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By de Vere

From de Vere’s upcoming collection of short stories, LET: Tales of Love, Eros and Taboo. Some are true stories, some are fiction. Some are aspirational. You decide which are which.

The names have been changed to protect the naughty.

Writers live to write.

The act of crafting words to be printed on paper for people to read in bedrooms, on airplanes, on a sweaty recliner on some tropical beach, that is what we do. But simply writing a book—no matter how good, how captivating, how salacious—that does not put a book into a reader’s hands. This mercantile task requires marketing, a chore authors loathe. I certainly did, early in my career. The book signings, the interviews, the travel to small towns only large enough for a bookstore where the locals considered an author reading from his book to be quality entertainment. That is the universally-hated bane of an author’s existence.

That changed, though. Certainly in a way not anticipated.

Following a moderately-successful series of crime stories and historical novels, the idea for a sexually-charged crime story came to me in a moment of true inspiration. I ruminated for months about how it might be possible to craft a whodunit where the body of the victim is discovered, but that victim is still alive. Suddenly it came to me nearly fully-formed.

That is how my novel Inside Pandora’s Box came to be, and soon a different type of audience came out to hear me speak or sign their copy at book fairs or Barnes & Noble. Less gray-haired, less male. This book reached women, touching something deep inside, and my personal appearance audiences soon morphed into mothers of school-age children, lonely divorcees, those who had nursed spring-break hangovers Inside Pandora’s Box while in college.

Women less interested in how the mysterious body came to rest inside the eponymous box, instead, the tales of forbidden love, the tragic romance that drove the crime fascinated them. Strangely, that is the part I enjoyed writing most, a love they felt steaming from the pages. Fewer people asked about the crime. All they cared about was about the lovers. Even the most taboo aspects of the entwined love stories spellbound these women.

This prospect never occurred to me while writing. What I had hoped would not overly offend—what I call the ick-factor—instead aroused something deep and dark in women living desperately unfulfilled suburban lives, an unsuspected demographic who devoured that book and each one that followed. And I discovered another benefit to writing, one not financial.

The first one I bedded was a slender, fortyish brunette with crystal blue eyes named Margaret. During an early version of my bookstore presentation before a crowd of perhaps thirty, she asked, “When you are writing your love scenes, are you thinking of women in your life, or are they purely imaginary?”

“If it is possible for a man to conjure a realistic woman purely from his imagination, I have not met him. Mine are rarely based upon one woman, typically a combination of two or three living, breathing women. Old girlfriends, ex-wives,” the crowd laughed, imagining which traits of my villainous characters those exes inspired, “friends. Between marriages, I surrounded myself with a group of interesting women, though not romantically.”

“Although from time to time some interest arose. I enjoy the company of women, but in that season of my life, I needed the connection, not the sex. Several made their way into one of my characters in one way or another. I guess you can say my characters are literary brides of Frankenstein. Which, I suppose, explains a lot.”

Margaret and I sipped coffees at a little coffee shop down the block, knowing neither really wanted coffee. The first of her children were not expected home from school until four, her husband much later, so we spent the rest of the morning and much of the afternoon in a hotel.

From the way she appreciated the time with my face buried between her legs, I suspect years had passed since she last experienced kisses there. Nor had she swallowed her husband’s seed since before her first child was born—that much she told me, lying in bed while I played with one erect nipple after she sucked mine down as if drinking the most delicious vanilla milkshake from a straw.

I know a gold mine when I see one. I developed a sixth sense in picking them out the moment they arrived, before they had chosen a seat the stores set aside for presentations. Tall, thin blondes resembling Cheyenne, the book’s seductive mystery woman. Busty, well-dressed housewives wishing they had the balls of Priscilla, the main character’s bitchy wife. Once a gorgeous Latina showed up wearing nursing scrubs, exactly as another of my characters.

Needless to say, it pleased me to no end when she told me she had just completed a twelve-hour shift at the hospital nearby.

“The worst part,” she explained, “is I can never sleep during the day, and no Giresun Escort one’s around to spend my days with.”

Of course, that afternoon I kept Yasmin company, taking turns sharing ideas about how the main male character in the book would have entertained himself with the Latina nurse character. She took the role-playing all the way, and I had no objection. She even dug a traditional nurse’s dress from her closet, changing into it the moment we arrived at her apartment, which I insisted she wear as she straddled me and took me inside of her.

Eventually, though, the thick polyester fabric keeping my hands from the flesh of her breasts grew tiresome. And those B-cups felt incredible in my hands and to my lips. But the memory of her olive skin against the pure white of that nurse’s dress, long, dark hair falling over the shoulders as she moved her hips slowly up and down is the one that often returs to me at night.

Their questions gave themselves away. The woman who asked whether it is necessary to have a threesome in order to write about one. The women who delved into the taboo love stories. When they ask about the characters as real people or, better yet, as myself, those were the ones who slipped me a piece of paper with a phone number while I signed their books.

One girl was nothing like that.

Her red hair shone like a beacon sitting in a relatively large crowd at a bookstore in Athens, Georgia. She also stood out due to her age. College students rarely attend book signings even in these college towns, making her unique among the lovely women in their thirties and forties in the crowd.

Although she asked no questions, she hung on every word, sky-blue eyes following my every move. Disarmingly disguised by a bookish appearance, a nerdy look cultivated by large, black-frame glasses which, if intended to minimize her beauty, achieved quite the opposite effect. She noticed how frequently my eyes drifted back to her, although for quite a different reason than the brunette in front whose carefully-selected blouse distracted me with an awesome display of cleavage.

Sherry was her name. A real estate agent, from the card she slipped to me with her cell number circled. A tight little butt, too, noticeable when she walked away from the autograph table with a flirty, personal message inscribed inside.

I had begun imagining an afternoon with Sherry showing me homes in the area, hopping onto a granite counter top to ask, See anything you like?

“Hi. My name’s Virginia. I so love your books. I’ve read all of them.”

“Thank you, Virginia. Beautiful name. Which is your favorite?”

“This one.” The nerdy redhead slipped a well-worn paperback in front of me to autograph. “I don’t have to buy one today for you to sign, do I?”

“Of course not. I’ll sign anything for a fan, although,” I glanced back at those eyes framed in black plastic, slightly distorted by lens glass, “I did not expect people your age to read this. If I had, I might have spared a few details.”

Indignantly, she asked, “How old do you think I am?”

The most-feared question a woman can ask. Typically I guess low, careful of the fragile, middle-aged egos of women I wished to entertain after an event, but it is just as tricky with younger women. Her face had some maturity, but the diffident expression of a teenager, loose clothing over an impossibly thin body that made her modest breasts seem large. So I guessed a year or two higher than I really believed. “A junior in high school?”

Her eyes narrowed and her face reddened. “Off by four years. A junior in college.” Defensively producing a UGA ID card bearing her photo which she slid back too quickly for me to see her entire birthdate, just the year indicating she was either nineteen or twenty.

“Sorry. Someday you will be thrilled when people underestimate your age, but that’s likely a few years off yet. Remember me when you are forty and someone asks for your ID when buying a bottle of wine.” I slid her book back, which she read while the woman behind her placed a brand-new copy of that same book down for me to sign.

“A book’s characters only age if the author allows them to. Thank you for your dedication, and may my future works continue to bring you enjoyment.” she read aloud. “Can I ask you a favor?”

Still embarrassed for humiliating a college student by calling her a high-school girl, while signing the next woman’s book, I answered, “Ask away!”

“I am studying to be a writer, too. English Lit. I’ve never had a chance to meet an author. Well, besides one professor, but he writes boring shit. Not like your books. Yours make me feel, you know?”

“Thank you, but I have to see someone this afternoon.”

“I can buy you lunch. I have so many questions, about your inspiration, how you make readers care about your characters.”

Something about the way she asked made it impossible to say no. I pitied the helpless frat boys at the university, although Giresun Escort Bayan she had yet to harness her powers. That would come with time. Besides, there would still be plenty of time during the afternoon for the lovely realtor to show me the master bedrooms of a few houses. “You drive a hard bargain, Virginia. Pick a restaurant, but I well remember my student days. My treat. Can you get good Thai nearby?”

Indeed, Athens offered several Thai restaurants we passed as she drove her silver Miata with me tailing close as I could in my less-nimble car. The place she chose was a bit pricey for a college budget, so I suspected she took advantage of my offer. After the excellent satay, I did not care.

After I ordered green curry, Virginia asked the waitress which of their curries is their hottest. Told it is the red one, she ordered, “Than I will have that.”

“Make mine the same.” To her quizzical expression, I replied, “You only live once, right?”

She asked insightful questions, the kind expected from a student who chose to major in English Lit. for reasons other than a career teaching high school English, as she explained her mother was. Why I chose certain situations in my books, the themes, symbolism I assumed went unnoticed by readers drawn more by the salacious aspects of the novels. Finally, after the scorching curries arrived, I asked what aspect of my novels appealed to her most.

Virginia has the most delicate porcelain skin, the kind that flushes a brilliant crimson in splotches. Skin only redheads possess. “Honestly?”

“Of course.”

“The sex scenes. I mean, they are the first ones I ever read. At least ones that dark yet are still so hot. The darkness—that is what drew me in. I suppose everyone tells you that.”

“More than a few,” I answered. Men, women, even teenage girls caught in the same vortex.

“Are they the most fun to write?”

“They are the most fun to research, I will admit that.”

“They feel so real, so raw. Just the way I imagine it.”

Her strange phrasing caused me to instinctively ask, “What do you imagine?”

“Sex.” It seemed impossible, but her face took on a brighter, vermillion shade. “The name Virginia—it’s true.”

What colors appeared on my face? I choked on a scorching mouthful of curry, chased down by a gulp of Thai tea. “This curry sure is hot.”

“Sorry. TMI. I know.”

“Just not what I expected from our lunch.”

Watching me as she dabbed her lips with a cloth napkin, none of the bright pink worn away. Studying her face closely, for the first time aware that she wore makeup only around her eyes. Nothing else. “My parents had all your books. Growing up I loved to read. I was about fourteen when I read Pandora, just a little older than Connor and Jenn.”

She spoke of the main characters as real people. “That part, at first it disgusted me. So much I stopped reading it for a week or two. But I kept thinking about it, and after a while I picked it back up and reread that whole section. This time, knowing the shocking part, it felt so natural. Beautiful, even. So, I continued reading. By the end, I just wanted them to get together.”

“Reread the whole thing last summer. This time, knowing everything made it even hotter. I couldn’t be more different from Jenn if I’d been born a thousand years ago on some South Pacific island, but I wished I had that one person who would always be a part of me, a man I was born to be with.”

“And you may. You’re still only twenty.”

“Nineteen,” she corrected. “Born December 19th.”

“Nine months to the day after I turned twenty-one. Are you sure this is not something you’d rather experience with a boy more your age?”

“I don’t want a boy. I want the man who wrote the love scenes that turned me on in my room when I was in high school—back when all the boys teased me for looking like a middle-schooler.”

“And for that, you wish to give me the gift a woman can only give once?”

“Maybe I’ve been waiting for you.”

“And reality is not disappointing?”

“You are prettier in person than your photos. And more intense than I imagined.”

“Should we finish our lunch?”

“To tell the truth, I cannot eat a thing,” she answered. “My stomach is all nervous.”

“That hotel at the end of the block—is it nice?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t much reason to visit hotels. But didn’t you have an appointment this afternoon?”

“Something much more important just came up. And I have a feeling it is something I will remember far longer than any other way I could spend the rest of the day.”

“It’s freezing,” she said as I shut the door to room 211 behind us. Other than a hand on her shoulder a couple of times—getting in the car, entering our room—otherwise I still had not touched her. A vague sense of unease impossible to put a finger on. So, I came out and asked.

“Look, this will not sound very romantic, and I swear when you are my age Escort Giresun this is meant only as a compliment. But before we drink this wine, I want to make sure….”

“Remember, I’m not twenty-one, so….”

“Right,” I said, embarrassed.

“It’s legal to drink in Georgia if you have parental consent. And I do. My mother says wine is fine, just no hard liquor. And no more than two beers at parties.” Smiling, she added, “Sometimes I have three, but I think my secret is safe with you. But this is not about drinking, is it.”

“You got me.”

Without a word, she fished around her purse, producing a driver’s license which she handed me. It bore the same date she told me.

“You don’t closely resemble an older sister, do you?”

“For your information, my only sister is younger than me. Neither she nor my brother look anything like me. I have my father’s eyes, and they have jet black hair. It’s me. I will not lie to you.”

“Sorry, I….” Before finishing, she saved me from further embarrassment with a kiss, standing on tip-toes. Lips soft as a cloud. I pulled her close. I bet she did not weigh a hundred pounds soaking wet. After a few tentative kisses, her tongue flicked mine with surprising intensity, letting me know how serious she was. Not that I doubted, because everything about her felt serious, in curious and intoxicating contradiction to her youthful appearance. Kissing vehemently. Any doubts melted away in that kiss.

“You kiss magnificently,” I whispered in her ear before nibbling on her neck.

“When everyone knows you are a virgin, you learn other ways unless you want to be a social pariah.”

“Were you a pariah?”

“Still am. See, I promised not to lie to you.”

Soon we were rolling around on the bed, my hand up under her shirt savoring the warm, smooth skin of her taut back. No strap crossed her back, so those breasts pushing against her shirt had to be unbelievably firm. She rolled away enough for me to find out. Not large by any means, but they filled my hand pleasingly.

Offering no resistance, I rolled her onto her back and pulled her shirt up enough to kiss the pale skin of her concave stomach. Without a word, her hands raised over her head, signaling me to pull it off. Truly incomparable breasts lay before me, or should I say stood, because they refused to lay flat, almost like she’d had a boob job although obviously she had not. Hers were pristine, with nipples an impossibly bright pink.

Her tiny waist and pale skin for a moment made her look like an elf. I kissed her breasts to keep myself from saying something stupid. At first her body heaved silently, but she soon forgot herself, letting go of her effort to act casual and began moaning.

When I started to undo her jeans, she stopped me. “Not before you take something off. I don’t want to be naked while you’re still fully dressed. Let’s start with that shirt.”

So, I let her undress me before I pulled her jeans down over slim hips, then the purple thong. For a while we lay there just touching each other. There is something so mesmerizing about a redhead that simply looking at one’s nude body is almost satisfying enough in itself.

Red is nature’s warning color, signaling danger. Coral snakes, the hourglass on a black widow, the rim of every leaf on a vine of poison ivy, fire coral. Enter at your own risk.

If you find slender bodies attractive, hers is flawless. I love slender bodies. But she did not ask me here to merely run my fingers through fiery curls or gaze at breasts shaken ever so perceptibly by each rapid throbbing of her heart.

Starting at her lips, leaving saliva on most of her upper body as I worked my way down, until reaching the wild, red patch. I pulled a lock with my lips, pinching a couple off with my teeth, swallowing them to make her a part of me as I was about to become forever a part of her. Then I pushed her legs apart.

Her moist warmth welcomed me. I kissed her with a few gentle licks before setting into her with the kind of tongue-lashing only a man with decades of experience could give her. Now she abandoned all pretense, moaning loudly, thrusting unpracticed hips at me, quivering with a small cry when she came.

After a second orgasm only a few minutes later, she pulled me up to her face and kissed her juices off me. Long, slender fingers squeezed my cock. Then she pushed me onto my back and began kissing down my chest to my stomach. That is when I stopped her.

“It may hurt. You’ll want me to finish quickly, and my first time is the quickest. But I do want it—after.”

I wanted her on top, but she insisted I take her. Not bearing to see any pain on her face, so I kissed her, moving down to her neck, then with my cheek against hers, slowly pushed upward until she was no longer a virgin.

And I did finish quickly. Something about this whole afternoon, this lovely girl with a body like a work of art made me perform more like a boy her age. Afterward, I told her to lie still while I went to the bathroom, returning with a warm washcloth to wipe away the bright, crimson stains from her thighs dripping down to her tiny behind. She did the same for me, cleaning my body of all evidence of her defilement. After that, we held each other.

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