My story, “Under My Skin”, is one of the stories you’ll find in FLESH FICTION. I hope you’ll enjoy getting a taste of Max and Belle’s story as much as I have enjoyed creating these characters and writing about them.
Still haven’t preordered your copy? There’s still time.
I was so certain that Maybe Tomorrow, the next book in the Maybe… series, would be ready for publication by July and informed everyone of a publication date. Well, that date has come and gone, and there is still no book. Why? Because I have a full-time job and I am a union representative, and sometimes this eats into my writing time when I am at home. Also, I’ve sometimes been too tired to write when I come home from work. Or the motivation to write just hasn’t been there.
Also, I hit some plot holes that have taken longer than expected to fix. One took weeks to figure out how to fix. I’ve finally got a handle on that one, but I am still fixing it. I think I am nearly done.
Right now, I am aiming at an October release. I want it to be done before I start NaNoWriMo in November.
I hope you can continue to be patient. In the meantime, here are some snippets to whet your appetites.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Laney. Now let’s have a sit-down with Benny, the saucy intern who seems to have a thing for Mads. She’s been pretty forthright about her interest in him. Let’s see what she has to say for herself.
Me: So tell it to me straight, Benny. Why did you start making moves on Mads? You knew he was married–
Benny: (laughs) You’ve seen him. You know how gorgeous he is. And I liked what I saw, so I went for it.
Me: It can’t be so shallow as that.
Benny: Look, I don’t know what you expect me to say. I’m not really into relationships. I suppose I’m like a guy in that way… I like to hit it and quit it. I know it sounds vulgar, but I don’t have any hang-ups when it comes to sex. If I want it, I want it. And Mads…well, he’s insanely hot.
Me: But is that a reason to go after a man you know is married?
Benny: You know what I wanted? I just wanted to see if I could do it. Turn his head. Get him interested. See where it went. I knew it was a long shot. And, no, I was not interested in being the next Mrs. Rasmussen or being the mother of his children. I just wanted a taste of him.
Me: You’ve been interning at the collective. How did you end up there?
Benny: I heard about it through the grapevine. Morten and Mads came to my design seminar at Designhøjskole and I really liked how mellow they were. They didn’t act like they were too good to be there, they didn’t blather on like they were saying oh-so-very important words that didn’t really mean anything. They seemed real, you know? And I had total respect for that. I’m a designer too. I wanted to be a part of this–work together with some guys who seemed really cool and whose work was well and truly kick-ass. And then I heard Willem talking about how he’d applied, but I’d missed the application deadline. So I just went there and pretended I’d applied. Mads wasn’t there that day. It was Jonas and Morten who ended up interviewing me. I guess they liked my portfolio.
Me: What are you plans now? Are you going to continue trying to get Mads?
Benny: (shrugging) If he shows an interest, then why should I turn him down?
Me: And has he shown an interest?
Benny: Not yet…but it’s only a matter of time. And his wife isn’t around, so I’m guessing he might be more interested now.
Me: What about your position at the collective? Shouldn’t you be more focused on your career and getting work experience?
Benny: I know I’m good already. I’m the best intern there. And I do a damned good job, so nobody can complain. I go in, I work…I finish my projects on time. Yes, I flirt. I think any woman in my position would do the same.
Me: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Benny (laughs again): I don’t know…but wherever I am, I’ll be enjoying myself. Maybe I’ll have my own collective. Maybe they’ll take me on full-time. I guess we’ll just to wait and see.
Get your copy of Maybe Forever – available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo. Coming soon in trade paperback.
I’ve started working on a new project and I thought I’d share it with you for my first #SundayShare post. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a story set in the future that features a robot who falls in love, a woman struggling with the past and the future, and an astronaut who loses more of his humanity the longer he’s in space. The title of my experiment is Under the MilkyWay. I shared a scene from it with you back in April as Flash Fiction. What you’ll get now are some snippets of scenes which aren’t connected yet. Over the next few months, I’ll share more scenes with you, even some fully developed chapters. Let’s see where my experument takes us.
She gave up trying to sleep. What was the point when too many thoughts were tumbling around in her mind? Sleep was eluding her anyway. She pushed away the tangled covers and turned over on her side. She murmured, “Blinds up…” and the black-out shades retracted, following the curve of the window. A sulphurous glow filled the window, blocking the stars from the sky. The city didn’t sleep. Though she couldn’t hear the traffic, she could see headlights bouncing off the steel and glass facades.
On a night like this, she wished Gus were beside her. Even if he were snoring, his warmth, the solidness of him, would have been enough to quell her thoughts. But perhaps it wouldn’t make a difference this time. Especially since he was the reason she could not sleep. His distance. How his eyes seemed so flat and unseeing the last time she’d spoken to him.
Though she was no longer alone in the apartment, the silence ate away at her. What was it…he..? doing while she struggled to sleep?
She slipped out of bed and put on her robe. The bedroom door slid open with a whisper, allowing her to pass over the threshold and into the hallway. With each step she took, the floor-level LED night lights bloomed on, illuminating her way until she came to the open-plan living room. Here the black-out shades hadn’t been lowered and the orange glow of the nighttime city cast enough light to chase away the shadows.
The robot–she still could not think of him as a companion or by the name he’d been given–sat at the very centre of the sofa. His eyes were open but stared blankly at the wall. He didn’t move, not a muscle flickered.
Belle ventured closer. What was it doing? Why was it…staring at the wall? It didn’t the move. Did it even breathe? She took another step forward. This time, the robot, as if sensing her presence, turned its head toward her and asked, “Is there anything I can do for you, Bellamy?”
From up here earth is beautiful. All the colors the ones on the surface take for granted, all the striations, the crags…the rivers…they all become this hazy pattern like an Impressionist painting. The first time I was at the station, I couldn’t get over it.
Now I barely notice it.
Earth is…insignificant. Sooner or later, it won’t matter. I’ve got my orders. Board the next shuttle. Go further out. Explore. Take samples. Test. Transmit results to Ground Control. They’ll tell me at some point that I should come back to Earth.
Earth. I don’t even miss it.
Sometimes I miss her. But…she doesn’t need me. I took care of that already.
She’ll move on. And then, when they give me more orders, I can head further out.
There’s so much more to explore.
In the morning she shut her mind to what awaited her. Another day without Gus. Another day of opening the bookshop and busying herself, hoping that today she would sell more than three or four books. Sometimes going to the shop drained all the happiness out of her. She loved it so much and yet no one else in the neighbourhood seemed to care about it. No, she was exaggerating. The elders—Mrs. Jankowitz—the octogenarian war widow who always wore a shade of pink as perfect as peony petals, Father Odei from the local Catholic church who always brought her fresh flowers to thank her for keeping the joy of books alive, Mama Sandra who’d grown up with Belle’s own grandmother—they came nearly every day, they told her stories, browsed…bought books even when they probably had far too many to ever read. Seeing them every day and sharing tea with them or sitting outside the shop in the sun…that dimmed the gray plume of longing inside her long enough to keep her from thinking too much about the man who once said he would pull down a star for her, but who now preferred the stars to her.
“I shouldn’t think that way.” She braced herself in the shower, her forearms pressed against the steamed glass. “I need to remember the promise he made to me.”
But she couldn’t erase the bland, distant expression on his face during their last vid call. Or the way Gus tapped his middle finger on the screen’s edge like a metronome counting the beats of their conversation, waiting for the minutes to dribble away.
She tapped the shower controls, increased the water pressure and hoped the hard droplets of water would wash her thoughts clear. There was no point in denying it. She missed him. And he was not coming back. Not now.
The last time he’d been on earth—how long ago was it? A year ago? They had 72 hours together before Gus had to return to the station. That first day, he’d barely given her a chance to speak before he began peeling away the layers of clothing, stripping her bare and touching, reclaiming her. All the motions were right…even now, when she thought about it, her hand drifted downwards, sliding between her thighs as she longed for release. She parted her lower lips until her fingertips brushed the tight bud of her clit. With each slow torturous caress, a moan erupted from her, her breath caught in her throat and her chest strained forward…if only…if only he could suck her nipples now as he did that day, catching them between his teeth and tugging, then teasing with the tip of his tongue until she begged him for more. The thick weight of his erection, pressing into her, filling her so completely…those pale eyes… always watching her, never seeming to get enough of her—was he memorising her? Trying to absorb every detail so that he would not forget?
She slid two fingers inside her, surprised at how wet she already was. At how swollen her clit was and how no amount of fucking herself gave her the release she needed. She picked up the pace, pumping her fingers in and out, trying to hit just the right spots as her knees shook. But the more she tried, the more she wanted.
Even if she closed her eyes and replayed that afternoon in her mind, it was like grasping at stardust.
She couldn’t go on like this.
Belle was still curled in the same tight ball she slept in every night. No matter how many times I tried to massage away the thoughts that troubled her, she curled into herself, one arm tucked under the pillow, the other looped round her torso.
I knew she was not yet accustomed to me beside her. Whenever she announced that she was going to bed, Belle always paused as if uncertain whether she wanted me to join her. Though she kept her expression impassive, her body gave her away. She’d rise from the sofa, her fingers picking at invisible tufts of lint or fussing with the hem of her top. A flicker of her lips was enough to betray her.
Tonight she’d been more certain. She’d crossed the living room and then waited at the mouth of the hall. I studied her, reading the quickness of her pulse, the shallow breaths she took. Tonight she held out her hand to me and said in a hushed tone, “Come to bed, Max. It’s late…”
Once we were in bed though, she did not want me to make love to her or to pleasure her with my fingers and mouth. She asked me to hold her until she slept.
So last week we had a chance to catch up with Mads. This week let’s sit down with Laney. We’ve caught up with her on a rare moment when the kids are napping and her aunt’s house in Juno Beach is quiet. We’re in her aunt’s garden, sitting in the shade of the marbleberry tree and sipping iced tea. What’s going on in Laney’s head…? Let’s find out.
Me: I think the question on everyone’s mind is if this is the end of the road for you and Mads.
Laney: I don’t know. I don’t want it to be…but things between us aren’t the way they were. And I need more from him. I don’t want a part-time husband.
Me: How are the girls taking the separation?
Laney: They don’t really understand it. Freya’s too young–she’s only seven months old, so for her this is more of a Where’s Papa? thing. I can tell she misses him. She’s always looking for him. And for Liv…she’s confused. I can’t really tell my four-year-old daughter that I’ve left her father. That I’ve done it because I need a break from what our life was becoming. All she knows is that her daddy isn’t here… she asks about him every day–when is he coming, does he miss her, will she see him soon? I make sure she has FaceTime chats with him…it’s not the same as seeing him every day but at least they can see each other and talk.
Me: Are you talking to him as well?
Laney: (pausing) Sometimes. It’s not easy. Seeing him, being reminded every time I look at him that maybe this is karma for how we even met and the hurt we caused. And then… I see him and my resolve to be away from him slips. I love him. I guess I love him too much. Maybe that’s my problem.
Me: You’ve had a case of the Baby Blues…do you feel like being away is helping you get back to the old you?
Laney: I really hate that term, “Baby Blues”. It makes it sound so cutesy. I feel better…I’m beginning to feel normal again. My aunt Cecily has been a huge help. I needed support, I needed someone to help me focus and find my footing again and she’s done that. It’s the second time she saved me. The first time was when my mom died… Cecily didn’t have to take me in. She could have left me in foster care. But that’s not the sort of person she is. And even now, she could have said no when I asked if we could come. She tried to talk me out of leaving Denmark with the kids. But she also understood I needed to be away.
Me: You didn’t initially want to try the yoga and meditation she suggested. What made you change your mind?
Laney: I couldn’t really see how it was going to help me… I didn’t understand how it could make me feel any differently. But then I went, and it was all about focusing on you and your baby and forming this connection. When everything is calm, when you can feel all the tension ebbing away and you realize how much you love your child, how you’ve been in this fog because of anxiety and lack of sleep and everything else. And suddenly you see your little one in a different light, one that isn’t dimmed by all the confusion, and it’s such a relief. I’m so glad Cecily talked me into trying it. It helped me find my way again.
Me: Do you have any regrets about leaving the way that you did?
Laney: I should have told him I was going to leave. I knew it even as I was booking the tickets while he slept. I knew this was going to break his heart. But my heart already felt broken. I felt like I’d already lost him.
Me: He says he doesn’t want this to be the end of you. What would it take for the two of you to come back together again?
Laney: I need more than words. I need proof. As much as I love him, I need to see that things will really change. That’s the hard part though…because if he suddenly showed up and said all the right words, I’d melt. I always melt for him. I can’t help it. There’s no one else in this world I want. For me, there’s only Mads.
I’m so excited — Maybe Forever goes live today! If you pre-ordered your copy, it should be pop up in your e-reader as soon as you sync it. A few people have already told me they’ve got it in their Kindles now.
Since I am naturally impatient, I checked already to see if it was live on Amazon yet (and it wasn’t), but I suppose they will change the status in a couple of hours since they operate on PDT (Pacific Daylight Time) and I am in Sweden where it’s CEST (Central European Summer Time).
I wasn’t sure how long I sat on the sofa, waiting…my face stripped of all the makeup, my dress draped across a chair in the bedroom. I would never wear it again. Now it felt jinxed. I’d changed into a pair of shorts and a tank top. My stomach grumbled, reminding me that I’d not had dinner. I should have been hungry…but the roiling sensation in my belly didn’t make me want to eat. It was too hot. My skin felt clammy, sticky. I hadn’t smoked in over a year but now I wished I could have a cigarette. I longed for the illicit pull of the tobacco. I longed to forget.
How could he forget? How could I be so easy to forget? He used to remember everything. Every little detail of my life, memorizing it like it held some hidden meaning. He used to tell me he wanted to know everything about me. He’d remember things I’d forgotten. Now it felt like he’d forgotten all the important bits. Maybe he didn’t want to remember.
The anticipated sequel to MAYBE BABY and MAYBE TONIGHT
Is the honeymoon over…?
Now married with two children, Laney and Mads are finding their life together isn’t as simple as it used to be. While Laney struggles with motherhood, Mads is so focused on chasing success that he loses sight of promises he’s made.
When frustration gets the better of her, Laney takes the kids and goes to the US, hoping to find solace with her aunt Cecily, a former school teacher who now teaches yoga and meditation in Florida.
Will Laney and Mads find a way back to one another…or is it too late?
Launching on May 15 for Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo.