a short story

Between the Lines

   

London, 1885

He swept her up into his arms and carried her toward his bed chamber. Desire quickened his pace and heated his blood. She was light as a feather, ethereal as an angel. Hair so blond it was nearly white drifted around a face that was surely sculpted in heaven itself. She was glorious and soon she would be his. He nudged the door open with his foot and strode toward his bed.

Cara glanced at the bed and shivered. Was it with apprehension or need? He set her on her feet by the side of the bed and looked down at her. Eyes, the colors of a summer morning, large and innocent and uncertain gazed back at him. His conscience nagged at the back of his mind. He was not used to defiling virgins, no matter how willing they may be. “You may change your mind, you know.”

She stared up at him and raised her chin in determination. “No, Julian. I want this. More than I can say.” She drew a deep breath. “I want you.”

“That works out nicely then.” He pulled her closer and slipped one arm of her silk wrapper off her shoulder to reveal flesh, creamy and inviting. He bent to kiss the side of her neck and her shoulder. “I have never wanted a woman as I want you.”

“As that is the case… ” She framed his face with her hands and drew his lips to hers. “You shall have me.”

Her lips met his and fire flared within him. Still… He summoned all his strength, pulled away from her, then gazed once more into her eyes. “Are you sure about this? You will be ruined.”

“Then it shall be a glorious ruination.”

“Regardless…” He winced. This was not at all easy to say given his own rising need. “You should consider—”

“My lord. ” She huffed. “You have a certain reputation. I was well aware of that before we reached this point. Indeed, your extensive experience with scandalous liaisons is precisely why we have come to this point.”

He stared at her. “What?”

“One of the reasons,” she said quickly. “At the beginning, not now of course. You were something of a challenge, you know.”

He drew his brows together.  “I was a what?”

“Well, no one ever imagined someone as inexperienced as I am could seduce a man as, well, practicedas you.”

You seduced me?”

“You needn’t be offended.” She shrugged. “It wasn’t as if I have forced you here at the point of a pistol. Indeed, you have been quite amenable to my pursuit and most enthusiastic.”

“Nonetheless, I was under the impression I was the one doing the seducing.” Indignation sounded in his voice. Regardless of his own desires, the very idea that he had been manipulated was most annoying. Besides, she might well be the innocent here as the world judged such things but he considered himself a man with a certain sense of honor. And honor was debating whether or not to continue this course. Or at least it had been until a moment ago.

“Does it matter?”

“I suppose not.” Still, if she were the seducer, there was really no need for hesitation at all. There might well be something to be said for manipulative women after all.

“Julian, I can’t imagine being with anyone but you.” She slipped her arms around his neck and pressed her body against him. He couldn’t help but note how nicely they would fit together.  “You’re in my thoughts. In my dreams.”

“Cara—”

“I do appreciate your consideration, I really do but…” Her lips whispered against his. “I want you, my lord.”

He groaned. “You’re making this exceptionally difficult.”

“Then my plan is working.” She pressed her lips harder against his. Her mouth opened and her tongue met his, demanding and insistent and not the least bit virginal.

Passion exploded between them. He pulled her nightgown over her head and tossed it away. She fumbled with the fastenings of his trousers, and pushed them down his legs. He kicked them aside, then paused and stared at her.

The dim light from the gas lamp cast a golden glow on breasts full and round, hips curved and luscious, legs long and shapely. His blood quickened. Those legs would soon be wrapped around him.

Her gaze met his, her eyes wide and dark with desire. “Are you going to join me, my lord?” A blush colored her cheeks at the brazenness of her question but she did not turn her gaze away. No, she wouldn’t, would she? The little minx had planned this. All of it. Still, regardless of her words or actions or desires, no matter who was seducing whom, this would indeed ruin her. She was properly raised and of good family. Had she truly given the consequences of their union due consideration?

“Cara—”

“Shhh.” She fisted her hand in his shirt and pulled him toward her . “This discussion is at an end.” She tugged at him and together they tumbled backward onto the bed.

And his restraint vanished.

“Damn.” I leaned back in my chair and glared at the computer screen. As if my innocent Macwas to blame. Well, I had to blame something.

“What’s wrong now?” My long suffering husband—his description, not mine—uttered his comment without any serious thought, his attention still firmly on the college football game on TV.

“It’s just not working.”

“Maybe it would work better if you would go back in your office where you belong.”

“Hey, I want to see the game too.” Well, not this game exactly but the next one. My husband and I follow different teams and sometimes opposing teams. It keeps our marriage fresh.

College football is about the only sport I really like but I was on deadline and had to work. I write romance novels and I figured I could work on my book and watch at the same time. This is something that I’ve tried before. It never really goes as planned.

“So what’s the problem?”

I glanced at the TV. Commercial. Of course. “Well, I’m just getting into a love scene.”

“You do those very well.”

“Thank you.” My loves scenes were the only part of my writing that my husband could honestly claim to have read. “But my characters…” I blew a long breath. ”Well, he’s an honorable man and she’s a virgin.”

“You hate virgins.”

“This is why. In historical settings, there are repercussion for even the most enthusiastic virgins.” I sighed. “Anyway, they’re about to make love and he’s  hesitant because it will ruin her.”

“The sex, you mean,” my husband said sagely. Or as sagely as a man in a thirty year old college sweatshirt could sound.

“Yes, I mean the sex.”

“I don’t see the problem.” He turned his attention back to the TV.  The game had resumed.

Not that I cared. “The problem is that he is an honorable man and, as a honorable man, he’s not sure they should go through with this because it will ruin her.”

“You mean ruin her reputation right? Not ruin her for other men.”

I rolled my gaze toward the ceiling. “Exactly.”

“I still don’t see the problem.” His words were directed at me but his gaze was fixed on the TV and his hand, apparently of its own accord, was dipping into a now empty popcorn bowl. And I thought women were multi-taskers. “He wants to sleep with her, right?”

“Well, he is a guy.”

“And she wants to?”

“Oh, she’s positively eager.”

“Then no man in his right mind, fictionally or otherwise, is going to stop at that point.”

I stared at him. “What about his honor? What about his conscience?”

He snorted in that derisive way he had perfected to an art form. “He’d do her first and deal with his conscience later.”

He might have a point. “I suppose. You could be right. I’ll have to think about it.”

“While you’re thinking about it…” He held up the empty popcorn bowl. “Why don’t you take a break and, oh, I don’t know, make some popcorn? I’d even share it with you.”

“Sure, why not.” I got to my feet. “How can I resist an offer like that?”

“It wouldn’t hurt to get away from the computer for a few minutes either. Clear your head and all.”

I moved closer and took the bowl. “You are so thoughtful.”

“I know,” he said in an aw shucks, gee whiz ma’am kind of tone. “It’s part of my charm.”

“Lucky for you.” I grinned. “But you’re right, I do need a break.”

Cara glanced down between them. “You can put that thing away, Author has left off writing.”

“Now?” Julian’s voice rose in frustration. “How can She stop now? This is not a good time to stop. What is the woman thinking?”

“She’s certainly not thinking about us.”

“How can She leave me, er, us like this?”

“Quite easily apparently. And I’d say it’s your fault.” Cara rolled away and propped herself up on her elbows. “She wrote you to be a man of honor and apparently honorable men do not boff virgins indiscriminately.”

“It’s not indiscriminate.” He stretched out on the bed, folded his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. “Not with you anyway. I love you. Even if I haven’t realized that yet.” He huffed. “She does this all the time you know.”

“Leave us in the middle of a scene?” She sighed. “I know. It’s most annoying.”

“And usually it’s a love scene.” He clenched his teeth. “It’s extremely frustrating.”

“She doesn’t like writing love scenes. She thinks they’re hard.”

“Not for long,” he said under his breath. “I have a thought.” He rolled over on his side and studied her. “There’s nothing that says we can’t, oh,  I don’t know,  practice as it were.”

She raised a brow. “Practice?”

“Or even better, call it research. She does like research.”

“Research?”

“You know,” headded quickly, “to make this whole thing easier for Her. “

“My, you are thoughtful.”

“I think so.” He smiled in a modest manner. “Well?”  He tried and failed to hide an eager note in his voice.

“Well…” She paused and his hopes rose. “That’s really not the solution to everything.”

“It can be,” he said. With any luck at all.

“Actually, I’m rather hungry at the moment. For food.” She aimed a pointed look at him. “Do you think She wrote us something to eat?” She sat up, glanced around the bed chamber and frowned. “She never remembers to write us anything to eat, as if we don’t enjoy a bite now and then.”
“She never lets us pee either,” he muttered. “However, what She does do…” He patted the bed beside him. “She does rather well.”

Cara stared at him. “Is that all you can think about?”

“It’s how She wrote me.” A defensive note he didn’t quite like but couldn’t seem to prevent sounded in his voice. It was a blasted nuisance to have one’s nature determined by a woman with a knack for words and a nasty sense of humor.  “I’m a…a…” What was the word? She’d written it accidentally on occasion. “A guyyes, that’s it . Different century of course, but that’s how She writes me.  I’m a…” He raised his chin and squared his shoulders. “A 19thcentury guy.”

Cara sniffed. “It’s not at all appealing.”

“It’s completely charming and you well know it, as does She. Now, She may rarely feed us but this…” He patted the bed once again. “This She does quite nicely.”

“Tempting but…” Cara crossed her arms over her naked chest, oblivious to the fact of just how delicious it made her breasts appear, like offerings on a platter, and directed him a firm look.  “At the moment, I’d really rather have food.”

I started toward the kitchen but a thought struck me and I stopped, turned and sat back down at my laptop.

“Popcorn?” my husband said hopefully.

“I could do fun with food,” I said more to myself than him. I had written some interesting love scenes involving food in previous books. “Let’s just put a bowl of strawberries by the bed…” I typed a line. “No, assorted fruit. ” I changed a word. “And chocolates. That will give Julian a few more minutes to consider the consequences of his actions and something to work with if he doesn’t.”

“You talk about these characters like they’re real.”

“They are to me. At least while I’m writing them and I hope when they’re read.” I thought for a moment. “This is going to sound weird.”

He gasped. “Weird? From you? Imagine my surprise.”

I ignored him. It’s usually best. “Sometimes I think they’re a little indignant when I take a break in the middle of something important.”

“Like sex?”

I nodded.  “When I leave them, you know, right at the brink and then stop.”

“I know I find that annoying when you do it to me. But you did give him fruit.” He smirked. “That always makes me feel better.”

“Hmph.”

“And I’m sure when you get back to it, your character will do the right thing.”

“I hope not.” I got up and headed to the kitchen. “It’s not as much fun when they behave.”

“Thank God, fruit! There, on the table beside the bed,” Cara said with a delighted smile. “Oh look, strawberries and oranges and some chocolates. How lovely. I can’t imagine why we didn’t see them before.”

“I doubt they were there before.”

She popped a chocolate into her mouth. “You think She heard us somehow?”

“She does talk about her characters talking to her but I doubt it. At least, She wasn’t listening to me,” he added under his breath. “If She had been, right now you and I—”

“These are wonderful.” Cara took a bite of a strawberry. “You should try them.”

“I will.” He watched her for a moment. Authorwas right. There was indeed something most erotic about the combination of chocolates and strawberries. Although simply watching Cara eat was not exactly as exciting as any number of other things he could think of to do with chocolates and strawberries.  “You do realize She lies. Author that is.”

“I believe it’s called fiction, darling.” She paused, the strawberry halfway to her mouth. “What do you mean She lies?”

“That business about you weighing little more than a feather.” He eyed her in an assessing manner.  “You’ve become quite a little plump pigeon since the last book.”

She gasped. “I have not.”

“Oh, you have definitely put on a few pounds.”

“In the bosom perhaps! “

His brow rose.

“And possibly in the hips,” she admitted reluctantly.  “But this too is entirely your fault.”

“How is this my fault?”
“You—Julian that is—prefers a heroine with a somewhat fuller figure than Author’s last hero did. Therefore…” She opened her arms in a dramatic gesture. “This is what you get because thisis what you want.”

He swallowed hard. Cara had been written exceptionally well to appeal to Julian. He certainly couldn’t debate that. “Yes, well you are exquisite.”

“I know,” she said smugly and finished the strawberry. “You’re rather appealing yourself.”

“She does write me well,” he said modestly. Still, the chances of enticing his heroine back to bed right now were no doubt slim. Cara would do exactly as she pleased. Her independence and stubbornness called to him as surely as her beauty. Not that he could blame her. She was written that way. “Have you ever pondered the meaning of our existence?”

She selected an orange and peeled it slowly. “You mean the manner in which  we only come alive while She is writing us? Or how the characters change from book to book but our, oh, I don’t know, essence—”

“Soulsperhaps?”

“Very well. Soulscontinue from story to story?”

“Exactly.” He nodded eagerly.

“No, I haven’t.” She popped an orange segment in her mouth. “Nor do I care to. I see us more in the realm of actors. All the world is a stage and all that.”

“Yes, but—”

Her gaze flicked over him. “You have never struck me as the type of man who enjoys intellectual discussions of the meaning of life.”

“I’m not.” He shrugged. “Not in this book.”

“I don’t like it.”

He drew his brows together. “Why not?”

“Because it’s not what I—or rather—what Cara wants,” she said firmly. “Cara wants a wicked—in the naughty sense—dashing man of action and adventure. Now, in the next book, I—whoever I might be—might well enjoy a rousing discussion about the meaning of life. I might quiver at the very thought of an intellectual whose nose is pressed firmly in a book. I might well swoon in the presence of scholarly pursuit and academic accomplishment. But here and now…” She shook her head. “It holds no interest. “Indeed, I find the entire idea quite dull.”

Indignation washed through him. “I’m not just a pretty face, you know. I do have a brain.”

“Of course you do but—”

“And now and again I enjoy using it to consider the vagaries of a literary life.”

“Oh, come now, Julian. I find that hard to believe.”

”I…I…” Bloody hell, he was sputtering. He never sputtered. He was not written that way.

She heaved a sigh of surrender. “There’s only one way to shut you up isn’t there?”

He narrowed his eyes. “What?”

She tossed the rest of her orange aside, licked her fingers, then started toward him and cast him a wicked smile. “Research.”

My team was on now and it was losing. It needed my emotional support, whatever psychic waves I could direct toward the players through the TV. It didn’t seem to be helping. Probably because my husband sitting next to me on the sofa was oh, so quietly sending his psychic support to the other team.

I heaved a resigned sigh. “I should get back to work.”

“Yep.”

“I still have no idea what I’m doing.”

“You’re working on a love scene right?” He glanced at me.

“Yeah,” I said cautiously. It was always best to be cautious when my husband offered writing advice.

“You’ll figure it out.”

”Thanksfor the vote of confidence.”

“I’m nothing if not supportive,” he said, his gaze firmly back on the game.

“Still…”

“You know what always clears my head when I have a problem.” He stood up, pulled me to my feet and flashed me a wicked smile. The very same smile I usually wrote on the face of one of my heroes.

I stared at him.  “That is not the answer to everything.”

“Of course not.” He scoffed. “Well, not everything.”

It was obvious he didn’t believe a single word of what he had just said. he was a guy after all. My guy. My hero.

We started toward the bedroom and somewhere, far in the distance, I heard the distinct sound of satisfied feminine laughter. Exactly as I thought Cara would sound. Weird. But now that I had started thinking about my characters living independently of my words, I couldn’t seem to get the idea out of my head. Either they were waiting in frustration for me to finish the love scene or they were cavorting on their own. Or I was just plain crazy. But I think you have to be crazy to work in a world you make up. At least a little.

“Don’t think of it as sex,” he said.

“Oh?” This should be good. “What would you call it?”

Again that wicked smile flashed. “Research.”

 

 

 

 

a short story

Between the Lines

   

London, 1885

He swept her up into his arms and carried her toward his bed chamber. Desire quickened his pace and heated his blood. She was light as a feather, ethereal as an angel. Hair so blond it was nearly white drifted around a face that was surely sculpted in heaven itself. She was glorious and soon she would be his. He nudged the door open with his foot and strode toward his bed.

Cara glanced at the bed and shivered. Was it with apprehension or need? He set her on her feet by the side of the bed and looked down at her. Eyes, the colors of a summer morning, large and innocent and uncertain gazed back at him. His conscience nagged at the back of his mind. He was not used to defiling virgins, no matter how willing they may be. “You may change your mind, you know.”

She stared up at him and raised her chin in determination. “No, Julian. I want this. More than I can say.” She drew a deep breath. “I want you.”

“That works out nicely then.” He pulled her closer and slipped one arm of her silk wrapper off her shoulder to reveal flesh, creamy and inviting. He bent to kiss the side of her neck and her shoulder. “I have never wanted a woman as I want you.”

“As that is the case… ” She framed his face with her hands and drew his lips to hers. “You shall have me.”

Her lips met his and fire flared within him. Still… He summoned all his strength, pulled away from her, then gazed once more into her eyes. “Are you sure about this? You will be ruined.”

“Then it shall be a glorious ruination.”

“Regardless…” He winced. This was not at all easy to say given his own rising need. “You should consider—”

“My lord. ” She huffed. “You have a certain reputation. I was well aware of that before we reached this point. Indeed, your extensive experience with scandalous liaisons is precisely why we have come to this point.”

He stared at her. “What?”

“One of the reasons,” she said quickly. “At the beginning, not now of course. You were something of a challenge, you know.”

He drew his brows together.  “I was a what?”

“Well, no one ever imagined someone as inexperienced as I am could seduce a man as, well, practicedas you.”

You seduced me?”

“You needn’t be offended.” She shrugged. “It wasn’t as if I have forced you here at the point of a pistol. Indeed, you have been quite amenable to my pursuit and most enthusiastic.”

“Nonetheless, I was under the impression I was the one doing the seducing.” Indignation sounded in his voice. Regardless of his own desires, the very idea that he had been manipulated was most annoying. Besides, she might well be the innocent here as the world judged such things but he considered himself a man with a certain sense of honor. And honor was debating whether or not to continue this course. Or at least it had been until a moment ago.

“Does it matter?”

“I suppose not.” Still, if she were the seducer, there was really no need for hesitation at all. There might well be something to be said for manipulative women after all.

“Julian, I can’t imagine being with anyone but you.” She slipped her arms around his neck and pressed her body against him. He couldn’t help but note how nicely they would fit together.  “You’re in my thoughts. In my dreams.”

“Cara—”

“I do appreciate your consideration, I really do but…” Her lips whispered against his. “I want you, my lord.”

He groaned. “You’re making this exceptionally difficult.”

“Then my plan is working.” She pressed her lips harder against his. Her mouth opened and her tongue met his, demanding and insistent and not the least bit virginal.

Passion exploded between them. He pulled her nightgown over her head and tossed it away. She fumbled with the fastenings of his trousers, and pushed them down his legs. He kicked them aside, then paused and stared at her.

The dim light from the gas lamp cast a golden glow on breasts full and round, hips curved and luscious, legs long and shapely. His blood quickened. Those legs would soon be wrapped around him.

Her gaze met his, her eyes wide and dark with desire. “Are you going to join me, my lord?” A blush colored her cheeks at the brazenness of her question but she did not turn her gaze away. No, she wouldn’t, would she? The little minx had planned this. All of it. Still, regardless of her words or actions or desires, no matter who was seducing whom, this would indeed ruin her. She was properly raised and of good family. Had she truly given the consequences of their union due consideration?

“Cara—”

“Shhh.” She fisted her hand in his shirt and pulled him toward her . “This discussion is at an end.” She tugged at him and together they tumbled backward onto the bed.

And his restraint vanished.

“Damn.” I leaned back in my chair and glared at the computer screen. As if my innocent Macwas to blame. Well, I had to blame something.

“What’s wrong now?” My long suffering husband—his description, not mine—uttered his comment without any serious thought, his attention still firmly on the college football game on TV.

“It’s just not working.”

“Maybe it would work better if you would go back in your office where you belong.”

“Hey, I want to see the game too.” Well, not this game exactly but the next one. My husband and I follow different teams and sometimes opposing teams. It keeps our marriage fresh.

College football is about the only sport I really like but I was on deadline and had to work. I write romance novels and I figured I could work on my book and watch at the same time. This is something that I’ve tried before. It never really goes as planned.

“So what’s the problem?”

I glanced at the TV. Commercial. Of course. “Well, I’m just getting into a love scene.”

“You do those very well.”

“Thank you.” My loves scenes were the only part of my writing that my husband could honestly claim to have read. “But my characters…” I blew a long breath. ”Well, he’s an honorable man and she’s a virgin.”

“You hate virgins.”

“This is why. In historical settings, there are repercussion for even the most enthusiastic virgins.” I sighed. “Anyway, they’re about to make love and he’s  hesitant because it will ruin her.”

“The sex, you mean,” my husband said sagely. Or as sagely as a man in a thirty year old college sweatshirt could sound.

“Yes, I mean the sex.”

“I don’t see the problem.” He turned his attention back to the TV.  The game had resumed.

Not that I cared. “The problem is that he is an honorable man and, as a honorable man, he’s not sure they should go through with this because it will ruin her.”

“You mean ruin her reputation right? Not ruin her for other men.”

I rolled my gaze toward the ceiling. “Exactly.”

“I still don’t see the problem.” His words were directed at me but his gaze was fixed on the TV and his hand, apparently of its own accord, was dipping into a now empty popcorn bowl. And I thought women were multi-taskers. “He wants to sleep with her, right?”

“Well, he is a guy.”

“And she wants to?”

“Oh, she’s positively eager.”

“Then no man in his right mind, fictionally or otherwise, is going to stop at that point.”

I stared at him. “What about his honor? What about his conscience?”

He snorted in that derisive way he had perfected to an art form. “He’d do her first and deal with his conscience later.”

He might have a point. “I suppose. You could be right. I’ll have to think about it.”

“While you’re thinking about it…” He held up the empty popcorn bowl. “Why don’t you take a break and, oh, I don’t know, make some popcorn? I’d even share it with you.”

“Sure, why not.” I got to my feet. “How can I resist an offer like that?”

“It wouldn’t hurt to get away from the computer for a few minutes either. Clear your head and all.”

I moved closer and took the bowl. “You are so thoughtful.”

“I know,” he said in an aw shucks, gee whiz ma’am kind of tone. “It’s part of my charm.”

“Lucky for you.” I grinned. “But you’re right, I do need a break.”

Cara glanced down between them. “You can put that thing away, Author has left off writing.”

“Now?” Julian’s voice rose in frustration. “How can She stop now? This is not a good time to stop. What is the woman thinking?”

“She’s certainly not thinking about us.”

“How can She leave me, er, us like this?”

“Quite easily apparently. And I’d say it’s your fault.” Cara rolled away and propped herself up on her elbows. “She wrote you to be a man of honor and apparently honorable men do not boff virgins indiscriminately.”

“It’s not indiscriminate.” He stretched out on the bed, folded his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. “Not with you anyway. I love you. Even if I haven’t realized that yet.” He huffed. “She does this all the time you know.”

“Leave us in the middle of a scene?” She sighed. “I know. It’s most annoying.”

“And usually it’s a love scene.” He clenched his teeth. “It’s extremely frustrating.”

“She doesn’t like writing love scenes. She thinks they’re hard.”

“Not for long,” he said under his breath. “I have a thought.” He rolled over on his side and studied her. “There’s nothing that says we can’t, oh,  I don’t know,  practice as it were.”

She raised a brow. “Practice?”

“Or even better, call it research. She does like research.”

“Research?”

“You know,” headded quickly, “to make this whole thing easier for Her. “

“My, you are thoughtful.”

“I think so.” He smiled in a modest manner. “Well?”  He tried and failed to hide an eager note in his voice.

“Well…” She paused and his hopes rose. “That’s really not the solution to everything.”

“It can be,” he said. With any luck at all.

“Actually, I’m rather hungry at the moment. For food.” She aimed a pointed look at him. “Do you think She wrote us something to eat?” She sat up, glanced around the bed chamber and frowned. “She never remembers to write us anything to eat, as if we don’t enjoy a bite now and then.”
“She never lets us pee either,” he muttered. “However, what She does do…” He patted the bed beside him. “She does rather well.”

Cara stared at him. “Is that all you can think about?”

“It’s how She wrote me.” A defensive note he didn’t quite like but couldn’t seem to prevent sounded in his voice. It was a blasted nuisance to have one’s nature determined by a woman with a knack for words and a nasty sense of humor.  “I’m a…a…” What was the word? She’d written it accidentally on occasion. “A guyyes, that’s it . Different century of course, but that’s how She writes me.  I’m a…” He raised his chin and squared his shoulders. “A 19thcentury guy.”

Cara sniffed. “It’s not at all appealing.”

“It’s completely charming and you well know it, as does She. Now, She may rarely feed us but this…” He patted the bed once again. “This She does quite nicely.”

“Tempting but…” Cara crossed her arms over her naked chest, oblivious to the fact of just how delicious it made her breasts appear, like offerings on a platter, and directed him a firm look.  “At the moment, I’d really rather have food.”

I started toward the kitchen but a thought struck me and I stopped, turned and sat back down at my laptop.

“Popcorn?” my husband said hopefully.

“I could do fun with food,” I said more to myself than him. I had written some interesting love scenes involving food in previous books. “Let’s just put a bowl of strawberries by the bed…” I typed a line. “No, assorted fruit. ” I changed a word. “And chocolates. That will give Julian a few more minutes to consider the consequences of his actions and something to work with if he doesn’t.”

“You talk about these characters like they’re real.”

“They are to me. At least while I’m writing them and I hope when they’re read.” I thought for a moment. “This is going to sound weird.”

He gasped. “Weird? From you? Imagine my surprise.”

I ignored him. It’s usually best. “Sometimes I think they’re a little indignant when I take a break in the middle of something important.”

“Like sex?”

I nodded.  “When I leave them, you know, right at the brink and then stop.”

“I know I find that annoying when you do it to me. But you did give him fruit.” He smirked. “That always makes me feel better.”

“Hmph.”

“And I’m sure when you get back to it, your character will do the right thing.”

“I hope not.” I got up and headed to the kitchen. “It’s not as much fun when they behave.”

“Thank God, fruit! There, on the table beside the bed,” Cara said with a delighted smile. “Oh look, strawberries and oranges and some chocolates. How lovely. I can’t imagine why we didn’t see them before.”

“I doubt they were there before.”

She popped a chocolate into her mouth. “You think She heard us somehow?”

“She does talk about her characters talking to her but I doubt it. At least, She wasn’t listening to me,” he added under his breath. “If She had been, right now you and I—”

“These are wonderful.” Cara took a bite of a strawberry. “You should try them.”

“I will.” He watched her for a moment. Authorwas right. There was indeed something most erotic about the combination of chocolates and strawberries. Although simply watching Cara eat was not exactly as exciting as any number of other things he could think of to do with chocolates and strawberries.  “You do realize She lies. Author that is.”

“I believe it’s called fiction, darling.” She paused, the strawberry halfway to her mouth. “What do you mean She lies?”

“That business about you weighing little more than a feather.” He eyed her in an assessing manner.  “You’ve become quite a little plump pigeon since the last book.”

She gasped. “I have not.”

“Oh, you have definitely put on a few pounds.”

“In the bosom perhaps! “

His brow rose.

“And possibly in the hips,” she admitted reluctantly.  “But this too is entirely your fault.”

“How is this my fault?”
“You—Julian that is—prefers a heroine with a somewhat fuller figure than Author’s last hero did. Therefore…” She opened her arms in a dramatic gesture. “This is what you get because thisis what you want.”

He swallowed hard. Cara had been written exceptionally well to appeal to Julian. He certainly couldn’t debate that. “Yes, well you are exquisite.”

“I know,” she said smugly and finished the strawberry. “You’re rather appealing yourself.”

“She does write me well,” he said modestly. Still, the chances of enticing his heroine back to bed right now were no doubt slim. Cara would do exactly as she pleased. Her independence and stubbornness called to him as surely as her beauty. Not that he could blame her. She was written that way. “Have you ever pondered the meaning of our existence?”

She selected an orange and peeled it slowly. “You mean the manner in which  we only come alive while She is writing us? Or how the characters change from book to book but our, oh, I don’t know, essence—”

“Soulsperhaps?”

“Very well. Soulscontinue from story to story?”

“Exactly.” He nodded eagerly.

“No, I haven’t.” She popped an orange segment in her mouth. “Nor do I care to. I see us more in the realm of actors. All the world is a stage and all that.”

“Yes, but—”

Her gaze flicked over him. “You have never struck me as the type of man who enjoys intellectual discussions of the meaning of life.”

“I’m not.” He shrugged. “Not in this book.”

“I don’t like it.”

He drew his brows together. “Why not?”

“Because it’s not what I—or rather—what Cara wants,” she said firmly. “Cara wants a wicked—in the naughty sense—dashing man of action and adventure. Now, in the next book, I—whoever I might be—might well enjoy a rousing discussion about the meaning of life. I might quiver at the very thought of an intellectual whose nose is pressed firmly in a book. I might well swoon in the presence of scholarly pursuit and academic accomplishment. But here and now…” She shook her head. “It holds no interest. “Indeed, I find the entire idea quite dull.”

Indignation washed through him. “I’m not just a pretty face, you know. I do have a brain.”

“Of course you do but—”

“And now and again I enjoy using it to consider the vagaries of a literary life.”

“Oh, come now, Julian. I find that hard to believe.”

”I…I…” Bloody hell, he was sputtering. He never sputtered. He was not written that way.

She heaved a sigh of surrender. “There’s only one way to shut you up isn’t there?”

He narrowed his eyes. “What?”

She tossed the rest of her orange aside, licked her fingers, then started toward him and cast him a wicked smile. “Research.”

My team was on now and it was losing. It needed my emotional support, whatever psychic waves I could direct toward the players through the TV. It didn’t seem to be helping. Probably because my husband sitting next to me on the sofa was oh, so quietly sending his psychic support to the other team.

I heaved a resigned sigh. “I should get back to work.”

“Yep.”

“I still have no idea what I’m doing.”

“You’re working on a love scene right?” He glanced at me.

“Yeah,” I said cautiously. It was always best to be cautious when my husband offered writing advice.

“You’ll figure it out.”

”Thanksfor the vote of confidence.”

“I’m nothing if not supportive,” he said, his gaze firmly back on the game.

“Still…”

“You know what always clears my head when I have a problem.” He stood up, pulled me to my feet and flashed me a wicked smile. The very same smile I usually wrote on the face of one of my heroes.

I stared at him.  “That is not the answer to everything.”

“Of course not.” He scoffed. “Well, not everything.”

It was obvious he didn’t believe a single word of what he had just said. he was a guy after all. My guy. My hero.

We started toward the bedroom and somewhere, far in the distance, I heard the distinct sound of satisfied feminine laughter. Exactly as I thought Cara would sound. Weird. But now that I had started thinking about my characters living independently of my words, I couldn’t seem to get the idea out of my head. Either they were waiting in frustration for me to finish the love scene or they were cavorting on their own. Or I was just plain crazy. But I think you have to be crazy to work in a world you make up. At least a little.

“Don’t think of it as sex,” he said.

“Oh?” This should be good. “What would you call it?”

Again that wicked smile flashed. “Research.”

 

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2017 Victoria Alexander. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2017 Victoria Alexander. All Rights Reserved.