Happy Valentine’s Day, my Lovelies! Though I know Valentine’s Day is dedicated to romance and lovers, I am officially rededicating it to self-love — and I don’t mean just … you know … ‘Self Love,’ though that certainly can be a part of it. Very sadly, and unfairly, Valentines day has often been a day when people who are One, rather than Two Together (The words single or alone, or worst of all singleton, have such bad connotations — especially on Valentine’s day, and reclaiming them is a major undertaking, but a topic for another time) I was One for a very long time before Raymond and I became Two Together, and for a very long time, I found Valentine’s Day traumatic with all the hoop-la and commercial hype all aimed at couples. It was only when I learned to be happy as One that I discovered I could celebrate myself and show love for myself ALL BY MYSELF! I didn’t need someone to do it for me. In fact, strangely enough, I discovered until I could be happy being One, I didn’t really have much to offer in a relationship of Two Together.
Be Physical: Go for a walk, go for a run, go to the gym, bike, hike, climb, row, swim. Make yourself sweat. Now I’m all for doing this with a vibe or yummy sex toys, but do something for the rest of you as well. We are a Whole, not just a mind with a body attached like extra baggage. Love your Body! Always remember, it’s your Body that gets you there! Wherever there might be. Sadly, it’s also our Bodies that so often get neglected, ignored and often abused; and yet our Body is, and will be until our dying day, the vessel that gets us through the physical world, the conduit for all sensuality, all pleasure, all emotion, and all physical challenges. Why shouldn’t we love it, appreciate it and say thanks by showing a little self-love.
Enjoy some bubbles: And I don’t mean Prosecco, although there’s certainly room for some of that too. Bathing and cleansing rituals have long been rituals for preparation — a preparing for new beginnings, for ceremony, for something challenging. What a lovely way to tell our Bodies we love them, and we’re ready for whatever new challenges they allow us to experience. Scented bubbles, a few candles, and yes, a glass of Prosecco or your favourite beverage. Add a little bit of your fave music in the background and indulge. Be mindful of the senses, be mindful of all that’s wonderful about being you, cuz, I promise, it’s so very much!
Do Something Totally Decadent: This is the best bit! Your choice! Totally decadent. Spend the morning (afternoon too if you like) in bed with a good … maybe even filthily book. Eat your very fave dessert, BUT eat it very, VERY slowly to savour the texture, the tastes, the feel, the smell. The richer the dessert, the slower you should eat it. The slower you eat it, the more delicious it’ll be. Oooh! Making myself hungry here. Go to a film, watch that Box Set you’ve been wanting to watch, Buy yourself that something you’ve had your eye on for awhile, go to a museum or a gallery. These are just ideas. The main thing is that whatever you do, it should be totally and completely for you — no guilt, no angst, just pleasure.
Do Something New: There’s an old proverb that every time you have a new experience, you add another day onto your life. Certainly it feels like new life has been breathed into me when I step outside my comfort zone and do something new. Take that local sight-seeing tour you’ve always promised yourself, but never done because … well you know … it’s local. Sign up for that class you’ve always wanted to take, but never quite gotten around to. Learning something new is always life-enhancing and one of the very best ways of loving oneself. Cook a new recipe, plant some herbs, raise your own salad sprouts in a jar, knit, embroidery, draw, paint, take up kettle bells — whatever works for you! Whatever you feel the urge to do. Do it. You’ll be glad you did.
Now then, you might have seen that this list applies whether you’re One or whether you’re Two Together, because honestly, we’re all still One, and we need to take care of that One even when we’re Two Together. Good things are always good things. Seeing ourselves as worthy of good things, worthy of love and adoration and a little self-worship for being the gods and goddesses we are, helps us understand that circumstances are just that — circumstances. What we do with those circumstances can truly be the gift we give back to ourselves.
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! Whether you’re One or whether you’re Two Together, go out and enjoy some seriously decadent self love!
Here’s a little Valentine’s Day Self-Love giftie just for you from my novel, The Pet Shop, now a part of The Collared Collection, which teams Kay Jaybee’s The Voyeur with my Pet Shop. Enjoy! Preferably in bed with your fave beverage of some chocolate or toy or Other Half of Two Together … in a bath might be a bit on the wild side and scary for your computer 😉
The Pet Shop Chapter 9
It wasn’t Stella’s first time in the States, or the Northwest. She considered it a very good omen that her first trip for Strigida was to such a lovely place. In a lot of ways, the Western part of Oregon was like a primordial England that had been picked up by each of its corners and stretched and tugged and expanded. Then after it had been given a hearty shake to rid it of too many people, it was snapped like a puzzle piece in between Washington and California to glisten in the veil dance of wet Northwest sunlight.
There was plenty of talk about nature and the great outdoors with Vanguard. Stella had done all the appropriate research, brilliant research even, but the internet could only take her so far. On the last day of her visit, Vanguard sent her on an impromptu field trip with Bob Paris, the resident biologist, so she could actually see the site that was to be reclaimed.
She rattled down the road hermetically sealed in Bob’s muddy Vanguard Land Rover. She thought it might have been green, but she wasn’t willing to wipe away the grime and risk muddying her mauve pencil skirt and matching jacket to find out. The need for clothes more suited for outdoor life had not been something she had thought about when she came to work with Strigida, but she was beginning to see the wisdom in a pair of good walking boots and clothes that could withstand the rigors of the natural world. Her lack of such attire and the fact that there had been substantial rain the night before meant it would be a drive-through sort of tour, with Bob hitting the highlights of reclamation and pointing out a few of the local birds and a couple of deer browsing at the edge of a clear-cut.
‘The clear-cut will grow back on its own given time,’ Bob was saying as he pulled the Land Rover to the edge of the rutted excuse for a logging road and stopped so she could look. ‘Erosion is our main concern here.’ He nodded to the dark patch of heavy forest next to it. Tall conifers drapes in moss and spiked with mistletoe looked like giant, pre-decorated Christmas trees. ‘That patch would have met the same fate had it not been for Vincent Evanston.’
If Bob hadn’t before, he certainly had her full attention now. ‘Vincent Evanston? You know him?’
‘Yep.’ He laughed under his heavy mustache. ‘Always preferred to spend his time with the birds and the beasties rather than with humans. Guess I’m a bit like that too, but then I wasn’t born richer than God like Vincent. He’s a strange one.’
‘Then he lives around here?’
‘Has all his life. Right on the other side of those trees there. Speak of the devil.’ Bob raised the pair of binoculars that permanently hung around his neck, then gave a confident nod. ‘That’s the Birdman there. He spends a lot of time in these woods when he’s home.’
She fumbled with the spare pare of binoculars Vanguard had lent her, giving herself a hearty knock on the nose before she managed to get them focused. Her stomach did a flip-flop, then a pirouette. Even with her unsteady hand and the thud-thud of her heart making the scene tremble in front of her eyes, she knew she was looking at Tino, who was looking right back at her. She caught her breath ‘You’re sure that’s Vincent Evanston?’
‘Of course I’m sure. I’ve worked with the man often enough. Helluva naturalist.’
The butterfly dance in her stomach had moved up into her chest to do a mad mambo with her heart and suddenly she had to know. ‘Excuse me.’ She threw open the door. ‘I’m sorry but I have to go. I really need to talk to him.’
‘Wait! You can’t get out there dressed like that.’
She slammed the door on Bob’s objections and went slip-sliding across the road toward the man in the wood. Her kitten heels sunk in the pale mud with each step she took. On the other side of the road she found herself faced with a ditch full of fast-moving rainwater. It wasn’t that wide, she could have jumped it easily enough in trainers, but she wasn’t in trainers. She found purchase on a mossy rock and struggled to balance on the ball of her foot, but the rock slipped and turned beneath her sending her teetering with arms flailing before she sat down hard in the middle of the icy flow.
The gasp for breath and the high pitched yelp barely passed her lips before he was on her, grabbing her beneath the armpits and pulling her to her feet with a heavy slurp and splorsh from her skirt, which seemed to be acting like a sponge. He half-dragged, half carried her to dry ground and plopped her down unceremoniously on a mossy log. His curled fingers lifted her chin until her eyes met Tino’s dark gaze. ‘You scared the hell out of me. Are you alright?’ Tino speaking would have been shocking enough but Tino speaking with an American accent just seemed wrong somehow. She nodded, unable to reply.
He already had his Blackberry out. ‘Bob, yes she’s fine. No, don’t worry, I’ll take care of her. Go on back to the hide.’ He slapped the blackberry back in his pocket and turned his full attention on Stella. This time it was not concern that filled his eyes.
‘What the hell were you thinking, out in the woods dressed like that?’
She was already shivering from the cold and the wet. ‘Guess the Great Outdoors isn’t my forte.’ She offered an apologetic smile.
‘Come on.’ He grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. ‘My pack’s under those trees. Let’s get you into something dry before hypothermia sets in.’ But when she stumbled and nearly twisted her ankle in her now filthy mauve shoes, he cursed under his breath and lifted her as though she were weightless, causing her to gasp surprise as he turned on his heels and headed back toward the pack.
She threw her arms around his neck and hung on tight, smelling wood smoke in his hair and on his plaid shirt, a smell that made her pussy tighten at thoughts of making love to him in the light of a campfire. They didn’t have far to go, just in the protection of the trees. There he eased her down on huge stump and thrust a steaming cup of cocoa into her hand from a flask he’d dug out of a rucksack big enough that he could have used it for a tent. ‘Drink this. It’ll help warm you till I can sort out something dry for you to wear.’ He turned his broad back to her and began to dig through the pack.
She was trembling hard enough that is was an effort not to spill the cocoa. ‘You’re Tino, aren’t you?’ She spoke between chattering teeth.
His back stiffened slightly, then relaxed again as he continued to dig. ‘I’m Vincent.’
She sat the cup down next to her and hugged her arms around her shivering body. ‘I know you’re Vincent, Vincent Evanston, but you’re Tino. I mean he’s you, isn’t he?’
He turned on her, grabbing her shoulders so quickly that she feared he would shake her. Instead, he began to chafe her arms, his dark eyes locked on hers. ‘I told you, Tino’s not here.’
‘But I — ’
He swallowed up her words in an open-mouth kiss, taking her breath away, taking away her ability to think with the heat of it, the expressive depth of it. He bit her lip as he pulled back, still holding her gaze. ‘Tino’s not here,’ he repeated. His voice held the tiniest edge of warning. Then, as though it were business as usual, he bent and removed her shoes. ‘You’re lucky you didn’t break an ankle in these.’ He tossed them onto the ground and wiped his muddy hands on his trousers. ‘Afraid I don’t have an extra pair of shoes with me. Now lift your butt.’
He nodded to a non-descript wad of clothing now sharing her stump. ‘It’s not elegant, but it’s dry, now lift your butt. Or,’ the weight of his gaze was nearly physical, causing her heart to hammer and jerk like it was trying to get closer to him, or maybe run away from him, ‘if you’d rather I can turn my back and let you do it.’
She released her breath slowly and lifted her arse off the stump, an act, that in itself seemed lewd. He pushed open her jacket with warm hands and shoved up the edge of her silk blouse to unzip her skirt, exposing a swath of her belly just above her navel. Then he curled his fingers around the waist of the skirt, catching the elastic of her knickers as well, and shimmied both down over her hips. His hands skimmed the lacy tops of her hold ups, and for a second, she forgot about the cold. She reached out and raked her fingers through his unruly hair.
His breath caught in his chest, and he lowered his head to plant a warm kiss just below her navel, lips burning on her icy skin. Then he pulled away all businesslike. You’ll get hypothermia. You’re cold.’ The rush of his hot breath brushed her belly, causing goose flesh to tiptoe up her spine.
She had little control over the trembling that gripped her body from the cold, and yet her insides squirmed with want as he inched the skirt down over her thighs leaving her hold-ups in place. ‘Please,’ she gasped between chattering teeth. How could she be so damn cold and so hot at the same time. ‘I need…I need.’
‘I know what you need.’ His voice was tight, accented by the heavy drag of his breath, much heavier than the expended efforts demanded. His dark eyes were clouded with a cocktail of emotions too complex for her to translate in her discomfort, but there had to be some anger and maybe some concern in the mix. The second kiss chased the descent of her skirt, lighting fast and humid on the apex of her gash searing hot against the damp chill of goose flesh, just above the place where her clit roused itself from beneath its hood. The delicious steamy shock of it unbalanced her and she dropped back onto the stump, her bottom settling into soft moss and her elbow sending the cocoa cup clattering into the fragrant pine straw.
He dragged her skirt down and shoved at it as though it had offended him somehow until it was in a heap around her ankles. Then he eased her left leg free, lifted it so her foot rested on his shoulder splaying her crotch for his hungry gaze. ‘I’m wet,’ she sighed.
‘You fell in a ditch.’ His fingers traced a ticklish path up the inside of her thigh above the hold-ups.
She squirmed and arched her back. ‘That’s not what I mean.’
‘I know what you mean.’ Hi words were short, clipped. He slid a thick finger between her heavy folds causing a sharp intake of breath. Then he rose to take her mouth again, forcing her leg forward, knee bent to press her thigh against her breasts making her pussy gape like a begging bird, making her bare down into the pillow of moss. ‘Please,’ she gasped. ‘I need … ’
He held her in his weighty gaze. ‘I know what you need,’ he repeated. With his free hand, he fought his trousers like they were the enemy until they were down around his hips, and in her peripheral vision she could just make out his heavy penis straining toward her before he pushed into her with a grunt sending shock waves up through her at the sudden invasion that filled her too full for comfort, yet felt way too good to be pain.
He gathered her to him and began to thrust. There was no preamble, no foreplay, just driving hungry need. She hooked her legs around him and held on for dear life, growling and grinding, feeling like she would split in two with the each pounding. And yet she wanted nothing more than to live for the next thrust. It was as though her whole world contacted to thrusting and shoving and trembling. She was freezing and burning and grasping, and he was pushing her, more quickly than she would have ever imagined, to complete overload.
The Pistoning of his body raked the swell of her clit raw as he drew nearer his release. And when at last he overwhelmed her, she threw back her head and howled as her orgasm raged like fire melting ice. Only a split second later he convulsed and jerked on top of her.
For a few minutes they lay sprawled on the stump together catching their breath. Then, at last he pulled out, and it was as though nothing had happened. Avoiding her gaze, he cleaned them both with the large
blue bandana he’d been wearing around his neck, then he tossed her a pair of grey track suit bottoms with a draw string. ‘Put these on. We need to get you someplace warm.’ He packed up his rucksack while she struggled into the bottoms, then he threw her a hooded sweatshirt. He tossed her
muddy shoes into a waterproof bag and shoved it in the top of rucksack, just before he hoisted it onto his back. Then he lifted her in his arms again.
‘What are you doing?’ She breathed. ‘You can’t carry me to your house.’
He nodded behind him as a dark blue Jeep pulled up and parked inconspicuously by the side of the road, not far from where she had tried to cross. ‘I have no intention of carrying you to my house. George will take you back to your hotel.’