by Anne Tourney
The three female characters in my new Cheek novel, Lying in Mid-Air, introduced themselves to me while I was on a cross-country airplane trip. Veronica, the punky chick in combat boots who wants to start an escort service for goth chicks, was based on a sexy shoeshine girl whom I spotted at the airport in Phoenix. Chloe, the sexually suppressed scholar of Japanese poetry, was inspired by a demure brunette on a subsequent leg of the journey who was typing thoughtfully on her laptop in Chinese. And Lauryn, the cherry on the sundae, was modeled on a chatty blonde who sat across the aisle from me at the tail-end of the flight, talking some older guy's ear off about her fabulous job, the business trips to Geneva and Tokyo, the endless wine lists, the exotic meals, her Ivy League MBA, her childhood summers at the yacht club . . . . It wasn't until the flight attendant was picking up our empty cocktail cups and asking us to fold up our tray tables that it occurred to me that this glamorous blonde might be full of -- uh, fantasies.
But don't we all lie, in one way or another, to keep up with the demands that life makes on our identities? We can't always be sexy, smart, competent, bold, creative, or exciting, but every now and then, maybe when we're talking to a total stranger, we can be all those things at once. If we're lucky, we'll never see them again. If not, we could get caught in some very sticky -- sometimes deliciously sticky -- webs. That's what happens in Lying in Mid-Air, when three very different women fall for one womanizing freelance photographer, Joel, who's got a few fantasies (or would you call them "whoppers"?) of his own up his sleeve.
Lying in Mid-Air received 4.5 stars from RomanticTimes, and was nominated by RT for an award for Best Erotic Fiction. Comment for your chance to win a copy!
Available at Amazon.com UK and Amazon.com
Holding her hand, Joel led her over to the bed, a cyclone of orange polyester and threadbare sheets. When he started pushing her clothes back into her suitcase, Lauryn felt queasy with embarrassment all of a sudden, as if he were looking not only into her luggage, but into her life.
'Don't do that,' she said. 'Please. I'll take care of the mess.'
'Already taken care of, madam.' He buckled the suitcase and heaved it onto the floor. 'Got any body oil or lotion? Anything that smells good will do, but it helps if it's a scent you find relaxing. No musk or anything -- we'll take care of that, ourselves.'
Lauryn went to the bathroom, stumbling a bit on her weakened knees, and found a bottle of tea tree oil in her cosmetics case. She'd started dabbling in aromatherapy a few months ago, desperately seeking ways to reduce her stress level; her stress only seemed to be getting worse, but she still loved to dab the oil on candles and light them at night. If you couldn't have a man in your bedroom, you had to find other ways to distract your senses.
'Here you go.' She went back to the bedroom and handed the tiny flask to Joel. 'Don't use too much -- it's potent stuff.'
Joel smiled. 'I know what I'm doing.'
'Oh, I'm sure you do.' She started to lie down on the bed, but Joel motioned her to the floor, where he'd arranged the hotel pillows in a small nest.
'The floor? Are you kidding?' Lauryn eyed the brown carpet skeptically. The cigarette burns and dark stains in the rug were the least of her worries; who could tell what might be alive and actively crawling through that miniature jungle?
'Just lie down and close your eyes.' Joel switched on the fan beside the heap of pillows. 'Pretend this is a tropical breeze.'
'This feels crazy,' Lauryn grumbled. But she felt far from insane when Joel's fingers, dabbed with tea tree oil, began to smooth the cynical grooves out of her forehead.
'Okay,' he began, ignoring her remark. 'I'm going to tell you the best lie ever. We're on a beach in Bali, lying in a teak hut under a palm tree. No stress, no noise but the sounds of the ocean, and every once in awhile a bell from a temple far away. I've got my camera with me, but the only thing I want to photograph is you. Your hair's all loose and messy, and you've got this sexy-sleepy smile on your face. You're wearing a bikini-not the top, just the bottom --'
'Hey,' Lauryn protested. 'I didn't agree to appear topless in this lie. Besides,' she added more softly, 'it's not a lie. It sounds more like a fantasy.'
'Fantasies are kinda my specialty,' Joel admitted. 'Fantasies, daydreams, lies. Whatever you want to call them. Lying is a lot like cooking; some people need the right circumstances and excuses and recipes to do it. Other people just do it naturally, by instinct, all the time. Lying is practically an art, if you think about it.'
But Lauryn stopped thinking as Joel's hands stroked her throat, then moved down to her shoulders, then lower, to places that made her flesh hum when he touched them. Skimming and stroking, his hands-along with the breeze from the fan, and the spicy musk of the essential oil -- were taking her straight to the world he was shaping for her.
Topless, at least in Joel's fantasy, and thoughtless, Lauryn let herself go.
'You're way too good at that,' she said, in a blurry voice.
'Too good at what?' he teased.
'At everything. The massage. The fantasy. Weaving a whole world for me out of nothing but some scented oil and a rotary fan. You should write a book: The Horny Woman's Guide to Imaginary Travel: Fantasy Vacations for Nymphos Going Nowhere.'
Poor Joel -- he doesn't mean to be a hound dog, but when it comes to women, he can never make up his mind which "type" his type is. He's a bit like yours truly when she's faced with the dessert tray at an all-you-can-eat buffet: Joel knows he can't really devour all the goodies on earth, but he can do his damned best to sample as many as possible. In this scene, Joel meets the inimitable Veronica at lingerie shop. He's there to buy a gift for Chloe, but the erotically charged atmosphere sends him into a three-way fantasy.
'I'm Veronica,' she said, holding out her hand. Joel shook it. Her grip was firm, but her skin felt like warm butter.
'Joel,' he said. It wasn't the most dazzling introduction in the world, but with Veronica standing even closer, letting him smell the fragrance of baby oil that came from her skin (the combination of that innocent scent with her deadly Doc Martens was wildly arousing, for some reason), Joel felt grateful that he could remember his own name.
'Shopping for someone special?' Veronica asked.
Now, there was a loaded question. Joel had started this little adventure on a mission to buy a gift for Chloe. Standing in front of the shop's window, he had found Lauryn joining Chloe in his lascivious thoughts. Now, if he were to be absolutely honest with himself, Joel was imagining Veronica wearing the black leather thong and matching corset that the storefront mannequin was wearing. With her hourglass figure and sugar-white skin, Veronica would look amazing in something like that. She'd look even more amazing as Joel untied the corset's laces to see the bare, sensual curves underneath.
He was trying to picture the colour of Veronica's nipples, when she grabbed his hand and led him over to one of the racks.
'So what's your girlfriend like? Let me guess -- sweet and smart and shy, but when she rips off her glasses, she turns into a raving sex maniac.'
'Wow,' Joel said, thinking that Veronica had just given a dead-on description of Chloe.
Veronica assessed him, her forefinger tapping her chin. 'Or maybe she's more the professional type. Very sleek and polished. I'm getting an image of a sophisticated blonde. But she's still a raving sex maniac.'
That was Lauryn, to a T. Joel sincerely hoped that Veronica wasn't psychic; she'd kick him in the shins with those combat boots if she could read some of the thoughts that were going through his head.
Veronica rummaged through one of the racks, and finally pulled out a single strand of pink fabric, which looked more like a slingshot than anything else, for Joel's inspection.
'How about this?' she asked. 'One size fits all -- yeah, right -- and any girl would like it.'
'Nice,' Joel said, feeling incredibly lame, 'but does it actually cover anything?'
Naked, Lauryn crouched over Joel. She was going to tease him-with her lower lips, this time-but he put a stop to that, taking her by the hips and pushing her onto him, spearing her with his hard-on. Lauryn yelped at the shock of being filled so quickly, so completely. His hands found her breasts again and fondled them, roughly this time, as he thrust up into her. Lauryn's hips moved to match his rhythm. He was pinching and pulling at her nipples, watching the way her face changed in response.
Lauryn was loving everything he did to her, every shift of his pelvis, every twist and tug at her sensitive breasts. The look on his face, fiercely intent, was so arousing that she could hardly stand to meet his eyes. It was as if he were looking straight through her, blue eyes piercing all the superficial layers she surrounded herself with, to see the woman inside. What was he seeing, exactly? Lauryn wasn't even sure.
She closed her eyes, trying to refocus on her pleasure. The pressure of his cock against her clit was making her hot and hungry; she rocked back and forth, intensifying the sensation. If she could only ride him like this, without that sense that he was staring into her soul, she could come . . . she could come. But even with her eyes closed, she knew Joel was watching her. Just a typical guy, getting off on the sight of a naked nympho straddling his body, she reassured herself.
But Lauryn wasn't going to come. She felt the shimmering ball of pleasure well up in the pit of her belly, spreading its glow through her lower lips, down her thighs, then fading. It wouldn't come back. Not today.
'Come for me,' Joel urged, through gritted teeth. 'I want you to come on top of me.'
So Lauryn did what she had always done at times like this, when her lover's need for her to have an orgasm was so intense that it overrode Lauryn's own pleasure: she faked it. It was a bravura performance, so authentic that Lauryn actually found herself buying into the feigned moans and clenching spasms. Through Joel, she had the vicarious pleasure of seeing herself transported into a state of exquisite, animal bliss.
Joel would never know that she was putting on a show. And if he did, would he care? His own climax was so close that he was barely holding himself together while Lauryn rocked and swayed. The second she went limp, in an imitation of post-climactic joy, Joel cried out and clutched her by the waist with all his might, thrusting up and up, ending with a full-body shudder.
Lauryn rolled off of him, lying down across his chest. Joel folded her in his arms. His heart was still pounding. Sweat plastered his pale chest hairs to his skin.
'Wow,' he said. 'That's all I can say. Wow.'
'I love an articulate man,' Lauryn laughed.
She sounded happy. She was happy. Orgasms were overrated, and besides, how could she be absolutely positive that she hadn't had one? Coming wasn't a cookie-cutter experience; you couldn't predict from one orgasm to the next how the critical moment would feel. Sometimes the climax hit you like a tsunami. Other times it was more like a shift in the tide, a subtle change in your physiology, something that ebbed and receded without a lot of fanfare.
Liar, liar, pants on fire, sneered Lauryn's nasty little inner voice. You didn't come. You're disappointed. Face it.
'I don't think I've ever seen anything so beautiful,' Joel was saying, brushing the curls off of Lauryn's forehead. He was gazing at her as if she were a precious work of art, a rare statue that had fallen off a truck and landed, perfect and unbroken, right at his feet.
You're right, Lauryn admitted to the nasty voice. I didn't come. But I'm not disappointed. Not even close.
Photo credits: Airplane from Bebe Reviews; Bali beach from TravelPhotographer.com; Blonde on plane from DearSugar. And I'm afraid I was so distracted by that cute guy's eyes that I forgot where I found that photo!