of the shop windows and card racks; the helium balloons and expensive chocolates and bottles of fizz everywhere; the perfume promotions and special restaurant menus and adverts for The Twenty Most Vomit-Inducing Ballads in the World, Ever, Part 38. It all leaves me a bit cold, this commercialisation of love. Not even love. Romance. Whatever that is.

So when Spiro told me he had a Valentine’s surprise for me, I was unenthusiastic. ‘I don’t do Valentine’s Day,’ I told him.

‘You will do this one,’ he told me, undaunted. ‘You will do. And you will be done to.’

Ah, now that sounded more like something I could get on board with. And I began to feel optimistic. Spiro understood me. He would not be like the last boyfriend I had over a Valentine’s Day, who gave me a fuchsia-coloured teddy bear wearing a T-shirt bearing the legend “I Wuv U”. That was doomed right from the start. The power of wuv was definitely not enough.

With Spiro though, at the age of twenty eight, I had finally started to explore aspects of my sexual identity that had long lain dormant. I had always known I had a kinky side, but I assumed it was something I ought to hide or suppress, for fear of…I don’t really know. But fear kept it in the background, at any rate, while I played at being vanilla and wondered why I couldn’t get properly involved in my relationships.

The lovers thought I was cold and self-absorbed, and I probably was. Until Spiro came along.

It was like a lightning flash; he did everything right, the way I fantasised. He watched me for a while first – all the eyes-meeting-and-snatching-away stuff that makes the pit of your stomach bubble and boil fit to burst. Then there were knowing looks and smirks and somehow always being in the elevator at the same time, brushing up, nudging shoulders. Then he deviated from the vanilla script and walked straight into my dreams by following me to the tube station one evening after work and saying, ‘You should come out with me. I think I’d be good for you.’

Like any self-respecting noughties woman, I played up the independent schtick and scorned his advance. ‘Yeah? Good for me? Right.’

‘Because I’ve seen the type you go for, and I think I know where you’re going wrong.’

‘Oh, pray do tell.’ Heavy on the sarcasm, but my heart was pitter-pattering like a captive bird’s.

‘You go for these sensitive guys you can walk all over. They don’t challenge you, so you get bored and move on. You need someone that challenges you. I’d challenge you.’

The crowds at the ticket barrier blurred away for a moment – I actually felt faint. I mean, it was hardly a revelation – at some level I’d always known this. But…for somebody else to see it…it felt significant. And momentous. And a bit like falling in love, not that I’d ever done that.

I went out with him, and he was right. He challenged me. He interested me. He kept me on my toes. It was weird, because he was two years younger than me, and I’d always fantasised about an older man, but he had a natural authority that went beyond youthful cockiness and self-assurance – though he had those in spades too. It didn’t hurt that he was gorgeous either, in that broad-shouldered olive-skinned Italian way, with a shock of inky hair and sumptuous lips you could kiss all day and night.

The sex got very exciting very quickly. There was none of that pussy-foot dance, shall-we-or-shan’t-we, ‘oh look, I’ve missed all the buses and I can’t afford a taxi’ type thing. No, I cooked him a meal and after we’d spooned up the last of the tiramisu, he pushed my wine glass aside and said, ‘If we’re out of food, it must be time for bed.’ A grin that could be interpreted as cheeky or wicked accompanied the words. ‘I think you must agree.’

‘You’re awful,’ I said.

‘That’s for you to find out. Though I don’t think you’ll be saying so tomorrow morning.’

He wasn’t awful. He was amazing. He did all the things I’d longed for other lovers to do – he held me down by the wrists, he talked dirty, he encouraged me to change position by slapping me on the bum, and, most of all, he made me come like the Japanese bullet train, hard and fast and over and over again. He was like a rough, bluff pirate king of sex and I couldn’t get enough of him.

So it was just as well he had plenty to give. He was still giving, six months later, in mid-February, just as the celebration of St Valentine hit the cash registers of the post-Christian world.


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