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…

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Are we nearly there yet?

Yes, dear Reader, we are. At long (very long) last, Anna has provided a continuation, of sorts; and although I had rather hoped that she would cover some of the awkward infill that is now necessary to explain Cleft’s transformation from feckless womanizer to self-made pallet-provider, at least it gets me to the point where I can start thinking about a climax.

PS: Blazing red letters? Can’t the girl read? I had it as ‘huge gold letters’.


Part 51 (by Anna)


Barely had Topaz digested the blazing red letters on the side of the vehicle, barely had her hand fumbled for the coiled brass banister up the cascade of marble stairs behind her, than daylight was obscured by a large shadow in the doorway. Large, and yet somehow diminished. Topaz could discern the change even as she struggled to focus through her long lacquered lashes. 

‘Wotcha!’ said Cleft, for it was he. The voice, the greeting, was at once familiar and imperceptibly altered. There was, in the deep, throbbing tones that sent an echo through her womanly core, a note of doubt. Or was it pleading?

‘Cleft!’ said Topaz. She could almost taste the name on her tongue.

As she turned to collect her thoughts, she caught the reflection of the man in the flank of the sculpted silver stag poised in the hallway. A tiny reflection, dwarfed by the contours of the beast’s metal sinews. It was in that moment that Topaz realised that her struggles had reached a climax. The flame, deep within parts of her that she had never before probed, still burned but, as she fixed her eyes on those sculpted hindquarters, she realised that her feelings no longer controlled her. This Thing between them was no longer bigger than she was. She loved, possibly she even forgave, but in forgiving she achieved dominion.

Coolly she raised her chin and her eyes finally met his. There was a beat in which a communion that was beyond words passed between them. Then, in a voice that startled her with its steadiness, she uttered it.

‘Hi!’

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