The Winds of Change for K. Kolmakov

So, here we are. Yours truly, widely known in immensely narrow circles as kkolmakov, and you, my beloved readers.

I have to say, I have rewritten this post about a dozen times by now… And yet I find it difficult to put what I need to say into the right words.

I feel as if I reached some sort of a tipping point in my writing (and drawing as well, but it’s a bit of a different matter). I started three years ago, with a small drabble on fanfiction.net. So much has happened since then! I know at least one of you has been with me on this journey from day one; and just for that I’ll be forever grateful for that day on the plane when I typed my first 300 words. (My dearest J., I’m of course talking about you!)

I learnt; I grew; I found friends, and lost friends. I saw the world more clearly, and I love it more, and am scared of it more. I know myself better now (and I can’t say it made my life easier.)

But enough rambling.

A few days ago I arrived to the realisation that it’s time for change. Very few of you know my personal circumstances, but in simple terms, I have been fortunate enough to be able to take some time off work since May 2016 and dedicate myself to writing and drawing. This luxury will end in May 2017, and by then I need to either find a job; or become a published author, actually paid royalties, and/or an artist with constant income.

In no way I find I’ve wasted these past months. I wrote fanfiction as much as I wanted; I wrote the YA fantasy novel (which I’m currently looking into publishing); I put “Hammer Up!” to Amazon Kindle Scout. I wrote on JukePop (a bit more about it later); and Wattpad. I’ve almost finished Dr T Series here, on the blog (a project that has spanned over all my writing years). I drew; I sold my art on the Central Canada Comic-Con; and Etsy; I opened a Society6 shop. I experimented with pastels, ink, and polymer clay.

But it’s time to accept that:

1. The Hobbit fandom has shrunk. I hardly get any reviews for my recent stories. Except for you, my few loyal readers, who are generous and forgiving enough to give a chance to all my random endeavours! And even wander from platform to platform with me! (Words can’t express how much I appreciate and love you – each and every one of you!)

I doubt I will ever write for any other fandom as much and as wholeheartedly as i did for this one. I’m a monogamous creature. I will never have any other King.

2. Fanfiction, Wattpad, JukePop, DeviantArt, and Instagram don’t pay bills, as rewarding and fulfilling as they are emotionally and mentally.

3. I don’t want a boring office/kitchen job. I know I’ll be restless and miserable if I am not allowed to spend 8 hours a day with my keyboard and/or brushes.

Which altogether adds up to the dire need to restructure my creative life.

So, here are my plans for the nearest months. A lot of the following requires your advice/suggestions/votes. Please, let me know in the comments!

{A} Regarding fanfiction:

I’m planing to slowly cut down the number of stories I write. Most of those that still get some readership (such as “Letters to Your Heart,” “Old Wounds;” and all those smaller ones such as “Here Be Dragons”) will be completed, but much depends on the readers. I’m expecting to leave “Four Corners of Middle Earth” as my last Hobbit/LotR fanfic going post-May.

If there’s some specific story that you’re dying to see finished, or kept ‘alive,’ let me know.

{B} I’m planning to finish Dr T Series. At the moment, I anticipate about 5 chapters left in the last part, tying loose ends, and sending Wrennie and Dr. Sexy into their well-deserved happily ever after, with the triplets and Unna, sparkles and unicorns, etc., etc.

I still want to continue writing a modern romance/erotica webserial with weekly updates; and I think “Jack in the Box” on Wattpad will be the one.

I have couple of other ideas that I’ve been considering, such as that “May to December” one I’ve mentioned before with the professor-student scenario, with a reversed age difference, where Wren is 42 and divorced, and John is her student. Couple other ideas are also rattling in my barmy noggin. The question is: where would you prefer reading it (if you’re still interested in reading my musings, of course) – here on the blog? On Wattpad?

{C} The previous question brings me to the matter of JukePop and Inkitt. I’m leaving “Blind Carnival” sitting on JukePop for now. Several of you were immensely kind to say that you’d buy another of my books (you can’t imagine how flattered I feel when I read such wonderfully kind comments!), but for now “Blind Carnival” will have to wait.

Meanwhile, “Better Than One” (the one with the Canadian farmer lacking any ability to communicate verbally – remember this one?) is currently being moved to Inkitt (click on the word for the link). I’m still trying to figure it out, but so far I know that they’re running a romance book contest there. As soon as I know more, I’ll let you know. I think if the book gets posted, there’s a limited number of free copies, and after that people are supposed to pay. I’ll keep you posted so that you can grab yours.

{D} I’m currently in correspondence with Winnipeg Police forces gathering info for that whodunnit for Etsy with my illustrations. As soon as I have my research done, I’ll start on the chapters. Again, I’ll keep you posted.

{E} I’m planning to continue drawing. My creepy ink drawings will go to Society6; they seem to fit well on tees, mugs, and phone cases. My colourful watercolours and clay figurines will be available on Etsy.

{F} I’m currently working on a picture book titled “Miraculous Mira” – of course, with a few familiar faces among its characters (you can find out more about it on my Instagram.) Hopefully, I’ll manage to publish it.

So, these are my plans.

I sincerely think that writing doesn’t happen just to the writer. It’s our shared experience, and I am grateful for each one of you, for your being in my life, and those interaction we had. And so, I truly want to continue being your writer. If you still want Wren/Olivia/Etta/Gemma and John/Darius/Thorin in your life, and Mira as well, and just a bit of kkolmakov, let me know. We’ll move together to Wattpad; or Etsy; I’d love to see you among my followers on Facebook, or Instagram. And then one day, when I’m in your town/county/province/country signing my bestseller (pfft, as if!) you’ll stop by and say, ‘Hey, I used to be so-and-so, your follower on fanfiction;’ and that’s when you’ll see kkolmakov frantically shaking your hand and tearing up.

Cheers, my lovelies.

kk

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!

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?

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

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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…

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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.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 6. Post and Mid

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The two of you sit down to a microwave warmed Lebanese dinner, him in his pants, you in knickers and the button up that you had to fish out from under a chair. He throws you cheeky looks, you can’t stop smiling. There’s complete silence in the kitchen, but it’s a comfortable one.

“Do you want to stay over?” you finally ask, when both your plates are empty. One of the thick eyebrows jumps out.

“A sleepover after the first time? You’re moving fast, Ms. Leary,” he purrs, and you give him an attentive look. You’re suddenly reminded of all those moments when being still with him, you weren’t sure if he’s just lightly joking, or there was a tinge of offence there. He might be just defensive. Or honestly not wanting to stay over. Alright, you properly should stop spiralling into a dark terrifying pit of insecurities and panic here.

“Suit yourself.” You force a joking tone out of yourself. You get up and start cleaning the dishes. “My bed’s too small anyroad.”

He’s sitting on his chair, relaxed, his legs straight and crossed in front of him. And then he stretches his long arm and catches your hand, and pulls you towards him. You take a step just because resisting would be an open confrontation. You expect him to press his forehead to your sternum – he used to do it a lot. Was he hiding his face when doing it? Quite possibly. Instead, he gives you an open direct look in the eyes.

“I’m sorry. That was a bad joke.” His tone is even and earnest. “I’d love to stay. In fact I really hoped you’d offer.”

“I just don’t know… how much of our relationship is back…” you mumble. It’s not the most eloquent way of putting it, but it’s pretty accurate.

“As much as you want,” he answers, and you chew at your bottom lip. He sighs, nuzzles your sternum, and then looks up again. “Wrennie, I’m nervous too.”

“Well, that didn’t seem to arse up any… functions…” you mumble, and he smiles to you. “I had a panicky moment two days ago, with the whole getting bladdered and coming to your place…” you admit grudgingly, and he nods. And then he pulls you on his lap. The thigh under your backside is hard and warm. “I think I’m sort of overcompensating today.”

“If you mean you’re terrified of having shown vulnerability and relinquishing control over the situation…” he starts, and then chuckles. “Oh, wait. Those would be my issues.”

“What did I say then?” you blurt out, and he gives you a soft questioning look. “You said in your note that I mentioned my renewed… self-pleasuring habits. I’m – almost – OK with it. But what else?”

“It was all very incoherent, and slurred, Wrennie.” He’s reassuring you. You don’t want to be reassured. You want an open conversation. “You did talk about shag. You seemed to be in anticipation.” He kisses your cheek, the whiskers tickle your skin because he’s smiling. “You said, ‘Can you imagine how ace it’ll be? All the emotions and the dry spell and you’re the biggest I’ve ever had!’”

“I did not!” you cry out in completely fake indignation.

“Did you ever…” He shakes his head in no less fake mournfulness, and you grab the long nose between your thumb and the curled up index finger.

“Take it back!” You gently pull the nose. God, you love the nose! “Take it back! I did not say that!”

“There were gestures. Like a fisherman boasting about his catch,” he continues in a now nasal voice, his eyes twinkling.

“Oh god! Can you be any more full of yourself?” You’re trying to suppress the laugh, but it bursts out of you in a series of snorts. “I don’t care about the size! And you know you have nothing to worry about! I care whether I said something embarrassing! Divulged something, like said I loved you, or missed you, or…” You realise you’re divulging something at the moment, let go of the nose – and before you can say or do anything, he grabs the back of your head and pulls you into a kiss. It feels almost desperate.

He lets you go, and you probably look completely narked.

“Wrennie, you didn’t say anything. You were cute, and sexy, and a bit unstable on your feet, and the only thing that wasn’t directly related to shag was that you said you missed my hands.”

“It is shag related,” you grumble, and press your nose to his neck. You have missed the hands. And the rest of him.

“You said, you missed how I brushed your hair when you had headaches. That wasn’t shag related. And very, very cute.” He wraps his arms around you. “Once you got sleepy, you stopped offering shag, and asked me to stay in bed with you. That was a much harder offer to decline.”

“You can stay over,” you say quietly, and feel him slowly exhale.

***

You two have tea, and chat, and then you’re suddenly climbing on his lap, and kissing him, and he picks you up, and carries you to the bedroom. You fall into the bed, and you feel hungry, and greedy, and possessive. You scratch his back, bite, and wrap your legs around him possibly cutting off blood circulation. He’s back in your bed, he’s yours again, and something snaps in you.

He catches your mood, and grabs you, and you feel teeth grazing your shoulder, and at some point his hand squeezes your arse definitely leaving bruises.

You have a ridiculously small bed, and since the two of you are moving very energetically, your bodies are diagonal to the mattress, and legs and heads end up hanging in the air. And then he emits a long intricate string of curses, and if you weren’t busy riding him, feeling his cock hitting some delicious wall, back there in your fanny, you’d be impressed by the diverse content, the word choice, and innovative grammar. He rolls off the bed, pulling you after him, making sure your knees and elbows are protected from the impact on the floor.

He’s once again on top, his torso supported on straight arms, and his hips are snapping. His thrusts are so deep and rough that you’re jerking on the floor, your hair moving around your head. And you push off the floor with one arm, wrap another one around his neck, and as much as hang on him. A large scorching hand cups your arse, he’s supporting you, and pulling you in with each of his movements – and then you come. It’s sharp and sudden and almost too much, and you fall back onto the floor, hitting your spine, and bursting into a flood of ridiculous sobs and tears.

You try to stop, and it’s not working, so you hide behind your hands, being a slobbery, daft, moronic imbecile as you are.

“Wrennie…” His voice is unsure. You’d never before fallen apart like this in his bed. Well, technically your bed. Well, floor.

“I don’t  know… I’m sorry… It’s just…” He starts withdrawing, and you don’t know if you should stop him.

And you tear your hands off your face, and look at him. And his eyes are worried, and vulnerable, and you suddenly realise there’s nothing to be scared of.

You realise it’s better to go all in and risk everything than to be afraid every step of the way. Maybe, you’ve grown up – enough to fight for what you want, and to be kind, and to be honest.

You exhale loudly through rounded lips, and wrap your arms around his middle and pull him down – back to you. He doesn’t resist, but his face is uncertain.

“I just got a bit overwhelmed,” you speak softly, and cup his jaw. “John, it’s alright. I’m alright now. I just…” It’s hard to find the right words, and even harder mid-shag with John Thorington. “There’s a lot going on in my head, you know.”

He nods and leans in and softly kisses you.

“There’s always a lot going on in your head,” he says, and you laugh quietly.

“Yeah… But less like this…” You clench her the muscles inside, and his breathing hitches loudly. Hells yeah, Wrennie’s got a hostage. “I felt… insecure again; and then I couldn’t get enough, just felt like I needed to stake a claim, and get all of it – all of you – for myself… and then it was just too much, and I got scared that you didn’t feel the same way, and then all my past doubts rushed into my head, and how I’m making the same mistakes, and…” You stop, and laugh again. “I assume you had a bit less thoughts.”

“I felt loved up and I was shagging my girlfriend. That’s about it.” He isn’t laughing at his own joke. “Wren, I’m worried too. To make the same mistakes. And that it was just a post-coital ‘I love you,’ and that I’m pushing you too hard again.”

Oh wow. That’s what he calls ‘that’s about it?!’ Your little melt-down is a bloody nothing compared to what he’s brewing in his noggin. And says nothing about! And summarises in less than twenty words! No wonder you’re the one with panic attacks, and he’s the one with the heart one. Good thing the two of you have started actually talking this time around.

“I love you,” you say calmly, and rub your thumb to the beard on the side of the chin. You’ve always adored the rough tickle of the whiskers. His features soften. “Here’s a mid coital one for you. And you aren’t pushing me. Maybe we are just idiots, and it’s just going so well that we can’t believe it?” you offer, and he finally smiles.

“That certainly does sound like us.” His eyes are warm and shiny now. “And I love you too. Pre, mid, and post.” You giggle.

“They should put it on the Thorington family crest.”

The two of you kiss for a bit, and you realise your back is cold on the floor.

“Shall we give the bed another chance?”

“I’d say let’s give another chance to the equestrian pursuits.” How can you say ‘no’ the dark blue squinted eyes and a lopsided smirk?

You push him onto his back, and… Giddy up!

Two New Projects

Hello!

I decided it was a good idea to write on my blog more often, just to keep you posted regarding what’s going on, and more so, to get some feedback from you, my duckies!

So, there are two ideas that I’m nursing these days (besides the usual lot of FF, AO3, and JukePop writing; Stop, Hammer Time! editing for Amazon Kindle; the Etsy shop; and (for some inconceivable reason) my sudden interest in the birds of Manitoba.)

Idea #1: Taro Cards

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Some time ago I wandered in our local occult/New Age shop. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but I do have broad interests 😉 I chatted with the owner about my art and such, and that I was considering drawing a deck of Taro cards. It was just a vague thought at the time, but it sprouted when she bestowed me with the deck that had previously belonged to our main Taro reader in the city. The reader had given it up for ‘adoption,’ and the lovely lady in Radiance Gifts shop thought I was the perfect candidate 🙂

So, now, armed with couple books and keen interest, I decided to venture into drawing a deck. I’ll keep you posted. I’ll be posting designs on my Instagram (check it out for birds of Manitoba as well, if it tickles your pickle 😉 ) and I’m considering later selling the deck on my Etsy.

Idea #2: A modern fantasy story based on Russian folklore

This one has been brewing in my brain for quite a while. There are all those fascinating characters from my childhood – Koshey Bessmertny (Deathless), and Baba Yaga, and Vassilisa the Wise – and I always wanted to write them, and the dark and thrilling and mesmerising stories I listened to as a kid; but I also wanted to give them a twist.

It is something that is done a lot these days (see Percy Jackson, and hundreds of other stories of the same sort); and I even heard that there is a fantasy novel about a girl in the States (maybe, Canada) fighting Slavic monsters. I will of course have to do my research. I’d hate to be unoriginal!

Also, I’m not sure about the format of it. Should it be a novel? Should it be a webserial – on JukePop, or this blog? Or should I sell it by a chapter on Etsy as I’m planning to do with the whodunit?

Altogether, the things I do know for now:

1. The main characters are:

Miroslava ‘Mira’ Krapiva, a fourteen year old girl living in Winnipeg with her mom;

Yana Krapiva, Mira’s mom, a Russian immigrant to Canada; a baker in a local organic bakery;

John Bessemer, going by nickname Kosh, a mysterious man from Yana’s past;

Vasya, previously a rag doll, now a fully functional, yet very hormonal teenager.

2. Here’s the first chapter 🙂

Escape From the Woods || Sample Chapter

All of it very is much approximate! Feedback is highly appreciated!

Here are the first drafts of two characters’s appearance:

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Please, let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Katya

 

Escape From the Woods || Sample Chapter

Escape From the Woods

Chapter 1.  A Pendant on the Table

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“This whole screeching seriously freaks me out,” Alycia whined, and pointed at real estate signs hanging from a pole near an apartment building they were passing.

“Well, Winnipeg is the Chicago of the North. The Windy City.” Mira shivered, and tightened the scarf around her neck. The wind was always the strongest on Grant Avenue. The street was wide; and with the church on a hill on one side, and a Hydro station on the other, the winds would speed up.

“Let’s take a side street.” Mira grabbed Alycia’s sleeve, and pulled.

“Just not a back alley, OK? They freak me out.”

“Everything freaks you out,” Mira grumbled.

They trod through Harrow Street, rustling with November leaves under their feet. Some lawns were neatly cut, and others were covered in wrinkled brown leaves. Some had half rotten pumpkins left after Halloween; some were already decorated with cheesy reindeer and inflatable Santas.

“Is your Mom home tonight?” Alycia asked in a hopeful voice. Mira’s Mom being home meant treats. She worked in a bakery, and never came home empty-handed.

“Yeah. She had the morning shift today. She promised some cinnamon buns.”

The girls made the last turn, and Mira pushed the back lane gate open. They crossed the patchy, sad looking lawn of the back yard, and Mia climbed the stairs of the porch, habitually jumping over a broken step without looking.

“Your Mom needs to have someone fix it for her,” Alycia mumbled just as always.

“Well, she says once Tom Hiddleston marries her, she’ll hand him the hammer.” Mira rummaged through her backpack looking for keys.

“I thought it was Benedict Cumberbatch.”

“He was last week. We rewatched Avengers couple days ago.”

Alycia laughed, while Mira fumbled with the lock. The key didn’t turn.

“Did she forget to lock it again?” Alycia asked with a chuckle, and Mira rolled her eyes.

“I mean it’s not the North End, but we do live in the ‘hood,’” Mira grumbled mimicking quotation marks around the word.

They entered and were pushing off their boots when Mira noticed that the lights were off in the whole house.

“Mom?”

No one answered, and Mira flapped the light switch. The tiny hall of their house remained dark.

“Light bulb dead?” asked Alycia, and Mira gave out a nervous laugh. Something felt iffy.

“Yeah. Tom has a lot of work to do here,” Mira joked in a forced light tone.

They stuffed the jackets on the washing machine, and went into the kitchen. When the light went on, Mira exhaled with relief. There wasn’t anything to creep her out, let’s face it; but seeing their good old kitchen – with its IKEA table and her Mom’s collection of mugs – felt good.

And then she say the Kolovrat on the table.

“Freaking hell,” Mira breathed out, and rushed to the table. The Kolovrat – a heavy round silver pendant – lay on her palm.

“Is that your Mom’s necklace?” Alycia asked, but Mira was already rushing out of the kitchen.

“C’mon! Alycia, move! We’re leaving!” Mira grabbed her jacket, pushed one arm in, and was pulling on her boot, when Alycia appeared from the kitchen.

“What are you doing?”

“Move! Get your stuff! We’re leaving!” Mira pushed the other foot into the boot, and glared at her friend. “Alycia!”

“Are you nuts?”

“Listen, I’ll explain everything, but right now we need to go!” Mira shouted at her friend, and the girl shook her head and started getting dressed. To Mira it felt like the blonde was plodding through molasses.

“Hurry! Alycia, c’mon!” Mira pushed the jacket and the backpack into Alycia’s hands, and pulled her out of the house without letting her get dressed.

“You’re totally crazy, you know that right?” Alycia mumbled, while Mira dragged her across the street, into the house of their neighbour, Ms. Klaassen.

***

Mira rang the bell, clutching the pendant in her hand inside her pocket.

“Why are we going to your neighbour?” Alycia asked in a cranky voice, but Mira ignored her.

Ms. Klaassen was a white-haired, wonderfully liberal lady in her sixties. Mira adored her, and spent hours in her living room, having tea and listening to stories about Ms. Klaassen’s youth, and running away from her Mennonite family in Steinbeck, and going to the Folk Festival, and how Leonard Cohen once told her she was a sexy thing.

Mira rang the bell again, and the door opened.

“Mira, how lovely of you to stop by!” Ms. Klaassen greeted her with a wide smile.

“My Mom… She left me the pendant. She said to come to you at once if it happened,” Mira breathed out, and lifted the hand with the Kolovrat sitting on it.

“Oh dear,” Ms. Klaassen gasped, wrapped her arm around Mira’s shoulders, and pulled her inside. “Come in, come in! And you too, young lady,” she ordered to Alycia. “Straight to the living room, you two.”

Mira rushed through the old, lop-sided house, maneuvering around Ms. Klaassen’s assorted furniture.

“Mira, what’s going on?” Alycia asked in a small voice, and Mira plopped on Ms. Klaassen’s worn down couch. Dylan, the elderly mongrel, lifted his head, gave Mira a look over from his basket, and went back to sleep with a sigh. The girls could hear Ms. Klaassen move around, somewhere in the depth of the house, rustling with something, dropping things, and judging by the sounds, closing windows.

“My Mom has this rule,” Mira started. Alycia stood awkwardly tucked in a corner of the living room, right next to a statue of a Cupid with a missing left foot. “This is her pendant.” Mira showed the Kolovrat on the open palm. “She never takes it off. And the rule is – if I find it sitting on the kitchen table, it means I have to drop everything I’m doing and run here.”

“Like a code message, or something? Does it mean she’s in danger? And you?” Alycia asked worriedly. Mira shrugged. “I mean, does it have to do with a guy? Like you have an abusive dad, or something, and you two ran away from him?”

“I don’t know,” Mira answered. “I told you everything I know. She never talks about my Dad, and about her life in Russia. No friends, or family, from back there. Just the two of us.”

Mira looked down at the silver circle of the Kolovrat. Six axes formed a circle that was supposed to represent the Sun, and the circle of life. There were some smaller symbols weaved into a pattern around the rim, but Mira’s Mom never spoke of them. She never explained anything about it, to be honest; Mira had to Google it when she got curious. There was just the rule about the kitchen table.

Ms. Klaassen came into the room, her glasses bobbing, propped on top of her disheveled head.

“Alright, alright, I think I got everything,” she was mumbling under her nose. “The money, the phone… Let me see…”

She hastily dropped a wild assortment of objects on a coffee table. Mira gawked at a box potentially containing a new iPhone; a fat sealed envelope; and a plastic bag with what looked like socks, underwear, and couple t-shirts.

“Alright.” Ms. Klaassen exhaled sharply. “So, my instructions are such. I am to give you these things, and then find you a room in a small hotel, and settle you in it. Before it, I need to give a call to a John Bessemer.” Ms. Klaassen started patting her jeans clad hips, probably looking for her phone. She always forgot it in her purse. “Oh, and you’re supposed to put on the pendant. There’s a silver chain in the bag with the clothes. You need to put it on, and never, under any circumstances to take it off.” Ms. Klaassen recited diligently. “Where’s my phone?”

“Have you checked your purse?” Mira offered in a bleak tone. The situation felt surreal.

“Ah yes.” Ms. Klaassen rushed to the hall, in search of her tote bag.

“Is it mafia?” Alycia asked from her corner. “It must be mafia. Russian mafia, like the one they showed in Spooks. You know, with creepy tattoos on their backs.” Alycia vaguely gestured above her shoulder.

“I don’t know, OK?” Mira hissed back, and stuck her hand in her short copper curls. “I do not know! I mean, my Mom has some weird rules, like no speaking Russian in public, and other stuff, but that’s just crazy!”

“Yeah. I bet it’s mafia…” Alycia drew out, and then Ms. Klaassen reappeared.

“Alright, I found the phone, and here’s the number.” She shook her loyal phone book in her hand. She was the only person Mira knew who had a real phone book – a small, leather bound notebook, worn out, with receipts and random pieces of paper sticking out of it. “Do you girls want anything while I’m calling? I can make tea.”

“No, we’re good,” Alycia answered quickly, and Mira glared at her. She was no less curious about the call and didn’t want to leave the room, but maybe she wanted tea!

“Alright, alright…” The neighbour mumbled some digits, pressing the screen of her old Motorola with a tense index finger, and then she pressed the phone to her ear.

The voice that answered was clearly male, and very low.

“Mr. Bessemer?” Ms. Klaassen gave out a small awkward cough. “Hello! My name is Edith Klaassen, and I was given your number by Yana Krapiva. She told me to call you in case of emergency.”

Ms. Klaassen listened to a short answer from the man, while nervously twirling her phone book in her fingers.

“Yes, yes, she told me to call you. I have her daughter here, and…” The man sharply interrupted her with a question. “Yes, daughter, Mira,” Ms. Klaassen answered. “What is it? Fourteen. She’s fourteen. Yes, and she’s in my living room.” Now Ms. Klaassen and the man were talking at the same time. “Yes, I know she can’t stay here, Yana told me it’s not safe. I’ll put her into a hotel. And yes, she has the phone. She will turn it on. I have to say I’m completely clueless in the questions of technology… What?” the woman asked, clearly interrupted again. “Yes, of course, I’ll let her know that she needs to text you to let you know where she is. Alright… Yes… Alright…” She was now listening, and nodding, and confirming, and Mira tore her eyes off her and looked at Alycia. Mira wondered if she was just as pale as her friend.

“So, I guess you aren’t coming to school tomorrow, heh?” Alycia whispered.

Mira suddenly realized that it was really happening, and bit into her bottom lip. Her hands were shaking.

“I’ll text you, OK? Or message you,” she answered quietly.

“Sure.” Alycia nodded. Neither of them looked sure.

Ms. Klaassen hung up, or more precisely, the man did, and she was now staring at the screen.

“What a strange man,” she muttered, and then looked at Mira. “Well, my dear, it’s time to go. And you…” She turned to the other girl.

“Alycia.”

“Alycia, I’m sorry to be so rude, but you need to go. Do I need to give you a ride? I’ll just have to look up a hotel in Yellow Pages…” She was now looking for her glasses, which were still sitting on top of her head.

“No, it’s OK. I live just couple streets away, so I’ll just.. go.”

“Yeah, right…” Mira jumped on her feet. “You look up that hotel, Edith, and I’ll show her out.”

“Lovely, lovely, my dear.” Ms. Klaassen was already rummaging through the skyscrapers of book stacks that covered every surface in her living room.

The girls shuffled to the door. They both seemed to be stalling, and suddenly Alycia sniffled.

“You will text me, right? I mean, if you can…” she choked out, and Mira swallowed the knot in her throat.

It felt weird to look at Alycia – same old Alycia, with her red backpack, and a Gryffindor scarf, and sweatpants, and her blonde hair in a bun.

“Yeah, of course. I’ll text you about everything, as soon as I know.” Mira answered in a fake cheery tone. “I mean, it’s a real adventure, and I bet it’s just one of my Mom’s spasms, and tomorrow it’ll all be fine. Or even tonight, you know?” She made a jerky gesture, which was supposed to look like a nonchalant wave of a hand. “I bet she’ll show up in half an hour, and will pick me up from the hotel, and we will laugh about it.”

“Yeah…” Alycia opened the door, and looked at Mira over her shoulder. “Well, good luck, I guess. And… See you.”

“Bye,” Mira answered, closed the door, and pressed her back to it. She could hear Ms. Klaassen clank and bang with something in the kitchen. The dim hall looked spooky, and Mira hurried into the living room.

Ms. Klaassen was stuffing an apple and a sandwich in a Ziplock into the bag with clothes that she’d brought out for Mira.

“Alright, my dear. I’ll drive us now, and you turn on your new phone. And Mr. Bessemer said you’re supposed to leave your old one at home, so you just give it to me, and I’ll drop it off. He was very insistent on not leaving it here, so I promised I’d take it to your house.”

“I can’t leave my phone! I mean, I have my stuff there!” Mira exclaimed helplessly, and Ms, Klaassen threw her a sympathetic look.

“I know, Mira, I know. It’s all very sudden, and so unfortunate, but we need to go. And your Mom was adamant that we need to listen to her and to that Mr. Bessemer.”

Biting her bottom lip again, Mira put her Samsung on the coffee table, and after a pause she opened her backpack and took out her iPad. Something told her, it had to go too.

For a moment she asked herself whether she should leave her school books as well, but then she brushed the thought off as ridiculous. She’d be back home soon, and go to school – back to normal life. That was just some crazy misunderstanding.

Dropping her keys, and mumbling something about her glasses being in the car, Ms. Klaassen went to the back door. Mira put the plastic bag and the envelope into her backpack, grabbed the iPhone box, and walked after her.

***

The first thing she did in the car was put on the Kolovrat. It lay on her neck as an unpleasant weight. Some vague memory came, of sitting on her Mom’s lap, and picking the pendant up. The thing weighed a ton, and was disgustingly cold on Mira’s skin under the shirt.

She was unpacking the phone, and putting the prepaid number in, when Ms. Klaassen sighed near her.

“So, my dear, first things first. That envelope your Mom left you? That’s money. She told me to tell you she trusted your judgement, and that you’d do just fine, but because she didn’t know for how long you needed to last on your own, you should still be careful.”

“Last on my own?!” Mira screeched out. And that was when it all became just a bit too much. “Wait, do you mean to tell me she’s not coming back?”

“Mira, my dear…”

“No, no wait, I’m just not getting it, OK? She disappears, leaves me cash and a phone like in a spy movie, and I’m supposed to text some guy where I am, so I guess he’s coming to pick me up, or something…”

“Yes, Mr. Bessemer is driving from Saskatoon to pick you up, that’s what he told me,” Ms. Klaassen muttered.

“Oh that’s just great. So, some guy is driving from Saskatchewan to pick me up in a hotel, and it’s unknown for how long I’m supposed to stay on my own, and I haven’t even heard about him! I mean, my Mom never spoke of a single guy in her life, and now, all of a sudden, there’s some Mr. Bessemer that I’m supposed to listen to.”

“Mira, I’m sorry,” Ms. Klaassen’s voice trembled. “I have no explanation for you. Your Mother never divulged anything to me. When she first told me of all this… procedure, to be honest, I thought she was joking, But she spoke of it again and again, and I eventually agreed. I don’t know anything, Mira, I’m sorry.”

“That’s just fantastic,” Mira grumbled, and turned away, her eyes on the darkness behind the car window.

Winnipeg streets rushed by. Everything was familiar. There’s her Mom’s favourite pizza place; the Tim’s they stopped at on the way from the pool; the park she played in when she was small, and where Dan Jansen kissed her last year. The guy was a jerk, but she kind of liked him,  because he was tall and cute; so they went out to movies couple times, and then he kissed her. She hated it, and was complaining to her Mom, who was trying not to laugh, but failed. Mira could just see how her Mom wrinkled her nose, and was coughing, hiding her usual giggles. Mira felt her eyes prickle.

“But how’s my Mom going to know where I am? Is she with that Mr. Bessemer?” Mira asked quietly, without turning her head. Ms. Klaassen sighed and once again reminded Mira that she knew nothing. That was just perfect, wasn’t it?

In the hotel Ms. Klaassen talked to the clerk, pretending to rent the room for both of them. She made a fuss about having two beds there, her acting appalling, and then they took an elevator to the seventh floor.

The room was dim, and cold, and smelled of detergent. Mira dropped her backpack on the disgustingly bland coloured carpet, and switched the lights on.

“Well, my dear…” Ms. Klaassen awkwardly shifted between her feet. “I’m sorry to leave you, I’d rather we had dinner together, but I promised to take your phone into your house right away. I’ll order your some room service, and then I’ll be off. I’m also supposed to make sure no one comes to clean your room, and bother you in any way. And you text Mr. Bessemer, with the hotel address, and the room number…” The woman handed Mira a piece of paper with a number. It had a Toronto code. “And don’t take off the pendant, alright?”

Mira nodded, returned Ms. Klaassen’s tight hug and mumbled hurried goodbyes – and suddenly she was alone in a hotel room.

***

Mira texted the number, and received a short ‘OK. Stay there. Wait for me. Don’t talk to anyone’ in return. She ate the steak and mashed potatoes Ms. Klaassen ordered for her, watched TV, and went to sleep. Falling asleep turned out quite easy. The sheets were crisp and clean, and Mira had never slept in such a wide bed. There were so many pillows that she built a wall around herself, and fell asleep clutching Lisa in her hand. Lisa was a three inch tall ragdoll, her Mom made for her. It was distinctly Russian looking, with yellow yarn braids, red cheeks, and a flowery dress, and was normally hanging on Mira’s backpack. Mira was often asked if she’d bought it on Etsy.

Since she had nowhere to go in the morning, she didn’t set an alarm, and when she woke up the sun was shining through the curtains. A sunny day in November was a rare gift in Winnipeg.

Mira went down to the restaurant in the lobby, quickly ate her breakfast hoping no one would ask any questions, and hurried up back to the room. She then proceeded to watch TV all day, throwing glances at her iPhone. There was no data on it. She could of course use the hotel’s Wi-Fi, but ‘don’t talk to anyone’ in the mysterious Mr. Bessemer’s text probably meant no social media. She snacked on some crappy chips and candies from the minibar mid day, and for dinner she finished her last night’s food. The steak was still fine. She’d prudently put the plate and ms. Klaassen’s sandwich into the room’s tiny fridge for the night. The question of the food for the next day was troublesome. She wondered if she’d be allowed to order room service, but then she decided she’d just go out, buy something, and bring it to the room.

That posed the question of money, and Mira fished the envelope out of her backpack and gingerly ripped one side open.

She’d never in her life seen so much cash! There were four thick stacks of hundred dollar bills, new and crisp, and a smaller envelope inside with twenties and loonies and toonies. Mira couldn’t even imagine how much was in the stacks, but somehow she felt almost sick at the thought of counting it. Until she did, it was still just a weird adventure that she didn’t have to fully participate in. Counting money and planning budget would make it real.

She stuffed the money back in the backpack, and looked in the plastic bag. Cheery socks, colourful underwear – all the usual stuff she bought for herself – were also new, and neatly folded. Tees were the cool kind, ordered from ThinkGeek probably, couple with Tardis, and one with R2D2. All of it was just screaming her Mom, and Mira pushed it inside, wrapped the arms around her knees, and started crying.

***

It was a quiet hissing noise that woke her up. She opened her eyes in the darkness of the room, and listened.

The sound was coming from the door, somewhere low, as if from the appalling brownish greyish carpet. The hiss was high, like air escaping an inflatable mattress. It was also slowly approaching Mira’s bed.

Mira felt frozen, still staring at the blackness above her, just listening. She ordered herself to turn her head, and look – but couldn’t.

And then a loud knock came to the door making her jump up and press her hands to her middle. There was a nasty taste in her mouth, just as always when she was scared or nervous, metallic, and bitter. She then slid off the bed and minced to the door.

In the peephole, she was presented with the fisheye view of a tall, dark haired man, with black beard, in a black peacoat, collar upturned.

And at his feet, slithering and twisting, Mira saw a giant knot of stark black snakes. She could clearly see the forked tongues darting out, the scaly bodies, the beady eyes – and at the same time, while the man seemed corporeal and mundane, the snakes were as if shimmering, not quite present, like a hologram in a sci-fi movie.

The man impatiently jerked his neck and knocked loudly again.

“Mira, open the door! It’s me, John Bessemer.” The voice was low and authoritative. There was an accent too. Mira watched Doctor Who with her Mom. That was Northern British accent – like Eccleston’s Doctor’s. 

“Mira!” the man called again.

The snakes hissed louder, and Mira saw three or four of them slide under the door. She pressed a hand over her mouth muffling a squeak and jumped away from the door. There were no snakes inside, but the sound was there.

Mira rushed back and jumped on the bed, wanting nothing but to get her feet off the floor. She then pulled her knees to her nose and wrapped her arms around them.

Another knock and another ‘Mira, open the door!’ came, and she covered her ears with her hands. And yet, she could still hear the high monotonous hiss.

Live Well and Prosper || Chapter 3. Wrennie and the Demons

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Author’s Note:

Oh wow. This is post #100 on this blog. And there are exactly 500 comments. I love neat stats, don’t you? 🙂 

I thought I’d just use this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all of you – for reading, and for commenting, and for just being here, and being you. Thank you, my dear readers. Without you, none of my writing would have happened, and none of the good things that came with it would have taken place. 

K.

***

You’re flipping through Netflix, on your comp on the laptop table, and he’s sitting in the recliner by the wall, a tray with tea on his lap. He made the tea, he apparently had brought some sweets; and chicken with roasted veggies is in the oven, on a timer. The man is properly taking care of your nutrition, isn’t he?

“Some oldie, but goodie?” you ask, feeling his eyes on the side of your face.

“Your choice of poison.”

Your choice of poison are the tall, dark, and delicious; so you’re only happy the smallest movement causes you immense pain; because, otherwise, you’d be climbing on his lap, and not for a bedtime story.

You decide on The Da Vinci Code, since you’ve never fancied Hanks, and Bettany whom you do fancy has been changed enough in it; thus, you’re in no danger of any shag related thoughts to bloom. You do tend to catch moods from films, and make unwise choices.

The film starts, you’re sipping tea; he seems to be watching as well.

And when you’ve finally managed to forget he’s in the same room with you, and got at least partially engaged, he asks, “How much movement can you have with your back?”

And you do know him well. And as much as he thinks he’s hiding it, you can hear it – the low, velvet, caramel and truffles, shag cadence in his voice.

“None.” You sound raspy. “Just sitting and not twisting the spine is the best. I even wake up if I shift at night.”

“Good,” he answers quickly, and you turn your head and stare at him. He realises what he’s just said. “Not the fact that pain wakes you up. But it’s good that you’re somewhat restricted.”

“Oh?” You pause the film. He makes a cautioning sound, but you properly need an answer now. “And why is it good?”

“Because out of us two, you have less ability to resist the temptation…” You open your mouth to tell him to sod off. “And I can’t resist you.”

You’re feeling somewhat pissed off, actually. So, he thinks you have no self-control? Does he mean in general, or – what an arrogant arse! – just around him? And apparently he thinks you’d try to cop off – or more – with him just because he’s in the same room!

And then you think it might be some pervy reverse psychology, where he reminds you that you can’t, and tells you he wasn’t planning to, so that you rebel and do go for it.

He smiles to you softly.

“You’re thinking so hard, Wrennie, that your hair is drying in front of my eyes,” he jokes, but that doesn’t improve your bloody mood a bit.

“I was watching the film,” you sneer defensively. “Why do you think I’d even consider any… temptation?”

“Because it is you. And it is me.” He sounds very chuffed, and you’re properly cheesed off now.

“And that’s a given then? If it’s you, I would just drop my knickers right there?!” You raise your voice, and immediately regret it. Maybe, it’s his smart plan. To get you pissed off. Because you’re a bloody popper when you’re angry.

“Wrennie, you need to give me some leeway here. And a bit of trust wouldn’t harm, either.” He tilts his head, his eyes still smiling. “I only meant that you with your intellect have thought this evening through; and since you invited me, you’ve given sex a thought.”

“A. I was clear on what this evening entitled from the start.” You huff some air in indignation. “And B. Even if there was a chance for a shag, it doesn’t mean I’d jump you as soon as you’re in my bedroom. I’m not fixated on having sex with you.”

“I am,” he answers, and you press your lips. Great, just great. He did lure you into talking about It. Was he hoping you’d get randy just from discussing his cock?!

“Wrennie…” he says softly, and you’re ready to bristle, but then you notice the lack of condescending note in his voice. “Please, hear me out without judgement. I’ve had a heart attack and am now worried about my performance. I’m at risk of rising my heart rate too much and too fast; and let’s face it, just a kiss with you gives me palpitations. So, yes, I’m fixated on the thought. I’m sorry I said it was good you were in pain.”

Your anger deflates immediately. You’re an idiot, aren’t you? You feel blush lick your cheeks painfully. You open your mouth to apologise for being a judgmental, presumptions bitch, when he says, “And please, don’t apologise. Nothing in our previous history predisposes you to assume I didn’t try to snooker you into a quickie. I’ve used shag against you before. We’ve had sex too early before; and at all possible wrong moments as well.”

You’re a bit uncomfortable from how medical he is about it, but then you think it’s his defense mechanism – he’s feeling insecure, he’s worried about his health; and perhaps, for the first time in his life, he doesn’t feel like an alpha male and a god of shag. And all that after the drama he went through. Which you caused. And which would break a lesser man completely.

“I just realised how difficult it must be for you,” you speak in a low voice. “I’m sorry… I just haven’t thought about it, never tried to see it from your point of view…” You haven’t, and now it’s all rushing through your mind.

The months after you broke it off; the heart attack; the seven months he stayed away, after having given up a project he’d spent half his life on; the Summer in Japan after the kiss and the conversation at the Elvig’s… Your mind boggles. Sodding hell, what could it have possibly been like?!

“Well, there are medications for that…” he answers, giving you a smirk, and you puff air out.

“I didn’t mean shag! I meant the emotional part… And how much it hurt, and it was all my fault…”

“OK,” he interrupts you, and then puts the tray on the floor at his feet. “Can I sit near you on the bed? I do prefer to be nearer; but if it’ll shake the bed, or you’re emotionally uncomfortable from such proximity, I’m alright here.” He’s being very open and direct. You truly appreciate how much effort such line of behavior must take of him.

“I’m more than comfortable in any sort of proximity toyou, and the mattress is firm enough,” you answer earnestly, and pat the bed near you.

He comes up, toes off his shoes, and sits down, stretching his long legs along you. He’s not touching you, but it immediately feels as if you two are in a bubble of sorts.

“Firstly, I do not need any medication for that sort of activity,” he deadpans, and you give him a confused look. He chuckles. “Just putting the information out here, for later reference. I’m fully functional.” You purse lips suppressing a grin, and he crosses his legs and leans back onto your headboard. You surely have a very narrow bed. His thigh presses to yours through the duvet, his trousers, and your PJ bottoms.

“Secondly, it wasn’t your fault. You did what you considered right, and what was most beneficial for you. Partially, your actions were the direct consequence of my own behaviour. That’s all by the way the direct quote from my therapist, but I do agree with all of it wholeheartedly.” He pressed his hand to his chest theatrically. “Ignore the sardonic tone. It still feels rather barmy to talk about my feelings.” He gives you a small, but sincere smile, and you return it, encouraging.

“And lastly, I did hate you. Right after we broke up.”

You freeze, your eyes on his face, and he’s giving you a direct look.

“You left me, and I hated you. Because you were the first thing that I wanted and couldn’t get. And then after several extensive sessions I was reminded of the most astonishing fact: you aren’t a ‘thing.’ And there’s no ‘getting you.’ I made plans for us, it was all neat and pleasurable in my head, but you are a person, and my plans didn’t work for you. So, yes, it was bloody horrible, but I got over it.”

You’re sitting in silence digesting it. He’s letting you, not talking, and not touching you.

“I had a revelation in Greece…” you say slowly, and he lifts one brow questioningly.

“So, that’s where you disappeared right after…” You nod.

“Yeah. And I just sat in front of the pool for three weeks, and thought… about us. And I realised that I was just too preoccupied with myself, so wrapped up in how I wasn’t good enough, and inadequate, that I lost the ability to look at it from your point of view. And it’s lethal for relationship. We need to try to always see the other person’s side too…”

“That’s what second chances are for,” he notes softly, and you sigh.

“Yeah…” You carefully shift, and press your temple to his shoulder. “And it properly helps that you are now so good at discussing it, and trying to understand…”

“Oh don’t give me all this credit yet,” he draws out, with a cheeky side glance at you. “I’m only doing it to lull you into a false sense of security, so I could shamelessly ravish you.” That makes you feel hot. Very hot. As in a hackneyed wave of heat licking the back of your neck. “Not today, of course,” he adds in a light tone. “It’s all lulling for now, by the means of feeding, and making you a cuppa, and looking at Audrey Tautou’s legs.”

You emit a loud fake gasp.

“So that’s why you agreed on it! Perv!” You remind yourself that laughing – or better so, poking him under ribs; or kissing him soundly – will hurt.

“What can I say, love, I’m a leg man,” he purrs, and shifts just a millimeter closer to you. It’s enough to make you aware of his long heavy leg near yours.

“Hm… You’re forgetting something…” You feign a nonchalant tone. “I do know your tastes. And it’s not her legs you’re looking at.”

“You got me. It’s Hanks’ backside. Love me a pert backside.” He hums and shakes his head, as if lost in pleasant fantasies. You giggle and start the film again. He stays on the bed, and you properly don’t mind.

Heal All Wounds || Chapter 19. Wrennie and the Calm Winter

haw19

You’re standing on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, wrapped in your shawl. It’s September, and you can smell Autumn in the air. The porter offered to get you a cab, but you explained that you’re from the party inside, and just needed a break.

The door behind you opens, and John steps out, engaged into a conversation with a man whom you vaguely recognise from the Rivendell presentation. The man’s leaving, they are hastily finishing their amicable conversation, and you’re awkwardly stuck in front of them on the sidewalk. You have to endure yet another ‘no, thank you, I don’t need a cab’ explanation. You are half tempted to actually agree and leave. The man’s finally in a cab, John waves to him, and you cowardly edge towards the door, hoping to sneak in without talking to him.

“Are you alright?” he asks behind you, and you cringe. You turn around and meet his attentive eyes. “Hello.”

“Hello.” You give him an unnatural smile. “Lovely evening.” His eyebrows jump up from your daft remark. “Congratulations.” You sound unsure. Is one even supposed to offer congratulation to a retiring person?

“Thank you. I’m officially old now.” His eyes are gleaming with some merry light. “Wren, you seem distressed. Are you alright?”

“Yeah, yeah… Just… I don’t like parties, you know,” you mumble your half arse excuse.

“No, you don’t. You don’t get to get drunk and make unreasonable choices. And I doubt you’re here to see whether I’m senile or feeble.” He pushes his hands into the trousers pockets. “Which is what most of my guests are here for.”

“You have made a surprising move. They are all wondering.” He nods, and then throws you an impish look from the corner of his eye.

“Are you?”

“Wondering? Of course I am. But unlike the others, I don’t feel you owe me an explanation.” He smiles to you softly, and looks up into the smoky sky above him. There are of course no stars, but you know his interest in astronomy. And you know him. He’s seeing the constellations in his mind.

“I did it for you.” He looks down at you, his face calm and open. “The project is your life, your career, your future. You need to be able to build it the way you want, without looking over your shoulder all the time. Without people wondering whether I had any hand in any of your achievements.”

“But… What?” There is some strange buzzing in your right temple. “Have you considered asking me? If I need it? If I want it?” Here you go. You can’t fucking believe it! It’s just the same story again! Him making a decision that directly affects you, and you’re supposed to… what? Thank him?! Admire him for it?! Give him another chance?!

“It was my decision.” He’s still completely open and almost serene. “I can’t work with you. I can’t be near you. I don’t want to one day come to the lab and see you with Anderson, or any other man. And I don’t trust myself. I can’t be sure that if I’m near you, I won’t do something… harmful, in an attempt to manipulate you, to get you back. I’m just making sure that I’m not around to arse up your life again.”

You’re staring at him, your mouth ungracefully half open.

“I’m not making a sacrifice, Wren. I’m doing what I think is right.”

“I don’t know what to say…”

“You don’t have to say anything. On the other hand, if you want to talk about it, you know my number. The line is always open for you.” He waits a few seconds, in case you have something to squeak, and then he nods to his own thoughts, and goes back to the party.

You decide it’s time to take that cab and go home.

***

The next seven months are the calmest time in your life. After a while, it starts feeling like that film with Bill Murray. You work Monday to Friday; you spend Saturday cleaning and cooking and shopping; on Sunday you sometimes hang out with Killian and Lan who seem happier and more and more disgustingly mushy every day; sometimes you hang out with Thea, but she’s once again on good terms with Jimmy, which means you see her much less now.

After the initial shock of the conversation at the retirement party, you processed what he said, and you feel grateful. Until he left, you didn’t realise how tense you were – jumping when a door would open, dreading project meetings, always worried that ‘Thorington’s ex doxy’ is all people see in you.

You are Wren now. Wren Leary, an excellent specialist in biochemistry, single, independent, a ginger. You have your work, you have your flat. You’re saving money on your bank account. You have hobbies. You’ve started drawing and painting again. There is a new Yamataki grant everyone is talking about, and you’re considering entering the competition. The focus of the research isn’t exactly what you’ve done before, but you can study, and manage it, and diversity is always good, isn’t it? And a bit of challenge would be nice too. You wouldn’t want to stagnate in your academic career. You’re starting to look into postgrad schools as well.

You make two trips to Rivendell Institute, for the project, and hang out with the students you met there during that eventful presentation. Elvig is continuing his attempts to ‘seduce’ you to switch labs, and you let him. It’s flattering, and you prefer to keep your options open.

It is his interest in your academic capacities that leads to him inviting you to his birthday celebration. It’s a week in his country house, ‘only family and friends’ he says, but you don’t believe him. You’re neither, and nonetheless you’re provided with a car sharing companion – also, not a friend or relative of Elvig’s – and you are to be picked up at your place at seven o’clock in the morning. You take a week off, pack your suitcase, and at six fifty there is a buzz into your door.

***

You do know who your car sharing companion is, but the view of him – stylish denim, a brown leather jacket over an olive jumper, and suede Timberlands – hits you to the temple like a sledgehammer. You’re so mesmerized by the soft smile in his bright blue eyes that you forget your meticulously prepared line of behaviour.

“Morning, Wren. Do you need any help with your bags?”

You mumble a ‘good morning, John’ and point at your small suitcase. This is going to be a long ride.