Stranger (The Rebound List 3) Chapter 1

Disclaimer: This is a rough draft, it has not been edited or revised yet so I apologise in advance for mistakes and typos.

I’m having one of those evenings. The ones that stretch on forever. Can’t sleep but can’t face sitting around on my own for much longer either. I know it’s because I’m troubled by everything that’s happened lately, which I’ve been unwilling to deal with. But if I keep bottling it up, I’ll never get to sleep…

A dejected sigh later, I find my diary and decide to expose all and confess my sins, even if nobody will see them but me.

“Dear Diary,

Today was my last day at work. And with it, perhaps the last time I see Craig, ever. Ever since our crazy hook-up at the Christmas party a couple of weeks ago, he’s been acting weird. That’s actually not even a fair assessment. Ever since I quit the Monday after the Friday that we hooked up, he’s been cold and indifferent. I hadn’t handled it well, not at all. Not only did I have the worst timing ever, I’d been way too blunt. Sal later wondered if he was about to ask me out a mere moment before I told him, so perhaps he was hoping for more as well. Could that even be? I’d made it abundantly clear beforehand that it was going to be just sex. Not that that plan had gone well the first time around.

Meanwhile, my first list-based lay, the ex-virgin, has been posting a lot about his latest tragic love interest. Apparently she’s great, and perfect, and cute, and god knows what else. And taken.

We’ve talked off and on, but I’ve taken care not to broach the subject of his crush in conversation. I’m curious, but I’m also still pissed off about it, but realise I have no right to feel that way.”

I put the diary and pen down again and take a deep breath. None of this is helping, rather than having a calming effect, my rant is just getting me more and more upset. I hate how things have ended with Craig. And I hate even more how the ex-virgin has seemingly breezed past our night together as if it meant nothing to him.

“Sally meanwhile has set the wheels in motion for item 3 on my list. I am to pick up a stranger at a New Year’s party, with her support (in case I get the urge to fuck it up with my now-legendary bluntness). God knows why I ever decided I’d wanted to do a stranger, it’s a scary prospect. But Sally’s idea of doing it at a party seems solid. Yet the plan does not excite me. Perhaps I should try internet dating and just act normal. Boring.”

I don’t know how you’re meant to feel after a breakup, but it’s been a big, stinking river of shit so far. And I’m not sure the occasional list-inspired highlight has made up for any of it.”

Snapping the diary shut and throwing it away from me onto the coffee table, I rest my head in my hands. There’s no option but to try and stick to the plan. I’ve crossed out two items on my list, meaning I’m halfway through. It doesn’t feel like halfway, it feels like the easy part is over and the real struggle will begin now. A stranger and a threesome. So first I need to find one random guy to sleep with and then two of them?! What was I thinking?

A stranger. It seemed like a good idea back when I wrote the list. Now it seems stupid. But I’d set these tasks for myself and would hate it if I gave up now. Sally will be there with me. She even joked that if a particularly cute guy comes along, we might end up killing two birds with one stone. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was after a threesome with two men, not just one and her.

So indeed today was my – our – last day. It was also the last day before the Christmas holidays start for most people, so the new job doesn’t begin until the new year. Which reminds me of another thing I’d been dreading. Christmas.

Christmas by myself. No family, no boyfriend and no turkey. The dreariness never ends.

The only positive that’s come out of the entire previous week was bittersweet as well. Our departure at work opened up a vacancy in the internal system, the details of which I was able to send to the ex-virgin. I haven’t heard back from him yet, but I assumed he’s still hunting for work. I’d recommend him to Craig myself, but at this point, that might have the opposite effect.

A glance at the clock reveals it’s 3am and I still can’t sleep. Wonder what’s on TV.

***

Ding. What a strange noise he just made. Ding.

Ding ding ding.

From there his gorgeous face morphs into Craig, but not the one I remember working with before. Rather he looks like the version of Craig that I’d just quit on with a stare that cuts right through me and chills me to my core. His tense lips hardly move as he continues to make the weird sound. Ding, ding.

I blink a few times, trying to shake that overwhelming lethargy you experience when you’re woken at the wrong time. Within seconds, I’d gone from being bedded by the guy this whole list debacle had started with to being bombarded by strange noises and seeing guilt impersonated in front of me. Where’s that godawful noise coming from?

My phone lights up, presumably for the tenth time at least and dings again. Argh, my head. Facebook Messenger is merciless.

“Hey, where the fuck are you?” Sal writes. “I’ve got something to run past you, wake up, sleepyhead!”

Stretching my arms fails to loosen my shoulders which are suffering the consequences of sleeping on the couch.

“What?” I type.

Sally appears to be writing furiously on the other end and I decide to make myself a cup of tea. This morning has started all wrong. That dream. I won’t forgive her for interrupting that dream. It had felt like the guy wasn’t just doing me, but rather we were making love. The way he was looking at me… I’m still on edge because of it. But now that glorious moment has passed.

Ding.

Goddamnit, I’m coming, woman!

The kettle starts bubbling in the background and I check the message that’s just arrived.

“Change of plans for xmas, you still around on the 25th?”

“Yep.”

“OK, awesome. Looks like I’ll be as well. Let’s do something.”

Sal to the rescue, to save me from a lonely Christmas without even any roasted poultry to look forward to? Why not.

“Call me in 10.” I hit send and slump down at the breakfast bar in the kitchen, rubbing my forehead with the palm of my hand. Caffeine. Need caffeine.

A few sips of tea and a biscuit later, the phone rings.

“Morning,” Sally cheers at the other end.

“Meh.”

“Oh you’re such a grouch, you know that? It’s fucking 11 in the morning, not like I’m calling you at an ungodly hour or anything.” She chuckles. Her cheeriness is making me even grumpier.

“I slept at like 5. Or 7. God, I don’t know. Had someone else been around, I’d be accusing them of bashing me over the head with something after I finally did fall asleep. Bloody headache.”

“You’ve got to go easy on the wine,”

“I wasn’t dr-”

“Anyway, stop changing the subject. Christmas Day. You, me, turkey, roasties and all that stuff. What do you say?”

“Alright.”

“I may ask around if anyone else is free as well, for those of us not visiting family that day, we might as well make our own fun.”

“Fine.”

“Since you’re the only one I know who can actually cook, you’ll be in charge of the food. We’ll pool together to buy everything, but it’d be nice if it was actually edible.”

“OK.”

“Awesome. Talk later.” With that, she hangs up and I’m left wondering what exactly I just agreed to.

I’m in charge of the food. Suddenly I wonder if sitting at home by myself without the hassle would have been preferable to this new plan. Still, she had a point. We might as well have something edible on the table that day and I know what her cooking is like. Finding a notepad and pen in a nearby drawer, I make a quick list of ingredients I’ll need to hunt for. Five days to find a suitable bird, that ought to be doable.

***

Turns out, time flies when you’re planning a feast. Sally’s main contribution, beyond the initial idea, came in the form of a few more attendees, and a ridiculous email inviting us all to her place for her proposed “Christmas Day for sad, lonely fucks”. You simply can’t make it up.

I’ve accumulated more food than the average household would eat in a month without even noticing, while leaving her in charge of the booze. The kitchen is covered with a mountain of dishes I thought I’d need, just in case. I need to give her one credit, a big one. I haven’t had time to feel guilty about anything that was bothering me last week.

Hearing Craig’s voice greeting Sal at the door and thanking her for the invite comes as quite a shock. Even so, I don’t have time for a meltdown, instead I nod at him once he enters and continue to try and not burn any of the food.

When we finally sit down at the table; Craig, Sally’s two school friends and a neighbour, her and me, I notice everyone is in much better spirits than I’ve allowed myself to be. But the food is ready, and I think I’ve managed reasonably well, despite the constant interruptions earlier. Everyone agrees, even Craig, who seems a lot less cold and horrible than I’d remembered him.

By the end of the evening, which drags on a lot later than just lunch, apparently all is forgiven. A huge weight falls off my shoulders. He had indeed wondered whether to ask me out the day I quit, but more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. In the meantime, he’s been on a first date with Sarah from HR and found they have a lot more in common than expected.

Despite the herculean task of putting together a meal for all of us on my own without much in the way of previous experience, the day leaves me content. It has been a success, and someone I’d worried about turning into an enemy, ends up still being a friend.

Thanks for reading. Stranger (The Rebound List #3) comes out sometime in April. If you’d like to find out when exactly, please sign up for my newsletter, and you could even get your copy as a free welcome gift!

The Rebound List – Deleted Scene

cover2-3-site

I’m starting work on The Rebound List #3, Stranger, and with it am thinking about what’s to come. This scene has been left out of Silver Fox and I’m not sure it fits into Stranger either so I may just skip it. Anyway, hope you enjoy it as a little teaser 😉

“That’s how you said it, in that context?” Sally’s eyes are wide, chin about to hit the floor. “You didn’t seriously tell Craig you’re quitting right when he was about to figure out whether to ask you on a date? That’s cold, no that’s downright evil!”

“Umm, well… Better out than in?” I shrug, trying to hide the stabbing embarrassment that overcomes me every time I replay the conversation in my head. She’s right, that was absolutely terrible. I should learn to think before talking.

“You are as tactful and subtle as a rhinoceros at times. Damn!” Sally looks like she might burst into laughter, if only she could remember to breathe.

“Fuck, I don’t know. Let’s talk about something else…”

“Fine. Damn… No wonder he didn’t take it very well though. Next time, please talk to me first, OK? I’ll tell you what to say and how.” She leans forward and grabs the bottle of Merlot from the table, refilling our glasses.

“So, Becks. Remind me what’s next.” Sally  scoots closer to me and slides my glass back in my direction.

I show her the pad. Two entries crossed out, two remain.

“Ohh, I like the sound of that!”

I’m not convinced and lean back against the sofa, taking a sip.

“Yeah, I guess.”

My tone must’ve tipped her off because she pats me on the arm reassuringly.

“Seriously, that one will be the easiest yet. We’ll go out together, I can be your wing-girl. Or whatever. Perhaps we should go to a club. Wait!” Sal smacks the armrest of the sofa with her flat hand.

“I’ve got the perfect plan! Four words: New – Year’s – Eve – Party!”

I sigh and let the idea sink in. Pick up some random at a party? That’s so not me. But then, that’s the whole point of the list, isn’t it?

Stranger (The Rebound List #3) is coming sometime in Spring 2014.

Friday Filth 5

champions-siteThis Friday Filth teaser is from British Champions, the sequel to Ladies’ Day (so you might want to start there if you haven’t read it yet…)

“You’re special. Let me show you how special…” He peels my top off slowly, kissing any skin as soon as it’s exposed.

I smile at him, a little more reassured about our situation than before and completely ready for a good, hard reconciliation. When he makes me feel the way I do right now, how can I worry about what may or may not happen in future? Here and now, everything feels right.

With one hand in his hair, I try to guide him towards my nipple which so far he is carefully avoiding; kissing and teasing only the surrounding skin. I impatiently start unbuttoning his shirt before lifting myself and quickly taking my own top off too.

“In a hurry?” He grins, I just give him a look that says it all.

He leans on one arm and takes my wrist with his other hand. Before I know it, he pins first one arm back against the armrest of the sofa, and then the other. I’m helplessly spread and his appreciative gaze tells me he likes it this way.

“I want to touch you…” I beg.

He shakes his head and kisses me firmly, gathering both my hands together before I have the chance to regain my composure. His lips make me weak. I can’t take my eyes off his face but quickly get distracted when his free hand finds its way down between us, massaging my thighs from the outside in. Getting ever closer to where I really want to be touched.

I let out a moan and he leans in for a further taste. His tongue slips into my mouth the very moment his hand moves past the waistband of my pants.

“How wet you are,” he groans against my lips.

Friday Filth 4

Onenight2-siteIt’s only obvious that I’ve chosen Just for One Night to pick a teaser from for Friday Filth this week; Get your copy FREE from Amazon (US, UK) until Saturday 15th June!

A glint appears in his eyes and before I can wonder what he’s thinking he firmly grabs both my wrists. He turns onto his back and I’ve no choice but to be dragged along.

“You interrupted me last night, it’ll not happen again.” His deep voice is not one to argue with.

He lets go of my hands and instead lifts me up from under my armpits. My legs spread, surrounding him, but he’s not satisfied with me yet.

“Sit on me,” he says.

“But I already am…”

He shakes his head, dragging me upwards by hooking his hands through the bend of my knees. A smile forms on his lips when I begin to understand and crawl further upwards, finally ending up covering his face.

It wasn’t the drink that made this so amazing the first time around. He does know exactly what to do, but more than that it’s obvious he enjoys this as much as I do.

The moment his tongue reaches my clit I am positive that whatever happens between us, it’ll be a fun ride. I’m taken over by waves of pleasure, starting small like a little itch scratched in just the right manner, then growing in intensity.

The Best Idea Ever (The Rebound List; preview)

The first real warning sign that our relationship was doomed was a few weeks prior to our fourth anniversary. During a chat with Sally – one of my closest friends – she speculated whether or not Jeff might propose to me.The thought filled me with dread. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate him. I actually kind of still loved him but the idea that this was all that life had in store for me was incredibly depressing. There was more I had to do; more experiences I was yet to have.

Was he really planning to propose? I certainly hoped not because I couldn’t accept. No way. And I have always hated confrontations, so having to say ‘no’ was an extremely unpleasant prospect.

In a way, finding the inappropriate emails from him to his ex had been a relief. A chance to make a relatively clean break without having to confess uncomfortable truths. I moved out within a month and found myself free but also apprehensive about what might be in store for me next. Would I find what I had been missing?

I certainly wouldn’t make the same mistakes as in the past. Starting a new relationship on the rebound, not fully celebrating my new-found freedom were definite ‘no-no’s. I needed a plan to figure out when I would be ready to settle down. A means of measuring whether I had lived single life to the fullest. That’s how the list was born.

To Do:
Hook up with a stranger
Have a threesome (ideally mmf)
Do it in the office, outdoors and after getting completely sloshed
Have others watch
A silver fox
A virgin

Friday Filth 3

JAD4 ThumbnailIn honour of the release of Just Another Day at the Office IV, here’s a little teaser from it…

My return to our table is timed perfectly and there are no onlookers really when I appear next to John again. Bending down, I discreetly deposit the contents of my hand into his trouser pocket.

“I thought perhaps you’d like to carry a little something of mine with you to Germany,” I whisper in his ear, before sitting back down.

He still looks confused when he slips his hand into his pocket, but his expression immediately changes once he’s able to feel the soft lacey texture of my still skin-warm thong against his fingers. Before he’s able to say a word, the waiter arrives with the main course.

As expected after the promising starters, the food does not disappoint. My enjoyment is heightened by his intense stares which have become even darker now that I’m panty-less. Clearly he is having a very hard time keeping calm and has given up on small talk completely.

He cuts off the waiter as he asks about a dessert or cheese order and instead just requests the bill.

Sneak Peek Sunday (Just for One Night)

He shakes his head slowly before lifting the pint to his lips. I follow suit but can’t help wondering what he’s thinking.

“I don’t see how you’d have that problem. I’m sure you get plenty of attention without even trying,” he says finally, almost mumbling the words into his glass.

I look him right in the eyes and helplessly give in to my urge to grin before answering .

“Perhaps the attention I tend to get without trying isn’t the one I want.”

We just stare at each other for what feels like ages. Neither of us seem in a hurry to look away. I leisurely let my mind wander, still curious what his hands might feel like against my skin. And those lips.

Objectively speaking he looks like the sort of guy you’d avoid messing with if you can help it. I’m certain that when he walks down the street, people will instinctively part to make way. At the same time his mannerisms, his way of speaking have me convinced that behind the imposing facade, he’s a really sweet guy. I wonder what makes me so sure, I don’t even know him… yet.

Onenight2-siteThe above Sneak Peek is from Just for One Night.
A brand new release, exclusively available at Amazon ( US / UK ).

Check out other entries on the Sneak Peek Sunday blog!

Just for One Night; Preview

Onenight2-siteI’m currently finishing a little story I’ve been working on for ages now. It’s always been pushed back by other projects (Just Another Day at the Office, mainly) taking precedence. Hopefully this little preview and the cover, which I have slightly tweaked since sharing on Facebook earlier will get you excited to read the end product!

As soon as I’ve found my seat of choice in the dimly lit establishment, I notice him. Sitting on a bar stool nursing a full pint while his two friends stand around waiting for their refills. They clearly arrived as a group, but while I observe them it quickly becomes clear that they are not planning to just sit at the bar together.

He’s sporting a typical metal-head ponytail,  longer than my own hair and it really suits him. Too many guys can’t get past their old faithful long hair style, even when their mane starts to thin. His hair is thick and full though and the first thing I noticed. I have always had a thing for men with long hair.

Chance brought me here tonight to the aptly named “Old Oak”. Only a short walk from my hotel, its traditional wood panelled décor looks like the perfect environment to escape to.

It’s the sort of place which you can imagine to have been here forever. Probably has done for hundreds of years, largely looking the same but seeing its growing ever brighter and shinier. I had planned to just sit here, have a couple of drinks and watch the normal goings-on unfold around me. But my initial plan of staying largely out of sight is starting to look like a bad idea.

From my corner by the window, in between sips of Baileys on ice, I keep eyeing him. Black jeans paired with sturdy biker boots and an untucked black shirt covering his broad frame on top. He looks like an imposing figure even hunched over as he is at the bar. Like a giant.

I wish he’d turn around. I wish I had bought my drink from this bar counter rather than the other one, at least I could have had a better look at him before finding this seat.

Like a reluctant predator, I’m just sitting here and staring at him from behind. If I hadn’t chosen to sit in such a discrete location, it might have been the other way around.

My phone distracts, a message from Akhil, asking about the meeting and if we can talk. It can wait. I came here to forget about the irritating client with the project I couldn’t refuse, not to talk about it. Stuffing the phone back into my handbag, I resume my earlier observations.

His friends are long gone by now, leaving an empty stool beside him and my glass is getting empty quickly. Shall I? It feels so reassuring being unnoticed that I’m very reluctant to get up. I guess I’m just a coward when it comes down to making the first move and my dark corner feels so safe.

He takes a big last sip from his glass and I panic. What if he’s going to call it a night? If he leaves now I’ll forever wonder what could’ve been!

Before I know it my feet carry me towards the bar, while I half mindedly smooth down my businesslike grey skirt and vest combo. Despite the buzz of the drunken conversations that fills the space, the clicking of my heels on the wooden floorboards is almost as deafening as my heart pounding in my chest.

He turns towards me as soon as I reach and I’m frozen in place. Concentrating on continuing to breathe, I tuck my black wavy hair behind my ear and glance in his direction.

I take in his strong Nordic features, his full lips and steely blue eyes that stand in stark contrast against the dark brown of his hair and short beard. All I can manage is a shy smile before hurriedly looking away.

My instincts served me well, if I had stayed in my seat, I would’ve regretted it. I feel tiny standing next to him, which causes me to feel an even stronger attraction. And his eyes on me, I can almost feel them stabbing and probing.

His hands are huge as well, manly. I wonder how he’d touch me, if those hands could be gentle or if they only know how to be rough. There’s no sign of a wedding ring; what a relief.

It has been decided, I want him at any cost.

“What can I get you, darling?” The bartender interrupts my thoughts.

Sneak Peek Sunday (Just Another Day at the Office)

My brain is on autopilot as he witters on about what he expects from me, I try to keep eye contact to a minimum while uttering generic responses where appropriate.

“Yes I understand,” I say.

Punctuality is important, got it. My eyes wander around the room, over the posed photographs of him sharing a handshake with some equally pompous looking dick. Dick – an appropriate nickname for Richard Porter – purchasing manager at the large electronic components distributor where I will be working soon. By now I’ve seen enough of the over dressed hardboard office from where he rules his domain and I stealthily glance through the window that overlooks the office floor. The desks are arranged in groups of three or four with partition walls surrounding each cluster. Most group arrangements that I can see are fully occupied except one.

“Yes indeed I’m very excited to start my career here …” I hear myself say.

I give Richard – Dick – a quick glance. Pointless, he’s still looking at my cleavage. Perhaps I should offer him a tissue. I try to breathe through my mouth to avoid the “manly” smell he’s producing.

Outside on the office floor the man who sits alone in a grouping of three desks catches my eye. He turns around on his chair as he answers the phone and only now I can fully appreciate him. Not much older than me, if I had to guess I’d say maybe he’s about 30. His full head of dark blonde hair, a bit messy and just slightly longer than intended. A perfect face, if there can be such a thing. Completely regular features and a straight nose as if copied from an ancient Greek statue; not that I recall seeing many Greek statues of a man of his size. I can’t tell their exact colour from here but even at this distance his eyes exude kindness and warmth. He looks so serious, speaking into the phone with his full, sensual lips and a thoughtful look on his face.

The above Sneak Peek is from Just Another Day 1 - tinyJust Another Day at the Office ; part one.
You will be able to download it for free on Amazon ( US / UK ) from Monday 11th March to Wednesday, 13th March!
Parts two and three are also available, with a fourth in the making.

Check out other entries on the Sneak Peek Sunday blog!

Why can’t things ever be simple? (Just Another Day 3; Preview)

JAD 3 - MedPart three of the Office Romance; Just Another Day at the Office is being published shortly. To get you in the mood, find a little preview below.

“Cath, I’m sorry it had to come to this, but I’m sure you’re aware of the reason I’ve asked you to come in.” Dick gives me a look which suggests he enjoying this more than could be considered professional.

He closes the vertical blinds and sits down on his chair, hands folded on the desk in front of him.

“I have some idea, yes.” I squint slightly and maintain eye contact.

Now more than ever it’s important to not show any sign of weakness, even if my heart is pounding. I cannot get fired!

“When I hired you, I made it clear that your initial three months would be on a trial basis. I don’t need to tell you that there have been concerns.”

“If it’s not too much to ask, I would like you to clarify in what way my work has been lacking?” My tone is curt and I continue to stare at the smug expression on his face.

“It’s not so much your quality of work, not beyond what can be expected from someone just undergoing initial training. But you cannot deny that there have been issues with your attitude and efforts to fit into the team here.” Dick adjusts his hands slightly.

He truly seems to think he is handling this with the finesse of a seasoned politician. He’s wrong.

“Say, is it not necessary to have a representative from HR present during meetings such as this one?” I change the topic.

His face hardens.

“As your direct manager, I have the authority to hold performance appraisals without involvement from HR if I feel it is the appropriate path to take.”

“Fine. It was not clear to me that this meeting would serve as a performance appraisal, since I have not been given time to prepare.” It’s obvious that Dick isn’t enjoying my responses, as the twitching of the corner of his mouth reveals.

“Cath, let’s cut the bullshit. The reason we’re in here is that I am willing to give you one last chance to adjust your attitude. I can’t have people in this team who won’t give their best.”

He gets up and leans against the side of his desk, too close for comfort. My heart is racing and I’m not sure whether to run or fight. But I do really need this job and my bank statement at the end of the month doesn’t fail to remind me.

“You may not realise it, but I’ve seen you look at me from across the office…” he says.

My mouth falls open but I have no words to respond. How deluded can one man be!

Meanwhile he just looks down at me, enjoying the inherent position of power he has while I’m still sitting down. And the view from above seems to please him as well.

“What is it that you want,” I sneer. My question is quite unnecessary, I suspect that I already know.