Tag Archives: romance

Influences: the book I could never read

I was thinking of writing about Karl May, Oscar Wilde, Stendhal, Gerald Durrell, Julie Garwood, Briggs or Moaning, but then realized that they are nice, but not my greatest source of strength, inspiration or style.

In 1996 summer I wanted to read a book.

My grandmother remembered a book she had with lots of short stories that she thought could interest me – romantic stories. Being in my tender age, I agreed and we started going through the shelves. While we were searching she kept telling me how lovely it was and how good stories it had and how well it was written compared with others published at that time. She reads a lot and believed her, getting exited about it more and more, imagining myself holding that book, keeping it like a treasure it was and indulging myself with one story per day so I could enjoy it even more. In my dreams it was old, with yellow pages, lost its covers and smelling of wormwood – just like the old newspaper collection from 1920s my brother kept in his closet.

Then, when we reached to the last shelf, she suddenly gasped, turned and said while looking right at me from the chair she was standing on : “I lend it out to my friend in 60s,” she said, “I think she left it on the bench in bus stop.”

I was appalled. There was no book?

I so wanted to read it that I turned down every other book she tried to offer me instead, until she suddenly said: “Why won’t you just write the story you want to read?”

I took pen and paper and started five minutes later. Page long stories, one per each day and in no time I can replace the book that careless borrower lost. I still thrive to fulfill my youth’s promise – to replace that book that borrower left on that bench in that bus stop. No other book – that one.

I am still angry she lend it out, but also glad. Because this lost collection of short romantic stories has given me more inspiration and stamina than any other book that I have ever read.

* * *

Today’s post is my response to the promt on Influences, this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

Next stop on the tour is Tiberius Clausewitz Drusus Nero Germanicus on April 21st, 2012.

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Sleeves part 1

Agath didn’t know he had sleeve tattoos. Both arms. Now that she knew, it was hard to concentrate on the meeting – her mind was invaded by images of his patterned flesh under the clean cotton shirt. The smooth skin caressed by the rough fabric sent goose bumps all over her body and she nearly broke the pencil.

He had run past her yesterday, after the woman who so carelessly had pulled her documents on the floor. The blond woman hadn’t stopped, ran straight to the waiting taxi and drove away. Leon had run right after her, but missed her. The rain soaked his shirt and vest, gluing the fabric on his skin and revealing the hidden secret under his white cotton armor. The always-perfect boss had both his arms covered with tattoos! She knew better than to hide behind the bush, getting herself all wet – but she had no wish to betray herself with the umbrella. He had a bad temper and even worse when caught off guard. But fortunately, he had passed without a glance to her direction. She promised herself never again to leave late, especially when it was heavily raining – that proved especially harmful.

At least her brain had worked then, not like now, when she couldn’t even keep her pencil on place. She tried concentrating on her notes.

He hadn’t seen her two nights ago, but she betrayed herself with her changed attitude and lack of concentration, and it puzzled him. He made a note to himself to have a chat with her after the meeting, better yet, ask her what he was talking about in the meeting. This ought to bring her back to her senses. The room was the only one in use on this floor right now and others would be long gone before she finished with her bag and that he knew gave him the opportunity he needed.

Leon dismissed them and stood aside to let others leave. She was busy with the zip on her black huge handbag which wasn’t co-operating and it gave him time.

Not once did she look up. Usually she did, shyly searching around with her clever foxy eyes,  never be the last, but this time she avoided any uncanny glances and it interested him, why? She wasn’t herself today. Fallen in love? Agath? Woman, who fell asleep after her third cup of wine? She was gorgeously shaped, but with her tolerance of booze she was hardly conversational. Nobody would get her to have decent conversation after driving her home. Not from the bar then.

Leon knew she didn’t tolerate even glasses of wine because of what happened last Christmas. It took him quite an effort to get her back to her place, but her trusty ways made the task easy. He felt the anger over her mousey ways even now, realizing how easily it could have been someone who would take advantage of such a situation. Then why hadn’t he?

He felt irritated, and it made him less humane. The idea of someone playing with her for easy swing made his mind block everything related with business. He regretted letting her go on that Christmas, going home instead and spending it alone. No one should be alone on Holidays, neither sleeping through them duo three classes of red.

When she finally got her things together, pen and paper off the table and she started to leave, he just acted without thinking. He closed the door in front of her and placed the files he was holding back on the meeting table.

She looked up fast, unable to hide what she was thinking. He didn’t budge, noticing how from one second her eyes held his, they moved on right away, but not far enough to show humility. They stopped. On his right shoulder. Light came back in his jealous mind and he felt he still had some hope, but her look puzzled him.

“Considering your absent-mindedness on the meeting today,” he started with a frown. “I thought it would be best if you explained to me the main concept of the new perspective.”

He thought better to sit while she watched her groan like a child before a teacher. She had no idea, he knew it in advance, but she had to learn this lesson. No mindless showing ups again. Even if she had problems somewhere else in her life, she had to stay professional at all costs.

“I don’t have the concept.” She said quietly, but raised her eyes then to meet his. “You finished the meeting before getting to it.”

He frowned. “I got there. Two minutes ago and then I asked you all to think about it and said we’ll get back together in the end of the week. Remember?”

Her shyness was reviving again and his frown deepened. “You paid no attention today – what’s the matter with you? You know we are thinking on redundancies, if you show this side of yourself, we have no other way but to let you go.”

Her stomach must have acted up on such news, because she pulled it in visibly,  and her hand struck up to cover it.

“So better come clean. What’s bothering you?” He offered. He’d known her over four years now and though they never came down to chatting like friends, he knew he could consider her one.

There was this look again, again over his hands and it dawned. Somehow she knew about his tattoos.

He pushed himself up, way taller than her and watched as his movement brought light back in his otherwise gloomy stature. Her eyes were on the same level as his shoulders and they never moved from them, like she was helplessly trying to see them through the sleeves.

He never exposed his tattoos to anyone at work. It would have brought misunderstandings and he knew better than just let a rumor out when he could avoid it. Especially as they could have easily brought back the past he was desperate to leave where it belonged – in the closets of history.

Her breathing changed. Gently but unmistakably deeper than he thought necessary, but it occurred to him almost at the same time that his wasn’t getting much shallower either.

She was so close. He smelled her sweetness mixed with the sweet violets. Unusual for someone in economy, but suited with her violet jacket, under which her blooming breasts were hidden behind delicate pink fabric so gentle it would’ve easily torn had he just stretched his hand and touched it.

That notion brought him back to the situation in hand and he deliberately changed his breathing before the chemistry did its work.

“How do you know about my tattoos?” he demanded and saw her look change. She didn’t say anything, rightfully aware it would bring trouble. “How, Agath?”

“Your shirt got drained.” She said after humiliating silence.

“What?”

“Yesterday. You know, if you want to keep it from everyone as you seem so inclined, I’d suggest wearing silicon clothing.” She pushed back, trying to turn the tables around, but it only angered him more.

He sat back down, wrapping his hands on his chest, creating surprisingly effective distraction to her. It would have been amusing hadn’t it been vital for him not to get the word around and he hoped to avoid it.

“Spying on me, missy?”

She frowned, oddly lost. “Hardly. I forgot my house keys to the office. Had to come back.”

“I didn’t see you yesterday.” He recalled, but the blush on her face already gave him the answer. She hid. Somewhere. He saw no point continuing this. It had been mere accident and his own wrong doing. “I don’t want this to go around, you hear?”

“I wasn’t planning a public announcement.” Her voice trembled with insult and she adjusted her handbag, hoping to buy some time. “Why are you so concerned if someone saw them anyway?” she asked suddenly. Shooting look right at him again with her typical peering eyes.

“I had them done when I was young and stupid.” He said, trying to avoid her question. He stood up and let his hands fall aside, glancing at her just in time to notice that longing look towards his arms again. “You must stop it,” he added quietly and picked up his papers.

“Stop what?”

“Your staring. If they notice, they will start rumors and that’s one thing you don’t want.”

“I just wished to see them.” She said.

He never thought those words could rise a storm inside him, but they did. His words were buried under the emotion that rushed through his body and he knew it pushed his button.

Suddenly she gasped, realized she’d said it loud and apologized.

“Perhaps some other time,” he said suddenly, unaware himself he’d let those words out, but he felt the need to say something before the moment passed. 

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