Hammer Up! is Up

Come to Amazon Kindle Scout and vote for my story Hammer Up!

VOTE HERE!!!

Summary: To win the right to choose her husband, Aphrodite has to endure ten days in the company of Hephaestus, the fallen god of smithery. Except, everything about Heph freaks her out: he wears dirty clothes; he limps; his sacred animal is an ass. Meanwhile, he thinks she’s a slag, and nothing but the means to an end.

Do you want to learn the Greek myths the hot way? Surprisingly accurate mythology, Cockney speaking gods, and frisky erotica are mixed in this story full of humour and romance.

After 30 days, if the book gets published, you get a FREE copy!

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!

Thea Martin Method || Step Two: Red Dress (Preparation Stage)

Chapter 4

Step 2: Red Dress

(Preparation Stage)

“Thea! That’s preposterous! I’m not buying yet another dress!” Caitlin flails her left, unoccupied arm, and makes a few irritated puffy noises into her mobile. “If I buy anything else for the sole purpose of seducing a bloke, a shag with him will feel like hiring an escort. Once we’re done, I’ll know exactly how much it cost me!”

Caitlin climbs into her Prius, and smacks the door behind her.

“Cai, you asked for my help, may I remind you!” Thea is full of righteous indignation.

Caitlin’s phone beeps, and she sees she has another call.

“Thea, shush! He’s ringing me! What do I do?!”

“Remember that film with the yummy Scot we watched couple months ago?” Caitlin realizes Thea means The Ugly Truth with Gerard Butler.

“I’m not letting him go to voicemail! And even more so, I’m not picking up and calling him a wrong name. I can see his office number on my screen!”

“Suit yourself,” Thea answers in an haughty tone. “At least don’t agree on the day he proposes.”

“But… But… I don’t know what to say!” Caitlin thrashes in her car, not sure what to do; she drops the keys; her purse jumps under her feet from her lap; and finally she manages to swipe the screen, and choke out a ‘hello.’

“Dr. McGrath?” Oh god, how is he not assaulted on the everyday basis with a voice like that?!

“Uh-huh,” answers Dr. McGrath, PhD in Mediaeval French Lit, and Women Studies. You’d think a person with all these degrees would be more articulate. “Dr. Oakes?”

“Perhaps, we could use our first names, Caitlin?” Caitlin sags in her seat, and closes her eyes. Perhaps, they could – but how will she refrain from rubbing herself up and down all his glorious bod like a cat if he does it in public settings?

“Sure, John, I’d love to. What can I do for you?”

“I was hoping you were still interested in going to that exhibition next week. The photography one, by the American artist, August Anderson?”

Caitlin confirms she is. They set up day and time, and agree to meet in a coffee shop in front of the gallery. He’s talking; Caitlin’s wondering if it’s just her, or the students at his lectures also have out-of-body experiences at the sounds of his wonderful Northern accented speech? It’s like velvet, chocolate fondue, and the 16 year old Lagavulin.

She hangs up, and then realizes that she has the Master of One-Off, the magnificent Thea Martin still waiting on the other line. And Caitlin has just openly disobeyed an order and agreed on the day he offered. She’s also probably broken couple rules she doesn’t even know about. Caitlin exhales, and braces herself.

***

The same evening the two ladies are having a ladies’ night. And it doesn’t involve the activities, prohibited by the Equality and Human Rights Commission as unlawful gender discrimination. It involves a film, sweets, and a jar of Phenomé Blossom Therapeutic Face Mask.

While Matt Damon is industriously planting potatoes on the screen, Caitlin is chewing a macaron.

“I still think you should get a new dress. And it should be red,” Thea suddenly announces, and Caitlin ignores her, as if absorbed in the intricacies of Martian agriculture. “Cai…”

“Thea, I’m not buying a dress. I already bought one for your Step One. I’ll still wear it later, so that wasn’t a complete waste; but that’s the end of it. I’ll find something to wear to the photo exhibition.”

“But how are you going to execute Step 2. Red Dress, if you don’t have a red dress?” Thea asks pouting, and Caitlin finally turns to her.

“What exactly is Step 2?”

“Well, Caitlin, I’m glad you asked…” Thea grins widely. “It involves three simple sub-steps. Stun. Tease. Retreat.”

“Sounds complicated.” Catlin sighs and picks up another macaron. “Can I just spend an evening with him? Maybe he didn’t even get what it’s all about last time, you know…” She’s sad to admit that the thought has visited her before. What if he didn’t quite understand that she was asking him out with shag being the outing’s direct and sole consequence?

“Wow, McGrath! Wait a minute!” Thea exclaims, and pauses the film. “Are you saying me there’s a chance that he might be expecting something else out of it?  Not a nice thorough one-off?” Thea looks suddenly mortified. “Goodness, Cai, are you saying you might have hinted it was a… date?” Thea spits out the last word like the worst of swearings.

“No! I mean, maybe… I don’t know… I hope not!” Caitlin mournfully ponders the purple almond beauty in her hand.

“What do you mean ‘maybe?’ It’s either shag, or… blagh… romance! What else is there?”

“Maybe, he thinks we’re just… mates. He had no one to go there with, and I offered. Maybe he’s spoken for. He’s officially single, I checked. But maybe he isn’t looking.”

“Who cares, Cai? If he has a doxy, or a girlfriend, it’s his business!” Thea scoffs. “You should only bother to understand where he’s taking it, and redirect him if the poor sod is lost.”

“Maybe he’s gay,” Caitlin offers another option, and Thea chokes on the tea she was drinking.

“Cai, how off is your sex-dar if you can’t tell?”

“Thea, I haven’t had sex in five years! How off do you think the poor gadget is?” Caitlin answers snappily, and jumps off her sofa to march to the kitchen to start the kettle.

“God, McGrath, I’d have died!” Thea hollers after her.

Caitlin rolls her eyes. Thea wouldn’t understand, so there is no point to explain – but Caitlin just didn’t feel like it. It wasn’t important. It wasn’t interesting. It is interesting now.

***

Caitlin is standing by the sink watching water run into the kettle.

She needs to make sure that Dr. Oakes – with his wide shoulders, mouth-watering jaw line under the exciting black and silver beard, and his large scorching hands – knows exactly what it’s all about, and where it’s going.

And perhaps for the first time in her life, Caitlin agrees with Thea wholeheartedly. Romance is out of the question! Caitlin doesn’t need a man! She needs a man after midnight – as in ‘gimme, gimme, gimme’ – and after that toodle-pips, and adios!

Caitlin loves her life. It’s fulfilling, rewarding, and exactly the way Caitlin wants it to be. She has her work, her students, her books, her paintings – her interests and habits. She doesn’t want to acclimatize to another set of those.

Also, Caitlin worries. She worries about her very, very old Nana, her only living relative. She worries about every single of her students: Are they satisfied with their studies? Are they feeling suffocated in the academia? Are their needs met? Are they developing as persons and scholars? Is there something she could do, or stop doing to allow them to better fulfill their potential?

She worries about her six goddaughters and five godsons; about Thea; about the world politics; about climate change; about each and every charity she participates in; about the decline of tiger population in the world; about polar bears in Canada.

Caitlin doesn’t need to worry about a man.

Having one and living with him seemed as a marginally attractive theoretical possibility when she was twenty. She isn’t anymore.

There’s only one way to ensure that after she rises out of the arms of Dr. Oakes, PhD, she isn’t required to cuddle and listen to his problems. And he surely has plenty, real, or imaginary – he’s male. She wants to say a polite and relaxed ‘goodbye,’ take a cab home, and then enjoy a long bath. After which she will go back to her life in all its perfection, with pleasant – hopefully – memories of consensual, adult, quality shag.

And the path to this – hopefully – satisfying ending lies through Step 2: Red Dress.

“Thea, I’m going to need more instructions on the whole ‘stun, tease, retreat,’” Caitlin shouts from the kitchen, and hears Thea’s ‘thank Odin and other creepy Norse deities’ over the noise of the boiling kettle.

***

Next Thursday, after her classes, Caitlin is running out of her building on campus, huffing and puffing, and panicking. A student fainted in Caitlin’s class. And then there was a long conversation with the nurse; and the student turned out to be pregnant. And then there was the drama with the student ringing up her boyfriend; and then the other bloke she’s shagging; and on and on. And somehow the student decided that letting go of Caitlin’s hand was out of the question.

And now, instead of her carefully chosen outfit – Thea participated, and the dress and the heels did receive her approval – Caitlin is clad in her usual assortment of cozy cotton and linen layers, all loose, and baggy. Caitlin buys most of her clothes on Etsy. She likes the idea of her money travelling all over the world supporting women, and the closeness she develops with some of her ‘dealers.’ Currently, she’s her usual ball of shawls, harem trousers, and oversized tunics by Aakasha. All grey and charcoal. The clobber is ace. It travelled all the way from Bulgaria – but unlike the slaggish and non-feminist outfit sadly abandoned on Caitlin’s bed – it doesn’t say ‘come hither, sailor.’

She’s also ten minutes late; and Thea said being late could be interpreted as romantic. Caitlin can’t allow anything remotely romantic to happen! She’s here to suss out if Dr. Oakes is up for a lovely one-off; with anything else being a no-no.

She pushes the door of the coffee shop, and smacks into his chest. He was standing by the entrance, reading a flier for some indie play he’d picked up from the cork board by the door.

Sadly, Caitlin’s libido doesn’t get a chance to enjoy the delicious shiver that runs through her body after the smack. She’s just starting to formulate her hungry thoughts and her randy assumptions on what’s underneath this black Burberry peacoat, when he ruins everything!

“Caitlin, evening!” Does he need to looks so happy to see her, and smile, and show his white teeth, and have these crow’s feet, and be so… nice?! “You look flourishing! Were today’s lectures inspiring? You look like a professor well listened to.”

He chuckles, offering her to share into how silly his joke was. Oh horror! She did like the joke! And she thought it was funny! And he didn’t say ‘you look lovely tonight,’ which only means either ‘I know I’m expected to say this,’ or ‘I’ve noticed you dressed up for me.’  

Oh poop.

The story will continue in Chapter 5. Stage 2: Red Dress (Execution Stage)

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 4. Good Morning, Wrennie!

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You don’t do the stupid thing. It’s shocking, isn’t it? Wrennie Leary acting wisely… Wrennie Leary acting wisely around Dr Delicious – and yes, he’s gotten all his positive monikers back – is even more astonishing. You don’t jump his bones, which consequently does not lead to you prolonging your backache indefinitely. You don’t try to kiss him. You don’t raise any other emotionally excruciating for both of you questions. You just watch the film and enjoy it immensely. In the last third of it he starts whining that it’s quite obvious who’s the ‘baddie’ here. It turns out he hasn’t seen the film before, and hasn’t read the book, but of course he guesses right.

The two of you eat dinner, and then he leaves, after stocking up your fridge, and kissing you to the top of your head. You don’t insist he stays.

In the next week and the half you don’t invite him over. Well, alright, he comes twice. But he rang you up on his own accord! Gracefully accepting his groceries, and his cooking abilities still counts as acting wisely. And again, you don’t offer anything but a film, a long and jolly chat, one game of chess, and two kisses to his cheek. Wisely! It’s called ‘wisely!’

It’s in equal proportions excruciating and exhilarating. It’s like watching a romcom with oneself in the leading role, and the whole ‘will they, won’t they’ thrill; but just as in a romcom we all know they will, don’t we, Wrennie?

And then you’re back at work, and so much has to be done; that when a week later you resurface, you feel like you’ve been on a deserted island. You even get a haircut, because it feels like you need to clean up now that you’re back to the civilised society.

And then it’s Thea’s birthday – and somehow, at some point, you get arsed up. In your case it’s two drinks. The first one makes you jolly and very, very friendly, but you don’t remember this stage. You reckon in the morning that there was no pause between the two bevvies, and you can only assume that either the person you were drinking with didn’t know about your intolerance, or they did try to get you bladdered.

The investigation will have to wait, since your priority number one – once you open your eyes and stare at the unfamiliar window curtains – is to figure out where the fuck you are, and how much aggro you’re in.

The room is dark, the curtains are drawn. You quickly look around. Everything is posh, elegant, but spartan. And then you recognise the painting on the wall. Unless the person whose place you are at has a copy of the Kandinsky that you’ve observed so many times above John’s headboard, you’re in Dr Delicious’ bed. You know very little about art, and Kandinsky seems to do the same thing again and again, but you’ve spent so many hours in various positions looking at it that you can’t possibly be wrong – here is that blueish greenish blob you always thought looked like a fish. OK, OK, a cock! You’ve always thought it looked like a cock. You’re a chavvy bird, what can you do?

You do the most logical thing you can in this case. You sniff the sheets and the pillow case. Yep, definitely John’s bed. Or at least the one he has slept in. You exhale in relief and plop back into his sheets. Out of all possible beds, this one is the jammiest for you to find yourself in.

After a few seconds of relief, you of course start panicking and hyperventilating since you are – Rassilon help you – in John’s bed. But it’s a mild panic and only a semi-hyperventilation. What’s the worst that could have happened? You shagged him? Fine, it was coming anyway. Pity you won’t remember it. You didn’t shag him and fell on the floor in a precise impersonation of Aunt Pittypat? Not bad either. Perhaps better. Whom are you bloody kidding?! All gods and deities, please, don’t let you two have shagged!

You are predictably as much as starkers. Predictably, because that is the cliche, and altogether this situation does seem like a beginning of a short but sweet romance story, or a scene from the aforementioned romcom. And also because you hate sleeping in a bra. It’s still with you under the duvet, so you assume you took it off yourself. The dress and the shoes are near the bed, neatly placed on a very elegant valet stand. My oh my, you do know that tie near your dress.

The knickers are gone, though. You rummage your hand under the sheets, but they are nowhere to be found. That’s a proper mystery! They were lacy thongs, and you hate those; so it makes sense that you’d take them off, but where are they?

You carefully climb off the bed and mince to what you think is a bathroom. You’re right, and you quickly make use of it and the loo. You also once again seek confirmation that you are indeed in John’s flat – though, clearly not the flat you remember. Products are the same, and there’s a long dark hair in the brush. You breathe a wee bit easier now. You find his robe and wrap in it. Your head’s splitting, and you properly don’t want to get dressed. Besides, you still don’t have any smalls.

Somewhat splashed with cold water, terribly hungover, pale, and disheveled you crawl out of the bedroom into a large living room. Even if your brain didn’t feel like black pudding, you’d be feeling all confused right now. The view in front of you is exactly what they call ‘it was like a dream.’ Here and there you see familiar things – the cursed Ming vase; the painting of that fashionable Japanese painter you always forget the name of; John’s laptop bag; other bits and bobs that you’ve seen and cohabited with for months – but the furniture is new, and it’s clearly a new flat.

You make a few careful steps, and then you see a note on the table. It’s definitely John’s confident, flamboyant handwriting.

Morning, love!

How’s your head? (The meds are attached.)

You see a glass of water and couple pills nearby. You’re still at sixes and sevens, so you decide to finish reading before taking strange pills in a strange home.

Last night I received a call from the concierge of my former building who claimed that my – also, former – paramour was hollering under windows, demanding entrance, threatening to start serenading me from under the balcony. (As flattered as I am, I find it necessary to remind you that the building had no balconies.) As my Romeo appeared mobile, though unreasonable, Mr Deel loaded the Hope and Pride of the Rivendell Institute in a cab, and I received the parcel here. Welcome to my new flat!

I suggest you take the pills, cook yourself a substantial breakfast, and then you will have two choices: 1. You could go home and have a lie-in. I took the liberty to text your friend Thea after you fell asleep informing her you’re safe, and in return she said she rang up the Institute and told them you had an appointment with your acupuncturist and weren’t coming into work today. 2. You could stay. I’ll be home at seven fifteen.

As you can imagine, everything mine is yours. None of your old things are left, sadly. As you recall, I sent you the forgotten items in the first week of our separation. But I’ve always loved the view of you in my shirt. Just a shirt.

You’ve been reading the note in his voice in your head. The last three are a sexy purr.

By the way, don’t look for your knickers. Among many other things you blurted out into my face last night, you mentioned you had thrown them out the cab window. You called it ‘burning the bridges,’ and then offered to describe them to me if necessary.

You’re suddenly not feeling that great, and hurriedly take the meds. Fuck you, Wrennie, you just had to go all in, didn’t you? Literally, couldn’t keep your pants on. And, what the bloody hell did you also blurt out into his face?!

If you happen to be still in this flat, at around six thirty, please, feel free to order dinner. There’re menus in the kitchen (second drawer to the right from the stove), but none of the choices is obligatory. I trust your taste completely.

Just to make the following hours more difficult for you (consider it the revenge for the sleepless night I spent trying not to think of the naked backside you gleefully demonstrated to me), I will inform you that the second most popular topic of your blabbering was your self-pleasuring habits, and my recent reappearance in the leading role in your fantasies. And yes, Wrennie my dear, I do think about that one time in my office quite often as well.

Love,

John

You finish the water in the glass, and plod to the kitchen to make a brekkie. To stay, or not to stay – that is the sodding question.