This is how it began. My sister Anna, a brilliant and witty writer, suggested that we should try to write a romance novel according to the guidelines published by Mills & Boon. Not as easy as it sounds, apparently. She created a finely judged opening paragraph and sent it to me. And, intoxicated by the stylistic possibilities that are simply not offered by my usual literary output of press releases on Bedfordshire’s latest social housing project, I have taken up the gauntlet. The idea is that we will take it in turns to develop the story, in full view of you, dear reader.

We are taking this project seriously, but I am already acutely aware that writing about simmering desire with one’s own sister might be possible only with tongue tentatively in cheek. We have agreed not to discuss our plot ideas, so the novel will unfold as unpredictably to us as to our readers. This could lead to trouble later on, but for now it seems a very liberating way to start.

Who knows where this project will take us? To the dizzying heights of publication by the world’s leading romance brand? Probably not. But wherever we end up, it should be fun getting there…

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Part 15 – Up Against It


When I artfully set up Topaz’s secret summer-house cache in the last post, I was thinking of an incriminating letter, or maybe a long-lost will. What does she find? Read on, and see what I’m up against here…


Part 15 (by Anna)

Crisp they were. The crispness of expensive linen and of manly body proteins. Leaning forwards again, she lifted the coloured fabric from its secret recess and held it half bashfully against her cheek. The same fabric that had once caressed his cheeks.

At the thought of his cheeks something in her surged. With a low moan she laid them down, the pair of Armani boxer shorts which she had plucked from the pile on the beach that doomful morning which seemed now so long ago and was yet so searingly vivid in her memory.

She had watched from the hotel balcony as Terence, unusually distracted, had loped down to the shore and cast his outer clothing beside a small dark heap near the surf. Baffled, she saw him plunge into the smooth waters, sink briefly, then strike off towards a distant protruberance half way to the horizon.

For a long while he had vanished. She had peered urgently through the midday haze. A visceral part of her throbbed along with her damaged ankle. Her fate was poised, she could sense it. The minutes had trickled by with merciless slowness.

Then a dark dot had detached itself from the protruberance and advanced towards the shore. She looked at Terence's scattered wake of clothes on the sand and at the indomitable pile beside it, and at that moment she knew.

Barely registering her damaged ankle she had torn out of the hotel and down the beach and, lunging, she had grabbed the uppermost item from the pile that was not Terence’s and hastened back to the safety of her chamber. When Terence had returned rasping moistly to the suite, she was lying as he had left her on the couch, her ankle poised sculpturally on the arm rest and her guilty secret balled inside her washbag.

Terence had begun tearing clothes off their hangers and heaping them with uncustomary carelessless into a suitcase.

‘We're going,’ he told her. ‘This place is not big enough for the three of us.’ Once his fierceness, so unexpected, would have pleased her. But she gazed at his purpled face, his chin glinting with spittle, and she saw behind it a phantom face, as brown, firm and chiselled as cliff rock, and she saw too her future being bundled unceremonially into the Burberry trunk and she knew she should cry out, but no sound would come.

And the taxi had borne her remorselessly to the concrete wastes of the airport and a plane had cast her into the azure skies and she and Terence had sat almost unspeaking over untouched salted nibbles until fate deposited her at Luton.

And now here she was, cradling all she had left of him on the floor of the summer house, one last chance beckoning her into a terrifying unknown. How had his name reached the guest list? Would his feet soon tread the Berkshire soil? Would the sheer heat of her impulses perhaps somehow lead her to him whether here or on distant shores?

She inhaled once more the aroma of her memento then stood up, purposeful. The opportunity might not come again.

1 comment:

  1. Well, how was I to know? You'd mentioned the scent of man musk...

    ReplyDelete