This is how it began. My sister Anna, a brilliant and witty writer, suggested that we should try to write a romance novel according to the guidelines published by Mills & Boon. Not as easy as it sounds, apparently. She created a finely judged opening paragraph and sent it to me. And, intoxicated by the stylistic possibilities that are simply not offered by my usual literary output of press releases on Bedfordshire’s latest social housing project, I have taken up the gauntlet. The idea is that we will take it in turns to develop the story, in full view of you, dear reader.

We are taking this project seriously, but I am already acutely aware that writing about simmering desire with one’s own sister might be possible only with tongue tentatively in cheek. We have agreed not to discuss our plot ideas, so the novel will unfold as unpredictably to us as to our readers. This could lead to trouble later on, but for now it seems a very liberating way to start.

Who knows where this project will take us? To the dizzying heights of publication by the world’s leading romance brand? Probably not. But wherever we end up, it should be fun getting there…

Friday, 6 January 2012

Part 33 – Cop Out

Well. All that simmering, all that sighing, all that lip-melding. All for nothing. Anna has ducked her responsibilities and left Topaz still not Wholly Woman. I call that a really poor show.

Part 33 (by Anna)

Cleft’s mouth brushed her soft eyelids. His lips were hard, insistent and yet meltingly tender. She caught her long fingers in his tousled black hair and threw back her head in a movement of blissful abandonment. The lips instantly slipped to the warm silken curve of her neck. Muscled fingers teased the frilled boundaries of her top, then, abruptly Cleft rolled over and raised his torso so that his sculpted features blocked out the hanging moon.

‘This is not how I wanted it to be,’ he said throatily. ‘Not here. We must find our paradise where Destiny planned it.’

Topaz sank back onto the itchy ground. For a moment she was speechless. Her flesh simmered still with anticipation of the moment nearly realized; the moment when, by some mysterious musky alchemy she would become whole. Cleft was gazing at the tangled slopes rearing inexorably above them; his angular face, tinted by the moon, looked as flawless as Grecian marble.

‘How’s the ankle holding up?’ he said, turning to her, so that the ethereal light faded from his cheeks and she read tiredness in his eyes.

‘It’s fine!’ she lied, biting her lip against the burning throb.

Stooping, Cleft inserted his strong hands into the yielding hollows of her armpits and lifted her to her feet. Briefly, Topaz staggered against him and briefly she was held, hard, urgently, and then, moving as one through the seeping moonlight, they began to climb.

Night gathered protectingly around them. Tendrils of bushes reached out and plucked them. Leathery leaves scraped at their clothes; thorns pierced weary flesh and every now and then their footsteps spiced the darkness with the scent of crushed herbs.

Then slowly the darkness began to thin. The moon’s watery light weakened dissolved and a slow flush spread like blood across the canvas of the sky.

‘Not far now,’ murmured Cleft, bracing an arm against her struggling back. The sinews, flexing against her spine, gave her strength and when she next looked up she could see Paradise Heights above them, waiting for them beneath the humid dawn. Unbidden, her bruised feet trod the final steps and then Topaz sank onto the ground from which should have arisen her marital home.

‘What the…?’ ejaculated Cleft.

Before she could raise her head, a pair of feet had planted themselves before her lowered eyes. Smooth yellow-toed feet moistening slightly in monkish sandals. A gasp escaped her:

‘Terence!’ she whispered. Then she swooned.