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Read the first 3 chapters of Online by Madeleine Taylor!

This erotic novella will be out on 28/02/2020 and is now available for pre-order.

Online-Kindle

 

Chapter 1

The green light flashes on and her picture appears. My reaction is always the same; a strange sense of excitement deep in my core that makes me restless and desperate for her attention. We’re in different time zones and far apart, with me living in Los Angeles and her life being in Quebec, but we always seem to be online at the same time. I don’t know if her name or her profile picture are real but mine are. I only use my first name, Valerie, and she goes by Syd.

If the profile picture is indeed real and recent, Syd looks to be in her late thirties. She has dark, pixie-cut hair and the most spectacular light blue eyes. I always thought they were colored lenses—the shade so startlingly blue—before she assured me, during one of our rare non-book related talks when it was just us in the book club’s forum, that they were real. Her high cheekbones and defined jawline give off a European vibe, but the scant information I could find on her profile tells me she’s Canadian.

My profile picture is fairly recent. It was taken after my long and painful divorce on a celebratory night out, and I look as happy as I felt that evening—finally free from the man who cheated on me for years. Now single, Ellen, my best friend, decided it was the perfect time for me to start online dating and told me I needed a good picture for that. It’s only a headshot, just like hers. My long dark hair is pulled up into a topknot and I’m wearing a black turtleneck and only a little make up, as my dark eyes and eyebrows don’t require much. Being half Hawaiian, I have my mother’s exotic features, tanned skin and heart-shaped face, and after going through a phase of bleaching my hair in my twenties, the color is natural again.

Our book club consists of twenty members from all over the world, all of us a mixture of ages and with very little in common apart from one thing: we all love to read lesbian erotica. It’s been my guilty pleasure ever since I bought the wrong book online by accident, mistaking my purchase for something with the same title. I did think the cover of The Red Room looked a little different from the type of book I usually buy, but tired and grumpy after waiting up for my husband, who didn’t come home that night, I purchased it without thinking. I remember laughing to myself when it arrived on my screen, noticing the explicit cover and that the author was someone called Sadie London instead of Mark Finsburgh. One look and it was patently obvious it had nothing to do with anger management coaching on the work floor. Scanning through it, I got curious and like a woman starved of attention started reading it. The Red Room soon woke up parts of my body I’d neglected for years and since that day, I’ve been reading one lesbian erotica book after another, and still can’t seem to get enough of them.

No one knows this hidden side of me, apart from the nineteen other members of my book club. The website isn’t very well known, and the chat element is closed, so I feel safe to discuss my newfound passion with likeminded enthusiasts. The main reason I keep coming back religiously each night though, is Syd.

Of course, I’ve thought long and hard about my fascination with her. She’s attractive—again, if her profile picture is real—but there’s also something personal in the way she communicates with me and it makes me feel special. I know that sounds sad, but I haven’t exactly been dating much, too consumed with reading after work and frankly right now, I’d take lesbian erotica over a date with a man any day.

I’m not even sure if I’m still into men as I clearly don’t have much interest in them. When I was still married our sex life wasn’t exactly sizzling, and even before things started going south between us, I never enjoyed having sex as much as my friends claimed they did. Perhaps that’s why I like reading about good sex instead because, contrary to the real deal, it turns me on.

‘Valerie.’

Syd typing my name is enough to make my pulse race. ‘Syd  🙂,’ I reply.

‘It seems like it’s just us again. Did you finish the book?’

‘Yes. In one day. I liked it. Well written and very hot. Did you?’

‘I did. Cherry reminded me of you, in a way.’

I frown, wondering how she came to that conclusion, because honestly Cherry, the protagonist in our latest book club read, reminded me of myself too. ‘Why?’ I ask.

‘Not sure. The bad-ass job, maybe, and you seem to use the same language. Her description fits your profile picture too, so my mind just went there…’

It’s not so much what she types, but the three dots at the end that make me take in a quick breath. We’re not supposed to discuss anything other than the books we read in the group, so I phrase my reply carefully, the way we always do when we want to find out more about each other.

By now, I know she’s a tattoo artist and that she’s into running. In return, I told her I work as a CFO for a large electronics company and that I’m a wine enthusiast but that’s about it.

‘I guess I could relate to her because of her job. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much. I’m not exactly a blonde bombshell, though.’

‘I’ll have to disagree with that. Blonde, maybe not. A bombshell, most certainly.’

The comment makes me blush, and I look around, even though I know there’s no one left in the office. It’s 8 pm and most of my team members leave before seven, but because I had a late meeting and didn’t want to risk missing my precious half hour with her, I got back behind my desk in my corner office afterward, swapping my work phone for my private one. ‘Well, thank you,’ is all I can think of to say. Syd’s been on my mind a lot lately, and although I feel a little foolish for being so pre-occupied with someone who I don’t even know is real, it’s also been nice to have something to fantasize about again. Being an avid reader of lesbian erotica herself, I know there’s a good chance Syd is gay, and it’s a flattering thought that a beautiful woman might be into me.

I wait for a reply, and then it happens. I’ve been imagining this moment many times late at night in bed, when I can’t sleep and can’t stop thinking of her. Against all club rules, she sends me her personal email address and adds: ‘I’d like to continue this conversation in private’, before going offline.

I stare at it for a moment, not quite believing what she’s just done, then quickly copy it into my contacts before the mediator has the chance to remove it. We might get suspended for this, but I don’t care. My heart is beating steadily in my chest as I read her name in the email address. Sydney Heller. I don’t know why it feels like such a big deal to know her surname, but suddenly, nothing seems more important than sending her an email. I scan the office again and contemplate doing it here, but unsure of how long I’ll be waiting for her reply, I close my laptop and pack my bag instead. The traffic in LA will be fine at this time of night and I can be home in half an hour.

 

 

Chapter 2

‘Hi Syd,’ I type when I’m sitting on the couch after a shower. Reluctant to waste time driving around in search of food, I’ve settled for a glass of red wine and the leftovers of last night’s Thai take-out. I’m not hungry in the slightest, my nerves suppressing my appetite, but I force myself to eat something so I’m not drinking on an empty stomach. How do I continue? In theory, this should be easier than communicating face to face or in a group where everyone can see what we’re writing, but it’s not. I feel feverishly warm and open my robe a little, fanning my face with a magazine from the table.

Despite my reputation as a wild child when I was younger, sending this email seems like a reckless thing to do. Knowing she’ll be flirting with me when our exchange starts, my brain begins searching for something witty or intelligent to say, but nothing springs to mind—it’s all a blank—my mind suddenly void. What’s wrong with me? I lead a team of thirty in my day to day role and have no problem confidently consulting some of the most powerful people in my industry. In meetings or discussions, I’m always one step ahead of everyone else, yet sending a simple email seems terribly complicated right now. I curse when I almost drop my phone, and the two-word email is sent by accident in a clumsy scramble to catch it.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” The last of the three ‘fucks’ comes out as a cry when on top of everything, I spill wine over my silk robe, leaving a red stain on the delicate off-white fabric. Irritated, I quickly grab a dish towel to wipe myself off as a ping indicates a reply.

‘Hey, Valerie. I must say, you’ve been on my mind a lot lately. Is your profile picture real? You look beautiful.’

I feel flushed at her message and a twitch stronger than I’ve felt in years shoots between my thighs. The way my body reacts to her compliment surprises me. Still unable to think of anything amusing, I start typing the first thing that comes to mind.

‘Yes, it’s real. What about yours?’ My fingers tremble as I continue. ‘You’re very attractive yourself.’

Her reply again, is prompt. ‘Yes, it’s me. See pic attached. What are you doing right now?’ Almost choking with anticipation, I open the attachment, not sure whether to expect a dick pic as a result of being catfished by some cruel prankster or an actual picture of Syd. Relief washes over me when I see it’s an image of her. It looks like it’s been taken with a selfie stick, because I can see most of her. She’s sitting on a bed holding a bottle of beer. One of her arms is entirely covered in tattoos, and she’s wearing a white tank top and jeans, smiling into the camera, her piercing light blue eyes focused on the lens. She looks strong and toned, with small breasts and a slight curve at her hips. It’s the first time I’ve ever stared at a woman’s body like this and I can’t help but wonder what she would look like naked.

‘Nice picture. I’m on the couch, just got home.’

‘Perfect. I’m at home now too, and bored. I need you to distract me.’

A shiver runs through me as I reply. Are we really doing this? ‘Happy to help. What can I do for you?’

‘Well for starters, where’s my picture? I need proof too.’

I smile and take a selfie, wishing I’d freshened up before I started this. Cringing as I look at the wine stain splashed over my left breast, I send it anyway, not wanting her to think I’m trying too hard. ‘Here’s your proof.’

‘Cute. I like it J. What happened to your robe?

‘I spilled wine.’ Typing the words, I remember the still half-full glass on the coffee table and take a long drink, then fill it up again. Liquid courage is exactly what I need right now. This time, the reply doesn’t come straight away and I start to worry if my disheveled appearance in the picture has put her off. It wasn’t dissimilar from my profile picture, apart from my hair, which is down now but perhaps I should have rethought the robe? Finally, she gets back to me and my eyes widen as I read her message.

‘It looks wet. Maybe you should take it off.’

Initially, I’m shocked by her directness but deep down, it also arouses me. I should have seen this coming, of course. No one starts a flirty exchange without expecting it to turn sexy. I could always tell her I’ve taken it off, she can’t see me after all. But something makes me want to do it, and so I slide the silky fabric off my shoulders, leaving me in the pastel pink lace bra I’ve been wearing all day. ‘It’s off.’

‘I’m going to need proof of that too, I’m afraid.’

I laugh and shake my head. ‘Why would I send a half-naked picture of myself to a stranger? You could do anything with it.’

‘But I won’t. I promise I won’t, so just send me the picture.’

I bite my lip, contemplating her request while heat spreads between my thighs. It’s so not me, but then neither is being a member of a lesbian erotica book club. Knowing I’ll give in—because my body really, really wants this—I take another sip of wine so I can blame it on the alcohol if my picture ends up online. ‘You’d better keep this to yourself, Syd,’ I type, then take another picture of me in my bra. I’m not smiling in this one, but as I narrow my eyes and study myself, I notice I look aroused. It may not be obvious to her, as she doesn’t know me, but my own impassioned expression astounds me. My lips are parted, my eyes darker than normal and there’s even a hint of fear in them that could easily be mistaken for vulnerability, or shyness. Still, I send it and try not to think of the potential consequences of my irrational behavior.

‘Thank you. That’s very sexy… How about we play a game? It’s called I tell you what to do and you obey.’

I chuckle at her audacity and note that subtlety is not her strong point. ‘That doesn’t sound like a fair game to me.’

‘Maybe not, but it could be fun.’ She ends her message with a wink emoji. While I take my time contemplating her indecent proposal—wondering how I should reply—another email comes in. ‘Are you still there?’

‘Yes, I’m here,’ I type with trembling fingers.

‘Good. Because I want you to slide your hand into your bra. Feel your nipples harden under your touch. Roll them between your fingers and pinch them.’

I gasp as my eyes scan her message. I’m not used to people telling me what to do and she’s unapologetically bold and direct. I quickly type back.

‘Oh, we’ve started now, have we? I don’t remember agreeing to this.’

‘Just do as I say, and you’ll be rewarded. I promise.’

Part of me is afraid, but part of me also likes her demanding tone. If I’m doing anything on a Monday night, it might as well be this, and I surprise myself by following her command. My fingers skim my already hard nipples, the tips of which rose to attention the moment her first email came in. A small gasp escapes me as I pinch them, and my pussy twitches with arousal.

‘It feels good,’ I type with one hand.

‘I know it does. Now take off your bra and show me those nipples. I want to imagine my lips on them.’

My shaking hand covers my mouth and I stare at the screen for a long moment. This is getting out of hand, but by now I’m so turned on that I actually want to continue. I unclasp my bra at the back and let it fall off my shoulders, shivering at the breeze that blows in through the sliding glass doors. Cropping the picture I’ve hastily taken, I make sure only the bottom half of my face is in it so I can always deny that it’s me. Not bothering with a caption, I send it and again, it seems to take forever before she gets back to me.

‘Fuck. You are so hot.’

I smile and can feel myself blushing because it’s been a long time since someone has said that to me. ‘Where’s my topless picture?’ I daringly request.

‘Next time. I have to go. Send me your Messenger info, it’s much easier.’

‘What’s in it for me?’ I ask, suddenly kicking myself for sending semi-racy pictures of myself to a woman I don’t know. What if she sells them? What if she blackmails me? For someone in my position, I can’t risk having my reputation tainted.

‘You’ll find out soon enough. Expect a package at work tomorrow. Your reward.’

Adrenaline floods my system, and I’m feeling even more worried now. ‘How do you know where I work?’

‘Your email address, smart-ass J.’ Straight after, another email follows. ‘Bye. X’

“Damn it,” I say out loud. Why am I not thinking clearly this evening? Or rather, why am I not thinking at all? I rarely send private emails, and I realize I’ve used my work account which is connected to my personal devices too, without thinking. I immediately delete the emails and pictures, then down the rest of my wine. I’m not sure if I’m relieved or disappointed that she’s gone because, despite my concerns, I’m still incredibly turned on. Wishing I’d kept the picture she sent me, I slide my hand into my panties and gasp at how sensitive I am. Slowly, I trace two fingers up and down my flesh, moaning as I roll my hips. The need for release is strong and I move my fingers faster, almost frantically. It’s been too long, and my clit is throbbing as I circle it, my release loud as I cry out when my much-needed orgasm washes over me.

Basking in blissful relaxation, I stare up at the ceiling and realize I need more of this, more of her. I love the way she talks to me, the way she makes no excuses and simply tells me what she wants. Maybe I should just go with it, because it seems that the licentious fantasies I’ve had during my time in the book club are finally coming true…

 

 

Chapter 3

“Thank you, that will be all.” I close my laptop and gather my paperwork from the enormous oval table in the boardroom. My staff is leaving for lunch after our monthly briefing and I’m headed for the mail room. During our meeting, a message from the mail room supervisor came in, letting me know there was a parcel for me. It was hard to concentrate on my presentation—knowing it might be Syd’s package—and the two hours felt like they would never end.

Walking toward the elevators, I give a polite nod to a couple of co-workers and smile at the janitor I often talk to at night, when we’re the last ones left in the office. Our enormous office building is spacious and decorated in neutral colors, the sleek and modern design making it feel like a clinic at times. I don’t mind that; I like no-nonsense and dress accordingly. My pantsuits that are custom-made for my petite, but curvy body are like a uniform to me. I wear them to work every single day; a fitted black blazer that accentuates my slim waist, black palazzo pants, high heels and a black sleeveless turtleneck. It’s always a little on the chilly side here, in summer as well as in winter, and being uncomfortable is a waste of time.

A text message from my friend Ellen comes in, asking me if I want to go for dinner tonight. For a moment, the idea seems great, but then I remember last night’s exchange, and I change my mind, replying that I’m busy. I still need to send Syd my Messenger details, but I want to see what’s in the parcel first.

“What have you got for me, Pete?” I ask the mail room supervisor. Normally, I’d send my assistant to pick it up, but I’m a little apprehensive about what the packaging will look like and I don’t want her to make assumptions or ask questions. I’m relieved when Pete presents me with a neutral black box, laced with a pink ribbon that is tied into a perfect bow on the top. Thankfully, there’s no card and no logo on the box.

“It was hand-delivered this morning,” Pete says. “By a pretty lady in a pink delivery truck. I don’t remember the name of the company. Naughty something…” He frowns, digging through his memory, and I cringe.

“Right, thank you. It’s probably just some marketing material addressed to the wrong department. I’ll make sure it gets to the right person.” My cheeks burn with heat, and I rush out of the mail room and into the nearest restrooms, where I sit down on a toilet seat and take a deep breath. After staring at the box for a moment, I pull at the ribbon, releasing it, then open the lid. Black satin fabric surrounds a small, pink device, along with a card that says: ‘Don’t use this until I tell you to.’

It’s a vibrator, and from the looks of it, it’s an expensive one. I take it out of the box and study the streamlined silicone toy. Even though I don’t have any experience with vibrators—in fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen one up close—I appreciate the design. It appears clever and uncomplicated, but above all, it looks intriguing. The bent oval shape fits perfectly in my hand and when I press the single ridged circle on the top, it starts buzzing. The feeling of it makes me quiver and the temptation to try it right now is strong, but looking down at the card again, I switch it off and put it back in the box. Tonight, I tell myself. Right now, I need to hide this box and grab a coffee before my next meeting starts.

 

I’m not taking much in from the planning meeting with the wearables marketing manager who is pitching his estimated budgets to me. There are another handful of people in the room but they’re really just here as a formality as, ultimately, it’s my decision how much he’s allocated for the coming year. I should pay close attention as this is important but just before we started, I emailed Syd my Messenger details and now my phone is buzzing. Moving my phone to my lap under the table, I open the message.

‘Did you get my present?’

I reply. ‘Yes. It’s a little much and a little soon, don’t you think?’

‘Don’t fool yourself, I know what you want. We’ve been discussing erotica books for months and I know you’re into this. You also seemed to be into me last night. So… do you like it?’

‘Yes, I do. Thank you.’ I realize then that she does in fact know what I want. Admitting I like a certain book is basically the same as revealing my fantasies. The second book I read by Sadie London springs to mind. It was about the owner of a sex store who tried out various toys on her clients. Clearly recalling telling the other members of the club it was my favorite book, and that I’m working my way through all of the author’s books now, I think she’s drawing from it, and knowing she remembers that makes me smile. The marketing manager smiles too, hopeful that my silly grin means I’m on board with his proposition. I try to relax my face and pretend to listen while shooting another quick glance at my phone when it vibrates again.

‘Is your pussy shaven?’ I gasp at the question, and suddenly, six pairs of eyes are focused on me. I shouldn’t be doing this here. My company is paying me a small fortune to make big decisions and I’m sexting in the middle of a meeting. Breaking into a coughing fit, I pretend to have a sore throat. It seems to do the trick, as everyone waits for me to finish clearing my throat, before turning back to the presenter, who is only on slide seven of which I know to be a forty-slide pitch. Despite my fleeting lapse in concentration, I don’t panic. I’ve read the presentation through beforehand, so at least I won’t be entirely clueless by the end of this. The pull to continue the exchange with Syd is strong, and now that I’ve had some time to get used to the idea—that I’m indecently messaging a woman—I can’t seem to make myself stop.

My fingers move silently under the table. ‘Trimmed,’ I lie, knowing I haven’t bothered with too much personal grooming since I last stopped sleeping with my ex-husband three years ago. Now I regret that I didn’t because who knows what will happen tonight?

‘Hmm…’ A couple of seconds pass before another message comes in. ‘I want you to shave yourself first. All of it. It will be much more intense if you do. Trust me.’ There’s another pause before she writes: ‘Have to go, talk to you later.’ She closes the message with her usual wink emoji, then leaves the chat.

I’m so turned on by her request that I have to push my chair back and cross my legs in an attempt to sooth the agonizing tingle between my thighs. Scrolling through my phone, I look up the number for the beauty parlor I always book when I have a last-minute business trip. If I’m doing this I might as well do it right and I’ve decided I’m going to get myself waxed.

 

Online by Madeleine Taylor

 

 

 

 

Let me transport you to sunny Capitola

Let me transport you to sunny Capitola with pictures from my recent inspiration trip and chapter 1 of Western Shores 🙂

 

Chapter 1

Capitola was everything Madison had hoped for. She’d shortlisted a couple of towns and cities before she came here with the intention of finding a home close to her new job in Santa Cruz, but the small town along Monterey Bay turned out to be even more picture-perfect than the photos she’d seen online. The rows of pastel colored beach-front homes behind the creek made for a spectacular view, painted in shades of yellow, turquoise, pink, blue, purple and soft green. Flowers in contrasting colors hung from the windowsills, matching the front doors and the steps. Even the commercial buildings were quaint, adorned with sun-bleached illustrations of beach scenes and vintage artworks. The town felt bohemian, with its small galleries, numerous tarot readers and stores selling hand-crafted jewelry and screen-printed fabrics. Swings and dreamcatchers hung from trees in the front yards that blended in seamlessly with the natural landscape. Capitola wasn’t big, but it thrived on tourism in summer and everything she needed was right here; grocery stores, coffee shops, bars, restaurants and most importantly, the ocean.

Today being a weekday and still early, the beach was quiet, but surfers and paddle boarders were already out there. Madison counted seven of them sitting or standing on their boards, waiting for a wave or just chilling out. Already excited at the prospect of going for a morning swim before work, she held up her hand to greet the nearest ones, knowing they might get acquainted soon if she moved here. There were volleyball nets on the beach and the path along the boulevard seemed like a great place to go for a run.

“Are you okay, Mom?” she asked, looking over her shoulder when she heard her mother panting. With each step, her stiletto heels sunk into the sand, making her lose her balance, yet she’d refused to take them off.

“Yes honey. It’s just the sand, it’s…” Edie, her mother, finally took off her heels and decided to continue barefoot, then. “Why did you have to cross the beach? There’s a perfectly good path leading up to the homes around the back.”

“I wanted to see what it looks like from here.” Madison took her mother’s heels and hooked her arm into hers. “And I can’t resist a nice beach, you know that.”

The one-storey beach front homes that were built up against a hill with palm trees sticking out behind the rooftops, made for a picturesque backdrop. There was only one house for rent along the strip, and she’d been instantly drawn to the tiny pastel pink building with the bright pink front door when she saw it advertised online. The other places she’d viewed with her mother had been nice; more practical and certainly much bigger, but she’d only gone to see them because her mother had insisted that choice was important in order to make an informed decision. Deep down, her heart had been set on the pink house all along.

“Are you sure that’s going to be big enough?” Edie asked as they looked up at it. “It’s very pretty…” she turned to Madison and let out a chuckle. “…and it certainly matches your hair sweetie, but it looks awfully small and…”

“I don’t need much space, Mom,” Madison interrupted her. “I’m used to my dorm so this will be a palace compared to college.”

“I’m not so sure about that.” Edie squinted, shielding her eyes from the sun. The house was standing between a blue house and a yellow bar, called Western Shores. “It will be your first home though, and I want you to be comfortable,” she continued, clumsily making her way toward the footpath. “You know your father and I would be happy to help you out with something bigger, and there’s always your trust fund. You could buy a really nice apartment in Santa Cruz, or we could buy one together. You could always sell it on if you decide you don’t want to stay here or if you get a better job offer somewhere else. It will be a good investment for us too, we really don’t mind. I’m just not sure if renting is the right way to go for you.”

“I know you want me to buy. And I’m grateful to you and dad for helping me out through college, but it’s time I take care of myself now. I’ve been leaching off you guys for long enough and besides, it’s only a six-month contract to start with. It’s very rare that rentals like this come up and it will give me some time to explore the area. There’s no point going through the trouble of buying something if I’m not going to stay, it’s too much hassle.”

A feeling or nervous excitement took over as they approached the house because it felt so right that there was no way she was going to look any further. It would be a fresh start. A new town, a new job – her first job, and she’d wake up to the sound of the ocean each morning. She fingered her recently dyed pastel pink bob, imagining herself living there. “And you’re right. It does match my hair, it’s a good thing I changed the color again. Maybe it’s meant to be.”

“Are you guys here to view the house?”

“Yeah.” Madison smiled at the woman who was arranging flowers on the three tables outside the bar next to the pink house. “Are you Ally?” The woman had long dark-brown wavy hair that fell over her shoulders, and she wore a loose off-the-shoulder white top and a short denim skirt underneath her black apron. She was barefoot, which was unusual for someone who worked in hospitality, but Madison figured it was a beach bar, and so the customers were likely to be barefoot too. Turquoise beaded earrings dangled behind her dimpled cheeks as she smiled back and nodded, then wiped her hands on her apron before she pulled a set of keys out of her back pocket and introduced herself.

“That’s me. It’s nice to meet you…” She narrowed her eyes. “Madison, was it?”

“That’s right.” Madison shook her hand. “And this is my mother, Edie.”

“Nice to meet you both.” The silver bangles around Ally’s wrist jingled as she unlocked the front door to the pink house and held it open. “Please come in and take a look around.” She switched on the lights in the tiny hallway and walked two steps ahead of them into the combined living room and open kitchen area. There was a beige three-seater couch, a coffee table on a cozy Berber rug, and a big bookcase full of art-related books. Right behind the couch was a small kitchen with a refrigerator, a stove, a sink and a breakfast bar with two stools. A separate piece of wood, matching the kitchen surface, had been placed on the bar to use as a cutting board as there was not much space elsewhere. It felt homey though, with lots of plants and striking modern artworks on the walls. “As I told you on the phone, it’s very small. I’ve been renting it out to tourists but with the bar being next door, some of the tenants have been complaining about the noise and leaving bad reviews. It’s not terrible in my opinion, but it does get busy during the summer and it’s not always easy to get rid of the last customers at night. Quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to deal with the complaints anymore.” She opened the light blue and white seersucker curtains to the two ocean-facing windows, letting in the light. “As advertised, here’s your unobstructed ocean view. The house comes furnished; it’s not the fanciest stuff but I’ve tried my best to make it nice and practical, and you’ll have everything you’ll need here. If you want me to, I can remove the books and other items of course.”

“It looks lovely and I can live with noise,” Madison said. “I’ve come straight off campus so I’m practically immune to it.”

“That’s that problem solved then,” Ally said, looking relieved.

 

“Is there a yard?” Edie asked, scanning the space for a back door.

“No, but there’s a set of fold-up table and chairs in the hallway that you can put outside your front door if you like. That’s how I do it. Besides, you’ll have the beach, so who needs a yard?”

“Totally agree.” Madison followed Ally to the bedroom and noted her mother wasn’t sold. In fact, she seemed horrified by how small it was. The big box-spring bed took up most of the room, but there was a decent-sized built-in wardrobe and a small desk in front of the window, framed by the same curtains. A blue oil painting, inspired by the view, hung above the bed and an off-white crocheted dream catcher dangled next to it. “So, do you live in the same building as the bar?”

Ally laughed. “No, there’s not enough space there for me and my son. We do live next door though, to your other side in the blue house. It’s got a small tower that we’ve converted into his bedroom.”

Edie turned to her. “You own both buildings?” She was clearly surprised to hear that the woman who worked in the bar next door had managed to buy herself multiple properties on such a sought-after strip of coastland. “Is the bar yours too?”

“Yeah, all three are mine, it’s a long story.” Madison was sure she saw a hint of sadness in Ally’s eyes, but the woman turned away from them, making sure to avoid eye contact. “The bathroom is right here.” She walked back into the hallway and opened the only other door, revealing a narrow, white-tiled bathroom that was so small that the showerhead was hanging over the toilet.

Madison couldn’t help but laugh. “Okay… I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. At least I can do two things simultaneously, saves me time in the morning.”

Ally laughed too. “Yeah, it’s small all right. Theo, my son and I brush our teeth in the kitchen sink. I use one of the kitchen cupboards for toiletries and I’ve stuck a mirror on the inside. You’ve got to be creative in a place like this. Oh, and I want to be honest with you about the parking too, although you probably figured that out when you arrived. The thing is, there is no parking space around here. This place comes with a guest permit, but you’ll have to leave your pickup at the end of the beach road. It’s a ten-minute walk from here and it gets really busy in high season. You might have to park it twenty minutes away sometimes during the summer months, so I just want to forewarn you.” She shot Madison an amused look. “But the time you save in the shower will make up for that.”

Madison’s eyes met Ally’s and held them for a beat. Her dimples and the few freckles on each cheek were adorable, and the fine lines around her eyes indicated she smiled a lot. She really liked this friendly hippie chick, and she had a feeling they were going to get on. “What’s behind there?” she pointed to a silk screen in front of an alcove in the living room.

“Sorry, I almost forgot.” Ally folded the screen away. “This little nook here has a washer and a dryer and there’s a little space left in case you have a surfboard or something else big you need to stow away.”

“It’s very small,” Edie remarked, unable to let it go. “We’ve viewed three-bedroom apartments for the same price not far from here.”

“You’re right. It is small, but if you take the premium location into account, it’s actually highly competitive.” Ally shrugged. “I understand if you’re not interested, it’s totally fine. I’ve got another twenty-six people lined up to take a look at it, but your daughter sounded so nice on the phone that I wanted to give her the first choice.”

“Thank you for that,” Madison said, shooting her mother a quick warning look. “I’ll take it.” She had a feeling Ally was bluffing about the twenty-six people, but even if she was, this place felt good and she couldn’t wait to move in.

“Really?” Ally arched a brow and grinned. “Are you sure?”

“Am I sure? You’re not exactly selling it,” Madison joked. “Did anyone ever teach you about upselling? I love it.”

“No, I’m afraid not.” Ally chuckled. “But I love it here too. I’m just highly aware of the impracticalities, that’s all. And there’s the price, of course. I know it’s not cheap but if you want it, it’s yours. I’ve got the contract ready for you to sign next door.”

“Let’s do it, then.” Madison ignored her mother, who was trying to make eye contact, determined to talk her out of it.

“Don’t you want to think about it, Madison?”

“No, Mom. This feels right, I want to live here.” Madison’s tone indicated there was no discussion to be had. This would be her new home. She’d never touched her trust fund until now, but she needed some of it to pay for the three months’ rent upfront. After that, she’d have a steady income from her job.

“Great, follow me.” Ally led them back outside and pulled out three chairs at one of the tables outside her bar. She disappeared for a moment after enquiring what they wanted to drink, then came back with a tray of coffees and a pile of paperwork clenched under her arm. “Here’s a cappuccino for you, Edie,” she said as she put the cup down on the yellow painted recycled wooden table. “And a soy latte for you, Madison.” She paused as she put a second cup in front of Madison. “And our new house special for you to try too. It’s a beetroot soy latte. I figured it suited you as both your hair and your house are pink now.”

“Damn.” Madison looked down at the bright pink hot drink with white foam shaped into a perfect wave. “This is art, Ally.”

“Wait until you taste it.” Ally put down an espresso for herself and placed the tray under her chair before handing Madison the contract.

“It’s so good.” Madison licked the foam off her upper lip after taking a sip. “It’s sweet, but a natural kind of sweet… and it’s spicy, which is unexpected.” She gave it to her mother to try.

“Hmm… I like it too,” Edie agreed. She seemed a little more relaxed than five minutes ago, Madison thought. Or maybe she’d just resigned herself to the idea, knowing there was nothing she could do to change her decision. Madison would do whatever the hell she wanted to do. It had always been that way.

“Yeah, it’s like chai but with a little cayenne pepper added in,” Ally said. “People who don’t tolerate caffeine love it because the spice still wakes them up in the morning.” She gave Madison a smug look. “My own invention.”

“Clever lady, you are.” Madison returned her smirk while she searched for her driver’s license in her purse. “Here’s my ID.”

Ally snapped a picture on her phone. “Twenty-three,” she said after calculating Madison’s age. “Do you mind if I ask why you’re moving here?”

“A job.” Madison flicked through the pages of the standard rental contract. She’d looked them up online before she came here, knowing her mother wouldn’t be of much help. Her father took care of things like that in their household, and her mother had always been comfortable taking a backseat to her husband’s career as a political strategist, sitting around looking pretty, and occasionally decorating houses they purchased to rent out. Not that there was anything wrong with that. She was an amazing mother and she did a lot of great charity work too. Edie was fifty-two now, but because it was hard to guess her age due to the many procedures that she’d undergone over the past twenty years, people often asked them if they were sisters. “My first job, actually, I got my Masters in Marine Biology last year. I’m going to be a research technician at the Marine Mammal Research Center in Santa Cruz. They’re starting a tagging-and-tracking program of long-beaked common dolphins next week so my first three months will be fieldwork mostly.”

“I see.” Ally seemed a little taken aback by that. She stared at Madison for a moment, then cleared her throat. “I know that place very well,” she said. “My husband…” She hesitated. “He was the director.”

“Really? What’s his name?”

“Marcos Santos.” Ally lowered her voice as she said his name, and Madison noticed that look in her eyes again. “I meant to say my late husband. He died nine years ago when Theo, our son, was two.” She took a deep breath and gave them a smile. “I apologize, this is all a bit heavy considering this is our first meeting and I didn’t mean to bring it up but since you mentioned the lab… It was a long time ago though, and Theo and I are okay now.”

“I’m so sorry, honey,” Edie said, reaching out for Ally’s hand. Madison hoped her mother wouldn’t start crying and make matters worse. She tended to get very emotional whenever there were children involved in tragedies.

“I’m sorry too.” Madison studied Ally, unable to look away despite the serious conversation because she was simply stunning. Her skin was sun-kissed and her long, brown hair, that she was constantly fussing with, shimmered in the sun. She was petite and cute, with a wide, contagious smile that made Madison smile too, each time she looked at her. She wondered about her age, but it was hard to tell. Mid-thirties, maybe?

“Thank you, but really, we’re okay,” Ally said. “Marcos gave me Theo and I feel really blessed with him. He’s sweet and extremely clever, he’s doing great in school and all in all, he’s just a good kid.”

“Children are the biggest blessing God has given us,” Edie said in a dramatic voice, rubbing a hand over Madison’s arm. “You know, Madison used to babysit when she was younger. She’s really good with kids if you ever need someone to look after your son.”

Madison barely suppressed an eye-roll at her mother, who was clearly sold on Ally now and all on-board with her moving into the pint-sized house. Jesus, it doesn’t take much.

Ally laughed it off. “I don’t doubt your daughter is amazing with kids, Edie, but I’m sure she’s got better things to do and besides, I don’t tend to get that personal with my tenants.” She knocked back her espresso. “But the tenancy package does include a free coffee each morning so I’m sure we’ll get to know each other better.” She pointed to the section in the contract Madison was reading.

“Free coffee?” Madison looked up at her and grinned. “Where do I sign?”

 

 

Read Chapter 1 of The Good Girl by Madeleine Taylor

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Lise Gold Books is proud to be publishing ‘The Good Girl’, the debut novella by Madeleine Taylor, a new author of lesbian erotica. Read chapter 1 here!

Chapter 1
I’ve never done this before. My legs tremble as I walk down the long hotel corridor. Her room is right at the very end; a suite, she told me. Room 935. I know the number will be etched in my memory forever, because as much as I want this, right now, I’m also terrified.
I left the bar shortly after her, needing one more drink for liquid courage before I got changed into the black satin dress I’d thankfully brought along. Besides the fact that it will come off easily, the idea of her running a hand up my thigh while I’m still wearing it excites me. My black heels sink into the carpet as I make my way to the point of no return, and I feel myself getting wet, my mind in the gutter at the thought of finally being touched again.
This certainly wasn’t part of my plan when I woke up this morning. I’m a career-driven sales manager from Arizona, the highlight of my week being dinner with my parents every Sunday. Apart from that, I work long days and spend most nights alone in bed with my subscription of Netflix. My company’s annual New York trip is always a refreshing change of scenery, as I love the city and I’ve been looking forward to coming here for weeks. The first day of the textiles trade show in the Financial District was busy as always, with vendors from all over the world promoting their latest fabrics.
The company I work for has a stand too, showcasing our organic cottons from Phoenix, where we are based. My job is demanding, and I travel a lot in between the office and our factory, which is one of the reasons I’m still single at thirty-five, or so I tell my friends. Deep down, I know that’s not the case, though. Relationships have never been my priority. Perhaps because I’m ambitious and have been working my way up the corporate ladder for the past fifteen years, or perhaps because I’ve only come out to my close family and a handful of old friends, who I hardly ever see anymore. I never let anything get serious but not because I’m scared; I’ve just never met anyone I wanted to go through all that trouble for. Besides all the questions and opinions that I know will follow, it’s simply no one’s business.
It’s been a while since I’ve been with a woman, and almost six months since my last girlfriend broke up with me because I wasn’t ‘invested’. I guess she was right. I wasn’t, but I still miss the sex and I wonder if that’s why I was so drawn to the woman on whose door I’m about to knock. She oozed sex; I could feel it, even from a distance.
We got talking in the bar of the hotel where most of the trade show delegates are staying, as it’s conveniently situated right next door to the venue. While catching up with colleagues from different branches of my company, and a couple of buyers I’m hoping to write an order for, I was surprised to see a woman I didn’t recognize watching me from the far end of the bar. Stepping away from the conversation, I smiled at her, trying to figure out if I knew her, or if she was involved in the organization of the show. My memory is exceptional, and although nothing about her rang a bell, my interest peaked at her intense stare. Smiling back, she gave me a nod and then beckoned me over. Curiously, I came as if I had no free will; I was just so instantly drawn to her.
She was very attractive, handsome, and a bit older than me, I guessed. Short, messy hair, a killer smile and dimples that stirred something lascivious inside me. Her ultra-confident air made me think she was successful with the ladies, but mostly it was her attitude that drew me in. Slightly butch perhaps, she acted as if she already had me in the palm of her hand, and for some reason that excited me, but I can’t deny that I was nervous as I approached. Subconsciously, I fiddled with my necklace, like I always do when I’m not entirely at ease. The cross around my neck holds no meaning to me any more in a religious sense, but it reminds me of where I came from, who I am, and it gives me a strange sense of comfort, just because it’s always been there.
“What are you drinking?” she asked, placing her hand possessively on the small of my back as I joined her at the bar. It was a bold move, and she didn’t pull it away after I’d taken a seat next to her. I could feel her warmth through my thin white shirt, and I think that’s when I slowly started going crazy. Her hand casually curled around my waist, waking up body parts I’d neglected since my last girlfriend, or perhaps a part of me I never knew existed. The firm, confident, hold told me she was not afraid to take charge and although I’d never felt a need for previous girlfriends to do that, I liked it way more than I could have anticipated.
“Gin and tonic,” I answered, swallowing hard. Her eyes were so blue, and they seemed to pierce right through me, to read every inch of desire that had been buried deep for months, years even.
“Gin and tonic. I like that,” she said, licking her lips as she stared at my mouth. “You’re sexy, you know that?”
“Right.” I rolled my eyes, knowing there was nothing sexy about the way I looked, but the comment still made me feel slightly feverish and caused an ache to form between my thighs. My blonde hair was pulled back into a braid and I was wearing jeans, Nikes and a plain, white organic cotton blouse that hung frumpily from my shoulders. Being in charge of the Cotton Innovation Department, I’m expected to dress in line with our product offer. I can’t say I love what they give me to wear for work, but since the main part of my job consists of interacting with clients, outward communications and promoting our brand, I don’t really have a choice. By now, I’m so used to it that it’s become a part of me and besides, I like my job and I don’t have much else in my life, so I tend to do whatever they want me to.
My trade show lanyard was still hanging around my neck as I turned to her, giving away my name. She tugged at it, pulling me closer, and I let her.
“Emily Evans.” The way she said it could have passed for an orgasm coming from her mouth, and I think I gasped for a brief second as she pulled me closer to her enticing lips. Her breath was on my face as she looked deep into my lust filled eyes. “Emily Evans, would you like to come to my room?”
Even if I’d wanted to resist, my whole body reacted to her voice, her strong grip and her words in a way that was entirely new to me. No one had ever left me shaking on my feet just by using words alone, and honestly, I was fascinated.
“For what?” I asked, quietly cursing myself for sounding so naïve. I looked around to make sure no one was listening in on our conversation. There would be a lot of gossip if my colleagues knew I was flirting with a woman. No one here knew about this part of me.
“Don’t play innocent with your beautiful icy-gray eyes, you know exactly what I mean.” Her tone was dominant as she took my drink from the bartender and handed it to me. “I want to fuck you, Emily. I want to make you feel like you’ve never felt before.”
“How are you so sure you can do that?” My words didn’t sound one bit convincing, but I said them anyway. I think I tore the lanyard back out of her hand at this point and straightened in an attempt to pull myself together, but it all then became a bit of a blur from there.
“You’ll just have to wait and see.” She paused and smiled at me and God, I swear, in that moment, I melted. “I’ll see you in my suite, room number 935. In an hour.” It was a command rather than a request, and after the way my body reacted to her only moments ago, how could I say no?
I’m still not sure if I’ll go through with this as I stop in front of the door and hesitate. It’s not too late to turn back, I think to myself. I’m a good girl. I don’t go into strangers’ hotel rooms and let them have their way with me. Instead, I tend to play it safe. I date women I meet online, more out of boredom than anything else, and the dates sometimes turn into relationships. I usually feel suffocated after a while and become distant which eventually drives them away. It’s a ridiculously complex way to get laid, I realize then. Before I have the chance to change my mind, the door unlocks, and she opens it for me with a look that tells me she knew I’d bite.
“You came,” she says, never taking her eyes off me. She’s wearing a white hotel branded robe and it seems that, like me, she’s just had a shower.
“I did.” Has she been waiting for me behind the door? Did she sense my hesitation? My fear? Strangely, that thought arouses me even more as I step inside her lavish suite.
The Good Girl by Madeleine Taylor, published by Lise Gold Books, is available on KU, in e-book, paperback and will soon be out in audiobook format.
You can buy it here:

Visiting Western Shores

A couple of months ago I started writing Western Shores, #4 in the Compass Series. Usually, the first step of my creative process is to travel to where my book is set, in order to soak up the atmosphere and gain insight and inspiration, but due to other commitments I wasn’t able to do that this time. Full of optimism and faith that I could create a world from my kitchen table, I went online to do my research, spoke to people over Skype, Facetime etc, and immersed myself in documentaries about marine life.

Six weeks later, I was 60% into the manuscript and hated it. I had no affinity with the characters or the story, and was afraid my readers wouldn’t feel it either. My characters had no chemistry – not because of the age gap (it’s an age-gap romance), but because I couldn’t relate to their lives. Dread crept up on me that I might have wasted those six weeks, so in order to save what could be saved, I booked my ticket to Northern California. The moment I got there it became clear how wrong I was not to have done that in the first place. Here’s a little update on my time on the Western Shores …

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I had chosen Santa Cruz as my ‘hub’ because it’s quite central, and within reasonable distance from everywhere I needed to be. The sunsets are amazing there and so is the morning light. It’s also riddled with pelicans and psychics, neither of which I’d ever seen in the wild before. I’m not sure where all the people were though, as it was zombie-apocalypse-quiet in town, even on the weekends.

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Capitola, a 15-minute drive from Santa Cruz, is the setting for Western Shores, so I’ve been spending time there in the mornings, taking in the atmosphere and writing. It’s a quaint and very colorful little village, noticeably more bohemian than most other towns in the area. I felt at home there and miss it already. The people are sweet, life is slow-paced and all in all it’s just very, very chilled and very beautiful J. Maddison, Hannah’s half-sister will be moving here soon, and I think she’s going to like her new life!

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To get a feel for the coast (and because my editor implored me to go as it’s her favorite place in the world), I drove along the Big Sur Highway 1, and holy fuck it’s pretty! Honestly, I did not expect such beauty and almost crashed twice, distracted by the scenery. I ended up driving for way longer than I’d planned because I was scared of missing out on whatever was just around the next bend.

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Maddison is a marine biologist (she was still in college in Southern Roots and now has her Masters), so I wanted to know about her world. Thankfully, there’s a wealth of information and inspiration in this area when it comes to marine wildlife. Monterey is a lovely city, and also home to an amazing aquarium that aims to inspire visitors to think about ocean conservation. It certainly inspired me, so I went out in search of wildlife myself, primarily obsessing over harbor seals and sea lions. I could watch them for hours, and indeed did.

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Before I left, I’d arranged to meet with Dr. Noren, a lovely lady who has devoted 25 years to research on marine mammals. Truly admirable and great fun! We need more people like her in the world… She filled me in on what it takes to work in her field, and it’s helped me a lot as my knowledge on the topic is extremely limited.

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The beaches along Monterey Bay are beautiful, and my favorite one was Sunset State Beach, which is often covered in a thick mist in the mornings. It was eerily quiet and felt like the end of the world. I found two sand dollars here and apparently, they bring luck!

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Apart from beach-hopping and staring at sea lions, I also got lost for three hours. Satnav didn’t work and I had no idea where I was, but it was really pretty so it was okay J.  Then my car got stuck in the sand and I had to dig it out before helping other geniuses like myself, who thought it would be a great idea to drive next to the dunes without a 4×4. Once safely back in town, I was then approached by two different people who asked to pray for me, and another man who offered me money to get in his car, all of which I politely declined. This had me worried for a little while about the image I’m projecting to others, and I made a mental note not to stand smoking next to motel containers after nine pm, wearing thigh-high boots and a furry coat, sporting wild hair from driving all day.

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All in all, it was an incredibly inspiring and informative experience. Not only regarding the book, but also in a personal sense, as I now have sleepless nights over the future of our oceans and have embarked on a mission to reduce my carbon footprint. But the culmination of my experience has been the insight I’ve gained about my writing process: since I started writing I’ve tried to live by ‘write what you know’. This one time I disregarded it and paid a heavy price: 30.000 words went in the bin. Six weeks of hard work wasted, but an incredibly valuable lesson learned and hopefully, the book will be better for it.