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

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chateau-panorama

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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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.

Combat Quote 1 iphone Xr

“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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