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Authors: Louisa Trent

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BOOK: Blooming: Veronica
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Inspiration came to her in many different forms and from many different sources. Anything could and did strike a sexual chord within her. A gentleman’s gloved hand inadvertently touching a lady’s gloved hand as they passed along a crowded sidewalk often left her wondering what would happen when those gloves came off. The book signing had inspired her most recent ideas. After reading an excerpt from
, she had looked up into a sea of unfamiliar faces and discovered one, a gentleman’s, staring at her.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but actually, his was more a glower than a stare. He seared her with his eyes, burned her with his piercing gaze…drove her away from the podium with his unapologetic seduction.

She could not possibly have stayed and chatted with readers while the tips of her breasts hardened, the throbbing nipples pleading to be touched. Stroked. Caressed.
! And while down below, between her thighs down below, that space between her legs down below, had quickened, gnawed, grown incredibly moist.

Remaining at the podium to sign books would have given her overactive imagination away. For, of course, the gentleman had not
attempted to seduce her with his eyes. A need for spectacles most likely explained his insistent gaze.

Unruly fantasies like that one were both her gift and curse. On the one hand, they provided her with creative fodder. On the other hand, like this evening, her lustful thoughts often proved embarrassing.

But not usually for long. In another minute or so, this latest sexual fantasy would fade from her memory. They always did. Which was why she always hurried to write them down before they escaped forever. One more detail to fill in, just one, a question of motivation, and she would forget all about the distinguished gentleman in the audience, the staring one, the one with the ungroomed longish hair and beardless chin.

His lack of facial hair and hair pomade bothered her. That was why this fantasy hung on longer than customarily. Unless she somehow explained away his departure from the de rigueur short oiled hair and clipped goatee that every other gentleman at the book reading wore, a nonconformity that went counter to his otherwise conservative appearance, the inconsistent character traits would invite criticism.

Though expensively clad, he was not flamboyantly outlandish in his clothing. So—how to justify nonconformity in an otherwise staid gentleman?

She had no idea.

His red-handled cane offered the only clue. It dangled from the crook of his arm and gave him an incredibly jaunty air, the aura of a renegade. A man could do unspeakable things to a woman with that cane…if his nonconformist tendencies carried over into the boudoir. The endless possibilities gave her tingles.

And a new premise for another book, her third, featuring a cane-carrying, clean-shaven, long-hair-wearing Marquis de Sade sort of character.

Veronica gasped. For goodness’ sake! She really must stop all this mental lusting over some nameless man from a book reading who probably worked as a banker or an accountant or some other respectably dull occupation. If not for that night’s event being by invitation only, she would have assumed he had stumbled into her audience only accidentally, because, upon second reflection, she realized his stare had not been seductive at all and not likely a result of poor vision. Now that she thought back to the episode, she recalled that he stood at the rear of the assemblage, his red-handled cane on his arm, examining her as if she were some unknown species. Had he never seen a woman writer before?

Clearly not. His staring disapproval had been palpable.

She knew the type. Businessmen like him had surrounded her all her adult life. Acting as hostess for her widowed father and meeting his associates had taught her to be wary of gentlemen who put making the almighty dollar above all else, especially creative pursuits. To those sorts, it was all about closing the next financial deal and keeping their wives and daughters under their thumbs.

What had she been thinking?

He could not possibly be a hero in a work of erotica. The man from the audience was mature, far too old for what she had in mind. Lines scored his face; silver threaded his hair. Implausible to have a cane-carrying character of that advanced age perform sexually in multiple places, including on horseback.

With a harrumph, Veronica placed the illogical plotting aside and returned to chapter ten of her work in progress.

The dark moment.

The wrinkle in her manuscript. The section had been causing her a great deal of difficulty. If not for a certain someone who had insisted upon meeting her here in the library after the book reading, she would have gone home and ironed out the problem.

Veronica bit her lip. Perhaps that was shortsighted of her. Perhaps her rendezvous with the certain someone would actually help resolve the issue. She had modeled her second book’s hero—Paddy or Seamus or some other authentic-sounding Irish name; she had yet to decide which—after that certain someone, and seeing him tonight might actually help nudge her brain in the right direction.

Research was everything to her. In defiance of her dear father’s expressed wishes and done solely to drink in the area’s gritty ambience, she had walked all by herself around South Boston, a neighborhood swelling with old tenements and new immigrants, all church-mouse poor, as well as being…

Pausing, she tilted her head in thought. What was that colorful turn of phrase again?

The salt of the earth. That was it. The expression exactly described Robert McDougal, the Irish immigrant longshoreman on whom she based her second book’s hero.

She harbored no regrets about disobeying her beloved papa. Research required she see how the common man lived. And goodness only knew, there was no one as common as Robert McDougal. For the sake of research, she had allowed him to toss her skirts over her head behind a cargo box on a South Boston pier, for she could hardly author a book of erotica without first acquiring sexual experience. And too…

Wait. By Jove, the resolution to the dark moment had just leaped into her head. Now to get the idea down on paper before something…or a certain someone…distracted her.

Scratch, scratch, scratch
. Her pen flew across the page. Blissful minutes raced by. Even when the side pocket door squeaked, she kept her head down and wrote.

Just a few more sentences. Pleeeeeease!

She continued to plot. Furiously. Until an all too familiar bouquet made itself known to her and addled her senses.

Robert McDougal stood directly beside her, his pose wobbly, breathing alcoholic fumes down her neck.

One last look of longing at the unfinished resolution to the dark moment, and Veronica placed her fountain pen on the desk’s leather insert, carefully closed her handsome notebook, and held out her hands to her lover.

Fancy that, she, bookish Veronica Cooper, had a real, live, albeit slightly tipsy, lover who was not just another figment of her wildly overactive imagination.

“I thought you would never arrive,” she said. “I have done nothing but count the tic-tic-ticking of the clock until I saw you again.”

“You looked busy enough to me.”

Robert could be a tad petulant at times, even belligerently bellicose. He was especially truculent when he had been drinking.

She had never known anyone like him. His coarse brand of pugnacity excited her to no end. It had done so from the moment she first saw him, bare chested and involved in fisticuffs with another swarthy longshoreman down at the pier.

Lest he leave in a snit, she immediately strove to placate him. “Robert, indeed, I awaited your arrival with bated breath.”

“You can let it out now. Blue ain’t my favorite color.”

Oh dear. She wore a navy outfit tonight. Was his snide tone a way of telling her she did not look her best?

All her own fault. For the book event, she had deliberately downplayed her gender in favor of promoting a professional and modern image. A bad decision, she saw now, opting for career over frilly feminine appeal.

Her lover kept company with loose women, shantytown sluts who played up their sexuality. In the interests of competing, she should have worn spangles and fringe. In the interests of holding on to him, she let her lover’s less than favorable remark go without comment. Any residual hurt she forced out of her head.
. Gone. Entirely forgotten.

With lovers, one must accept the good along with the bad. In this instance, Robert’s bad, more than a peck but less than a ton, contributed to his rustic allure.

She whispered, a hitch in her voice, “I quite tremble for you. See how I do?”

“Yeah, I see. What of it?”

Why must she say it?

“All I think about is you, Robert.”

“And your damn books.”

“My writing is nothing in comparison to you,” she replied, seeking to placate him. “I would give it all up on the morrow if you but asked.” She hastily crossed her fingers to nullify the fib.

“You make good money at it, right? Your writing brings home the bacon?”

“Well, yes, I suppose it does do that. Brings home the bacon, that is.”
How authentic! I must use that colloquialism in my book
. “At least, I assume I make some money, but I am really not at all sure how the royalty system works. Papa handles my income, so I would guess that means there is something to handle…”

Her voice drifting off, she squirmed in discomfort.
A lady never discusses anything as vulgar as money.

“Then, no harm done, I reckon, how you amuse yourself,” Robert drawled with a slight drunken slur. “Keeps you out of taverns, eh?” He elbowed her side.

Robert did so enjoy ribbing her. Now if only she could get him to converse on more than one topic.

Namely himself.

Veronica dropped her gaze to her lap. My, what a petty thought. Grossly unfair to expect poetry or lively political debates or anything that would pass as culture to fall from Robert’s rugged lips. Apart from talking about himself, her lover just happened to be the strong and silent type, a man who worked well with his hands.

At the thought of his calloused palms doing outrageously provocative things to her, a whole host of illicit sensations sparked inside her.

Which she would record later in her journal. After he left.

Everything went into her work, including intimate experiences, less than a handful in total thus far, the juicy tidbits from which she wrote about at great length in her journal. Unfortunately, most of the encounters needed significant embellishment. Now if Robert would only actually
all those outrageously provocative things she dreamed up…

Veronica smiled at her lover. Snobbish to care how Robert made a living, that he unloaded boxes from ship holes rather than pursue an intellectual career. Narrow minded to resent his lack of stimulating conversation. He stimulated her in other ways.

Robert was just so incredibly handsome and muscular in his stevedore’s clothing—nubby coat, cotton shirt, and denim trousers held up with soup-stained braces. She only wished he would remove his filthy tweed cloth cap every so often so she could make out the color of his shifty eyes.

Alas, he never did.

Not that he was ill mannered or disrespectful, only preoccupied. With something—she had no idea precisely what.

Did Robert ever actually think? Not anything lofty, but did a legitimate
, regardless of how fleeting, ever cross his mind?

think! Indeed, he must. He could not possibly be as self-absorbed and limited as he appeared.

Starting small, she attempted to draw him out, expand his horizons beyond the tip of his own parochial nose. She did so gently, as his enlightenment was bound to be painful. “How was your day?”

He shrugged. “That bastard of a boss O’Reilly gave me bullshit about stealing from a new shipment.” He winked and held open the flap of his coat, revealing a longshoreman’s hook.

And a rich-looking flask no dockworker could afford.

He patted the silver container. “There is more where this comes from. A case of fine Irish whiskey fell off the pier into my arms today.”

Oh dear. Did that brag mean Robert had stolen from the cargo ship he unloaded?

No, she must have misunderstood. Though often contemptuous of his employers, Robert could not have done something so dishonest and disloyal to those who paid his wage. Her father was in the business of importing and exporting, and so she knew losses from theft were ruinous to ship owners.

When Robert rubbed a dirty hand across his chest and blew out a breath, she studiously avoided the fragrant exhale.

“Not a bad haul,” he boasted. “And not a bad day, especially after you see to me.”

See to him?

Of course.
to him.

She gulped. “Here?”

“Why not?” He swatted her most prized possession, her Moleskine notebook, aside. “Hop on board the desk.”

She had yet to be nude in Robert’s company, nor had he been unclothed in hers. To enter her, he merely pushed into the split in her drawers. The first time, her virgin’s blood had flecked the linen, staining the delicate cloth.

An utter disaster if discovered by her maid, as Jeannie kept a calendar on when Veronica’s monthlies were due and would question the stain’s untimely appearance. In avoidance of detection, she’d had to sneak the underclothes into the fireplace and burn the evidence of her lost hymen.

Veronica shivered in lust. “I could remove them.”

“Remove what?”

“My drawers.” Utterly transported by her own erotic daring, she suggested, “I could take them off. I could remove everything. Entirely disrobe for you. Slowly. Dropping each article of clothing at a snail’s pace and…”

Robert drew back. “What indecency is this? You hoity-toity society ladies have no shame.”

Oh dear. Her idea had run amok. For all his swagger, Robert was a bit of a prude. In his opinion, she must have overstepped the bounds of propriety.

“I do apologize,” she offered contritely.

When would she learn?

Hiding her base urges, she bunched up her skirts, hopped on top of the desk, and spread her thighs, schooling herself to look away.

BOOK: Blooming: Veronica
11.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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