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…

Monday, 9 January 2012

Part 35 – Scents and Sensibilities

This is the sort of thing I like: a good bit of momentum in the plot. It would help if I knew what direction that momentum might be taking us, but one can’t have everything. And I’m not even going to think about what Mills & Boon would make of our characters constantly falling over, swooning and being generally flaky.

One question for the ladies: is it attractive for Cleft to be constantly in need of a good wash? Because he’s exuding more pungent perfume in this, and it seems to me that anyone that whiffy must be a turn-off. Still, presumably Anna, being a woman, knows best. And maybe I’m too metrosexual, what with my soap and deodorant and stuff.

Part 35 (by Anna)

‘All right. You win this round. But I’ll make sure it’s a hollow victory. What are you but a lump of brawn and musk? She’ll tire of you, don’t you doubt it, but I won’t wait even that short while. I’m on your case, Stone, and you’ll never be rid of me until you give me back what’s mine.’

A low moan somewhere behind his left ankle caused him to turn. Topaz had raised her head, the imprint of the hard, puckered ground flaming on her tanned cheek.

Terence stepped over to her prone figure and, not ungently, caught her wrists and drew her upright. She felt his skinny fingers damp against his skin. Involuntarily her black eyes flickered over to where Cleft towered. Terence saw the look and snorted.

‘He’s yours,’ he said, ‘for the moment. But think carefully before you surrender your family’s fortune on a whim. I'’l be waiting for you when you change your mind.’

Topaz’s lips moved to form a reply, but no words came, only a tortured shuddering gasp which seemed to exhale the tears of centuries. Terence paused. His resolve seemed momentarily shaken by her crumpled anguish. Then, indefatigably, he hitched his sagging Bermudas and swung round towards the descending track. Blindly, he strode.

Too blindly. There was a cry, a raw animal sound, a scruffling of stones and a small plume of dust. Then silence.

Cleft’s shades flashed jagged darts of sunlight as he turned. Topaz scrambled to her bruised feet, unheeding of the pain, fear pulsing visibly in her delicate throat as she peered through the radiance.

The dust cloud shimmied briefly in the hot white light then sank back to earth. Behind it lay a form, quite still, spread over the burning shingle. One leg was flung out at an angle. And a goat, possibly the same creature that had blocked Topaz’s path to her fiancé those few days that seemed a lifetime ago, was limping bleating into the undergrowth, its morning siesta ruptured by the painful impact of Terence’s blundering trajectory.

In one easy stride Cleft moved over to his rival and crouched beside him. His bronzed hand reached out and touched Terence’s pallid leg.

‘Cracked femur,’ he murmured. ‘Don’t worry, mate, I’ve gotcha.’

Terence’s eyes, bulging with pain and fear, fixed on him as he moved over to an ancient olive tree and with a single powerful twist snapped off a small branch.

‘I need a tie,’ he said, turning to Topaz. Their eyes locked for an instant and intuitively their minds worked as one. Wrenching at her Kurt Geiger sandal, she unwound the leather ankle strap and held it out to Cleft.

It vanished almost into the hugeness hand as he bore it to his mouth and, savouring swiftly the intimate scent of the woman he loved, he caught the strap between his white teeth and pulled. The leather cleaved like butter. Kneeling now he laid the branch against Terence’s damaged limb and, with deft gentleness, fixed it in place with the amputated thong. Then, delving for the bulge in his Levis, he drew out his iphone and punched in a number.

‘No signal,’ he growled. ‘We’ve gotta get him outta here fast and get the leg seen to.’

He stooped and, inserting an arm beneath Terence’s shaking torso, he lifted him easily over his right shoulder. He turned to Topaz who, stepping gingerly after him, was trying to conceal the pain in her feet. He took a step back and, stabilising Terence’s long body against his collar bone, he wound his free arm around her slender waist to raise her and draped her over his free shoulder.

Topaz, dangling against the soaked, salted fabric of his polo shirt, inhaled the spiced scent of his manliness as, impervious to the heat of the strengthening sun and the weight of his twin burden, he set off down the mountainside.

1 comment:

  1. Stench or no stench, you've gotta admit it's a powerful picture: Terence and Topaz's heads bobbing side by side against Cleft's musky buttocks.