It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #2

From freezing days to balmy ones, from winter coats to T-shirts, from grey barren trees and gardens to blossoming trees, blooming flowers, green leaves and fields, spring has come and is now w about to start fading into early summer… And most of us feel like we’ve missed it, been robbed and in the transition process from one “normal” to another, we’ve lost not only a season, but a lifestyle, a familiar world.

Continue reading “It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #2”

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 64

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“You treat that kid badly, that’s all. I’m not jealous, I’m just curious, you know. But you treat him badly and it gets to me to know that he just lets you be a bitch to him.”

“Maybe I do treat him badly, but as long as he’s happy with it, it’s nobody else’s business. I don’t pretend to be outraged by the way you treat your wife; nor do I get enraged with her because she allows you to get away for a couple of days with another woman, and meanwhile she pretends not to notice what’s going on right under her nose. It’s not my business to decide what should make other people happy; and when they do get what they go looking for, then they’re the only ones to be blamed if they don’t like the outcome.”

“You are something else…”

“Thanks.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good thing this time.”

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 63

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I can be such a dumb fucker sometimes… Robert looked at Amalia, trying to smile apologetically, hoping for an opening to explain himself. Come on… But her sunglasses covered her eyes, her head turned away from him and her thoughts lost god knows where. She probably regrets this trip now; I just became one of the crowd of idiots she undoubtedly considers men to be. He hadn’t intended to offend her in any way, after the night spent together he felt as though things could be talked out openly between them. So what if he wanted to know every little detail of her sex life? So what if he needed every little fact to paint a picture of her? He was going to ask her for details, he would’ve shared some of his own, but then that dismissive look of hers shook him, the past refused to stay buried and words took over.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 61

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Their night in the mountain resort was one of innocence lost, but what surprised Amalia was how normal it felt to her. It wasn’t so much a change, but a realisation of how things should be, who she was as a woman and how great it felt to control and lose control at the same time. Insecurity left room to pride and she felt happy, as she realised what an effect she had on the man who was now driving silently.

“What do you think about a repeat of all this in a week or so?”

“I wouldn’t say no, but at a different time.”

“Why? Have you got plans with your boyfriend?”

“No need for sarcasm…”

“I was just saying… Maybe the poor sucker is looking forward to coming back and seeing you and for once you don’t want to disappoint him.”

“You’re the poor sucker, if that’s all you could understand so far. That being said, perhaps we shouldn’t make plans in advance.”

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 59

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The barrier of polite speech was gone between them and being crude about the realities of their interaction was not meant to be offensive; if anything, it was a term of endearment, a testimony of their intimacy, but also a turn on for him.

“I don’t think I was so exhausting, you didn’t have a problem keeping up with me.”

“That’s not what I meant. I was referring to your mis-en-scene. The outfit, your actions, everything was perfect, like a movie moment really. That’s what I hadn’t had since too long to remember: a beautiful woman, who’s not afraid to be perfect, who creates a night like that, who turns screwing into a phantasy… or the phantasy into real sex… I don’t know. You know what I mean.”

“Sure. You like me because I’m not real. Or you think such a thing cannot be real. And I agree with you.”

“So… what do you think? Was I what you expected?”

“Of course,” she muttered, looking away distracted.

Everything and more… so much more. But that’s something to carefully dissect and think over at home.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Tricks and Treats of Adult Life

2

“… had a feeling… he did … found out by mistake … and now … yesterday … telling you …”

Oh yes! Gloves, gloves, gloves! Those turquois ones… They definitely have the best selection. Gloves, gloves, gloves…

“Do you mind if I have a look?”

“Help yourself! Try on everything you like.”

Next to being left to my own devices in a candy store as a child, what else could be better? Quick, let’s have a thorough look before she changes her mind and becomes a suffocating sales person again.

“And the kids… there’s the kids to consider, after all…”

And the elbow length ones… look at those beauties, they’d go great with my cape. Behave yourself, you have a pair just like them at home! Oh well… perhaps in a different colour… maybe the royal blue pair. Between the intoxicating smell of leather and all the colours and styles, how’s a girl to make up her mind? Decisions, decisions…

“The business too… Don’t you think?”

I confess, I have a weakness for leather gloves. I blame it on my childhood (isn’t that what we always do when it comes to our quirks and foibles?). I’m partial to accessories in general, like most women, but come the cold season, I can’t help thinking I just need to have at least one more pair of leather gloves… or two or three… and perhaps some new boots too… Oh no, one obsession at a time!

Anyway, as I was saying, I’m sure I can blame this one on my childhood. My grandmother used to have this pair of fur trimmed, unimaginably soft leather gloves and I remember I so wanted a pair just like that. When you grow up, she’d tell me, they’re not for children. So I eventually did what any rebellious, stubborn kid would do. If I wasn’t going to have the ones I wanted, then I would not wear any gloves. However, that did not change my grandmother’s mind, so I went a couple of winters without actually wearing gloves, even if I was offered several colourful, girly, woollen choices. (I did occasionally cheat, I had a pair hidden in my schoolbag, just in case of an impromptu snow fight; but I wouldn’t wear them otherwise.) The denouement came as a shocking surprise when my mother eventually noticed my frozen hands and she was told what the reason was. All this drama for nothing, I remember she muttered, angry with my grandmother. Here, you can have mine, I never wear them anyway. With the simplest of gestures, she took a pair of black leather gloves out of her handbag and gave them to me. See if they fit. They did, they fit almost perfectly and they smelled like leather and her perfume. I was finally an adult, I thought to myself, ignoring my grandmother’s angry, disapproving looks.

“He’s been seeing her for over a year. I have no idea what to do now, I mean, I have to make a decision, right? Do I divorce him?”

Something’s wrong with the speakers, a good part of them stopped working and now the woman’s monologue is loud and clear, I can’t miss a word if I tried. She obviously doesn’t care, she keeps pouring her story over her friend or acquaintance, the one she’s holding captive, who looks so embarrassed, so ill at ease.

Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and say hello… But the words don’t sink in and they don’t grant her an escape. She looks like a trapped animal, ready to make a run for it, wanting to be as far away from that mundane drama unfolding in front of her. To say hello to an acquaintance, maybe a hugely discounted pair of gloves, that’s all she wanted; and now that hand holding her arm in a friendly, yet desperate grip was dragging her into one of those unpleasant situations in which none of us want to find ourselves.

I can’t say I don’t understand her. I don’t want to hear the most private, embarrassingly painful details of a stranger’s marriage. I hate whoever is in charge of the sound system. Now I have to leave, because I feel so uncomfortable listening to all that. In her attempt to escape, the unwilling confident has slowly motioned towards the exit and now the two of them are blocking the small doorway, none of them letting go of the pair of gloves which had been purchased and dearly paid for.

Why should I leave? This was supposed to be my treat. I was looking forward to the leather goods fair. It’s always small family businesses that attend and there are always great deals to be found. I want my damn gloves! I wasted all that time looking for a parking spot and now I should just leave? I’m going to stomp my feet and dive right back into the plethora of colourful gloves, together with the other uncomfortable customers. That’s what I’m going to do. Look how pretty those fuchsia ones are… wait, I already have a pair of fuchsia gloves… I bought them here last year… They always have the best selection, don’t they? All sorts of colours, not just your usual black, brown and beige variety…

Right… two pairs will do, and for the first time I don’t want to spend any more time here than necessary.

“Should I leave him?”

Strangers ask me the most unexpected questions… like that lady at the supermarket, asking me what pickles she should buy – what do I know, I don’t even like pickles? But this one really takes the cake.

I looked up, making eye contact with the woman holding on to the small shopping bag. She isn’t trying to cynically punish me for having unwillingly witnessed her loud confession. She is expecting an answer. A one word answer, not an opinion, not pity or husband bashing. She needs an answer, I can see that.

“No.”

That is the only one word answer she is looking for. I know that. I know it, because much as I tried, I couldn’t help hearing everything. I couldn’t help understanding that – whether she knows it or not – her mind is already made up. All she needs now is somebody to support that decision, somebody she can blame in case it’s the wrong decision. So I’ll give her that.

She lets go of the small shopping bag we’re both holding and she smiles.

“Thank you.”

Maybe it wasn’t my place to answer. Maybe it wasn’t even the right answer. I don’t know. What I do know is that it was what she needed at that point. What I do know is that it wasn’t my place to tell her that I believe almost everybody cheats at some point or another, in some way or another, for some reason or another. It wasn’t my place to tell her that everything she was relating suggested the fact that her husband would most likely leave her before she might even get a chance to verbalise her decision.

I walked away with my nicely wrapped new gloves. There’s more to the life of an adult woman than such delightful treats. We need our armour to protect us from the tricks played on us and from the potential guilt resulting from the tricks we play on others… and on ourselves. And if some soft leather gloves or any other kind of delicious, frivolous accessories can help build and maintain that metaphorical armour, then so be it! If we need to occasionally relinquish responsibility, revert to childhood and blame the world for our misfortune for a moment or two, then so be it!

1

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 54

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Amalia slowly climbed in bed opposite to him, her long legs stretched on top of his, his fingers finally touching her, taking their time, moving gently higher and higher, until their warmth would finally settle on the white flash of her thigh, between the stockings’ line and the lace panties. The lust in their eyes became a comprehensive language, as words were now obsolete. The young woman allowed him to unhook her stockings and remove them slowly, with experienced moves, one by one, followed by the garter belt. Without looking away from her even for a moment, he picked up her shoes, his eyes inquiring, “Can you put them back on?” She smiled and the stiletto heels were again part of her ravishing being, while her right hand finally reached out to open his bathrobe, revealing the perceptible protuberance it was covering. The strong hand was caressing her thighs again, until the other arm suddenly grabbed her small waist, pulling her body close to his. The warm hand finally reached between her thighs, the fingers pushed the panties aside , sending an electric thrill through her entire body, while he was finally kissing her, as she threw her arms around his neck.

“I’ve been dying to do this since the moment you first entered that restaurant, looking down on me, so distant and so cold…”

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 53

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She had been right from the beginning, she had read him well after all.

Such a predictable character when it comes to what he’s hoping to get from me, to what he wants me to be.

So he was a cliché from some points of view; but wasn’t she one as well, with her sexy outfit on, trying to be elegant at the same time?

Certain instances, certain feelings and emotions are classic, not cliché… and so are certain behavioural types, she thought, we repeat timeless actions and we fail to see how new we are to them and how jaded it all is on the outside.

But the subjective novelty is what I want, why I am here… I don’t care about the rest.

And everything disappeared, the only thing that mattered was their desire and the promising climax.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 52

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“Cheers!”

“To us!”

And they both drink their burning courage, hoping to be able to remain true to themselves and provide each other with all the fulfillment craved.

“To you and I,” whispered Amalia, carefully setting the empty glass on the nightstand by his side of the bed.

“You’re amazing… I can’t believe the way you look, I never dreamt of something quite this spectacular.”

“I like to make an impression.”

“Oh you do… this is the stuff of memories, every boy’s wet dream.”

“How about men? Real men? Since that’s really my target audience…”

“Oh… you’re what we dream of when we say our prayers at night, just before we have to fuck our wives. You’re what keeps us hard, that phantasy which makes life worth living.”

“You do like your clichés…”

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 50

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“I thought it’s more of a whisky night, rather than wine. What do you think?” Robert almost yelled as soon as he heard the bathroom door open.

“Pour me a glass too.”

She entered the room and everything was quiet again. Words were unnecessary, his lustful smile was enough for both of them. There is a certain gratification in having imagined what the unseen would be like and then discover it is even better than expected. It was worth waiting.

The man that feels proud to be seduced will not bother to hide his admiration and desire, he will enjoy the woman that tempts him and he will not waste any of her beauty, because certain women can be a rare gift needing to be unwrapped slowly and enjoyed to the full extent. And the visual impact is something so relevant in such an exploration, the penetrating, lustful eyes are not an offense, but a true acknowledgement of beauty, a source of new sensations for both of the newly discovered lovers.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 48

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“Breath-taking, isn’t it?”

“Maybe, but it needs a river or a lake, water of some sort, it’s just out of balance.”

Was she serious? What kind of an answer was that?

“I think there’s a few streams of water hidden away out there, some creeks, maybe even a river.” Continuing what seemed to be her joke was the only thing to be done, after all.

“But you can’t see them. That doesn’t help much, does it?”

“Yes it does, it’s fun to think about the things you can’t see and then discover them one by one, see if you were right in the first place.”

“That’s one way to look at it. Anyway, I’ll go take a nice, long bath, if you don’t mind.”

“The bathroom is all yours. I might order something from room service. Anything you might want? A drink, maybe?”

“I’m sure I can rely on you to pick a nice vintage.” Amalia winked at him, walking away.

She took her beauty case and a few other things from her bag, but that happened in an awkward corner of the room, which couldn’t be seen from the terrace. What was it she said earlier, when Robert asked about what she had in that beauty case of hers? Something about a girl and her bag of tricks… a girl needs her bag of tricks, maybe.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 47

Out on the generous terrace or their room, Amalia was struck by a lazy image of mountain peaks, dark forests and what looked like little toy houses scattered around, following no distinct pattern. It was almost dark and she could guess more than actually see their shape, while trying to relax, leaning against the banister and breathing the dry, cool mountain air. People find such things extraordinary, she thought, but she was not one of them. Of course, the view was nice and the smell of the fir trees reminded her of Christmas, but try as she might, the reason for which such a view, such a place subdued and amazed people was just out of her grasp. There’s nothing special about it, it’s just nice and fun, she thought, but not at all out of the ordinary… But is it just the mountains?

The faint noise of water running in the bathroom wasn’t perceptible anymore and the silence felt heavy when Robert appeared in front of the terrace door, wrapped in a fluffy terrycloth bathrobe.

“Enjoying the view?”

Amalia nodded, looking away from him.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 46

“So… how did you like dinner?”

“Nice place, good food, just the way it was supposed to be.”

Back in the hotel room, without the escape route of random conversation about scenery, restaurants, people in the mountain town and all other miscellaneous things tourists use to keep themselves occupied, the two of them couldn’t avoid the obvious reason for their being there and a bridge needed to be forged between what they had been thus far and what they needed to be that night. Avoiding any sort of physical intimacy or closeness up to that point might have been a mistake and a way to remedy it had to be reached immediately; but a solution didn’t appear to be at hand, as they both seemed slightly uncomfortable and out of place.

“I think I’ll go take a shower. Or do you want to go first?”

“You go; I should sort out my clothes, see if they need to go in the wardrobe or something.”

“Ok then,” and he picked some stuff from his overnight bag, heading into the luxurious bathroom without another word or even a look.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 44

A very new kind of euphoria took over as a first consequence of pressure disappearing in Robert’s case. He wanted to experience everything with her, he wanted to share the beautiful place, to show her new olfactory, visual and taste stimuli. He wanted to make her a part of everything he had always valued about the picturesque towns in the mountains. Nostalgia about times gone by would be nothing now, compared to everything he wanted to make her a part of for that day. The mountains were for him what the sea was for her. So that’s who he is when he doesn’t doubt himself anymore… And that’s who he is when he forgets who he is supposed to be… And I am the reason for this transformation, it’s happening because he knows now that I’ve accepted him. The sense of empowerment and the loss of any insecurity of her own were sublime.

“I’ve been dying to try some venison, so we should really go there.”

“Oh, that’s perfect, you’ll love it, you have no idea… And then we can take the cable car to the top of the mountain, the view is something else up there. You don’t have a problem with heights, do you? Of course you don’t, airplanes don’t scare you, so a cable car is clearly no issue.”

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 43

The hotel parking lot was quiet, just like the last part of their trip. Once the car engine became silent, neither one of them seemed to be aware of the fact that they had reached their destination.

“So… do we need one room or two? I booked two, just so you know, there’s no need to feel pressured or anything…” Robert only turned his eyes to her when he finished speaking, so he couldn’t perceive the intensity of her expression.

“I think one room is all we need. Don’t you agree?”

“I was hoping…” and a sigh of relief was more eloquent than any words could have been.

Once you get there, you don’t need to hurry anymore. As soon as the luggage was taken to their room, things between the two guests were quietly settled, the rapport seemed to have finally clarified. Once certain aspects become straightforward, anything else escapes the burden of pressure.

“Let’s go have lunch. I know this great restaurant, the food is amazing and the atmosphere… Wait, I have no idea whether… do you like game or do you have an issue with hunting wild animals? Because if that’s the case…”

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 42

“I know of it, my mother used to come here with an old boyfriend of hers. I hear the place is pretty great.”

“I’m sorry. I’m such a dick… I had no idea, believe me.”

“How could you have known? I didn’t even know this place still existed.”

“We can go somewhere else, if you want. Anyway, I assume it used to be different back then, they have refurbished, almost rebuilt the entire place a couple of years ago.”

“It’s fine, don’t worry. I’m sure it’ll be nice.”

The platitude didn’t convince him, but it did restore some of her initial calm. Nothing is the same. I’m different. And this is my life. She doesn’t matter, she’s irrelevant, and so is her past. She’s not worth my happiness. Anger overcame any other emotion: a mother’s past would not destroy a daughter’s happiness again. Anger only makes one’s resolution even stronger.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 41

The few hours stolen away from them by the drive to the mountain resort felt different than their other drives together. They talked some more, they inquired some more, trying to figure out how the day might conclude. The music was still a catalyst, erasing the age difference and the distance between them; but the scenic route they were taking was somewhat ignored this time. Nature lost its relevance as human urges took over, bringing them closer even during long silences.

Amalia became lost when she heard him speaking at a point, asking her if she knew and liked the hotel where they would stay. The weird coincidence made her want to scream at him. Robert had mentioned the same hotel that used to be so dear to her mother and her married lover, their favourite choice for intimate escapades. The mother’s sins… Amalia abhorred the idea of following into her mother’s footsteps, even by coincidence. Since when is coincidence a valid excuse? Deep breaths help, focusing on what you want helps, it’s about you and only about you… The dreadful thought and indignation can be slowly smothered, there are unknown mechanisms that always find a way to provide relief and forgetfulness, so we can move on and survive our own demons.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 40

Some journeys are not just about the destination, but the cliché doesn’t apply to all situations. If all their previous outings had been about nothing else but the experience itself, a means to discover each other’s secrets and hidden frustrations, past and present, the current one was all about where it would take them, the climax of this stage. It occurred to him that he couldn’t remember when he last waited for so long before sleeping with a woman; whether it was casual or not, sex would always follow soon after opening lines. It occurred to her that she may appear to be the prude she was not; she had initially thought he was a good choice for a first one night stand, not just as a first married man. Instead they had dragged everything, she allowed for things to become something slightly different, to know him and to like the person he was behind the wedding ring. They could and should wait no longer, everything had to get on the right path and neither one of them wanted to avoid or postpone the destination anymore.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 38

Some women can instinctively figure out what a man needs and wants from all points of view and she was one of those that didn’t have to make any particular effort to do so. She knew it and she appreciated the value of such an ability, but one has to wonder if that was always enough, if that kind of a skill would always work to her advantage, the way she wanted it. She feared the potential lack of experience; she had the chance to practice her skills on other men, but competitive people who need to be the best at everything have to confront their fear of failure even when it comes to such a trivial matter as sex. Especially since sex was not at all trivial for Amalia, it was a very relevant part of her development and mentality… Robert represented a transformation, the ascension to something more than she had already been introduced to so far, and she wanted to waste nothing of that experience, not even the pleasure of overanalysing it in anticipation and emotion.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 37

Nervousness makes the heart twitch with a very odd kind of emotion for some people, because not everybody can recognise a shadow of insecurity in those few, vague situations they become afflicted with it. Robert seemed to differentiate himself from the not so many other guys in Amalia’s past, something about him made you think “a real man” more than you would be inclined to do so in other cases. As a young woman, you would become restless with anticipation, because you would instinctively understand that his vast experience will guide your way into new shivers of pleasure, on new peaks of physical fulfilment. But Amalia was too cerebral and too proud to focus just on that, her main concern was being on the same level with him, having at least that much of an impact on him too.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 36

More than ever she felt like a girl that night, and not at all like that person she knew she would become, like that woman she so longed to be. Amalia was certainly no ingénue, no virgin or prude, the men in her past and present could attest it without a doubt, and she was indeed well-aware of the effect her body had on them, she adored the sense of power she extracted from their desire and satisfaction. Few things can be more reassuring and addictive to a woman than perceiving the males’ ecstasy, than the thrill of control their desperate lust for her can convey, or than the vague victory in an unmentioned battle with the other members of her own sex. It is all about superiority and control, the reassertion of the self, it is so much more than just the physical pleasure, the satisfaction transcending so many levels.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 35

It was a good thing he wanted to leave the very next morning, that way nobody had enough time to overthink things and give in to their nervousness, cancelling the trip as a result of fear or overactive analytic abilities. It was the right moment for the next step, Amalia thought, and the worries such a moment may have brought up were matched by heightened expectation.

She spent the next hours deciding on outfits, trying things on in her mind and planning all the little details of the night she knew they would spend together, avoiding any ideas that might make her feel nervous and prevent her from going through with it. Misrepresentation is a common trick for both men and women and although she knew that some of the traits Robert had presented her may have been shaped to portrait exactly who he wanted to be or who he thought might attract her more, the girl was worried about her own image, what she had put forward as being her true self. Nothing she had said was untrue, but she had left out various details about her sex life, so she had created an appearance that could have been interpreted as that of a seductress, the woman who does not get involved with her male victims, who uses them for her pleasure – sexual and otherwise – the woman who does not see anything wrong in having a brief sexual affair with a married man, the woman devoid of feelings and remorse.

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 34

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow at 9 in the morning.”

As soon as he could see Amalia entering her building, the sun reflecting in the glass window, Robert looked up the number of one of his favourite hotels in a nice mountain resort; he lingered for a while before dialling, staring blankly at the screen. Should I actually book one room or two? If you fail the woman’s test at that particular point, there is no turning back and no making up for it… especially with certain women. In some cases, it’s exactly the ones that put up the most impenetrable, holier than thou front, that turn out to be the loosest, and it’s usually an easy and safe guess as to how they might react, given the chance to bathe in the depravity they condemn so loudly, yet crave so desperately. The ones that are open about such things, however, tend to be those that constantly surprise you. For some reason, they live with the belief they are above all others, having a very strong sense of entitlement, which spawns exactly from their open-mindedness and sometimes paralyzing bluntness.

The young woman motioned very slowly after she closed the entrance door behind her, leaning her head to one side in such a manner, so that she could catch one more glimpse of the car parked in front. The man to whom she had just bid goodbye was looking up something on his phone, then he dialled someone. She understood. She smiled contented and hurried up to her apartment. Good.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 33

The direct way proved to be the easiest approach, yet again.

“The hell with it all… I need a break.”

“Meaning?…”

“I’m going to the mountains for a couple of days. Do you have any plans for tomorrow or could you be persuaded to keep me company for a change of scenery?” He paused, waiting for a reply. “You can have your own room. No expectations, no pressure. Just two people having a couple of days off from their lives. I’m leaving anyway, I set everything up already, but I just don’t want to be alone.”

“Ok.”

“Ok?”

“Yes, ok. That could be fun, as long as you are aware that I like my hotel rooms comfortable and my heels high, so there will be no mountain climbing or anything of the sort.”

“Agreed.”

How exactly does she manage to ignore all my allusions and turn the conversation into something completely different than what I meant it to be? The little bitch… there is no such thing as letting me know exactly where I stand with her.

He thought he saw her winking at him. But did he really want to know for sure or was this just part of the game?

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 32

But there was some sort of uncertainty in Robert’s behavior. Although he felt they were heading to the desired resolution, he also felt that she was one that would constantly keep him on his toes, she made him feel like he might not be worth a second glance sometimes, she looked at people in such an indifferent and distant fashion. Yet in spite of everything, he was still attracted, somewhat subdued by her strange ways, cold eyes and cynical attitude, so he needed to subdue her in his own way.

It was only a question of the right moment and of the right place, she was certainly no backseat of the car kind of girl and he also wanted to fully enjoy their first sexual encounter. He was slightly puzzled though: was she just playing with him? Other women would have attempted to get closer by now, holding his hand maybe, a goodnight kiss, at least an obvious hint that they would enjoy a good night kiss from him. But she had kept her distance, and yet she made it quite clear that she would have nothing against a sexual affair with a married man, him in particular. So what now?

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Parallel Lives – Sample fragment 31

Amalia and Robert knew what they wanted, and where they would end up was something they both became aware of in a very short time; first the girl, then the man. It was almost shocking how much it would take them to move on in an era when making acquaintance, having sex and breaking up happen almost simultaneously, at times not even in that order. But they wanted more than sex, and by that neither one of them understood commitment – they wanted the fun, the thrill, the mystery and the challenge, they wanted to discover and be discovered, and they wanted to make the experience and the adrenaline last for as long as possible. None of them desperately needed sex or a new sexual partner, the type of satisfaction they were seeking in each other was slightly more complex or multifaceted, although also derived from basic lust.

Amalia knew that she could have him at any moment, moral issues and prejudice had no place in their resolution, and the fact that he had not made an actual physical attempt to seduce her heightened her sense of power: for once, she perceived a man as a potential equal, he was not afraid of her, he didn’t need to prove his affection or lust. It was clear that he wanted her, and taking his time resulted not from insecurity, but from his conceited nature, which once in a while she found great pleasure in shaking.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 30

Two weeks are a life-time for a summer relationship, and if a two-week interval is spent without touching the other person, sensations are heightened to an unusual, unexpected level, governed either by awareness and self-control or by raising uncertainty and insecurity, sometimes all of them mixed into a flurry of highs and lows, altogether building up the enticement to continue the game.

It does become clear what a man and a woman expect from one another after they get a few chances to meet, but in most cases it is the very first moments after having laid eyes upon each other that set the course of their future interactions. It may only be clear to one of them, it might even become obvious to them both, the main issue remains, however, finding the path to materialising those desires, in case the two happen to share the same ones.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 29

“How come you can get away with such behaviour? Not many married men can afford that luxury.”

She asked the question, but she knew the answer. The truth was simple, his wife couldn’t care less; as long as she was provided with a transparent lie she could hold on to and a very comfortable life, she didn’t care what he did in his spare time. Amalia hated everything the unknown woman represented and she vaguely felt that was one of those aspects of marriage she dreaded the most. But that unknown woman most likely leads the same kind of double life and her husband is completely oblivious, because he cannot be bothered to care, thought at which she almost started laughing. Robert pretended not to hear the question and the loud music drowned their conversation prematurely.

They had talked too much up to that point, all the other times they had seen each other they ended up sharing more about themselves then they would have initially liked to, but tonight was not about words. Tonight was about the thought depriving music, the adrenaline a young woman feels whenever she dances with a new man, his hands on her hips, her winding body driving him insane. A different array of sensations will surface when the object of your desire dances lasciviously in front of you and even more powerful realisations occur unexpectedly, when she decides to stand up and dance with a friend of yours. Knowing that you have no right over her and the shock produced by the unwanted, out of character pang of possessive urges only leads to wanting her more, it drives you to manipulate a situation, so that you know for sure that the other guy stands no chance whatsoever.

The young woman will probably be aware of everything, savouring her power over him. Game on!

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 28

The whole town may not be entirely that way, but they are, Amalia thought as she was heading towards their table that evening in the club. She felt she would fit right in, she would be accepted instantly by all of them, because she was young, beautiful, vibrant and free.

t’s odd how some would find this so promiscuous, and I feel as though I’m coming back home after a long journey. Promiscuity implies deception, hiding away and shame, but look at them, they want nothing more than to be seen how proud they are to be themselves…

Robert stood up as soon as he noticed Amalia arriving and the others turned their heads instantly, admiring her and envying him – she was there for him tonight. But it didn’t mean they couldn’t try their luck too, some of the men thought for a moment, drinking their whiskies. Wanting something and just knowing you are daring enough to reach out and take it is one of the most exquisite types of freedom. And having an impact in the world of such people is a special task, few can do it instinctively.

Amalia refused Robert when he offered to come pick her up from home that night and instead she offered to just meet them in the club later on, offering him some vague excuse about how she had some things to sort out. She didn’t have anything else to do, but she instinctively felt suffocated when he assumed he could just come and collect her, and in an attempt to reassert herself, she decided she would make an entrance. Setting up a dinner with some other guy she knew and she found to be terribly dull was just so she could clear her thoughts. But the moment she saw all of them, the moment she noticed that they looked at her differently than at the other young women accompanying some of them, she realised her instincts had pushed her to do exactly the right thing.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 27

One of the things to value most about the town that Amalia had moved to a few years ago would be its honesty – nothing going on there is different from the normal life of any other big town in the country. Its people aren’t by far any worse than those in other places, although some of them might be richer, but they lead their lives acknowledging who they are and what they do at a far higher level than anywhere else in the country. The men lead double lives, so do most of the women, and although some social appearances are respected, everything else goes on in plain sight, out in the open, with no need for denial or pretence for their own benefit. Robert and his friends were by far an example of it, all of them successful and proud, some of them well-educated, others perhaps lacking in culture, but all of them married, with a nice family at home and a multitude of parallel lives aside from it. The paradox a myriad of existences creates is a simple one – honesty and deception coexist in twisted harmony, sometimes on different planes, other times even within the same context. People lie, cheat and steal, they are selfish in their own despair and fear, but they admit it and accept themselves and each other for what they are, they find no reason to be ashamed and they walk proudly, acutely aware of their superiority. The mentality of “honest” lies is what makes the town and its people true to themselves, or at least more so than in most of the other places, an enclave where depravation and sin are revered instead on being swept away under the mat, under the mask of religious social propriety.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 26

“What does your wife have to say about this? Where exactly does she think you are?”

Certain questions make a man feel as though he is interrogated and Robert was amongst those not used to accounting for their actions; vague information about where he would go and with whom usually sufficed when he left home.

“Where does your boyfriend think you are right now?”

“Which one of them?” Amalia was not going to give up. “I have no boyfriend, I have no husband, so there’s nobody who needs to know such things. Can you say the same?”

“She thinks I am exactly where I am, out for a night in a club with my friends. She would never join us anyway, it’s not exactly her scene, they have no fully equipped kitchen here,” he laughed at his little joke.

“You’re just being mean now.” It was true, even if it was just a joke; but the truth of the matter was that nobody at that table cared too much about what the wives left at home had to say about their behavior.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 25

The more time they spent together, the harder it was to avoid the temptation of meeting again. The following days turned into a matter of broken calculations and decisions. Robert wanted to give her some space, he wanted her to make a move towards him, but he was not the patient type and he liked getting his prize sooner rather than later; so the days would start with the decision of not calling her and they would generally culminate in some poor excuse to ask her out for coffee or for a drive or for a nice dinner in a restaurant by the sea. Amalia relished his growing interest in her – she was young, but she knew so well how easily one gets bored of another human being, especially how easily she got bored, so she also relished her interest in him. She knew the high point would come soon and it would be no more than a decline from there, so the remaining period would be a time of sensations, evolution and revolution.

There is some merit in slow movement and that was the only way available to make the pleasant sensations and the mutual attraction last for a few more blinks of an eye; and while some people just throw themselves in the middle of the situation, suffocating the new-found object of interest, her way was a more contemplative one. It wasn’t the inevitable conclusion that she was avoiding, but the tedious death of feelings, of attraction. The new situation and the new person with whom one gets to share present and past are to be savoured like a good vintage wine, enjoying its aroma, not just aiming for the drunken stupor. Seeing the new person too often, too much, means obliterating one’s senses, wearing out the priceless initial attraction, whereas punctuating the potential moments spent together with certain other activities, involving certain other people, and then just dividing the events into atoms of fun and pleasure is just the alternative against premature boredom. Those who lose interest in things and people so very easily are also the ones who know the real value of a new-found sensation, of a freshly discovered feeling, how fragile they are and how their discovery must be protected at any cost, the source of pleasure being one to fade out so quickly.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 23

The sky was starting to change colour, something seemed to be about to happen while they were sitting down staring at the water and thinking back of other worlds, and it took her a few moments to realise what it was: the sun was sinking towards the horizon, it was getting lower and lower and soon enough they would witness the sunset. She wanted to run, she didn’t want to see that, not then, not there, and not with Robert. For some reason, it suddenly became clear that it would be one of the most intrusive moments.

“We should probably head back to town, I think we lost track of time. Somehow, this seems the right place for it,” and she wanted to smile light-heartedly.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay and watch the sunset? It can’t be long now.”

“Not today.”

They motioned slowly on the hillside, away from the water and the sun, towards the rusty gates and the parked car outside. Amalia was walking behind him this time, closer to the stone walls, disturbing remnants of old houses and temples, treacherous witnesses of past lives they had buried, and she would touch them from time to time, so the shiver of their warmth would remind her that she was still alive, she wasn’t a ghostly sight wondering amongst them yet. They drove away in silence, as though they were sneaking out of the beautiful cradle of memories; and as they were distancing themselves from the ruins of the old settlement, the corner of his eye caught Amalia turning her head and taking a long, depressed look back. What if I never return here again…

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 22

“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to think. But I did hope you would appreciate this place for what it truly is, I was relying mostly on the fact that you grew up in a place that might have made you partial to such experiences.”

“True, I was raised as a city girl, but I also had relatives in the country. So I guess it’s all those weekends of climbing trees and running around in open fields that still help with keeping my balance on paths such as these.”

“I wouldn’t have guessed you are one to enjoy the country side… You hide it well.”

“I’m not. I may have been as a child, but even then I hated the village life and the people there, I only enjoyed the nature and the freedom. But you seem to like it out here too, how come? It doesn’t really go with who you want to appear to be these days…”

“You may be a city girl, but I grew up as a small town boy. Trips in the mountains, nature and wilderness were our routine, they were all just a few steps away. When I moved away to go to university, it was a cultural shock.” And an emotional one too, he paused. “You probably never noticed it, because you spent your childhood there, you took it all for granted, the city life with all its infamous, desirable evils, but it was all new to me. And it wasn’t the kind of thing to give up, from a certain point on I just wanted more of it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t remember how great I had it in my own home town. And I can understand those that say they never want to leave it.”

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 21

“How about we swap that apple in your hand for a nice cup of coffee, in an air-conditioned restaurant?”

“Do you mind if we wonder about the ruins a little bit longer? I like it here, the world seems so far away. Look at it, aside from those suntanned archaeology students hoping to dig up God knows what hidden treasure, ignoring the obvious fact that they are simply being surrounded by it, what else is there that might drag your thoughts back to the dreary real life?”

Robert gave in immediately, it didn’t matter what time of day it was anymore, how long the drive back to town would be or whether he needed that good cup of coffee or not, because she was right. He felt the power the ruins had over you every time he visited them, he wanted to make himself disappear among the stones and never leave. But the person he was today would always surface sooner or later and he’d start blaming himself for all that daydreaming while rapidly heading to his car and driving away without turning his head to look back. The same would happen to her, they lived in the same world and once you get there, there’s no going back to the one you used to be; he knew it, but she needed to figure it out in her own time. However, he wanted to be there and observe the process.

“How come you can manage to approach these paths so well on those shoes of yours? At first sight, one might even think you’re too much of a city girl to be caught dead in a place like this.”

“You obviously don’t think so, otherwise you wouldn’t have brought me here this afternoon.”

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 20

“Careful, there might be snakes in the grass, just by the water.”

“Do you mean other than you? Are they poisonous?”

“None of us are,” he replied laughing, not at all offended by her all too familiar cynicism. “Not that I know of, anyway. But I would think twice before having an apple, Eve…”

“Why? You strike me as the kind of man who has had his fair share of apples…”

“Perhaps too many… that’s how you inevitably come across the occasionally rotten one and then you get to deal with the consequences.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t you that was the rotten one to begin with?”

“Not to begin with. But who knows, later on… Things change and people evolve to what their true nature is.”

The dialogue restored their sleeping senses, double meaning was a game that they were both good at, but more importantly they both enjoyed it tremendously. Double entendre is the entrance gate into that which finally allows for so many possibilities to materialise, it’s a plethora of opportunities to reach out and pick exactly what you want from a sea of endless interpretations; and the need for any sort of accountability fades away, as an endowed mind can shape the reality into whatever they might desire to understand it to be. Robert was finally near her, standing behind her, not close enough to touch, but close enough for Amalia to feel his breath though her hair, on the nape of her neck, to feel the warmth of his body emanating towards her almost like she had felt the heat of the ancient stones earlier. However, the sensations stirred up were not at all alike.

“How about we swap that apple in your hand for a nice cup of coffee, in an air-conditioned restaurant?”

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 19

The sudden metamorphosis was striking – the cynical smile was gone and she looked real. For the first time she not only was young, but she looked young. He had not foreseen such an effect, all he wanted was to distance himself from the crowd and make Amalia notice he was somewhat different than the rest of the men who probably threw themselves at her feet. But this was something else, this was something he could relate to, she was a person he could relate to and he felt the time winding back, the same way she must have felt. There could have been no other explanation for her transfiguration. He felt an acute need to smile when he saw her gracefully jump over rocks, keeping her balance on the dusty path or on the slippery grass. An indefinite moment from his past wanted to take over him, but he shook it off immediately, finding his way to the stone wall she was leaning on now. She looked alone, having probably forgotten all about him, lost in her thoughts. What does someone like her think about anyway?

“Let’s go all the way down to the water,” she suddenly motioned back towards him and he almost had the feeling she would reach out and take his hand. Was she even thinking of doing such a thing or was it just what he would have liked to happen, in view of old memories and images from a different lifetime that seemed so intent to flood his mind this afternoon? Robert got angry with himself at the mere idea of it, that man was gone and so was that life, with all the people it had encompassed; the person he had struggled so hard to become over the years allowed for no such weakness.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 18

“I know the feeling, I haven’t been around here for several years either, but this seemed just the day for it. When I moved to this town after getting married, I used to come here as often as I could. I guess it put certain things into perspective… Besides, it’s such a good place to run away from everything.”

The dusty country road took them right in front of the big, rust-covered gate, leaning on ancient stones. As soon as the car was parked under a massive tree, Amalia was out, stretching her legs like a big, restless feline, while Robert was fiddling with something in the trunk.

“Here,” he got so close to her, that when the light breeze blew her hair, it touched his face and he almost shivered handing her a bottle of water, “careful not to dehydrate. And try not to twist your ankles. Do you think you can handle a walk around the place?”

“You have no idea, do you?” She turned towards him giggling, just a few carefree steps and jumps having already taken her past the slightly open gate. “Come on, what are you waiting for?”

She took several steps away, skipping over a few scattered rocks and now ruins of the ancient settlement were spreading around her on the hillside, all the way down to the sea, like a giant lizard baking in the sun. All of the sudden, the universe became quiet and timeless, a mass of suspended emotions, generations, battles and sorrows transpiring through the ancient stones. The past was present again and the present could be lost among the ruins, emotions and fears and worries could be scattered and dropped in the grass and nettles covering the paths of another world, a long ago disappeared civilization could deal with them however they saw fit. A lost civilization… they came to conquer and instead they settled and lived and died. But had they ever been alive or had the trouble of conquering and settling taken over their lives and haunted them to their deaths? They died so many times, each and every time a foot stepped on their world and a soul remembered them, they died once more, without ever coming back to life, their existence so long ago helping to have never lived in the first place. No one can really grasp the notion of their lives so far back in time, so they must have never lived at all. But I am alive now, I am so alive now, because I’m here and because they make me feel so alive. So they must have lived too, they must still live somewhere too, if they can make me feel so alive. She stopped to breathe the ancient heat emanated by the stone wall against which she was leaning, her eyes and thoughts spiralling through the grass on the path, all the way down to the water.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 17

 

There is a certain dose of masochism in every one of us, but some are endowed with more than the usual amount. Robert knew that she was right and he hated her being right on such a topic, especially when she so stubbornly held on to her ideas. What he failed to grasp was the fact that it was a similar kind of masochism which made him feel attracted to her. It was that particular moment that he realised he wanted and he needed to have her exactly because she wasn’t just beautiful and young, but she was stubborn and with a mind of her own… and because he would never be able to control her. But he was still able to control himself and easily swallow the offensive words he felt the need to throw at her, just as he was able to put aside his latest realisation regarding his urges and carry on with what he had planned for the day. Any sudden move would scare her away, that became clear shortly after they had met, and he didn’t want to risk his newfound happiness: he wanted something and he had no idea how and when he’d get it, and that gave him a thrill of happiness, as he realised how fun it would be to get there.

They were approaching their destination for the afternoon and all the traffic signs and touristic indications started to clearly point out where they were heading. Amalia had to give him credit for the original idea and started to be restless, looking forward to get there, so she could get out of the car and wonder about freely in the scorching afternoon sun.

“Is that where we’re going?”

“It is. Are you going to throw stones at me as soon as we get out of the car?”

“Doubtfully,” she smiled. “I’ve been meaning to come see this place for a while, but it just seems there’s always something else to do first.”

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 16

“The idiot is in love with you.” He didn’t know whether to get angry at her or just laugh at that guy’s stupidity – something from the past was trying to claw its way to the surface, but he instinctively pushed it back deeper, the way he had always done.

“Let’s leave this cliché for another time. He’s just in need of finding himself a new mother figure, someone who would tell him what to do, would control his every action and would relinquish all his responsibility when things go badly; because, after all, it was only her fault, as she was the only one with a say in it, and he can just relax, enjoy the ride and bask in the amount of drama him being the victim of the soulless woman would offer.”

“I almost feel sorry for the poor guy. You don’t appreciate him at all, do you?”

“Of course I do, we’re actually friends, but anything more than that is subject to certain rules. I do care about the fact that he was there when I wanted him to be there and about the fact that he’s a nice guy, but on one hand that’s not enough for me, and on the other hand, I get the feeling that by ‘appreciation’ people tend to understand changing yourself in order to fit some idea of what would please another person. And the irony is, the one I am now is what he’s obsessing over, whereas the washed-out cloth I’d become by changing to please him would hold no interest whatsoever.”

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Parallel Lives – Sample fragment 13

“He’s a pair of knitted woollen socks.”

“Excuse me? What the hell does that mean?”

“Did you ever have a pair of those woollen socks that grandma knitted for you?”

“Of course, several of them, I might still have one or two in some drawer, somewhere. What does that have to do with anything?”

“They’re the kind of thing that you don’t really need, you don’t really wear, but you can’t get yourself to throw them away, because of what they are. Sure, they’re ugly and the rough wool makes them unpleasant on your skin, but the truth of the matter is that you have worn them a few times, perhaps on a really cold winter night, or when you went to the mountains and the cold was too much to bear… you wore them and they proved to be exactly what you needed at that moment, in order to achieve a certain relative amount of comfort. So you can’t bring yourself to throw them out, you might need them again someday. Plus, there’s also the emotional factor – they mean something because grandma made them, you can connect them to certain memories you aren’t ready to let go yet – and that’s how they end up being kept on the bottom of some drawer, to be taken out once in a blue moon, when the situation is critical. But you would never think of wearing them in public, with your nice, Italian leather shoes, would you? And in fact, you probably wouldn’t even miss them much if you were to finally get rid of them when you cleaned up your wardrobe more carefully…”

Robert was almost laughing at her analogy. I can’t believe how much sense her idiotic idea makes… She actually perceives another human being – one who, by all accounts, cares about her enough not to notice such obvious things – as nothing more than some sort of outdated accessory to be trotted out and tucked away only according to her needs, with no saying in it whatsoever… He didn’t know what he believed about that, he wanted to disagree with her and disapprove of such an attitude, but the truth was he admired her bluntness, he was forced to accept that he himself had treated people no better than that, perhaps even worse, more than one time. But she seemed not to see anything wrong with it because she made no effort to hide it.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 12

Amalia turned her head towards him; she couldn’t continue to admire the scenery that was unravelling outside the car window while sinking into her own thoughts on the matter, appearing to listen to him absentmindedly. She had had that conversation with other people before, including a couple of very close friends, and everybody – from the new guys she met who wanted to sleep with her, to her family – seemed intent on figuring out just that particular matter, ending up being more puzzled than they were initially.

“You really like labels: married, single, wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend… It’s really a matter of perception for me, even if some people see me as having what they might call a boyfriend, I happen to believe it takes more than tolerating a person for a few years, allowing him to be part of your life when there’s nothing else better to do and no one else better to be had. It takes more to call it a relationship and no, in my book that doesn’t mean I have a boyfriend.”

“So you do have a boyfriend.”

“I see you’re just about as unable to understand as most of the other people are.”

“I’m teasing you, really. It’s just that people are known to build life-long marriages on less than what you just described there. So what’s wrong with this boy, that you think so little of him? And why exactly does he allow you to behave that way? Come on, tell me what your story is, I want to know.”

Robert’s voice betrayed his curiosity, but there was a hint of something else behind that half smile. She ignored it though; he wanted to know, then he would know. Amalia needed to figure out up to which point she had been right in assessing him and his character, just as she needed to be accepted exactly for who she was, and narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy were not flaws that she could tolerate.

“He’s a pair of knitted woollen socks.”

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 11

Not that again… But some things are unavoidable, she thought, and apparently it was a valid question when people meet other people, especially when a certain type of interest arises between two persons; and she couldn’t really blame her dislike of socially acceptable small talk on him.

“I get the feeling there’s a completely separate conversation going on in your head.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“How else would you explain the lack of continuity when jumping from one topic to another, entirely unrelated one?”

“Just accept the fact that I’m used to getting my answers,” he grinned at her, suddenly staring her in the eyes. “Why do you make such a big deal out of answering the question anyway? It’s almost as though you were ashamed…”

“You tell me… Do you have a girlfriend?” Her voice was somewhere between flirty and annoyed and he knew it wasn’t shame he had sensed in her evasive reaction, but he couldn’t quite figure out what else it might have been either.

He instinctively shifted his look from her eyes to his wedding ring and as he replied, trying to decide whether she was just mocking him or not, he noticed Amalia was aware of his awkward pause.

“First of all, I’m married, as I’m sure you must know, and I tend not to hide this particular piece of information; as for a girlfriend, I don’t have one at the moment, but I’m not adverse to the idea, and I make no secret of that either… well, maybe only as far as the wife is concerned, she might disapprove of my extracurricular activities.” Robert was pleased to notice her laughing at his little joke. “But I believe things are somewhat different for you… there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be seeing somebody.”

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 8

“Wear something comfortable,” he told her on the phone.

“I don’t do comfortable.”

Her dry reply played back into his years while he was looking at her approaching his car. Something about this woman made him think that no matter how much comfort he might find in any sort of a relationship with her, he would never be completely comfortable in front of her silent, drilling and draining looks. He smiled to himself, getting out of the car to say hello to her, as she was only a few steps away now. She was wearing a long, flowery dress that clung nicely to her body, making her look tall and accentuating her figure, without being tight or revealing. The heals were lower this time, he thought, so that must be as comfortable as she gets; the sun glasses hid her cold stare, but – oddly enough – they made her look even more distant, in spite of her smiling when seeing him. Clearly he wasn’t right to hope it would be any easier to find a way of approaching her today, but the idea of trying seamed even more tempting under these circumstances.

“You did say comfortable, right?” Her smile was full of sarcasm when she made it clear she noticed him measuring her up. “I do hope I won’t be out of place, wherever we’re going.”

“Oh, you will be.” And he burst into a friendly laughter, closing the door on her side of the car, then getting himself behind the steering wheel. Game on, he told himself again. “Your coffee, miss,” he uttered offering her one of the coffee paper cups to go, which he had picked up from the gas station on the way over. “I was thinking a less traditional coffee cup could be a nice break from the routine.”

“Funny, what you call a nice break from routine, other people call cheap.”

She does have a comeback for anything, doesn’t she? But that was refreshing; in fact, he wouldn’t have been too pleased if she were actually impressed by some cheap gas station cup of coffee, offered to her by a man she hardly knew, while they were driving away in his car.

“It’s a really beautiful day and I don’t know about you, but I thought it would be pleasant to enjoy it somehow other than just by having drinks on a crowded terrace. Don’t worry, you will get a decent cup of coffee, to your heart’s content, afterwards. But I think you might find our little trip interesting, it will certainly give us a chance to talk about all sorts of irrelevant things.”

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 7

“Do you have any plans for this afternoon or could we meet for coffee?”

She liked that he hadn’t even alluded to the summer job as a pretext for him to see her, even if his call came as a bit of a surprise – she was pretty sure he would call her, she was pretty sure he was interested in the same kind of interaction she was thinking of, but he was clearly a lot more determined than her and there was no room for doubts as far as he was concerned. She was quite sure of knowing what she wanted too, but the difference consisted in her lack of actual experience on that territory – there are steps that might be more difficult to take than others and she had been oscillating on a very thin line ever since they had met, trying to decide whether to jump or not. It wasn’t any moral issues holding her back, she knew that the only immoral thing would have consisted in being deceitful to herself, given that she was surreally aware of the world she lived in, with all its implications, with all its joy and lies. But it was the side of the coin where everything was happening openly and open-mindedly, so there was no problem with that. It was the going back to that side of the world she had known up close as a child, with all its beautiful excess and spirals that made her nervous, she had to wonder whether she could belong as well as she thought she naturally would. She could never be bothered to fit in, to merge with an environment that did not respond immediately to her needs and to her personality; that would have only meant surrendering one’s character and personality, and she just moved on as soon as it became obvious she didn’t belong there. But not belonging to his environment was not something she was able or willing to accept, that would have translated into a landslide of severe proportions in her world of values, and a re-evaluation of her entire system of ideas was the kind of undertaking she was unwilling to assume; because she knew his world was her world too and nothing contradicting that conviction was an acceptable variable. There is a certain type of emotion which only results from considering yourself in control of what you want and value, and that was exactly what took over her anxiety, culminating in her closing her eyes tight and accepting to meet Robert that afternoon.

“Wear something comfortable,” he told her on the phone.

“I don’t do comfortable.”

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 6

The heat of the early summer and the salty air had always been a promise of future pleasure, one could actually believe in the possibility of a carefree, beautiful time of sensorial depravity, and Amalia was breathing it all in, focusing only on the sound of her heals on the almost deserted pavement. The lazy afternoon hours, when people would either enjoy a brief siesta or would still be trapped in their stuffy offices, and the peace she could get from the short walk pushed her to decline his offer to drive her home; besides, she felt she needed to escape his sight as fast as possible, the need of being alone was always more overwhelming than anything else. Just as some people have an innate fear of being alone with themselves, certain other individuals feel the burden of human company and forced socialization so heavily, that they need to create their personal escape routes, they need to run away as fast and as far as possible, so they could preserve their sanity.

When the parking lot where she had waved a quick goodbye to him while rushing away was no longer in sight, she finally slowed down, breathing deeply and finally relaxing her tensed body a little bit, allowing the latest sensations of the afternoon to sink in, so she could split each one of them into the smallest fractions, analysing every potential implication and cataloguing any shred of emotion. One often knows that certain situations are inevitable and in spite of telling yourself it was all sorts of coincidental actions that threw you in the middle of that particular instant of life, the truth is constantly close to the surface of your thoughts: you went looking for such a context, because – whether aware of it or not – you needed it to define yourself, as it was part of you even before having the chance to pursue it. People often deny it, first and foremost to themselves, but the buried urge is still there, a tormenting and guilt-inducing presence, pushing to surface at the most inappropriate times; she wouldn’t deny it though, she knew that certain things were bound to happen to her and that she would go chasing certain others, her upbringing and education didn’t allow her to hide under the shade of stale propriety and biased morals. The thrill of the new and the chill of fear dug deep into her chest as she was slowly walking home, realising that her desire to run and hide was more powerful than usual: she had promised herself a summer free of her old constrictions, she had promised herself a summer of feeling as young as she actually was – for how long would she still be that young anyway? – and now that it was there, she felt she didn’t want it anymore, she didn’t want anything anymore, other than to get home, close the door behind her, and be left alone, without having to see or hear from anybody.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 5

cover2

“I apologize, that was rude of me. But I tend to be a curious person by nature and I have the feeling you might know a lot more about me from your friend than I know about you.” Game on. He decided honesty was the best choice for the time being. “Most of the people who work with me – not for me – are friends of mine and we socialize in various contexts that aren’t work-related in any way. Whether we decide to collaborate in the future or not, you strike me as an… intriguing person and I would enjoy getting to know you.”

I’m very curious, I’m sorry… I’d like to know you better… At least he didn’t say “you’re an interesting person”, which she felt was his first instinct, but he managed to overcome it just in time. She normally didn’t go for that kind of approach, but she sensed he had meant the clichés he had just uttered, he was playing his one card left after the inappropriate question – directness would score him some points. He was clearly a spoiled man, used to being blunt in his sentimental approaches, not because of a certain lack of imagination or poetry, but because he felt that such endeavours belonged to a period in one’s life that he had already passed or overgrown.

“Anyway… would you mind if I called you sometime soon, to reach a decision about the summer job?” She kept staring him in the eyes without saying a word, so he decided there was nothing more to be done or said then and there. He was slightly annoyed by her superior, know-it-all look and he wasn’t going to pursue the issue any further, the intriguing brat could make up her mind about him all on her own. “Or you can call me whenever you prefer, in case that’s more convenient to you.”

He hadn’t meant to utter the last sentence, but what’s done, is done, he thought, while he was watching her heading out. Not wanting to completely give in to her, he figured that finding a middle ground was his best option, since she was clearly not going to respond to his “hot and cold” play. Yes, summer was looking up… for sure… And as she was walking away, he felt a pang of unadulterated enthusiasm and challenge, the same way he used to feel when living in the old university town which had also been her home… like there was purpose in life and everything and anything became possible.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 4

Amalia was staring straight into his eyes while she was offering him basic information about her and her studies, about her summer plans and all sorts of other trivia he felt he needed to know. It wasn’t about a part-time job that would reduce the number of boring hours a week over her summer holiday, nor was it about supplementing her income or providing additional experience for her resume. It didn’t matter that she was still using a very distant, neutral and polite tone of voice, Amalia already knew that those warm, boring summer hours would be filled with something else, perhaps more exciting than the tedious tasks of an assistant. Yes, it was the right moment to finally have an affair with a married man, with the married man in front of her, and while they were both debating university and job related matters, they became aware that they knew more than enough about the person they were looking at from their mutual friend, the one who enjoyed idle gossip so much. She had no doubt he felt the same, and even if he hadn’t, her arrogance still wouldn’t have allowed her to think otherwise. Amalia found Robert intelligent, intriguing and strong enough in order to consider him the one to make the final cut; besides, she welcomed the new challenge he presented and the change of direction he was bound to bring into her life.

“So do you have a boyfriend?” The sudden, rudely intrusive question almost shook her new resolution to the core – could she have actually misread him so badly? Was he really that ordinary and if so, how come she had missed all the signs that normally accompany such stereotypical individuals?

“I find that people tend to have a very personal, subjective image of terms such as the one which you’ve just mentioned. I do know men and boys, and some of them are even friends of mine, while others are something else altogether; and some are just acquaintances. Regardless of whether this is relevant to the topic we were discussing or not, I hope at least it answers your question.”

Actually, it hadn’t. He had uttered the out of context question without even thinking of what he was saying, during a very brief intermission in their conversation and he could now see very clearly that it had been ill-received, judging by her vanishing smile and the very vague and cold answer. Other girls… women… girls… would have tried to act coy, some would’ve tried a flirty response, their egos hugely tickled by his awakened interest, whereas she dismissed him with a non-answer, clearly penalizing his lack of finesse.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 3

When Robert noticed Amalia entering the sun-bathed restaurant, he suddenly became aware that he was hoping she would be the woman he was supposed to meet. He was expecting a girl, but something about her made you think “woman”, in spite of the youthful features of her face. And he realised exactly what it was – she looked cold, on the torrid summer day, she looked cold. The clinging noise of her heals on the wooden floor became louder as she was heading towards his table and he felt he had to find a way to keep her close, at least until he could decipher whatever accounted for that cold layer and what was hidden by the elegant, well-organized, attractive look. The long legs, the slim figure, the poised posture and the beautiful face were an additional incitement, if any such thing was still necessary, and as he stood up to offer her a chair when she was only centimetres away from the table, he could sense her perfume and her cold, silky hand shaking his after the quick, polite introduction. “Expensive” was what came to his mind, and before he had any chance to decipher the implications of that thought, she was speaking to him about the reason why she decided to meet him; but the words he was more focused on were her very first ones.

“Hello, I’m Amalia. I assume our mutual friend already told you a few things about me and my educational background.”

But he was no longer interested in her educational background or in the fact that he had set that meeting to find a girl who would be willing to be his assistant for a few hours a week, for the rest of the summer. Yes, actually, he did want to know things about her background, he thought, but he wanted to know everything about what made her tick. His old, perverted curiosity took over and he realised he wanted to break her down into little bits of information and figure out whether there was indeed something different about her or she was just one of the many who managed to put on a nicely carved facade. She was now talking about her BA and the thesis she was preparing and she suddenly became full of life, so he felt contagiously alive too, like he was back in time, back in his student days, in that far away, quaint university town, where – as it turned out – they had both spent years of their lives, not knowing of each other’s existence, probably not even at the same time. The urge to ask her when exactly she lived there was immediately repressed though, he had no intention of feeling old again, he would hold on to that surge of youth for as long as possible.

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Parallel Lives – Sample fragment 2

Amalia felt there was something of a sociopath lying dormant in both of them, as guilt was mainly a foreign concept in most of the circumstances with which life presented them, at the most mundane level possible. On a large scale, they both had a very acute sense of right and wrong that responded to their personal reasoning regarding the world, people and morals, a sense that suited their open-minded characters, their egotistic needs and their somewhat legal, more abstract rather than moral, view of correctness.

Robert was old, or at least he was old compared to her, but that was not relevant for either one of them when they initially met; just as it made absolutely no difference that he had a wife and a child at home. If anything, these aspects regarding his condition only made him more attractive and Amalia was well-aware that their relation might have ended before having a chance to begin, had he not been the man he was, leading the life he lead. It was time, she decided about five minutes after she met him, it was time to start dating a married man. Date him? Would that be the appropriate phrase for it? She felt it instantly, nothing about it would be what common souls derive from the idea of dating; after all, he was married, there was an age difference and she had no desire to change his status or to manipulate him, so that he would present her with the opportunity of a “normal” role in his life. They would have whatever kind of a relation they both felt like sharing and they would interact on a commitment-free level.

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