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About the author:
She always loves hearing from readers. Her personal blog – which is the springboard for a memoir that will explore “one person, many lives” – can be found at http://storeylines.net.
What inspired you to write your book?
My writing is basically my fantasies, my idea of what love could or should be, in a perfect world. I share them with my readers because I think I’m not the only one who has these fantasies!
Here is a short sample from the book:
From PERFECT NEED – SEVEN TALES OF LOVE AND PASSION
by Barbara L.B. Storey
A Star, a Stone
. . . one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
~ “Sunset”, Rainer Maria Rilke
“I must be out of my mind.”
I look around at the beautiful, deserted beach; just a few kite-flyers here and there. The trees on the foreshore and the cliffs behind us hide this area from the main road very well. That’s why he’d picked Shelley Beach, I was sure of it; it can be pretty secluded, especially during the week.
“Why?” Rowan asks with a smirk. “Are you afraid Lee will find out you’re here? He splashes a bare foot into the remnants of a wave being dragged back out into the bay.
I give him a withering look. “Don’t be ridiculous. Why would I be afraid of him?”
The truth is, I broke up with Lee almost three months ago. I’ve just never mentioned it because, even absent, an older, rather large boyfriend is at least something of a deterrent. Rowan’s on a campaign to break down my resistance to . . . us. The lie definitely gives me an advantage. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Certain key words also create an illusion of safe space for me. “No, I think I’m more afraid of your mother, actually. She’d rip my eyes out, I’m sure, if she knew I was here with you.”
Now it was his turn to give me the “if looks could kill” glare. “If you bring up my mother one more time. . . . ”
“What? I think, under different circumstances, we’d be the best of friends, she and I. After all, I’m just about as close to her age as I am—”
He stops in his tracks and grabs hold of my arm. He isn’t being rough, by any means, but his grip is enough to make me wince slightly.
“Why are you trying to hurt me, Lill?” His voice is quiet, and he is hurt. I can hear it.
I close my eyes and take in a long, deep breath. “Rowan . . . I’m trying to keep us both from making a big mistake.”
Mistakes. . . . I knew I was in trouble the first moment I laid eyes on him, last fall. His parents had just bought an apartment in my building. I met them first, actually, down in the lobby; they were waiting for him there one afternoon. Going out to dinner, I believe. He took one look at me, and something happened between us—just like that. Something I desperately wish never had.
Because he had been seventeen then. Was eighteen now—as if that makes a difference. And I’m almost thirty.
I’ve never actually told him how old I am; he has an idea, I’m sure, but he doesn’t need specifics. It’s bad enough that I know. Nothing good can come of this, I keep telling myself. But . . . I still can’t send him away.
He stares at me for several moments before he speaks again. “I think I’m old enough to make my own mistakes, thank you. And besides, I don’t think of you as a mistake. I’m sorry that’s the way you think of me.”
“Don’t put words in my mouth.”
“Don’t try to protect me.”
Several seconds of accusing stares later, and I’m the one who finally looks away. He’ll take that as a victory. I know him well enough to know that.
Sure enough, his hand slides down my arm and curls itself around my fingers. “Can’t we just have a nice afternoon at the beach? Some time alone, for a change?”
I roll my eyes at him, even though—somewhere inside—I’m shaking. From fear or desire, I’m not sure which at the moment. “Time alone is not what we need.”
“I think it is.” He’s being stubborn. More than usual. I mean, he did get me to drive to this bloody beach on the other side of the bay just so we could be alone and unseen.
Hedging for time, I gaze out over the water, watching the waves get wilder. Far away down the beach, someone’s kite takes a sharp nose-dive and almost crashes into the surf before catching an updraft and soaring into the sky again.
“Why did I let you bring me here?” It’s a question that doesn’t require an answer, but he gives one anyway.
“You know. ‘Your place or mine?’ isn’t exactly an option for us.”
He drops down to sit on the sand, and then tugs at the hem of my shorts, trying to get me down there, too. I relent, and then we have to scoot back a little as the next wave comes in, a little closer to us than the last.
And I remember, as we sit, the first time he came to my apartment. It was the day after we’d met in the lobby. Turned out that the apartment is a vacation home for his family; he’s from America, but his parents have friends here and like to visit often enough to justify keeping their own place. Obviously, they have money. He’d made sure to find out my name, and what floor I was on (one below him) before he and his parents left, and he’d simply shown up at my door the next morning. I didn’t want to be rude; I let him in. So it’s my own fault, really.
After that, he would simply arrive at my door every time they were in town. His parents went shopping, or visiting friends, and he came up with reasons he had to stay home instead. We talked, got to know each other. I could see he was exceptional for his age—but he was out of bounds. No way was what he clearly had in mind going to happen. And then, one day, he kissed me. Before I could stop him.
“Don’t do that!”
“Why not? Was I that bad at it?”
Any sane woman of my age would have shown a seventeen-year-old boy the door for trying that. If I had, he wouldn’t have tried again. He wouldn’t have kept finding excuses to touch me every chance he got. He wouldn’t have thought it was all right for him to . . . fall in love. If I had, we wouldn’t be here, on Shelley Beach, right now. But I didn’t. I let him stay, I let him come back, time after time. Today is my fault.
I sit beside him, and watch another kite—a small red one—soar so high into the sky, it almost disappears. A second later, the breeze that carried it heavenward throws it down, and the kite crashes back to earth, splintered by the impact.
He’s looking at me; I can feel the pressure of his stare. When I finally look back at him, his expression is hovering somewhere between passion and anger.
“I love you. You believe me, I know you do. Why will you not let me near you? I’m not some—”
“Some self-centred, heartless little rich boy who wants what he wants, now? Some kid who wants to fuck an older woman just to see what it’s like, and then move on?” I push the words out from between clenched teeth.
His face goes blank with shock, as if I was suddenly a stranger to him. As if I’d suddenly slapped him. He doesn’t understand: I said those words deliberately, to hurt him and drive him away. I’m tempted to stop right there, not another word. Let him think, let him wonder. . . . But I can’t do it. Not to him. I turn away, turn my back to him, so I can say what I really have to say.
“I wish you were, Rowan. Christ, I wish you were that person. It would make things so much easier.”
“Oh, really?” he says softly. His voice is so cold, it makes me shiver.
“Yes. Because then we could have a fling. Nothing important, just a little . . . interlude. And then you’d go on your way, and. . . .”
I pause and look around, right into his beautiful, angry face.
“And I’d be the only one to get hurt,” I whisper.
His expression shifts from angry to bewildered in a second. It’s plain that, whatever he was expecting me to say, this was not it. He can’t think of an answer, and after a few moments, he simply stares into the distance, his eyes squinting slightly in the late afternoon sun as he takes my words in.
“But that’s not who you are, and that’s what makes it worse.” I go on, ripping at my own heart, hoping I’m doing some damage to his as well. Maybe I can stop this yet. “Yes, I know you love me. I know you want more than sex from me. I know . . . that I love you, too. But this is impossible. We are impossible. If we go down this road, nothing good will come of it. I’m certain of that. I don’t want that kind of pain, and I certainly don’t want it for you. Can you imagine what people would say? They will not understand, and it would be . . . wrong, very wrong of me to put you in the way of that kind of judgment.”
I stop and look into his face again, trying to guess what he’s thinking as he continues to stare out across the waves, the wind playing wildly through his hair. At last he shakes his head, and I can tell by the set of his jaw that he’s not listening to me. Or not willing to believe me.
“So . . . you’re saying it’s because I love you that you won’t let me make love to you.”
He turns to look at me, silently demanding an answer. I nod.
“Now who’s being ridiculous?” His eyes are flashing—again, not just from anger. The force of his emotions is almost enough to knock me over. Once again, before I can stop him, his hands are on me, he’s turning me back around and putting his arms around me, he’s kissing me. If I don’t say “no” right now . . . I’m lost.
I let him lay me down on the sand. I let him kiss me until we’re both breathless and the water is washing up around our toes. I look up into those clear, blue eyes that have gone beyond intense and think: How did he know I wouldn’t stop him this time? I can’t . . . walk away from him anymore.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper.
“Are we done talking now?” He’s determined not to lose his advantage. What he thinks is his advantage. “If we are, I have something to show you.”
Quickly, he jumps up and grabs my hands. “Come on!” And I allow him to pull me to my feet, and lead me wherever he wants to go.
“My friend Terry brought me out here a couple of weeks ago.” He’s explaining this to me as he half-drags me toward an even quieter, less populated part of the beach. “I did a bit of exploring, and when I found this, I knew I had to bring you here.”
Then I see where he’s headed. Tucked back in a remote spot, under a high, overgrown cliff face, there’s an archway. He’s found a cave. Oh, Jesus . . . he really means to do this.
I stop in my tracks, digging my heels into the sand. Jerked to a stop at arm’s length by the weight of my body, he turns back to look at me, puzzled.
“What? It’s a place for us to be alone.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of, I told you.”
Closing the short gap between us, he puts one arm around me and with the other hand smoothes back the hair the wind is whipping around my face.
“Look me in the eyes, Lill, and tell me you don’t want to go in there with me.”
“Rowan, I don’t want to go in there with you.” I half mean it, too.
His confidence falters for a moment, then the stubborn look comes back. He takes hold of my arms and pulls me in tight against him. “Liar.”
I hold myself tensed, trying not to feel anything, trying to resist the warmth, the scent of him, so close. But I’m not that strong; now that I’m in his arms, I don’t know how I ever told myself I was. “Yes. Yes, I am,” I finally whisper in defeat, and slump against his chest.
Taking my hand, he almost runs toward the cave, forcing me to run, too, to keep up. We reach the archway, bend to fit under it, and we’re inside….
© 2013 Barbara L.B. Storey