Sunday, 21 September 2014

Gone swimming

Because that's what any sensible author does when her books are coming up to release...
Back online in October!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Phenology - September

Warm September brings the fruit,
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.

"The Umbelliferae have died back to sticks." I couldn't find a rhyme for that.

It has been warm this September. Very little rain. The trees are starting to look a bit tired and droopy - hinting at autumn colours but not quite there yet. Maybe by the end of the month...
But the adult crane flies (daddy-longlegs) are tunneling out from under the grass and bumbling despairingly around inside houses and cars, before leaving awkward corpses scattered on every surface. And that's a sure sign that summer is over.

There is an odd (modern) piece of folklore about daddy-longlegs: that they are the most venomous arthropod/creature in the country ... but we are saved because their mouthparts are just too feeble to bite humans. I imagine them gnashing their little mandibles in frustration and weeping poisonous tears. 

Fortunately, none of this is true :-)

The real natural phenomenon of September is apples:


And more apples:

Associated in legend with forbidden knowledge, eternal youth, temptation and sin, female sexuality (that seems to follow on from the former, huh), love magic ... where do I start?

Statue of  Alan Turing in Manchester

Never mind - someone has already done it :-)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Catching up

The new Hungarian cover of the Thrones of Desire anthology :-)

Release Dates:

Cover Him With Darkness has been put back slightly - the official launch date is now 1st November but there will be what they call a soft launch (i.e. the book will actually be for sale) earlier: Amazon listings suggest 14th October.

Fierce Enchantments is set for an e-book release mid-October, with paperbacks to follow late November/ early December.

Fifty Shades of Green:

Fifty Shades of Green is in paperback - Look at my loverly box o' books! I've been sending these review copies out to previously smut-free zones like BBC Gardeners' World and the Royal Horticultural Society. There will be quaking amongst the petunias.

New Anthology:

As Kinky as You Wanna Be is a forthcoming BDSM guide book that addresses practical issues of safety and good etiquette and how not to make your partner run for the hills. It's edited by Shanna Germain and is going to be goddamn brilliant. It also contain some inspirational pieces of fiction, including an excerpt from my story Jump or Fall? which originally appeared in Sweet Love (ed Violet Blue) - the most badly misnamed and mis-marketed erotica/kink anthology ever.

Jump or Fall? is a story I'm particularly proud of - it addresses the issue of responsible sadism in a  kink relationship, and made me nervous to write ... which is usually a good sign. I'm really glad it's getting a second chance.

As Kinky as You Wanna Be will be out in November.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Not so blue Monday

Guess who posted an excerpt yesterday instead of today, as part of the the Snog for Sommer fundraiser?

Sunday instead of Monday?! Has the world gone MAD? Is there no end to the chaos?!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

A Snog for Sommer

I don't do an enormous amount of kissing in my books. But this is a special occasion - fifty-eight writers (58!!!) have got together for a fundraiser bloghop. Full details here, where you can access links to all participants.  Here's my Snog for Sommer: an excerpt from my Arabian Nights romantic adventure Heart of Flame.

When she was ready, she approached on foot and ordered the Lion Most Strong to stand back, and it released Rafiq who let out a grunt of surprise. He struggled up onto his knees, blinking at her, his face crusted with sand. “Taqla,” he groaned.

She stepped in as he lurched to his feet and punched him as hard as she could in the face. At the last moment he saw her fist and flinched away so her knuckles stuck him only a glancing blow, which was perhaps a good thing because she managed to skin her knuckles on his teeth and split his lip even so. He staggered a little. She clenched her stinging fist, shocked how much it had hurt her and blaming him for that too.

"Bastard! Thief!”

“Taqla—” He lifted a hand in dismay to his bleeding lip.

“You stole my Horse! You dumped me in the desert! You son of a whore!” She was burning too hotly with fury to judge her attacks. When she struck again at his face, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her hard against him, seizing the other hand as it flailed, and wrestling both wrists behind her to pin them at the small of her back. She was still too angry to be afraid. “How could you?” she spat. “After everything we’ve been through! Everything you promised!”

“Taqla!” he shouted as she twisted furiously in his arms. “Shut up! Stop it! Listen to me!”

“I hope street dogs eat your corpse!”


She stopped struggling to draw breath, snarling. He was very strong and held her easily, his face over hers.

“Taqla, I’m sorry.” His eyes burned. “Listen. Listen. I haven’t betrayed you. Believe me.”

“You left me!”

“I had to take the Horse. I am sorry, but I need it to find the house of the djinni. I had no choice. I would have returned it when I could.”

“Tell me your ass is made of solid gold and you shit diamonds! Shall I believe that too?”

He shook his head, teeth bared. “Taqla—I left because I couldn’t bring you with me and see you hurt.”

“Me—hurt? Haven’t I saved your life before now? Haven’t you needed me every step of this journey?”

“Yes!” He turned his face aside so he could spit blood into the sand, then caught her gaze again, his eyes hot with anguish. “Yes. I’ve needed you. But this is different. There’s so much chance of you getting killed—”

“You think I’m afraid?”

“No. Never. Taqla, listen to me. I couldn’t see you hurt for my sake. I couldn’t bear it.”
“We had a bargain,” she snapped. “We were in it together. You get what you want and I get what I want.”

He shook his head as if in pain, and when he spoke again it was under his breath. “I read the scroll.”


“The spell in the Scroll of Simon.”

She felt as if she’d been kicked in the stomach. “Oh,” she said, while the import of his words sank in and the desert seemed to reel about her. It had never occurred to her that he would be able to read Greek. She was suddenly horribly conscious of the way he was holding her up tight against his hard body. “No,” she whispered, trying to shrink away from him. She couldn’t move an inch.

“How could I let myself hurt 'she who loves me the most'? I couldn’t let you risk your life out of love for me.” His voice was soft, all shouting done.

“No, you’ve misunderstood…”

“Taqla, why are you scared of admitting it?”

“I… It isn’t like that…”

“Isn’t it? What is it like then? Tell me.”

She groaned. His lips curved, self-deprecating, as if knowing he was inviting another blow.

“I think I know exactly how it feels. Taqla, is it not obvious that I’ve been falling in love with you this whole time?”

She went still, her eyes widening.

He smiled lopsidedly because of his split lip. “I’ve been like a man sliding down a sand dune, trying to keep on my feet and all the time falling. Can’t you see that?”

She tried to speak but for once had no words. Not even when he bent his head and kissed her through her veil. She felt the warm softness of his lips on hers and the ghost of his breath through the silk. Her heart slammed painfully in her chest, sending the blood roaring through her head.

Quietly, while his lips still held hers, he let go of her wrists. One hand stayed to hold her close to him, but the other rose to touch her face through the folds of her headscarf. Then he drew back a little so he could look into her eyes. She could read his intent. She knew what he was going to do and the voices of warning were roaring in the back of her mind, but still she didn’t resist when he gently drew down the fold of her veil and bared her face, though she shivered at the touch of his fingertips. A warm pleasure danced in his eyes. He brushed his thumb across her lips and whispered her name.
“As honey on my lips, I love you. As breath in my lungs, as water in the desert, I love you.” Then he stooped again to kiss her for the second time, his mouth bruised and sweet and—under the gentleness—hungry. He tasted of blood.

Taqla’s inner voices of reason and propriety were shrieking with dismay now. Rafiq had crossed a line that should never be crossed. She was in terrible danger, they told her. She was a fool, and he was an opportunistic dog, and this was the worst move she’d ever made.

She heard them all, and she let them go. She gave up thinking. She let the future fly from her grasp so that she could feel what was happening to her now, in this wonderful, terrifying moment when the whole world turned inside out and his hands were on her and her body was melting against his in a way that she could never even have imagined. When they broke for breath she reached up and touched his jaw, tracing her fingers over the hard bone and the inflorescence of dark stubble as if to convince herself he was real. A new world of textures and sensations was opening to her. She brushed the outline of his lips and he bit softly at her fingertips.

“I was right,” he murmured. “You do have a beautiful smile.”

She hadn’t even been aware she was smiling. It wasn’t a wide one, just a tentative curve of her lips.

“I’ve never seen it till now, you know.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“What for?”

Sorry for hiding her smile from him? Sorry for being afraid? She hardly knew. She touched the bloody contusion on his lip. “For hurting you.”

“Oh, I can take worse.”

Please do consider donating to Sommer's fund!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Wearing my other hat

What do you mean, it looks like my normal hat?

It seems like months ago, but it was only last week that I attended FantasyCon 2014 in York. It's a much more book-focused affair than Nine Worlds, and I was there under my Other Name as a writer of horror stories (though there were more erotica writers there than most people realise. We are everywhere, lurking, taking notes and waiting for the moment we rise up and conquer the world....)

My latest short appears in Terror Tales of Yorkshire (edited by Paul Finch) pictured above - and so hot off the presses they haven't even got the cover up on Amazon yet.

I had a terrific time (ho ho!) and met lots of friends old and new, even if the hotel bar prices gave me the shock of my goddamn life. There was a superb panel on the professional editing process which gave me a whole new appreciation for the role of my editors - they are not just there to make authors cry and correct spelling: they are advocates and cheerleaders for your books within the publishing company so you really need as happy a relationship with your editor as you can possibly manage.

Fran Terminiello - 15th Century rapier and buckler

There was also an exceptionally good panel on the realities of swordplay and how to make it more convincing in a novel - with demonstrations from the panelists who are all keen martial artists in various disciplines.

Juliet E McKenna - Aikido
Interestingly, the two panelists who expressed an opinion both said that if they were facing a swordsman in a life-or-death fantasy situation ... they'd rather be armed with a staff or spear!
(Personally I'd go for a crossbow.)

And here below is the only (albeit slim) evidence in the whole world that I am prepared to get down and boogie at a disco, given it is Eighties enough. I blame the Gollancz Free Bar. For everything.

Photo by Annie Catling. I'm just glad it wasn't taken during "Jump Around".

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Phwoar - what a lovely pair, eh?
Here it comes - the official double-action launch party for two dark and sexy novels! Kristina  Lloyd and I are getting together to launch and celebrate our respective novels with live readings and bubbly!

It's taking place at SH! Women's Erotic Emporium, in London, on the 18th October.

Full details here. Please do come along and ask questions, listen to our readings, and help us get over our agonising nerves :-)

And here on the SH! Blog I address the fundamental question - Is Cover Him With Darkness just another goddamn angel romance?

Monday, 8 September 2014

Blue Monday

Every Monday I post a rude excerpt for your entertainment.

Justine Elyot has pointed out that it is the five-year anniversary of Sexy Little Numbers, the very last of the Black Lace anthologies. AARGH!! Where does the time go?!

So naturally today's excerpt is from Michaelangelo's Men, my contribution to that very fine collection:

You see, I always knew I liked watching men. I didn’t know I liked watching them together until a few years back when I went to a friend’s wedding. It took place in a northern castle, which sounds flash and bits of it are, but it’s been converted into a university college so actually there’s a lot of pokey little corridors and student rooms hiding away behind the banqueting hall and the medieval galleries. I ended up late at night climbing a turret staircase and switching on lights as I went, like someone in a fairy story exploring the forbidden wing of their palace. What I found up the tower wasn’t a wicked fairy with a spinning wheel but a unisex toilet, which suited me fine. I was in a state that night, having just quarrelled with my boyfriend of the time – I can’t even remember what had set it off now, just that he’d said something and then I said something and then he said something else and I’d walked off in tears. So I was pleased to have a room miles from the party, all to myself. The room was L-shaped with five cubicles and I sat down behind the row of sinks, next to the hot water pipes, and had a good weep and felt self-righteously tragic like you do when you’re young. After a while the room light, which was on a timer, went off and I sat in the dark and sniffled.

    Then I heard feet coming up the stairs. I thought it might be someone looking for me so I just scrunched down into my space and said nothing when the door opened. It was two men; I saw that as the fluorescent tube flickered on. They weren’t looking for me or anyone else; they had eyes only for each other. One of them I sort of recognised - he was the groom’s uncle, I think: middle-aged and blond going silvery at the temples, but fit looking, in a raw-boned Scandinavian sort of way. He was wearing a tux, I remember, and a blue cummerbund. I recalled even at the time that he’d sat at the high table with his wife. He set his back to the door as it closed and pulled the other bloke to him, firmly. That guy was younger and darker and it was obvious he wasn’t quite keen on kissing, but that’s what the older man did; gripped the back of his head and pulled his mouth to his own.

    Two guys kissing. I froze, hoping I was invisible behind the sinks, hoping that the blood that’d rushed to my face wasn’t lighting me up like a neon beacon. Then as the tongue-wrestling went on I gradually let myself focus on the action. Those men kissed like they were starving to death and fighting over the last scrap of food. Stubble scraped stubble. Teeth flashed. Little gasps broke free of their lips. And their hands – they were all over each other, pulling at shirts and grabbing for crotches. Flies were yanked down releasing twin erections that butted up together aggressively, hot sticky lengths rubbing one on the other. The younger guy groaned and babbled a string of swearwords. The older one caught him by the short hair at the back of his scalp and pushed him to his knees, while his other hand mastered his own erection. It was a big, gnarly, tough looking cock, I thought. The guy on his knees stared at it with an expression of awe and stretched to lick it. No way was that allowed; fingers tightened on his scalp and his head was jerked back.

    ‛Ask nicely, bonny boy.’ The heavy cock-head bobbed.

    ‛Please!’ His eyes were bright with need. His lower lip trembled. The standing man grinned.

    ‛OK then.’

    That’s when I saw for the first time one man take another’s cock in his mouth. It changed me forever. I watched a cute, dishevelled looking guy - who I wouldn’t have minded chatting up myself - eagerly swallow the rigid length of a man twice his age, and I heard them both make noises of gratitude in their throats, the giver with a whimper, the receiver with a huffed ‛Um.’ I saw blue cheeks stretch to take the girth and then skin shining with spittle withdrawing momentarily, only to plunge in again. And I thought I was going to dissolve into a puddle of my own juices, so wet and hot and weak was I, my whole body pulsing to the beat in my sex. All my old self-pity was blown away, like I’d been struck by lightning.

    You’ve got to realise this was in the years B.H.B: Before Home Broadband. I’d not really seen that many erect cocks either in the flesh or in photographs, never mind two blokes at it together.

    The blow job was quick and efficient. The groom’s uncle lurched and grabbed the other guy’s head in both hands and pumped into his mouth and ejaculated down his throat. For a moment they separated and the guy on the floor knelt back, breathing hard and licking his lips, his own hard-on standing ruddy and stiff despite comparative neglect. He took it in his sweaty hand and began to jack it.

    ‛Hey.’ With a monosyllable the older man brought a stop to the masturbation. Kneeling himself, he faced his fellator and took his frustration in hand and the younger man leaned back, visibly surrendering control. Up and down slid that big, masterful hand on that stiff cock. Firm and then fast – faster than I’d ever managed giving a hand job – until strands of pale spunk were squirting between his fingers. He captured most of the sticky mess in his hand,  anointing the guy’s purplish cock with his own ooze. The younger man gasped and gasped and shut his eyes, seeming to sink into a trance.

    Then the groom’s uncle stood, quite matter of factly, to tuck his own cock away. It was when he turned toward the sinks to wash his hands that he saw me. He stopped.

    ‛Oh shit,’ said the younger guy, his eyes open now, fixed in my direction.

    ‛Why ... I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.’ The older man had a much better view of my flushed face, and could read my expression rather more clearly. He stepped toward me and I just stared. I couldn’t even blink. ‛You’re not going to tell anyone, are you hinny?’

     He held his hand out. His sticky fingers. He touched my parted lips and I opened them and let him slip his spunky fingers into my mouth. Believe me, my whole body was so fucking wet and yielding then that if he’d put a loaded gun to my mouth I would have wrapped my lips around it and sucked. 

    ‛Canny lass,’ he said. He left me with the grassy, salty taste of his lover on my tongue.

    That was it: my first time seeing two blokes together. I knew right then that this was it: this was my Thing, capital T.

Sexy Little Numbers is available as a paperback or in Kindle format: Amazon US : Amazon UK

Friday, 5 September 2014

He luuuuurved his mother

(As Tom Lehrer said)

In honor of my story Three Legs in the Evening appearing in The Sexy Librarian's Big Book of Erotica, I thought I'd post some Oedipus art. Now there are in fact quite a few classic paintings out there which show Oedipus as he features in my tale, blind and disgraced and cast down from the throne, but those aren't terribly cheerful or sexy. I thought I'd concentrate on the Sphinx bit of the story today. Because those pictures are distinctly and amusingly pervy.

Where are her feet?
The picture above is Oedipus and the Sphinx by Gustave Moreau (1864). It wasn't his only shot at the subject - here's Oedipus the Wanderer (1888):

It's worth noting, I think, the marked beauty of the protagonists in both pictures. And the sphinx's fine boobs.

Boobs are important to many artists ... and their clients.

 Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres painted several versions of Oedipus and the Sphinx over the years - and in each one Oedipus is eye-to-eye with an outstandingly perky pair of knockers.

1864 - Note that her face is almost totally in shadow. Not that he's looking at her face anyway.

The sphinx,as a female monster, tends to be highly sexualised in western art. Lust and death in one bestial, mysterious package.

(I can't find the artist, but it would appear to be another symbolist.)
The Kiss of the Sphinx (1895) by Franz Stuck
This next painting has a bare-breasted sphinx too ... but to be honest I'd guess the artist way preferred painting blokes:

Oedipus and the Sphinx (1808) by François-Xavier Fabre

This is all despite the fact that the ancient Greeks didn't seem to think that a sphinx ought to have breasts at all:

And to be fair, the odd Victorian/Edwardian artist did take their cue from that:

The Caress or The Sphinx by Fernand Khnopff (1896)
The results are actually a bit disturbing - deprived of human mammaries, the sphinx looks more like a mutated animal and less like a respectable monster. This one is just plain freaky:

The Sphinx (1907) by Georg von Rosen
The sphinx in my story Three Legs in the Evening is a lot bigger than most of the depictions here. In fact by sheer luck I have found the perfect likeness to the picture in my head and my text :-)

And since you've made it this far I will reward you with a picture of Oedipus' mother/wife: Jocasta (1913) by Harold Speed.

Do you think she's just heard some bad news?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Guest post: Kristina Lloyd is Undone

Today's post is from Kristina Lloyd, whose tales of submission and danger are always a filthy and frightening (and exceptionally well-written) treat!

When Lana Greenwood attends a glamorous house party she finds herself tempted into a ménage à trois. But the morning after brings more than just regrets over fulfilling a fantasy one night stand. One of the men she's spent the night with is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Accident, suicide or murder, no one is sure and Lana doesn't know where to turn. Can she trust Sol, the other man, an ex-New Yorker with a dirty smile and a deep desire to continue their kinky game?

“Where do you get your ideas from?” is a question which makes many writers roll their eyes, partly because it’s so frequently asked but also because the answer isn’t easy. However, for Undone, my forthcoming novel, I have a ready reply. Where did I get my idea from? I stole it!

About eighteen months ago, I was lucky enough to attend a writing workshop run by former Penguin editor,  Juliette Mitchell. For one of the exercises, we had to pair up with another attendee and describe an idea we’d had knocking around in our heads for a while. I didn’t have such a thing. I’m a writer, but not one of the lucky ones perpetually overflowing with stories. If I have an idea worth developing, it generally gets written. I’d recently submitted Thrill Seeker, and was clawing my way towards a story for my next contracted book with my publisher, Black Lace. I sat with my workshop partner and outlined a baggy, over-complex tale interwoven across three eras. She listened politely, asked a few questions, then told me her idea for a story which opened with a party and a dead body on a balcony. The body, hidden from view, wouldn’t be discovered until the following day. The identity of the dead man and the circumstances surrounding his death were both a mystery.

It was a classic Who-Dunnit? and heaps better than my offering. I left the workshop with the germ of a novel-idea rattling around in my head.  Undone begins with a weekend party at a hired manor house. In the evening, as blue skies give way to starlight and outdoor lanterns, Lana hooks up with two guys for her first threesome. On the morning after, one of the men is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Lana becomes involved with the other guy, Sol Miller, despite her concerns he may be implicated in the mysterious death.

Of course, I had a lot of work to do after I’d stolen my basic premise from a stranger. (Thank you, stranger!) Setting is important to me, and I wanted to steer clear of domestic interiors for this book. I located most of the action in Saltbourne, the fictional seaside town in my previous book, Thrill Seeker, and made my protagonist the owner of a cocktail bar. I spent a lot of time inventing various bars in my mind, finally settling on the mood and design of a place when I investigated what lay behind an unusual and beautiful, stained glass window I pass regularly in Brighton. This window, I discovered, belongs to a one-bedroom hotel, and the building itself was a chapel of rest in the nineteenth century. I adapted the window for my fictional bar, turning it into blue-green tiled-glass doors opening onto a balcony, and I named the venue, The Blue Bar, in their honour. The history of the building in Brighton, along with the decadent, light-gothic aesthetic of the hotel interior and its barrel-vault ceiling (yes, that is a chandelier made of lego!), were also incorporated into Lana’s bar. I spent so long creating the setting, adding tiny details in my head, that I ended up making Lana a former interior designer who’d quit her job to pursue a her dream of setting up a cocktail bar.

I also located part of the action of Undone in Brighton, my hometown, and the setting for my second book, Asking for Trouble. The Brighton of Asking for Trouble, written in the late 90s, is very different to the town which exists today. Once it was tatty and tawdry, a coastal resort of faded grandeur and full of dubious goings-on.  Brighton’s long been known as London-by-the-Sea and today it’s a slicker, smarter town (officially a city), more deserving of its moniker. But that wasn’t the Brighton I wanted my characters to visit. I was aiming to capture some of the mood of Asking for Trouble, so I plumped for a underdeveloped part of town, fictionalizing it slightly by altering occasional details. Circus Street has that sleazy, shabby, dangerous feel to it, and its where Lana and Sol end up late one night after a row.

Handcuffs were another point of inspiration, specifically a pair of German Clejuso 15s, reputedly the heaviest handcuffs in the world.  They are such fierce, graceful objects that I couldn’t not use them in fiction, once I’d learned of their existence! Lana is openly kinky but her tastes are for primarily for mild play. At least, they are at the start of the book. She has an interest in vintage clothing; a keen aesthetic sensibility; is competent, independent, and she knows what she likes. Giving her a vintage and military-issue handcuff collection seemed a great way to demonstrate these aspects of her character. I’m going to talk more about cuffs later in my blog tour but suffice it to say, the Clejusos are used on Lana during the threesome at the party.

If you’d like to know more about Undone, please hop over to my blog for an excerpt, and check out the other stops on my Sexy September blog tour.

Kristina Lloyd writes erotic fiction about sexually submissive women who like it on the dark, dirty and dangerous side. Her novels are published by Black Lace and her short stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including several ‘best of’ collection, in both the UK and US. She lives in Brighton, England.

Undone is published on Sept 11th, 2014. Pre-order with Amazon:
Amazon US (Kindle) : Amazon UK (paperback and Kindle) : Amazon Canada (paperback and Kindle)

Monday, 1 September 2014

Blue Monday

Every Monday I post a naughty excerpt for your entertainment.

I love this e-cover!

Love Lies Bleeding is my short story contribution to Fifty Shades of Green, (ed Cheri Colburn) the new gardening-themed erotica anthology from Greenwoman Publishing. It's slighty more restrained than some of my erotica, but like - it turns out! - several other contributions to the collection, it is a supernatural tale...

    What was I talking about? Ah, yes. Him.

    He is restoring the grounds around my house. Spring sunlight, returning to earth long shadowed, has resulted in an unexpected treasury of flowers along the margins of the old rides: stunted narcissi and crocuses early in the year, and a nervous carpet of bluebells following on in May. The warmth of the season reveals more of him too. Working mostly alone here, in an area of the gardens long closed off, he sheds his shirt when the weather allows it and labors bare-chested, golden and ruddy. Freckles bloom like tiny flowers across his shoulders, more and more each day, and tiny flecks of soil and cut grass and dry leaves stick to his glistening skin, a patina that makes him scratch pleasurably whenever he pauses to ease his muscles.

    Papa would not approve of that either. He always tried to shield me from such coarse sights, lest I be spoilt for any future husband. But it is such a long time since Papa last came down here to visit me. I can't recall how long exactly … I wonder what he would say if he knew one of his workmen was toiling half-naked within sight of his daughter?

    I watch, illicitly, feeling a thrill I had not known myself capable of.

    His skin is golden, but his nipples are flat and brown, and blondish hair marches down across his chest and belly like an army converging upon the narrower pass beyond his hips. When he is working hard his shoulders are glossy with sweat and droplets run down the declivity of his spine and slip beneath the waistband of his trousers. I want to follow them with my fingers. I want to bite his chest and feel his hot hard flesh beneath my hands. I want to feel the life burning beneath his skin, to press my lips to that fire, to taste it on my tongue.

    He shines. He shines. In my world of shadows and stillness, he glows like a burning lamp. He summons me.

    He is digging a new flowerbed on the southern approach to my home, and I cannot tear my eyes away. But I cannot make myself known.

    Once, greatly daring, I did come out while he was here. My desire was so fierce that day that I could not resist the lure. He'd been laboring all morning a little way off from the house, where the woodland understory was still thick. Maybe he glimpsed my presence at the corner of his eyes, because he would pause and glance about himself occasionally, frowning into the depths of the grove. But he never truly saw me. Resting after his lunch in a cleared dell, he dozed off for a moment, I think, in a patch of sun. I crept in closer under the dense cover of the rhododendrons. There he lay in his open shirt, one arm tucked behind his head to pillow it. His face was peaceful in repose, his lashes long and silky. That broad chest of his rose and fell mesmerically. Beyond the crest of his ribcage, his torso sloped down to the shallower flatland of his stomach, a vulnerable stretch that seemed to crave the touch of my hand. I was close enough to hear his gentle breathing, to smell his sweat, to feel the heat of his blood like a furnace on my face. Almost close enough to reach out to him. My lust for him was an ache bone-deep.

    But he lay in sunlight. I was confined to my shadows.

    Almost as if he felt my gaze upon him in his shallow dreams—and perhaps he did—he woke up abruptly and sat up shivering and looking around him. In my hiding place amongst the dark and glossy leaves, I froze.

    Did I want him to see me? The answer is, I do not know. I have been ill so long, and there are no mirrors in my house. I am no longer entirely sure that I look like the pretty girl I used to be, all ringlets and wide eyes and blossoming maidenly curves. I think I must be pitifully frail and slender now. I don't eat much these days. My appetite comes and goes.

    I like to watch him eat.

    I like to watch when he goes off to empty his bladder against the bole of some tree. There is sometime exquisitely masculine about the way he stands; the insouciant tilt of his hips; the brace of his legs; the satisfied little bounce he gives as he readjusts his clothing afterward.

    He's in the prime of his youth, and male, and working alone. I can see the low burn of the fire that's in his flesh, always. It must be hard to ignore the imperative itch of his potency. That weight he carries between his thighs. I imagine it is burdensome at times. And I sympathize, because my own need is just as cruel.

    Sometimes I see it become too uncomfortable for him to ignore. Then he sets his back to a tree and parts his clothes and stretches taut, milking the seed from his heavy stones with swift, grateful movements. I see it. I see it all. It makes me writhe—not with the shame suited to my maiden state, but with a desire so overwhelming that it can only be felt as hunger, and with envy. Envy of his touch on his own body where mine should be. His hand is brutal in its action, and I wonder if he would treat a woman so forcefully. My curiosity is like a sickness all of its own. 

I wonder what it would have been like to be married to a man like him, to know the trials and pleasures of a woman's marital duties.

    But of course I would not have married a man like him—a mere gardener—if I had been well enough to wed. I would have married a fine gentleman, my social equal. Someone with a grand country estate and a house in town, and ten thousand pounds a year to his name. Not a dirty, unshaven, sweaty gardener whose work-hardened forearms are dusted with sun-bleached hair. Whose callused hands would maul shamelessly my white virginal skin. Whose disrespectful eyes and casual coarseness and sense of humor would make a scullery maid blush.

    He likes the grieving caryatids that flank the stairs to my front door. Pillars in the form of half-draped Grecian women, they hold up the lintel of the veranda that circles my abode, their stony faces solemn and their busts jutting and matronly. When he won his way through the shrubbery, that very first time, the first thing he did was to reach up and fondle the lichened breast of the one on the left, and grin. So pleased with himself.

    It has become a ritual; every day he comes up here with his tools, and before starting work he gives both caryatids a grope, rubbing their stone breasts. If he's in a particularly cheerful mood he might jump up on one of their stone pedestals and embrace one from behind for a private joke, his hands cupping that stone bosom, his crotch bumping her unyielding buttocks.

    Watching him through the crack between the double doors, I would give anything to be that caryatid, then. But all I do is watch.

Love Lies Bleeding is available as a single download from Amazon US : Amazon UK

Or you can buy the whole anthology (including a very naughty F/m tale from fellow Yorkshire writer Slave Nano!) in paperback or e-format instead:
Amazon US : Amazon UK