Scantily Clad Human on My Cover and Amazon Kindle Scout

So, here’s what’s happening with Hammer Up! previously known as “Stop, Hammer Time!” on my FanFiction page.

In return to my submission of the text and this cover:

I received this email:

which left me quite confused. What is it that they are unhappy with, I asked myself. Is it the clipart drawing of an ancient statue, or my jolly pink floral pattern? (“Well, perhaps, it’s that suggestive, fanny shaped flower to the left,” my partner offered sardonically. Yes, I know. Now you can’t un-see it 😀 )

I have to say at this stage I was more confused than frustrated. There was still hope that there has been a misunderstanding. But then I thought about it, got annoyed by the alleged Amazon Kindle Scout’s prudeness (it is an example of classic art, you uneducated bigots! I internally screamed in anguish); and I wrote this:

hoping that my sarcasm was appropriately veiled.

I mean, seriously?! What’s next? Putting speedos of Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà? 

And here is the response I received:

Scantily clad humans?! Suggestive of sex or violence?! Are we looking at the same picture?!

Here’s where my temper rose. If they are saying that my scantily clad Aphrodite, demurely covering her lady parts, and her only exposed boob being a line and a dot, could offend and/or traumatise someone on their site – and I assume they mean a minor – then I don’t know where this world is going to! I have a kid in grade one, and I would say the harlequin novel covers with limp damsels in ripped bodices, and men clearly physically overpowering them, are more harmful for my child’s perception of gender relations!

So, currently I’m working on designing a new cover. The following options are considered:

  • an appropriately sized Florina pepper (native to Greece and delicious) with two oranges on the sides. I might go for a small pepper, and two olives, and then just zoom into the picture for the right proportions;
  • an ancient Greek column, visually piercing a curly cloud;
  • suggestively positioned smithery tools.

I’m open to your ideas as well, my darlings!

kkolmakov out!

P.S. Do you think they wouldn’t fuss if it were a MALE god in that picture? Are they just afraid of female partial nudity, or Heph’s nipples would freak them out as well?

Coming Soon on Amazon Kindle Scout!

It’s happening, my darlings! It’s finally happening!

Hammer Up! formerly known as “Stop, Hammer Time!” on my fanfiction page has been uploaded to Amazon Kindle Scout.

It’s been rewritten into a more orthodox format (all the frisky humour and jolly smut has been left intact, worry not!); edited; and a ‘pretty’ cover has been designed.

Once the text is approved, we are up! I’ll give the link in all my possible media, and the game is afoot, my lovelies! We will have 30 days to herd enough people to vote for it, and make it happen. If it gets published, I get a tasty morsel of cash, the book becomes available on Kindle, and everyone who voted gets a free copy!

And now the reveal… the cover!

Isn’t Phro a doll? 😉

Stay tuned! And fingers crossed, it’ll be a smooth and triumphant journey!

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 12. Wrennie and the Train of Thought

Author’s Note: Have you given a chance to my erotica/romance webserial Jack in the Box on Wattpad? Follow the link, and I hope you enjoy!

Summary: Armed with several degrees in psychology, sociology, and literary studies, as well as a particular set of skills and abilities, Gemma Wright works as a muse for artists in various creative fields. She can inspire a hit album; pull a popular novelist out of a writer’s block; or organize an international tour for a dance company.

Gemma has strict rules and a precise plan for her personal life – and Jack Richards, a famous mystery writer, definitely doesn’t fit her criteria. Perhaps, his direct competitor, John Barnett, with his soft manners and seemingly humble disposition, is a better match for Gemma than the dark and handsome Richards.

Understanding others and leading them to the fulfilling and rewarding life is Gemma’s specialty, but does she know the answers to the same questions when it comes to her own life?

“Nothing’s going on, Thea,” you mumble, and she waves her hand, summoning a waiter.

“Care for a shot, love? If memory serves me right, those few times I saw your arsed up, it had something to do with Dr. Sexy, and we ended up drinking vodka.”

You sigh.

“Vodka was later.” That was after the ridiculous auction, right after your break up with Phil. And you drank then to stop yourself from giving John a ring and inviting him for a consensual and thorough one-off. God, it feels like it’s been in a different life. “The time you’re thinking about was when you and I had wine, and it was mostly about Phil, not John. And no, I don’t want anything.”

A waiter pops a lager and a rum in front of Thea; and a second later the bottom of her now empty shot glass clanks on the table. She pins you down with an intense glare.

“Was our moose riding mate telling the truth? Is Dr. Sexy out of his bloody mind?” Thea isn’t one for pussyfooting, is she?

“No…” you answer, and you sure as hell don’t sound convincing. “The bird she mentioned is John’s TA. And…”

“And they’re shagging?” Ladies and gentlemen! Thea Martin, Master of Subtlety and Delicate Phrasing.

“Thea, I don’t want to have this idiotic conversation! I don’t want to be one of those women who whine about their partners to their girlfriends, over a drink, in a manky pub!” you cry out; and even over Fratellis’ Henrietta it seems everyone heard you and turned their heads to look.

“Yeah, you clearly want to be one of those women who bottle this fuckery up like a bloody stoic, and then their hair starts falling out!” she shouts back at you. Trust Thea to dig her heels in at the very wrong moment. “I’m your fucking best friend. And I bet it’s been fucking going on for… how long? Couple months at least? Yeah, Leary? And I’m learning about it from some daft Canadian in a jumper made of candy floss!”

You glare at her – but when did it stop her?

“So, is your husband sleeping with his secretary, or not?” she hollers, and she’s right. You’ve properly bottled it up, and there’s the cork! It just popped out, and is flying through the pub in a fucking beautiful arch.

“No, my husband isn’t sleeping with his TA!” you yell back, with all your lung capacity. “But he wants to!”

Here we go. Here’s the answer. Hanging above your table.

You pick up Thea’s lager and take one big gulp. She signals a waiter.

“Go for it, Wrennie.” She gives you a soft smile, and brushes her hand to your shoulder. “C’mon, you need to talk about it. I fucking know you. You’ll be in pain, and keep your gob shut. Remember when you cancelled your wedding?”

“Vaguely,” you bite back, and she gives you a pointed look from under a raised perfect eyebrow.

“You were half dead, and we couldn’t help you because you shut down; and Lan was considering slipping some tequila in your morning tea, we were so worried. So, talk. Well?”

You properly don’t want to.

“I’m never around, he feels old. She looks at him like he’s a new pair of Louboutins.” That’s a neat summary, isn’t it?

“Basically, she’s his equivalent of buying a red Ferrari?” Thea asks, and all you have left to do is nod.

“And what do you think about it?” She finishes her lager, watching you over the rim.

“I think that he has every right to buy a Ferrari if he wants to. If he’s not happy with his current car.” You point at your chest with your index finger. “Or he can just continue looking at Ferrari’s around him.”

“And if he decides to take one of them for a test drive?” Thea asks, and you throw a sad look into her glass.

“Then it’ll hurt very, very much,” you mutter, and then hide your face in your hands. You suddenly feel tired. And in pain. And scared.

You want everything to be simple, and easy, and you want to be happy. You want one job; you want to come back home from it, and have dinner with John; you want to be able to take a shower without falling asleep leaning against the wall. You want to see more than a glimpse of your husband a day. Your relationship right now is a PowerPoint presentation of the wonderful man you’ve married, but never see. Here’s a picture of John brushing teeth when you rush out to go to a seminar. Here’s John loading a dish-washing machine when you’re dragging yourself by him towards the bedroom. Here’s John sleeping when you’re back home. Here’s John sleeping when you’re leaving for the lab.

“He might be already sleeping with her,” you mutter. The lager is working. “And the worst thing is that I have no energy to ‘keep my eye on him,’ as our pink clad chum suggested. I just don’t see him enough. He might shave his beard, and I’d probably notice a week later.”

There’s another beer in front of you, and you mentally check your schedule. There’s so much to do tomorrow… Or you can just drink half of this beer, slip into coma, wake up tomorrow around two, be sick all day, and stay home for two days. Sadly, you feel too much like an adult for that.

“And what are you going to do about it, Wren?” Thea asks. She’s finally getting sloshed. She speaks slowly, and her giant hazel eyes are unfocused.

“I’m going to call us cabs, and we will both go home, to our men.”

“Sod it, I just realised… Have you heard her?” Thea suddenly snorts. “The pink chick… She said you needed to fight for your man!”

You help Thea to get up, and the two of you slowly head to the exit.

“I’ve heard her. But trust me, my ‘other woman’ will stomp me into dirt with her perfect stilettos. The sheer size difference, phew!” You wave your hand above your hand, mimicking Eva’s height.

“I think the Canadian meant a lot of blow jobs, and other stuff you normally wouldn’t let him do to you,” Thea announces, and you push her further, leaving the table with a couple of suddenly very interested looking blokes behind the two of you. “Isn’t it what you monogamous chicks do? Keep him happy between the sheets, so he doesn’t bolt.” Thea gives out a sarcastic laugh.

“How’s Jimmy doing these days?” you ask her. You might be a bit dischuffed. She’s one of you horrid ‘monogamous women’ now. No need to be snooty about it.

“Gets plenty of blow jobs,” she answers haughtily, and you steer her through the crowd. Some guy calls after her, and you give her a forceful nudge through the door.

“So, no bolting attempts?” you ask, and start looking for your phone in your clutch.

“Nah. Where will he go?” Thea gives out a dismissive huff. “And me too. I think we’re stuck together.”

The two of you are outside, she pulls the sides of her coat tightly around her glorious tits. She’s unstable on her stilts, and looks very grumpy.

“Fuck me, it’s boring…” She exhales a small cloud of steam and drops her head back, staring into the grey sky. “Monogamy sucks cock. And shag has gotten dull. Like a vinyl…” She twirls her finger in the air. “Same thing, again and again…”

You’ve finally gotten her a cab; you kiss her cheek, and send her off. When you’ve climbed into yours and given the cabbie the address, you drop your head onto the back of the seat and watch the city rush by.

Your shag isn’t boring, and not at all repetitive. Your shag is magnificent. It’s not that frequent, especially compared to what you two have had before; but Christmas was wonderful. And then a churning disgusting thought comes. What if he’s sleeping with the dominatrix, and that’s him compensating, because he’s feeling guilty? Maybe him being so understanding about your studies, and making you dinners, and charging your laptop at night – all that is to make him feel less gutted about shagging his TA?

Or maybe you’re just bladdered, and your thoughts tangle, and you’re an idiot.

***

A decision comes – as most of your big decisions do – as if out of nowhere, and it leaves no doubt. Your plan is to do exactly nothing.

In some strange way you feel like it’s just none of your business what John and his TA feel towards each other, and what sort of relationship they decide to build. Among other things, you strongly believe that if he shags her, he’ll just tell you everything, and you once again will have to look for a new flat. You wouldn’t be able to afford the one you live in right now.

Four months later, in the middle of a surprisingly warm spring, and unsurprisingly excruciating end of the semester, you have a nervous breakdown. You’re in the underground. A panic attack comes; and none of usual management mechanisms helps. An ambulance is called, you’re pumped with drugs. John is on a conference. Without his TA. It’s a three day, over the weekend trip.

The next day you return home. You refused the prescription drugs. You’re a ginger, and you know only too well the addictivity rates. You’ve also hadenough experience with withdrawal and ‘brain zaps’ in your teen years, to try anything of the sort again. You sign up to weekly therapy sessions, so that they allow you to continue your studies.

You never tell John what happened. You have two alternative explanations why. Firstly, he’s no imbecile. He can’t possibly be unaware of what Eva’s doing. If so, whether he reciprocates, or not, and whether they actually are involved, or not – either way, he will feel guilty, thinking this drama contributed into your breakdown. It didn’t. You are so overtired that you simply had no brain capacity to dedicate to it. You compartmentalized it after Christmas, and bashed on.

Secondly, it’s not that improbable that you’re punishing him – in a sort of masochistic, perverse way. You’re keeping him out of your life, in the best passive-aggressive move one can make. One of those that a person can later throw into the other’s face like a very dramatic accusation. ‘I had suicidal thoughts and almost jumped under the train, and you didn’t notice anything!’ or some other kind of psychotic rubbish. You hope you’re better and smarter than that.

And then one evening you come home from work, and he’s lying on the sofa, in his usual manner – reading glasses on the tip of his nose, fingers lazily flipping pages, and you toe off your shoes, put your handbag on the table by the door, come up to him, and ask, “Are you having an affair with your TA?”

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of you! Happy new 2017! Let’s hope this one takes away less from us, especially less of those creative people who bring joy to our world! And may it give us what we’re hoping for!

Happy holidays from my original characters as well! 😀

Starting tomorrow, January 1st, 2017, I’ll be returning to my normal update schedule; news regarding writing and drawing will be announced; “Hammer Up!” will soon go up on Amazon; and Patreon will get… videos! I’m all fired up, and ready for a productive inspired year!

All the best wishes to all of you, my darlings! Thank you for being with me all through this complicated, challenging, sometimes tragic, sometimes still hopeful 2016 – and see you soon!

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 11. Wrennie and a Pub

The two of you spend Christmas in the Alps. Both of you can only spare three days for the hols, but it goes truly brilliantly. There’s a fireplace in the chateau; you eat, shag, and chat. He reads you books; you tell him of your childhood. It’s as sincere and as real as it gets.

You even go skiing. Once. He endeavours to teach you; you’re pathetic. The two of you laugh, and topple over into the snow. His bright blue eyes – like a husky dog, as if outlined with black – are shining. You lean in and kiss him.

The nights are as amazing as they ever are, and feel new and exciting. After the skiing, you complain that everything hurts. You get a massage – and three orgasms.

You wake up in the morning, and you just can’t get enough of him. He’s guffawing, insincerely battering your hands away, whining that he’s an old man with a weak heart. The two of you shag against the wall, and then again and again – and then there’s a breakfast, and you go back to bed. Soon, it’s hard to separate cuddling and reading – and it is Khayyam after all – from sex. You’re straddling him, and your hips are moving in the rhythm with the ten century old poetry. And then afterwards, he’s nodding off, his cheek pressed to your buttock, his head heavily pressing your pelvis into the sheets, and you close your eyes, feeling the acute and definite happiness.

***

When you’re back home, there’s so much to do that you even stay at Lan and Killian’s couple nights. They live closer to the lab.

And then one evening you’re chewing Thai takeaway, and John makes that funny throaty noise of his. It means he remembered something he needs to tell you. You snort. This ever growing feeling of knowing him well, and loving it – is ace.

“What?” he asks, and you give him a wide grin.

“Go ahead. What is it?” you say and encourage him with a wave of chopsticks.

“You know me too well, and it’s discouraging,” he answers with a smirk, and you snort again. “Graham has a favour to ask, and I said I’d inquire.”

“Oh?”

“His Canadian gyno is lonely,” John announces, and you know he’s paused to let you appreciate the statement.

“He should put it on a t-shirt.” You giggle. “Does he want me to take her for a walk?”

He nods, and you roll your eyes.

“I’m the worst possible option here,” you remind John. “I’m introverted, constantly busy, and alcohol intolerant. I assume I’m not expected to take her to an art gallery? After those time I’ve seen her, she doesn’t strike me as an artsy type.”

“He meant a pub,” John answers with a chuckle. “And you should take Martin.”

Ah, Thea. That makes sense. Thea can organise a satisfying night out for the Pope.

“OK, I’ll ask her.”

“Thank you.” The two of you chew for a while, and then he yawns. “Can we go to bed early today? We’re having this cocktail party tomorrow, another book signing of another professor whose dull work no one will read…”

You pretend to be very busy grinding a baby corn with your teeth, while in reality you’re trying to unclench your suddenly spasmed jaw. Another party that you’re hearing about in passing; and for some reason feel like you’re being politely excluded out of? Is Wrennie mental? Aye, she is. Should she be? Hm… Eventually, you jerkily nod, and he leaves for the kitchen to get some water. You’re staring at his plate.

***

It takes you three weeks to find an evening when Thea and yourself can finally introduce Candice, the Canadian gyno, to the joys of a pub bender.

She shows up, all perky and bouncy, in a jolly pink jumper. Her blonde curls look almost unnaturally golden, shiny, and even. They remind you of cup-a-noodle, or buttercream in Mary Berry’s Victoria sandwich.

There’s a small moment of awkwardness, and then she offers to buy the first round.

You’re still on yours second virgin Pina Colada – and you do know how pathetic this drink sounds – when the ladies switch from lager to ‘something with a kick,’ as Candice puts it. Somehow a kick in Candice’s understanding gets best delivered by rum. Thea doesn’t mind at all.

Candice gets arsed up astonishingly quickly. And chatty, she gets very chatty.

“God, girls, you’re awesome!” she hollers, and her arms lie on your and Thea’s shoulders. “So awesome… I’m so glad we went out together. It really sucks here, without my girlfriends…” She gives you a shaky smile. “I had friends I went to med school with, and we would always get drinks on Friday, and I miss it, you know? So good to be here with you.”

Thea gives you a sardonic look from under a hiked up eyebrow. She had as much as Candice, but Thea Martin is a hard chicka. For her, it’s just an appetizer.

“So, what is it that you do, Thea?” Candice asks, and starts waving her right hand in the air, trying to catch the attention of the waiter. Her left hand is still tightly gripping your shoulder.

“I’m dabbling,” Thea give her usual answer.

“A what?” Candice blinks her large blue eyes.

“She’s good at a lot of things,” you explain. “She tries different things. She sings too. Like a siren.” You salute Thea with your glass, and she winks to you.

“Oh wow! We should go to karaoke next time then.” Candice takes a deep breath in, her lovely round tits rise in the tight jumper. “I’m rather OK myself. Have the right apparatus, you know?” She laughs and pats her cleavage. You believe her. She’s short, curvy, and all and all delicious. Graham is a lucky duck.

“I’m in computer science right now,” Thea explains lazily. “But I won’t last. It’s dull.”

“Wow, looks and the brains, all in one package!” Candice throws an admiring look over Thea. “You’re so cool! You both are!” she rushes to reassure you, and you laugh at her eagerness. “No, no, no, I’m serious!” Her words are a bit slurred. She’s as bladdered as a poached pear. “You, Wren! You’re a genius! Graham told me, and my Graham knows what he’s saying, you know?” Her round pretty face gets all loved-up, and Thea shakes her head and topples another shot of rum into her throat.

“Thank you, Candice, that’s very nice of both of you,” you answer, your voice shaking of laughter. You’re properly in the dark how to respond to this exuberant friendliness.

“I mean, with your studies, and your work… And you’re a fucking pixie, Wren!” She gestures an inch away from your nose, and you shy away. “I mean, the eyes and the cheekbones. You’re like an elf, or something.” Did you just hear a hiccup? “And your head is… Just wow. You deserve the best, Wren. All the best! And you too, Thea. Do you have a guy? Does he treat you well?” the Canadian asks in a strict tone, and Thea barks a throaty laugh.

“Chicka, you should ask whether I treat him well. I’m the bad one here.” She gives Candice a salacious wink.

“Good, very good! Let’s drink for it!” Candice finally catches a waiter – by a sleeve no less; and orders three shots, apparently having already forgotten you don’t need one.

“Men need to be kept under control, you know? Not all of them are as nice as my Graham.” She shakes her finger somewhere in the space between you and Thea. “And we deserve all the best, right? Especially you, Wren, you need to take it under control, you know?” She focuses her peepers on you. “I mean, it’s your man, after all, you can’t let that slut just steal him. You need to fight for him!”

You know how they say ‘like a bucket of cold water?’ That’s exactly how it feels. Scorching wave all over your skin, first like a burn, and then cold; then pain, in all joints, and full petrification. You have trouble breathing, and the glass starts shaking in your hand frozen mid air.

“I mean…” Candice continues, so clearly full of good intentions. And we all know where that sodding good intention pavement leads. “I’d just go and pull her hair out. Kick her skinny ass! Tell her to keep her hands off him. I get it, you guys might things differently here.” She lifts her hands in a defensive gesture. “Maybe you can talk to him too – but I say, what can a guy decide, right? They think with their dick, and this one is clearly a goner. I mean they left that book signing party together, and Graham agrees that she’s got her claws in him…”

Thea’s drink falls on the table, and rushes across the table, and pours onto Candice’s lap. The Canadian swears loudly and jumps off her chair.

“Oh shite, sorry, darling.” Thea starts pushing napkins into Candice’s hands.

“It’s OK,” Candice laughs. “I guess, you’re a bit tipsy too, heh?” She gives Thea a wide grin, and Thea nods.

“To be honest, I think I’ve had enough.” Thea’s as smooth as ever. “How about we call it a night, Candice?”

“Only if you promise me we’ll do it again soon.” She wraps her arm around Thea’s waist, she wouldn’t reach Thea’s shoulder. “Yeah?”

“Definitely.” Thea gives her a brilliant smile. “I’ll get you a cab, love. You’ll be here, Wren?” She throws you a quick look, and you’re still in the same pose as before, your eyes on the slowly expanding puddle of lager on the table. You give a short nod, and the two of them disappear.

“Be right back.” Thea’s whisper is the last thing you hear.

You don’t notice how time passes, and suddenly Thea plops back on her chair in front of you.

“What the fuck is going on, Leary?”

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 10. Wrennie and a Wake Up Call

It all starts with a dream. Well, maybe it doesn’t start with it, but the dream is definitely what puts this aggro somewhere in the top layers of your consciousness – somewhere underneath your studies , which take up 90% of your time, and your chi, or mojo, or whatever it is that keeps you going on three hours of sleep, irregular solids, and a gallon of coffee a day.

Do you know that kind of dream when you suddenly see someone you know in a completely different light? It happens to most. As an example, you can see shagging someone in a dream whom you’ve never even considered as a potential partner, and then you look at them in a completely new light.

Well, it isn’t that kind of dream. It’s more of what happened to Mendeleev with his periodic table, which he had already figured it out subconsciously, and then in a dream it came to him, all nice and neat.

The dream is vague, and tangled, and when you wake up with a jerk and a loud inhale that you can even hear yourself, you remember only one image.

John’s sitting at his desk, in his office, behind that mahogany desk he put in his office in uni. You’ve opened the door and stepped in. His knees are widespread, and Eva is kneeling in front of him. His head is dropped back, on the leather back of his swivel chair, and his right hand is on her head. You know this gesture. You’ve felt that relaxed heavy hand on the back of your head hundreds of times. You can see the black of her jacket, and the heels of her shoes, and the red soles. Her head is moving rhythmically.

You’re sitting in your bedroom, trying to shake off the sensation of some disgusting slime as if coating your insides this. It’s dark, and smells nice in the room. There’s a firtree branches arrangement on the shelf.

You look at John. He’s sleeping in his usual manner, on his stomach, nose squished to the side, bent arm under his pillow. You try to get rid of the image of his half-closed eyes, and parted lips, and the pleasure written on his face – and you can’t.

You roll off the bed, go to the kitchen, and greedily drink a glass of water.

You don’t need a shrink to understand what’s happening here. You two have been living together for almost a year; you’ve been married only a few months less – and almost from the very beginning he’s been somewhere at the bottom of your life priorities. You’ve been getting your degree; you’ve published a paper; you work. He agrees, and supports everything you do. You feel a bit guilty, but you always push it at the back of your mind.

And she took a lint off his jacket in front of you once.

It’s daft, and you’d like to say that it’s not that you’ve seen it in a couple of mystery shows, for some reason mostly in the costume ones. But such is indeed the ridiculous explanation for your current nerves. A woman takes a lint off a man’s clothing, and the clever arse sleuth immediately susses out they shag.

You came to his office then. She was leaving, laughing; and he was laughing inside; and she opened the door, and he jumped out of his chair and quickly came up to the door to greet you. You were focused on his gorgeous blue eyes, and then she called his name, and handed him a pile of some papers. And then she took something small and white off the lapel of his jacket. He was looking at you. And then she turned and left, and he pulled you into a kiss.

You know tomorrow it will all seem fucking stupid, but right now on the cold floor of your kitchen, an empty glass in your hand, you’re shaking.

They go to dos together. He sees her four days a week. And she wants him. It’s not because 87% of people who met him want him. You can see it in her eyes. You’ve just been ignoring it.

And it’s none of your fucking business. Say, she has a crush on him. It’s her right. Say, he has a crush on her. He has every reason. You’re never around; she’s hot as fuck. She admires and wants him. He’s a man of flesh and blood. And…

The glass hits the floor and shatters. You look down. It only broke in three pieces, but there are probably shards. You’ve just dramatically dropped a glass like in a cheap Septic melodrama. You dropped a glass because you so easily imagined how it’s totally happening. And it makes sense.

And you properly don’t know what to do now.

***

Act Two of this drama titled Wren at Loss is Eva getting arsed up at a faculty Christmas party.

You go with John for once. You’re knackered as always, and you hate the tight dress, and the uncomfortable shoes, and the mascara eating at your eyeballs; but you’re keeping a good face, and smile, and mingle. It goes well. You have a few empty conversations, and couple of somewhat meaningful discussions of your paper. You drink water; you laugh at other people’s jokes.

John and you look good together. The height difference, the contrasting hair colours, his tie matching the pattern on your dress – the two of you have mastered public appearances. You also sincerely enjoy being in each other’s company, and it shows. His arm is around you, considerately, but oh so telling; and the two of you sneak a kiss from time to time.

You are politely nodding, listening to the droning of yet another of John’s venerable colleagues, when you hear a loud shrieky laugh from another end of the room. You peek and see Eva hanging in the arms of some middle-aged lady. At the moment, your husband’s TA is reminding you of those inflatable men near car dealerships in American films. She’s long, and thin, and unstable on her feet, her arms are moving frantically, and her mouth with bright red lipstick is half open.

“Is she alright?” you ask John, and he throws a look at her.

“I think I should go look after her.” He excuses himself, and you see him cross the room. She jerks and immediately moves onto him, in all her black and tight dominatrix glory. His arm goes around her waist, and he’s saying something comforting to the lady who’s fretting around Eva. He then pulls his mobile out of his pocket, and you assume he’s calling a cab.

“Well, that’s unfortunate…” Professor Murphy in front of you mumbles, and you smile to him politely. You hope you do look like Kate Middleton right now. Poise and elegance, Wrennie. Nothing’s happening; nothing’s happening; we are all going to pretend nothing is happening.

“Well, I’m sure Eva is just overtired. All the pressure of our scientific field…” You express dignified understanding on your face.

“Of course, of course…” Murphy mumbles, and the two of you go back to your previous discussion.

In a few minutes later your mobile beeps, and you see a text from John who informs you that he took Eva home in a cab, and that he’ll see you at your place. He doesn’t unnecessarily explain that Eva lives alone, or that he’s worried about her elderly mother seeing her like that – because giving you a reason why he decided to escort his bladdered TA to her place would mean that it’s something out of the ordinary, right? This way it looks as if he’s just being courteous, and you aren’t supposed to question it.

You are.

When you come home after quickly escaping the party, he’s already there. He’s taken off his jacket, and is sitting in the living room with a book.

He lifts his eyes at you over the page, and smiles.

“That was jolly fortunate. At least we didn’t have to stay to hear them sing,” he jokes.

You’re staring at him. You are torn between A. climbing on his lap, jerking the sides of that shirt open, and fucking him into the sofa. Rocking his world, and probably living marks all over his lush body. To remind him – and yourself – that he’s yours.

Or B. Not touching him at all, because you’re terrified to catch her perfume on him. You don’t mean that it would be there, because he shagged her just now, in her flat, really quickly. Nausea rises. You’ve just imagined how he dropped her on the bed, she was half conscious but readily spread her legs, and he just unbuckled his trousers, and maybe he flipped her on her stomach, and bunched up her narrow skirt. He was done quickly – otherwise how would he be home already? – and just zipped up, and left. You close your eyes.

Even if he didn’t – doesn’t – shag her, he as much as carried her to the cab. He will smell like her right now.

“Wren?”

Your eyes fly open. One of his eyebrows is hiked up. You two shag after parties. It’s a thing. You love him in white shirts. Opening the shirt, button after button, slowly, down to the stomach, and then placing a row of small kisses to his pectoral muscles, and a playful bite, or two, and the look on his face, his eyes shiny, and loving, and randy…

He expects you to jump him now. No, he doesn’t expect – he hopes. If you say you’re tired, he’ll smile softly and understandingly. And the two of you will prepare for bed, and you’ll fall asleep in his arms.

You pick up the straps of your dress, shimmy your shoulders, and let the fabric drop around your waist. You then quickly open the zipper on your arse, and the dress falls on the floor. You’ve calculated this move before the party. There’s a black lacy bra, tiny knickers – and stockings.

“I want to go to a shower now,” you say keeping your eyes locked. He licks his lips. “You first.”

He jumps off the sofa, the book lands on the carpet with a soft thud – and he’s walking backwards to the bathroom, his eyes roaming your body. The black trousers are tenting on his very jolly cock.

“Shower, Thorington,” you repeat, and he salutes, with a wide grin, and turns around, and disappears inside the bathroom. You hear the shower door bang, and the water runs.

You exhale sharply and follow him.

Gilmore Girls Revival and the Question of Motherhood

So, I started writing the Gilmore Girls fanfiction. About a minute after I finished watching the Revival. Right after my six year old son, who was sitting next to me said, “No, she isn’t pregnant.” (Don’t ask me what he meant 🙂 I’m not sure how extensive his knowledge on human reproduction is.) But while G. went back to his Octonauts, I sat down and started writing.

After I posted the first chapter, I’ve received a few wonderfully kind reviews. They were generous – and no less thought provocative. I have to say, that while I am a fast writer, I’m a slow opinion former. I like to give it time, to look at different sides, to ponder, and to sleep on it, preferable for longer than my average three hours a night.

There are a few things that have always bothered me in this show, and one of them is the prevailing idea of motherhood being an obstacle in the life of a woman. While not a false notion, and sadly rather well-spread, the portrayal of pregnancy as a disaster that ruins a woman’s life has seemed like a one-sided, disturbing idea for me. The character of Lane would be the best example of what I mean. I was glad to see her have a satisfying, fulfilled life in the Revival; but the initial representation of her character in the last seasons of the original series made me uncomfortable. She’s shown to break out of the constrictions of her home life, from under her mother’s control, finally doing what she always wanted – and she’s immediately placed into a new ‘cage.’ She describes the short time between these two events as a ‘small window.’ And then it’s taken away from her. Or at least it’s portrayed this way.

Lorelei’s pregnancy with Rory is also always discussed as a disaster, a calamity. The scene of the young her trying to get into a white dress for yet another function of her parents – perhaps, symbolising virginity/purity, and alluding to a wedding dress – reads as a loss of innocence, a disaster that has already befallen the character but is yet unknown to her.

And now we see Rory in the same position, and of course, the first reaction is ‘why?’ Why would the writers put her through the same?

Her circumstances are, of course, different. She isn’t as young and alone as Lorelei was. And she does have a supportive family, like Lane did, while not having a partner. (Don’t get me started on what Logan has become. He was my second favourite of men on the show, after Luke. And second favourite among Rory’s BFs, after Jess.)

And although I approve of symmetry of plot twists, and I in no way oppose or feel unsatisfied by what we are shown, I have one main point to make here.

The show lacks one large aspect in the discussion of motherhood – and it is the woman’s choice.

Being pregnant isn’t a mistake that Rory made. Getting pregnant, perhaps. We don’t see the discussion of what contraception methods she used. (Which I think would be very much useful in the first show. I watched it as a young adult, just starting my journey into the world of relationship. I learnt, or thought that I learnt, a lot from GG. There were things they could have informed me of, to be honest 🙂 )

Lorelei had made her choice then. To keep Rory, to bring her up, to bring her up alone. And yet, there is certain hush-hush tone to this discussion on the show. Their relationship worked out. It’s what the show is about. But did we see that big moment in Lorelei’s life when she took control over her life? No, we didn’t. I wish we had.

Rory is facing the same choice at the moment.

I feel it should be explicitly shown in media these days that a woman has the right to choose.

I like the idea of two men in Rory’s life, just as Lorelei had. Jess as a reflection of Luke. And Logan as a reflection of Christopher. And perhaps, Logan’s sudden sliminess is supposed to show that he is indeed as weak as Rory’s father.

But it isn’t about choosing between the men, as it seemingly always was written for Lorelei. (Thank goodness, at least there was the opening of her own inn that was there to counterbalance all that talk about having or not having a man in her life.)

It is now about Rory choosing to keep the baby, or not. It’s about her deciding whether in this strange limbo in which she found herself, she can and/or is willing. It’s not about her learning on her mother’s experience. It is her life. It is her body. It is her choice.

It doesn’t matter whose baby it is, and whether there was indeed that sincere longing in Jess’s eyes when he looked at her through the window. It is about Rory deciding. To finish, or not to finish her book. Where to work. Where to live. To have, or not to have another Rory. (It can be a boy’s name 🙂 )

Motherhood has to be a choice, available to make, and not judged whether it is made, or not. I just wish it were shown this way in media more. Many of us grew up with Rory. And now as adults, we should be able to see her fight for that right.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 9. Wrennie and A Missed Party

lwap9

The next months are a daze. You study; you go to the lab; you drag yourself home. You’re so tired, you don’t remember what you eat, and how you fall asleep. You grit your teeth and bash on. You drink too much coffee; you look like shite. The Spring is the worst. You’re so exhausted by then, your nails chip and you start losing hair.

John is helping. He cooks, or orders take away. He brings you a full plate. He picks up the half eaten one, once you crash on the sofa. He takes your clothes to a dry cleaners and turns on the washer. He gets groceries. He never complains, he helps you with whatever studies he can help with.

One evening in March you’re sobbing desperately in the shower, and he knocks at the door.

“Wrennie, are you OK?”

You’re so raspy from crying that you can’t answer.

“Can I come in?”

“Yeah.” You’re moving behind the fogged part of the door, so he can’t see what bloody mess you are.

You hear him come in.

“Wren?”

“Yeah?”

“What’s wrong?” His tone is soft, and it makes something snap in you. You emit another loud sob.

“We haven’t shagged for two months!” You lean into the wall and start slowly sliding down. “And I don’t want to!” The last words are already a wail. “I’m so skinny, it’s disgusting… and everything hurts, and I’m just… so… tired…” You press the heels of your hands to your eyes.

He comes up to the door and taps the tip of his finger to it. You lift your eyes at him. He’s smiling to you, it’s a sympathetic warm smile; and you cry harder.

He opens the door and steps into the shower, just as he is – in his soft bottoms, a tee, and socks.

He sits on the floor, water running down him, and pulls you on his lap.

He’s rocking you softly from side to side, and you’re shaking.

“Wren, it’s OK… I’ve been there, remember? I’ve gone through three med degrees, and I was no better than you.” He’s cradling your head in his large palm. “And yeah, it is shite, and everything else has to wait… But, love, you’re doing fine. The research is going well, the grant has been confirmed. Just breathe through it.”

“What about you? I sometimes think you’ll forget what I look like…” you whine. You’re beyond the point where you craved reassurance. You have no energy anymore. You think if he gets up and announces he dumps you, you will just turn off the water, and fall asleep here.

“I’m making the list of all the shag you owe me. For when you’re done with the studies. So you know, the reverse cowgirl on the living room carpet is in the triple digits by now.”

You want to laugh, but all that comes out is a strangled bark like sound.

“Wren…” He cups your face and makes you meet his eyes. “I understand. I was young, and ambitious; and unlike you I didn’t care how it affected those around me. I’m here, and I’ll help.”

You drop your head, pressing your face to his chest. Your hands are shaking visibly.

***

Summer is easier. You seem to have found your footing. There’s even a week off, and the two of you plan a vacation.

You talk about it in bed, his Mac on his lap. He shows you photos of Greece and Majorca, and you nod and grin. You adore the giant new bed you two bought for your flat, and the bedding with light blue paisley pattern – and John in his glasses and tee, clicking excitedly on the sites of resorts. You two end up staying in your flat through the whole week, shagging, eating, and watching telly – and it’s the best decision the two of you have ever made.

You come back to work energised and ready to kick arse. And you do. You feel like Thomas, or that other tank engine that could – you feel very professional and put together. You reorganize your schedule, and you start getting enough sleep. You don’t have time for anything else, but at least you stopped falling asleep in the lift between the entrance hall and your flat on the fourth floor.

***

It’s the end of November, and the phone rings in your lab. You pick it up; and a vaguely familiar female voice asks for you.

“Mrs. Thorington?” she asks.

“It’s Ms. Leary, actually.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t sure… Ms. Leary, I’m Eva Amandine, I’m Dr. Thorington’s teaching assistant.”

“Oh, right… Hi!” You’re flipping through a file for the current experiment. “You’ve met couple times in John’s office. And I think there was also that professorial party in May, right?”

“Yes,” she laughs softly. “The endlessly boring one, where we were the only two people under forty.” You hum confirming.

You remember Eva. She is tall, has raven black hair, and impeccable taste in clothes. Her heels were exceptionally tall as well. She was dressed all in black, and you thought there was something very dominatrix like about her.

“I’m calling about this party Dr. Thorington is invited to. One of his colleagues is receiving yet another award, and Dr. Thorington is supposed to bring plus one.”

“Oh…” You rummage through the piles of papers on your table. “Just a mo, I’ll find my mobile. For my schedule. When is the party?”

“It’s tonight, Ms Leary. I apologize it’s so last moment.”

“Oh…” You look at the row of tubes waiting for you. “I can’t tonight… I won’t find anyone to come in instead of me.”

“That’s a pity, Ms Leary. I’ll let Dr. Thorington know.”

You two say your goodbye, and you hang up. It feels strange that it was so last minute, but you forget about the conversation distracted by the bamf waiting for you.

***

And then one evening John comes home with flushed cheeks, smelling of cologne; and he waltzes into the living room, where you are for the first time in forever, before him, having dinner alone.

He’s humming a tune, and is loosening his tie. He’s endlessly lush in his black three piece suit, and you lift an eyebrow. He barks a throaty laugh, comes up to you, and stretches the hand to you.

“Well, hello there, doctor,” you purr, and he twirls you and then dunks you backwards. You laugh, and he pulls you up and to his mouth. He tastes like champagne.

“Good evening?” you ask with a giggle.

He picks you up under your arms and plops your arse on the table. He wedges between your knees.

“A very good evening?” you ask, and he grins lopsidedly.

“Horrid boring party. I drank just to have something to do.” He slides his palms up your thighs, and then dives in and presses his lips to your neck. You drop your head back invitingly.

“I’m very glad to see you then,” you murmur, and he presses his hand between your shoulder blades and, supporting you, lowers you on the table. He jerks off the jacket, while you unbuttons your jeans.

“I’m planning to reinforce this opinion in you, love.” When he’s randy or drunk, his childhood Northern accent peeks just a wee bit. Just a bit in the vowels. Just a bit more ‘loov’ in his ‘love.’ This turns you on so much!

Clothes fly off, only the white shirt and your bra surviving the purge, and the two of you spend an hour, energetically shagging, moaning, scratching, sucking, and grabbing.

In the bath afterwards, he’s tenderly moving a loofah on your shoulders in delicious circles, and you sigh contentedly.

“I honestly wish you could go to more parties with me.” He kisses your ear. “If we found a closet there and did what we just did there on the table, time would fly so much faster.”

You giggle.

“We would be arrested for inappropriate behaviour.”

“Well, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Everyone is way too proper at those parties.” He makes a dramatic disgusted grimace. “Mannered talking, champagne, no dancing on the table. I had to attend less of these dos when I was trying to sell myself. Who knew professors are so into unsatisfying inadequate parties?”

You look at him and gently wipe the bubbles off his eyebrow.

“I’m sorry I can’t come most of the time.”

He shrugs and pulls you closer.

“As long as I come home and get to… have dinner with you.” He wiggles his eyebrows.

Something pushes you to ask.

“So, you just go alone then?”

“Eva goes with me,” he answers offhandedly. “She’s no fun, though. She takes the parties seriously.”

You laugh, but something feels off. You will think about it later. You lean into his kiss, and slide onto his lap. You’re very glad you went for a roomy tub.

Two Completed Projects and a Dozen Running :)

Hello!

Update, update, it’s time for an update on what Katya’s doing 🙂 (Clearly some writers/artists here have had a wee bit too much chocolate. But seriously, chocolate affects me like booze does normal people, while booze just knocks me out 😀 And there was this box of Lindt elves; and they were glossy and plump; and pretty foil wraps fell off; and one followed another… 😛 )

Uhem, where was I? 🙂

Alright, the two completed projects:

A. “Hammer Up!” (formerly known as “Stop, Hammer Time!”)

It’s been edited; the cover is made; and it’s ready to go, but… I’ve been thinking that it’s holiday time now, and we all have families to visit and eggnog to drink. And judging by how it goes on FF and A03 sites, most people are not very active online around this time. So, how about we do the whole voting + getting a free copy if the story wins (and Katya gets a bit cash, and doesn’t have to get a soul-crushing, boring job for a bit longer) in January?

Let me know what you think!

B. Russian folklore + familiar characters = young adult fantasy novel

img_20161208_121521

It’s written! I’m serious! 😀 I wrote a novel in exactly a month! I started November 7th, and was done December 8th. I would have finished December 7th (not intentionally at all), but I was writing the final battle scene, and then my alarm went off, and I had to go pick up my son from school! I am almost certain that people on the bus thought I was mad! I was buzzing, and mumbling, and twitching 🙂 But then the next day I finished it!

I like it. That’s all I can say. I do have couple degrees in literary studies, so I have all these critical urges from time to time – but it just flew from under my fingers, and I love it. Those of you who have warm and fuzzy feelings towards Thorin/John (which I assume are all of you 😀 ) will enjoy a certain character in this story for sure.

I even decided to try to go with the traditional publishing, and am currently looking into publishing houses, and agents. Does any of you happen to know anyone in that terrifying, cut throat business? 🙂

In the picture above, you can see a magical compass, fuelled by a person’s blood, which allows one to search for a hidden relative, or object – and the book will actually explain how to build one. Have I gotten your attention? 🙂

3. What’s going on meanwhile:

Fanfiction, of course! On fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own. Now that my mad writing spree is over, I’ll dedicate more time to my FF.

I’ve also been recently reminded that I have a Wattpad page. I’ll clean it up and post some old Thorin stories there, and…

A new idea! (Clearly, those chocolate elves should’ve stayed where they were!) How about a romance story on Wattpad, where a lovely chick whose job is to be a muse (she’s a personal coach for creative peeps) is torn between two blokes? One is tall, dark, and blue-eyed (we all know the type, don’t we? 😉 ), and another one is sort of “Bilbo meets John Watson?” (They do kind of look alike, don’t they? 😀 ) The plot is already formed in my head, and ooooohhhh, the delicious angst! 😀

Also, I’m finishing the next chapter for the Agatha Christie style story for my Patreon supporters. They will also get some exclusive scoop into the freshly finished novel; character designs; and Christmas watercolour cards by yours truly.

There is also a story for Etsy that is slowly taking shape. I’m still working on choosing a character design style, and the overall plot, but as promised a whodunit with Gwen (yet another version of Wren); and both John/Thorin and Einar is on the way! Once I’ve set my mind on the overall style, it’ll be a go – and I hope you enjoy it!

Writing aside, I’m also working on my art, including a family portrait commission, which is equally daunting and exciting 🙂 There is also polymer clay; dry pastels; the birds of Manitoba that I want to draw… and who needs sleep anyway? 🙂

Oh, and of course, there is suspicious new character in my Dr T Series 🙂 Did you like Eva? 😉

Thank you for your interest, my duckies! There is no writer without readers!

I’ll keep you posted what’s happening!

Cheers,

K.

 

 

 

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 8. I Always Liked It Slow

Author’s Note:

I think this song by my beloved Leonard is the perfect soundtrack to Wrennie and Dr T’s relationship. The line ‘A weekend on your lips // A lifetime in your eyes’ reminded me of their weekend in Sheraton; and I can just hear ‘Let me catch my breath // I thought we had all night” pronounced in another, no less velvet male voice… 

If you like the song, check out the lyrics. There will no other like Leonard; there will be no other poetry like his…

copy-of-lwap7

Four months later…

You come home with only one thought in your head – you want to sit down. You don’t care if it’s going to be a sofa, an armchair, or the rug by the entrance door. You think you’ve never been that exhausted in your life; but to think of it, you felt exactly the same way yesterday. And the day before, and last week – and sadly, you’re sure you’ll feel the same way for a long time now.

Instead of pushing the key into the door, you stop and press your forehead to it. It reminds you of that day when you and John broke up. Although, the only similarity is that you’re frozen on the other side of the door from him. That’s where parallels end. You do want to see him. You do know what you feel towards him. You do want to come in – you just can’t. Physically.

The door unlocks, and he’s standing in the frame. It smells like Italian. There’s a glass of Scotch in his hand.

You peek, and your jaw slacks. He looks arsed up. He is so obviously drunk! The eyes are shiny, red-rimmed, and unfocused; cheeks red flushed. That’s so unusual that you straighten up despite being in danger to just fall into the flat like a rolled up carpet.

“Has academia defeated you again?” he asks softly, and opens his one armed embrace. You whine, step in, and press into him. That’s better. That’s a relief. John is very therapeutic.

“Remind me why I decided that post-grad was a good idea?” you mumble into his soft white tee. He smells like food, clean laundry, and John – he smells like home.

“Because you’re a badarse scientist, and weren’t going to let your giant intellect go to waste.” He rubs your back, and you moan into his chest.

You’d ask him if he’s trying to butter you up, but that would sound like flirting. And hinting on a shag. Which would be unacceptable, since you can’t shag. You’re too tired. You could probably just lie there, and let him do all the work – but surely, he’d get offended if you fell asleep mid-way. And you definitely would.

He closes the door behind you, and then kneels in front of you helping to take off your boots. You shake the coat off your shoulders, not caring that it falls on the floor, and plod into the living room.

“Italian?” you ask and drop onto the dining table chair.

“Yeah, I ordered take away.” He goes to the bar and adds more Scotch. “Three hours ago.” He gives you a soft reproachful look.

“I’m sorry…” You have no energy to get up and go to the kitchen. “We were in the lab, and then it turned out we needed to redo couple tests…” You can’t stifle a wide painful yawn. “And then one of the students in the group project cocked up some data…” You drop your head on the table.

He hums, and you hear a clank of the bottle. And then you remember. Oh fuck! Fucking fucking fuck! You jerk your face up and look at him.

“Oh god, it’s Thursday, and it’s our ‘dinner and talk’ evening, isn’t it?”

“Yeah…” You see him heavily sit down in the armchair. He takes a gulp of Scotch and drops his head back. His eyes slowly close.

“I’m really sorry…” you whine again. “It’s been a mental week, and…”

“It’s alright, Wren…” He lifts his head, takes a sip, and then goes back to the same position. “Have you eaten?”

“Some disgusting sarnies in the cafeteria. But I’ll enjoy the Italian tomorrow, yeah? I’ll take some to the lab for lunch. Or we can warm it up and have it for dinner.” You’re groveling, and he makes a small wave with his hand, his eyes still closed.

You consider apologising again, but then you realise that he’s much more drunk than you initially assumed. To think of it, except his stag night, you’ve hardly ever seen him under the influence, in all the time you’ve known him.

“John, are you OK?”

“Leonard Cohen died,” he answers, and takes another big gulp without opening his eyes.

“I’m sorry…” Your words sound empty, but you do sympathise. When it were an actor or a musician you were fond of, their loss always felt personal.

John loves Cohen. Well, ‘loved’ will now be a better term. Popular Problems, released couple years ago, is his favourite album.

“Should I choose some younger artist to fancy now?” he asks from his armchair, and you hum questioningly. “To make me more hip, and less… old.”

You frown not sure what he’s talking about.

“Peterson’s retiring,” he says. You properly fail to follow the leaps his mind is making tonight.

“OK…” you draw out. “Peterson from Cardiology? Well, he’s old, and…”

“We were in the same year in uni,” John interrupts. Oh bugger.

You could remind him it’s not dates and numbers that determine a person’s age. It’s not about ‘how long;’ it’s about ‘how’ – how the person lives, how they feel, how much they want, crave, how much they take from life, and how much they’re willing to give.

“Do you know that in a few years they will think I’m your Dad? I’ll get all that grey hair, and with your genetics you’ll stay young forever…” He emits a sarcastic sharp laugh, and finishes his bevvie.

Ah, so that’s what it’s all about.

You rise from the chair, cross the room ignoring the aching soles, and climb on his lap. He doesn’t stir, but you know he’s glad you’re here.

“So, is this Hemingway style drinking all about your mortality and…” you start in a light teasing tone, and he suddenly lifts his head and pins you with a dark stare.

“Do you want children, Wren?”

Oh sod it. Wrong time, wrong place – and really, John? Definitely wrong circumstances. He’s pissed, you’re exhausted. The combination is as cocked up as possible.

You have an odd thought. You wish you were forty right now. You wish you knew what one is supposed to answer to a man of his age, how one is supposed to talk, what to say to this question. Should you console? Flirt? Answer directly? Mollify?

And you’re tired, so very tired. And you feel young, and immature – and lost.

An adult wise woman would know what to say to her husband in this situation. She would know just the right words; she’d look into his eyes, and answer something that would make it alright. You want him to be happy. You don’t know how to make a man like him happy.

He’s achieved so much; but is looking back on one’s former successes a healthy way to deal with one’s age? He’s right – in ten years his hair will be all white. In ten years you’ll look just the same; you saw your biological mother’s photo in your file, she was thirty seven when she had you, and looked just like you do right now.

Are you to say that all is ahead of him? What if it isn’t? Are you to promise that the two of you will have a baby soon? You might not. There’s your education; and your career. On the other hand, you do want one. But you don’t want one right now. Right now, you want to sleep.

If you stay quiet long enough, he’ll shut like a clam, like he used to – or sigh melancholically, as he’s recently started. He’ll apologise, and say that the two of you need to go to bed.

“I’m sorry, Wren…” he starts, and you lean in and press your lips to his. He tastes like Lagavulin.

“I’m so tired…” you whisper, after moving away. His eyes open slowly, dark blue and shining. “I don’t think I can sustain this conversation.” He opens his mouth, and you press a finger across his lips gently. “Don’t apologise. It’s a valid convo, I just can’t…” You’re feeling sick, your eyes feel like full of hot sand, and there are some grotty yellow sparks dancing before your eyes.

He studies your face, and then sighs and nods.

You two go to bed; but despite how knackered you were, you can’t fall asleep. The conversation has left a nasty feeling somewhere in your stomach. And in half an hour or so, while you’re lying on your side, as if asleep, John carefully climbs out of bed, and leaves for the kitchen. You fall asleep before he’s back.