(minus spoilers; I promise)
Key Relationships and Plotlines
How It All Ends
A Handful of Reviews
A Sampling of the Sex Scenes
A Taste of the Prose
About the Author
Jane’s a wife, mother, daughter, friend. A couple years shy of 40 but not stressing about it… yet. Mostly content. Mildly bored. Suddenly, a text from an old lover pulls her into an online sexual vortex. As she “mindfucks” her lover and attempts to figure out how this aspect of herself fits into the obligations of marriage and motherhood, other relationships around her strain, fracture, collapse. Her best friend is recklessly pursuing a series of cyber-affairs, while another friend’s attempt at an open, polyamorous marriage leads to an ugly divorce. Her next-door neighbour is planning a wedding with her forever on-again/off-again lover—but will it really happen? Her parents, on the eve of their forty-third wedding anniversary, announce they’re getting a divorce, while her father-in-law’s third marriage ends. Meanwhile her lawyer-husband is exchanging a lot of texts with an adoring young associate. Does Jane care? Or is she too engulfed in her own sanity-straining mindfuck to really notice?
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Jane: protagonist-narrator. 38. Married. Four children. Works from home erratically as a financial analyst. Analytical, realistic, rational, almost detached… until she gets that text from Matt.
Matt: hero/anti-hero in one. 41. Married. Childless. A lover from Jane’s past who re-enters her life and shakes its foundations. Readers experience him entirely through Jane’s eyes, and almost exclusively through his texts to Jane.
Marie: Jane’s best friend. 39. Married. Two children. As emotional and volatile in her expressions and search for passion and romance as Jane is controlled and restrained. Actively and constantly searching for affairs; failing to consummate any of them.
Alex: Jane’s husband. 40. Lawyer. Workaholic. Good father. Affectionate but perhaps unexciting. Except to his young associate, whose texts he reads in the bathroom…
Lacey: Jane’s next-door neighbor. 53. Gorgeous, sexy, confident, and loving. The only person Jane comes close to confiding in. In a 12-year-long, on-again-off-again relationship with Clint.
Clint: Lacey’s lover and father of her 10-year-old son. Player. Engaged to Lacey, but still involved sexually with the mother of his other son, who becomes pregnant (by him? Or her other lover?) while Clint is wedding planning with Lacey.
Nicola: Marie and Jane’s friend. 40. Two children. In the middle of an acrimonious divorce from her husband of 12 years. Angry, resentful.
Jesse: Jane and Nicola’s personal trainer. 26. Eye candy. Not very bright. Taken for granted by Jane. Coveted by Nicola.
Jane’s mother and father: In their 60s, spry and attractive. The tensions in their 43-year-old relationship, a defining feature of Jane’s childhood, suddenly reach a breaking point, and they “ruin Christmas” by announcing their impending divorce.
In the background
JP: Marie’s husband. 45. Lawyer. Works with Alex. Experienced by reader exclusively through Marie’s and Alex’s accounts of him.
Paul: Nicola’s husband. Has brief sexting affair with Marie. Experienced by reader exclusively through Nicola and Marie’s accounts of him.
Colleen: Nicola’s best friend. Long-divorced. Appears intermittently in role of “Greek chorus” to offer unconditional support to Nicola and vent against all cheating spouses.
Melanie-Susan-Shelley: Alex’s associate, whose name Jane refuses to remember. 28. Has a huge crush on Alex. Not sure how to deal with the fact he has a wife.
Craig: Married. 45. Attractive. Minor character who enters Jane’s life and is passed on to Marie.
Alex’s parents: Play a much lesser role than Jane’s parents, but inform Alex’s attitudes towards marriage, fidelity, affairs and passion. Father on third marriage, with the much younger Claire. Claire is Jane’s age, and pondering whether or not it is too late for her to have children. Alex’s mother—“the first wife” —is steadfastly single since the divorce 30 years ago. Alex, Jane and the children have a close and comfortable relationship with Alex’s mom. Jane maintains a relationship with Jeanette, the second wife, who effectively raised Alex and his sister. Alex limits his contact with his father, his current wife, and his ex-wife to as little as he can get away with.
KEY RELATIONSHIPS AND PLOTLINES
Jane’s mindfuck (affair) with Matt as it unfolds over the 30 days of December 3-January 1 is the centerpiece and dominant plotline of the novel. Readers experience it through the intense “in the moment” texting-and-sexting of the lovers, as well as flashback scenes from their 20-year history. [Two more sentences on how the affair unfolds through to end of novel; spoilers; deleted].
Jane’s 14-year marriage to Alex, with its deep affection and resultant four children, is re-examined, re-ignited, and re-committed to throughout the novel as the Jane-Matt plotline unfolds.
The friendship between Jane and Marie is perhaps the most complex relationship in the novel, almost as important as the mindfuck with Matt and much more volatile and tension-filled than her comfortable marriage to Alex. Jane and Marie’s contrasting personalities, opposite approaches to processing emotion, passion, marriage, fidelity and the possibility/actuality of extra-marital affairs allow for a great deal of tension and drama during the non-sexual portions of the novel.
Lacey and Clint’s unconventional 12-year-relationship provides vignettes both of passion and of some mild comic relief, as they work through the novel to their own brand of a happily-ever-after—but totally on their own, unique terms—ending.
Marie and JP’s sexually unsatisfactory marriage [is examined through the novel; the actual description of it in the synopsis gives everything away.]
Nicola’s “gong-show of a divorce” provides a sobering contrast to Marie’s attempted affairs and Jane’s intense mindfuck with Matt. [Two additional sentences on how the Nicola storyline echoes Jane and Marie’s storylines; total spoilers.]
Jane’s parents, “unhappily” married for 43 years, end their marriage during the course of the novel. [Summary of the evolution of Jane’s reaction to this event and how it affects the main plot of novel.]
Alex’s parents, on the fringe of the story, repeat old patterns. His mother remains single and uninterested in becoming coupled, in any way, again. His father continues his pattern of serial monogamy.
Alex’s relationship with his young associate weaves in and out of the story, staying just on this side of purely professional, and serving as a means for Jane and Alex to explore concepts of jealousy, fidelity, and sins of omission versus sins of commission.
HOW IT ALL ENDS
This section is nothing but spoilers! So. You don’t get to know. But, the publishers want to know how it ends before they start reading it. Weird, eh? I don’t really get it either…
A HANDFUL OF REVIEW
HIM: “It’s The Story of O meets Jane Austen for the sexting and blogging generation.”
ME: “I’m not sure that’s a compliment.”
HIM: “It is. Completely. Although you should have warned me what it was about. Flying coach with an erection is so declassé.”
ME: “I did tell you. I said it was one-third erotica, one-third chick lit, one-third existential angst.”
HIM: “Well. I didn’t expect it to have quite this much of an impact. It’s impressive. Tight. It flows. So very easy to read, and keep reading. The sex reads true. Don’t call it chick lit. It’s something different, new.”
It’s not a bad review, I think. Except… I didn’t write it for him. He’s not my target audience. I wrote it for—his wife. The woman who wants to be his mistress. The divorcing 40-year-old who reads pulp romances on the subway even though the predictability of the plots bores her. The snobby sapiosexual who devoured 50 Shades of Grey and still has it on her Kindle… but tells everyone how badly written it was. The Wall Street executive who wears French lingerie under her Armani suit and fantasizes about going down on that hot bike courier in the elevator. The faithful wife who wants, so very, very badly, to take a lover. But won’t. Or will she?
I wrote it for them—that sprawling demographic of 35-50+ year-old women who buy more books than anyone else, for whom new genres and never-ending series are created.
So, I give it to them to read, to test-drive:
“So shocking! So awesome! Tell me—what does Matt look like? I need to know.”
“Your book. I can’t stop reading. I was late for work today. Again.”
“God. I WANT HIM. How did you do this?”
They’re texting me as they read. I love it. But then I worry. Have I been able to sustain it? The storyline is compact: an intense love affair—although the lovers don’t call it that, they call it a mindfuck—between the two central characters unfolds over 30 days, the tense and holiday-intense month of December. But that’s 30 chapters, 100,000 words. Was I able to keep the pace, commingle the disparate plot lines, and keep the reader obsessed all the way through to the end?
“Your book. I am having trouble working. I just want to take my phone into the bathroom and keep reading. I can’t wait until lunch time so I can continue. Just finished chapter 24 on my way to work. Yes, I read at every red light!”
“It’s 4:30 in the morning. I’m done. Holy fuck, that’s hot.”
“No! It’s over and I don’t want it to be! Tell me there’s more!”
Maybe. I have a second novel plotted out. But first I have to sell this one: Tell Me.
It’s uber-sexy. Well-written. Highly consumable. The erotica is undiluted and un-euphemistic; the characters are engaging; and the life plot lines as real as if they were happening to you, your neighbours, your colleagues.
Do you want to see the manuscript?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Day 1—Maybe (6)
Day 2—Did She Just? (19)
Day 3—Fuck Foreplay (31)
Day 4—Fatherhood (39)
Day 5—One Night (47)
Day 6—Obsession (53)
Interlude: She Only Belongs To Those Who Take (62)
Day 7—I Hate You (63)
Day 8—Too Far (72)
Day 9—Jonesing (81)
Day 10—Thrice Broken Home (88)
Day 11—Unconditional (96)
Day 12—Depraved (102)
Day 13—Obligations (112)
Day 14—Do What You’re Told (122)
Day 15—Spent (130)
Day 16—Perfect Trust (136)
Day 17—Interview For An Affair (145)
Interlude: Practice (156)
Day 18—I Take Good Care Of My Possessions (157)
Day 19—Generous (165)
Day 20—Rage (174)
Day 21—Permission (182)
Day 22—Striptease (190)
Interlude: I’ll Let You Play With Her (197)
Day 23—Worst Christmas Ever (198)
Day 24—Six Hours (207)
Day 25—Evidence (212)
Day 26—Blame (219)
Day 27—Endurance (229)
Day 28—Utilitarian Sex (235)
Day 29—For You (242)
Day 30—Unresolutions (251)
A TASTE OF THE SEX SCENES
This has been… electrifying. Illuminating. Awoken thoughts I’m glad to be reminded of. I think I’m going to go… take care of myself right now.
Still at the office.
—close the door first
Tell me where do you want this cum?
—running down to my belly button
Where do I aim?
—at black lace of the bra I’ll be wearing with the fuck me shoes.
“There was this: a rapacious appetite, bite marks on his thighs, her face worshipping at his groin her eyes closed, her thoughts in a dozen places at once, but always coming back to the moment, the smell of sex, the sound of self-control breaking.”
Now tell me what you are
While I cum.
More. Word-fuck me to the finish.
Follow him. I will cum to the thought of you being loaned out.
—Jesus. What’s wrong with you?
Everything. Admit you love it. And hate it in equal measure. Now go do what you’re told.
Enter Tim. With a carton of ice cream—I remember, Heavenly Hash. He sees, what? Matt’s erect cock. Me splayed. And he reaches for me, I remember seeing the arc of his hand, moving so, so very slowly, and Matt saying, lazily, “I’m not sharing today.” And pulling the blanket partially over me… but leaving my breasts exposed. And then…
“You can feed her ice cream,” he says, “while I finger her cunt.”
I go down between your thighs. Licking. Biting. Tongue thrusting. It’s been a long time since I’ve done this—these days, I prefer to watch you while you play with yourself. Or to fuck you so hard you scream. But, mmmmm, this is nice. You’re delicious. The smell of you is intoxicating.
Turned on, fuckslave? Shall I bring you flowers?
—No. I don’t want flowers.
What do you want? Tell me.
Tell me. I’m just in your head right now, and no one is listening.
—Your cock in my mouth. Your hands on my shoulders, slamming me against a wall.
Back to fucking work.
—As I take you back in my mouth, an irreverent part of my mind wonders if my stockings are going to rip to shreds on the floor.
I hope they are. I want my clients to know you’re my whore.
Tell me what happens next. In my hotel room. As you finish telling me the story the first time.
—Your belt’s undone and your cock’s out of your pants. My skirt is up around my waist and my panties down to my knees. I’m pushing you away, but you keep on climbing on me. Your fingers caress my cunt, then thrust in. You say…
“Are you done talking? Then you can suck my cock.”
—And I say, “Fuck off.”
“Fuck you? I’m planning to.”
—I don’t know when or how you get the condom on…
—… but then you’re splitting me in half. Fuck. I scream.
I tell you to keep on fighting me.
A TASTE OF THE PROSE
From Day 17—Interview For An Affair
“Say you had an affair,” I say.
“But I wouldn’t!” she hollers.
“Indulge me. Say you did. Say—with him,” I toss my eyes and head towards a nice-looking, 40-something silver fox who’s ordering coffee at the bar at the moment. I look at him for a few seconds. Tall, broad shouldered, flat belly. Yes, definitely good looking. A touch of Alex in the eyes and posture, actually. I smile in his direction. He raises his eyebrows. “Say—you’re at one of your church retreats or workshops or something. Sans husband. And you and he hit it off, and maybe have a few glasses of wine. And end up in bed…”
“People at our church retreats do not drink wine! Or have affairs!” she says, getting up ungracefully. Yes! She’s leaving.
“Your pastor did,” I say, not yell, but I’m not quiet either, to her retreating back.
I feel mildly petty. Mildly ashamed of being petty. Mostly pleased with the effect. I turn back to the laptop.
“Excuse me.” It’s the silver fox from the bar. “May I join you?”
There are three—no, four—empty tables around me.
I study him carefully. Yes, definitely a touch of Alex in the eyes and posture—when Alex’s hair goes greyish-white, this is what he will look like. I like that. I smile back.
“Please,” I gesture towards the chair.
“I realize I’m interrupting,” he says. “And I don’t mean to be rude. I did overhear some of your conversation with your friend.”
“Not exactly my friend,” I say. “And I suppose I was not particularly discrete.”
“Well,” he says. “I am a great believer in… seizing opportunities the universe presents.”
Are you now? I’m becoming a great believer that the universe is an evil fuck that hates me. But to each their own.
“So,” he says, and smiles. “My name’s Craig.”
“Craig,” I smile back. What the fuck am I doing? Ah. This. “I am immensely flattered. And I am enjoying having you sit at my table, for a while. But I am not currently shopping for an affair.”
He looks crestfallen. And ashamed. And he’s regretting his impulse, I can almost see the thought bubbles with the swear marks and name calling over his head. Remonstrating with himself for being stupid, for taking the risk.
I’ve used up my cruelty for the day. So…
“But if I ever start shopping, I’ll definitely call you in for an interview,” I say. And smile. Almost like I mean it.
“Thank you,” he smiles back. “Flattered.”
“Don’t be.” I open up my laptop again, look down. I feel him get up. Take a step away. Then come back.
“Jane?” he says. “I heard your… um… that woman call you Jane,” he explains. I nod. “Look, I’ve got 15 minutes before I have to go pick up my daughter. And—I get that you’re not shopping for an affair. I’m not trying to pick you up.” He lies, but whatever. “But if I don’t find out what your interview consists of, I will go to my grave an unfulfilled man.” He flashes me another smile. He has a nice smile. “15 minutes. And then I leave, no other commitments or… innuendo or anything.”
OK. Work is boring. My mind unfocused. I’ll play.
“Well, won’t you sit back down then,” I say. “The interview. Ready?”
“Two. Boy, 17, and girl, 14. Boy’s a ski jumper. Girl’s a black belt in karate.”
He pauses, thinks.
“What does your wife do when she finds out about the affair?”
“She’s not going to find out.”
“Where do we go on our first date?”
“The private room at Teatro’s. After the theatre crowd leaves.”
“I cancel because one of my kids has the flu. What do you say?”
“Do you have Children’s Tylenol? Or can I drop some off anonymously in your mail box on the way home?”
“It’s your birthday. What do you want from me?”
“An unsigned, handwritten card sent to my office. I’ll know it’s from you.”
“I have the motherfucker of all days. I text you saying, ‘Cheer me up.’ What do you do?”
“I courier you flowers. Anonymously, of course.”
“You have me alone in a hotel room for four hours. What’s the first thing you do?”
“Draw you a bath. Chill champagne.”
He really does have a nice smile. He thinks he’s nailed it. Poor man. I give him a kind look. Look at his watch.
“I think you’ve got to run now.”
He looks down at his wrist.
“I do. Lovely to meet you, Jane.” He takes half a step back, then comes back. “Look,” he says. He pulls out a clip, and then a business card. “This is me. All my contact info. This—” he pencils in another number “is my confidential cell. If you ever… you know, if the situation changes. Call me. Anytime.”
“Thank you, Craig,” I take the business card. Glance at the name, the email, the numbers. Put it down on the table beside my coffee cup.
“Really lovely to meet you, Jane,” he says. Wants to linger. I put my fingers on the laptop keys, thrust my eyes at the screen. Start to type.
The door jingles as he leaves.
And my telephone buzzes.
“You were right, Mom. She’s done.”
“On my way.”
I pop the laptop and the reports into my bag. Get up. Become aware of a handful of eyes on me. I look at the two flushed 50-something women in the far corner; the horrified teenage girls right behind me, and the construction worker whose eyes hit the floor as soon as mine rise. I pick up the business card between two fingers—look at it again—then flick it back onto the table.
“Not my type,” I say in the direction of the two flushed women. “But, you know, he’s shopping.” I walk out with a bit of a swagger.
It’s nice to be wanted. But she only belongs to those who take. Not those who have to ask.
I get through the rest of the day with perfectly manageable angst.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Real Name (writing as M Jane Colette). Real life biography focusing on my encounters with politicians, diplomats, and C-suite superstars. My totally irrelevant professional awards and recognitions. References to those aspects of my work not covered by NDAs or otherwise violating aspects of client confidentiality. Acknowledgement that in a previous, less solvent incarnation, I had several short stories published, and the awards they were nominated for.
Link to business portfolio, link to personal blog, and brief brag of social media savvy.
Exhaustive. Also included in the footer of the document, and in the covering email.
So. Tell Me.
Do you want to read the book?
Coming from Mischief/Harper Collins, March 2015.