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Delete, Rewrite

Lucy opened the paperback a little wider and tilted it towards the light, but she read only one paragraph before dropping the book into her lap. Sighing, she rubbed her eyes.

"I shouldn't be reading," she muttered. "I have to work."

Placing the book on her desk, she looked at the laptop in front of her; lid open, screensaver patterns zig-zagging across its face. She jiggled her finger on the tracker pad, watching the screen wake up, revealing neat rows of words. Positioning her hands over the keyboard, she willed herself to type.

Nothing happened. Her hands simply hovered, never touching the keys. Lucy, slumping, blew air through her teeth. She'd picked up the book because she was restless – but if she couldn't muster enough concentration to read, what chance did she have with writing?

None, dammit. She folded her arms, her gaze flitting to the phone sitting atop her Oxford Dictionary. She hesitated, hands twitching, then lunged, snatching up the phone like a cat seizing a mouse. She peered anxiously at the screen. No missed calls, no messages.

"Damn you," she said through clenched teeth.

Turning her wrist, she checked her watch. Fifty-two minutes since Pete had walked out, fifty-one minutes since she'd sent the first text, forty-one since the second and nineteen since the third. All three texts were listed as 'read' and enough time had passed for Pete to collect his thoughts.

"Come on, Pete, reply."

Lucy closed her hand around the phone, debating her next move. Send another text? Call him? She puffed out her cheeks and absently flicked the pages of the abandoned paperback making a soft fluttering sound. Leave it. He'll contact me when he's ready.

Replacing the phone on its dictionary perch, she scooped up the paperback, pushed back her chair and padded towards the sagging bookcase dominating the study's far wall. She slid her hand into a narrow gap on the third shelf and, widening it, slotted in the book.

There. Pushing wild curls away from her eyes, Lucy admired the bookcase. Books were her friends, her comfort. She'd read over and over every book she owned, absorbing every word. Thrillers, mysteries, romances…

Stretching out her arms, she stroked the spines of the neatly ordered paperbacks, smiling as she felt the creases. She lingered over a particularly well-worn tome. Ah yes… her favourite romance, with seductively sexy characters, titillating encounters, and a heart-warming happy ending. She traced the curled red lettering title and contemplated plucking the book from the shelf until thoughts of Pete intruded. She glared at her phone instead.

"Come on, please. I've said I'm sorry."

The laptop flickered, catching her eye. She watched it revert to screensaver mode, the brightly coloured patterns dancing with mesmerising brilliance. Lucy turned away. Returning her attention to the bookcase, she gazed lovingly at two books at the far end of the second shelf. They were different from the others. In pristine condition, wrapped in protective jackets, these were her books – two juicy erotic romances written by Lucy Thomas.

Lucy smiled. Always a bookworm, making the transition from paperback reader to paperback writer had long been her ambition and achieving it filled her with glowing pride. The reality of writing for a living, however, was not what she'd envisaged. She hated the pressure of deadlines and, already behind with novel number three, writing seemed to occupy every waking moment. She sometimes wished she'd kept writing as a hobby and not left her office job. She missed relaxed nights curled on the sofa with Pete, reading books, making love...

"But I did quit my job," she said aloud, "and books don't write themselves."

Sloping back to her desk, she plopped into her chair and pulled the laptop closer. Maybe if I write something, anything. She touched the tracker pad and, saving the file on screen, opened a new one.

"Okay… forget Pete, forget what happened – just write."

Lucy straightened her back and positioned her hands. She sighed with relief when her fingers tapped the keys and words appeared on the screen. But, reading them back, she frowned. The sentences were jumbled, the images in her head lost in translation between thoughts and words. Frustrated, she placed a finger on 'delete' and held it there.

Delete, rewrite. Reaching sideways, she lifted the mug of coffee sitting on the windowsill. She took a slurp. Ugh! Cold. Grimacing, she set the mug down and returned to the task at hand. This time…

She typed again. An abundance of words poured forth and the ghost of a smile chased the glumness from her expression. Better. Words became sentences; sentences paragraphs. After pausing briefly to correct a typo, she ploughed on, the staccato tapping becoming intricate rhythms that were music to her ears. When she finished the third paragraph, she sat back.

"There. See?" she said, addressing the uncooperative phone skulking on her dictionary. "I don't need you." She stared unblinking, as if waiting for the phone to respond, then, lower lip quivering, she burst into tears. "Come on," she sobbed, burying her face in her hands, "enough."

Shaking, she rummaged in her pocket for a tissue. I'm so stupid, dumb. She wiped her eyes. The trouble had started when Pete had brought her a mug of coffee – the one she'd just tried drinking. It was a lovely gesture but, on that occasion, a most unwelcome interruption. Lucy had been engrossed in writing and the intrusion had thrown her completely off track.

It was an innocent faux pas on Pete's part, one she would have overlooked had he not loitered behind her, slurping his drink and reading over her shoulder. Pointing out a typo was the last straw.

A fat tear ran down Lucy's cheek as she remembered how she'd yelled at him. It was a massive overreaction, one spawned by the stress of a publishing deadline she had no chance of meeting. It wasn't Pete's fault and now she hid her face in her hands, recalling the look on his face as she'd shouted obscenities. Poor Pete. He'd blanched and, mouth gaping, left without uttering a word.

"Sorry" had formed on Lucy's lips too late, the apology drowned out by the click of the front door. With the deepest regret, she acknowledged that she'd lashed out needlessly at the person who loved her most. After all, Pete had been totally supportive when she'd quit her well-paid job to write full-time, and he encouraged her to carry on when her first novel failed. The success of her second novel was as much down to him as her. If that wasn't love, what was?

"Oh darling, I'm sorry. I'm an ungrate—"

Lucy froze as a noise startled her. Sitting bolt upright, she listened. There. A smile crinkled the corners of her mouth as she recognised the click of a Yale lock followed by footsteps on wood.

"Pete?" Heart racing, she sprang to her feet and sprinted to the stairs. "Pete, is that you?" Grabbing the bannister, she leaned over.

A man stood at the foot of the stairs, coat on, anxious expression on his face. Seeing Lucy, he held out a bouquet of flowers, beautifully wrapped in clear cellophane and a shiny red bow binding the stems.

"For you," he said. "And this." He raised his other hand, holding up a bulging plastic bag. "Not chocolates, sorry. Food. Proper food. I thought I'd cook so you can work. I know you're behind."

Lucy gaped in disbelief. Words failing her, she placed a hand on her heart.

"I wanted to surprise you." Pete dropped the plastic bag neatly at his feet. "And help, if I can."

"You do, you always do." Lucy's heart skipped. "Are they roses?" she asked, nodding to the flowers.

"Of course. A dozen. Red. Your favourite."

"Oh, Pete…" Fresh energy surged through Lucy's body and bounding down the stairs two steps two at a time, she flung herself at Pete. "I'm sorry, so sorry," she murmured, covering his face with feverish kisses.

"My fault. I shouldn't have disturbed you."

"No, it was me. I didn't even thank you for the coffee." Lucy felt a tickle on her cheek and batted away a tear. "Can you forgive me?"

"Sweetheart," Pete's steady gaze met hers, "always."

"Thank you, oh, thank you. I don't deserve you." Thoroughly ashamed, Lucy took the roses from Pete's hand and held them to her nose to hide her blushes. "They're beautiful. I'll just…" She quickly wiped her tears and placed the roses on the hallway table, taking care not to crumple the wrapping or the delicate blooms.

She smiled at Pete. "I'm an idiot, aren't I?"

"No, just passionate about writing," he cupped Lucy's face in his palms, "and I wouldn't have you any other way."

Really? His words filling her with gratitude, Lucy kissed him again. She clasped her hands around his neck, moaning when the kisses became fervent. She parted her lips, allowing his tongue to probe her mouth. He tasted sweet, familiar, and the intimacy triggered a chemical reaction in her core. Her pulse raced and her pussy throbbed.

She pressed hard against Pete's body, her fingers curling the short hair at the back of his head. She gasped when she felt his erection nudge her abdomen. Lust ignited, she reached for his cock and closed her fingers around his hardness.

"Ooh, that's so good," Pete murmured, soft and low. "I want you." He pushed his cock against Lucy's hand and even through trousers, she felt it pulse against her palm.

"Then take me," she whispered.

Pete groaned. He looked around, his body tense. "Not here… I know where…"

Lucy squealed as she was grabbed and manhandled over his shoulder in a fireman's lift. "Put me down," she shrieked as he sprinted for the living room, jostling her roughly as he ran. "Pete!"

"Okay. Ugh…"

A giggling Lucy was unceremoniously dumped on the tattered leather sofa she'd bought at auction the previous week. "You want to christen this?" she asked, grinning.

"Thought we might… and there was no way I could carry you upstairs," Pete admitted, rubbing his back. "Besides," he stroked the bulge tenting his trousers, "I can’t wait."

"No?"

"No. Your fault." Pete stood one pace from the sofa, gazing at Lucy. "You're just so…"

His voice trailed away as she pulled her T-shirt over her head and tossed it to the floor. Pouting, she stroked her lacy bra. "I'm just what?" she asked, teasingly squishing her boobs together and pinching her nipples.

Pete didn't answer. He'd disappeared into that dazed state men go into when the only thing on their mind is the prospect of fucking.

"More?" Fluttering her dark lashes, Lucy made a show of wriggling out of her jogging bottoms. She played with the lace panties beneath in much the same way she'd done with her bra. "Ooh…wet," she said, touching the crotch. She lay back, arms draped over her head. "Well, what are you waiting for?"

Pete eyed her salaciously, his greedy gaze devouring her mounds and curves. Snapping out of his trance, he tore at his clothes – tie, shirt, shoes, trousers, scattered far and wide. A vase, hit by his belt, wobbled dangerously, and a shoe struck the wall with a resounding thud.

Lucy barely noticed. Her gaze was fixed on Pete's enormous erection. Freed of clothing, it stood proud, the purple head already glistening with pre-cum. She salivated at the spectacle and the fire in her pussy intensified, stoked by sight and scent. Leaving the bra in place, she removed her knickers in one fluent movement and opened her thighs.

Her actions were more than enough encouragement for Pete; the sofa creaked as he positioned himself above her, lined up his cock, and thrust.

Oh yes… Waves of bliss lapped right through Lucy. Her heart thudded against her ribcage and her breath came in panting gasps. Pete's cock filled her completely, its girth stretching her, his cockhead hitting her cervix, sending tingling ripples all over her body. She clawed Pete's back, her hands becoming damp with sweat, as he thrust repeatedly, slamming her into the soft leather cushions.

Grunting, Pete switched position. He lifted Lucy's hips and pulled her legs up around his waist. He pushed deeper, and Lucy, gasping, bucked her hips to fully accept his plunging cock. She threw back her head as the pounding went on, the rhythm fast and hard.

Lucy's body ached but the stirrings of an orgasm fizzled in her core; a wonderful sensation, enhanced by Pete's grunts and the musky scent of sex. Pete's fingers dug into her flesh and sweat beaded on his skin. When he tensed and climaxed, she came too, her body shuddering with the force of it. Releasing a deeply satisfied groan, she grasped Pete's ass as he spurted in her depths.

After her climax peaked, she lay still, relishing the aftershocks and the sound of their syncopated heartbeats. She clenched her pussy around Pete's cock.

"Oh… do that again," he said.

Lucy obliged, smirking when he groaned. "That was—" She swallowed hard, her throat dry.

"Okay for starters?" Pete's beaming smile came into view.

Lucy nodded. She stroked his face with the back of her hand and, for the moment, lay contentedly under him in a tangled heap on the sofa, breathing laboured, limbs aching, his cock twitching inside her.

Pete kissed her lips; a tender kiss, the urgency gone. "Well," he said, catching his breath, "if I get sex like that after every minor disagreement, I'm going to criticise your writing every day."

"Don't you dare!"

"I'm teasing. I wouldn't."

"I know." Lucy bit her lower lip, pondering. "Pete," she said after a momentary pause, "do you still want to help?

"Help with what? Help you write?"

"Yes." Her gaze wandered over his face. "That typo you spotted—"

"Ugh…yes. Sorry about that."

"No," Lucy smiled, "I want you to do it again. Proofread for me."

"Proofread?" Pete screwed up his face. "Is that a good idea? You might shout."

"I won't. I'll never do that again." Lucy held his gaze. "I love you too much."

Sliding her hands around his neck, she drew Pete close and kissed him. The kiss lingered and as it did, all the angst and heartache of the day dissolved into the past. No lasting harm, everything was fine. And now that Pete was going to proofread for her, she might even make that deadline and—

 

"No, no. That's all wrong," I slap the heel of a hand against my forehead. "I can't end it like that." Huffing, I delete the last sentence and read what remains. "Bla, bla, no lasting harm, everything was fine. Full stop. That's more like it. Focus on the romance, not the silly book's deadline."

I scratch my head. I should take my own advice.

Feeling meditative, I save the file and log off. I've written more than I thought I would, under the circumstances, but I can't write anymore. Not with our disagreement still unresolved. Besides, this story's not what I'm supposed to be writing. It's not my novel.

Not that it matters. How can I write without you? I look at my watch and quickly calculate that it's one hour and, let's see... thirty-eight minutes since you left. You're really letting me stew, aren't you?

My phone, sitting on the dictionary, hasn't made a sound. I try not to panic but I'm painfully aware that the longer the silence lasts, the greater the possibility that our relationship will be permanently damaged. I couldn't bear that. Not over something so silly and entirely my fault.

I can't let it happen. Grabbing the phone, I flick to my address book. I know what I have to do but the prospect scares me. What if you shout or don't answer at all? Trembling, I place my finger over your number, letting it hover, poised. I draw a deep breath…

I want Lucy and Pete's ending. I want you to walk through the door, flowers in hand, words of love pouring from your lips. I want to throw myself into your arms and hold you tight, knowing everything's all right.

Better still, I want to go back, delete my stupid, thoughtless words and rewrite them – edit, revise, replace my outburst with words of gratitude and love. If I could, I'd turn our spat into a scene of passion hot enough to rival any I've read, and end it with smiling, satiated lovers, whispering, "I love you."

But Lucy and Pete are only characters, romanticised projections of what I want, not what I'll get. I look at the phone in my hand, a finger twitching over your name. I can't change what's happened, the past is the past, but I can shape what happens now.

I press your number. I do it quickly, my hands trembling even more as I listen to it ring. When I get your answer phone, I fight to keep control. My throat's tight but I have to speak, it's too important.

"Hey, it's me. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything. When you get this message, call me or come home. We need to talk. I love you."

I disconnect and my arm flops to my side. It's done. All I can do is wait and hope you interpret my message as love. It is love. Closing my eyes, I picture your face – I know I've done you wrong, and not just today. I've neglected you and taken you for granted. Today was merely another example of an ongoing trend.

That will change. I promise.

I nearly drop the phone when it vibrates and rings, and my heart skips wildly when I see your name emblazoned on the screen.

Please…

Hopes soaring, I offer a prayer of thanks and answer your call.

 

 

 

 

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