I'm still around and writing, just busy and easily distracted by different projects. But I'm happy to say that the upshot of being easily distracted is that I'm now almost done with not one, but two dev novels/novellas that I'll be publishing as ebooks. One is the long-delayed expansion of Jazz Age (~40k words), and one is the complete Bérénice (~30k words). So, both historical romances featuring male leads with cerebral palsy. (But yes, Bérénice's flirty, blind former lover Vincent shows up more, too. :) )
The Cove, part 1
Sofie was in bed with a stomachache and a headache, and
cross about it; she wasn’t used to being ill and slothful.
Luc was incredulous at first and teased her when he found
her still in bed. But she snapped back at him, and when he realized she really
was feeling poorly, he apologized a dozen times, covered her face with kisses,
and brought her tea. He put in too many leaves and steeped them too long, so it
was bitter, but she drank it anyway.
He leaned forward in his wheelchair with puppyish eagerness
and watched her.
When she finished her tea, set aside the mug, and eased back
onto her pillows, Luc offered: “I can tell you about one of my adventures you
haven’t heard before.” He gave a winsome smile. He had wide-set eyes of a dark
blue in a square, boyish, tanned face, topped with curling dark-blond hair.
Except that Luc was crippled, Sofie was commonly thought to be by far the less beautiful of the two. She was a small Slovak woman with wide hips, ash-brown hair cut very short, light eyes, and unremarkable features. She was distinguished mainly by the lightness of her movements and the impishness of her look when she smiled, her mouth quirking and her nose transforming into a birdlike beak.
They were both sculptors, and had had a studio together in Montparnasse
for almost two years, sharing models and scrimping together for clay, wax, wire,
and bronze. The studio itself was colorless and untidy, if not slovenly. All of
the energy of the place was concentrated in their sculptures—and in their
lovemaking when they fell into bed together for hours on end, sometimes so
taken with each other that it was all they could do to wash the smears of clay
off their hands first.
At Luc’s offer, Sofie’s eyes lit up. She liked to hear about
his past lovers; it made her feel companionable, and excited—and vain of Luc,
of how easily he charmed people who wouldn’t have thought they could be charmed
by a man like him. “Yes, please do,” she said.
He rested his hand on top of hers where it lay on the
covers, and began: “I was on the Côte d’Azur for the summer. There were four of
us piled into a little cottage near the ocean, which someone had rented from
his aunt for half the year. I’m afraid we left quite a mess for her to clean up.
We did our best fixing chairs that we broke and unclogging the sink and things,
but there’s just no helping it when you have four man artists in one place and
not a single woman. At least most of us were good cooks, so we weren’t living
utterly like dogs.”
She was already smiling, and it seemed that the pain of her
headache was receding.
“You could hear the ocean just outside, from the cliff
below, and all of the air smelled like salt, and there was always a breeze. It
was delicious. You’ve seen the ocean, yes?”
“Yes, but in Brétagne,” she said a little petulantly, “where
it’s cold and grey. But it does smell fresh.”
“Well, we’ll have to go to the south together, then.” He
kissed her cheek. “The streets were in reasonable enough condition that I could
get around by myself, for the most part. But my favorite part of the shore was
a tiny cove just below our house, and to get there you had to go down a series
of fifty-three steps.” He tapped his index finger on her forearm to emphasize
each syllable of that number. “I would leave my wheelchair at the very top,
slide out with a towel wrapped around my neck, and then slither and hop my way
down all fifty-three steps on my rear. You see, there was a little natural
channel down the cliff—rainwater would run that way—that zig-zagged back and
forth, so someone had set smoothed logs into the channel for steps. It was
simply the best, and only, way to get down to that cove.
“The cove could probably have held only eight people at the most,
but there was a little scoop of the smoothest golden sand down there, and the
water flowed in shallowly and as clear as green glass. It was my favorite place
to swim, because of the quiet, and maybe also because it was so hard to get
down there. It was the greatest treat to go out first thing in the morning, get
myself all the way down, sweaty and ungainly, and then slide straight into the
“But the climb up again…?” Sofie asked.
“Oh, it was dreadful.” Luc grinned. “But I would console
myself with the thought of a big breakfast, and how perfect the water would be
again the next morning.”
“You were an addict,” Sofie declared. “Of the most wholesome
kind.” This was true of Luc in general: he did everything with gusto, sometimes
“Thank you,” Luc replied, with dignity.
He continued: “One afternoon, I had gotten up late—no cove
this morning—and gone straight to the best café in town to get bread and butter
and coffee. I wheeled myself up to my favorite table and was slurping away at
my coffee, trying to get my head clear, when I realized that there was a man
staring at me from a few tables away.”
Sofie nestled herself more deeply into her pillows, already
feeling a tingling sense of anticipation. “Oh? And what did he look like?”
“He was just about thirty years old, not very tall, but trim
and handsome, with neat dark hair and a beautifully fitted linen suit and hat, all
in a cool dove-grey color. There was a blue silk band on his hat. And he wore
oxfords in a glossy caramel brown.”
“What color were his eyes?”
“Grey, also. Dark grey, almost violet.”
“Lovely,” Sofie approved.
“And he wore a gold signet ring on one finger, but I never
did get a chance to see what the insignia was. Anyway, he stared and stared at
me, as if he had seen an apparition, enough so that I noticed even though I
hadn’t finished my coffee yet. Finally I said to him, ‘Do you want to buy me a
“He cleared his throat and went very red, signaled to the
waiter, and then stood up and asked me if he could join me. I agreed, of
course. He asked me what I wanted to drink, and I told him a pastis. He ordered
two from the waiter when he came, and we watched the waiter go away.
“He said his name was Ferdinand—”
“I thought maybe so, with his dark hair and light olive skin,
but he didn’t have an accent. I never asked him about it.”
“A half-Spanish aristocrat,” Sofie suggested.
Luc smiled in agreement and went on. “‘Well, Ferdinand,’ I
said, ‘what made you stare at me when I arrived? Haven’t you seen a cripple
drinking coffee before?’
“That only made him blush again, and he started stammering
and staring at the table. I thought it was terribly amusing, and sweet, that a
man of such refinement could act like a schoolboy. Finally, after the waiter
brought us our drinks, I got his story out of him:
“He told me that he was staying in his family’s villa by the
sea, which he and his unmarried sister were sharing at present. It was set out
over the water so that it had an excellent view of the cliffs in both
directions. He liked to get up early in the morning, drink his coffee, read a novel,
and watch the sea, the fishing boats, the bathers, and so on. His sister was a
late riser, meanwhile.
“He told me that three days ago, he had begun his usual
morning routine. His novel was not holding his attention, so he was watching
the gulls over the cliffs. Suddenly his attention was transferred to something
moving down one of the cliffs.”
Here, Luc paused to enjoy Sofie’s reaction. She proclaimed
in a stage whisper, “I know who it was!” She began caressing the underside of
his wrist, and Luc likewise slipped one of his hands under the covers until he
found her hip—Sofie liked to sleep naked—and began to stroke it.
“Very good,” Luc said gravely, in response to Sofie’s revelation.
“Yes, it was me, getting myself down the steps again, in the only way I could.
Ferdinand was naturally confused by my strange motions, and at first wondered
if I was drunk, or injured, or both. He wondered if instead of watching, he
ought to be running to his car to drive to town and call for help for me—or try
to help me himself. Then, trying to piece things together, he was able to make
out the shape of my wheelchair at the top of the cliff—I’m sure the bright blue
helped. At about the same time, I reached the bottom of the cliff, and he was
able to see the way that I had to turn myself backwards and drag myself across
the sand, with my legs pointing towards the cliff. From all of this, he finally
deduced that I was a cripple.
“At this, he stood up from his table so violently that he
knocked over both his book and his coffee. He was aghast, and ready to run for
his car in earnest. Can you guess why?” Luc stopped both his narrative and the
motion of his hand on Sofie’s hip, and gave her a dramatic look, his head
tilted back, his eyes wide, like an actor miming horror in a film.
Sofie’s brow was furrowed. “I… whatever could it have been? …
He didn’t—no, Luc, he didn’t…!”
“But he did, Sofie! He thought I was going to do away with
myself! Drown myself in the ocean because of my sorry state!”
At this, Sofie’s hands flew to her mouth, and she let out a
shocked guffaw. All thought of her aches and pains had been forgotten.
“Ferdinand was so astonished that he couldn’t yet force
himself to run to his car, luckily. He stayed and kept watching, and what he
saw was that I took the towel off from around my neck, folded it neatly on a rock,
and then slid into the water and began to splash about happily, swimming on my
back. He kept watching, and when I showed absolutely no inclination to self-destruction,
he sat down again, and just kept watching. He watched until I pulled myself out
onto the sand again, patted myself down with the towel, and then lay down on
it. I sunned myself for a few minutes, and then he watched as I began to… you
know.” Luc grinned, and moved his hand closer to the meeting of Sofie’s thighs,
“Oh, Luc, you didn’t!” Sofie said.
“Of course I did. If you had felt that water and that
sun, you would have, too.”
“Didn’t you think that someone might see you? Weren’t there
houses close by?”
“Well, most of the cottages were on top of the cliff.
It would have been very difficult for anyone to lean over at an angle that
would have let them see me. It was only the big houses, like Ferdinand’s, that
were almost on a level with me, and they were farther out.”
“But if he saw you, you would have been able to see
him,” Sofie pointed out.
“Well, he was looking for things in the cliffs, and I
wasn’t,” Luc said complacently.
“He must have very good vision,” Sofie said, almost
Luc laughed and kissed her. His hand was still moving
steadily on her, whereas hers had stilled on his wrist, caught as she was in
the story. “Well, anyway, he watched what he could watch, from his distance,
and he liked it very much. He liked it so much that it was all he could do to
stay still while I brought matters to a close, dipped into the water one last
time, and then began dragging myself all the way back up the cliff again. But
of course he couldn’t miss the last glimpses of me. Once I had reinstalled
myself in my wheelchair and disappeared from view, he just about raced back to
his bedroom so that he could bring matters to a close for himself, too.
“He said that the experience of watching me had been so
strange, and long, and thrilling, that the final sensation was stunning, like a
lightning bolt. For a minute he thought he had gone blind from it.”
Sofie was laughing almost soundlessly, her head tilted back
in bliss now. She was imagining the soft touch of sun on the water, the endless
sound of the waves, Luc’s golden, matchless body shining on the sand, and the morning
languor of the Spaniard replaced by incredulous, glowing lust. Luc’s hand on
her, under the covers, was moving, moving, in exactly the ways she liked him to
move, and then he darted out one finger and dipped it into her, pressing
quickly into her wetness. She gasped at the contact, her back arching, the
tightening of her muscles sending a further thrill of sensation through her.
Somehow, the nauseous ache that still lingered in her belly only added to the
But then she grasped Luc’s wrist, bringing his motion to a
stop. “Get into bed with me,” she whispered urgently. She felt suddenly alone
there under the covers, and selfish.
Luc smiled, withdrew his hand, and began unbuttoning his
pale blue workman’s shirt, his trousers. She loved watching him shift lightly from
side to side in his wheelchair as he undressed himself, revealing his smooth,
tanned arms and torso, lightly covered in golden hair, his muscles working
sleekly under the skin. Then he began the business of pushing his trousers—which
were sized for a boy—down his shrunken hips, down his legs, and out from under
Every time, she loved the warm little shock of seeing his
legs: thin and unnaturally still, only about a foot long from hip to knee, and
a little less from knee to ankle, most of the joints bent and immobile—his knees
were fixed at almost ninety degrees. Here there were no muscles under the taut,
smooth, golden skin, and his feet curled inwards softly.
Sofie admired the whole of him, from top to toes, with her
gaze lingering finally on his cock, resting quietly between his legs, with its
darker, velvety skin and crown of glinting, dark-gold curls.
Luc grinned, enjoying her tribute, and then pushed his chair
alongside the bed so that he could lean forward and swing himself over onto the
mattress. With his arms, he pulled his legs up to rest on the bed before him.
He left behind him his wheelchair: jaunty, irreverent, and
blue. Luc had had the same wheelchair for almost his whole life, and over time,
had made it into his own: he had had a carpenter friend cut down and reframe the
back so that it didn’t loom over him, and lift up the footrest so that it
actually supported his short legs. They had replaced the heavy wheels with
light bicycle tires. To boot, he had himself painted all the woodwork vivid
blue and embellished it with twining vines and flowers. The whole effect was
madcap, elfish; Sofie thought that it made Luc, with his curly hair, look like
some kind of pagan prince. Seeing his wheelchair alone made Sofie smile almost
as much as Luc himself did.
She reached up to pull Luc under the covers with her now,
sliding her arms around him to caress his skin. She began kissing his neck, all
the spots where she knew he was most sensitive, and he gasped and nestled
against her. His hand began to seek out her sex, again.
“Well?” Sofie murmured invitingly. “Then what happened,
after Ferdinand spilled out his whole story for you?” She kissed the crook of
his neck and his shoulder again, then nipped his ear.
Luc groaned, heavy and still in her arms. “Telling you a
story was easier when I wasn’t trying to pay attention to three things at
“You like challenges,” Sofie said. “Here’s your challenge
for this morning.”
“I just wanted to do something nice for you. I didn’t know I
would be obliged to this level of mental and physical exertion.”
“Oh, well, well…” Sofie murmured. She lowered one of her
hands to cup his cock, and bent her head at the same time to begin sucking at
one of his nipples. Her headache was only a distant throb.
For a little while, neither said anything, until Sofie
stilled her motions, leaving Luc dazed and heavy-eyed. He breathed heavily, staring
at her with his dark blue eyes. “I want to hear the rest of the story,” she
said innocently, blinking back at him.
He gave a gusty sigh and passed a hand over his brow. “Where
the hell was I?”
“You almost made the Spaniard go blind. Half-Spaniard.”
“Half-Spaniard, full blind,” Luc said nonsensically. “Right.
Well, he told me that story. Then he told me that since then, he had been
trying to figure out how to make inquiries about who I was and where I lived, without
rousing too much interest. He walked into town that morning with the intention
of starting to ask around. And then what should happen, but me showing up in
the same damned café as him. Then he sat back in his chair, blushing and
sipping his pastis furiously.
“I, naturally, told Ferdinand that I was extremely
flattered. I asked him what he was doing for the rest of the day. And I asked
him if his villa was very pretty, because I would like to see the view from
“Well, he stammered and mumbled some more, but we finally
managed to finish our drinks, pay the bill, and leave the café with a bag full
of sandwiches to eat for the rest of the day.
“The road out to his villa was steep, so I asked him if he
wanted to push my wheelchair. He was so stunned and so gallant, you would have
thought I was a medieval lady and I’d just asked him to accept my silken kerchief
before he rode into battle. I put the bag of sandwiches in my lap and enjoyed
the views of all the villas with their creamy walls and red roofs and pink
oleanders and so on as he pushed me onwards. He was running with sweat soon
enough, but he didn’t complain at all. Every time I looked back over my
shoulder at him, I thought how handsome he looked with his jaw set and his eyes
narrowed in concentration and his dark hair falling across his brow.
“When we reached his family villa, his housekeeper looked at
us very strangely, indeed. But Ferdinand put on quite the manner with her and
said only that I was a new friend of his from the town, and that I had come to
see the view. And we swept on past her.
“The view really was beautiful, seeing the whole sweep of
the coast, all the dark woods and the pale villas and cottages, the turquoise
water below and beyond. And it was curious to see the cove, my cove, from afar;
I tried to picture what I would have looked like, there.
“But we only saw it for a few minutes together, because Ferdinand
just about yanked me back to his room.” Sofie made a little murmuring noise of
pleasure and pulled closer to Luc, beginning to kiss his neck again.
Luc closed his eyes, trying to concentrate, smiling at her
kisses. “The room was enormous. He slanted all the blinds so no one would be
able to peep in, and it felt like a wonderful cool cave, with white walls and a
big dark bed with acres of linen. And he simply picked me up out of my
wheelchair, in the same gallant way, and put me in that enormous bed, and we took
off our shirts and kissed for a long time..."