Monday, 19 April 2021

A Special Edition for sale

A Special Romance 


What makes this different from my other edition on sale   https://lnkd.in/gh7YVhw?

The Special Edition has an exclusive afterword that adds some intrigue to the end of the story, and should entice readers to want more from my characters.

To new readers, my romances usually involve mature ladies rather than young girls, yes it is my preference, but a mature lady is more intriguing than a young girl who has not lived.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

A Feel Good start to the week

 Tierra de Lobos


I thought this month I had made a drastic error, I was watching Tierra se Lobos on YouTube, and decided to buy the triple series box set from Spain; a couple of days ago I rhiught I'd be unable to download 2/3 of the subtitles but this morning I found a site that has all the episodes.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Cybercrime

 Getting hacked off


Twice in the last 12 months I have had my bank account hacked by people in the Philippines. This raises the question about what happens?

Do they get the IT training, then find there is no work; or do they get the IT training to hack?

A few years ago I had to laugh when the bank contacted about a suspicious sale using my card.
It was from a man in Wigan, Greater Manchester who tried to use my account to buy some disco equipment. The funny part is I have not been to Wigan, the last time I passed through the area was back in 1988 when I got de-mobbed from the Royal Air Force.
 Even in my teens I never liked going to discos, the bright flashing lights and loud noises gave me severe headaches.

Prior to that, a person in Budapest, Hungary tried buying a meal with my details. I have never been anywhere near the area; the closest I have been would be when I went to Switzerland the year before I got married (36 years ago).

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Mentiras

 Don't lie to me


The image above relates to a short story I wrote several years ago, for sale, about the time I almost died in my sleep.

Mentiras is the Spanish term meaning lies.
I cannot tell you how many times I read "Where can I buy your books?" I can tell you that the question never lead to any sales on either https://www.draft2digital.com/book/https://author.amazon.com/books, or   https://author.amazon.co.uk/books, as the Spanish would say "Donde esta la motivacion?" Where is the motivation to write when all you get are false hopes of sales.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Mill House Terror

 A short horror story

Nurse Jane Clark looked in on Adam Carter as he sat in his room drawing, she sighed as she noted no change, and closed the door. When she turned to leave on her rounds, she met Dr. John Taylor.
The doctor asked, "is there any change, nurse?"
She replied, "No, Doctor Taylor. All he does is sit and draw mills for hours, what happened on the day before he came here must have been so terrible it has etched itself on his mind. The psychiatrist says she can't get him to talk."

Adam had no idea what lay ahead that day four years ago, if he had he would have taken better care of his friends, that day his life changed beyond any degree of imagination.
The four friends, Adam, his girlfriend Julie, Terry and his girlfriend, Anne had agreed to meet at the old mill to relax in the summer sun, and hopefully have some innocent fun later. Life rarely goes to plan as the four young people were to find out.

Adam sat in his room gazing idly at his drawings, images that had etched themselves into his mind since the day of the accident, the day his life ended; now all he did was exist in his tormented world of pain as it had been his decision to go to the mill that day. 
All had started well that day, the sun was shining and there was a gentle warming breeze on the air; a day made for romance not horror. Try as he may, what followed could neither be forgotten nor erased; Adam was so desperate to erase those thought he talked to his doctor about having a lobotomy, even though the results would have left him in a vegetative state, if he survived the operation; an operation the medical profession had scorned since the first results came back over a century ago.

The plan was to go and sit by the steam, gently dangling your feet in the stream as it struggled to cross the stones and pebbles to tickle your toes.
What followed was anything but gentle, or pleasant, it was if nature turned its back on the group with a vengeance. First the warm breeze turned to a chilling, biting, wind which became damper as time passed. This was followed by the first rains, as Julie got up to run for the mill for cover, she stepped on a slippery rock, she slipped and hit her head before rolling into the now raging torrent the stream had become, try as he did there was nothing Adam could do but cry as her body got carried under the wheel to be crushed.

With tears mixing with the rain, he ran to the mill to hide from the storm with his friends. They had only just got through the door when the wind slammed it shut as if to warn the friends that something terrible lay ahead.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

I am keeping the store open for another month

 My eBay store


As the middle of the month arrives the sales at my eBay store have picked up a little, so I decided to keep it open for another month and see what it is like next month.

What can I say,

Carmen Maura in Witching and Bitching

Thursday, 8 April 2021

My year on eBay

 Not everyone is honest

The reason the image of my best-read (online) ghost story adorns this post is that it represents how I feel about trading on eBay. I have no issue with the site, only with several of the sellers, and buyers I have had contact with.
In the last month, I have had several people ask for refunds for good they "claim" have not arrived; I used to believe in honesty for all, but last month that changed. My change of attitude is another reason I am closing my shop on eBay as I find it hard to work when there is no trust,


Thursday, 1 April 2021

Give as you Live 500

 The next attainable target

Carmen Maura in Witching and Bitching
The next attainable target on my Give as you Live list is for donations reaching £20; I am about 50 pence short of the target. I get some of the money for buying from sales in my store in eBay; unfortunately the shop will close this month as result of the coronavirus and the lockdowns.




The next sales target is set at 500 sales, I won't reach that for at least another year, if not two years, as this month I passed the 200 sales badge.



Wednesday, 31 March 2021

L' Enfant Terrible

 

Chapter 1

Marta de Ridder sat at her desk in her house in Selange, Southern Belgium. Being a best-selling writer gave her some privileges in her career, but she knew you couldn't buy happiness. Marta had her share of detractors and critics in her early years, and those knocks still bore the scars on her confidence.

Fortune favored Marta, at the point of giving up writing, she entered one final writing contest out of desperation. The prize was a prestigious contract with a top publishing house. However, she'd never written historical fiction before - she gained her reputation writing Gothic Romances - she decided with nothing to lose to have a go. Much to her surprise, although she didn't win the contest, her entry so impressed the judges they offered her a contract.

Marta’s best friend is her agent, Helena Gerhoven. Helena got offered the job of a publicist at a new firm in Liege and was on the lookout for new writers to impress her bosses. Being a fan of Marta’s writing, Helena asked her if she would like to be her client for the firm.  Not sure what to make of the newcomer, her bosses were a little dubious about Helena’s choice of her friend as a client, but they decided to give Marta the chance to prove herself, and they never looked back, as her stature grew so did the firm. Now MedHis is one of the most famous publishers in Liege.

Marta lives in the same house that she grew up in, but her heart was not always here. She had grown up in Selange, but she longed for the days when her family visited their lodge in the mountains. Her career meant Marta had little time for such luxuries as time off, and being a writer, even if Marta took the occasional day off work, she would still think of storylines. Often, she wondered what it would be like to be able to relax her mind and enjoy life.

From her house, Marta could see all the forest in the distance. "The high life isn't all it's cracked up to be," she thought I spend my days writing about the lives and loves of my reader's heroes and heroines and rarely get the opportunity to enjoy the gains of my work. Perhaps, after the next release, I'll take a week off to visit the lodge. 

As if to remind her of her obligation to the reality of life, the phone on the desk rang, she picked the receiver up and replied, "Marta de Ridder how may I help you?"

The voice on the other end was the familiar voice of her friend, Helena, "Hi, how are you fixed for dinner next Tuesday?"

Marta thought for a while and checked her diary. Helena usually kept track of Marta’s  meetings, but sometimes she booked one, or two, without telling her friend. It was her way of having a little freedom, and Helena accepted the way Marta did things. Marta took a glance at her calendar, and then said, "At the moment, I am free on Tuesday, Helena, what's on your mind?"

Helena flicked through the book of addresses in front of her, and then replied, "I thought we could have a drink and a meal to discuss a new proposal that was put to me, to put to you."

Marta glanced at the treetops in her view, lost in thought for a minute, and then replied, "Yeah, I'm okay with that idea. Shall we say 8:00?." 

Helena gently smiled and replied, "Let me guess, La Charbonnade."

Marta sighed, "Am I that transparent? I thought, after the next book, I might be able to take some time off, I feel jaded, and I worry that my tiredness will affect my writing, and the sales will fall. I don't want to disappoint my readers." 

Helena replied, "Marta, the last thing you are is obvious, that is why I enjoy being your agent as you keep me on my toes. Secondly, when have you ever let the readers down?"

Marta thought for a moment, and then replied, "Not as far as I can recall, but there's always a first time."

Helena sensed a cramp in her legs, so she stood up from her desk and took a walk around her office while she smoothed her skirt, and replied, "I can tell you, your books are selling better than ever. We have mass pre-orders for your next book, and only you know when it will be out. I know you like to keep things close to your chest, but a little warning would be nice. That way, we can book some promotional tours to coincide with the launch, before you say it - I know you don't like signings. So, we're okay for 8:00 at La Charbonnade next Tuesday, be there, or be square," Helena quipped as she put the phone in her office down.

No sooner had Marta put her phone down that it rang; she replied to the caller, "Hello, Marta de Ridder, can I help you?

A man's voice replied, "Hello, miss de Ridder. My name is Roger de Coster, my firm is in need of your legal aid.”

Marta was taken by surprise but quickly recovered to reply, " Mr. de Coster, you have contacted the wrong lady. You need to contact my sister, Corrie, she is the lawyer. I am a writer.”

Mr. de Coster made his apologies and replaced his receiver. Marta was still none the wiser about the call, she'd been out of contact with her sister since they had a row several years ago, often she had thought of making peace.



Chapter 2 - 

Marta's curiosity had piqued, who is Roger de Coster, and what is the nature of his business that he needed Corrie's help so urgently? Having lost contact with her sister, Marta had no idea of the world and people that her sister was mixing in. Even as a child, Corrie appeared to live in a world of her own, Corrie made no friends, unlike her two sisters, Marta and Anjetta.

All-day, Marta puzzled over who Roger de Coster was and how did Corrie fit in his plans. The more she thought about the situation, the more convinced she was that her sister was getting involved in something either illegal or beyond her capability to understand the ramifications of her actions. Marta's concerns grew the longer she pondered the question. Surely, Corrie wouldn't break the law, but then again. They'd been out of touch for so long, what did Marta know about her sister?

Late in the evening, when she could bear the strain no more, Marta phoned Helena at home. Helena's phone showed a number she knew, so formality was not needed to start a conversation; "Hello, Marta, something must be on your mind as I can't recall you ringing me at home, what is wrong?"

"That is the question, Helena; I am not sure there is a problem; I am just curious if you know something about a man called Roger de Coster?"

"The only de Coster that I can think of is the chairman of the firm de Coster, Robert, Goebbers and van Velthoven, in Ghent, why do you ask?"

"This afternoon, I had a strange call from Mr. de Coster asking to speak to my sister, Corrie. So, what does the firm sell?"

Helena gave a short laugh, then replied, "Oh dear, you do need to get out, Marta. They've been in the news almost every day for the last month. They are involved in a takeover bid for one of the largest motor contracts in our country in over two decades."

Marta rose for her desk; she began to feel her back again, "Oh, so there is little possibility that Corrie is involved in something illegal; I am pleased to know that. As for the break, I am hoping to get a respite break after we've signed the deal next month, I am hoping to visit both Madrid and Lisbon before flying home."

Helena smiled, then replied, "I don't know your sisters, but from what you told me; I'd say you were the most likely to get involved in something dubious as you're the gambler in the family."

"That is true, Helena. Anjetta is too logical to consider the possibility of risking winning against losing, and Corrie is so pedantic to be untrue. Even if you told her she was on to a good thing, she would need to see the finances for the last year, and then, she'd turn her nose up at any opportunity to make a profit."

"Now I have eased your mind over Corrie, what are your plans for the trip?"

"We'll fly from Bruges to Barcelona for the conference. After that, I believe you'll be returning, but I will travel to Madrid as I have something I wish to visit in the area; Spain’s ghost airport. After a day or two in the city, I'll be crossing to Lisbon for a week before returning."

"Did you say we'll be flying? I thought you were afraid to fly!"

"You are right; I do hate the thought of flying, but not as much as I detest the idea of driving for a day each way. I realize the journey is only 12 hours long, but we'd need a rest during that time, and as I have not driven at night for years, I don't wish to risk an accident."

"I agree, there is no point in getting there and feeling upset, that will only cause us problems when it comes time for signing the contract, and I know how obstinate you can be if you are feeling wronged, Marta."

"It's not only that; I think I need an eye test soon, I can't focus to type for longer than a few minutes before I get a headache. What I think I'll do is take a few

days off before we fly to Barcelona so that I can clear my mind. I need to go get out and breathe for a while if this deal comes off."

Before Marta could finish, Helena interrupted and said, "I'll have none of this IF business, the deal is a done thing, the signing is only a formality and to let you get seen outside Belgium."

Helena could tell Marta was feeling cornered. She began the next conversation after she laughed by saying, "Okay, Miss Gerhoven, when this deal is signed, and I have got back from my vacation, I have the feeling I will be rushed off my feet for orders.”

“Will that be a problem?"

Marta paused as she thought of what she planned for the trip to her cottage in the Ardennes, then said, "In some ways, yes I wanted to take some time to get my cottage back in shape before the hiking season begins."

"I'm sure we can permit our star writer to have a few days off."

Marta laughed and replied, "Oh, Helena, you make it sound as though I have a big business plan. All it involves is a lodge with a bed and some blankets for the hikers. 

This is my first year running the project, so I have no idea if there will be any business. Anyway, I expect to be back before you realize I have gone.  I'll have to love you and leave you, Helena, until Tuesday -see you later”.

Marta put the phone in her pocket and walked down the hall to the door leading to the garage.  Her mind was thinking of the list of items she would need for the lodge when she bumped into the door, "Merde'," she muttered as she turned the key in the lock.

Marta opened her car door and sat in the driver's seat, she reached down to choose a CD for the drive to the lodge but changed her mind when she felt her head throbbing.

Marta hadn't been on the road long when a storm broke.  Never one to walk from the rain, she opened her window to feel the midday coolness the storm brought, then she realized there was another aroma in the air, she took in a breath then sighed, "You can't beat the scent of pine in the air to invigorate your soul."  She decided to stop at Dohan on her way to pick up some food for her stay, while she was walking back from a store, Marta thought she saw a young man look her way, and wink at her. "Mmm, you seem nice, what a shame you probably have a girlfriend waiting."

Marta didn’t think anymore of the young man as she had business matters to attend to at the moment, but for some reason she had an eerie feeling their paths would cross. 

From his view, the young man wished he could manufacture a way to meet the attractive lady. Something about her presence drew his eyes to her; she had a presence that he could not, nor did he wish to, ignore and that intrigued him more than her physical attractiveness; which he was in no doubt about, but “alas,” he thought “an attractive lady like her must have several admirers.”

Marta stopped her car across from the shopping precinct, not more than a few small shops selling camping essentials, and walked over to gather the items she thought she’d be needing to get the lodge ready for her visitors. It was at this point that fate, or destiny, stepped in. As Marta left the shops she felt the weight of her shopping bags get lighter, before she had time to react the handles broke and her shopping hit the floor.

Before Marta had time to curse, the young man had come to her aid and was picking up the food and drink before it got damaged beyond the point of salvation. 

Marta smiled at her rescuer then said, “There was no need, I have lived on my own for a long time, and I can handle a small setback like this.”

The young man smiled back, then replied, “I apologise if my actions offended you, I meant no harm. I was only trying to be a gentleman and help a lady; I wasn't trying to be a male chauvinist and imply you needed my help. If you can open the doors, I’ll put the goods in the car, then we can go our separate ways.”

Feeling awkward, Marta opened the car doors and watched as he put the good in the rear, after saying her thanks she drove away, muttering to herself, “You’re a jerk, you wanted to meet him and now you’ve probably blown your chances.”

Back at the store, the young man bought what he wanted, as he walked out he muttered, “If only she’d been not so prickly there may have been an opportunity for a friendship, as she is very attractive.”




Chapter 3

Putting her misguided pride aside, Marta got on with preparing the lodge for the opening of the hiking season, as she made the bed she muttered, “What I need is a reliable person to stay here when I am away on business, but I have no friends in this area.

The setting up of the cabin was going well, even if it was tiring cleaning the webs from the ledges, so Marta  decided to take a short break and have a cup of coffee. She had just taken her jacket off when there was a knock at the door, without thinking she rose to answer the door, to find the young man she had met earlier standing there.

Taken aback by the appearance of the young man at her door, all she could do was stammer, “I apologise for the state of my undress, you caught me having a break while I cleaned the lodge.”

He smiled and replied, “No apology is needed. I realize this may seem like a lame excuse to meet an attractive lady, but could you spare some sugar please? I would have got some at the store, but when I saw you I forgot to get the sugar.”

Marta giggled, and blushed slightly at the comment, then said, “Please come in, I think I have some in the cupboard you can have. By the way mane is”

Before she could finnish her guest said “Marta de Ridder, best selling writer. We may not be in the big league here, but we try to keep up with the times as much as we can.”

Slightly taken aback, Marta commented, “You appear to have me at a disadvantage, sir, as I do not know your name.”

The man smiled, apologised, then said, “I am Alain Everts. My grandfather was the Motocross rider Harry Everts. My family wanted me to follow in his footsteps, but I had other ideas so I ended up out here as a forrester. I am a bit of an Enfant Terrible.”

Marta smiled, then commented, “Not unlike me in that sense, but my story is a tale of a tormented soul in search of a meaning.”

Alain replied, “That sounds like one of your stories, Miss de Ridder.”



Marta smiled, then said, “It’s Marta, please, now we know a little more about each other, and forgive me manners please come in and sit down. I apologise if the cushions are dirty it is out of season, and I have no idea when the lodge was cleaned last as this is my first time here.”

Alain glanced around the room, then commented, “I could come and help clean the lodge for you, if you have no objections. My work has no deadline, and at this time of year I am waiting for orders from my regular buyers.”

Marta called from the kitchen, “That would be great, merci. How do you take your coffee?”

“Black with one sugar, merci. I changed to black last year as it's hard to either get milk here, or keep what you have from going off as the area gets many storms even when it appears to be a clear day.”

Marta returned carrying their cups of coffee, after handing Alain his she sat down, then said, “I know, I got caught in a flash storm on my way here. I think the humidity caused by the air pressure gave me a migraine.”


“I can imagine that, being a forester I see and hear about a lot of things. What concerns me most are the visitors who come here unprepared for the hike. They forget though the area is mainly flat it contains some steep gorges and it is all too easy to get trapped in a flash flood. I did once, that is one of the reasons I joined the rescue service.”

Marta smiled, then said, “It is fortunate you asked about the lodge, Alain.”

“Porqui?”

“Later this month I have a business trip to go on to Barcelona, and then I am taking a few weeks rest in a house on Majorca that I rent out with a couple of friends, and I need someone I can trust to look after the lodge and keep the business running while I am away, are you interested in becoming a partner in running the lodge?”

Alain replied, “Certainly, on one condition.”

Marta asked “What condition?”

“Tell me why you are an Enfant Terrible.”

Marta smiled, then commented, “Then we have a deal, I’ll tell you that part of my story on my return in late November. But, there is one part of my life I cannot tell you about.”

“Without prying, what is the reason.”

“It’s no secret, only there is a part of my life when something happened, but I have no memory of it happening. I tried hypnotherapy without success. I think the only person who could help me is my sister Annette, but we lost touch years ago. All I recall is going to a hostel for a week with the family, and when we came back there was a silence that nobody spoke of; when I asked, everyone changed the subject. I tried to contact her, but she is an artist and moves around a lot.”

Alain asked “If you don’t object to me asking, when do you plan to return?”

Marte smiled and leant forward to kiss Alain, “It is no problem; I shall be away for about two weeks. I have some business deals to settle in Barcelona, the publisher wishes to meet me rather than do it online, she’s an old-fashioned person who prefers personal contact with her writers than the impersonal world of the computer.”

“There can’t be many of her type left; most publishers I knew of did everything on their computers.”

“Oui, they are few and far between, but thankfully they do exist. I know it’s a drag, but I prefer to meet on a personal level too; I feel I can gauge their reaction better this way. After the first week. I have plans to visit Majorca with a few friends from my college days before returning.”

“You realize at this time of year, the winds will be cold and wet on the coast.”

“Oui. The wind is called the Tramontana and roars across the plains of Majorca; that is why we chose this time of year when the tourists are long gone and we can have peace. How long will you be staying here, before you have to return for your flight?”

“I can stay for a couple of days, but I must leave by Tuesday morning; I have to meet with my agent on Tuesday evening to finalize our travel plans for the trip, so we can have a couple days together.”

Alain smiled, then replied, “That would be very nice. I look forward to getting to know you, Marta.”

Marta returned his smile and asked, “I couldn’t help noticing when you took your jacket off, you did well to try and hide the grimace of pain your shoulder gave you; if you don’t mind me asking how is your shoulder damaged?”

Alain smiled, “Yes, there are times when I forget my tablets, this morning is one of those days. There is no problem, I was practising at Namur for a round of the National Championships when I misread a bend; the plan was to ride high on the outer slope, to maintain speed, then cut to the inside. Only my plan backfired and I accelerated too soon and hit a tree dislocating my shoulder, since then I feel even the smallest change in humidity in the air in my injured shoulder. After spending a week in the hospital, I decided L’ Enfant Terrible would not race again, I wasn’t any good so I don’t miss the races.”

“I am fortunate, my injuries are not seen, but rejection is something you never get used to, no matter how many times you get the slips from the publishers; you laugh about them, but inside it always hurts. I got so used to them, I could read the end before I got to the end of the first line. They usually begin Dear Mrs. de Ridder, we enjoyed the pleasure of reading your manuscript, and then I stopped reading as all that is to be said has been said at that point.  

The only publishers who took any interest, in the early days, were people who wanted me to pay the costs, and if the book sold well they would grab my coat tails and get praises for doing nothing.”

“Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

“No, if it’s too personal for our friendship, at the moment, I can always choose not to answer.”

“Merci, why did you choose to change if you were a successful business owner?”

“I realized, I was getting too old for the sex trade, and rather than become one of those sad old ladies, I opted to sell my shares to my friend, Julianna; it was only the timing I had trouble with as I had been thinking of retiring for years.”

“Do you miss the sex trade?”

“I misss the comradeship we had, but not the sex itself. I still retain the hope of finding love.”

“I am pleased to hear that.”

Marta smiled and said "I'm an eternally romantic and wild spirited lady with a voracious appetite for love."

Alain winked and replied "In that case I am pleased to meet you, and I hope we can have a lasting relationship. Will we have time to get to know each other a little before you need to return for your trip to Spain?"

Without stopping to think, Marta said, "I hope so, I don't need to return until Tuesday morning so we have two days together."

Alain paused, he was not sure if the time was right to ask, Marta sensed the tension and asked "What is on your mind?"

He took a breath, then asked "I was going to ask if I could bring some of my gear here while you are away, but I didn't wish to appear too forward as we've just met."

Marta smiled sweetly, then commented, "Feel free to bring what you like, I'd enjoy your company during this time, otherwise it will be a long few days for me. Apart from anything else, having you here will take my mind off business.”

Marta licked her lips, not too innocently, then replied, "I'll look forward to that," then she gave an all too obvious wink that Alain could not fail to see, so he smiled and winked back,


Chapter 4

Marta watched as Alain walked back to his cabin, her mind had one thought: What a hunk, so polite!

For his thoughts, Alain was thinking: Marta is so attractive the young ladies around here will be  jealous,

Marta glanced in Alain's direction and muttered, “I think I’ll have about twenty minutes before Alain gets back for the night. I can’t do much, but some tidying up is better than nothing.”

Marta was so busy cleaning the webs off the windows she forgot the time, until Alain returned.

He gave a short rap on the window and smiled at his good fortune.

Marta called out, “Entre!, I am in the kitchen. I cannot make a full meal as we’re low on supplies, but I can rustle up some eggs, bacon and sausages.”

Alain walked into the kitchen, then he walked over to Marta and as he kissed her neck, he whispered, “That sounds like heaven to me.”

Feeling his taut body next to her, she turned to kiss him, and whispered in his ear, “I look forward to waking to find you next to me in the morning knowing you chose to be with me rather than a much younger lady.” 


When their lips met, he said, “Marta, there was never any chance a young lady would please me once I saw you. If you have no objection I’d like to quote some lines from a book recently read -  A Homecoming by Alan Place - as I think I could not put my feelings for you any better?”

“Not at all, if we feel it says how you feel.”




The scene is a beach in Israel, a group of friends are sitting having a cool drink in the midday heat when the writer, Kim turns to her friend, Mark, and says “Don’t you feel that older ladies are like trees  that have taken the winds of time and gracefully aged. They may  not be as young but that doesn’t mean they are less attractive,”

"That is an enlightening, and refreshing view on romance. A view I never expected to hear from such a handsome young man as you, Alain."

"I can tell you, it is a view shared by many friends of mine, Marta; we find young girls to fickle to talk to. Love is not only about the sex, it's the time before and after sex that is most important, when you enjoy the company of your partner. I always tell my friends it's easier to turn a friend into a lover than to turn a lover into a friend, if the sex doesn't go well you can always talk to your friend to find a better way forward with the relationship."

"How do you view our relationship?"

"I view it as loving relationship, that I hope will turn into true love."

"I am pleased to hear that, that is what I wish too."


Chapter 5

With a smile and a gentle kiss, Marta edged Alain into the bedroom, not that he needed that much pushing as he could feel himself getting hard in his tight trousers. In his mind, there was no doubt that she had felt it against her when he caressed her which could have been the prompt for her to start the next stage of the relationship, not that she needed much prompting as Marta's nipples had got hard since their introduction in the hope that something better was to come.

The bed had not been made, but that made no difference as the friends collapsed in a swirling mass of love into its folds and creases, as Marta tried to gently remove Alain's shirt to caress his sweaty body, she felt him flinch under her gentlr touch, "I'm sorry, love, I never meant to hurt you."

Alain rubbed his shoulder, then replied, "That's fine, darling, it wasn't your fault; I forget my injured shoulder often too, sometimes I try to imagine my life without this injury. There was a time when I was angry at my injury, but that passed when I thought of the enjoyment I get working in the forrest and seeing nature around me each day, if I had succedded in being a motorcyclist my world would have been on the road, and that is a lonely life for the rewards it brings. I often had that discussion with my grandfather and his friends, before they went into business. Have you thought what may have happened if you had not entered that contest which earned you the contract?"

Marta smiled, then commented, "Each time I write a page, or complete a book I wonder about it. Honestly, I have no idea what I would have done, or be doing, at that time my life was, and to some extent still is, a mess. I am not like my sisters, I can't focus my energies on one subject which is probably why I never passed any exams at school."

"Do you envy your sisters' successes?"

"Not in the slightest, we are so different, and envy is a waste of energy; I'd rather be me and in love, than have the success they have any day. I am so different from my sisters, I wonder if they envy my ability to flit from here to there like a butterfly chasing a shadow."

"If you had your time again, what would have liked to have been?"

"I have never givem it any thought, what about you?"

"I have given the idea a lot of thought, and I think I'd liked to be doing what I am now; I have always had an affinity with nature and photography."

"Do you have any photos with you?"

"Most of my photos are in my rucksack in the closet back at my lodge."

"One day I shall have to come down to see them, for now all I wish is to lie here at peace with you and cuddle as we kiss."

The romance between Marta and Alain

 

Here are the opening pages of my romance.

Chapter 1

Marta de Ridder sat at her desk in her house in Selange, Southern Belgium. Being a best-selling writer gave her some privileges in her career, but she knew you couldn't buy happiness. Marta had her share of detractors and critics in her early years, and those knocks still bore the scars on her confidence.

Fortune favored Marta, at the point of giving up writing, she entered one final writing contest out of desperation. The prize was a prestigious contract with a top publishing house. However, she'd never written historical fiction before - she gained her reputation writing Gothic Romances - she decided with nothing to lose to have a go. Much to her surprise, although she didn't win the contest, her entry so impressed the judges they offered her a contract.

Marta’s best friend is her agent, Helena Gerhoven. Helena got offered the job of a publicist at a new firm in Liege and was on the lookout for new writers to impress her bosses. Being a fan of Marta’s writing, Helena asked her if she would like to be her client for the firm.  Not sure what to make of the newcomer, her bosses were a little dubious about Helena’s choice of her friend as a client, but they decided to give Marta the chance to prove herself, and they never looked back, as her stature grew so did the firm. Now MedHis is one of the most famous publishers in Liege.

Marta lives in the same house that she grew up in, but her heart was not always here. She had grown up in Selange, but she longed for the days when her family visited their lodge in the mountains. Her career meant Marta had little time for such luxuries as time off, and being a writer, even if Marta took the occasional day off work, she would still think of storylines. Often, she wondered what it would be like to be able to relax her mind and enjoy life.

From her house, Marta could see all the forest in the distance. "The high life isn't all it's cracked up to be," she thought I spend my days writing about the lives and loves of my reader's heroes and heroines and rarely get the opportunity to enjoy the gains of my work. Perhaps, after the next release, I'll take a week off to visit the lodge. 

As if to remind her of her obligation to the reality of life, the phone on the desk rang, she picked the receiver up and replied, "Marta de Ridder how may I help you?"

The voice on the other end was the familiar voice of her friend, Helena, "Hi, how are you fixed for dinner next Tuesday?"

Marta thought for a while and checked her diary. Helena usually kept track of Marta’s  meetings, but sometimes she booked one, or two, without telling her friend. It was her way of having a little freedom, and Helena accepted the way Marta did things. Marta took a glance at her calendar, and then said, "At the moment, I am free on Tuesday, Helena, what's on your mind?"

Helena flicked through the book of addresses in front of her, and then replied, "I thought we could have a drink and a meal to discuss a new proposal that was put to me, to put to you."

Marta glanced at the treetops in her view, lost in thought for a minute, and then replied, "Yeah, I'm okay with that idea. Shall we say 8:00?." 

Helena gently smiled and replied, "Let me guess, La Charbonnade."

Marta sighed, "Am I that transparent? I thought, after the next book, I might be able to take some time off, I feel jaded, and I worry that my tiredness will affect my writing, and the sales will fall. I don't want to disappoint my readers." 

Helena replied, "Marta, the last thing you are is obvious, that is why I enjoy being your agent as you keep me on my toes. Secondly, when have you ever let the readers down?"

Marta thought for a moment, and then replied, "Not as far as I can recall, but there's always a first time."

Helena sensed a cramp in her legs, so she stood up from her desk and took a walk around her office while she smoothed her skirt, and replied, "I can tell you, your books are selling better than ever. We have mass pre-orders for your next book, and only you know when it will be out. I know you like to keep things close to your chest, but a little warning would be nice. That way, we can book some promotional tours to coincide with the launch, before you say it - I know you don't like signings. So, we're okay for 8:00 at La Charbonnade next Tuesday, be there, or be square," Helena quipped as she put the phone in her office down.

No sooner had Marta put her phone down that it rang; she replied to the caller, "Hello, Marta de Ridder, can I help you?

A man's voice replied, "Hello, miss de Ridder. My name is Roger de Coster, my firm is in need of your legal aid.”

Marta was taken by surprise but quickly recovered to reply, " Mr. de Coster, you have contacted the wrong lady. You need to contact my sister, Corrie, she is the lawyer. I am a writer.”

Mr. de Coster made his apologies and replaced his receiver. Marta was still none the wiser about the call, she'd been out of contact with her sister since they had a row several years ago, often she had thought of making peace.



Chapter 2 - 

Marta's curiosity had piqued, who is Roger de Coster, and what is the nature of his business that he needed Corrie's help so urgently? Having lost contact with her sister, Marta had no idea of the world and people that her sister was mixing in. Even as a child, Corrie appeared to live in a world of her own, Corrie made no friends, unlike her two sisters, Marta and Anjetta.

All-day, Marta puzzled over who Roger de Coster was and how did Corrie fit in his plans. The more she thought about the situation, the more convinced she was that her sister was getting involved in something either illegal or beyond her capability to understand the ramifications of her actions. Marta's concerns grew the longer she pondered the question. Surely, Corrie wouldn't break the law, but then again. They'd been out of touch for so long, what did Marta know about her sister?

Late in the evening, when she could bear the strain no more, Marta phoned Helena at home. Helena's phone showed a number she knew, so formality was not needed to start a conversation; "Hello, Marta, something must be on your mind as I can't recall you ringing me at home, what is wrong?"

"That is the question, Helena; I am not sure there is a problem; I am just curious if you know something about a man called Roger de Coster?"

"The only de Coster that I can think of is the chairman of the firm de Coster, Robert, Goebbers and van Velthoven, in Ghent, why do you ask?"

"This afternoon, I had a strange call from Mr. de Coster asking to speak to my sister, Corrie. So, what does the firm sell?"

Helena gave a short laugh, then replied, "Oh dear, you do need to get out, Marta. They've been in the news almost every day for the last month. They are involved in a takeover bid for one of the largest motor contracts in our country in over two decades."

Marta rose for her desk; she began to feel her back again, "Oh, so there is little possibility that Corrie is involved in something illegal; I am pleased to know that. As for the break, I am hoping to get a respite break after we've signed the deal next month, I am hoping to visit both Madrid and Lisbon before flying home."

Helena smiled, then replied, "I don't know your sisters, but from what you told me; I'd say you were the most likely to get involved in something dubious as you're the gambler in the family."

"That is true, Helena. Anjetta is too logical to consider the possibility of risking winning against losing, and Corrie is so pedantic to be untrue. Even if you told her she was on to a good thing, she would need to see the finances for the last year, and then, she'd turn her nose up at any opportunity to make a profit."

"Now I have eased your mind over Corrie, what are your plans for the trip?"

"We'll fly from Bruges to Barcelona for the conference. After that, I believe you'll be returning, but I will travel to Madrid as I have something I wish to visit in the area; Spain’s ghost airport. After a day or two in the city, I'll be crossing to Lisbon for a week before returning."

"Did you say we'll be flying? I thought you were afraid to fly!"

"You are right; I do hate the thought of flying, but not as much as I detest the idea of driving for a day each way. I realize the journey is only 12 hours long, but we'd need a rest during that time, and as I have not driven at night for years, I don't wish to risk an accident."

"I agree, there is no point in getting there and feeling upset, that will only cause us problems when it comes time for signing the contract, and I know how obstinate you can be if you are feeling wronged, Marta."

"It's not only that; I think I need an eye test soon, I can't focus to type for longer than a few minutes before I get a headache. What I think I'll do is take a few

days off before we fly to Barcelona so that I can clear my mind. I need to go get out and breathe for a while if this deal comes off."

Before Marta could finish, Helena interrupted and said, "I'll have none of this IF business, the deal is a done thing, the signing is only a formality and to let you get seen outside Belgium."

Helena could tell Marta was feeling cornered. She began the next conversation after she laughed by saying, "Okay, Miss Gerhoven, when this deal is signed, and I have got back from my vacation, I have the feeling I will be rushed off my feet for orders.”

“Will that be a problem?"

Marta paused as she thought of what she planned for the trip to her cottage in the Ardennes, then said, "In some ways, yes I wanted to take some time to get my cottage back in shape before the hiking season begins."

"I'm sure we can permit our star writer to have a few days off."

Marta laughed and replied, "Oh, Helena, you make it sound as though I have a big business plan. All it involves is a lodge with a bed and some blankets for the hikers. 

This is my first year running the project, so I have no idea if there will be any business. Anyway, I expect to be back before you realize I have gone.  I'll have to love you and leave you, Helena, until Tuesday -see you later”.

Marta put the phone in her pocket and walked down the hall to the door leading to the garage.  Her mind was thinking of the list of items she would need for the lodge when she bumped into the door, "Merde'," she muttered as she turned the key in the lock.

Marta opened her car door and sat in the driver's seat, she reached down to choose a CD for the drive to the lodge but changed her mind when she felt her head throbbing.

Marta hadn't been on the road long when a storm broke.  Never one to walk from the rain, she opened her window to feel the midday coolness the storm brought, then she realized there was another aroma in the air, she took in a breath then sighed, "You can't beat the scent of pine in the air to invigorate your soul."  She decided to stop at Dohan on her way to pick up some food for her stay, while she was walking back from a store, Marta thought she saw a young man look her way, and wink at her. "Mmm, you seem nice, what a shame you probably have a girlfriend waiting."

Marta didn’t think anymore of the young man as she had business matters to attend to at the moment, but for some reason she had an eerie feeling their paths would cross. 

From his view, the young man wished he could manufacture a way to meet the attractive lady. Something about her presence drew his eyes to her; she had a presence that he could not, nor did he wish to, ignore and that intrigued him more than her physical attractiveness; which he was in no doubt about, but “alas,” he thought “an attractive lady like her must have several admirers.”

Marta stopped her car across from the shopping precinct, not more than a few small shops selling camping essentials, and walked over to gather the items she thought she’d be needing to get the lodge ready for her visitors. It was at this point that fate, or destiny, stepped in. As Marta left the shops she felt the weight of her shopping bags get lighter, before she had time to react the handles broke and her shopping hit the floor.

Before Marta had time to curse, the young man had come to her aid and was picking up the food and drink before it got damaged beyond the point of salvation. 

Marta smiled at her rescuer then said, “There was no need, I have lived on my own for a long time, and I can handle a small setback like this.”

The young man smiled back, then replied, “I apologise if my actions offended you, I meant no harm. I was only trying to be a gentleman and help a lady; I wasn't trying to be a male chauvinist and imply you needed my help. If you can open the doors, I’ll put the goods in the car, then we can go our separate ways.”

Feeling awkward, Marta opened the car doors and watched as he put the good in the rear, after saying her thanks she drove away, muttering to herself, “You’re a jerk, you wanted to meet him and now you’ve probably blown your chances.”

Back at the store, the young man bought what he wanted, as he walked out he muttered, “If only she’d been not so prickly there may have been an opportunity for a friendship, as she is very attractive.”




Chapter 3

Putting her misguided pride aside, Marta got on with preparing the lodge for the opening of the hiking season, as she made the bed she muttered, “What I need is a reliable person to stay here when I am away on business, but I have no friends in this area.

The setting up of the cabin was going well, even if it was tiring cleaning the webs from the ledges, so Marta  decided to take a short break and have a cup of coffee. She had just taken her jacket off when there was a knock at the door, without thinking she rose to answer the door, to find the young man she had met earlier standing there.

Taken aback by the appearance of the young man at her door, all she could do was stammer, “I apologise for the state of my undress, you caught me having a break while I cleaned the lodge.”

He smiled and replied, “No apology is needed. I realize this may seem like a lame excuse to meet an attractive lady, but could you spare some sugar please? I would have got some at the store, but when I saw you I forgot to get the sugar.”

Marta giggled, and blushed slightly at the comment, then said, “Please come in, I think I have some in the cupboard you can have. By the way mane is”

Before she could finnish her guest said “Marta de Ridder, best selling writer. We may not be in the big league here, but we try to keep up with the times as much as we can.”

Slightly taken aback, Marta commented, “You appear to have me at a disadvantage, sir, as I do not know your name.”

The man smiled, apologised, then said, “I am Alain Everts. My grandfather was the Motocross rider Harry Everts. My family wanted me to follow in his footsteps, but I had other ideas so I ended up out here as a forrester. I am a bit of an Enfant Terrible.”

Marta smiled, then commented, “Not unlike me in that sense, but my story is a tale of a tormented soul in search of a meaning.”

Alain replied, “That sounds like one of your stories, Miss de Ridder.”



Marta smiled, then said, “It’s Marta, please, now we know a little more about each other, and forgive me manners please come in and sit down. I apologise if the cushions are dirty it is out of season, and I have no idea when the lodge was cleaned last as this is my first time here.”

Alain glanced around the room, then commented, “I could come and help clean the lodge for you, if you have no objections. My work has no deadline, and at this time of year I am waiting for orders from my regular buyers.”

Marta called from the kitchen, “That would be great, merci. How do you take your coffee?”

“Black with one sugar, merci. I changed to black last year as it's hard to either get milk here, or keep what you have from going off as the area gets many storms even when it appears to be a clear day.”

Marta returned carrying their cups of coffee, after handing Alain his she sat down, then said, “I know, I got caught in a flash storm on my way here. I think the humidity caused by the air pressure gave me a migraine.”


“I can imagine that, being a forester I see and hear about a lot of things. What concerns me most are the visitors who come here unprepared for the hike. They forget though the area is mainly flat it contains some steep gorges and it is all too easy to get trapped in a flash flood. I did once, that is one of the reasons I joined the rescue service.”

Marta smiled, then said, “It is fortunate you asked about the lodge, Alain.”

“Porqui?”

“Later this month I have a business trip to go on to Barcelona, and then I am taking a few weeks rest in a house on Majorca that I rent out with a couple of friends, and I need someone I can trust to look after the lodge and keep the business running while I am away, are you interested in becoming a partner in running the lodge?”

Alain replied, “Certainly, on one condition.”

Marta asked “What condition?”

“Tell me why you are an Enfant Terrible.”

Marta smiled, then commented, “Then we have a deal, I’ll tell you that part of my story on my return in late November. But, there is one part of my life I cannot tell you about.”

“Without prying, what is the reason.”

“It’s no secret, only there is a part of my life when something happened, but I have no memory of it happening. I tried hypnotherapy without success. I think the only person who could help me is my sister Annette, but we lost touch years ago. All I recall is going to a hostel for a week with the family, and when we came back there was a silence that nobody spoke of; when I asked, everyone changed the subject. I tried to contact her, but she is an artist and moves around a lot.”

Alain asked “If you don’t object to me asking, when do you plan to return?”

Marte smiled and leant forward to kiss Alain, “It is no problem; I shall be away for about two weeks. I have some business deals to settle in Barcelona, the publisher wishes to meet me rather than do it online, she’s an old-fashioned person who prefers personal contact with her writers than the impersonal world of the computer.”

“There can’t be many of her type left; most publishers I knew of did everything on their computers.”

“Oui, they are few and far between, but thankfully they do exist. I know it’s a drag, but I prefer to meet on a personal level too; I feel I can gauge their reaction better this way. After the first week. I have plans to visit Majorca with a few friends from my college days before returning.”

“You realize at this time of year, the winds will be cold and wet on the coast.”

“Oui. The wind is called the Tramontana and roars across the plains of Majorca; that is why we chose this time of year when the tourists are long gone and we can have peace. How long will you be staying here, before you have to return for your flight?”

“I can stay for a couple of days, but I must leave by Tuesday morning; I have to meet with my agent on Tuesday evening to finalize our travel plans for the trip, so we can have a couple days together.”

Alain smiled, then replied, “That would be very nice. I look forward to getting to know you, Marta.”

Marta returned his smile and asked, “I couldn’t help noticing when you took your jacket off, you did well to try and hide the grimace of pain your shoulder gave you; if you don’t mind me asking how is your shoulder damaged?”

Alain smiled, “Yes, there are times when I forget my tablets, this morning is one of those days. There is no problem, I was practising at Namur for a round of the National Championships when I misread a bend; the plan was to ride high on the outer slope, to maintain speed, then cut to the inside. Only my plan backfired and I accelerated too soon and hit a tree dislocating my shoulder, since then I feel even the smallest change in humidity in the air in my injured shoulder. After spending a week in the hospital, I decided L’ Enfant Terrible would not race again, I wasn’t any good so I don’t miss the races.”

“I am fortunate, my injuries are not seen, but rejection is something you never get used to, no matter how many times you get the slips from the publishers; you laugh about them, but inside it always hurts. I got so used to them, I could read the end before I got to the end of the first line. They usually begin Dear Mrs. de Ridder, we enjoyed the pleasure of reading your manuscript, and then I stopped reading as all that is to be said has been said at that point.  

The only publishers who took any interest, in the early days, were people who wanted me to pay the costs, and if the book sold well they would grab my coat tails and get praises for doing nothing.”

“Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

“No, if it’s too personal for our friendship, at the moment, I can always choose not to answer.”

“Merci, why did you choose to change if you were a successful business owner?”

“I realized, I was getting too old for the sex trade, and rather than become one of those sad old ladies, I opted to sell my shares to my friend, Julianna; it was only the timing I had trouble with as I had been thinking of retiring for years.”

“Do you miss the sex trade?”

“I misss the comradeship we had, but not the sex itself. I still retain the hope of finding love.”

“I am pleased to hear that.”

Marta smiled and said "I'm an eternally romantic and wild spirited lady with a voracious appetite for love."

Alain winked and replied "In that case I am pleased to meet you, and I hope we can have a lasting relationship. Will we have time to get to know each other a little before you need to return for your trip to Spain?"

Without stopping to think, Marta said, "I hope so, I don't need to return until Tuesday morning so we have two days together."

Alain paused, he was not sure if the time was right to ask, Marta sensed the tension and asked "What is on your mind?"

He took a breath, then asked "I was going to ask if I could bring some of my gear here while you are away, but I didn't wish to appear too forward as we've just met."

Marta smiled sweetly, then commented, "Feel free to bring what you like, I'd enjoy your company during this time, otherwise it will be a long few days for me. Apart from anything else, having you here will take my mind off business.”

Marta licked her lips, not too innocently, then replied, "I'll look forward to that," then she gave an all too obvious wink that Alain could not fail to see, so he smiled and winked back,


Chapter 4

Marta watched as Alain walked back to his cabin, her mind had one thought: What a hunk, so polite!

For his thoughts, Alain was thinking: Marta is so attractive the young ladies around here will be  jealous,

Marta glanced in Alain's direction and muttered, “I think I’ll have about twenty minutes before Alain gets back for the night. I can’t do much, but some tidying up is better than nothing.”

Marta was so busy cleaning the webs off the windows she forgot the time, until Alain returned.

He gave a short rap on the window and smiled at his good fortune.

Marta called out, “Entre!, I am in the kitchen. I cannot make a full meal as we’re low on supplies, but I can rustle up some eggs, bacon and sausages.”

Alain walked into the kitchen, then he walked over to Marta and as he kissed her neck, he whispered, “That sounds like heaven to me.”

Feeling his taut body next to her, she turned to kiss him, and whispered in his ear, “I look forward to waking to find you next to me in the morning knowing you chose to be with me rather than a much younger lady.” 


When their lips met, he said, “Marta, there was never any chance a young lady would please me once I saw you. If you have no objection I’d like to quote some lines from a book recently read -  A Homecoming by Alan Place - as I think I could not put my feelings for you any better?”

“Not at all, if we feel it says how you feel.”


The scene is a beach in Israel, a group of friends are sitting having a cool drink in the midday heat when the writer, Kim turns to her friend, Mark, and says “Don’t you feel that older ladies are like trees  that have taken the winds of time and gracefully aged. They may  not be as young but that doesn’t mean they are less attractive,”

"That is an enlightening, and refreshing view on romance. A view I never expected to hear from such a handsome young man as you, Alain."

"I can tell you, it is a view shared by many friends of mine, Marta; we find young girls to fickle to talk to. Love is not only about the sex, it's the time before and after sex that is most important, when you enjoy the company of your partner. I always tell my friends it's easier to turn a friend into a lover than to turn a lover into a friend, if the sex doesn't go well you can always talk to your friend to find a better way forward with the relationship."

"How do you view our relationship?"

"I view it as loving relationship, that I hope will turn into true love."

"I am pleased to hear that, that is what I wish too."