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Coffee and Ritual

As most of you know, I recently spent a week in Croatia, in Zagreb. I used to live there a hundred years ago. It was there that I learned to love coffee, strong, thick Turkish coffee with the grounds at the bottom of the cup. It’s still my favorite. I can’t go to Croatia and not think of coffee, and not take every opportunity to partake. Since that time, coffee has always been much more to me than just a caffeine fix. Coffee is a ritual, a symbol of hospitality, friendship, creativity, laughter and all that makes our connection with each other such an important part of our lives. For in introvert, that’s sometimes a difficult connection to make. Coffee definitely makes it easier.

 

 

When I was in Zagreb this time, I was reminded once again of just how much of a ritual sharing coffee still is. Croats can linger over coffee for ages. It’s an art form. It’s a national treasure. It’s a way of making time for what matters in a world that doesn’t do that nearly often enough. That ritual was one of the first things I learned when I came to Zagreb all those years ago, long before I learned my way around, long before I learned the language. A part of being welcomed into anyone’s home was always the serving of coffee poured from a jezma into demitasse cups. To this day it just feels wrong to drink coffee from a paper cup.

 

 

Sitting in the sun on the terrace of a coffee shop near St. Catherine Square taking in the city below, I found myself listening to people chatting over coffee. I felt a sense of continuity, something unbroken that connects me to the girl I was, the girl who came here so many years ago. When I met friends and made new friends it was over coffee, coffee that we lingered over, coffee made all the better for the laughter and the good company.

 

 

There are many things that connect me to those years in Zagreb. There are some memories that hurt bone deep even now. But there are so many more that make me smile, make me so glad for my time there. That coffee tradition is one that I took with me, a ritual that evolved and changed became my own wherever I’ve lived since.

 

I dated my husband over coffee in Croatia – long lingering cups of strong coffee with whipped cream. We still have quality time over coffee – cold brew now, or Italian mocha. My early mornings are always best with coffee in hand before I set down to write. I equate coffee with opening the creative gateways inside me. I equate coffee with preparation for amazing things.

 

 

On the long cross-country walks Raymond and I have done, no matter the weather, we always carried a flask of coffee. I equate coffee with sitting on the top of a high fell admiring the breathtaking view below with a biscuit and a shared cuppa.

 

I equate coffee with quality time spent with my sister, who has always loved coffee. Even when we Skype, I make sure to have coffee at the ready so we can share that experience, even if we are half a world apart. Come to think of it, I equate coffee with quality time spent with many of my good friends. The two seem to go hand in hand.

 

 

I equate coffee with quality reading time stolen in quiet coffee shops. In those times I make it a point to embrace the Croatian practice of lingering, making my Americano last as long as possible so I can steal just a few more minutes lost in a good book.

 

Friends, laughter, conversation, creativity, love, adventure – coffee has come to be associated with all of those things in my life. For me there are no coffees to go, no coffees gulped mindlessly. There are other drinks for that, but never coffee. It’s not a drink to be rushed. It’s an experience to be savored, an experience rooted in memory at the heart of me. A week in Zagreb brought it all home to me again – something that is so much a part of my life, something that is one of the best gift I took away from those years in Croatia – not the coffee itself, but the depth and the vibrancy of what it represents to an entire culture and what it has come to represent in my every day life.

 

 

The Strange Encounter with Mr. Sands Pt 2

airport 3I’m safe and sound at my sister’s house, clean, well fed, semi-well rested with my head abuzz from the remains of jet-lag, which I hope will further inspire, and nearly recovered from my harrowing experience in Seattle International Airport. Why yes! I am rather resilient 🙂 I figure any experience that I can pull a decent story out of was worth it, and Mr. Sands turned out to be a lot of fun, even if my time in SeaTac was not.

Today, as promised — in celebration of the lust, romance and adventure of modern peregrinations, I’m posting part two of The Strange Encounter with Mr. Sands. Enjoy the read, and have sexy dreams.

 

Warning: Adult Content!

The Strange Encounter with Mr. Sands Part 2

It was only as he turned his attention on me, lying there writhing in my first class seat/bed that I realized I was already anticipating his kiss, that my mouth tingled with desire, that my tongue darted over my lips making them moist, making them ready. I was more than anticipating, actually. I was desperate for his kiss. For a long time he stood watching me, and it felt as though there was no one else on the plane but the two of us. For only a second I closed my eyes, as though I could bask in his bright blue gaze, which felt like the only light in the plane, exuding a warmth that made me realize I’d never been warm until he looked at me that way. In the next instant, I felt chilled as though I might never be warm again, but it pasted almost before I was certain I felt it, and then his breath, sweet like summer over meadow grass, brushed my face, as I parted my lips in anticipation. “Not yet,” he whispered, against my ear. “We have time and I want to savour you, my darling.” His accent, the rhythm of his words was strange – not foreign, but somehow out of time.

And then I felt his teeth against my neck. Christ! Was the man a vampire? In my strange dream state, nothing really seemed impossible. But it was just a nibble, and then another and another raising a trail of goose bumps along my nape and down over my collarbone to the tops of my breasts. It was the chill of the cabin air that drew my attention to the fact I had unbuttoned my blouse and shoved my bra down to expose myself for him. I had no memory of undressing, nor of the fact that I was stroking and pinching my nipples to painful peaks and making desperate mewling sounds deep in my throat. “Please,” I whispered softly. “Please take me like you did them.”

“Oh no, my darling, not like them. I shall not take you like them, for you’re nothing like they are.” He drew my hands to his lips and kissed them in turn, then guided one to the bulge in his trousers. “I’ve only made them sleep. This I have saved for you and you alone, and it’s only fitting since you made me this way. Then he slid the blanket off me and, I couldn’t help it, I shifted my hips and let my legs fell open beneath my skirt.

“You’re ready for me, my darling. I knew that you would be, even as I saw you in queue at the check-in desk. You were like a beacon calling me to you. I knew then that I had to have you. He worried my skirt up with a large warm palm taking his time to stroke the outsides of my thighs and then fondling and insinuating his way in to the soft tender flesh between all the while I wriggled and squirmed anxious for his touch. When he’d scrunched the skirt was up high enough to reveal my panties, he planted a kiss on my still clothed pubic bone, the humid heat of his breath making me arch up to him. Then he sat back on his knees on the floor next to me. “Take them off, my beautiful girl. Take your panties off for me. I want to look at you, before I take you.”

When I was free of them, he opened my legs wide and kissed up the insides of my thighs in turn. “The smell of you is airport 8ambrosia to me,” he said, teasing me open and stroking me with two slender fingers until I felt as though I would crawl out of my skin if he didn’t take me. “Believe me, my darling, I need you as badly as you need me,” he said. Other than the soft whisper of the plane in flight, and our own desperate breathing, the cabin was filled with the sounds of sleep. The zip of his fly into the quiet night sounds made me jump and catch my breath, and then he kneed my legs open, grasped my buttocks and pulled me onto him with a harsh grunt. There was pain, more paint than I anticipated, knowing how ready I was to accommodate him, and I cried out, like I’d done the first time I’d had sex. That’s almost how it felt, like the first time, tight, virginal, a yielding grudgingly to his fullness, wanting it, wanting all of what he offered, and yet somehow fearing it at the same time.

For a moment he held still on top of me struggling to control himself, speaking soothingly, cupping my cheek as he did so. “There, there. It’ll be all right. The pain will pass quickly. It’s just in the beginning it hurts because it’s so new to you, but then comes the taking and with the taking comes the pleasure, and you’ll not be left wanting.” After a moment, when I could hold still no longer, when I needed him to thrust in spite of the pain, he sighed softly and began to undulate — gently at first and then building in intensity as I wrapped my legs around him and held on. “There now. That’s better isn’t it, my lovely. There now. It’ll be good, so good. You’ll see.” He spoke in tight little grunts, and with each thrust it was as though he were filling me still fuller until I could contain it no more and the spasms began, and they didn’t stop, only ebbed and yielded and rose again with his urgency.

It was only then that he kissed me. Long and hard and deep, he kissed me, and he kept kissing me, his tongue dancing with mine, his mouth taking my breath away with each lap and stroke and suckle, with each inhalation of his need until I had none left, until he breathed for me. It was as though he pulled the whole of me into himself. In kissing me, it felt as though he could read me, as though he had made me even more naked that I really was, exposing my inner workings for all the world to see. But there was no one to see but him, and I wanted him to see, I wanted him to see everything. “Almost there now,” he whispered against my mouth, and I could feel his body tensing above mine and the more he tensed, the deeper he kissed me, and the deeper he kissed me the more I opened to him until there was nothing in me that wasn’t revealed to him. When at last he exploded into me, me still orgasming as though I’d break a part, me still unable to draw breath of my own, consciousness slipped away completely, everything slipped away in an instant, and I simply ceased to be.

At the Wetherspoons where Maggie had taken me and bought me breakfast once I was functional again, I finished my coffee and looked up at her. “That’s what I remember. It was then that I woke up with you leaning over me. The blue-eyed man, Mr. Sands, I take it– he was nowhere to be found. If you hadn’t helped me, I don’t think I could have made it off the plane.”

“He’s an incubus,” Maggie said without preamble. Before I could respond, she added quickly. “That particular night flight between JFK and Heathrow is called ‘the Sands flight,’ by all of us who work it regularly.” She blushed hard and looked down at her hands next to her coffee cup. “We’ve all experienced what you have.”

“An incubus.” The words came out like a harsh breath, but they weren’t a question. Whatever he was, I’d known, or suspected in my gut from his first touch that he wasn’t human.

She nodded. “He always shows up in the queue at the luggage check-in desk and upgrades someone to first class – at least he does now. There was a time when he preferred to prowl the main cabin. He takes only one person, but leaves everyone else feeling particularly euphoric, like you do after really good sex followed by a good night’s sleep. The person he takes, however, well we’ve learned over time to watch out for them, to make sure they’re well cared for after. It’s … it’s sort of our job, the crew, I mean. Oh he doesn’t compel us or anything, but, well, we all know what it was like.”

“So why don’t you warn people?” I asked running a finger around the rim of my cup.airport9

“It doesn’t work that way. We don’t usually know who it is, and even if we did, he has ways of keeping us from talking.” She waved her hand as though she were waving away an insect. “Oh, it’s nothing sinister. It’s just that he can make us forget … well just about anything.”

I recalled how he had affected her the past night on the plane when she accidently interrupted him. “So, now what?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, but I now had to cope somehow with living in a world where incubi were real. I needed to understand.

“That depends on you,” she said, leaning over the table. “Those Mr. Sands has visited can always welcoming him back. Obviously he needs to feed, just like a vampire does and, after the initial taking, you’ll never be so drained again. But he won’t come to you unless he knows he’s welcome and,” she smiled at me, “if you ever take the Sands flight again between JFK and Heathrow, well, he’ll just assume that’s permission to play.”

I felt a shiver crawl down my spine, but what began as a frisson of fear settled below my belly, between my legs and the way I squirmed, the slight acceleration of my breathing — well she caught it and nodded knowing. “He’s terrifying and yet too good to resist, believe me, I understand. And I can’t imagine life without him now. Besides,” she looked around the room as though she feared someone might be listening, then leaned closer, ‘there are other … fringe benefits to letting him in. My sex life is way better, and I’m just … well I just feel better about myself, I don’t know, more self-confident, more capable.” She looked down at her watch. “Look, I have to go. I have another flight in the morning and I need to get some rest. Are you okay now?”

I took a deep breath and thought about if for a moment. “I’m fine, yes. Thank you.” Actually, I felt terrific now, better than I could remember feeling in ages.

“Good. I’ll leave you to finish your coffee and order something else if you’re still hungry. Don’t worry, it’ll be okay. Honest.”

As she stood to go, I asked. “What’s his first name?”

“I have no idea. He’s never told us. We call him Mr. Sands because it’s like the whole plane has a visit from the Sandman, only with very pleasant dreams.”

That should have bothered me, I suppose, but it didn’t. I shamelessly ordered round two of breakfast, and when I
was too sated to eat another bite, I headed home, anxious to write down my experiences on the Sands Flight. It just felt like something I needed to do. I paid my parking ticket and made my way to the car park feeling as though everyone airport 4around me was looking at me, admiring me somehow. No doubt that was just residual from what had happened to me, but I found I liked that just find. As I stowed my luggage, then settled into the driver’s seat, I caught a glimpse of a tall dark man standing near a black Audi, who seemed to be watching me, and my skin prickled and the muscles below my belly clenched. I was sure it was Mr. Sands. I didn’t have to see him up close and personal to know. I just knew. I smiled to myself. “Hope you enjoyed your dinner,” I said under my breath. “I’m always happy to invite you over.” And I swear to God, the words were barely out of my mouth before I had an orgasm that shook the whole car.

 

Travel and the Inflight Entertainment

airport 2By the time you lovely lot get this post, I’ll be somewhere in the sky above Greenland heading for Oregon. That’s right, I’m off for my annual visit with my sister. Girl time! Oh, the planning! Oh the scheming! Of course, this annual pilgrimage is special on lots of levels, but traveling alone gets my head into a very different space, one that opens me to all kinds of possibilities.

 

Something really amazing happens when we travel, when we’re in that place that’s really neither here nor there and we’re either anticipating or reflecting on, or possibly dreading or longing for what comes next. Those liminal spaces, the cross roads – even crossroads in the air, are places where anything can happen. I think with the advent of transcontinental air travel, that’s never been more true. In addition to being neither here nor there, when you finally arrive at your destination, you have that muzzy-headed restless, spaced-out, anything goes time of jetlag. Who doesn’t wonder just what planet she’s on for those first twenty-four hours or so? I’m eight time zones ahead of my sister living here in the UK and it does something to my head when I get there, halfway around the world, only an hour or so after I’ve left. Yes, my darlings, time travel is real!

 

The fantasies, the observations, the crazy ideas that happen in my head during those liminal times and the post flight time of jetlag are the stuff stories are made of. In fact, some of the scenes and stories that have been the most fun to write involved some sort of travel, involved that liminal space of being neither here nor there, that space in which anything might happen.

 

In story, the crossroads are often the place of strong magic, the place where not only the roads diverge, but often whole worlds diverge and we end up … Different.

 

The thing is when we’re in that liminal space, the space where no one knows who we are, we can be anyone we want to be, we can recreate ourselves and no one will be the wiser. We can tuck our every day identity away in our suitcase with our toothbrush and our clean underwear and, for a little while, we become the mysterious, the unknown element in an unfamiliar place, and in the very act of so exposing ourselves to the unknown, we become a part of the unknown, and we run the exciting risk of returning to our own time, our own space changed.

airport images

So as I enter that liminal space, as I prepare to face jet lag, strange airports, new places, interesting people, and new ideas, I’ve decided to make the next two weeks Travel Time on A Hopeful Romantic. In addition to the weekly dose of The Psychology of Dreams 101, I’ll be posting travel observations, travel themed snippets, even a few quick and dirty stories — some old, some new, all just to capture the fun of the journey. I hope you enjoy. And since You’re reading this while I’m at 30,000 feet in mid flight, here’s a naughty flight snippet from To Rome with Lust, book 3 of The Mount Series. Time for the inflight entertainment. Enjoy!

 

Be sure to check out my Erotic Readers and Writers Association post on APRIL 30th for more sexy travel encounters. 

 

To Rome with Lust Blurb:

 The adventure that Rita Holly began in The Mount in London and Nick Chase took up in Vegas continues when a sizzling encounter on a flight to Rome has journalist, Liza Calendar, and perfumer, Paulo ‘The Nose’ Delacour, in sexy olfactory heaven. The heir apparent of Martelli Fragrance, Paulo wants Liza’s magnificently sensitive nose to help develop Martelli’s controversial new line. Paulo has a secret weapon; Martelli Fragrance is the front for the original Mount, an ancient sex cult of which he is a part, and Paulo plans to use the scent of sex to enhance Martelli’s Innuendo line. As Liza and Paulo sniff out the scent of seduction, they become their own best lab rats. But when someone steals the perfume formulas and lays the blame at Liza’s feet, she and Paulo must sniff out the culprit and prove Liza’s innocence before more is exposed than just secret formulas.

 

To Rome with LustWARNING: Adult Content: Sniff at your own risk 🙂

Excerpt To Rome with Lust:

It wasn’t that Paulo didn’t have work to do. He never slept on planes. For him long flights always meant much-needed extra office hours, but he couldn’t get the woman with the nose off his mind. He knew that scent sometimes lingered long after what had left it was gone, and he wasn’t sure if he could still smell the faintest traces of the woman or if he only wished he could. Why the fuck had he let her leave without getting her name? Everyone else around him slept. The plane was dark and quiet. When Paulo had convinced the attendant to offer the fat man crammed in next to his mystery woman a better seat – one farther away from her –he wasn’t completely sure what his plan was, but as the flight wore on and it became more and more evident that he wasn’t going to get any work done while thinking about her, he got up and eased his way down the isle, past the curtain and into the coach cabin.

Almost everyone was asleep or engrossed in a film with their headphones on. No one noticed as he padded down the isle. She was toward the back several rows in front of the restrooms and the galley. It was with a sudden spike of his pulse that he saw her. She dozed against the window with an airline blanket draped across her lap, her thick dark hair hanging loose around her shoulders. Yes, he could smell her. He was almost certain of it now. There was still a hint of the sea about her with a base note of honey and butter. He stood watching her, letting her scent wash over him, wondering how he could ever miss something so obvious. It was like seeing a different facet of the woman who was already beautiful with her thick dark hair and china blue eyes. Her scent made her even more beautiful.

As he watched, she opened those china-blues, sniffed, blinked and sniffed again. Then she turned in her seat and looked up at him. ‘I thought I smelled you,’ she said. Her smile was sleepy and warm as she patted the seat next to her. ‘I didn’t know you were going to Rome.’

As Paulo slipped in, her lids fluttered and she moaned as she inhaled his scent. She had already lifted all the armrests to form a love seat of sorts, and he moved right on over next to her. He wasn’t sure exactly what he planned to do, but now that she’d invited him in, it definitely involved letting their scents collide. His cock hardened at the thought. All around the coach cabin shades were pulled down. People slept curled and corkscrewed in whatever position the minimal space allowed them to rest. It was an ideal situation. He sniffed, then he inhaled deeply locking onto her essence. He wasn’t as good at picking up scent as she was. But her scent he was sure of. Strange, but before he met her, he thought himself gifted in the olfactory department. As he settled next to her, he resisted the urge to bury his face in her lap and sniff. He wondered if she had tried to clean herself as he had, or if she had left that mouthwatering scent between her legs, slickening her panties, rubbing against her personal geography. Perhaps she’d even taken advantage of the long, boring flight to pleasure herself. That thought took his breath away and made his cock jerk in his trousers.

‘Thought you might like some company,’ he managed. ‘I know I would’

He barely finished his sentence when she pulled him under the blanket, giving him no time to speak before she kissed him. Her tongue lapped at his bottom lip before inviting itself right on into his mouth like it belonged there. ‘Oh God,’ she groaned, ‘you smell so good.’

‘Tell me what you smell?’ he whispered, ‘Tell me.’

‘Lose the jacket,’ she demanded. ‘I need to smell more.’

With an awkward move that nearly knocked her off the seat, he shrugged his shoulders. She shoved and tugged until the jacket dropped onto the floor. She surprised him by sliding her face into his ticklish armpit and breathing him in as though the hollow if it were an oxygen mask and she were in need. Before he could squirm too much her fingers went to work on the front of his shirt, unbuttoning until she could slide her hand in to cup a pec and pinch a nipple, which caused his cock to surge and his arse to clench just as she buried her face in the opening she’d made, breathing as though she would hyperventilate. ‘What do you smell,’ he asked again.

‘Sex. I smell sex like I never smelled it before, fire, hot, earth steaming after a tropical rain. Lightening, always I smell lightening on you. I smell desire like pepper and cloves and star anise. I smell desire all over you.’

‘Yes, you do. All over me.’ He slid his hand up under her sweater and, to his delight, she had removed her bra. Her breasts were full and warm, goose fleshing in the cup and stroke of his fingers. The valley between was moist with the dew of her sweat, and the scent of interrupted sleep. Her nipples and areolae pressed into his touch impossibly stiff and demanding, a demand he couldn’t resist. He shoved her back against the window and pushed up the sweater. She struggled only briefly until his tongue circled the stippling tenderness and his lips sealed and tugged. He felt the expansion of her ribs as she sucked breath. With one hand she fisted his hair, holding him to her while the other pulled the blanket over them so that he could nurse in privacy.

The blanket trapped the tide pool and honey scent of her pussy, and for a moment, he thought he would come just from the smell. A split second later, he realized as her abdominal muscles clenched solid then convulsed, and she jerked against the seat banging an elbow on the window with a soft curse, that coming was exactly what she was doing. And God it took all the control he could muster to keep from following suit. Instead he slid his hand up under her skirt shoving and wriggling and easing her thighs open until he found the moist gusset of her panties. He scrunched it aside and thrust two fingers into the slippery hot swell of her, still gripping, still quivering, still quaking in the aftershocks. There he lingered, fascinated by the feel of her orgasm, coupled with the intoxicating scent of arousal and release and need that blossomed again almost immediately. A thumb stroke against her distended clitoris caused her to jerk so hard against the seat that she nearly bucked him off. But he held her in place, his fingers stroking and darting in a fresh flood of fragrant heat while his greedy mouth suckled and licked as much of her breast as he could manage.

‘Sit up!’ Sit up now,’ she hissed, wriggling out of his grasp and quickly propping her head against his shoulder, his hand still pressed to the swell of her, his mouth still wet with saliva and tingling with the taste of her hot skin. They pretended to be asleep as an attendant passed by, though no one could possibly believe anyone breathing as hard as they were and smelling as sexed as they did was actually sleeping.

Rome_teaserWhen the attendant disappeared in the back of the plane, Paulo turned enough that he could see her eyes shining in the darkness, then he pulled his slippery fingers from her pussy and brought them under her nose. She sniffed and whimpered. ‘That’s what you do to me,’ she managed. ‘All I have to do is smell you and I’m wet.’ The second whimper was guttural as he licked the exquisite taste of her from his fingers. Before he could catch his breath, her hand went to work on his fly. She wasn’t gentle, and he didn’t care. With trembling fingers, he unwrapped the blanket that had been left on the extra seat and covered his lap. Then he straightened hers over her bottom and fingered his way back between her legs, wishing like hell he could get his head down there, bury his face and his mouth in that delicious nectar. He caught his breath and nearly bit a hole in his lip as her mouth sheathed his cock in tight white heat. Her tongue snaked and curled up the sensitive underside, lapping the abundance of pre cum that now made yet another damp patch on his boxers. While one hand curled around his hip, the other cupped and stroked his full sac. He could hear her sniffing, and as he deepened his stroking and spreading and scissoring between the swollen gape of her labia, her moan vibrated down the length of his erection, and he nearly lost it again. This time the attendant simply pretended not to see as he passed, and Paulo didn’t even try to dissuade the woman from her very delicious task. But her mouth wasn’t where he wanted to be. The tight grip and release, grip and release of her around his fingers made it impossible not to think about burying his cock in her slick, hot depths.

As though she’d read his mind, she pulled away, wiped her mouth on the back of her hand and nodded to the restroom just two rows back. He knew he’d never get his cock stowed, so he didn’t try. He just tugged his shirt out over the top of his trousers, took her hand and led her toward the restroom, his dick bouncing as they went. The minute they’d shoved their way in and locked the door, he sat on the lid of the commode and dug in his trouser pocket for the condom he was hoping he’d need. She watched with her skirt up and her undies dragged to one side, her fingers darting in and out of her wet slit as she thumbed her cherry ripe clit. As soon as he was suited up, she turned around, sliding her panties down over her ankles. Then she eased herself into position, squatting, fingering her swollen lips open for him. With one hand on her hip and the other guiding his erection, he pulled her onto his lap and impaled her. They both stifled a cry, inhaled, and inhaled again. The scent was high tide, summer lightening and pepper and spice all mixed together. She bit her knuckles to hold back the sob of pleasure. He buried his face in the nape of her neck, one hand seeking out the weight of her breasts, the other sliding down to tweak her hard clit. She was slick and tight with a grip like warm velvet, and she smelled like heaven, like nothing Martelli Fragrance at their very best could ever replicate. As he strained and pumped into her, he wondered what their combined scent smelled like to her. But before he could dwell on it, she orgasmed hard, covering her mouth with both hands to hold back what, no doubt, was an animal growl. Her whole body shivered and convulsed, and her grip on his penis became unbearable. He came in jerks and spasms until there was no breath left in him, until he saw stars behind the tight clench of his eyelids. Then they both collapsed against each other.

He was still gasping for breath when she eased herself up. She turned on him, tugged off the condom and, before he could do more than offer an astonished gasp, she shoved up her sweater and began rubbing his semen over her tight nipples and down her belly. ‘I hate that we have to use a condom,’ she said. ‘I want your smell against my skin.’ Then she reached her hand between her legs and wiped her open palm over the splay of her folds until it glistened with her juices. Holding Paulo’s gaze, she did the same to him, wiping her scent over his nipples and down his belly.

For a long moment she stood over him in the tight little room, gulping back their scent. He followed suit. God he didn’t want to leave. He wanted that smell. He wanted to take it home, sleep with it, dream with it, take it to the Martelli labs and study it. But in his little fantasy, he’d have to take the woman who helped produce that delicious scent to the lab with him, and he’d have to fuck her repeatedly. After all, results of an experiment had to be duplicable to be proven. Right? Nearly head-butting her, he bent and picked up her panties, pulled them to his nose and sniffed. ‘I want these,’ he whispered as she offered him a questioning gaze. ‘A memento.’ While she watched, he carefully wiped her pussy on them and stuffed them into his pocket. ‘I want to take something of you back to my flat with me, something that won’t wash away when I shower. And when I take them out of my pocket and masturbate to your scent, I’ll come thinking of you arriving in Rome wearing no panties.

She offered him a wicked pout. ‘Don’t I get a memento?’

With his eyes locked on hers, he pulled a pristine white handkerchief from his pocket and made a show of wiping his cock and down around his balls. Then he refolded it and handed it to her. She sniffed it deeply and stuffed it in her waistband before wriggling her skirt down over her bare bottom.

If he’d had doubts that the experiments he’d been wanting to carry out in the Martelli labs were worth pursuing, this woman with her incredible nose and their shared olfactory experience completely eliminated them. He didn’t know how he was going to do it, but he had every intention of convincing her to stay in Rome and work with Martelli. But first, he’d probably need to know her name. Before she turned to leave the restroom, he pulled her back to him and gave her a long lazy tongue-kiss, whispering into her mouth as he nipped her bottom lip, ‘I’m Paulo, by the way.’

‘Nice to meet you, Paulo,’ she said, nipping back. ‘I’m Liza.’

Back at her seat, Paulo didn’t sit down. ‘I have a mountain of work I need to finish before we land, and you, my lovely MountboxsetLiza, have delayed my progress terribly.’

‘Poor dear,’ she said, handing him his jacket from where it had fallen on the floor.

‘I’d rather stay here and sniff you.’

‘And I’d rather you did, but since you’ve got things to do –’ she slipped a business card in the breast pocket of his shirt ‘– just give me a call when you’re ready for another sniff.’

He groaned as she fondled his nipple pressing against the pocket. ‘Give me your phone,’ he said. She pulled her BlackBerry from her seat pocket and handed it to him. He entered his number into her address book and gave it back. ‘I’ll sniff you in Rome once we’ve both had a good night’s rest.’ He nipped her earlobe, then turned and sauntered back up the isle to the first class cabin.

 

We Survived 3 Days Without Wi-Fi

2015-08-26 15.45.02I just got back from ten days in the Scottish highlands with the last three spent on the Isle of Skye with on Wi-Fi no cell
phone and the nearest neighbor a mile up a very rough gravel track.

I don’t mind telling you that it was rough, that moment when we discovered we were cut off from civilization!!! The first thing we did after we got unpacked was make the trek by foot to the top of the hill, cell phones held high in a desperate attempt to get at least a tiny whiff of a signal – just enough to check and send email … oh pleeeze dear Techno-god!!! But alas it was not to be …

We made our way back down the hill, twitching in withdrawal and growling unpleasantries beneath our breath while cursing the first born of the booking site we’d used that had promised the place had Wi-Fi. But we quickly forgot to be disgruntled when we saw the first intimations of the sunset above the sea. It was the beginning of the domino effect. As we descended the hill, for 2015-08-26 18.50.09 HDRthe first time we paid real attention to the tumble down ruin of a building next to our cottage, the ageing phone box next to it, the thistle in bloom, the hulking shapes of mountains under blankets of clouds. All the while the sunset just kept getting more glorious. Finally, a use for our iPhones! At least a hundred pics later and a nice glass of red wine in hand, we let the midges take over the great outdoors while we sat in the huge window seat in the front room and cheered on a pair of pipistrelle bats in their hunt of said midges in the court yard. By that time we’d nearly forgotten the lack of Wi-Fi.

We slept in total silence that night, something town folk rarely experience. There was no traffic noise, no people noise, not even any settling of the cottage, which I reckon was probably old enough to have been well-settled by now. Even the sea was just far enough away that we could see it well, but not hear it.

IMG_2875Long toward morning I awoke to find another view, something I couldn’t capture with my iPhone no matter how many photos I took — the clear night sky with no light pollution! None! I had no idea there were so many, many stars! The whole Milky Way was splashed across the heaven and, from the dormer window, I craned my neck to take as much in as I could for as long as I could. I stood shivering beneath the view certain I’d just experienced some seriously powerful magic. Everyone else slept and that moment, that glorious view was beautifully and intimately mine. That moment, one I could neither tweet nor capture on iPhone, was for me the highlight of a trip jam-packed full of jaw-dropping experiences. That moment, dark-night private and achingly beautiful, was mine to treasure.

In the morning we made breakfast together laughing and joking, planning and scheming with only the aid of maps and books. From the window we watched the swallows flit about and a charm of gold finches picking at the wild flowers and grasses gone to seed.

2015-08-26 15.29.45In the slow but magical disconnect from the internet umbilical cord, we saw things differently, shared things differently, spoke to each other more reverently, and everything felt more focused, more brightly colored, more three dimensional.

On our way back to the cottage at the end of day two, we punctured a tire. Up on a high cliff above the sea just as the rain was setting in and the wind was picking up, Raymond got out to change the tire, and my sister and I got out to cheer him on and offer what help we could. We had no way of calling for road service to take care of it for us, no way of doing anything but getting on with it. He had just barely got the spare and the jack out of the boot when a car pulled up behind us, and a young man hopped out to help. The older woman with him stood and talked to my sister and me.

We discovered they owned one of the farms in the valley below, and she had seen our hazard lights go on from there. Her nephew had been bailing silage in the field so she told him we were in trouble and they came to our aide. They had us all sorted and back on our way in just a few minutes. This was a very powerful reminder of how people live in community without Internet. They watch out for each 2015-08-26 15.43.57other. I’m not so young that I don’t remember a time when that was the case, and yet I’d forgotten what it felt like in practice.

When our third day in Skye dawned wet and rainy, we drove into Portree and, while Raymond dealt with the punctured tire, we connected briefly to the slow, overworked Wi-Fi in the Cafe Arriba, ensconced with our coffee amid a gaggle of other wet tourists doing exactly the same thing. The connection wasn’t great, and we honestly didn’t mind. Once the tire was sorted, we were off exploring the Trotternish Peninsula in the rain. That night back in our cottage, as the sky cleared to display a resplendent waxing moon, we cooked dinner together, we talked and laughed and schemed and relived our memories of a damn near perfect holiday. We all agreed that we weren’t even a little sorry for our time without Wi-Fi.

The next night, down in Carlisle on our way home, we were once again in our own little Internet worlds trying to catch up while we waited for the waitress to bring our meals. It was jarring and a bit sad 2015-08-27 13.23.46to feel that freeing experience slipping away. But here I am, writing this on my iPhone on the last leg it the trip home. I’ll email it to myself then put together my blog post once I’m home, and by Sunday noon, you’ll be reading it complete with pictures I’ve downloaded. I will have tweeted it and share it on Face Book and will be well and truly back to being my techno- dependent self. We all will. The truth is we’re the slave of our technological connectedness as much as it’s our servant. I’ll take me the better part of a week to catch up, but I’ll treasure those few days of intimate disconnection, and maybe I’ll be brave enough to disconnect on purpose from time to time now that I know that I can, now that I know that I won’t die from the lack of Wi-Fi, and especially now that I know the rewards are so worth the disconnect.

 

A Very Crowded Room

writing image 2It’s crowded room time again, and my room that is 2013 is unusually crowded, surprisingly crowded, in fact. I’m sure I’m not alone in my fascination with the last week of the year. It’s completely different from the rest of the year. It feels more like there are actually just fifty-one weeks in the year, then there is a week that’s really the crowded room at the end, a place not unlike my grandmother’s living room was, jam-packed with the bits and pieces and memorabilia of eighty-three years of living.

The last week of the year is a mental version of that living room, a room that we all have in our head. No matter how expansive the previous fifty-one weeks have been, this final week is the tiny space into which we crowd everything that has happened in the year. Then we mentally pour ourselves a glass of our favourite, settle in to the one comfy chair that’s not avalanching with memories and emotions, and we reflect.

Every item in my grandmother’s living room had a story — a gift from someone, a souvenir from some marked event in her life, something someone had made for her or she had made for herself. My grandmother’s living room was a book full of stories I only ever experienced through her eyes, stories that were lost in the mist to anyone but her.

This time of year, in this last week, we all sit in our mental story book living rooms and tell ourselves one last time the stories that have been our life for the past fifty-one weeks. We laugh at our joys, we mourn our losses and we nod our heads in satisfaction at our successes, promising they’ll be even bigger next year.

There was a finality about her over-crowded living room. It spoke of endings, of past events, of P1000885treasured moments. That last week of the year room we all occupy right now has its own finality. After midnight tonight, we can crowd no more into that room. We leave it as it is, papers strewn, boxes open, bed unmade, cup of tea half finished. Mind you, some of us spend our last hours in that room frantically trying to crowd just a little more into it. That’s me, sitting in the recliner madly tapping away at the computer trying to get another chapter written, another short story out before I have to leave this room and lock the door behind me.

It doesn’t matter though, if we’re sitting reflecting on all that fills this room, or if we’re frantically trying to fill it fuller, at midnight tonight, we’ll all take a deep breath, open the door and walk out into the empty room waiting for us that is 2014. All we’ll take with us is our memories of the room we left and our hopes for how we’ll fill this bright new room that stretches promisingly before us. Some of us make New Years resolutions, some of us just plow in without a plan of action, but one thing is for certain, this time next year, if we live that long, we’ll be sitting in the full room again reflecting on how the experiences of 2014 have shaped us, anticipating how we will take the experiences into the next empty room. With that in mind, here is a very brief tour of my 2013 Room.

Empty Room New Year postMore Books in My Crowded Room:

This has been the year I had three novels published, finishing two trilogies in the process, along with a collection of my short stories.

Elemental Fire, the final novel of the Lakeland Witches paranormal trilogy came out early in the year.

Identity Crisis, book two of Grace Marshall’s Executive Decisions came out about the same time.

The Exhibition, the final book in the Executive Decisions trilogy came out in November.

Gracefully Aroused: The Best of K D Grace  a collection of my short stories, came out in the middle of the year.

First Drafts and Works in Progress:

medusa_bernini2013 was the year I collaborated with the fabulous Moorita Encantada on a burlesque play, Eye of the Beholder, a kinky, quirky twisting and retelling of the Greek myth of Medusa and Perseus. There’s more work to be done on that, and I’m looking forward to the rewrite and the next steps with Moorita in 2014.

With two days left in 2013, I finished the final read-through of the proofs for Fulfilling the Contract, the sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly, which will be out in February 2014.

I’ve written two short stories I’m very excited about, that will be coming out in 2014. I’ll be crowing about those when they happen, and I’ve written numerous blog posts. I’m not even going to mention the pages of new ideas for future novels!

Did I Do Anything other than Write in 2013?

Yes! I did! I made two major trips abroad for research as well as for fun. I spent five days in Las Vegas in March, along with ten days in Oregon. Both Vegas and Oregon figure strongly into novels I’ve written and ones still to come.

I just got back from a fantastic week in Rome, where book three of The Mount series, To Rome with Lust, will be set. I came home truly inspired.

This was the year of the allotment. I spent many long hours spent digging and planting and harvesting some of the most delicious veg ever grown. My back still aches and my mouth still waters at the thought.

This was the year I temporarily gave up long walks for time spent at the gym with a personal trainer. What started out as rehab for a gimpy knee ended up to be a different kind of challenge for me and one that I’ve truly enjoyed. As for the knee – it’s very much improved and I look forward to taking on some long crow-country walks in 2014.

555019_495828133815487_910474558_nThere were lots of readings this year, several at Sh! Women’s Store, including two Reading and Poetry Slams. Sh! is always a delight.

This was the first year of Smut by the Sea, a fabulous gathering of writers and readers organized by two of my heroes, Victoria and Kev Blisse. I’m elated to say that we’ll all be returning to Scarborough for year two of Smut by the Sea in 2014! If you get a chance to attend, please do. I’d love to meet you there!

This was year two for Eroticon – held in London in 2013, and expanded to two full days this year! Once again, Ruby Kiddell organized a totally stunning event. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to lead a workshop for the event – my first ever. Thought my knees were knocking and my hands were shaking, it was a wonderful experience. I can’t recommend Eroticon enough, and in 2014 it’ll bet returning to Bristol. I hope to see you there!

The Birth of the Brit Babes:britbabes_sidebar

One of the most exciting things that happened at Eroticon this year was the birth of the Brit Babes. In 2012 at Eroticon, we put our heads together and schemed the fab Seven Deadly Sins anthology. In 2013 all that creativity became the creative force behind the Brit Babes, a group of eight British erotica authors dedicated to promoting quality and varied erotica and helping readers find just exactly the erotica that works for them. To learn more about The Brit Babes and their plans for world domination which very well could include you, please check out the Brit Babes Site

After a year’s hiatus, this was the year Erotica came back to London and Smutters organized a wonderful table selling books and promoting authors. I was very proud to be a part of the event, even for one day, and I’m still in awe of Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse who organized the Smutter table and readings. You two rock!

This was the year I got nominated, along with the fabulous Kay Jaybee, for ETO’s Best Erotic Author of 2013. Kay and I went and celebrated at the event in Birmingham. We lost out to some chick named E.L. James. Can you believe it? But we still had a fantastic time catching up with old friends and making new ones. We came away winners anyway.

Writers spend so much time living in our heads, in the worlds we create and, at least for me, that forces me to live in the moment most of the time when I’m not writing. I never think much ahead of the next scene to be written, the next chapter to be finished, the next blog post to be put up. As a result, the room that is 2013 has, like the ones before it, filled up without me paying too much attention to what’s around me. And then I reach this day, this last day of the year and I look around me. I’m stunned at all P1000814that’s happened. As I think back, reflecting on the stories, the experiences, the laughter, the sharing and camaraderie, the joy of seeing my stories in print, it seems hard to imagine that I could possibly fit so much into only 365 days. And all the neurotic struggles and self-doubts and fears, well they take up such a tiny space in the room of 2013 that I wonder now why I let them take up so much of my energy.

Once again I come to the end of the year, pick up the key, and stand with heart racing, head full of ideas and plans, with hand resting on the door knob to enter that new room, the one that is bright and shiny and labeled in spangles and glitter, 2014. I am moved by all that has been, by all that is crowded into the space of one single year and by how it has changed me. And I anticipate newness, challenges, more neurotic episodes, adventures, times with friends, and writing – LOTS of writing. That’s the part I anticipate the most. How could it be otherwise?

My wish for you is that your reflections in your full room of 2013 be good ones, satisfying ones, and encouraging ones. And at the stroke of midnight, may you enter that bright empty room of 2014 with hope and joy and anticipation of how wonderfully you’ll fill it up.

 

 
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