(not titled as of yet)
The simmering heat of his eyes kept her standing there, mesmerized, even though everything she believed in was screaming for her to move, to leave, to start running in the opposite direction, as far way as possible from this dark man with the bluest of eyes. And then he spoke...just a whisper at first, a sound so faint she was sure she imagined it, but her name was called again, air leaving his lips and fleeting across the space dividing them to touch hers. "Katherine..."
The sound activated voice recorder blinked twice and shut itself off after a prolonged silence. With a sigh and a splash the blonde head that dictated the stream of words into its electronic memory sunk beneath the bubbly surface of the large whirpool tub. Two seconds later it emerged with an even louder splash, the sound activating the device again only for it to obidiently shut itself off again after a few moments. The woman was in her mid-twenties, strawberry-blonde hair slicked back with water, bright green eyes pensively disregarding the surface of the water they were staring at. Alexandra Foster, a best-selling author of quality romance novels, was miserable. Not even a hot bath helped, the muse was silent tonight.
She let her head fall against the wall of the tub and closed her eyes. No sense in forcing herself, she'd only get more agitated. She knew what the problem was, the mood was upon her again. The foreboding feeling that she was running out of time, that she was doing the wrong thing the wrong way, that something was just not right. With a soft growl she snapped her eyes open, angrily whipping her head in an attempt to clear her thoughts. What the hell was wrong with her? Why couldn't she just enjoy her life now that she's achieved mostly everything she set out for? She had money, plenty of it. Fame, fortune, good looks. With a self deprecating smile she admited to herself again that the Pulitzer she was aiming for in college was probably not going to happen, but that wasn't important anymore anyway. And yet, yet she felt... bare. No sense in using flowery words to deceive herself, to try and rationalize away the unsettling emptiness that resided deep inside her, she knew she was not happy. With another sigh she gave in to the melancholy she knew she was unable to fight off. It should pass soon enough, few days of moping around and she'll be good as new again.
Resting her arms on the edges of the tub a slight movement caught her eye. Dozen multicolored candles strewn on the floor surrounding the bathtub cast soft light across the room and she could see steam rising off her arm as it rested on the cool enamel. She was mesmerized by the coiling tendrils of smoky vapor, rolling over the smooth skin of her forearm very much like fog would cascade over dreary hills in the middle of the stormy night in one of Stephen King novels. It was a sensual sight and she caught herself wondering if one could cause the same effect while making love... Would it be possible to arouse a passion so strong, heat the air between two bodies with such desire that sensual sweat would leap off slick skin with a rush, blending with air in soft, white mist...
She jumped out of the tub, dousing candles and drenching the expensive electric device, leaving wet inprints as she rushed to her writing room. Heedles of the mess she was creating, she thumped down into her worn-in leather chair with a sloshing sound and turned on her computer. Hours later, completely dry and grinning from ear to ear, she will peel her nude behind from wet leather and go to bed, satiated by her muse, her misgivings forgotten again...
Alex opened the door to her editor's office with a gliding step and stopped, victorious, in the doorway. The shit-eating grin from last night was still on her face as she fanned her face with a floppy disk in an exaggarated posse of nonchalance. Ephiny looked up from her screen, peering inquiringly over the rim of her glasses, supressing an exasparated sigh.
Writers! They act like children, never meet their deadlines and when they, for once, actually do what they are paid handsomly to do, they expect everyone to bow in awe and defference to them. Ha! "If you are here to complain about the air-conditioning system, you have the wrong person. Mike the handy man is in the basement." Retruning her attention to the computer screen she continued "If you have something to tell me, please come in, shut the door and get that stupid smile of your face."
Non-pulsed by the other woman's response, Alex plopped down with unnerving lack of grace in the chair across from Ephiny. Ephiny, after all, was her best friend, the only one if she cared to admit that. The older woman never failed to tell Alex exactly what she thought of her, her writing, her lack of sex-life, and the world in general. A great trait in an editor and absolutely indisposable in a friend.
The story of their relationship, both personal and professional, almost read as one of her books. She was but a wee-lad, a junior in college working dilligently on her journalism diploma, when she entered a bet. One of her roomates, whom she relentlesly teased about reading "StarTrek Voyager" fan-fiction on the internet, told her that she would never be able to write anything more compelling than the stories posted on any number of web sites dedicated to the subject. One thing Alex could never resist was a dare. And so she did some research and, content, wrote a story full of intrigue, suspense ... and hot sex between two main female characters. The latter was done tongue-in-cheek, fuly aware of her roomates propensities toward tall, bodacious blondes, not because she herself had any interest in the subject. Or so she thought at the time...
Either way, her story got posted on the web-site she submited it at, and then another one, and another one, and before she knew, her email account became clogged with messages of praise from avid fans. She won the bet and the grudging respect of her roomate, but soon her audience was clamoring for more. She wrote anohter story, enjoying the lack of restrictions it gave her, no boundaries of facts and evidence to restrain her creative streak. It became a hobby, a guilty indulgence she reveled in, dedicating weekend nights to writing, her fan base spreading like wild-fire through cyber-space. And then came the call from Ephiny Demetris, founder of a small publishing agency, Amazon Books. Ephiny had read Alex's stories and was taken by her style. Good business woman that she is, she had Alexandra signed up with a book deal before she could say "Engage!".
Alex's writing skill, backed by strong support of her web fans, soon took the market by surprise. The women developed a good working rappaport, Ephiny's logical mind a perfect balance to Alex's dreamy demeanor. Once Ephiny got over the fact that Alex would only write about what "she knew first-hand", namely men. An unlikely match, two fiery pesonalities blended into a unique friendship based on trust and respect and genuine affection. Alex remembered when her first book, "Desparate Love", hit the 500, 000 mark, only eight months after it was published. It was a sensational success, a Cinderella rise to stardom for both ahe and Amazon Books.
It was right about that time she had realized she had a big crush on her good friend. She could only thank the graces that Ephiny was in a commited, happy, long-term relationship because Alex was sure she would have acted on her feelings and that would have been ... bad. Bad in a very stimulating way, she was sure, but bad nonetheless. She did have the good brains to realize soon enough that she wasn't in love with Ephiny, she just lusted after her. Badly. But then she just took all that pent-up, well, lust, and poured it into her next work "Forbidden Desire". It featured a heterosexual couple, of course, but writing it still served as a catharsis for Alex, she had poured all of her feelings, all of the overly frustrating fantasies into that book and it helped immensely. She got over her attraction and saw Ephiny for what she was - a very good friend, a person who was closer to her than anyone else, but that was it.
The book, on the other hand, was a smashing hit, Alex being hailed as a mix between Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins, but deeper. That made her chuckle. Ephiny, of course, had no idea. It had all worked out for the best, the book was a success, she and Ephiny were still great friends, and everyone was happy. Mostly. A movement in front of her made her blink, trying to focus.
Ephiny waved her hand before Alex's eyes again. "Well, jeez, don't get all pouty and pensive on me now, I was just teasing. Where are you off to, huh?"
Alex blinked again, trying to gather her thoughts. Ephiny couldn't help but laugh at her. As undeniably intelligent a woman Alexandra Foster was, when she was deep in thought she had the blankest, most blonde of expressions on her face. Which, Ephiny conceeded, was not a bad thing - many people were taken off guard by Alex's unforgiving wit after they had written her off as another dim blonde.
Back in present time, Alex settled on a half-truth. "I was just thinking about what kind of a soap-opera our relationship has been, Eph. Despite all the odds, we make a good team."
Ephiny leaned back in her chair taken aback by the seriousness in the younger woman's voice. She still had a hard time believing her good fortune. She knew talent when she saw it and signing Alex up was a no-brainer. What she didn't count on was the fact that the author stayed with her once she hit the big time. Alex was stubborn, spoiled and painfully aware of her value. She made editing an uphill battle every step of the way, and had very specific ideas about what book promotion should and should not include. She was a pain in the ass and she was one of Ephiny's best friends. She stayed with Amazon Books even after four years of incessant courting and ever-increasing offers from major publishers. Alex said that Ephiny is the only editor that she could ever deal with and that she didn't need any more money and that Amazon Books was there for her at the beginning and she was not leaving. Ephiny did not argue. The revenue she was getting from Alex's work made it possible for her to sign up and publish more minority writers. Yes, the two of them were a good team. Especially after Alex got over her "crush-on-my-editor" stage.
"Yeah we do Sunny. And you know why? - cause I make sure you ass is in gear. So, that better be a new chapter you are waving there." Alex smiled at Ephiny's use of her nickname. During their editing sessions both women would liberaly disperse verbal assaults upon each other as a very useful way to dispel tension and cattyness. Eventually each woman settled with one and eventually transformed it into a term of endearment. "Sunny", in this case, was supposed to convey that Alex was nothing more than a bleached-blonde beach bunny. Which, of course, she wasn't - her hair was naturally blonde.
"Well, butch, don't worry your prettly little lesbian head about it. I got it all here, steamy sex scene and all." Again the adjective was slightly off - Ephiny, with her shoulder-length curly blonde hair and Anne Taylor power suits, was not the most butch of women.
She rolled her eyes with a guffaw. "Hah! Not too steamy, I hope. I still remember the last time you got carried away."
Alex flipped the disk onto the desk in front of Ephiny and sighed theatrically, but failed to contain the redness spreading across her cheeks. "Oh, my, god, it has been two years now. How much longer are you going to milk this?"
Alex's work centered on the theme of great, devouring passion, love and need so encompassing and consuming her characters were mindless puppets, having no choice but to give in to their destinies. Alex, never having herself been privy to such feelings - tepid passion at best, used her vivid imagination to conjure for the reader all she thought true love should be. Every now and then, while under the influence of the muse, she would really use her imagination during love scenes, leaving herself breathless and frustrated. Then she would go back and edit it, toning it down to a more "public-friendly" content. One time she had forgotten to do that and had dropped off her disk with Ephiny, not realizing her omission until Ephiny showed up at her office twenty minutes later, flushed and...well, impressed. After she had recited contet policy to the blushing and groaning Alex, she had stepped up and slapped her on the shoulder, much in the locker-room fashion, and uttered a breathless "Wow!" before walking out.
"How long?" Ephiny sounded incredulous. "Sweetie, I have a copy of it secured in my safety-deposit box. I intend to cash-in on this at some point."
"Ah, can it, butch. It wasn't that bad." Quickly raising her hand to cut off any further comments from her editor she continued "And besides, I have something to talk to you about." Ephiny was still smirking, but she was listening. "Randomly enough, I received a letter from Ms. magazine asking me to do a story for them." When all she got from Ephiny was an inquiring raised eyebrow, she continued. "Well, you know that they like my strong, able, feminist heroines..." an eye roll from Ephiny "...so they wanted me to write an expose on this female NASCAR driver. Apparently she's one of only four women in the circuit and is steadily climbing higher and higher. I haven't read all they sent me yet, but it seems she's good enough that the corporate boys are still willing to sponsor her even after some sort of controversial crash she was involved in. What do you think?"
This, my dear friends, was going to be my first collaboration piece. If it may not be evident as of yet - it didn't quite work out. A friend of mine was going to write the Uber-Xena character who was going to be this charizmatic and indelibly fucked-up Nascar driver, and I was going to play with the mind of Miz Alexandra Foster. Sadly, neither of us know jack (nor Matt) about Nascar or car racing so, instead of taking flight, this idea took a dive. Yet, I don't think Nascar's been done yet, so this might prove to be an interesting idea if anyone out there's willing to play with it.
Started - Spring-ish 2000
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