Come on without… come on within…

You ‘aint seen nothing like… An author interview with one of Emma’s most outrageous fictional heroes,  from Seduction of Wealth… Mr Randolph Quinn.

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A vessel like Platinum Demeter,  on The Thames near Tower Bridge, London.

No matter how ever long I live in London, she will always excite me and I’ll always be a tourist. Although I write about many locations which I’ve seen with my eyes, with London I write first from the heart. In most places I hate winter but here in this northern capital, there’s a blue sky clarity and stoic face of regal stone that says – I’m exposed and stripped; this is the truth of me.

Christmas is piled up and put away behind us now. Around my home in Chelsea the famous London plane trees are bare like naked mannequins in the windows of Sloane Square boutiques, cool and poised for those spring fashion shows. Yes – this is her mood today as I step out into the street. Today I’m a woman on a mission and of course – that means a man.

There are brave enthusiasts who drive cars in London, but why miss all the fun of public transport? Today I’m heading for the Chelsea Harbour river bus stop. The Thames Clipper service speeds up and down the Thames from Putney out to the Emirates cable car crossing, where PC Helen Marx did that fateful drugs handover last summer. As always I’m ten minutes early and there’s no sign of the river bus as I look up towards Battersea Bridge and the iconic chimneys of the old power station. (Pink Floyd fans will know this image from their 1977 Animals album cover).

My mind flicks back to my teenage years. Today I’ve tarted myself up to meet a guy twenty years younger than me. I should know better but believe me, the old urge is still there. I stroll towards the pier. A menacing looking grey open power boat is blocking the landing pontoon. A couple of guys are at the controls. One of them sees me and jumps ashore. He moves with strength and power. He’s headed for me, balaclava type hood framing a handsome face. God I like watching men. I love that big handed kind of competent and confident strength thing. OK – I’m old fashioned but you were allowed to be like that when I was young.

“Emma – don’t you know me?”

I stare. I’m on the way to see a suave banker type. This guy is familiar but all in tight black like a frogman he’s just a broad mass of hard male. OK, there is an outline of something in the groin area. I don’t look – honest. He pulls off the headgear, longish dark brown hair falling free. He beams and reaches out both arms. I can’t help it – that little flutter that’s thrilled me (and led me into all kinds of drama), all my life sweeps up and settles…somewhere nice.

“Randolph – Randolph Quinn. What the hell?

“You told me you were coming so I though you’d like a ride.”

“How did you know where I was?”

“ You said you were coming on the river bus. The guys tracked your phone – come on this is me. You know who we are and what we can do.”

I smiled. For sure I knew what he could do and rather regretted I’d never had the chance to let him do anything to me. I take both his hands. His brown eyes are still full of mischief. I start with an obvious and very banal question.

“Are you still the world’s richest man?”

“Good question. As it happens Kaitlyn’s gone out shopping so maybe she’s made a hole. With a bit of luck I can pull back a few bucks before the City of London closes tonight.”

He leads me down the pier to the boat. I’d dressed for the river trip in black leggings, my Dr Marten rose embroidered boots, a thick woollen jumper and of course my fur hooded duffel coat. I know this sinister looking craft. It’s the M-46 Interceptor from the belly of the world’s biggest super yacht, the Platinum Demeter. Luckily the speed limit on the Thames through central London is 12 knots – that’s about 14 miles per hour. That’s fast enough on a cold day without shelter. I take a seat beside him while the other guy heads us out into the channel. Within minutes we’re passing under Lambeth Bridge and slipping past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Randolph is holding my hand, like I’m a girlfriend or something. Maybe a nervous mother. He called me to say he was in London, moored at Tower Bridge alongside HMS Belfast. He suggested lunch on board maybe running in to dinner with his partner Kaitlyn. The power boat slows as we pass the Tower of London on our left.  I see the elegant pure white Platinum Demeter ahead as the traffic passes to and fro across the world famous opening bridge. Our pilot eases the Interceptor into a water-filled hangar in the hull of the ship which is the size of a small ocean liner. Now this is wealth. He steps out and I take his arm. We pass through sliding glass doors into a warm atrium with elevator and pots of palm trees. In a corner a guy is playing a grand piano. The contrast with the cold wind and roar of the boat is astonishing. I feel like a farmer’s wife just stepped in from hand milking wild cattle on the hills. I need to blow my nose and probably reapply my whole face. We’d not really been able to converse during the journey.

“Randolph – I feel like …”

“I bet you don’t feel like you look,” he says, big smile, tousled hair from pulling off his balaclava.”

“You don’t know how I feel.”

“You look sexy fantastic and wild. You’re way too cool to admit to that.”

“Let’s form a committee around the wild. I think we can agree.”

“Hey – committees – that’s like group sex without the sex.”

“I’m writing about politics sex and power. Committee just popped out. I meant to say I need to adjust my presentation Randolph.”

He’d thrown the sex in to shock me. He doesn’t know me well enough. He knows I’m vain and attracted to him so he’s just being his normal persona of irritating arrogant multi billionaire sex god.

“Me too – Let’s head upstairs. Gin and tonic, wash and brush up. Perfect.”

His hand eases into my back. His touch makes me close my eyes. Does that happen to you girls? Makes me kind of feel I could just lie back and let him protect me. We stand in the elevator. He’s 6 feet three inches. I’m 5 feet four. He smiles. Down.

“Why don’t you ever look older Emma?”

“Cos you’re too vain to wear glasses.”

“Hey – you’re teasing me. Nothing worse than a woman who knows you.”

“Except a woman who doesn’t want to know you.”

“Yeah – lucky you came to save me from someone like that.”

“You can save yourself Randolph. First time we met you were giving a lovely girl a load of shit.”

“That was no girl – that was a mean cop on my case. That was something else.”

Suddenly his tone had changed. His mind had flicked to Kaitlyn, his lover and partner. He would joke and tease with me, but love was a serious business – even for the richest man in the world.

“How did it feel – to fall for a cop?”

“It felt good economics. She asked for nothing.”

I smile. Just for a moment I thought he was going to talk deeply about love. The elevator stops at his suite. Grand windows look out onto an open deck. The carpet is deep and luxurious beyond belief. This truly is the seduction of wealth. I want some answers before I give up and relax.

“Why her? Why a traffic cop who was giving you problems?”

“As soon as I saw her there was something. I wanted to keep my eyes on hers. It seemed natural and right. She locked me up but there were killers outside so I was cool about that. I was alone in a police cell. She was going off shift but she stayed on and made me a cup of tea. An act of kindness is an act of love, although not romantic love. All the same an act of love shows the heart.”

This was a strange man. Never had I come across a guy more serious and yet more flirtatious. I knew his father had been a petty crook, stabbed to death. I knew he’d come up hard in a dog-eat-dog environment in south London. To be frank, he’d said all he needed to say for now. He loved her at first and he loves her now. All I’d done is set them on a collision course. I needed to restore my status – or at least brush my hair.

“Did you say gin and tonic?”

Randolph went to a long unit stacked with bottles and glasses, all set behind rails in case of rough seas. It was a job to remember this was a globe-wandering vessel. It was like the Ritz.

“Sure tidy up. I’ll fix the drinks.”

I wander through to the marble bathroom and brush my hair in the back-lit mirror. I re-do my lips and check my look. Well, Randolph doesn’t think I ever look any older.

I go back to the salon and relax into the deep blue Mastrangelo velvet sofa. He smiles. His nautical dry suit is on the floor and he’s wearing pale ripped jeans and a grey Lonsdale work-out vest. His feet are bare, tanned and strong looking. He hands me a Square Mile English gin laced with Fever Tree tonic. It looks like a quadruple – it swallows like a shameful night of who gives a f**k lust. I feel pampered – and you know kind of squeezy in the thighs. He smiles again, lifts the intercom phone and seems to talk to the captain.

“William, I’ll tell them when to open Tower bridge, OK? There’s nothing more important to the City of London than Sackman-Platinum bank. No! We don’t wait in any lines because there’s no line we don’t own.”

“Some people would say you’re brash and arrogant,” I say as he slams down the receiver.

“Some of them would be right. I’m so happy you see through me to the sweet little boy inside.”

“Do I?”

“You’re here and giving me far too much beautiful soft blue eye contact if you don’t think I’m a sweet little boy. If you’re wrong and I’m like the sort of romantic hero you find irresistible you could have a problem. Not because of me – because of you.”

“You’re so bloody full of yourself Randolph.”

“Yeah – no one else fitted my clothes so I had to fill the gap. That Desmond Merrion stuff is too expensive to waste.”

The gin is working on my novelist’s similes. I’m looking at this incredibly wealthy sexy guy. He has charm, he has ruthless dominance over others. I get a sort of shudder – like a kind of shiver women get in those vampire books. No – Emma it’s not possible. He’s fixing me another gin. He leans in and kisses my cheeks.

“I was so rude. You’re more or less French and we didn’t kiss yet.”

I take a tiny sip and look shamelessly at those broad shoulders, those rock hard rowers’ triceps. Yeah, my blue eyes are following his deep brown eyes as they scan my sex, my breasts, my lips. My neck. Randolph Quinn is not normal OK. Fuck it Emma – you’re fifty blah blah. Get a grip.

“So you still work for Sackman-Platinum bank Randolph?” I say, taking a deep deep breath and forcing my eyes to his chest.

“Sure – the billions roll in. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.”

“This bank – your bank, it has a certain reputation for …..”

“Money laundering and tax evasion.” He leans back in his chair and laughs towards the ceiling. Then his gaze snaps back to my sozzled eyes. “Emma, I love you but I can never square with you. You knew that the first day we met. I’m every bastard you can name but there is a longer game. A few people know the truth but you never will. You do not have the clearance. Things have moved on from you. That’s what happens in life.”

I’m fighting the gin and the groin twitches. I’m on top of the gin.

“OK, you run this bank. You have fabulous but mysterious wealth. Your lover is a straight regular cop? What the fuck Randolph? What does she know? You owe me that information since I hooked you two up.”

He’s leaning back in his chair. He’s looking at me, hands steepled under his chin, his thumbnail between his teeth. He speaks slowly.

“Kaitlyn knows everything and that’s all you’re ever going to know.”

His tone is deliberate and final. Maybe I believe him. Between you and me – I don’t. I absolutely fucking don’t. I decide to let sleeping dogs get pissed on gin. I ask him a muddled question from my erotic haze of a brain.

“What do you know about Ishtar?”

He smiles and nods with genuine personal warmth.

Ishtar“Ishtar is Kaitlyn. It’s the tattoo of a goddess on her arm. For years she’d felt that this Assyrian goddess defined her true soul and one day she had the courage to have her image tattooed on her arm.”

“Does it define her?”

“A couple of days later she met me so for sure that’s powerful juju.”

“You’re a big-headed man Randolph.”

“How else can a man compete with a goddess who is both war and peace, love sex and fertility and also both sexes? To round it off she has all knowing wisdom. OK – I’m still a winner over that stuff but it’s a tough fight every day.”

“I think you’re joking,” I say unable not to laugh at his little boy expression.

“Emma – don’t fret. I love Kaitlyn. She’s never asked me for anything other than honest love. She’s fought at my side, saved my life. That tattoo on her arm is there for her. It proclaimed herself to her. Nothing in this life can give you strength that’s not within but some ideas and some people reveal to you what is within you. No matter who you are there’s ten times more strength, determination and love within you than you ever thought. Kaitlyn found that inspiration in Ishtar. By having a monster tattoo on her arm she proclaimed that identity with an unstoppable voice. Then she had to follow.”

“You’re a psychologist Randolph.”

“You don’t get rich by not knowing what goes on in people’s heads Emma.”

“But it’s not all about being rich is it?”

No, of course not. Maybe I’ll sail south for the northern winter but hey, maybe I’ll go skiing for a few days. Maybe I’ll talk to the president of the USA about what I want on Chinese trade deals. Maybe I’ll tell your English prime minister what I want to do about this Brexit stuff. Nah – being rich doesn’t get you anywhere.”

I tossed back the rest of my gin. This man was right This man had unlimited wealth and power. This man had a wonderful honest woman in his life. For me I’d always have to know more. The jury is still out on sexy gorgeous Randolph Quinn. He loves to tease and tell me I’d feel differently about him if I knew what he knew. He knows he’s gorgeous and that wouldn’t be too easy for me to live with.

“If it were all about money you wouldn’t be wasting time chatting with a poor old woman like me,” I say, daring him with a raised eyebrow not to contradict me.

“Hey, Emma – we can fix the poor. Come down to the trading deck and I’ll fix you a Sackman Platinum loan of ten thousand pounds. Then I’ll look over your shoulder and you can place my trades in your name. You could have a million before lunch. We’re expecting a run on the Australian dollar but their central bank will step in to support the price. We’ll keep buying cheap as long as the dumb political suits are prepared to buy dear.”

I look at his face. He’s serious. He’s a smug bastard.

“With that sort of money I’d have no drive to get up and write books.”

“Hey Emma, you mean it’s all about money for you too? I always knew that deep down you’re just like me.”

I had to smile. Randolph Quinn always manages to have the last word.

Seduction of Wealth cover art

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A Rendezvous with an Old Friend – Emma Calin meets up with Sophia, from Seduction of Crowns.

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A character interview with Sophia Castellana from suspense romance novel ‘Seduction of Crowns’ for the Passion Patrol.

I’ve been at my home in south west France working on my next Passion Patrol story. There’s still some warmth in the sun in the middle of the day. I’m as English as fish and chips but my partner’s home is in France – a good 300 miles south of London where the sun is higher in the sky. A couple of days ago I was amazed to receive a phone call from a French woman working at Versailles – the royal palace of France at the edge of Paris. She introduced herself and informed me that the Queen had invited me to dinner at the Chateau de La Roche Courbon – an impossibly beautiful castle very close to my home. I wondered why some official had called me but I guess royals have staff to fix everything. The caller outlined her wishes:

“Her Majesty is hoping to see you alone on ziz occasion. Her ‘usband is gone to Canada for a spa water cure with his friend Monsieur Trou d’Eau. Her Majesty is also very happy in realizing zat you are writing sometimes for papers and magazines and can put forward her private aspects to zee public. It would be her plaisir for you stay overnight and sample her new crude wine.”

I put the phone down and sighed. Sophia – married to Charles 11th of France – is a bloody difficult woman to be frank. I caught sight of her at the Royal Ascot race meeting the day of the terror attack. I’d also seen pictures of her in the celeb’ magazines at the christening of the Ambastilias baby in Naples. The parents Helen and Marco were beaming but Sophia looked – well you know, regal. I think it’s her way of staying aloof from the semi-scandal surrounding her marriage. By staying above it all, she doesn’t have to talk dirty if you know what I mean. She was thirty nine. He was twenty four and a very innocent young guy. Sophia has a very close friend – Martine La Plume, president of France. I mean, these girls are very close and the press like to reflect upon the nature of their relationship. Is that what she wanted to talk about? Dear me – not my bag but I’m as curious as any cat and about to look at a queen. A few days later I kiss my man au revoir without saying too much and prepare for une promenade on the wild side – maybe.

I drive my elderly little Citroen C3 past the main castle building with its Sleeping Beauty towers into a private courtyard. A severe looking female with hair tied back into a bun stands by as I stop. She takes my small overnight bag and leads me through an old wooden door studded with chunky iron nails.

“Zeez are the servant’s lodgings. Her majesty will join you in the castle. The fires should have warmed the rooms.”

I follow her back out across an open area where I remember there was once a film crew making the TV show ‘Born To Be King’ about Sophia’s husband, Charles. That was a few years ago during all the French political upheaval which ended up with a grand yet constitutional monarchy. My companion has a strict and frigid military manner. The evening is deepening with the V formation of crows swooping down to roost with raucous calls, echoing a mortal shudder of black wings. I remember too that this was where Sophia first met Charles, when her life was very different and the woman destined to be a queen was herself a prisoner.

We enter a huge kitchen with a rotisserie style spit turning over an open wood fire. A wild boar is still recognizable as it sizzles, dripping fat down into a tray. A maid operates the mechanism with a rope and chain while basting the meat. The aroma hits my hungry button with a sledge hammer. OK, I’m not too self-denying or PC. We walk through to a grand salon with chaises longues, Louis XV chairs and a cheminée with a roaring log fire. A line of chestnuts squeak as they cook in the heat of the hearth.

“Her majesty will arrive Madame,” says the strict cool lady, pointing to a chair and moving back into the shadows.

“Thanks,” I say in English not wanting to show any imperfection in my French. I feared she might have some kind of school teacher’s baton in her pants to correct naughty grammar students.

A door opens and the Queen of France walks in. Of course, I knew her when she was Sophia Castellana, a London cop, before she turned cougar and scooped the boy king. I stand and she comes to me, arms open, smiling. I prepare for the French two-cheek peck but get a hug and a woman’s warm lips more or less on my eyebrow. OK – I’m cuddly short and Sophia is willowy tall.

“Emma – Emma you came to me. I’m so happy.”

I relax and smile back. She’s wearing a burgundy velvet pants suit, a cream high-necked blouse and a double string of pearls. Her face is calm and her long aquiline nose still gives her an air of aristocratic certainty. She seats herself opposite to me in the light of the fire, crosses her legs to show off her flat heeled hand stitched leather boots. I’ve worn medium stiletto heals and a blue and cream striped jumpsuit I bought in Naples in September. I look at my scarlet fingernails and romantic display of gaudy rings. Fearing the chill of a draughty castle I completed my look with a wool blazer, in dark navy with a sparkle silver plaid in the weave. She was out-gunned. I was just out-classed.

“That hog smells so good. If you hear a noise it’s me rumbling,” I say, not sure what to call her.

“It’s in the tradition of the great kings of France and of course of the English royal house of Stuart”

“Oh yes – like the heritage of Charles – I mean your husband, um – the king.”

“Yes, indeed – now we try some chestnuts and our vin bourru. It is the autumn tradition here.”

bourru

From nowhere a waitress steps forward with two bottles of what looks like cloudy cider and places them on a side table. Then she collects the chestnuts from the hearth and sets them on a heavy earthenware dish, their skins split and giving off a sweet yearning aroma. The girl pours the wine into large glasses, curtsies and departs. A couple of low electric lamps come on in the corners of the room but still her features change and reflect in the firelight. I sip the drink. It’s fizzy, yeasty and actually lovely. I peel a chestnut as Sophia does the same. I feel a bit awkward – like maybe you would, wanting to ask a queen what it’s like being a cougar and if she’s also gay. I raise my glass to her.

Salut…

She catches my hesitation.

“Sophia, please and salut to you.”

We make eye contact. The French believe that a toast needs eye contact to ensure good sex. It’s my favorite tradition.

“Sophia, I was a bit nervous. Since we last met you’ve been mixing with the great heads of state, the artists, the stars and all the other royals of the world. You’ve gone beyond my realm of experience.”

She stared into the fire and spoke without looking at me.

“And what do you think of me now?”

“Sophia – the truth is I don’t know you now. I think you’re beautiful, I think you’re regal, I think you’re strong and brave. When you came to France after that night in London, that terrible night of death, I wasn’t expecting you to marry a boy and end up as a queen.”

“A boy you say?”

“A boy relative to you. He’d never had a fight, or a woman. He’d been training to be a priest for Christ’s sake.”

“He was twenty-three, I was thirty-eight. If a man of forty marries a woman of fifty-five – so what? Who would care?”

I nod. She was right. She was so right.

“Look, I’m with you on that. We expect different things for and from a man of forty that’s all. Maybe he’s not looking for a child with a woman. A younger man still has to make his way in the world.”

“Sure I get that. Supposing you had a baby crab that had lost it’s shell while the hungry seabirds hovered above the beach. Let’s imagine that this is the last crab and it needs to survive at all costs. To save a society from civil war a man needs survive and bring a new focus to the people. Charles needed that and he wanted no one but me. He loved me.”

“And you loved him?”

She turned to pick up her glass and smiled. Her eyes were warm on mine and I could feel her strength.

“Emma – you of all people don’t run from the complexity of love. Love is not one thing. You can watch waves on the shore and they can always look the same. Yet, in the history of time no two waves have made exactly the same sound or the same exact pattern on the rocks or sand. When two people meet it’s like that wave and like that shore. If love was a precise idea everyone would know exactly how to get it – like we know how to make a pizza.”

I laugh.

“A French queen wouldn’t talk about pizza.”

“My name was Castellana. I’ll never be French no more than the Medici.”

“So, he loved you and….”

“And I felt my own sexual desire as a woman. I felt pride that a young man would desire me over perfect younger women. I’ve had a child and have the belly medals to prove it. I felt power like I guess a teacher feels power. I’ve never wanted ultra-Alpha types. I wanted a relationship where a guy had fixed his idea of ecstasy on me rather than other women. A man never forgets that first time.”

“Nor a woman.”

She held my eyes, brought her hands up to her jaw and looked back into the fire.”

“You’re right again. I was a good girl from a good Italian family. I went to a girls’ school to keep me pure. Emma – sex is a powerful drive. It’s like bloody Vesuvius.”

For a moment I wanted to keep her mind on Charles. All the same I knew what she was saying. I was about to speak when she began again.

“I was a cop once. You live with a cop. I don’t have to explain this to you but here’s a question for you. You’re hungry, you’ve got no money. You’ve never stolen a thing because everyone says it was wrong. Society says it’s wrong to steal but you’re hungry. In the shop there’s a sandwich – you snatch it. You eat it. It feels so so good. It’s a wicked sandwich. It tastes so so good. You’ve done what you needed to do. The hardest crime if you like, is the first. To take sexual food when you’re starving is no moral crime. The law just masturbates in order to stay untouched and neutral.”

I think I’m wide eyed, maybe hanging my jaw. This is a freaking queen guys! I love her frank honesty and compassion.

“You were a working girl in London when a situation broke over you. Your courage and strength burned itself into this young man’s mind and he needs that strength every day in his life. His situation in France has enemies. Do you ever fear that he will falter?”

“Yes, Emma please believe me, yes yes yes. I stay regal, brave and proud because that’s the expectation. That’s what royals are for. Charles is a man of royal blood – the house of Stuart. His blood unites the story of the Bourbons, the Medici and the throne of Britain. I’m more alone than I’ve ever been. I cling to my self belief and….”

“Martine,” I say.

She lets out a long sigh. I see her utter vulnerability and loneliness. She waits with her eyes closed before looking back at me.

“Yes of course. Love of Power is to have no fear of loneliness. She’s a wonderful woman. She’s bold and takes the heat of conflict.”

“She has advisors and experts around her I’m sure.”

“Thousands, yes. She operates from her heart you know. You can have too many hangers-on. I tell her that and she knows it. I was a police sergeant and when it gets tough you just act. You give the orders and believe me, under stress, that’s the real you. You won’t be judged on cool long term policy. When the gun came out, when the fist hit your face – what did you do? That’s you right there.”

I take a good swig at the cloudy sweetish wine. She seems ready to talk so I dive in.

“A lot of people speculate about your relationship with Martine.”

“Ah – but not you Emma?” she replies with a smile and a raise of her eyebrow. “I’m sure a hardcore female like you would never ever ever have the slightest curiosity about love with another woman.”

“OK – I’m curious.”

“I was on a police operation to rescue Martine from a plot within her own close group. We pulled it off by the skin of our teeth. We were thrown together and she let me know where she stood on her sexuality with just a small gesture. I admired and respected her. Her hand touched my shoulder and she knew from my response that I wasn’t troubled by her implication.”

“But you married Charles.”

“Of course. I wasn’t expecting it but events and social media created that momentum. I wasn’t expecting anything from Martine. Charles is a good and gentle man. He’s a superstar with a generation of teenage girls and I believe, their mothers. He is very handsome – maybe more beautiful if you like. I love him for that. I love him more for his desire for me.”

“The European press say that you are the boss at Versailles and that you and Martine are the government.”

“Then for once the press are right.”

Her gaze was fixed on my eyes. I had forgotten that this was a woman who’d stood up to a machine gunner in London and risked her life on the streets of Paris. That same toughness was still in her core. I hadn’t discovered too much except that I was looking at a powerful woman, a beautiful woman, an attractive woman and above all, a queen.

I decide to nudge our chat away from the intensity of world control and politics.

“Do you still see any of the old team? Anna La Salle still lives close to Paris.”

dormeuses“Sure, but she’s a top cop now and often in London. I saw her husband at the Petit Palais gallery a few weeks ago. He’s an art collector and expert on Courbet. He’s desperate to buy a picture they have there.”

“What’s it called?”

‘Le Sommeil’. I told him I’d like to buy it myself for Versailles. I think it might shock Charles.”

I nod as if I know this painting. All I know is that Courbet was

bussac

A chateau at Bussac sur Charente

a local artist who spent a lot of time at the chateau of Bussac, not far from here. I also knew he loved the erotic. I’d be hitting Google later.

“What lies in your future Sophia?”

“A dinner of roast boar with my wonderful friend and a few local officials. Then a flight to Moscow with Martine to see President Pinupskin in the morning,” she answers, downing her wine. She stands and gestures for me to follow her.

“And if I write any magazine features about you – what would you like to present as your message?” I ask.

“That I have the heart of a woman.”

“That’s very enigmatic.”

“And very true,” she replies.

My audience is over.

book quote crowns

Available in e-book and print formats on this link: ‘Seduction of Crowns’ 

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My hot luncheon date at Bloxington Manor with the Earl – a character interview from Seduction of Dynasty

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Shannon's Law Post 4 photo Bloxington Manor

A character interview from Seduction of Dynasty.

At last I could get out of central London. I’d had an early meeting with my best ever friend, Anna La Salle, Deputy Chief Commissioner at Scotland Yard. These days we’ve all gotten used to soldiers and cops with machine guns mingling with the tourists in Whitehall. I often stand back and reflect at the madness and sadness of it all. I’m excited to be heading south to interview a true aristocrat and sexy hunk, but I never forget the danger that the police and military face on these magnificent streets, every minute of every day.

As I get nearer to Bloxington Manor I’m feeling quite nervous. I mean this guy is a peer of the realm and hob-nobs with the royal family. I remember going to bed after I’d sent Police Constable Shannon Aguerri to meet him. I just didn’t know what I’d find in the morning. I mean she’s got a heart of gold but also a big mouth and a bit of attitude – well honestly a truck load of attitude. That’s why she’d been kicked out of inner city. It could have been disastrous for all three of us. Shannon’s got so much front she’ll just face up to anything. Spencer Chamberlain Knightsmith, eleventh earl of Bloxington is a refined English gentleman and accustomed to respect. At first I didn’t know him myself, he’s the kind of guy who risks becoming a cut out wealthy aristocrat. I sure didn’t expect Shannon to find him welding up an old racing car with his overalls open to the waist and almost certainly nothing at all underneath. The view wasn’t wasted on Shannon.

I pull up in front of the pillared front entrance. Two long haired retriever dogs scamper towards me across the gravel drive. They look wet from the long damp grass of the meadow that runs down to the lake. A commanding voice booms out.

“Jilly, Bobby. Stop!”

The animals freeze and sit. In the distance I see the six-feet-four bear-like form of Spencer striding along the long drive of horse chestnut trees golden in the autumn sun. He’s wearing a tweed jacket, corduroy trousers and of course green wellies. Now my heart is beating a bit harder. This is the first time I’ve spoken to him since I set Shannon on him and put mayhem into his life.

He takes my hand and kisses me on both cheeks, European style.

“Emma – you’ve not changed a bit and you’re always early for appointments.”

“I like to set the scene before I get into the action,” I say.

“What a good strategy. Top class idea. Look, let’s get inside. I hope you’ve got time for some cold cuts while we talk.”

“Cold cuts?” I’d forgotten this old-style aristo language.

“Luncheon – I’m going up to the City later for a board meeting so it’ll be great to combine question with digestion.”

He chortles at his obviously choreographed expression.

“You’ve turned into a bit of a poet Spencer.”

“Well to be honest I do it just to make Shannon groan. She talks at twice my speed and my old duffer act slows her down a bit.”

I’m beginning to see what I set loose on the poor chap. I wanted him to be happier but I’m still not sure if I did the right thing. I look at his rugged face and brown eyes. His hair is still overlong and a little more grey. He eases a commanding hand into my back and smiles. I love his posh accent.

“It’s truly wonderful to see you again. To be honest I never felt we’d got to know each other before, well you know, before Shannon.”

“I was always watching you from a distance, feeling jealous of her if I’m honest. When you started to do things out of character I just had to let you go.”

“Out of character?”

“Like singing Elvis songs to her and taking her to Venice to propose.”

“All that kind of surprised me. You know a man is like a box of toys or something. A woman can’t control what’s in the box but she can choose what she pulls out and what games she plays.”

I stare at him. This isn’t the man I’d abandoned to the mercy of someone like Shannon.

“You’re deeper Spencer.”

“It’s called happiness. When you’re unhappy in life that’s all you are. Unhappiness is a city state. Happiness is a continent.”

His voice is deep and confident. If he wasn’t married I definitely could you know…….

We walk through the entrance hall with the grand stairway and through the long gallery of paintings. The Orangery is still the same with its view of the chapel and cricket field.

Avington-Park-9164“So this is where King Charles the Second consorted with his mistress Nel Gwynn?” I ask.

“Yes, I love that sense of history. I tell Shannon she should read the story of his father, Charles the First and his wife Maria. Now that was a love story.”

“Does Shannon agree?”

“She says she’d rather write a bloody hot love story with me than read one. She lives very much in the present.”

I watch his face in profile as he gazes out of the window. He nods in acknowledgement of the warmth her words convey. He turns to me and gestures me to sit. A maid wheels in a trolley with plates of sandwiches, sliced meat, salads and a range of beautiful fruit. He sits opposite me, his eyes flick to mine. I want to hold them and he lets me linger just a little longer than he would have allowed before. His sexiness is more obvious, more experienced. I’m showing a generous cleavage with a ruby pendant teasing his focus. He’s ten years younger than me. I smile and enjoy the ping in my belly. His eyes come back up to mine and I can see he knows what I’m feeling. I need to get control here.

“Those guys out there – your fans, they want me to ask you some quite personal things. I’m a bit shy to be honest.”

“Me too, but look, there’s only you and me here and we probably like the same stuff.”

“OK – the first moment you saw Shannon, what did you think?”

“You want me to be honest?”

“Sure.”

“Well, we live in a world of sexy images. You get kind of numb and I’d turned off, shut down. When I saw her, even in that police uniform I had a surge like I was seventeen.”

“Do you think she knew?”

“Shannon knows everything. She just has to angle her hips a little, push out her lips a little. I covered things up by bumbling on about the car I was fixing. She moved half an inch into my personal space and, well I wanted to kiss her then and there. She knew.”

“You’ve got to tell me if you were wearing anything at all under those overalls?”

I’m afraid I’ve gone too far and embarrassed him. He looks down and then sweeps his eyes up my body to my face, as if he’s tracing the path with his finger. Oh no…things are getting, you know – possibly humid.

“No, it was a summer day.”

“You didn’t get to say that much. Did you think about her after she’d left?”

He smiles slowly and brings his hand to his chin. I’d followed Shannon’s actions that night so his answer would be news to me too. His expression is wicked and knowing. He speaks slowly in a slightly husky voice.

“Emma, we’ve not met for a while but there’s no one closer to me. Yes, I thought about her.”

“You…?”

“Yes, I took a shower and I couldn’t hold back.”

“Did you ever tell her?”

“No, I’m a English gentleman. I wanted her to want me as only that at the beginning. It seemed my most favorable angle”

Behind my eyes I roll a fantasy of this gorgeous gentle man letting go in his lonely ecstasy of pure sex, thinking of me. I knew what I’d be thinking of later. I take some food while Spencer stands and pours some mineral water. His groin is level with my eyes. I let myself imagine that shower scene, his groan, his release. Several times.

There is a voice in the kitchen out of sight. It’s a female and I know that south London accent.

We both stand as she almost scampers in, her golden skin and crazy black hair somehow shouting her personality without the need for words. Her blue eyes mixed with her complexion made me crazy with jealousy I admit. She was here now but I’d had Spencer to myself for a precious time. A time that would kindle a little heat in me when I needed some private warmth.

We hug. Her body is young and wiry compared to mine. I’d have no chance against her. She kisses Spencer’s lips and glances at me. A woman like me knows that growl from another woman.

“I hope he hasn’t been a sexy charmer. I don’t allow that sort of stuff in here and don’t forget I’m a cop.”

“He’s been a gentleman.”

“That’s what I feared. That’s what had me fooled. By the time I realized his tactic I had my clothes off and it was too late.”

Spencer has returned to his aristocratic look. Just once I caught his eyes on mine with a look of complicity. For sure this man – my man, made love to her but now I knew something of him she didn’t. You can’t ever explain to men how much things like that matter to a woman.

“When I last saw you here you were a regular cop. You’re a Chief Inspector now at Scotland Yard, ” I say.

“Yeah, bullshit will always baffle brains Emma – I know you’ve always worked on that principle.”

“Whoever told you I had any principles?” I say, wondering if her tone had a bit of edge.

Spencer laughs

“Ha! You walked into that one Shannon.”

“Look, it’s only catty cos you’re here giving Emma smiley eye stuff. Bugger off to work and bring me in some spontaneous red roses.”

Spencer rises, kisses her and walks the door. He glances back but avoids my eyes.

“I leave you girls to chat. Emma and I never got to say much and certainly nothing new.”

Once he was gone Shannon pours some tea and sits opposite to me where Spencer had been sitting.

“So, what did you talk about? If it wasn’t about me then lie – I know you make stuff up at the drop of your knickers.”

“Shannon – are you a bit jealous of women around Spencer?”

“Course not.”

I let it drop and told her the truth.

“We talked about you and what happened when you first met each other…….”

Mid afternoon I drive out through the gates and head back to the crazy sprawl and scramble of London. I still feel turned on and you know, damp and naughty. I push a love song compilation CD into the player. I’d be at my flat in Chelsea alone for at least an hour before my man came home. Maybe I’d scratch my my itch of lust on him when he came through the door. Did I want to share that heat with another man? Maybe I’d take a shower with Spencer. Yeah, it’s a private affair and he’s my man after all.

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Shannon Aguerri at the old New Scotland Yard, before her move to Fleetworth Green.Find out more about Shannon and Spencer in Seduction of Dynasty on Emma Calin’s website

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Last Christmas she gave you her heart…a character interview with the hero and heroine of Seduction of Santa

Max and Paula, from Seduction of Santa, invite Emma Calin to catch up with them, one year on…

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It’s a cliché but this really is the time of year when you catch up with friends and family. Our lives are so busy now. You can have thousands of social media connections yet never get to sit down with live breathing people. It’s grey November day here England. Looking up the river from my home in Chelsea towards Westminster and Big Ben, the red London buses criss-crossing Lambeth Bridge play a counterpoint to the mournful melody of monochrome, so often the atmosphere of London – my home and my soul.

I’m taking a black cab. It pulls in and I open the quirky backward opening door. The diesel engine rattles with a sound that to me plays a lullaby of tradition and stability. In my office there’s a half finished book, Seduction of Power, set partly in sun drenched Italy. I was feeling the heat, driven mad with the horn beeping scooters and just had to escape.

“Where to My Dear?”

“Dulwich – head for Camberwell Green and I’ll give you the steer from there.”

The taxi U turns. The cabbie’s eyes are in the mirror. I smile and he gets the signal, taking permission to give me the full cockney performance – well, as cockney as a guy with a sun smile Caribbean heritage can be. He’s wearing a Crystal Palace football shirt.

“You a fan?” I ask.

“Yeah – it’s like death taxes and Crystal Palace – like it or not you’re born into it.”

I don’t mention the league table. We rattle through the streets, the wealth of Belgravia and the bleak concrete tower blocks south of the Thames river. We solve world poverty, unemployment, feminism and create our dream England football team. This is my fabulous mix up of a city and I’m in the mood for more. Driver Stanley leaves me in Alleyn Park, Dulwich – an oasis of gentility a short hop from Brixton or Sydenham. London’s like many cities – villages divided by wallet but united by bus routes. I’ve not seen Paula or Max since the last page of ‘Seduction of Santa’. For sure one thing has changed. The Rolls Royce isn’t on the drive but I know the Ford people carrier won’t belong to Max. Come on – the guy’s just not that type. There’s already Christmas lights on the bushes and a nativity scene lit up in the window. I ring the bell and hear Max’s voice like a barrow-boy trader selling potatoes.

“Come on gal – she’s here.”

I hear Paula’s equally strong London accent and passive-aggressive attitude.

“Well, it’s easy Max, turn the knob to the right, open the door and let the poor cow in.”

I hear him coming. I know his issue and it’s simple. I’m a woman, or at least a female. Max Muswell is a top dog and to a dog, a bitch can mean trouble, or even worse, girlie chat.

“Max – it’s so lovely to see you again. Happy Christmas.”

“Yeah – look , the missus is just upstairs – cuppa *Rosie Lee?” [*Cockney rhyming slang for TEA]

I smile, check the time on my cell. It’s five o’ clock and I know Max wants a beer. He sees my action and smiles. Max Muswell’s quick eyes miss nothing.

“Beer would be better Max.”

“In that case Emma, I might feel forced to join you out of politeness. Paula is coming I promise. I’ll just pop out to the kitchen and get that drink.”

I look around. He’s a millionaire but the place is no palace. It’s a family home with a litter of boys’ toys. I’m happy to see his life has kept the same shape without me.

“How’s your lad Justin?” I call out.

“Yeah good – just look at the bloody place. He’s still got that bloody earth mover from last Christmas. I have to work day and night to buy the batteries.”

That was my fault – I didn’t think of that. As the night closes in, the array of Christmas lights around the house stand out. I’m beginning to wonder where Paula is and what she’s doing. I suddenly realise he called her ‘the missus’. Surely if they’d married I’d have been invited? He comes back with a couple of beers.

“Still in the same line of business Max?” I ask, keeping things more cock than hen.

“Yeah – still breeding the race horses but I sold up the food business to one of the big chains.”

“And you’re staying out of trouble?”

“Course – like what sort of trouble?”

“Like fist fighting gangsters.”

“Bloody hell Emma – how could I risk that these days?

Before I can answer Paula appears. I must admit I gasp. She speaks before I can get my thoughts together.

“He wouldn’t bloody dare,” she says handing me a baby of about ten weeks.

Some instinct in me responds. This warm contented child against my breasts, those tiny hands, pudgy wrists that I long to kiss, that perfection. Paula had been at least forty. She had been a woman alone, longing for a child. Me – I’d just walked away and gone half way around the world with other characters. I’m speechless but this is just normal life to them. I watch her run her hand back through Max’s thick dark fur of hair. He smiles, catches her hand and kisses the palm. These two have brought so much love to each other. The baby stirs, flicks open blue eyes and resettles.

“Um?” I said.

Paula is smiling.

“Of course you don’t know what happened next.”

“I don’t know if no one tells me.”

“I heard you were in Paris, Milan, New York, Rome and Naples with young hot cops and billionaires.”

“Yeah, but all that stuff’s nothing compared to a baby. I mean it’s a….”

“Miracle – that’s the word isn’t it. I know that’s not your style Emma, but that’s how I see it.”

I can see she’d feel that way. Blind faith is tough for me as an independent woman but can I deny her that belief? Holding this beautiful child, knowing the fragility and uncertainty of life, who has any certainty superior to faith?

“I’ll not argue with miracles. I mean I love Christmas and I love it more because of how you guys made Christmas last year. You were running the show but believe me I was there in the background. If I myself, this pathetic little woman, if I could have torn my heart out and made you a miracle baby at Christmas I would have done it. Someone else took it on from there.”

I stop, somehow emotional.

“But you didn’t have to. You left our lives to the spirit of Christmas. That was enough Emma. Look on that innocent child and tell me that peace, love and hope are not enough.”

I take a deep breath. Now I know the meaning of that nativity scene in the window to these people. They are judging life on the basis of their own experience. Nothing else makes sense does it? I’m still holding the child. I’m so amazed I’ve forgotten the traditional formalities. My soul tells me it’s a boy but I hesitate to make a fool of myself. If I don’t know I don’t deserve to be a novelist.

“What’s his name?”

“Oliver Maxwell,” says Max with a note of pride.

I turn to him and smile.

“I love it – I’d have chosen Oliver myself.”

“You’ll be at the christening I hope? We thought maybe you’d be a godmother…”

“Max, I’d be so proud – I never dreamed something like that could happen.”

Paula is looking at me. She’d always been so kind and deep but in a practical way. Motherhood had given her wisdom and that had blended with her police experience.

“Emma – novelists aren’t special – we all make characters. We create an idea of other people in our heads. Kids, friends, colleagues often go their own way. Christmas brings them back to a starting point, to something to share. I’m not saying religious faith for you, but I admit I’ve moved away from you on that. It’s silly I know but the night Max turned up on that community bus the music blaring out was Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M. It’s Christmas again and I have that simple faith in my heart.”

“Paula – for Christ’s sake, everyone can share that spirit. I’m so happy for you.”

She reaches out, takes the baby and hands him to Max. My god, the look in his eyes is almost scary in its intensity. He is a top dog and this poor pup would have a world of possibilities all of his own. For sure he would need his mother. I set these ideas aside. For now they were loved, utterly protected and happy. There was no way I was going to leave it another year before I came back. I couldn’t wait for the christening.

“Are you going back to work as a cop?”

Max intervenes.

“I’m glad you asked that Emma because maybe you’ll get a sensible answer. Would you let a woman with a babe at home go out there against punks with knives?”

“It’s not my choice Max.”

“OK – put yourself in my shoes. Put yourself in this little one’s shoes.”

“For me, I could never do that job, you know that. I get scared over a keyboard.”

“Emma, I’ve not decided. I’ve got a few months yet.”

I knew I’d put my foot in it as soon as I raised the issue. Suddenly I realise I’d caught sight of her in June in that cable car over the Thames after the terror attack incident with PC Helen Marx. Paula must have been pregnant then. I’m certain she hasn’t told Max about that. Someone needs to change the subject. Paula goes over to the hifi system and pushes a button and there’s nothing else but music.

It is Christmas, a wonderful woman has a miracle baby and the rest of the world can wait or maybe even find peace.

Happy Christmas Everyone.

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Freddie in the Flesh – Passion Patrol Character Interview

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An interview with Freddie La Salle – hero from Seduction of Combat, for the Passion Patrol.combat print and ebook

It’s not that I don’t like other women. I just don’t like another woman around a man that I’m around. Ten females around an attractive male is no problem. There’s always going to be some trollop hanging everything out, or some cool fashion type in porn-star specs, or even worse, someone about twenty-five years younger with forward facing equipment. In those cases I can stand back and enjoy the politics or, if I’m lucky, a good old cat fight. The other rejects and I unite to despise the active players and kind of enjoy the sense of detached superiority. If there’s just me and some other female and she’s getting all the attention, that’s personal. I want to talk to Freddie La Salle and I’d far rather do it alone. I just need the right sort of opportunity. So, let me explain what’s happening. A while ago I met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Anna La Salle in her office at Scotland Yard. It’s high summer and hot. She’s in uniform for the TV cameras. London is under threat of serious terror and I mean bad. Confidentially she tells me she’s playing it down but she’s not sleeping at night. Above her head the bosses right up to the royals are letting a situation develop in an attempt to scoop some big fish. There’s firearms and explosives on the street and Anna’s keeping a calm front, waiting for the horror she hopes will never happen.

“So where are you living?” I ask, not mentioning her husband Freddie.

“It’s a flat in Belgravia. I’m usually working until midnight and we brief the government every morning at 6.30.”

“It’s lucky Freddie still has his Michelin star restaurant in Sloane Square.”

Anna gave a wry snort.

“The restaurant is there but he’s in France. There’s four hundred acres of Champagne vines, two kids and an orchestra of cockerels, goats, geese and donkeys.”

Bloody hell, this poor woman is alone with all her power and anxiety. She was always ambitious but she’s paying a price.

“You must miss him.”

“Yeah I do but you know, emotionally it’s easier this way. He’s not a cop and has no security clearance. If he were here I couldn’t share much with him and that’s a block between partners.”

“So who does he talk to?”

“He’s got friends and he’s got a lot of business in France. He’s a TV pundit for two boxing channels and believe me he still works out and gives the wives and girlfriends a little tremble when he demonstrates technique.”

“Do you trust him? Do you trust them?”

She pulled her lips tight to her perfect teeth, running her hand across her brow. Her eyes flicked to mine to catch my tone.

“Yeah, but he’s a very sexy guy. You know – the tank fills up. You know Emma.”

“So, you can handle that?”

“He handles it and we’ve got video calls. Look, Emma, it’s a release and to be frank – you know….It’s not so much me – it’s his desire for me that’s so hot.”

“You like it. Hell, I’d like it.”

“Look I’m a human being. Please – you’re the only person I could talk to like this.”

“I’m happy you’re both coping physically.”

She got up and walked to her window overlooking Westminster Bridge and the Thames. She spoke quickly with a spontaneity not natural to her.

“Emma, could you pop over and check him out? Tell him whatever you like as long as he gets the message that I love him so much.”

“Me? Do you want a report sent back?”

In truth my heart is hammering. It had been my strategy to see if she was tied up in London. I’d planned to suggest casually that I was having a short break in Paris. I’d never touch another woman’s husband but Freddie La Salle is hotter now than he was seven years ago. I can build a library of fantasy just being around that guy. And he’s xxxxxxx years my junior.

“You’re perfect. He loves you, he reads all your books.”

“He loves me?”

“Like a sister or mother even.”

“Like a mother who writes sex scenes to turn him on?”

“Like an older woman, you know….”

I smile. This older woman might surprise her. Believe me girls you just never have to stop if you like it. Never! And I get mail from women with thirty years on me.

“You mean some neutral female input from someone outside the ring?”

“Exactly.”

“I’ll fix a Eurostar ticket,” I reply with a deliberate flatness.

“There’s a Queen’s flight for a lot of top brass from Northolt at 2 o’clock. I was hoping to fly out but there’s been a vehicle attack on Parliament. Take my place. I’ll arrange the clearance and send my car to your address.”

We shoot a thick power espresso, kiss and dive back into the swirl of London town. I’ve got a bag to pack.

The black government Jaguar XF, the direct drive to the steps of the aircraft, the sexy colonel seated next to me who’d read my books – man this was a dream. Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, a gendarme driver of a grand Peugeot 5008 with a French flag on the hood opening the door and speeding me towards the famous Champagne region. I’d only ever glimpsed this life in books, but it could sweep me up. The land is flat and lined with grape vines. There are distant castles and swoop of swallows in the still air of evening. At last we take a gravel road to a grand farmhouse which in England we’d call a Manor. There are outbuildings of stone with roofs bowed like the back of an old horse. A boy of about five is playing with a puppy. I step out of the car. This must be their son Xavier. God, he was just starting to walk when I last saw him. The French government car pulls away and I’m a stupid English woman with a goose about to peck my suitcase, or me, or both. This animal looks dangerous.

“Over here – Emma, just walk away,” called an oddly-accented male voice.

I look towards the voice. Monsieur Freddie La Salle one time cruiserweight champion of the world is standing in the wide entrance to a barn. He’s wearing tight blue cut-off jeans. Yes, that’s what he’s wearing. His pecs, lats and abs are pumped and glistening. There’s something reforming the shape of his zipper. Something masculine. He’s tanned and smiling, laughing at a London townie fleeing from a homicidal goose. He steps forward, shoos my attacker and reaches his hand to my shoulder. He kisses my cheek, catching my eye with a soft look as he crosses to kiss the other. This bastard is a teaser. I love it. I can feel his body heat, smell his fresh man sweat. There’s that flicker in me. I can’t help it. I want to touch those triceps just to feel their hardness. I mean some men are bastards but that testosterone is horny stuff.

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“My dear Emma, I feel so bad. Anna phoned to say she couldn’t make it and I was really pissed you know. I decided to work out to burn off the heat. Then she calls to say you’re coming. Just like that I’m smiling again. It almost feels like infidelity.”

I look at that very smile, mainly in his dark eyes. He’s a bloody god to look at. There’s just no way I’d leave him on the loose. Anna must be so sure of their relationship. There’s a couple of crows’ feet at the corners of his eyes now. His tan accentuates the scar on his brow that Anna first noticed. His nose is maybe broadened a little by the boxing. This guy sure still has his bull credentials and I’m trying not to look at them in those cut off jeans. The waistband just hints a thickening of hair where his flat belly disappears under the denim. Look, I don’t have to tell you my reaction to him but the fact is that life is chemistry, OK?  Right now I’m loving that test tube feeling. I’m just happy looking and smelling.

“Freddie, I’m a poor substitute for Anna.”

“Everyone’s a poor substitute for Anna because there’s only one. You’re looking so good at being you Emma.”

OK, this is someone else’s man. I’m fif..blah blah and he must be thirty-nine now. He was expecting his gorgeous wife, probably holding back his pressing desire to let go with her. Now he’s looking at me. I’m wearing a summer floral sleeveless dress, the neckline showcasing my normal presentation. His eyes politely take in my form without any lingering – well only a little maybe – nothing to call the cops about.

“So, you have a gym in the barn?”

“Yeah, I fought at cruiserweight and that’s about where I try to stay.”

His voice still has that American accent, sexily mixed in with the French. I’m happy to talk generally.

“Is the upper weight limit still 200 pounds?”

“That’s it and I’m six feet three inches. I was 195 pounds for the Brennan fight.”

“You don’t look any different. Did you never want to fight again?”

“No, Anna was in my life and I promised her it was over.”

“But, did you ever ever regret that?”

“Not the fights but the training and the build up, the guys in the gym and all that trash with stare-downs with the other guy for the cameras. It’s show-biz Emma and it gets into your blood.”

We’d walked into the barn. There was a weight bench. The seat and back support were still wet where he’d been training.

“I broke up your work-out. If you’ve got up a head of steam and need to release the pressure,” I say with a grin.

“Ten minutes OK – there’s Champagne on ice in the fridge if you want to go across to the house?”

“I could tolerate ten minutes.”

He grinned back, straddled the bench and reached up for the overhead bar. I stood looking towards his tree trunk thighs, each muscle defined. His torso rippled as he pushed up, throwing the bar away from him as if it were nothing. With every thrust his buttocks tightened pushing his groin bulge up and tight inside his shorts. To be honest I could have been very naughty if I hadn’t been a mature lady with a shy nature. I pulled out my cell and took a ten second video. He saw me and pushed the weights with one hand, giving me a wave with the other. The summer evening was settling and the warm air was still. He grunted a little with each lift as the smell of his sweat deepened and troubled me more and more. I’m sorry, but smell is a big thing for me. It’s like a switch and I cannot help it, OK. So there’s this hunk, thrusting and groaning and I’m watching like I’m supposed to be like a tree or something. There’s some heat in the fire and if he doesn’t soon stop there’s going to smoke coming out of my chimney. Look, he knows what he’s doing and it’s only a tease. I can’t imagine I’m ever going to be in a situation like this again. Who needs fantasy? He can’t possibly know that I’m bursting to pull out that cock and finish what he’s started in me.

He stopped at last and slumped forward.

“Can you throw me a towel Emma.”

I go to a table laid out with water and fresh white towels. I walk back to hand it to him. You know, I’m really girlie at throwing stuff so I have to get close. He’s still seated, his eyes at my breast level. He reaches across his front to wipe across the opposite shoulder. His upper arm is rock hard bicep and tricep. I mean rock hard with curve and power. Like this is sculpture. Like it’s not like touching someone else’s husband it’s like touching a work of art. I couldn’t help it – I just had to feel that hot iron, so close to my breast. I’m biting my lip, I’m holding my floor muscles so tight. I have to stand back and smile.

“I just had to see what that felt like. I’m interested in sport science,” I say, aroused, embarrassed, orgasmic, ashamed, ecstatic. The feel of that flesh will never leave my memory. Never.

“That’s cool, it’s not my heart or my soul. That would be a no no.”

“So can I touch again?”

“Maybe better not unless you want to dry off my back.”

I take the towel and get him to turn. The thickness of his neck and the bulge of his shoulder muscles are a thrill to contemplate, let alone touch. I take my time.

“You’re gentle,” he says.

I don’t tell him I feel like ripping off his shorts and making his cock beg for my release. See that helpless abandoned flood. I should stop this right now. But I don’t.

“Anna told me you’ve read my books,” I say casually, looking down his rippled abs to his bulge.

“Did she? Did she say what I thought of them?”

“Not too much….maybe you don’t like them.”

He gave a deep sexy chuckle. I drape the towel over his shoulder and run my hand down his lats.

“You’re so gentle,” he repeats with a lingering longing sigh in his voice

“I’m an art lover.”

He stands on the other side of the bench, towelling off his chest. I look down and I can see he loved my art too. He fixes his gaze on my face, knowing where my attention is. He runs his hands down to his waistband, tucks them just inside. What’s he going to do? Please do it. Please don’t do it. He discreetly settles his portfolio of assets and smiles.

“Shower, Champagne and a lovely woman to share my dinner. I’m a lucky man.”

He comes to my side, throws an arm and around me and escorts me to the house. That was so so close. I’ve never cheated but dear Lord….

He toasts my good health, sips his glass and leaves me with a bottle of Veuve La Salle premier cru Champagne. The lounge is beautiful with exposed wood and crazy angled walls and doors. The floor is flagstones with a riot of rugs. The ceiling has curved wooden beams and old weird farm tools hanging on rusty iron rings. Designers try and fake this look but this is the real stuff. I pour a second glass. Leaving a novelist alone with a bottle of wine is like leaving your dog alone with a week’s supply of food. Temptation has always been an issue for me. I need all my strength for my books so I never waste it on futile struggles with things like Champagne or chocolate.

When Freddie comes back I’m a bit mellow. He smells spicy. He’s wearing a blue shirt and beautifully cut dark gray pants. In clothes, his shoulders look even broader. His hair is swept back and still wet. A strand falls across his forehead and I want to push it back. Mother response? Cougar? I’m drunk. He offers me his hand and leads me through to an open terrace looking out on the fields of vines. He’s a foot taller than me for god’s sake.

“I thought we could eat out here. Yvette is doing something with Reims ham and truffles.”

I look up at him. No, I would not let this guy wander about on his own. He looks down at me. Kiss me. Make me do it. He doesn’t. I’m glad. Kind of. A woman brings through smoked salmon and more Champagne. This could get messy. I sip my newly filled glass.

“Do you still collect art Freddie?”

“Not so much, I’m out of Paris and away from the action.”

“Is your Courbet collection still at le Musee d’Orsay?”

“Yes, you can’t look after paintings like that yourself in a place like this.”

“And you still have “L’Origine du Monde?”

“It will always be my favorite view Emma. I can never see it without thinking of you. That beauty will always be the origin of the world – at least the world of humanity.”

'L'Origine du Monde'by Gustav CourbetWas considered so shocking in it's daythat it was only ever displayed coveredby a curtain

We savour the salmon and some more Champagne.

“Anna’s got a lot of responsibility these days,” I say, not sure where I want this to go.

“Yeah, that’s a fact. She deceived me when we met but after that I knew she was a cop. I still loved her even so.”

“It’s harder to love a cop than some other woman?”

“The worst would be a writer. You’d never know what’s true. A cop – well it’s a timeshare. They love hard because they know the truth and the uncertainty of life.”

“Are you OK alone?”

“That’s a very direct question Emma.”

“If I can’t ask you who can?”

“That’s true. Well it’s complicated. A divided relationship like this would be best if I didn’t love her. Some relationships survive just because they’re so ordinary. Because I’m still a man in love I’m still a man with love to give. Love revs you up and it’s a big motor. When she gets home and we’re together there’s a lot of heat.”

“Have you ever been tempted Freddie?”

He nodded and looked away from me. I wanted to reach out to him. I’d started this and he needed to talk. I poured another glass. Sod it.

“A writer’s true emotional life is with her characters. Did you know that?”

He nodded again and turned his tanned male face back to me. So male. So male.

“I always felt that way when I was with you.”

“I wanted you to find your own way, your own girl and pull off your ambitions. You were a risky guy when I first met you.”

“Anna’s the risk-taker now.”

For a moment I reflected on his response. There was a wistful jealousy there. Did I want to open this guy up? I could get involved here. He was my first. I can’t deny him the truth about myself.

“Freddie, when we were together – you know every day in those days, I had a lot of love to give like you now and I had no one. You were the man I wanted. Then you met that girl in that taxi and I knew straight away she’d take you away.”

“I remember those first days together Emma. God, I couldn’t even keep the same accent.”

“I remember that too.”

I vaguely stretched out my hand and he took it. This was wrong but hell it felt so good. Don’t even think of moving closer to kiss me. Please kiss me. His cell phone was ringing. I knew who this would be. I let go of his hand.

“You were my first.” I said.

***********************************************************************************

combat paperbackFind out more about Anna and Freddie’s romance in ‘Seduction of Combat’ available in e-book, print and audiobook here

If you’ve got any additional questions for Freddie, I’m staying overnight, so fire away in the comments below…

 

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