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The Last Bookshop - The Muse

The Last Bookshop - The Muse

Harry's world crashes down around him, can he find a way out and find the muse?

He caught himself in the mirror and backpedalled. Dark, sunken rings around pink fatigued eyes glared back. His waxy pallor, the colour of plain paper and his skin, the texture of gruel haunted him.  Wearily, he carried a pained and troubled countenance.  His limp hair aged him and he rubbed at the abrasive stubble on his chin.

The long abominable night never felt lonelier as he stared from the window and waited for them to come.

Any unfamiliar sound pumped adrenaline through his embattled body. Skittish, he moved between rooms with a carving knife. Awake with no sleep for two days, he feared they would come at any time. He dared not risk the trance-like state of Chapter One-Hundred-and-Four for fear of summoning Delilah.

She held his life in the balance of her arbitrary scales of justice based on a code he did not understand. The Cremorne was no ‘hocus-pocus’ curio, it lived and breathed inside others too. Others with the terrifying ability to eliminate him on sight. They did not believe in a fair judgement, they despised his acts of blasphemy.

Still unsettled by the fight for his life, it coloured all his thoughts. Amidst this solitary torture, his intuition yapped with the persistence of an over-energetic terrier.  Constantly, it challenged the tenacious grip on his cogent thoughts. Eventually, he would cave into its demands helplessly like a slave to its all-powerful master.  He felt hope leech away with the sweep of the minutes from his mantel clock.

In the cold light of morning over a sour, over-strong coffee, a single text message compounded his misery.

“Hi, sorry to leave you to it at Club Babylon but we both knew it would end eventually. I’m done with it all and enrolling in college in the autumn. I’ll always think back to our adventures with fondness. In another life, maybe things could have been different between us. So let’s leave it on the high that it was and good luck! Best, L x”

Mindful of his solemn promise to Delilah, he deleted Laura’s phone number. Pressing the button to confirm his decision, he banished her forever. It wounded him more than he imagined and felt a fleeting sense of contrition. Blinded by his need to explore the Cremorne; he lost sight of what he was doing. Surging with unapologetic defiance, his intuition challenged Delilah’s warning and Harry fought harder to contain it.

He could not hide in here forever and hold his intuition back for much longer. Yet, he needed more time to think. One weary-sounding phone call after another cleared his diary. He cancelled appointments for his acts of blasphemy against the Cremorne and postponed the rest.

A week would be enough; he must get a grip or fail and accept his fate. Only the vivid memory of his fragile mortality kept everything in check.

The day wore on and his intuition howled with indignation and frothed the troubled waters of his mind. Its demands for fresh meat grew louder by the hour. Steeped in defiance born of self-preservation, he endured its ferocity. He feared psychosis as he clung on; its loud voice demanded action and he replied vehemently to deny it.

Delilah and the Cremorne warned him to master his intuition or face the consequences. The colossal intensity of it felt untameable. By early evening on the third day of his voluntary imprisonment, his intuition snarled with the savagery of a fierce beast. Knowing it was not trusted, it roared constantly, and tore at the cage in his mind.

Any analysis of his predicament felt hopeless; still, he tried to assemble clues. With shaky hands and a fevered mind, he arranged scraps of paper on the dining table to make sense of this madness. Delilah’s words made little sense; perhaps it was a diversion, perhaps to derail his quest. Perhaps she knew his intuition was unmanageable and he would implode at a safe distance from her iniquitous den.

Restless and mentally exhausted, it came as a tiny flicker of hope. He grabbed a pen and scribbled frantically, ‘Dancer’, ‘Energy’, ‘Athlete’, ‘Ambush’. Punching the air, the joy pulsed through him. A physiological impulse required a physiological solution.

Resolutely as his intuition snarled, Harry got into his running gear. Through gritted teeth, fuelled by adrenaline and nervous energy, he ran for hours. He wanted to shout and yell as his mind seethed with poisonous malevolence. He hurried with the zeal of a frantic prisoner hungry for freedom. Running beyond empty on lungfuls of air that scorched his muscles, he endured.

Barely able to walk as he entered his flat, he collapsed onto his bed still in his running gear. Self-medicated on a huge rush of endorphins, he hugged a pillow and waited for the savage roar of his intuition. Amidst the serene quiet, a weak smile celebrated his conquest, and he slept.


“Another one?” the soft lilt of her Eastern European accent sounded so welcoming.

Harry shook his head, “No thank you, I’m going to finish this and head back.”

There was only so much orange juice and soda he could stomach.

She smiled as he looked into her eyes. About twenty years old, blonde haired with a pretty face, her lean figure suited leggings and the tight t-shirt. Her spanking fetish amused him and his intuition roused itself. Instantly, he stifled its pathetic grumblings.

A moth flitted noisily around an incandescent light bulb. The analogy felt perfect - Harry danced too close to the flames. Only, he got away just in time, Delilah might be many things yet she was right.  He seized on his cure, he gripped this rediscovered zest for life tightly.  He awoke and gave thanks that his personal motivations drove him from his bed and not the beast of his intuition.

He ran every day, a long canter through the parks and streets, and his placated intuition slept. Rising from the pub bench, he ambled towards home. He met the gaze of passers-by and collected their predilections to amuse himself. Gathering their perversions and desires, he did not feel so alone, and his patient intuition awaited its summons. 

For days, he sought the muse, the woman who is as wise as she is worldly. Whether she was one of the nine, or three, Harry poured over Hesiodic texts of Greek legends. Their moral tone chimed with the punishments of the Cremorne but they provided no clues.  He researched genealogical websites for the names in the Cremorne. Images of Celtic crosses carried their location, and he would recognise the stained glass windows from his dreams easily. This book came from somewhere, its author or authors lived somewhere. A newspaper or court journal might have captured a scandalous event inspired by its chapters.

He ordered corkboards, pins, printer paper, ink, and coloured wool. He seized on them to organise his thoughts. His internet searches yielded thousands of results. A break between land and water; a lake, or an island, domicile addresses of named families, possible corroborations in old newspapers, and the locations of Tors and crosses. It made little sense at first but piece-by-piece he assembled it on the largest wall in his flat.

Increasingly, he forced himself to relive his encounter with Delilah for any clues. As a facsimile of a facsimile, it lost its power to terrify. Sat in his armchair, he closed his eyes and recalled that look on Delilah’s face. The aloof assertiveness and the ripple of power in her eyes he mistook for confidence.  If anyone did come looking for him, he felt confident he would know them on sight. His mission was clear; he needed to avoid any further transgressions.

Emboldened, he rattled the tumbler of the safe door and pushed down on its handle. The soft leather yielded in his hands, and he gazed at the slim black ring binder. The half-completed solution to the Cremorne’s riddle laid in its organised pages.  Again, his intuition waited as Harry flicked through its pages as he maintained his calm composure.

Staring at the row of corkboards, the non-linear Cremorne had its themes: truth, liberation, expression, acceptance, and free will. No closer to finding the muse, he understood his place and the weight of responsibility he carried. He understood perfectly Delilah’s animus towards him, he understood her demands for him to mend his ways. His salvation came purely from a decision based on luck and fear; it could easily have gone badly wrong.  His survival was a half-chance, he seized the indelible lesson he learnt and held it close to his every thought.

He needed to validate Delilah's demands of him to make sure.  He roused his intuition and called it to heel. Gilt-edged with dispassionate rational logic, Harry felt the swell of its power. He called it and it roused itself, he challenged it and it obeyed, he asserted himself and it cowered. A tingle of excitement fluttered in the pit of his stomach. He felt alive, and seized a seldom-felt joy from so much despair.

Tomorrow, his appointments started and a new exploration of the remaining chapters beckoned.  He seized upon his rediscovered self-awareness - he felt ready.


Opaque sunlight streamed through the thin muslin curtains and flecks of dust shone in its beams.

Eliza begged for restraint, she delivered her clear words undaunted, and they did not falter. Naked and spread-eagled, her passive body did not flex against the Velcro strips that constrained her limbs firmly to the bed. Harry took her phone, executed her request, and felt his intuition hum with deferential approval. In the viewfinder, Harry caught how the light shimmered off the spill of her breasts and cast tiny shadows against her tall erect nipples. From the cinch of her waist, to the scalloped curve of her midriff, it melded into the pronounced hillock of her smooth pubis.

The synthetic click of the shutter punctured the air and Eliza told him to take another one.

“Send Cressida the pictures. I want her wet for me when she comes home.”

Her brittle upmarket pronunciation made it sound filthy. The epitome of a bohemian upper-class fuck, Eliza had specific tastes. Far removed from the communal festival of filth at Club Babylon, her deviance was more discreet and private. Their game involved Eliza, her lover Cressida, and their antagonist – Harry. Eliza’s broad tastes were the gift that kept giving. As the protagonist of three Chapters, she had a special place in the pantheon of the Cremorne.

Eliza’s spirit was one that Harry never needed to influence and he dared not blaspheme against the Cremorne again. Eliza was a wilful creature and he liked her blunt confidence. Overtly bisexual, Eliza held a preference for women and an aloof playful contempt for men. Paying for Harry’s services was only proper; he was the expendable asset in their relationship.

Harry despatched the pictures to Cressida. He knew how she enjoyed spontaneity and the visual spectacle of the sexual act. Submissive to Eliza’s whims, Cressida would yield to her commands. His intuition fizzed with enthusiasm for the feast it would soon receive.

Eliza’s eyes widened as her phone rang; she fidgeted with excitement and pushed out a little moan.

“Answer it,” purred Eliza.

Harry switched it to speakerphone, “Hello.”

“Where’s Eliza?”

“Eliza is a little tied up at the moment.”

Eliza giggled.

“Who is this? Harry?”


“What does she want?” Cressida sounded flustered.

“She wants you to taste how wet she is.”

A faint gasp of air rushed the mic, “Fuck!”

“She wants to watch you ride me. You fancy that? Some hard cock to fuck?”

There was a stronger gasp and then a gulp, “Oh God.”

“No, just Harry.”

Eliza laughed loudly.

“Tell her… tell her I’m on my way.”

“I will, and Cressida?”


“She tastes fantastic and she’s freshly fucked too.”

With a soft groan, the line went dead.

Harry sat patiently and enjoyed the spectacle of Eliza’s prone body. He sat in a chair and watched the physical manifestation of Eliza’s excitement. The glimmer of wetness between her legs sparkled brighter as her torso rose and fell eagerly for air.

“She’ll be here soon Eliza and you can’t wait can you?” Harry proffered.

“Uh-huh, I’m burning for her.”

“I know, I can see. Just the expectation of it arouses you.”


"I'm going to enjoy fucking her and I want you to see that look on her face when I slide my cock inside her."

Eliza groaned softly, "Yes, I want to see it."

His intuition pulsed through him; he felt its embrace and indulged himself in its warmth. The clattering sound of a taxi’s engine rose and then quietened. Eliza’s breathing quickened as a door slammed and the metallic sound of a key zipped into the lock. The front door closed with a bang and hurried footsteps approached. As the door burst open, Cressida paused, gasped and a frenzy of hands pulled the clothes from her. A bra flew through the air and she flicked her knickers with her foot onto the floor. Falling to the bed, Cressida ensconced herself between Eliza’s legs.

Eliza gasped wantonly and Harry watched Cressida’s eager gestures with her mouth. Breaking into soft yelping moans, Eliza’s hips writhed. Delicate panting sounds broke the silence as Eliza's lithe body flexed.

Eliza gasped, “Fuck her Harry, make her feel what you did to me.”

He squared up to Cressida taut naked rump bent over the edge of the bed. He parted her fine labial lips with the blunt tip of his length and smeared her juices around her sex.  Taunting her, she rubbed the blunt head of his erection up and down her wet slit. Eliza whispered airily that she wanted Cressida penetrated. In that moment, Cressida reared up, groaned, and returned to licking Eliza’s vagina.

Looking down, the draft of Cressida’s labia gripped the sawing action of his penis. Broiling hot and snug around him, he attended to her firmly enough to feel it, careful enough not to break her union with Eliza’s febrile body.  It enlivened Cressida and electrified her attention to Eliza's prone body.  He admired them, doing what they lived for, the give and take of sexual pleasure.  The writhing of Eliza's body built as muscles and sinew tensed and eased.  Her hips were in perfect time with Cressida's attentiveness and she ground her mons against Cressida’s mouth.

Chapter Ninety-Eight was his suggestion over the phone and Eliza squealed with delight. It described the corruption of two Sapphic lovers accepting a man’s semen for the first time. His intuition rippled with gratitude that she would serve the Cremorne so perfectly.

Such was Cressida’s eagerness, a rapidly taken climax surged through Eliza. She stretched out in a taut muscular tension as her hips rose from the bed.  Quick panting yelps stuttered as she trembled from her slight hips.  Like the snap of a whip, she flexed, shuddered effortlessly and slumped into the bed.  Soft breathless gasps punctuated by aftershocks flexed her body.  Eliza craned her neck, her cheeks flushed, eyes half-closed and looked Harry square in the eyes.  A faint smile eased on to her face as her head fell back to the sublime pleasures of Cressida's flailing tongue.

Slow, deliberate, their bodies moved in a languid rhythm well versed in gifting pleasure upon each other. Undaunted, Harry pressed on as Cressida showed no signs of abating. Stifling her moans, she lapped up the copious juices of Eliza’s sex. Again, Eliza’s hips lunged upwards and stuttered as she cried out and flailed against her bonds. Slumping onto the bed, she pleaded with Cressida to stop as they giggled with joy and mischief for more.

The sound of Velcro tore through the musk-scented air. Freed from her bonds and undimmed, Eliza told Harry to sit in the chair. With another purred instruction, Cressida followed and backed onto him. Climbing on top, feet on his knees, Cressida obeyed Eliza’s command to the letter. Thighs open, Eliza took his tumultuous shaft and teased her lover with it.

“Beg for it Cressy, tell me to put in inside you. Tell me you want it.”

“I do Eliza, I want it. I want the brute inside me.”

She coupled them as Cressida let gravity impale her vagina. Eagerly, she rode Harry in reverse to enrage Eliza’s voyeuristic bent.

“I can’t wait to eat you out Cressy, we’re going to fuck all afternoon and all night.”

She moaned loudly as electricity surged through her body.

“Go on Cressy, fuck him, you look so hot with that thick cock inside you.”

Slickened fingers squeezed Harry’s balls as a soft whimper signalled they found Cressida’s clitoris. Her slight body writhed on Harry’s lap and taut muscles massaged the deep entrapment of his penis.

His glance met Eliza’s and the avid expression of lust on her face. Her fingers took no prisoners and showed little mercy as Cressida careened towards climax. Eliza leant in and kissed her fully on the lips. Cressida responded frantically, her flailing hips ground frantically against Harry seated body.

“Go on Cressy, cum on his cock. I want to watch you cum.”

She clasped Cressida’s pert breasts, each nipple became a prisoner to Eliza’s vice-like grip. Harry held her firmly and their conspiracy enlivened her into snaking gesture of her stiffening body. Muscles tightened with every undulation of her hips.

Fully impaled, she writhed in short stutters and gave out lusty yelps as Harry growled. Bucking what he could into her, Cressida whimpered as airy superfluous words announced it to them both.

“Good girl, good girl, cum on him for me. I’m watching.”

She grunted and flexed against Harry’s tight embrace, the strong spasms of her sex found little travel against the rigidity of his fully engorged penis.

The smack of soft kisses followed as Cressida writhed slowly on Harry’s lap.

Eliza purred contentedly, “Feel good?”

Cressida sighed and moaned a little, “Oh yes, that was so kinky. I loved it.”

They kissed again softly, “I knew you would you dirty girl.”

Gingerly at first, Cressida extracted herself from Harry. They opened his legs wider and took their place kneeling before him.

Eliza gripped his wet shaft, “Cressida, you made a mess of his hard cock. You know what you need to do, don’t you?”

She nodded obediently, “Yes, I do.”

“Now do it how I showed you.”

Harry groaned as Cressida’s soft mouth took him. A slow twisting gesture of her hand along his shaft raised the tension in his loins. A perfectly synchronised mouth eased up and down his aching length. A tender hand cupped his tight balls and caressed them and his tense perineum. Eliza scrutinised him and smiled at his fevered reaction.

Reaching out, Eliza toyed playfully with his nipples, “Go on then Harry, spunk in her mouth. Defile it.”

Dirty words delivered by such an upmarket accent left his resolve threadbare and weak.

“Let him shoot it into your mouth Cressy,” commanded Eliza.

Animated by Eliza’s words, her deft wrist and velvet mouth easily overwhelmed him. His legs started to shake as his body trembled.

The swell of his perineum felt so hot and tense, “Oh fuck!”

“That’s it, Cressy, now swallow it down.”

Cressida looked into his eyes hopefully and took him deeper. Stroking his cock, it was the last act that threw him over the edge. His trembling body rose from its hips and he shook as his climax rose like lava from his core.

He watched as Cressida did not flinch when he ejaculated. She sucked firmly on his spasming erection and he gripped the arms of the chair tightly. Her gullet twitched as loud gulps swallowed down what he gave her. Writhing through the rich heady sensations, he gave her several days’ worth of sperm into her willing mouth.

His intuition basked with gratitude as Harry’s groans eased to a hurried collection of short sharp breaths.

Spent, his semi-flaccid cock rested against his thigh and Clarissa kissed Eliza fully. They giggled as he stiffened easily at the spectacle and scolded him to find someone else to have it. He laughed at their playful cruelty. The game was up and his intuition relented as commanded. Harry rose to get dressed; it was time to leave them to it.


Hailing a taxi, he thought that Eliza was right, he would not need to wait too long. Tonight, he played chaperone to an attractive older woman, generous with her affections and her money. His intuition basked in its contentment as the warm taxi made Harry’s eyelids heavy. He embraced the reverie of Chapter One-Hundred-and-Four and the weightless sensation rushed forth. Flying through the air, the jangling sound of that mocking laughter spooked him.

“Harry Coulter, I see you have reformed your methods. I can sense the change in you and it pleases me. Master of your intuition, you are a wise man to heed my words and change your ways. We will watch over you, be mindful of those that seek to harm you, your power threatens them.

Truly, you are on the path to be a true devotee of the Cremorne so I will reward you. Seek the story of the jewel that dances to the steps of the Spaniard. Find your muse, reveal your purpose, and do it soon. She will guide you. Goodbye, Harry Coulter.”

With a jolt, his eyes opened with a cold sweat on his brow. Panicked, he forced himself to play back Delilah’s words repeatedly until he felt no sense of danger. His deep sigh of relief swelled inside him. Now, he had a solid lead and whoever ‘the jewel’ was, he would find her.


Walking on ancient weathered stone slabs, Harry gave a contented smile at Delilah’s cryptic clue. Finding the jewel revealed the muse, a simple enough task yet impossible without her words.

Delilah’s gift unlocked several chapters, errant pieces of its literal jigsaw came together as a vignette. There was no name in its passage, just the motif of a soul and her voyage of her discovery through the ‘dance of the Spaniard’.

Side by side, scanned from the Cremorne and stuck to a corkboard, they told the tale of the muse. They described her creation and the events of her awakening. They described her purpose and at that moment of discovery, Harry stood motionless in awe.

It tantalised him with more fragments of the Cremorne’s purpose. He slumped into a chair as his intuition embraced him warmly with a glow of congratulation.

This tumultuous week ended in triumph, a personal battle when all looked bleak and lost. He seized its abrasiveness as a permanent reminder of how ego could destroy his hopes. Now, he sat and looked at the wall and the secrets unlocked before his eyes. Happy to indulge his tempered intuition, he shook his head with an incredulous smile.

“Thanks, Delilah, I had you all wrong.”

He slept fitfully that night; excited that he would meet the muse. He cared not when he arose early.  Propped up in bed, he invoked the symbolism of Chapter One-Hundred-And-Four.  Revelling in its voyage, he journeyed to the place on the island and accepted the gift of its magick. His mind sang with joy, they knew they would hear it and he wanted them to know.

Fully refreshed, he worked diligently to dress smartly and make the right impression. Today, he met the one that the Cremorne permitted him to travel with and together they would enjoy its teachings.

Through its immaculately painted door, he eased into the cavern of a space he did not recognise. Alone in the reverential quiet, he did not call out for her. Confident she would sense him, he waited patiently.  Alive in this moment, trepidation and excitement fused into one, seconds felt like minutes as his intuition calmed his nerves.

Soft, regular footsteps approached and a churn of butterflies flickered in his abdomen. With a scrape of a shoe they grew louder, he looked to its direction, and smiled at her countenance. He saw in her eyes that glimmer of knowledge from the Cremorne. He mistook it in Delilah and he did not this time.

Neither would he take his eyes off her, not out of vigilance but because of her beauty. Delicately rouged cheeks rose on a canvas of pearlescent skin. Her razor bobbed black hair revealed the delicate contour of her jawline and neck. She moved effortlessly and her dark eyes refused to let his go.

Simply attired with minimalist sophistication, it revealed the perfection of her shoulders to the cinch of her waist. Through to the curves of her hips, she encapsulated the embodiment of his perfect feminine. Gliding towards him, a slight purse of her painted lips signalled her joy and barely contained mischief.

For months, she hoped that this day might arrive and many times, she feared it would not.  Her bosom heaved at the vision before her, the man foretold in Chapter Nine; the neophyte who survived the savagery of his own lust and the judgement of her peers.  She followed his progress and rearranged the chapters of the Cremorne in her mind that mapped out his destiny.  Kept awake on many lonely nights, she felt the pieces on the chessboard arrange themselves to strike him down.  They did not strike him down.

She admired his courage and felt the quickening of her desire.  The need for their carnal union pulsated so strongly she feared it would overwhelm her.

He looked solemnly into her eyes, “Hello.”

“Hello yourself,” she countered.

Words felt superfluous as their thoughts entwined.

“Cómo estás?” Harry asked.

“Mejor por verte.”

Harry smiled, “Better for seeing you. Nice touch.”

She raised an eyebrow and smiled impishly.

“So, you must be my muse?”  Harry paused to watch her demur, “The one who is wise as much as she is worldly?”

The evocative scent her perfume spiced his senses as she brushed against him. A tender caress of her hand on his chest compelled his arms to rest on her waist. A frisson of excitement crackled as their bodies eased tenderly against one another. The entanglement of her intuition fused with his, as they stared into each other’s eyes.

She nodded and looked at him expectantly, “I hoped it was you,” as her head tilted.

Their eyes closed and lips grazed softly against each other once and then pressed together tenderly. In the delicate vacuum of their kiss, their intuitions fizzed exultantly.  His hands firmly held her, as she looped hers around his neck to keep him there.

Their kiss lingered as two souls surrendered to their destiny written in the Cremorne.

“I sense you are unafraid Harry, aren’t you concerned that you have opened Pandora’s Box?”

He scrutinised her wide-eyes and innocent expression, “I stared into its contents once and closed its lid. I seek the jewel that dances to the Spaniard.”

She smiled, “Delilah’s words. You certainly made this difficult for yourself Harry. I felt your pain as soon as I met you. When it chose you, I endured your every mistake and pleaded with Delilah to show leniency.  We are only foolish with the Cremorne once, yet you are strong. I felt your redemption.”

His eyebrows furrowed a little, “Redemption?”

She reached up and ran her fingers softly through his hair, “Of course, it was a difficult path you chose and many failed less challenging ordeals. Yet, you tamed your intuition.  Isn’t that what we must all do in life? Heart follows head?”

He paused and he gave his heartfelt answer as a gentle, soulful kiss.

Harry smiled, “Wise words, now I know you are the muse.”

Her eyes sparkled as her mouth revealed a beaming smile, “Harry, I am your muse and you must call me Esmerelda. Nobody else does."





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Copyright © © 2018 by The Travelling Man. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of The Travelling Man.

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