Begging for It: Erotic Fantasies for Women

51vle-lgzdl-_sx331_bo1204203200_I’m super excited to announce that Begging for It: Erotic Fantasies for Women (edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, published by Cleis Press), is out now.

This amazing collection of quality erotica contains 21 stories by various authors in the genre (including myself, teehee!). My contribution is called Rediscovery, and it’s about a wife who finds a little something naughty while tidying up, which ends up changing her perception of herself and her (not always perfect) marriage.

I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s super hot and has all the feels. I’m sure you guys will love it, so go buy the book and read it for yourself!

UPDATE 2019: This title was published before I rebranded myself as L. Moone, so you’ll see my story, Rediscovery, credited as my old pen name, “Hedonist Six”.

Gratis : Summer Fling. A taste of Summer.

gratis3-boxsetsmallIt’s live! Gratis : Summer Fling, the fourth and final Gratis Erotica Anthology is now available for download at all major ebook retailers. To celebrate, we’re running a little giveaway (see below), but first, some more information about the book and my contribution, A Day in Brighton (including an excerpt).

Gratis: Summer Fling, Official Description
The fourth and final installment of the Gratis Anthologies of quality, literary erotica, Gratis : Summer Fling is going to hit the shelves on the 21st of June. In it you’ll again find a mix of various well received authors, sharing little glimpses into their fantasies for your entertainment. And the best part is, you haven’t even got to pay for it! Download now to get a novel length collection of perfect beach reads

Contents:
Bringing Angels to Life by Chloe Thurlow, Isabelle’s Submissive July by Emily Tilton, A Day in Brighton by L. Moone, The Fashion Model Diplomat by KM Dylan, Dear Diary by M.J. Carey, Marsala Sweet by Molly Synthia, and Generation Game by Secret Narrative.

A Day in Brighton by Hedonist Six
When Mandi is forced to move back in with her conservative Indian parents, she’s preparing to say goodbye to all the freedoms she’s enjoyed so far: no curfews, no questions, and the freedom to date or hang out with whoever she wants. She spends a day in Brighton with handsome stranger, Callum, to mark the end of her independence.

Get your copy here.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

All my belongings are neatly packed into cardboard boxes, but all I feel is chaos inside.
I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave this little flat which I’ve been sharing with Alice for the past three years. But with no money or prospects, and I don’t have a choice.
I let out a deep sigh and sink down on the edge of the sofa.
“You alright, Mandi?” Alice asks, handing me a cup of tea. Strong yet milky, just how I like it.
I just shrug.
“This sucks, hey.” She puts her hand on my shoulder.
“Life’s a bitch, especially when your family can’t accept that in this country, things work a little differently.” I respond.
“At least you won’t have to worry about laundry. Or rent.” Alice is only half joking. Moving back home to act like the perfect Punjabi daughter to my parents will have some – admittedly small – benefits. Mostly it’s a big, fat negative though.
“Yeah, I get to relive my childhood. Yay.” I rest my head in my hands and try not to panic.
No more pretending to be a grown-up at twenty-three. No more staying out with Alice – or anyone else for that matter – until the clubs close and our feet stop cooperating. No more freedom to hang out with anyone of the opposite gender, forget about inviting a guy home with me.
Sure, I’ll have a job to go to, with Mr. Gupta – Dad’s friend, but that’s hardly a pleasing prospect
“I’ll miss you, you know.” Alice plops down next to me and puts her arm around me.
“Yeah, I’ll miss you too.”
“OK, this is bullshit.” Alice lets go of me and sits upright. “It’s sad you have to move back in with your folks, but it’s not like anyone died. They’re not expecting you until tomorrow. Let’s go do something!”
“Like what?” I ask, while still feeling way too sorry for myself to really care.
“I dunno. It’s a nice, sunny day, I don’t have anything on, neither do you. Let’s just drive down to Brighton or something.” She’s lost her mind.
“And then what? I’m broke, remember? That’s why I’m moving back in the first place.”
“How much do you have exactly?” She grins at me expectantly.
“I dunno, about a tenner in cash, plus perhaps fifty in the bank?”
“Great! Get dressed.” Alice jumps up, visibly excited.
I stare at her in disbelief but once she’s set on something, Alice cannot be deterred. She grabs my hand and starts dragging me off the sofa and towards the large suitcase that contains all my clothes.
“What’s the plan exactly?” I wonder out loud. Does she even have a plan?
“We drive down, hang out at the beach, eat Fish & Chips, get a bit of a tan” She looks over at me; my skin is already pre-bronzed of course. “OK, so I’ll get a bit of a tan – head to the nearest pub or whatever, get sloshed. Dance, enjoy ourselves, have a proper farewell party for you. What do you say?”
“You did hear me when I said I have literally no money?”
Alice shrugs. “Since when do you have to pay for your own drinks when you go out?”
She makes a fair point. But when we’re done partying, then what? “I’m sure even the cheapest guest house down there would wipe me out though.”
“Who said anything about a guest house? I’m not planning on sleeping! Plus, we can always crash in the car.”
Sometimes she has the craziest ideas. But I have to admit that the prospect of being all but grounded with my parents breathing down my neck every day is a powerful motivator to go along with her spontaneity. What have I got to lose?
“Fine. You win.”
She winks at me. “Admit it, we both win.”
For all my earlier grumpiness, I can’t suppress a smile now. Within minutes we’ve thrown on colourful summer dresses – bikini underneath of course – and shoved a random collection of supplies into a pair of beach-ready canvas bags. Towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, plus a couple of books – check.
Before I have the chance to change my mind, she’s herded me into her piece of shit car which sounds so rattly I’m surprised nothing of note has fallen off it yet. The stereo – possibly the best part of the entire car – does its best to drown out the traffic noises and rattles with loud music. I don’t care what happens anymore, today I still get to be me, not who my folks expect me to be.

The traffic has been horrendous, and the parking situation is no better. But at last, at just after four – three hours after setting off – we finally make it to Brighton beach.
As I take my sandals off and try to follow her towards an empty spot among the sunbathing crowds, I remember why I fucking hate Brighton as a beach. Who the hell decided it’s a good idea to sunbathe on rough gravel? The stones cut into my feet with every step, causing me to swear under my breath.
“What’s that?” Alice turns and asks.
“Nothing. Bloody stones.” I try to tiptoe ahead, but it doesn’t help. In the end I decide to put my shoes back on.
“No pain no gain, darling.”
Whatever.
We manage to find a spot between some giggly teenagers and a family with a crying toddler. Not how I had wanted to spend my last afternoon of freedom, but choices are limited when the entire south of England seems to have congregated on the same stretch of stony coastline.
“Put sunscreen on me?” Alice asks, handing me a bottle.
I do my best coating her pale back, not leaving any spots, but I already know it’s hopeless. She’ll be bright red within an hour, or two at the most. I would put money on it.
“Me too, please,” I request when I’m done doing her.
“You sure you need it?”
“Hey, just because I have darker skin than you, doesn’t mean I’m immune to cancer.” I push the bottle into her hand and turn around, lifting my hair up to give her room.
“Fair point.”
Soon we’re both sticky, but reasonably protected against the rays. I lie down on my towel, keeping my beach bag behind my head as sort of a pillow while I decide to make a start on the novel I brought. Alice has other ideas though.
“Don’t you want to go in the water?” she asks.
Not really, no. I shake my head and open my book to the first page.
“Come on!”
“I can’t swim!” I protest.
“We won’t go that far.”
I put the paperback down and scrutinise the waves, rolling in and crashing against the stones up ahead.
“Don’t be a spoilsport!” Alice insists.
“Fine. Fine! But if it’s cold, I’m not going in.”
The sun is burning down onto the beach, if it wasn’t for the light breeze, we’d be getting cooked. Still, the idea of cooling my toes in the water isn’t so bad. Almost attractive, if it wasn’t for the hellish walk to get there. Once again, I seem to have an uncanny ability to place my feet onto the sharpest rocks I can find. I’m surprised I’m not bleeding anywhere yet.
Alice meanwhile is about ten feet ahead of me, rushing towards the sea much more eagerly, as if she’s impervious to the pain of walking on hot, sharp stones.
“Oh my God, it’s lovely! Not cold at all.” Alice exclaims as she takes the first steps into the water.
I soon follow, finding a definite chill travelling up my spine when I take the first dip. Then, I must admit it’s pleasantly cooling.
As soon as I’m knee-deep in the water, a wave comes and wets most of the rest of me too. I squeal, trying to regain my balance, while Alice’s laugh rings loudly in my ear. It takes all sorts of inelegant acrobatics for me not to fall over.
“Very funny,” I remark dryly, while Alice continues to giggle at me.
“It was. You should’ve seen yourself.”
I take a few steps in her direction, emboldened by my desire for revenge, and try to splash water at her. She promptly dives down under the water, evading me and wetting the rest of her body in the process, ruining my plans. No matter, I’ll get you sooner or later!
When she pops up again, she gives me a wide smile.
“See? It’s fun!”
Another wave rolls in and she paddles along with it effortlessly, while I’m again almost thrown off my feet. But I refuse to go in further where the waves are less intense. Just because I’m grumpy about moving home, doesn’t mean I’m ready to drown myself.
Five, maybe ten minutes pass while we continue to soak ourselves. It occurs to me that our stuff is sitting in a crowd of strangers, unguarded, and I decide to head back.
“You enjoy yourself I’m going to read now,” I call out to Alice, who has gotten distracted by a stray volleyball, thrown in her direction by a group of guys also enjoying the waves.
“Fine, see ya!” She waves at me, then throws the ball back to one of the guys. Well, I guess she’s not going to get bored at this rate.
I’m in the process of limping back to my towel, when my stomach starts to growl. Of course, in our hurry to get out of the house, neither of us bothered with lunch, or packed any snacks. A quick scan of the surrounding area reveals that the only thing somewhat nearby is a food truck close to where we left the boulevard. That’s one hell of a walk.
Needs must, so I grudgingly take my wallet and phone out of my bag and go on limping over the hot stones. Why couldn’t we have gone to a sandy beach instead of here?

 

New Release: Gratis: Transformation

If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll already know this, but today Gratis: Transformation, the third of the Gratis Erotica Anthologies I’ve organised has officially been released! These short story collections offer sexy stories from numerous authors in a variety of erotic sub genres.

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Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Smashwords Google Play | All Romance Ebooks | Apple

 

Win amazing prizes!

To celebrate this release, we’ve put together an awesome prize package which one lucky winner could win, incl. an Amazon.com gift certificate and a selection of ebooks.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Filth: The Rebound List

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In preparation of Monday’s official launch, here’s a little snippet of something that happens early on in The Rebound List… 

Looking at him, despite the dimmed light of the theatre, still I feel a jolt run through me when our eyes meet. He runs his fingers through my hair again. Hoping this is going where I want it to, I look at his lips, so tempting. I want to taste him, right here and immediately.

His hand cups my cheek but he continues to just look as if asking for permission. Over-eager and impatient, of course I jump the gun and reach for him, planting a soft kiss on his lips. I feel his breath against me, his arms drawing me towards him closer.

He kisses me back. It’s a bit awkward at first but then our lips, tongues, our beings seem to be in tune. Every inch of me appears to sing with excitement. My eyes flick open and find his staring into me, smiling as I am.

I wrap my arm around his neck, my hand reaching for his hair now. It’s hard not to get carried away, after all, a cinema does not afford all that much privacy. But I suppose there’s no harm in indulging my impulses just a little.

Running my fingertips over his shirt, I enjoy the outlines of what I know to be underneath. Mystery is overrated. I have spent enough time looking at, no, studying his naked photographs to know what awaits me and frankly, that’s reassuring as well as arousing.

He doesn’t have this advantage though, until today he had only seen the bottom half of my face and my eyes and that too in black & white instead of colour. I kiss him with more energy, more passion and feel a moan travel over my lips. Was it mine or his? Does it even matter?

Suddenly aware of angry stares burning into us, I pause, biting my bottom lip and try to signal to make him aware of the grumpy man ahead of us. He continues to hold me, grinning back at me until I decide to turn and use him as a backrest; his arm draped across my front in a similar position as you’d keep a seatbelt in a car.

He seems to be enjoying this changed dynamic as much as I am, because he starts to nuzzle my neck, where all the little hairs at the back stand right up. His hand, fingertips soft and careful, running up and down on the fabric of my dress, just over where my ribs end and the soft part of my waist starts. It’s beautiful, the slow progress we’re making towards the inevitable.

The movie, although kind of gory and scary, passes by quickly and largely unnoticed. His face remains comfortably resting in the crook of my neck and I’m hanging onto his arm, my hand travelled up his sleeve just enough to hold him. There should be no mistaking that I want him here, this close and even closer to me.

His confidence grows and he wraps his other arm around me too, caressing my arm which is still pretty cold in the unnaturally chilled cinema air. By the time the credits start, I can’t wait to get out, away from grumpy man who interrupted our first, tentative kisses.

“I think I want to go…” I say.

He sits up, letting go as I turn towards him.

“Thought it was going well…” he says, his gaze lingers on my lips just a bit.

“Oh yeah, I meant both of us, somewhere more private… if you want to.” I smile at him. “You didn’t think that I want to leave? No, not at all.”

Want more? You could read part one of The Rebound List already for free as part of Gratis: Midwinter Tales. 

The Rebound List – Finished! (Psst, wanna see the cover?)

I know people have been waiting for this, and it’s way late, but I can finally (sort of) breathe a sigh of relief. The first draft of the final instalment of The Rebound List is now finished! Now it just needs a bit of an edit, some spit and polish, and I’ll be ready to send it out to early readers. Just as a reminder; If you’d like to beta read this book, please contact me on social media, by email, comment here, etc. Although The Rebound List was conceived as four short stories, fear not if you’ve not read the first three, because I’ll be handing out early copies of the entire novel edition. You won’t miss a thing! Anyway, before revealing the cover, further down below, a little reminder of what we’re talking about here…

The Rebound List – Coming out on 28th July 2014!

After nearly four years with Jeff, everything fell apart. I found myself single, scared, but somehow liberated as well. Rather than stumble into another ill advised relationship, my best friend Sally helped me find focus. I would spend the next few months “finding myself” sexually. That’s how The Rebound List was born.

My journey begins with the first item on my list – a virgin. But it’s not easy to go from squeaky-clean committed girlfriend to wanton sex goddess. Hopefully I’ll have the guts to follow through!

What (or whom) would you do to celebrate your freedom after your first serious relationship breaks down?

The Cover, at last!

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Photo-manipulation by Graphic Artist Cindy Grundsten, typography by yours truly 😉

Let me know what you think? And again, if you’d like to help out by beta-reading, or would be happy to read an early review copy, please let me know 🙂

First Anniversary: Just Another Day at the Office

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$0.99 / £0.99 / EUR0.99
Amazon | Kobo | Google Play

If you’re on the mailing list, or you’ve seen my Facebook page lately, you will have noticed I’m having a sale of one of my books, Just Another Day at the Office. If you’ve followed me for a while (or you are actually spying on what’s happening in my head), you might have noticed that this is the first time I’ve discounted this book. I’ve donated it to giveaways, I’ve given free copies away on my page. I have never sold it at a discount.

There’s a reason.

A look at my author page on Amazon reveals I have a bunch of books out. Except for the two Gratis Anthologies, they’re all fairly similar: cheap, cheerful, short. Just Another Day at the Office is my début novel, with the rest of my works being around 1/4th-1/5th the length. It’s my premium product, the thing I’m most proud of, because it’s the first (and currently only) work I have published which I can point to and say:

“Yes! I can write a novel. I can finish something.

Consequently, I am now discounting it for a reason as well. The story, which I first published as four individual parts, was completed a year ago on 23rd May 2013. It’s all too easy to forget these milestones, and I almost did if not for some advertising I had bought months ago, which I expected to use for something else. That something else isn’t ready yet, which actually turned out OK for me. It gave me a prod in the ribs to hurry up and do something with it, that’s a bit more meaningful than just push one of my freebies. As soon as I realised the timing, everything fell into place.

So this week for me is a time of reflection, even though I’m rushed off my feet to make this sale a success. It’s a time to realise that I’ve come quite far in a year, yet there’s always time for improvement.

I’ve made mistakes: I really should have written more last summer, instead I became lax after publishing Just Another Day at the Office, the full edition and paperback. I should’ve figured out how to advertise properly before too. But that’s OK, I’ve learned a lot anyway.

In 2012 I dipped my toes in and published one short story. In 2013 I wrote a novel and a few more bits and bobs. I also got involved in my first collaboration with other writers, in the form of the first Gratis Anthology, which was a raving success. In 2014 I’ll finish my second novel and like to think that I have generally upped my game with improved covers, and a more level headed approach to advertising.

Things are heading in the right direction, let’s see what the rest of the year will bring!

Why Authors Keep Bitching about Reviews

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry, because I know I’m guilty of this: constantly asking, even begging for reviews.

I know it’s annoying, because I don’t always feel like leaving a review for books I’ve read either. I worry about what to write, and whether my review will look stupid among all the others which invariably seem cleverer to me. But there’s a good reason for my irritating behaviour, I promise…

Why Reviews Mean Everything

What do writers want? To write and sell books. Not necessarily to make money, but to fund future book projects. In order to be able to write (and have our work read by people, rather than sitting around on our computers in complete obscurity), we need to have some money to put into our books. Whether it’s for cover art, editing, promotion, gifts. It’s almost impossible to make it in this business if you don’t invest anything into your books.

So, how do we sell books? We rely on our existing readers to buy our new releases, and we try to grow our readership by making it easy for our books to be found by people who’ve never heard of us before.

How do we get found? Dumb luck is too unreliable, so the answer is: advertising.

How do we advertise? When a reader finds us via our advertising, how do we make our book attractive enough to buy?

Some Facts about Advertising

  1. Not every advertising service actually works
  2. The ones that do work, won’t accept books without a proven track record
  3. They choose to measure the success of a book by its reviews
  4. Even if your book gets accepted without any or with few reviews, any reader who clicks on it, is going to feel nervous parting with their money, if they don’t trust the reviews
  5. Because it has to be said: Buying reviews is bad, so there’s no easy way out but to somehow encourage real people to leave real reviews
  6. Amazon (and perhaps other retailers as well), are rumoured to give more prominent placement of books with lots of good reviews.
  7. Think about how you buy books? Given the choice between two interesting titles, do you go for the one with no reviews or the one with 100 of them, and a 4.5 star average?

Together with having a good-looking cover, and a convincing product description, plus attractive price, reviews are a crucial part of turning a book that looks like nobody wants it into one which people are willing to spend on.

So, while I apologise for being pushy and annoying, asking for reviews, I hope this information explains my motivation behind it. And I hope next time you read a book, whether one of mine, or another author’s, you remember some of what I’ve said, and leave them a review. Even if it’s just a couple of sentences outlining what you liked about it. You’ll be contributing directly to that author’s career by doing so. And they’ll appreciate it, so much.

Happy Monday!

This Monday morning, I feel refreshed. I may be at work, and have a ton of stuff to finish this week, but things feel right. It helps that I’m basically on my own today (a colleague who never speaks barely counts as company), so the peace & quiet is refreshing.

For those of you who don’t follow me much on Facebook, I’ve had a very trying few weeks at the day job. It’s been so busy I barely know what to work on first, and as a result my personal life and I suppose my writing has suffered. On Friday, I was so fed up with it all, I abandoned my long to-do list and went home at 5 sharp. I didn’t care anymore. If I stayed late and finished everything, there’d be more to take its place by Monday.

I thought once I get home, sit in front of the TV, complain about how tired I am and fall asleep by about 10 pm, I’d have two days of nothingness in front of me. Two days of sitting around, letting the hours pass by, before heading straight back into work for the last four days before a much needed holiday. That didn’t happen. This is probably a good moment to explain that I am boring as fuck in real life. So is the hubby. We usually don’t go anywhere and an “active” weekend means we’ve done a bit of home improvement or taken a vehicle to be serviced.

Instead, the hubby suggested something crazy and out of character on Saturday. We should go clothes shopping. To illustrate just how insane it is for him to consider such an activity, nevermind to be the driving force behind it, allow me to give some examples of his attitude towards shopping and clothes in general:

  1. He NEVER throws anything away: some of his clothes actually belonged to his dad. 
  2. He is terrible at making decisions, in the rare event that he does buy an item of clothing, he generally can’t choose which colour to go for, so ends up with both.
  3. Online shopping was invented specifically for him so he doesn’t have to go out and deal with other shoppers, or inconveniences such as having to walk from shop to shop.
  4. He’s picky and never likes anything anyone else buys for him, but will generally wear it anyway because it’s a better option than having to go out and shop for himself.

So yeah. After I had already tired myself out trimming the hedge in our front garden (a convenient excuse to be outside spying on our new neighbours, who were just moving in – yep I’m one of those people, apparently), the simple phrase “I need some clothes.” got me disproportionately excited and off we went. Four hours later, our feet ached and we were on the way back with more stuff than I ever expected anyone to buy in a single shopping trip. It seems he caught a bit of holiday fever: the urge to go out and buy new outfits specifically to wear on holiday. And it’s contagious, because now I’ve got it too. 😛

Still feeling all enterprising and stuff on Sunday, we took the cruiser out for a lovely ride through the countryside. Amazing how sometimes a weekend of rest can make you feel more drained than one spent out and about. We’re travelling to Italy on Good Friday, and I’m hopeful that a similar thing will happen throughout the holiday. The plan is to mainly just see a lot of places, there’s not much room for downtime until we’re back on the 27th.

BTW: I’m not going to be online much from the 18th until the 27th, so if you’re going to get in touch during that time, please don’t think I’m ignoring you.

Stranger (The Rebound List Part 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. This excerpt, as well as any other parts of the same story which I may have shared previously are all part of the book The Rebound List

FREEBIE! (Holding On, and the rest of Gratis)

gratis2-boxsetsmallThe day is finally here! Gratis : New Beginnings, an erotic story anthology I’ve been involved in is officially live. And the best bit is, the ebook is free.

Summary:

After the well-received Gratis: Midwinter Tales, published in December last year, familiar as well as new names present a hot-off-the-press collection of quality erotic literature to follow in its footsteps. Gratis: New Beginnings is a refreshing look at the as yet young year in all its glorious potential. Themes of rejuvenation, redemption and personal growth mingle with the tantalising imagery and intense emotion our existing readers are already familiar with.

Spring is a time perfect for falling in love or lust and the ten authors of Gratis: New Beginnings are keen to sweep you up in their erotic fantasies. This collection contains stories by Erzabet Bishop, M.J. Carey, Km Dylan, Jason Jaxx, Kay Jaybee, Livilla Sanders, L. Moone, Molly Synthia, Chloe Thurlow and Elizabeth Woodham.

My own contribution is something a little different, titled Holding On.

Five years as a sexchat operator have been more than enough for Charlotte. She can’t wait to leave it all behind: the late nights, the dirty talk and the mouthbreathers on the other end of the line.

But there’s a little hitch, a hiccup in her plan. There’s one client she would rather not quit talking to…

Download totally and utterly free of charge now:

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