Thursday, 23 September 2010

Excerpt Day – Veronica © Lousia Trent

Excerpt

Rat-a-tat-tat.

Dot and carry one, as the arithmetic expression for a limp leg went, Talbot danced Ruby across the marble floor, a slow and seductive if slightly lopsided waltz.

 

Time to circulate. He had bigger fish than Rowe to fry this evening. The event’s robust turnout, with a standing-room-only crowd, presented him with an opportunity made in publishing heaven. Books did not sell themselves, after all.

 

But a whiff of sex did it every time.

 

To leave his right arm free to glad-hand the crème de la crème of Boston society, he swung Ruby over to his left side, then flashed his dimples all around, dividing his wit and charm and kisses between diamond-encrusted dowagers and dour book dealers.

 

All in an evening’s work.

 

Publishing relied heavily on the kindness of storeowners and the open purses of wealthy patrons of the arts. Buttering up while not offending refined sensibilities required a deft touch. As did hucksterism. Happily, he could peddle the Bible at a witch’s coven.

 

Ruby’s red handle glowed under the lights, thus bedazzling the easy to impress. Every showman has his tricks. Meeting and greeting the crowd in his host’s front parlor, he scattered discreet hints about his company’s next book releases like…like…

 

Christ, where was a good simile when he needed one?

 

In search of a figure of speech, Talbot craned his neck to the podium, where Miss Veronica Cooper stood waiting for the adoring applause of her audience to die down.

 

The simile came to him then. He scattered discreet hints like veronica petals, the author’s namesake flower, the blossoms in delicate hues of blue, pink, and white.

 

Veronica blue, he mused wistfully, as in the author’s round, guileless eyes. Pink, as in her cherub’s blushing lips. White, as in her pale complexion.

 

Good Christ. What cliché-ridden tripe. His lack of writing aspirations was a mercy. Why inflict the next Great American Flop on the reading public when his true talents lay elsewhere?

 

While he could claim no lyricism himself, he excelled at recognizing sensual expressionism in others. In regards to Miss Cooper’s Diary -- after a cursory perusal of the text -- he would classify her voice as mildly engaging. Her unrestrained sexual yearnings, so at odds with societal conventions, somewhat intrigued him. The way the writer had unabashedly stripped her coming-of-age story of all romantic pretensions, putting the ache in her loins in every steamy word, thus laying bare her sexual fantasies, all the perverse acts she had a hankering to perform, interested him to a small degree.

 

Unsophisticated goose!

 

Why had she exposed her inner passions for public consumption and scrutiny like that?

 

She should have held something back for her second book. The first rule of publishing was to leave the reader begging for more. Worse, she revealed during a newspaper interview -- not Rowe’s reprehensible rag, the legitimate press -- her intentions of writing “a novel of blatant erotica” next. This disclosure created a firestorm of advance publicity that guaranteed her sophomore effort would sell like hotcakes.

 

Talbot fingered the silky red and black knot at his throat. On second thought, perhaps the goose was more sophisticated than he gave her credit. Perhaps, she was a goose destined to lay a golden egg. Angling for attention, even bad attention, made for a brilliant marketing strategy. Still, career guidance never hurt anyone. If her present exhibitionism continued, some judge or other would toss Miss Cooper’s bustle in jail for pandering in obscenity. Someone had to step in and save the naive writer from herself.

 

Why not him?

 

If he also managed to turn a tidy profit for his company along the way, so be it.

 

Talbot grimaced. Whom was he trying to convince here?

 

His interest in Miss Cooper went beyond career guidance. It went beyond keeping her exposed ass out of jail. If he had only wanted to pry her away from her present New York City publisher, Rolph and Smeadly, sending her an irresistible financial offer by post would have sufficed. But no, he had dragged his hurting leg to this party, his limp more pronounced than usual due to all his rushing, to persuade the author in person to…to…

 

What?

 

Make love to him with her whole being, nothing held back, as the precocious author herself had so lushly described in Diary -- chapter three, paragraph two, lines four and five, to be specific.

 

Why, yeasssss. Precisely.

 

In truth, he had done more than peruse her book. He had devoured her book, cover to cover, five times in total, committing some -- all right, most -- charged passages to memory. He found her voice more than mildly engaging. And being somewhat intrigued by the writer’s sexual yearnings was a colossal understatement. He had ejaculated all over chapter six. The pages had stuck together when he was done.

 

Talbot let go a sigh. He might as well get on with it. The sooner he propositioned her…er…offered her his services…er…made her a business deal, the quicker he could go home, soak in some therapeutically steamy-hot water, and sob himself to sleep over her rejection. Or something equally manly.

 

When the pianist struck up a sentimental parlor ballad, a cue for the author to graciously draw the reverential clapping to a close and get to work signing a few books, Miss Veronica Cooper totally ignored her audience and left the speaking podium.

 

Talbot shook his head. Lord, did she need his help.

 

Seemingly unaware of disappointing her readership, she headed his way, a beaded drawstring reticule clutched in her dainty hand.

 

Though his smile muscles already twitched from all his socializing -- he had kissed the buttocks of everyone, from wealthy philanthropists who generously supported the arts to snotty critics who gleefully pulled the rug out from under its creators -- Talbot held steadfast, a warrior of publishing ready to conquer her writer’s heart.

 

Though a quick roll in the hay would do him.

 

Miss Cooper approached, her suffragist’s leanings evident in her militant stride, every inch the modern Gibson girl in a navy blue shirtwaist with mutton-leg sleeves. As a man of discriminating tastes, he knew a few things about a woman’s attire. Her costume highlighted a spectacular figure that included among its assets a tiny waist and uplifted derriere. In other words, she possessed the de rigueur “hourglass” silhouette, her classic S shape doubtlessly compliments of a swan-bill corset.

 

Having undone more than a few hypothetically, he was something of an authority theoretically. In his wet dreams, he was a hands-on expert. While awake, he had undone plenty enough underpinnings to know Miss Cooper possessed astonishingly full, wonderfully round titties.

 

May I have a peek, please?

Apart from the aforementioned, though eminently worth repeating, titties, she was petite and dainty, and long-necked lovely. Her warm brown hair shot through with gold and piled high atop her head in a puffed chignon, she was a pretty baby out on the town, all dressed up in her mama’s clothes, her hair artfully arranged in a too-mature coiffure.

 

The author had just turned an unpolished twenty-two. At nearly forty, he was nothing but shine.

 

And dents and twists and bruises, and Lord, too many scars to count.

 

He stepped directly into her path, a shuffle and a stumble, really, his bad leg cramping and dragging, which forced her into a pity stop for the cripple. How clever of him. The sympathy ploy worked every time.

 

Confident of his salesmanship, less so his tact, Talbot stared into her face. “Miss Cooper, a moment of your time, if you please…”

 

“Not now.” With a tricky evasive maneuver around his resolute stance, she marched herself away.

 

Leaving Talbot to stare forlornly after her.

 

Goddammit. He should have sent her a letter of formal introduction. A curriculum vitae so magnificent, she would have had no choice but to accept his business proposal. Why had he ever come here in person?

 

Why? Why? Why?

 

Why, to meet the young woman attached to a “flagrantly, fragrantly, wet cunt” was why.

 

Her words, not his, and lifted straight from her semi-autobiographical book, page 35, paragraph 4, line 11.

 

At his age, he should have known better. Even if he had managed to get her in bed, what ever would they have done afterward?

 

A woman who could express sexual hunger, even a carnal desire as eloquently written as hers, did not necessarily make for a fascinating dinner companion. After multiple simultaneous orgasms -- thinking optimistically here -- they would have had but one point of discussion over the main course.

 

The whys and wherefores of his twisted leg.

 

Conversation always followed sex. Unless one paid for the sex -- in his case, voyeuristically watching others have sex -- to avoid the postcoital chitchat. He found that avoiding actual participation in the act greatly reduced socialization during the afterglow.

 

Small loss. In the past, apart from ejaculation -- difficult to fake that -- he had only gone through the motions of intercourse, anyway, his every touch done to give a partner pleasure without any corresponding depth to the encounter on his side of the pillow. Superficiality was all he could offer, and sham profundity was disingenuous, which he despised. In comparison, paying to watch seemed downright honorable.

 

What would a young beauty like her see in damaged goods like him?

 

Certainly less than he saw in her. Still saw in her, despite the snub. If only she had not been so gifted! Genius was his weakness, second only to round titties.

 

And a propensity for perverse sexual practices.

 

In his arrogance, he had wanted to be the one to shape her, mold her, and not just her bosom. He was confident that in the right -- ahem -- hands, she would become a literary force.

 

Someday.

 

Proper guidance now, and she would grow into her potential. Her talent needed to be refined, not exploited. Her impulsivity, both of mind and manner, needed to be curbed, not encouraged. Those were his thoughts on the subject, at any rate. And everyone did have thoughts on the subject of her.

 

Reviewers -- underground periodicals, naturally, as the book was illegal -- were having a heyday with Miss Cooper. Calling her the next Louisa May Alcott, only with obscenities, most critics predicted Veronica Cooper would bear the torch of enlightened womanhood for the Gilded Age, the flame that Miss Alcott’s death two years prior had snuffed. Already, Veronica had become the literary darling of the Old Corner Bookstore set and the veritable toast of Boston’s intellectual elite.

 

A weighty burden for a slip of a girl to carry.

 

His throbbing testicles aside -- a weighty burden for him to carry -- he had come here tonight to take her under his wing. To mentor her.

And he would not give up now.

After allowing Miss Cooper a few moments alone, he followed, ostensibly to join the gentlemen in the smoking room, where, over brandy and cigars, they would discuss the usual topic of cutthroat politics.

 

Publishing, that is.

 

After carefully cracking a few closed doors, he found Miss Cooper inside their host’s library. Seated at a gleaming mahogany desk, she poised the gold nib of a Waterman fountain pen to her strong chin. An idea must have blossomed, for she began to write furiously in her Moleskine notebook.

 

Out in the hall, Talbot clutched Ruby. The writer’s every scratch and scribble sent a quiver through him. Christ, but her mind excited him.

 

His levitating cock could only agree.

© Louisa Trent, September 2010

Veronica

Author:  Louisa Trent

Publisher: :Loose id, LLC

Genre:

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Public scandal and private tragedy force sexually curious Veronica Cooper into an unwanted marriage with Talbot Bowdoin, an urbane and isolated gentleman about whom she knows nothing.

Talbot insists that it’s kept that way. Though the eccentric publisher fell in love with the “free-love” author at first word and would give her the world gladly, fearing societal repercussions, he withholds the truth about himself. A voyeur of the first water, a bisexual by experience and a romantic by nature, he is more comfortable with his steam-powered automatons than he is with people, and so he keeps anyone with a beating heart at arm’s length.

Not Veronica. Her heart pounds...with lust...and she refuses to tolerate her standoffish husband’s conjugal neglect.

To satisfy his beautiful...and assertive...bride, Talbot touches another human being for the first time in years and allows her the sexual freedom she craves, including dressing in male attire as well as exposing her to steam-powered toys...and the gazes of other men.

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