Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thousand Word Thursday Story from Clare London

OF NARCISSUS by Clare London

You may call my time at the river like this an indulgence. I call it an escape. I sit silently on the grassy bank, staring into the water, my skin as cool or warm as the weather allows me, but uncaring of any discomfort. It’s my time to be thoughtful.

My brothers scoff. “What’s wrong with you, Cecco? We don’t skulk around in our precious hours off, when there’s wine and women to be found in town. You waste time like a child. Like a girl.” For them, it’s the ultimate insult.

Papa laughs at me–I always hoped I was a favourite of his, being a late and unexpected addition to the family–yet there’s a harsh edge to it. “There’s no time for idleness, Cecco. There’s work to be done to help Mama.”

“Tired of being a housewife?” my brothers sneer. “We have your place ready at the forge any time you want!”

They see I haven’t grown into a lusty country man like them: that I don’t drink, that I’m nervous of women and show no appetite for them. But they think I’m slow, and it’s just a matter of time before I become like them. In the meantime, they tease my shyness mercilessly.

But the young man Papa hires to help clear the forge on busy weekdays sees me in a different way. His dark, sweaty curls fall over his forehead as he looks up at me through thick lashes. His gaze often follows me as I carry things about the yard for Papa. Sometimes his flush is not just from the heat of the fire.

Seated here today on the river bank, I think of him: his smooth-skinned jaw, striped with soot; his callused hands; his nervous, pretty smile. There’s a sudden splash as a fish breaks the surface, and I hear the plop as it dives again. I put aside my bread and cheese and scramble to my knees. If I perch at the edge of the bank and lean forward, I can see into the river. I see fish weaving between the fronds of sea ferns, and the rough and tumble of the depths ebbing around the uneven stones of the river bed.

And then I see the boy. I’m not startled–I’ve seen him before. He stares back up at me from under the surface, a smile on his face. He looks my age, with the same big eyes and unruly hair. But he never has the sad expression that Mama says she sees on my face. He looks cheerful and confident and … mischievous.

I’ve never heard his voice aloud, but I always know what he’s saying. “Has he spoken to you yet? Cecco, tell me at once!”

I smile back, ruefully. “No,” I whisper. “I think he’s afraid of Papa’s anger. He works hard in the forge, he has no time to stop and talk.”

“He wants to, though. I know!” The boy chuckles. “He likes you. You need time together.” A gust of wind blows suddenly over the river and the surface ripples. His face blurs briefly. It’s a beautiful face, though my brothers would snort to hear me describe a male that way.

“I cannot talk to him for you,” my friend says, suddenly sober. “You’d welcome that, wouldn’t you?”

I can’t help blushing. It’s as if he reads my mind. “I don’t have your courage.” The tree branches creak in the wind: the leaves rustle behind me. “I’m not handsome like you. I don’t have your words. I am afraid …”

“Of being yourself?” he whispers back.

I nod. Tears settle as a lump in my throat. My belly aches all the way to my groin. I know what I want–but I never dare seek it out.

“You deserve happiness, Cecco. You’re beautiful, just like me, though you never believe me.” His expression is sympathetic now, his eyes full of love that seems to be for me. “It’s not easy, and you must be careful of yourself. But you cannot deny your needs forever. Your dream of being an artist, your sensitive love of beauty, your need for a man to make you sob with pleasure and cry out in the night…”

“Hush!” My whole body feels hot now. “Someone’s coming!”

The water ripples again and I draw back. Behind me, someone pushes through the bushes, their boots crunching through the fallen leaves. It’s a heavy but hesitant step. I wonder if Papa has sent someone to fetch me back.


To my astonishment, it’s the boy from the forge. I just stare at him. I imagine I can hear the boy in the water laughing fondly at me. I almost feel him nudge me to speak. Go on!

“I like to come here,” I say. “It’s a quiet place.”

My voice sounds too high, but he smiles at me and nods. “A quiet place is good. The forge is hot and busy. And here … perhaps I can speak with you. Alone.”

We’re both blushing by now.

He likes you, Cecco!

Perhaps the courage and mischief of my friend in the river is contagious. I pat the grass beside me. “Will you sit for a while? I’d like to talk to you, too.”

He laughs, a burst of relief from his mouth, the tone high and excited and almost musical. That’s how I know this boy has dreams, too, that extend beyond a few hours’ manual labour in a forge. He drops to the ground beside me, wriggling to get comfortable, and it brings him closer. His thigh brushes mine. His body is warm with sweat and eagerness, but the cool wind blows the fragrance of the riverbank through his curls. I want to touch him. I know I will touch him.

We sit there for a moment, then laugh with ease. I slide a hand over his and he grasps mine in return.

I know the words will come, when I need them.
Thank you, Clare! Here's some news about her latest release, complete with a little excerpt.

COMPULSION by Clare London

Available at Dreamspinner Press (in print and ebook), Amazon Kindle and other online bookstores.

BLURB: The past always catches up with you. Max Newman should know—he’s been running from his ever since he dropped out of Uni and made a disastrous move to the seedier side of London. Now he’s returned to Brighton to lick his wounds. Though Max believes the club scene is better left behind him, one night he lets his friends drag him out dancing. And suddenly the simple life he’s tried to lead gets complicated.

At Compulsion, the Medina Group’s newest hotspot, Max meets Seve Nunez, a member of the Medina management and a man used to taking what he wants. The sexual chemistry between Max and Seve immediately leads to an intimate encounter in the backyard of the club—just the kind of dangerous behavior Max tried to leave behind. Despite that, he can't help but crave more, and Seve seems just as eager.

But Max soon suspects that Seve may not be the scrupulous businessman he claims. Max has seen the Medina Group at work before, and what he saw got a good friend killed. He's not sure what future he has with Seve, but he'll have to decide whether to trust in Seve’s innocence or keep running. The wrong choice could land them both in mortal danger.


I ordered a beer for myself. Tonight it tasted as sharp as if I’d been waiting for weeks, not days, for a drink. I savored the cold, blissful shock of it in my throat, the dribble of condensation on my hand from the bottle. Glancing back over to the table, I saw Jack and Louis had been joined by another couple of friends. They were all laughing, distracted. I finished the first beer quickly and ordered another. I meant to take my time drinking this one, but the cool liquid was both stimulating and seductive. I was still shaken from my talk with Jack, so I found a spot at the bar where I could lean on the counter, resting my back against a pillar. It meant I wasn’t jostled too often by other customers and I could look back over the seating area. The hope was that I’d calm down and recover my equilibrium, but the cruel, sorry memories of London wouldn’t leave me alone. I lifted the bottle to my mouth and back down a few more times and felt my mind retreat into itself, away from the hubbub and flashing lights. When I nodded to the barman for a third beer, I felt a residual sway in my body. Shit, I was out of practice.

This time I was handed a paper napkin with the bottle. I glanced at it, intending to discard it back on the bar. It was a promotional sheet with “Compulsion” written across one corner in bold but elegant script. Below that was printed “a Medina Group venue” and the website details of the new owners.

My stomach clenched. The words blurred slightly as my head spun with both anger and shock. It was a coincidence, wasn’t it? I peered at it again as if I’d discover I’d misread it.

Wishful bloody thinking. I crumpled the napkin with more force than was necessary and dropped it back on the counter.


Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy.  Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

Find details of her publications and plenty of free fiction at her website, including an invitation to her mailing list. Visit her today and say hello!


  1. Hi PD, I'm glad you liked it, thanks for commenting :).

    *sigh* and I suppose I'm pleased that "Chris Smith" i.e. a Spam comment liked it too LOL. The net seems full of it nowadays!

    1. Spam deleted with extreme prejudice! I had people crying about the captcha and I hadn't gotten a lot of crud. Sorry they hit your lovely story.

  2. Awwww, that's so beautiful Clare! You made me cry, you evil writer! Ah well, nowt for it but to have a cup of tea and then re-read :-)

  3. Ohhh, I'm sorry :(. But also pleased if it moved you :). Thanks for reading.


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