Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Update to Hush Darling

 Thank you all for the kind words last week on the first part. I'm so excited about this story. These will be the last two chapters I post as a sample (the book releases next week). 

If you missed it, here are the first two chapters

Hush Darling chapters three and four

Monday, September 21, 2020

Limerence

 


  Hello everyone,


  I hope you guys are healthy and are keeping safe. 


  I decided to come on here again as I am working on a project which I'd like to share with you all and see if there is any interest in the topic.

  I am working on a new story that would include a blind sexy vampire who is very OTT possessive and obsessed with the heroine. 

  Please, share with me your opinions- would you like to read a story like this one? The protagonist is a wounded hero, who has many demons and is quite tortured, dark, sexy and brooding. At times overwhelmingly so. 

   Here's a sample , please check it out and let me know if you like it!

http://stories.paradevo.net/2020/08/limerence-chapter-1.html


 If there is enough interest I will continue writing . 

   

   With Tenderness,

   Sophie


 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Update to The F-Word

 Thanks for all the comments last week!  I really wasn't sure about this story, but your kind words gave me the confidence to move forward with publishing sooner rather than later (I had been aiming for 2021).  Here's the next chapter with some new revelations about what happened between Blake and Audrey:

Chapter 4

Table of Contents

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Avery - Hush Darling

Hey all. Avery here. This is the first time that I've ever posted on this blog, so I wanted to introduce myself. I write stories about wounded heroes, be it physically or emotionally. So if that's your jam, I've got you covered. 

Some of you may be familiar with my stories, others may not. I'm only going to be posting the first four chapters of this book as a sample. 

I'm not a huge fan of trigger warnings but due to domestic abuse, I feel it's necessary in this case: This material contains sensitive issues that may be disturbing for some readers. Certain scenes will portray detailed domestic abuse, physical violence, and intense, complex grief issues.

I'll be posting two chapters this week and two next week. 

My most recent book, Hush Darling (featuring a Deaf hero), is set to release on September 28th. 

So, without further ado, here are the first two chapters. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Update to the F-Word!

Thanks for all your comments last week!  This next chapter has some steaminess in it...

Chapter 3

Table of Contents


Monday, September 7, 2020

New Story : ' Enemy, Mine' - a sequel to 'The Tortured Billionaire'. Book 2 in the Billionaire series by S. Miller



          Hi there lovely people,



   I hope you enjoyed the snippet from "The Tortured Billioanire" I shared with you in my last post. 


   Some people were curious about the validity of the story and how much from what I had experienced in my own personal life had been included in the book.

   So I realized I have to make the following disclaimer: 

  For the purposes of keeping the identities of the characters involved in the first book private, I deliberately altered names, locations and some circumstances. 

  I had to do this as some friends were trying to discover the identities of the real people who I used to base the story on, and of course I wouldn't want to reveal those. However, I would like to say that most of the information included in the series comes from my own personal experience, and I will just leave it at that. 

Now , for the fun part. There is a sequel to the first book and I am happy to share part of it with you here :

http://stories.paradevo.net/2020/08/blog-post.html

This is a sequel to the first book, and Book 2 in the Billionaire series. If you enjoy the sample, you can find the whole book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HL9VNLQ


I will also be posting more from these two stories for those of you who enjoy it, every Monday on this blog. The way I write is similar to therapy, as it helps me battle my own demons. 

Here is the continuation to "The Tortured Billionaire" story: http://stories.paradevo.net/2020/07/the-tortured-billionaire-update.html

I am so grateful for you guys who are showing support and allowing me the platform to speak up and voice my thoughts and experiences. The writing helps me deal with what I have gone through in my past and is indeed like therapy. I would recommend anyone who has gone though abuse or trauma in their own life to keep a journal or something to record their experience. 


Until next time,


Sophie

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Update to the F-word

Thank you so much for all the feedback on my new story.  Here is the next chapter of The F-word:

Chapter 2

And in case you missed it, here is Chapter 1.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Beta Readers Wanted

 Hi everyone! Devo Girl here again with yet another historical fiction novel featuring a sexy blind guy! Huge thanks to everyone who helped with beta reading my previous novel and to all the awesome readers who have already agreed to beta read this latest one. But I find it's best to get a lot of opinions as I'm revising. Also this time around, the novel is m-m and set in Japan so if any of you are fans of samurai movies, manga/anime or BL/yaoi, I'd love to have your feedback. Please email me at devogirlfromparadevo@gmail.com if you're interested.

Here's the blurb:

Flowers by Night

Japan, 1825. Edo is the largest city in the world, despite being wracked by frequent natural disasters, a city where people of every class find bawdy, thrilling entertainment of every kind. Love affairs between men are completely accepted, even among men married to women, but low-ranking samurai Uchida Tomonosuke has never pledged himself to another man. Until one day he accidentally crosses paths with a beautiful blind masseur who challenges everything he thought he knew. Ichi is a member of the Todoza, the guild of blind men, who are trained in massage and music. The Todoza taught Ichi how to be independent and self-sufficient, but he's still at the very lowest rungs of society. For the samurai and the masseur to be together, it will mean not only crossing class lines and negotiating Tomonosuke's unhappy wife, but also surviving earthquake, fire and famine. Theirs is a thoroughly unconventional love story that is based in rich historical detail.

Read on for the first chapter...

Monday, August 31, 2020

New Contributor, Sophie Miller - Introduction

 



       Hi there lovely people!


     I would like to introduce myself and to thank you all for having me on here. 


     My name is Sophie and this is my first attempt at writing devotee fiction. My story began when I arrived in England as a student . During my first year at university I met a guy who was a T12 paraplegic. He was the man who introduced me to disability and what it's like living a life with challenges. 

    Our love story was somewhat out of the ordinary and my first book I decided to write in memory of that particular chapter in my life. 


   We are no longer together but to say he left a significant mark on my life and future would be an understatement. 


   I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing and most of all - living it. 

  

  Here is a link to the first chapter of the book : 

http://stories.paradevo.net/2020/07/the-tortured-billionaire-new-book-by-s.html

 Enjoy!


  With love,


  Sophie

Sunday, August 30, 2020

New Story from Annabelle: The F-Word

Hi all!  Thanks for your inspiration a couple of weeks ago!  I'm going to go ahead and start posting a new story.  As opposed to usual, this one isn't completely written yet and I don't have a book ready to go, but I figured nobody is posting, so I'd go head and get it up there.  Since it's very much in progress, comments are welcome!!!!


THE F-WORD


Audrey

Two weeks ago, I got married.

I’m married. 

I still can’t wrap my head around it entirely. That I’m somebody’s wife. I’ve got a ring on my left fourth finger that I wear all the time now, except when I shower. I have a husband. I still can’t say it without giggling.  Throughout our entire honeymoon, every time Blake or I referred to each other as our husband/wife, we would giggle. It just seemed so preposterous.

And now that we’ve returned from our honeymoon, Blake is unlocking the door to our apartment to start our lives together.  I mean, my husband is unlocking the door to our apartment. My husband. That’s so wild.

As the door swings open, Blake grins at me. We’ve been together four years now, but I still find him so sexy, especially when he smiles. My husband is sexy. My husband.
 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Next week

So after considering the results of the poll I put up, I started writing a new story this week about a divorced couple with kids that reconnects years later over the unthinkable trauma of turning 40. 

In general, it seems like protagonists in romance stories aren’t allowed to be older than 30s, but to hell with that. After all, when I put up that video about the 24-year-old politician, everybody kept saying “yuck, he’s young enough to be my son!” So let’s have a story about a man who is actually mature!

I’m going to post the first chapter next week.  See you then!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Limerence- Chapter 1

 

London, England. 1233 AD

 

     The narrow lane had led him to a dead end. He was surrounded by enemies- the Scarlet Hand Brotherhood had finally discovered his hiding place.

    Adrian was not afraid of dying. Hell, he ALREADY was dead, technically speaking. The excruciating pain caused by the sharp blade of the Celt rippling through his entire body, was still fresh in his memory. The agonizing cries of his brothers in arms never left him alone. They were there in his sleep, so he simply hadn’t slept since that very day.

 

  The day when he betrayed his own men. They relied on him for leadership, and he had simply lead them all into a death trap. Every last one of the Roman soldiers who had been under his command were slaughtered that day. The wild savages had no mercy. He was the last one standing. To die fighting, in battle, was one of the most honorable deaths a Roman centurion could possibly ask for.

 

  But not like this. Not when their grave would never be found by their comrades. Their bones scattered into the four directions of the world, their families unable to at least be offered an honorable burial.

 

  It was his mistake. He better die here and pay in hell for all the lives he couldn’t save. It was too late now. The sharp blade of the savage was like a welcomed, long-awaited lover. It ripped through his muscles and penetrated his heart. Alas, the death didn’t come as swiftly as he had hoped.

 

 He had no idea how long he had been laying in the soft grass for, surrounded by the rotting corpses of his soldiers. Some were friends from childhood. “Please, Gods, I beg of you! Deliver me a swift exit! For I grow eager to meet with my ancestors in the underworld. I pray thee, oh mighty Orcus, punisher of broken oaths. Please do not tarry, take my soul away from this damned savage land already!”

 

    As if the god of the underworld heard him, for a creature unknown to Adrian appeared out of the midnight silver mist. The land here has indeed been cursed, he thought to himself, before the creature materialized fully in front of him. It took Adrian all his willpower not to scream. For nothing- not even years of battling enemies in foreign lands- could prepare him for the sight of … Death? Was this how it all ended then?

 

   The creature looked at him with its hollow black eyes and Adrian stilled. He had no strength left to fight. His sword lay a few meters away from him, buried under the bodies of his soldiers. There was nothing left to do but to wait for his end to come. He closed his eyes and uttered one last prayer. And a goodbye. He would never see his family again. His beautiful young wife, who had just given birth to his son- his firstborn. Thank god they were behind the wall, safe, far away from this hell.

 

  As thoughts of his loved ones filled his mind, Adrian suddenly felt a sharp pain, as if something had bitten him. He quickly opened his eyes in utter panic, and swiftly regretted it. For what he witnesses then, he would never forget, he would remember it for the rest of his eternal life!

 

 The creature was sucking the blood he still had left in him. Adrian made a weak effort to get up, which seemingly frightened the cursed thing, as it made an ugly sound and disappeared into the woods, just as it had appeared earlier.

 

  Completely exhausted, the Roman general prepared to die. But just as he felt his body relax and his soul prepare to enter the next world, a spasm made him bend in two. In a fetal position he tried to crawl, but failed, as another spasm- this time much stronger than the first one- rendered him completely unconscious.

 

 With this, the Transformation of Adrian, Roman general and leader of thousands of Roman soldiers, had begun.

 

 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

"New Beginnings" for Kindle

Hi Fiction Blog readers,

How have you been during these last months? I hope everyone is doing well under the  circumstances.  Times are not easy right now.  

So the Fiction Blog space on Blogger is different now and I am still trying to figure it out. I hope this message displays right.

I kind of miss coming here to post weekly, but I am also busy working on self publishing my stories. I am already working on the next one. 

If you bought "Will Love Prevail" I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you enjoyed it. I know it wasn't perfect, but it was my first try at publishing. People have been buying it and reading it, so this makes me happy. In case you missed it, here is the link.

I have now also published "New Beginnings". I worked a lot on it to get it ready for publishing. If you liked the story here, you can now own it on your Kindle or read on Kindle Unlimited. "New Beginnings" holds a special place in my heart because it was my first dev romance. 

I hope you will check it out. Thanks forI reading and hope this finds you well.  I would be happy to hear from you. 

My email is: torninbetweenseit71@gmail.com 

Here is the link to "New Beginnings"

Sending everyone a big hug, stay safe, be well and healthy. 

Love, Dani

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Poll from Annabelle

So now that I have finished posting my last story, I’ve had a lot of potential ideas bobbing around my head, but I can’t decide which ones to write.  So I’m going to list some of them here and tell me which ones appeal to you:

What do you want to read about most?
The story of my first love—a disabled boy in high school. And reconnecting years later.
A couple with kids that gets divorced when the wife can’t cope after his accident, but then find they still have feelings for each other years later.
A covid-era quarantine story about a man and woman who connect through their apartment windows
Beauty and the Beast retelling in which the beast was injured in an accident
Created with PollMaker

Also, feel free to comment any thoughts or other ideas!

Monday, August 10, 2020

"New" Book: Like a Boss

My new book, Like a Boss, is out today!  This is a revision of Harvard Hottie with the last 20% completely revised and a new epilogue about their future.  Get it on Amazon!


Have you ever met someone and hated them instantly?
For me, that was Luke Thayer.

When I met him freshman year of college, he was as smug as he was rich and gorgeous. A spoiled jerk who would get everything he wanted in life.

Now it’s sixteen years later.

He’s just as obnoxious and handsome as he ever was, and ten times as wealthy. But he’s not the same—a rock climbing accident a decade earlier has landed him in a wheelchair for life.

And I get one other big surprise:

He’s my new boss.


Get it on Amazon today!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Last update to Like a Boss

Thank you everyone for reading my final update to Like a Boss.  I have to figure out what I'm going to do next.  But in the meantime:

Chapter 5

Table of Contents

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Enemy, Mine (Billionaire Series, Book 2) by S. Miller

 

Prologue

 

     London hadn’t changed at all. I didn’t miss the cold winter nights or the chilly air of October early mornings. I never thought I would be coming back to this city again, and yet, here I was.

 

   Everything seemed to be as I remembered. The tall modern skyscraper buildings of The City making a stark contrast to the white opulent facades of the town houses in central London. Tower Bridge, Big Ben, The House of Parliament. All appeared the same. And yet all was different. I was different.

 

  Six years ago I left this place still as a student. Or should I say- a drop out. I never even managed to finish my first year at university. It had become impossible for me to remain or even transfer to another academic institution. It wasn’t like I didn’t try- I did. But the applications all returned with the very same answer- not approved. The reasons given varied, some didn’t even pay me the curtesy of even specifying any.

 Not that I needed them to. I knew damn too well why I got declined from everywhere. The answer had one name- Robert. Or should I say, Professor Green. Lord Winfield. The heir of a vast fortune, wealth and unlimited power. His family owned most of the land in central London. Properties, businesses, you name it. They had their hands on everything lucrative and prestigious. Including the university I had been studying at, at the time. This is where I met him. He was one of my professors in Neuroscience. I didn’t know who he was at the time- he had made sure of it. The plan I guess was to seduce me and have fun with me for as long as he wanted me- then discard. Get rid.

 

The only problem- I happened to accidentally stumble across the whole truth before he could carry out his ploy. He hadn’t predicted the possibility of his father coming to the university building and thus revealing unintentionally the identity of his son. And what identity it was! No wonder he was hiding everything from me. From the playboy past, through numerous model-like blond girlfriends, to multiple affairs and broken promises. The trail of destroyed lives, hopes and dreams that this man had left in his wake was staggering. I remember I felt sick as I was going through numerous pages on the internet with articles on him, with photos upon photos of his smiling arrogant face staring at me, with a stunningly beautiful woman always on his arm.

 

 He was irresistible, the most wanted bachelor in London- and he knew it. And played it well. Of course all this had to end with the accident. The one that got him stuck in a wheelchair. He was driving his latest toy- some crazily expensive car, when he crashed it. It left him paralyzed from the waist down. Of course I didn’t know all this when I first saw him at the lecture hall. All I could remember were the beautiful amber eyes, the masculine jaw, the perfectly sculpted cheek bones and straight nose. This man was beautiful. I could only imagine how attractive he must have been to the women before. The accident had changed him, it was obvious. And therein lay my most crucial mistake- I believed it. I believed he was a changed man.

 

  Of course it wasn’t difficult as back then I had no idea who he was, or what his life had been prior to the car crash. All I saw was a man who was trying to live as best as he could, and to love. Oh, how much was I mistaken. It all became crystal clear when I discovered his past along with the man he used to be. A man I could have never fallen in love with. The familiar face that looked at me from the glossy magazine photos was not the guy I had grown to know and eventually, love. This person was a stranger. And not only that- he was the type of character I would generally avoid at all cost. The arrogance, vanity, egocentric attitude, were all present. He was clearly used to getting what he wanted- always. And this time around- he wanted me. For reasons I still find difficult to understand.

 

  The facts is – I didn’t look like the model, statuesque women he was used to dating. With my brunette hair and medium height, I wasn’t one to basically stand out from the crowd. Perhaps my only very attractive feature were my eyes. He complimented me on them often. They were green, with tiny brown specs scattered throughout the irises. This combination, along with long lashes and the almond shape, gave me somewhat of an exotic, cat-like appearance. So I guess this was my misfortune and why I really hated them every time I looked myself in the mirror ever since. For maybe if I had just ordinary, brown eyes, that didn’t stand out so much, I could have avoided altogether the disaster that was Lord Winfield.

 

  Now, six years later, I had returned to the place I had sworn I would never visit again. Back to the man who had destroyed my life, my teenage hopes and dreams, my career- with just one word of his. I knew Robert was behind all the denied applications. He had connections in all academic institutions in the country and it seemed his influence reached as far as Scotland. After I received a decline from the University of Edinburgh, I knew I was done with trying to continue my degree in the UK. Apparently it wasn’t enough that he managed to destroy my reputation when the truth about our affair came out.

  I don’t know if he managed to keep his position and title, but I figured since his family practically owned the university, he most likely was still teaching there. What was my surprise, therefore, when a month ago I happened to come across an article online, with his name plastered all over the headlines.

 

  The air stopped in my chest and the familiar sickly feeling- one that I hadn’t experienced in years, returned with a vengeance. It was as though no time had passed and I found myself looking again at those arrogant amber eyes. The expression on his face- although he managed to hide it within seconds, was still etched vividly in my memory. He was pleading for me to forgive him. To understand why he had lied and hidden his identity. Why he had purchased a flat for our meetings, in order to keep up the illusion of being an average guy, just living off his professor’s salary, completely obscuring the fact who he really was. Who his family was.

 

 I never gave him the chance to explain. I walked away from him. in that very same corridor where we had met for the first time. I didn’t want to hear more lies and I was convinced he would have tried to manipulate me further, had I given him the opportunity. Robert- I mean Lord Winfield, was obviously very experienced with getting his own way. Especially with women. The doubt I felt regarding his intentions vanished immediately when I caught that expression he had on his face. I would ever forget it. Or the moment all became crystal clear to me. In that moment I knew this man had never truly changed deep inside. The veneer of humility, generosity and consideration for others had been just that- a cover up. Beneath it all he was still the same arrogant guy, looking at me from the covers of the glossy magazines. He could no longer have all the best looking models, actresses and socialites – the crème de la crème of London high society. But he could have me- and at the time I was convinced he wanted me. I have no idea why- perhaps the thought of sleeping with a student of his, the thrill of the forbidden love affair, appeared tempting. Whatever the reason, I was sure he would have dropped me the moment he had satiated his curiosity. For the kind of men he clearly belonged to- the spoiled, super rich, high status mega powerful elite members of London society – would have never been able to see me as anything more than a plaything.

 

  Clearly he had no intentions of ever introducing me to his family, or including me in his real life. He had made sure I was kept in the dark, and actually went as far as creating an entire separate life for himself. We didn’t go out together and mostly stayed in, in the evenings. This went on for almost two months. I was practically living at his place by then, he had insisted it would be easier for us logistically. He would then drive to work and drop me off just a short distance before the university campus, so that no one ever knew we were an item. I had fallen hard for him already, so I didn’t really pay attention as to what was going on around me. There had been some inconsistencies in his story, some things that didn’t add up. Had I not been so infatuated, I would have probably been able to spot those much sooner. And maybe saved me a heartbreak and a total career collapse in the future.

 

 Unfortunately, I discovered the truth when it was already too late to salvage anything, not even my dignity. Somehow the secret had come out and I had no choice but to seek a transfer to a different academic institution. It soon became clear, however, that rumors had reached all the bigger universities in England, which drastically reduced my chances of ever continuing my degree in a reputable, established institute. Scotland was my last option, but their refusal of my application came in so quickly, I was certain by then someone was involved. Someone who clearly didn’t want me to stay and finish my studies here.

 

 So the only choice was to leave. Humiliated and with no prospects, I took a plane back home. It took me almost two years to begin regaining some of my old self back. My passion for life slowly but surely was coming back to me. I ended up travelling across Europe for a year, brushing up on my French while making new friends all over the continent. I had been staying with a girl in Nice- someone I met during my travels and who quickly became one of my closest confidants and companions. It was summer and we had been enjoying the Mediterranean outdoors, sunbathing and playing in the salty waters. During one of our breaks, we were drinking cold lattes at a cute local café near the beach, when with my peripheral vision I suddenly caught a sight of something familiar.

 

  The TV was on, they had been playing some showbiz news from St Tropez. I focused on the presenter, not understanding why I felt like I needed to see what they were about to show next. My French still wasn’t perfect and I struggled to follow the quick barrage of words. Suddenly, a name was mentioned- one which I could recognize anywhere. And one that I wanted desperately to be able to forget forever.

 

  Robert Green, Lord Winfield. The famous bachelor was visiting. The next thing that followed was a series of photos and a video of him, accompanied by a tall, devastatingly beautiful woman, exiting one of the famous 5-star hotels on the Riviere. And he was NOT in a wheelchair. I squinted, cursing myself for not bringing my glasses along. The screen was big enough fortunately and there was no way I wasn’t seeing properly. Robert was walking all on his own. He had a cane which he seemed to be using, putting some of his weight on it. And his gate seems somewhat abnormal. He was concentrating on walking, not paying attention to the crowds of paparazzi waiting outside. The woman who was his companion didn’t seem to have an issue with the media attention, however, as she smiled broadly and looked straight at the waiting cameras. She had the polished skills of a professional actress. They looked perfect together, almost like a Hollywood couple.

 

  I was so entranced by what was unfolding right in front of me, that I didn’t notice my friend talking. I wanted to see every detail, to memorize his expression. Unfortunately, their car pulled right in front of the hotel entrance and Robert and his companion soon disappeared from view. At this point the video footage ended and I slowly moved my eyes across the table where my friend was looking at me speculatively. I hadn’t told her every little detail about my past and the man who had hurt me beyond repair, but I think she managed to put two and two together.

 

 “Emma? It’s him, isn’t it?”, I looked her directly in the eye.

“Yes, it is”.

 “You are going to London, aren’t you?”

 It was more of a statement rather than a question. “Yes, I am going back to London.”

 

 

 

                               Chapter 1

 

  The plane landed with a thud. I grabbed my handbag and prepared myself for the hustle and bustle that was going to follow next. Terminal 5 at Heathrow brought unpleasant memories- ones that I would rather forget. Six years ago I was here again, this time however not arriving but departing. Everything had been a blur, the pain too much to bear. It’s still unclear to me to this day how I managed to gather the courage and strength not to fall apart completely.

 

  Of course the meltdown took place, but much later on, once I was safely in the air, on my way back home. The period immediately after my return was one of the darkest, most terrifying experiences in my life. Something I generally avoided talking about altogether, if I could help it. Today I think of it as a black hole- a gap in my story which is better left uncovered.

   The strength of the memories and sensations once my feet touched London soil took me by surprise. Through the ears I had managed to develop some kind of a shield of self-protection, not many could penetrate. Particularly men. For I had spent the time not only recovering, but building myself up. I had lost most of the baby weight I still carried around with me during my student years. The frequent swims in the Mediterranean along with basking in the sun had given my skin a bronzed, healthy flow. I was in the best shape of my life and I knew it.

   The final alteration that finished off my complete transformation was my hair- it was now a golden blond. The darker shades of auburn had fully disappeared. In fact, this step was the last one and it took some courage to go through with it. At first I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go that far and change my look so drastically. However, after seeing the recent footage on all TV channels, where Robert was being snapped with a string of Barbie-looking socialites and models, had solidified my decision. If I wanted my plan to work, I needed to go all the way. There had to be no compromises, no risks taken. He had to believe I was the person I was going to introduce myself as. My name was changed, my background story along with all the necessary documents.

  To be honest, it turned out to be easier than I thought. This part worried me the most- how was I going to get a job at one of his companies and slowly infiltrate myself into his life. And heart. But the interview went surprisingly smoothly, and soon after I received confirmation of my job application being successful.

 

  Leaving my best friend in France was difficult, but she promised she would pay me a visit in London as soon as possible. Next, I arranged my flights and the flat I was going to be renting while here. It was a very nice small apartment in Knightsbridge. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it, and the landlord was kind enough to reduce the price for me- which was very odd, I must say. I had my misgivings and expected something to be majorly wrong with the place, but it turned out to be even nicer than what I had seen in the photos. So I signed the lease right away.

   My plan was running so smoothly up to this point, that I almost felt suspicious something was off. Getting the job turned out way easier than expected, as well as finding a place that I loved AND within my price range right away- which, for London, is quite rare, seemed a little bit too good to be true. But when I shared my reservations with my friend, she suggested perhaps it was a sign fortune was finally on my side- and my plan was going to work out. The man who destroyed my life and my future six years ago was going to pay for it. And I fully intended to make sure he did. Yes, karma is a bitch.

 

    

 

  The Kensington flat was even better in reality than those photos I saw when I signed the tenant’s contract. It was rather surreal and almost too good to be true. Maybe, as my friend had said, this was a sign from destiny- that I was indeed supposed to be here and proceed with my plan.

   I settled into my new routine much sooner than expected. The company I was going to work for had its headquarters based in the City, however the commute hadn’t been as bad as I was expected. Not only that, but my first day at my new job went brilliantly. My colleagues seemed pretty chilled and very helpful. My immediate supervisor- a girl my age who was the happiest person I have ever seen- made sure I felt comfortable and had everything I needed.

   Everything just seemed to click in so easily, I had to pinch myself in order to remind me that this was only a temporary thing and once I managed to accomplish what I came here to do, I would be leaving this place and everyone along with it. The thought almost made me sad- all these people seemed so lovely. I had expected much animosity and hypocrisy. Instead, I got kindness, compassion and genuine friendliness.

   But I knew I had to keep my eyes firmly on the goal. Which was to make Lord Winfield, future Viscount Wesley, pay for everything he ever did to me. And so I was going to buy my time and get familiar with my job and immediate surroundings. I didn’t want to attract much attention to myself. So I was going to work diligently, whilst at the same time waiting for the right moment to act. Since this was one of the companies run by Robert’s family, and by now I knew he had assumed the head CEO position from his father, sooner or later he was bound to visit the main office here. And when he did, I was going to be ready. Robert would not be able to see it even coming- and this time around  I was going to be the one to have the last laugh.




 Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this sample, please check out my book here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HL9VNLQ

 


to be continued...

 

 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The F-word, Chapter 2


Audrey
 

Gretchen is absolutely apoplectic when I arrive at her townhouse. If I came any later, she probably would have had a stroke. 

“Audrey!” She pulls me into her home with her long spidery fingers.  Something about Gretchen reminds me just a bit of the witch in an old fairytale. Maybe it’s her long white hair.  “Thank goodness you’re here. You have to see this!”

Gretchen pulls me through her elaborately furnished townhouse. The decoration theme is black and white. Gretchen wanted everything in black and white—a combination that can create a stunning and dramatic decor. Black gives a focal point of color that lends a sophistication to any room. And it always catches the eye. Just black alone is striking, but pairing black with white is drama.  And Gretchen loves drama.

We’ve redone Gretchen’s floor in black marble, set off with tall white baseboard moldings.  Her walls are painted a soft, ivory white that looks great with her artwork, which has been placed in black frames. 

“It looks great!” I say.

“It’s in the bathroom!” Gretchen sobs.

I follow her into her large bathroom—possibly the largest bathroom I’ve ever seen in Manhattan.  This bathroom might be larger than the bedroom in the first apartment Blake and I shared. In order to fit a dresser and our queen size bed, we had to walk sideways to get across the room. We better not gain any weight, Blake commented after we just barely got our furniture in place.

It doesn’t escape me that Blake wouldn’t be able to use a bedroom like that now.

Gretchen’s bathroom has been redone with a black marble countertop, contrasting with her white sink. This is what she asked for, and what she and I discussed together in detail.   Except the black marble countertop has been decorated with the flair of a white squiggly line coming out of the sink, which I felt would break up the black in a striking way.

I stare at the design, my heart sinking. This doesn’t look the way I expected it to.  It sort of looks like…

“Sperm!” Gretchen cries. “My countertop looks like a sperm!”

“Just a little,” I concede. “It’s barely noticeable.”

Gretchen punches her fists into her hips. “Barely noticeable? I have a big white sperm on my bathroom counter! How am I supposed to live this way?”

If she were anyone else, I would just assure her we would take care of it and that would be the end of it. But I know that won’t be acceptable to this woman. “I’m going to call right now to get this fixed,” I say.

She wrings her hands together. “So… they’ll come fix it tonight?”

“Tonight?”  I look at my watch. It’s nearly 6. “I doubt I can get it done for you tonight. But first thing tomorrow…”

“But I can’t sleep like this!” she wails. “Audrey, there’s sperm in my bathroom!”

Jesus Christ.  I mean, it’s not actual sperm.

“Right.” I look down at her marble countertop, wondering how many favors I’m going to have to call in to get this taken care of tonight.  “Okay, don’t worry.  We’ll get it done.”

“Oh, thank you, Audrey!” She throws her bony arms around me. “I knew you would help me.”

Gretchen is a drama queen, but our whole company is grateful to her. Whatever this woman wants, she’s going to get. It’s a good thing Blake is keeping the kids for dinner tonight.

Which reminds me, I don’t know if I’m going to make it to his apartment by 8 o’clock. And if I’m late, I know he’s going to let me have it.  He doesn’t even care, but any excuse to yell at me. I don’t know how things got so bad between us.

Well, that’s not true. I do know how things got so bad. It’s partially my fault, but he deserves some of the blame too. One thing I wish I could take back is the timing of serving him with the divorce papers. If I waited just a little while longer, maybe we could have been friends. But he was already moved out, and I wanted to get on with my life.

Anyway, what’s done is done.

I excuse myself from Gretchen to make some calls. I’ve got to call the contractor who worked on her sink. He’s not going to be thrilled about coming over here late at night, but then again, Gretchen is a big client for him too.  God forbid she spend one night with A sink that looks just a little bit like sperm.

But first, I call Patrick.

He picks up after a couple of rings, and I can hear the television in the background.  “Audrey,” he says, “should I get the Chinese food? Are you on your way home?”

“Wait… are you home?” I ask.

“Yup.”

“But… you said you were stepping into a meeting and that was only about 20 minutes ago.”

“Yeah, a Zoom meeting. I was home.  It was quicker than I thought.”

Right, of course. Last year, Patrick and a friend of his started up their own company doing PR. He used to work for some big company, but he left to strike out on his own. Because I have a lot of high-end clients, I’ve been able to help them out with some contacts.  It’s been slow going though, especially compared to my memories of when Blake started his own accounting firm years ago. It seemed like right away Blake was busy, but Patrick is struggling more.  Still, he seems to enjoy the work, and after he moved in a few months ago, I’ve been OK with covering the rent for now.

Still, I can’t shake the nagging feeling that Patrick feels uncomfortable spending time around my kids. Not that I can entirely blame him. He’s in his early 40s and a lifelong bachelor, so he just doesn’t have a lot of experience with kids. He does try.

And he’s got plenty of time to get used to them.  Especially since he proposed to me last week and I said yes.

“Listen,” I say, “I was wondering if you could do me a small favor.”

“Sure, babe. Anything.”

“Um.” I chew on my lip. “Do you think you could pick up the kids from Blake’s apartment at eight?”

I can almost hear Patrick groan. “Audrey…”

“I’m sorry.  But I’m worried I might be here a long time.”

“I would do anything else for you, but Blake is just such a… I’m sorry, he’s an asshole. I really don’t want to go there again.”

I can’t entirely blame him. He has picked up the kids a handful of times in the last few months, and Blake has been a jerk. Last time was especially bad. Patrick showed up 20 minutes early and they got into a shouting match in the hallway. It only ended when a neighbor came out and threatened to call the police.

“I can’t believe you were married to him,” he says. “It must’ve been awful.”

It wasn’t awful. Most of it was pretty great. Up until the very end. “He wasn’t always like that.”

“Well, he is now.” Patrick snorts. “I mean, yes, I feel sorry for the guy. But he has to learn to control his temper. He’s going to get punched in the nose one of these days.”

The idea of my fiancé and my ex-husband getting into a fistfight makes me a little ill. “I understand. I’ll grab the kids. Don’t worry about it.”

“Okay.  I’m sorry, like I said, anything else…”

“No, it’s fine.” How long could it possibly take to fix a sink that looks like sperm?

“And like I said, I’ve got a surprise for you when you get home.”

I smile to myself. Even if he’s not particularly paternal, Patrick has a lot of good qualities, and one of them is he is very thoughtful.  He likes to spoil me. Thinking about him will be enough to get me through this evening.

 
 

Blake
 

They know me pretty well at the after school program, but to be fair, I’m memorable.  In all the years I’ve been coming here, I haven’t seen any other parents who use wheelchairs. I pick up the kids every Friday.  Every other week, they stay the whole weekend, and alternate weeks they just stay for dinner.

Audrey has custody. When we had our divorce, I was in no position to try to seek joint custody. I considered going back for it, but she’s been nice about letting me see them more if I want to, and she makes a good point that it is easier for them to be in the same house all week.  I’d rather not have to go back to court, and it seems like since she’s been dating that guy Patrick, she’s been a lot more willing to give me extra random days during the week.

So that’s the one bonus to her dating that asshole.

As it gets closer to six, they combine all the different kids into one room where they play together. If it were a Friday, I never would have picked them up this late, but now Katie and Andy are two of about six kids left.   Andy is playing a card game with one of his friends while Katie is drawing.  I watch them for a moment before they know I’m there.

“Mr. Campbell.” One of the teachers walks over to me. She’s young, maybe in her 20s, with short blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. She reminds me of Marilyn on The Munsters.  I think her name is Britney. “Katie is getting to be quite a talented artist.”

“Oh yeah?” I know Katie likes to draw, but only recently, it was mostly stick figures. “That’s great.”

“She really has a knack. Are you artistic?”

I almost laugh. “No, I’m an accountant.  My wife is the one who—”

I almost get the sentence completely out before I realize what I was saying. Audrey is not my wife. Not anymore. “I mean,” I correct myself. “Her mom does interior decorating. She’s the artistic one.”

Britney is giving me a funny look now. Damn. Way to sound like a loser who’s not over my ex.  Fortunately, Katie looks up and spots me at that moment.

“Daddy!” Katie screeches. She abandons her artwork and hurls herself across the room. She scrambles up on my lap and throws her arms around my shoulders. My daughter definitely knows how to give a good welcome.  “Why are you here?”

“Your mom had to work late.”

She doesn’t seem bothered at all. From the moment she was born, Katie has always been more of a daddy’s girl. I was worried that might change during the one year in her early childhood when I was basically absent, but it hasn’t.

“Can we get pizza?” she asks.

“Sure.”

Katie leaps off my lap and runs over to Andy, who is still playing cards with his friend. He looked up once to acknowledge I was here, then pretended I wasn’t. I guess that’s normal for his age? I don’t know. I thought 10-year-olds are still supposed to like their parents.

I worry it’s me.

The thing is, even though Katie has always been more clingy to me, Andy is the one who reminds me of myself. He even looks like me, with the same build and black hair. Sometimes I feel like I’m looking at a picture of myself when I was younger.

“Andy pants!” Katie says.  “Time to go.  Dad is taking us for pizza!”

“I had pizza for lunch,” he says. “I don’t want pizza.”

I want pizza!”

“Well, I don’t.”  Andy drops the cards on the table. “Do you always have to get what you want?”

This seems to be escalating quickly. I wheel over to the table where Andy is still sitting, even though his friend has wandered away.  “Maybe we can compromise.  What do you want, Andy?”

“I want to get conveyor belt sushi,” Andy says. “At that place Patrick took us to.”

I get a sick feeling in my stomach at the idea of this other guy who is dating my ex-wife and taking my kids out for sushi.  “Okay, sure.  We can go there.”

“Noooooo!” Kate whines.  “Sushi is gross.”

Andy rolls his eyes.  “No, it’s not.  And you can just get teriyaki chicken again if you want.”

“Yuck,” Katie says.  “And anyway, there were stairs to get in. So Dad can’t go.”

I wince at that one. But if my daughter says there were stairs to get into, she is undoubtedly right. She has no memory of a time when her dad didn’t need this chair, and she is acutely aware of what is and isn’t accessible for me.

“Fine,” Andy grumbles.  “We’ll get stupid pizza.”

“I don’t think they have stupid pizza,” I say. “Only pepperoni and mushroom, but no stupid.”

Andy doesn’t find my joke even the tiniest bit funny, but Katie laughs like I’m the greatest comedian in the world.  Audrey used to think I was funny too.

“And after,” I say, “we’ll get ice cream.”

How’s that for sucking up to my kids I only get to see once a week?

“Katie isn’t supposed to have dessert tonight,” Andy speaks up. “Because she didn’t brush her teeth last night.”

Katie smacks her brother in the arm. “No! I brushed them.  I just did it late!”

“You’re lying.”

“No, I’m not!”

Jesus Christ, I didn’t realize how much the two of them were fighting.  I should probably talk to Audrey about this.  Of course, it seems like lately we have different ideas about parenting. We used to be more in sync.  I don’t know what went wrong. 

But I’ll tell you one thing, if I only get to see my daughter once a week, nobody is going to stop me from buying her a fucking scoop of ice cream.

We get downstairs, and my car is parked right in front of the after school. That’s one thing I got over Patrick—I always get the primo parking spots.  Katie climbs into her booster in the backseat, and Andy hesitates outside the door.

“Dad?” he says.

“Yeah?”

“Can I sit in the front seat?  Next to you?”

I frown. “Well, you’re supposed to be 13 to sit in the front. And you’re only 10.” I don’t mention he’s on the small side for his age.

“Patrick lets me sit in front in his car.”

“Does he?” Well, that’s interesting. Now I get to have an argument with Audrey about how her boyfriend is endangering our kids. Fantastic.  “Sorry, buddy. The airbags are not designed for kids your age and if we got into an accident—”

“All right, all right.” Andy grumbles as he climbs into the backseat.  “Fine.  Whatever.”

I pull myself into the driver seat and stash my chair in the seat beside me. I look up in the rearview mirror, where I can see Andy is still pouting.

“Sorry, Andy,” I say.  “But, you know, Patrick isn’t your dad. I’m your dad. He’s just a guy your mom is dating.”

“Patrick and Mom aren’t dating anymore,” Katie speaks up.

My mood instantly lifts. Patrick and Audrey broke up? That’s… great. I couldn’t stand that guy.  He was just so goddamn smug.  And he acted like everybody had to accommodate him, whatever he wanted. Like if he showed up at the wrong time to pick up the kids, well, too damn bad for me.

And it also means Audrey is single again.

“Yeah?” I say.

Katie nods.  “They’re engaged now!”

And now I think I’m going to be sick.

For a moment, I feel like I can’t even move. I just keep staring down at the steering wheel, my head spinning. Audrey is engaged. She’s going to marry another man. She’s going to be someone else’s wife.

I could barely wrap my head around her not being my wife anymore. That was bad enough.

I’m dimly aware of the fact that this is my fault.  There may have been a chance to get her back at some point, but I blew it. I couldn’t get my anger under control enough to try to repair the rift between us.  I’ve been awful to her. She probably hates me. 

But to be fair, it’s not all my fault. After all, she was the one who fucking…

I take a deep breath, trying to calm myself down. I’ve got the kids in the car. I can’t let myself get upset over this. It’s good I’ve got them, because if I didn’t, I would probably go home and drink way too much. 

“Daddy,” Katie says.  “I’m hungry for pizza.”

“Okay,” I say.  “Let’s do this.”

I’ve blown it for good. I just have to try not to think about it.

 

Audrey
 

I take an Uber to get over to Blake’s at 8 o’clock sharp. He has no problem keeping the kids later, but he’ll still give me a hard time if I’m late. And if I’m early, that’s no good too. I have to show up at precisely 8 o’clock or we will get into a horrible fight.

Blake lives in a nice building with a doorman only about a mile from the apartment I share with Patrick. Our financial arrangement has been a moving target since our divorce. Given he was unemployed for the foreseeable future when we got divorced and buried under a mountain of medical bills, I didn’t ask for child support or alimony. There was no way he could pay it, and I didn’t want to kick the guy when he was down. And I make good money. Frankly, he could’ve sued me for alimony if he wanted.

But when he started working again, he actually came to me and told me he wanted to help out with child support. So we went into arbitration and came up with a new arrangement.  It was one thing we didn’t need to argue about. He seemed happy to give me money to help out with the kids.

I’m glad he’s doing well again. I heard from his business partner Greg that they hired another associate, so it looks like business is booming. He’s probably taking in more than I do these days. He deserves it—Blake is a damn good accountant. When we were married, I always felt like our finances were in really good hands.

Blake might hate me. But I don’t hate him. I just want to get along again, but I’m worried it will never happen. And that’s my fault—at least partially.

Some of our former friends blame me for ending our marriage when Blake was at his lowest. Right after he got hurt… or at least, close enough that it was obvious why we were breaking up. But people who were really close to us know that it wasn’t my fault. Not entirely.

After all, it was Blake’s decision to move out. I was perfectly willing to stick it out.  That night, we were having a horrible screaming argument in which he was drunk (again).  I still remember his black hair was greasy from not having been washed in at least a week, and he had a week’s growth of a beard. He was slurring his words as he  blamed me for everything that had gone wrong in our lives. And I was screaming at him that I told him not to ride his goddamn bike in the street.

So this is all my fault then? he shouted at me.

Then he picked up one of the glasses from our barely eaten dinner and hurled it across the room. It shattered everywhere. And I knew I was going to be the one to have to clean it up. Because obviously, Blake couldn’t help.

As soon as the glass shattered, Katie started sobbing in her toddler bed. And a second later, the door to the kids’ shared bedroom opened up and six year old Andy was just standing there, his brown eyes big and sad as he clutched his stuffed penguin.

Blake saw Andy’s expression, and his own face crumbled.  He buried his face in his hands. He was wearing that brace on his right wrist back then, and he still couldn’t put much weight on it. If he hadn’t broken his wrist on top of everything else, I wonder if things might have gone differently.

I need to leave, Blake said.

He moved out that night. He packed up some of his things and went to stay with his mother. I didn’t try to stop him. Truthfully, I was glad to see him go.

And then he didn’t contact me or the kids for months.  Not at all—he didn’t even ask to see Katie or Andy.  I know he was trying to get his life back together, but I felt abandoned. As much as I had hoped it would work out with him, I needed to move on. So I did.

And now he hates me.

I rap my fist against his door. For a good 60 seconds, nothing happens, but I can hear Katie laughing behind the door. That kid is always in a good mood.  Maybe Blake is too.

Yeah, right.

Finally, the door swings open. I don’t even point out that if I kept Blake waiting that long, he would be furious at me by now.

“Mommy!” Katie wraps her skinny arms around my waist.  “Dad got us pizza!”

I force a smile as I look at Blake, who is sitting in his wheelchair, a few feet away.   Despite everything, I still think he looks sexy, especially now that he’s getting a bit gray at the temples. He turned 40 about nine months ago, but getting older suits him.  Sometimes it feels surreal that he’s not my husband anymore. That I can’t go over, sit down in his lap, and wrap my arms around him.  

“That’s great,” I say.

“And ice cream,” Andy adds.  “But I told Dad that Katie wasn’t supposed to have any. Because she didn’t brush her teeth last night.”

“Oh,” I say. I’m not going to make a big thing out of it, but Andy is right. Katie knows the rules about brushing her teeth. If she doesn’t brush, no dessert the next day.

“I can’t follow all your rules, Audrey,” Blake grumbles.

“It’s fine,” I say.  I look at Katie. “We’ll let it go this time. But you better brush tonight.”

Katie nods solemnly.

“By the way, Audrey.”  Blake clears his throat.  “Congratulations on… you know, your engagement. The kids told me.”

“Oh.” I had been dreading telling Blake about me and Patrick, but he doesn’t seem that upset. Just sort of… sad. I guess that’s how I would feel if I found out he was getting married.  “Thanks.  I know you aren’t the biggest fan of Patrick, but he’s a good guy.”

He offers me a crooked smile. “Yeah. I’m sure he is.”

“And I’m sure you’ll also meet somebody eventually.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I shouldn’t have said them. Oh God, why would I say something so patronizing to my ex-husband, who already resents me up the wazoo?  I watch as the smile vanishes from Blake’s lips.

“Oh, you think?” he says. “You think I’ll meet somebody eventually? Wow, thanks for believing in me!”

“Blake, I didn’t mean…”

“Don’t bother.” He shakes his head.  “And by the way, tell your fiancé that Andy shouldn’t be riding in the front seat. It’s not safe.  I mean it.”

“Oh.” I didn’t even know that was happening. “OK, I’ll tell him.  Listen, Blake, I just want you to know—”

“I’m not really in the mood for a conversation,” he says. “Can you just take the kids? I’ve got a headache.”

Except Katie insists on climbing on his lap for another hug. I think it does him good, because he actually smiles. Andy, on the other hand, just mutters, “Bye, dad.”

My hands are shaking a bit as we go down together in the elevator. Blake gave me a chance to have a decent conversation with him and I blew it. But on the other hand, he doesn’t make it easy.

He isn’t this mean to everyone. I know for a fact he’s had at least one girlfriend since we broke up, because my kids have big mouths, especially Katie.  Her name was Eliza. It sounds like she was younger than me—although it’s hard to tell from Katie’s description—and her favorite ice cream was pistachio. (Those were the primary details I was able to get out of Katie.) And one day Katie said they weren’t dating anymore, and I felt this surprising rush of relief.

I had this thought in my head that after he got over that break up, maybe I could invite him out for drinks. And maybe we could talk over our marriage, and decide if maybe it was worth giving it another shot. But then we got in a big fight about who was going to have the kids on Christmas Day, and then I met Patrick at a New Year’s party. So it just never came together.

It’s fine though. Obviously, it would have been nice for the kids to be with their father again in one household, but it’s clear he is still mad at me. It’s better for the kids for me to be happy than for me to be fighting with their dad all the time. So it all worked out.

But the truth is, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss what Blake and I used to have.

 
To be continued....