The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Blame It On The Moon

A strange moon came on Sunday night and whispered this strange story to me. I've posted this on Weyward Thoughts, but it's too strange to not be on this blog too!

By The Light of the Moon © Billy London

Orly hurriedly threw overnight things into a bag. Pawel tapped his fingers on the doorframe. “Are you really doing this again?”
“I… I can’t talk to you right now.” The words emerged from her mouth weaker than she had expected. “I’ll just stay at the old folks’ home.”
Pawel held up his hands and left her to it. That he didn’t try to stop her spoke volumes about their relationship. She slung the bag over her shoulder, scooped up her mobile phone and closed the door behind her. Nothing was worth the grief on the other side. Talking had reached its final impasse.
Orly tucked her phone into her pocket, and wrapped her arms around herself. September’s afternoon weather had cooled into a sharp, winter reminder, as she took the familiar path from her flat with Pawel to her second home. That end of terraced building spoke of everything she didn’t have with Pawel. Her grandparents’ love had been the stuff of legend. It had survived a World War, five children, eleven grandchildren and even death. She supposed the house had been left to her as the eldest of the grandchildren. Or rather, she needed the stability more than any of the others…
She wondered why it was so bright on the street until she glanced up and saw the moon, so close, so round and so bright, she could count the craters on the surface, each pit and fall, dark against the blistering white of its surface. Strange things always happened during full moons, Orly felt fully in awe of its magnetic light. It kept drawing her gaze upwards and her mind far from the fight with her boyfriend. Before she realised, she stood outside her grandparents’ home. Her phone buzzed in her pocket, and without looking to see who it was, she answered, “Hello?”
“Pawel called me,” her sister said impatiently. “To find out if you got to Gran’s okay.”
“Yeah, I did. Fine.” She opened the door and closed it carefully behind her, remembering other people lived on one side of the terraced house, and the walls were not particularly forgiving. “He didn’t need to worry.”
“What are you doing to each other?” Anyeta asked. “What are you doing more like?”
Orly put her bag down on the stairs and sat at the kitchen table, turning on the underlights of the cupboards. She drew a finger in the dust that had gathered in the two weeks she hadn’t attended to clean. “Why me? You don’t know what we argued about.”
“Same old, same old, Orly. The conversation won’t change the more times you have it. He’s said what he’s said. It’s up to you to accept it. And if you want to be together, be together. Just stop leaving every other day. It’s not fair on either of you.” Orly felt a lump forming in her throat, and she couldn’t bring herself to answer. “Listen, I’ll call him back and tell him you’re all right. But you have to sort your head out tonight. Either you go forward together or you split.”
“I’ll sort myself out,” Orly promised, her voice thick with hurt. “Thank you. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Okay, Netty. Night. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
She put the phone on the table and pressed her hands to her eyes until the need to start bawling stopped. Under the roof of the home where she had known such love and such comfort, she recognised her failings against her grandmother’s as a partner and as a mother. She missed them both, it weighed on her chest. They’d been perfect people, drifting through their life on love and happiness that everyone fell under the spell of it. What did Orly have? A shell of a home and a boyfriend who couldn’t see a future with her. She drew out her phone and decided to distract herself from the misery. Slowly, the light in the kitchen turned from the muted LEDs, to a hazy rose. Orly turned off the underlights and turned them back on. The red haze filtered through the kitchen, into the hallway and outside. She glanced out of the garden, the same pink tinged the overgrown lawn and the wooden garden furniture her grandfather had been so proud of.
A door slamming close jerked her from the window, knocking over the chair nearest to her. Orly pressed a hand to her rapidly beating heart. A woman stalked into the kitchen and sat down, her veil streaming behind her.
Orly had only ever seen that woman in photographs. Before age softened her angular face. “Gran?” she whispered. A moment later, the door opened and closed again.
“Uma, don’t walk away from me!”
What’s happening right now? Orly gripped the dusty kitchen counter for help. For some semblance of reality. She’d never seen that wedding dress in her grandparents photos. Which could only mean…
“I cannot believe you ruined my wedding!” she blustered.
Orly had always been told she looked like the female version of her grandfather, and she’d pooh-poohed it. But with Nadav Sarkis standing right in front of her, she could see it as clear as day. In the arch of his brows, the height of his cheekbones and the shape of his mouth.
“I don’t believe for one minute you thought you were going to tie yourself to that fucking puddle of a man!”
Orly gasped. She’d never heard her grandfather swear. Ever. He braced his hands on the table, his face so close to her grandmother’s, Orly couldn’t see her any more. “As if you’d replace me with him. After everything, everything we’ve been through.”
“I could have, but since you decided to show up and declare a lawful, bloody impediment, I can’t now, can I!” Uma raged, thrusting him away. “I can’t have a baby without being married, you know that!”
And that was her cue to leave. Orly reached for the kitchen door and found it locked. Come on! They had no locks in the house anywhere! God, I promise, I never noticed how close Uncle Reyan’s birthday is to Gran and Granddad’s wedding, I never. Let me out!
Nadav flipped the table over, to Uma and Orly’s shriek of surprise. “Are you mad, woman?” He bellowed. “You were going to pass off my child as that fool’s?”
“He said it didn’t matter! He understood!”
Nadav snorted in disgust. “Does he bollocks! He wouldn’t know what to do with you in a bedroom. The pillock doesn’t even know you don’t need a bedroom at all”.
Oh, God get me out of here. I do not want to know this about them. Absolute debauchery. Orly tried the door again, and met with brute resistance. This was a far cry from the grandparents who left flowers in books for the other and wrote each other love letters. Her grandfather flipped a table! Like a madman!
“I can rely on him,” Uma blazed, her veil streaming behind her as she stood toe to toe with Nadav. “You don’t want kids! Why you were shagging me, without those fancy things, God only knows.”
Okay, now she knew why Uncle Reyan was born so soon after her grandparents’ wedding. He had never been “early”. No wonder they didn’t wag the proverbial finger when she moved in with Pawel to ‘live in sin’.
Nadav caught Uma by the face, bracing her cheeks between his palms. “Because I love you! You daft bat, I want everything with you.”
Uma pulled his hands from her, bending to right the table. “You’ve shamed the devil out of both of us. How will we walk around here after the show you made?”
With a gentle nudge for her to move out of the way, Nadav righted the table. “I don’t give a flying monkeys what people think. I’ve been shot at by Nazis. People giving me dirty looks is a walk in the park after that shite.”
“But you left,” Uma said, her voice shaky with tears. “You left me. Again.”
“I had to,” Nadav sounded almost defeated. “I’ve still got commitments to the Air Force. God save me, Uma. My head is… What I saw…” He struggled to continue and burst out, “I look at you and you’re so perfect. And all I see is blood and death and bodies.”
“For God’s sake, man.” Uma said with a sigh. “I’m not perfect. Something that’s very clear now, isn’t it? You don’t think I saw bodies? Or death? I thought about you. And us together in this house, being happy. That’s everything I held on to. Because we’ve suffered too much to not deserve it.” She glared at him, folding her arms under her breasts. “You didn’t want it so I went for a second option.”
Nadav’s eyes narrowed. “You’re not marrying him.”
“Not after you said you’d had me on my hands and knees out the back of Miner’s club, of course he won’t marry me now!”
Orly pressed her fingertips to her temple. Whatever she had done to deserve this, she had to have paid for it now.
“I wasn’t lying,” Nadav said glibly. “Reverend Moss won’t let you back in that church, I’ll bet.”
Uma threw him a look that would have competed with any Sergeant Major. “It was a bastard thing to do.”
“What I did, or what we did?”
Uma picked up a mug and threw it at him. Nadav ducked and it smashed right by Orly’s shoulder. “You! You three piece cock! My mother warned me, back and forth, be careful about who you give your virtue to. And all this shows is I make terrible decisions.”
“Flaming Nora!” Nadav heaved. “That nearly hit us!”
Orly frowned. Her grandfather was brought up in the East End of London. Us was a Northern indicator. What on earth did he mean?
“Listen to me, and don’t throw anything else.” He took a hesitant step towards her, and Uma looked as if she were about to pounce on him and slit his throat. “You’ll never want for anything Uma, I swear to you. You and this baby. You’ll have everything you want. I’ll work my arse off, I promise you.”
“Now you’ve made anything else impossible, I suppose I should be grateful,” Uma answered, brushing down the dress and relaxing her fighting stance.
“No, not grateful,” Nadav took another step forward until he could reach Uma. Gently, he tugged her forward until they pressed into one another, fitting like puzzle pieces. “We’ll go up to Gretna, get married and just get on with our lives. There’s no need for secrets or lies any more. We can be together… ” The moment Nadav’s head lowered to kiss Uma, Orly looked away. She really had heard and seen enough. The message had been received loud and clear. I will never watch porn again. I will pray for forgiveness more often. I will love and appreciate my boyfriend. Whatever we have, however long we have it for, that will be enough for me. I promise.
“Take the dress off,” Nadav growled into Uma’s neck. “And you’ll have to get rid of it. I don’t want anything of another man on you.”
Uma’s mouth curved in triumph. “Help me then. It took both bridesmaids to put it on.”
Without waiting for another prompt, Nadav circled his wife, and began unbuttoning the bodice of her wedding dress. 
Jesus, Granddad! Orly thought as his hands slipped inside the dress to cup Uma’s chest. “You feel bigger Uma. I’d know every change in you.”
“Hurry. Wait, wait.” Uma looked directly at her, pointing to the mobile still sat on the laminated flooring. “Orly, answer your phone and talk to your boyfriend. Your grandfather and I are going to give each other a good seeing to, but I can’t concentrate when your phone’s ringing.”
No need to add a telling off to the weirdness happening in the room. “Yes, Gran.”
“Good girl.” She turned back to Nadav, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Take me upstairs.”
Orly scooped up her flashing phone and when she straightened, her grandparents had gone. The red haze from the moonlight remained and so did the sense of judgement from Uma. Talk to your boyfriend. Her phone buzzed incessantly in her palm. “Sorry, hello?”
“Hi, Pav.” She’d never been so relieved to hear his voice.
“Can you open the door?”
Eh? “What? Where are you?”
Orly ended the call and threw open the front door. Pawel stood under the glare of the moon, his eyes red from tears. “I’m sorry, Orly.”
“What on earth for?” She asked, pulling him inside.
“Everything…” Distracted, he looked over his shoulder, along the corridor. “Is something going on in the kitchen?”
Oh god, I truly hope not! “Never mind that. What are you sorry for?”
He took a breath and caught her biceps in his hands. “I know it’s my fault that we can’t…” The words faltered and he looked at the ground for a moment, only to find her gaze once more. “But we’ll try. I want to try. I want a family with you. I want everything you say your grandparents had. We can move in here. Sell the flat, do up this place and pay for IVF.”
“Just like that?” Orly whispered. After months and months of tears and rows, he’d laid everything she wanted at her feet. On the strangest night of her life.
“For us to stay together? Of course!” He brushed his mouth over her cheeks, and dotted a brief kiss on her lips. “I’d move mountains for you.”
Orly embraced him until she could feel his ribs against her own. She’d learned her lesson. A bit too well. “Oh Pav. As long as we’re together.”
Halfway up the stairs, her grandfather threw the failed wedding dress out of his way. Orly mouthed at him, “Stop it, Granddad!”
“Tell that young man we’re watching him,” Nadav said over Uma’s bare shoulder. “You deserve everything more than we had.”
Orly nodded. “Yes.”
“Yes to all of that?” Pawel asked softly. Orly couldn’t bring herself to speak. The thought of her grandparents doing quite unspeakable things to one another really had stolen her voice.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Happy birthday to me!

Today's my birthday! Woo hoo! I'm old!! Actually, I'm going to share this day with Beppe ^^^^ (ta very much Stuart Bellamy <3). Why not? JK Rowling shares her birthday with Harry Potter. I'm selfish that way. It means I get to keep him all to myself. Mostly. So, to celebrate us both, I'm giving you all a sneak peek of Beppe in one of his little moments that makes Mimi fall for him. It is without doubt one of the kindest things a man could do for his woman.

Mimi dragged her pillow over her head, cutting off Beppe mid-conversation and rather unfairly, mid-seduction. “They’re such selfish bastards!”
“Who?” What just happened? Why wasn’t any loving happening right now?
She lifted the pillow, face puffed with anger. “The fuckers across the road who are having yet another party! It’s Wednesday night! I’m working tomorrow for your bloody best friend!”
“Ah.” That made him feel somewhat better. His prowess remained intact. “Okay, let me deal with this.”
“And what are you going to do?” she asked, curling her top lip in sarcasm. “Execute them all?”
“Wendy Darling,” he caught her hand and pressed it to his chest. “I’m offended that you’d think I’d stoop to the lowest common denominator. I’ll be back.”
He threw back the sheets and pulled on his jeans and chucked a t-shirt over his head. No need for too many clothes. Mimi watched him, and he could feel the concern burning holes into the back of his skull.
“Seriously, don’t kill anyone.”
“I heard you the first time.” He flashed her a grin and loped down the stairs to where his bag remained, abandoned in the corridor of Mimi’s home. Just when he thought they were getting somewhere, yet again someone else interfered.
Beppe scrambled around in the canvas, on the hunt for ah, just where he left it. He lifted a gas mask from the bag and fitted it over his face, then snapped on latex gloves. Whistling, he stalked out of the house, and removed exactly what he needed to get Amelia to focus for longer than five minutes on one thing. As a woman, she could multi-task to glory, but as a girlfriend, she was failing on basic concentration.
With two cans of tear gas in each hand, and one in each pocket, Beppe walked across the road to the neighbour’s rowdy party. A loping, intoxicated man slurred at him, “Oi, where the fuck are you going?”
Beppe just nudged him gently and he toppled like a toy car. He broke off one of the cans of tear gas and threw it into the living room, repeating the same in the kitchen and watched streams of people trying to leave the house. He lobbed a can up the stairs and then stopped to locate the electricity box.
Singing Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know to himself as people screamed and yelled, he reached into the back pocket of his jeans, withdrawing a miniature toolbox. With a pair of pliers, he nipped through the electricity mains. The music and lights died instantaneously. Easy. Why people refused to be considerate of their neighbours, he had no idea. They would be the same people who would look out for their property if they disappeared on holiday; alert them if something strange happened in their living room, and more than likely allow them to share the Wi-Fi password. Neighbourly-ness went far. And Beppe knew all his neighbours, so well that each and every single one of them would vouch for him, if worst came to the worst. Maybe he should introduce them to Mimi... 
He gave it another five minutes for the gas to take effect and then left the house, closing the door behind him. Beppe retreated to Mimi’s back garden, loping himself over the fence. Behind her azalea bush, her actual plant and not the body part she was trying to keep him from; he removed his gas mask and clothing. He doused his naked self with water from the garden hose, and re-entered the house. A good, chivalrous night’s work.
Mimi stood on the stairs, staring at him. He blinked at her, dripping water on her bare floorboards. The minute she got the place carpeted, would be the minute she would stop looking for problems between them, he had a really good feeling about that. An uncarpeted house just caused problems for any relationship. Budding or otherwise.
“Did you just tear gas my neighbours?” she asked, a hand on her throat.
Beppe shook water from his ear. “Yeah, I did. But to be fair, they’re quiet now. And perhaps, you and I can have a bit of a chat. Because, and I’ll be honest with you Amelia, it’d be nice if we could talk without you finding everything else in the world more interesting than us…”
She cut him off, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her lips to his. The warmth of Amelia drizzled through him, seizing the cold shivers from his hose pipe shower. She lifted her mouth and whispered, “That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for me.”
Wary, Beppe eased back to look at her face. Nothing but sincerity and gratitude blazed from her. “Really?”
“I’d take this over a bunch of flowers any day.” She traced a hand over his collarbone. “Do you want a hot shower? You feel cold.”
He lifted a brow. “Are you coming with?”
Her lips curved into a devious smile. “I’ve got surprises for you that are waterproof.”

At that moment, Beppe realised that he would owe Rocky and Anna for life. They’d found the perfect woman for him. Those bollocking bastards…

Monday, 21 September 2015


I love this soundtrack. Because I struggled to listen to anything new, I went to my roots and sought out my oldies and my goodies - Portishead, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Skunk Anansie, Trevor Morris (sexiest classical soundtrack ever. No arguments), The Cranberries - I mean that song takes me back to teenage Billy, and her Sony Walkman and Now 20 something? God only knows what we're up to now. Has it hit 100 yet? Anyway. no one does dark like Vaults, and Premonitions - the song that kicked this whole story off. It took a while to put the songs in the right order (there is a method to the madness) because I got distracted. Easily done.

Anyway, finally! Here's the soundtrack to Remains. The ashes will rise...

Remains on Spotify

1.     From The Beginning Premonitions Vaults
2.     Goodbye To Grace Moments of Pleasure Kate Bush 
3.     A Fresh Pub Linger The Cranberries 
4.     Talking It Out Diamonds Josef Salvat
5.     Morning Foolishness Mend this Love Vaults
6.     Strangulation Is Key Nothing But Trouble Lil Wayne 
7.     Date Night Another Language Lamb
8.     Marriage and Its Ilk Give Me Something Jarryd James 
9.     A Lost Cause Perfect Ruin Kwabs 
10. Propositions Face The Sun Miguel 
11. I Know You Powerful Major Lazer ft Ellie Goulding & Tarrus Riley
12. Needs Must Numb Portishead
13. Nan Knows Best I Gave It All Aquilo 
14. Aaron Meet Zlatan Spark Tori Amos 
15. Wolf calling Under the Shadows Rae Morris 
16. Alone With My Thoughts Eye of the Needle Sia 
17. What You Did To Me Infidelity Skunk Anansie 
18. Kelly’s Crusade Love the way you lie Eminem 
19. Partial Reunion Chamakay Blood Orange 
20. The Past Haunts Breath of Life Florence + the Machine
21. I See Solomon Guts Over Fear Eminem
22. Telling The Truth Holocene Bon Iver 
23. Wrong Side Of The Table Devil's Whisper Raury 
24. Morgue Break A Perfect Day Elise P J Harvey
25. Pull Yourself Together Stop Crying Your Heart Out Oasis 
26. A New Moon Something Like Happiness The Maccabees 
27. Realignment Rituals The Kiss Trevor Jones
28. Moroi Brennisteinn Sigur Ros 
29. End It 503 Hans Zimmer 

30. By The Gravestones I Lived Here Martin Phipps 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Remains of the Day

My word, this story didn't even have a title until about two weeks ago! I am so happy with how this cover has turned out! It fits absolutely everything that I wanted for this story - coming up to a year from when I started it. Along with the cover, here's the blurb for Remains, my NaNoWriMo project I am finally letting out for a bit of ritualistic erm... disorder...

Remains of a blurb

Considering her husband would happily strangle her on sight, Mical Wentworth has a battle on her hands to win his trust back. Jamie believes she betrayed him in the worst way possible, when all she had tried to do was to protect him from the horror that has stalked her family for decades. Now all her avenues of escape are fading away, she is desperate to make it up to him. She can accept her fate as long as her husband can forgive her.

Strangulation is far too good a death for Mical, and Jamie Santillan has thought of all the ways he’d kill his estranged wife for what she did. But when she turns up on Jamie’s doorstep almost a year after disappearing, the possibility of murder slowly leaves his mind. She’s running away from something. The Mical he knows isn’t afraid of anything, in any world. And nothing should get to her before he does…  

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Stupid Girl

Okay, I've made Bren really angry. And I mean really angry. Like he's not talking to me at all, he's so cross. If anyone ever tells me again "You should have had so and so do this..." I'm going to show them this blog post. I always go where a character leads, because otherwise, I get people giving me the silent treatment.

See, the whole premise of Wynne's Surprise is that there is a big of a love triangle between the heroine Wynne, she of floral adoration, Bren, the Scot with Swagger, and Wynne's boyfriend, Robert, who happens to forget that it's Valentine's Day. Dick move, bro. Anyway, Bren persuades Wynne to abandon Robert for a sexy jaunt in Morocco. Off they pop for the romantic Marrakesh, for pool side orange juices, sunshine, souks, tagines and the breathtaking Atlas Mountains. Bren breaks out the big guns to seduce the silk hair scarf off Wynne, and Wynne and I being of one mind, finds Bren irresistible.

Also, Wynne hasn't ever been the girl who's had the choice of more than one man, or a choice at all (particularly), so I thought, hell yeah, throw in a threesome! This can work! The minute, and I do mean the minute, I tried to write it in, Bren went super Glaswegian on me and said no, in so many ways, I didn't even understand what he was saying, but I got the jist. No, he's not sharing Wynne. No, he's not letting Robert's wart spotted dick anywhere near him or her. No, it wouldn't help their relationship. No, it's not a necessary test. No. No. Lots of f words. But mostly no. And no.

So here I am, out in the cold, in the darkness of Bren's following silence. All because I suggested something. Suggested. Not demanded. Suggested. Wynne's like, "I told you so." Thirty thousand words and now silence. Apparently, I have to make this up to Bren somehow, because Wynne had nothing to do with the idea, and it really is all my fault, since I knew he'd go mad. I DIDN'T KNOW!

God, the naughty corner really is bull.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Scotsman

I've fallen head over heels. And that should worry me. Because I've tattooed Nick's surname on my body, it would be shameful to tattoo anyone else's name next to or in the vicinity of the Da Canaveze. But Bren MacClellan is vying for a patch of skin. It's my own fault.

I mean I looked at the picture of Jai Courtney and thought, yeah that's Bren, definitely! Now, this man plagues me. He believes in the power of good tailoring and how it emphasizes the very best of a woman's figure. A man who knows clothing better than I do? Check. Confident to the right degree. Did I mention he's Scottish? I don't know what to do, he's constantly in my head. Whispering naughty nothings in my ear.

It is horribly easy to be Wynne to Bren MacClellan's persuasions, trace that mouth of his, admire his boy booty (baby got back), listen to him curse modern fashion practices that undermine the skill of a tailor in that divine accent of his. He's fucking ambidextrous! Arrrrghhhhhh!!!

Bren wants to ruin me for everyone else, and all of them, from Nick to Tais, Luca to Beppe, Cain to Auden - they are all nervous about the pecking order, because of the Swagger of the Scot. (Ooh, good title...) That's by the by. He needs to give me some breathing space. I've got other dudes to deal with. And yet, I can see him framing my face, fixing me with those whisky eyes, and saying, "Keep your knickers on Billy. We've got ways to go before I'm finished with you."

Bren, I am really, really trying to....

Monday, 24 August 2015

Under Your Spell

Fair warning; this is bonkers. No two ways about it. It's a paranormal fairy tale, so you're going to need to leave logic to one side for a bit. Until you reach the end. Maybe until well after it's finished. I do love these two though. Strength through adversity. And love as a well deserved reward. Most of all, Kent is NOT boring!!

Addicted to Witch on All Romance eBooks

Addicted to Witch on Amazon

Eye of blurb

Auden Garceau is a musical beast in a golden cage. As the son of an aged rock star, to anyone else his life has always looked perfect. Decorated with awards and accolades, the shiny exterior doesn’t compare to the grim reality. He is without family, money, or even control over his life. Permitted a reprieve from his curfew, he’s booked to play at an employees’ only retreat just with the expectation of being paid at the end.

He never for a moment believed that he’d meet a woman like Dr. Helena Sarpong, who gate crashes her sister’s work event. One kiss with the beautiful doctor is enough to make him want not just more kisses, but everything she can possibly give him. As a man used to being told he has an addictive personality, he is more than willing to start a new habit - Helena. 

Essence of excerpt 

He lifted the jumper from her torso and gave pause to admire her, briefly wishing he lived in a time of the Renaissance artists who would have fallen to their knees in gratitude for a muse such as her. They would have been allowed to look, feast their eyes, but never, ever allowed to touch. Only him. His hand slid inside her jeans and he hardened instantly at his discovery. Scalp tingling at the tug she gave on his hair when his fingers slid inside her, he curved them with insistence. His mouth touched her neck, the swell of her breasts and back to her lips. She tasted like ecstasy, he thought, his mouth trailing to her earlobe, biting down as she began to tighten around his soaked fingers.
“Auden,” she gave a gasping cry.
Satisfaction pulsed through his sex at the need in her voice. He wanted her to give herself completely to him, like she had only a few hours ago.
“Auden, stop.” She pushed at his shoulders, her eyes round with surprise, looking just beyond his shoulder as her orgasm took her. With Helena still shaking beneath him, his fingers caught in the grip of her body, he turned his head. His heart froze. Romely stood there, her mouth parted in horror.
“What are you doing?” Romely whispered.
Helena struggled from underneath him and righted her clothing. “What’s going on?”
Auden opened his mouth to speak, and found his throat closed up. Goddamn you, Romely!
She turned to Helena. “Do you know he’s in a relationship? With me? We have been for years.”
Helena looked at Auden, her eyes narrowed. “Is that true?”
No! He wanted to scream. Not a sound emerged from him.
Romely spoke again. “We’re trying to work things out. At least I thought we were. Do you like stealing other women’s men?”
“Wait a minute.” Helena got to her feet. “I didn’t know. I’m not psychic. I didn’t see or hear anything from Auden that you even exist.”
“But I do,” Romely said. “He can’t get away from that simple fact. I do exist. He and I are meant to be together.”
“I’d dump him if I were you,” Helena said harshly. “He obviously didn’t think about you once.” She turned back to Auden, her palm connecting painfully with his cheek, the sound echoing in the hallway. “You don’t seem like a coward. But I know better than anyone how appearances can be deceptive.” She started up the stairs. “I’ll just get my things and leave.”
Romely inclined her head. “I think that’s best. I can give you a lift to the station, if you like.”
Helena’s mouth parted in surprise before she said, “I’ll be all right. Thanks.”
As Helena hit the top step, Romely spoke. “Well, that was really inconsiderate of you.”
“Fuck you, Romely.” Auden blinked the water from his eyes, caused by Helena’s slap. She had a right to be angry; he wished he could correct her. He wanted to change her mind so badly. This was such bullshit.
Romely snorted. “If you had, it’d be a different story now, wouldn’t it?”
Furiously, he got to his feet, fully intending to strangle the life from her.
“Ah ah!” she held up a hand—preventing Auden from moving any closer. “You still don’t understand, do you? Even after all this time. You are mine. Just as I’m yours.”
“I don’t want you!” he shouted.
“I don’t believe you. We can do this dance for eternity, or you can start thinking smart. No more girls like that.” Romely gave a sneer. “She seems scared of her own shadow. Why would you waste your time?”
“You wouldn’t understand.” He sat back down on the step in defeat. “You’re a sith.” Her mouth tightened in disapproval. “We can carry this on as much as you like. I’ll still hate you.”
Her eyes danced with joy. “You know where that comes from, don’t you? It’s only the other side of love.”
He sent her a look he prayed conveyed how fucking stupid he found her. “It comes from the fact you have stolen everything good in my life because I don’t see you as anything more than a spot I could bleach out. You’re strong, but you can’t change our rules. You can’t make me love you.”
“I’m leaving you alone to get there by yourself.” She sighed. “You will. Just, focus.”
“Lift the curse.”
“No, Auden. It’s for your own good.”
“What do you know about what’s good for me?” he asked, perplexed. “That’s the problem, Romely, you don’t know me. You just have this fanciful idea about me that isn’t true.”
“It is! You just won’t admit what you are. I know you deep down. I saw it all those years ago. I saved you from a life of waste.”
“And keeping me a prisoner in my own home isn’t waste of life?”
Romely’s temper flared. “If you weren’t fucking strange women, you’d be meditating on how to make yourself a better man, the man that deserves me!”
“Oh Jesus Christ, no!” he bellowed.
Romely watched him, wide-eyed. He hadn’t displayed that much emotion to her in years. She gave a small shrug. “Then we’re back to the beginning.”
Helena hurtled down the stairs. “I’ll post the clothes back to you,” she said, barely looking at him.
No, don’t leave, please!
“Helena,” he started, before Romely locked his jaw with a single look. Helena murmured an apology to Romely.
“How will you get back to the house?” he ventured.
Still not looking at him, she indicated the door. “I’ve called a cab. It’s waiting outside.” Her gaze lifted, connecting with his own. “Oh… Go to hell.”
There was his salvation, walking away from him. Romely closed the door behind her and turned back to him. “How shall we work through this?” she asked with an expectant smile. “I mean I’m upset, but I forgive you.”
The lights inside the house dimmed, the clouds darkened the sky. Every single piece of furniture in the vicinity rose from the ground and launched toward Romely. With a scream, she held up her hands as the furniture exploded into dust. Covered in powdered wood and grit, she heaved at him, “You did this to yourself!”
“Get out.” Not waiting for further argument, he trudged upstairs to his bedroom and closed the door. His hand tightened on the handle and he slammed the door into the frame again and again and again until the wood splintered and the handle came away from the door altogether. He threw the handle to the carpet and lay down.
Closing his eyes he envisioned Helena, looking like a fairy princess, hunting for rosemary. No. He wouldn’t allow this. There was no way he’d give her up. He’d had the briefest taste of freedom on Helena’s lips, and he wanted it all.

Now was not the right time to defy Romely’s curfew and get up to London. But he absolutely would. Find Helena and try to get around the impossibility of his situation. He had to.