As part of a special promotion, we are giving away ebook copies of Exposed between now and March 2. It is available here on Amazon. If you decide to get a copy, PLEASE POST A REVIEW! That’s little enough to ask, don’t you think?
Jackie is vivacious, with sparkling eyes and a melody of laugh that grabs attention from across the room. She has had many lovers, some of whom she stays in close touch with, sharing their lives in ways deep and profound. When her boyfriend Mike asked who she was always on the computer with, she bristled, and defended hours spent emailing Dave, a former lover.
“Mike has no right to tell me who I should talk to, and what I talk about. I’m not having sex with Dave. He was an important part of my life long before I met Mike. That’s just how it is.”
When Genevieve smiles, a corner of the world lights up as if by magic. She loves deeply, and she even loves men she had been “in love” with years ago. Some of them still want to bask in her glow: Men from her past sometimes seek to be in her present, unable to let go.
But Genevieve doesn’t go too deeply into conversations with former lovers, because she knows there’s a hook in there, a door trying to open, but more importantly, she knows her fiancé Don would not like that, any more than she would, and thinks of that as emotional infidelity.
It’s so tempting to take sides, but I don’t think there is an absolute right or wrong, here. But I do know absolutely there are consequences to the choices made.
Genevieve has chosen to make Don the focus of her emotional universe, and he knows that, and responds in kind. That “exclusive emotional intimacy” is valuable to each of them, and each knows the other is the one rock available to which they can return in a world of too little stability.
Mike may have no ability or desire to communicate on the level Jackie needs to feel complete. It’s easy to think of a situation where Mike could be perfectly good with Jackie sharing her soul, or partaking of Dave’s, but in this case, the sharing is causing friction. Dave has access to Jackie that Mike finds hard to accept.
Jackie wants it that way. She hasn’t done anything “wrong,” that’s just how she is.
The parallels to sexual behavior are valid. Readers here know I don’t think there’s an absolute right or wrong with polyamory, or casual sex with multiple partners, sequentially or simultaneously. But I know absolutely there are consequences to the choices made. If both partners are on the same page, sharing may enhance a relationship. If one wants exclusivity and the other does not, there are going to be problems.
I agree that Jackie gets to make the call about continuing her relationship with Dave. Mike has to accept that as part of Jackie. But Mike doesn’t have to accept that as part of his life. Mike does get to decide that he wants someone who does not share herself in that way with anyone but him.
If he heads for the door, Mike hasn’t done anything “wrong,” that’s just how he is.
Nikki looked at me across the table. “I told him I wanted an open relationship. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or wanted someone in particular. I just wanted more.”
Twice this week I’ve had similar conversations with really smart women. A lawyer. A business owner. Self-directed, centered, strong women.
“We were going through the motions,” said Nikki. “We’d become stale.”
“The routine wasn’t bringing what I needed,” said Ali.
We can all relate.
Selfishness? Sense of entitlement? Some of my friends would say so. I tend to think it’s Biology. A psychologist friend said once that the “in love” feeling lasts about 18 months max, then needs to become something deeper, or the relationship will fail.
Women are designed to put our heads up once in a while, and look around. There was an article in the Feb 7, 2015 issue of The Economist, pg 75 (yeah, yeah, I know. I have lots of odd habits) that referred to research indicating that about half of the female population (in the U.S.) belonged to a more promiscuous phenotype, or had a genetic predisposition to… let’s just say it: fuck around.
We are designed to want that tall, dark and handsome bad boy (substitute your own fantasy) in the corner of the coffee shop, and we want him more at certain times of the month when we are fertile. Biology wants to maximize the possible combinations of our DNA. Diversity offers protection against disease wiping out our bloodline.
Biology doesn’t care who survives, by the way. She’ll leave that to the changing conditions of natural selection. She just wants to maximize the chances.
There are competing forces, of course. Personal and social stability, for example, represented by laws, and the church using my personal favorite, guilt. To protect my brood from my sister, who’s always wanted what I have, there’s jealousy.
So what’s a girl to do? There isn’t one solution, and it’s never an easy decision. We are not all alike. Nikki and Ali chose very different paths. Nikki went to divorce, multiple partners and a busy, though seemingly happy life. Ali chose monogamy, parenthood, diapers and a bigger home, and a seemingly happy life.
The key, I think, is honesty. First and foremost with oneself, within one’s values. And with our partner(s), as early and as often as possible. It’s also necessary, according to my grandmother, to accept that we can’t have our gateau and eat it, too. Only the immature believe that’s possible, or the pathologically selfish.
An honest appreciation of who we are, what we want and what we are willing to sacrifice can lead to fulfillment. But don’t pretend a decision doesn’t have to be made, because the journey is short, and momentum can take us to dreadful destinations.
Yesterday I wrote what I expect will be the last sentence of the book Crosscurrents. No, it’s not finished. There is much left to do.
But it’s very strange that this book evolved from an erotic novel into a thriller, or a mystery, and a love story. That was not what I intended at all!
At the end of Exposed, I felt so self-contained. Doing what I wanted, going where I wanted, having my adventures when I wanted. I like sex and occasionally in an erotic setting with multiple partners. I didn’t need to justify myself, nor compromise, and certainly not apologize.
In the writing of Crosscurrents, I discovered someone. I’m not going to tell you who or how, but I can say that as a result, some things have… changed. How they’ve changed, or if the changes are temporary or permanent, remains to be seen.
I think sex in many of its expressions is wonderful, if the expectations are shared. Sex doesn’t need to be about love, nor commitment, nor creation of children. I accept the gifts Biology has given us, and appreciate them to their fullest.
But still… biology is not well-contained. The mind, or heart if you will, can become deeply impacted by the biology of sex, by someone whose skin we crave to touch, whose mouth we want to merge with our own, whose fingertips cause us to ache, and oddly enough, whom we want to wake next to in the morning after a night of feeling their body next to ours.
Making love with someone who tells us to “open your eyes” as we or they are about to orgasm, and have that moment shared through the windows of the soul with a connection that goes far beyond words, is as erotic and even more fulfilling than all the random touching there is in the world. We are touched more deeply, and in places even more secret.
Crosscurrents has become a different book than I expected it to be. And I may have changed in the process of writing it.
There’s an erotic scene in the new book set in a new club in Seattle.
It’s not something you would see every day, even in those clubs where erotic play is common. It’s not violent, It’s not filthy. But it’s graphic, and the vulnerability is intense.
I’ve been thinking about whether it’s too intense.
Frankly, in this world, I’m rather conservative. Not a prude, certainly, but I am a long, long ways from the extreme edge of play. But when my publisher reads this scene, I’m afraid she is going to gasp, if not recoil. I worry about some of my readers, too. I want them to be engaged, not run from the page.
Vulnerability is an element of the erotic. Yes, yes, we all know “50 Shades.” But it’s more universal than that. Submitting to pleasure, or being with someone who has submitted, is a lot of what arouses us. The success of “50 Shades” shocked a lot of people I think who had not realized how many of us respond to vulnerability.
Of course, there are different levels of comfort with different levels of vulnerability. Some don’t think it should be shared in public, but others feel that makes one more vulnerable, and the experience even more erotic, whether that be in cars, elevators, restaurants or nightclubs.
I’ve shared some of that in “Exposed” and there is more of it in the new book, “Crosscurrents.” But where’s the line? I don’t really know, but a part of my writing is an attempt to find out. I guess we all have our own lines. Mine might be past those of my publisher, but yours might be so far out there, I can’t see them over the horizon.
How much is too much? I guess that’s for each of us to decide. But it’s a personal decision, and in my opinion, no cause for judgment.
I did an interview last week. It was a lot of fun, and made me think about what it is that I do. See it here:
We all have sexual history. If not, you are reading the wrong writer.
I don’t talk about past lovers with current lovers. It never turns out well. The insecure don’t believe they can ever compete, and those who want to compete with my past are completely absent from the present, which is where I need them to be.
Billy is a cool guy; sweet, tall, blond and a great body. I would sleep with him, too, if I didn’t worry about screwing (!) up our friendship. Okay, yes, we have but we don’t now and we’re both good with that for all the right reasons.
He’s one of the few male friends I have who can talk easily about sex. We had lunch yesterday.
“Karen and I were just rolling along, having a good time. She was on top of me, holding my arms down, kind of a dominance thing, I guess. Then I took her face in my hands to kiss her as gently as could be, and all of a sudden, she threw the “off” switch,” he said.
“She didn’t jump out of bed or anything, but she stopped participating. It was like she was willing to let me finish up, but her passion had left the room. You know how I am, Jessica (I do). If my partner isn’t having fun, neither am I. So I stopped, and asked her what was wrong.
“At first she said nothing was wrong, then said she just got uncomfortable. Eventually she said that one of her previous lovers used to hold her face like that.
“I told her that wasn’t me. She said, ‘I know.’ I said I just wanted to show her I was there, it was intimacy. She said ‘I know.’ I asked if there was anything I could do, and she said, ‘I don’t know.’ And then she got up, got dressed and left.
“I really don’t want it to end like that,” he said, “but she won’t answer her phone.”
Whew. Billy. He’s such a sweet guy, and Karen is going to miss a lot of good times with him, maybe more. I told him to move on.
Trauma in the bedroom can cause so many different kinds of hurt, and if there is physical hurt along with emotional hurt, there can be all sorts of issues to resolve that, unresolved, can last a long, long time. Because of the way we are wired at birth, and all of the socialization we’ve acquired since, the melody of sexuality has many overtones. When two people are out of tune, it can be really tough to find harmony.
Why did I tell Billy to move on instead of work it out? Because Karen wasn’t ready. She didn’t stick around to talk it through. She bailed out, which I know may have been her only option in that moment. But she’s carrying something from her past that it bled all over her thing with Billy.
That may not be her fault, but it’s certainly not his, nor is it his responsibility. Billy will be there for her if she returns. Billy is like that, and that’s just one of the things I really love about the man. But he can’t chase away her demons if she doesn’t stick around, and damage like that is potentially contagious.
The publisher has set up a blog tour for “Exposed” this coming week. In addition, an ad will be appearing in Seattle’s “The Stranger,” an alternative newspaper (and model for similar publication in the book.) Here are dates of the tour. Stop by these sites and help us get some momentum!
EXPOSED BLOG TOUR STOPS: JANUARY 26-30, 2015
Feminist Reflections: http://www.feministreflections.com/
Lady A, Literature Junkie Extraordinaire: http://www.ladyaliteraturejunkieextraordinaire.blogspot.com/
Country Gals Sexy Reads: http://www.countrygalssexyreads.wordpress.com/
Here is a a scene from “Exposed by Jessica Love.” It is on Amazon here, and available through your local bookseller. Enjoy. ~ Jessica
When I turned my head sideways, Rick’s face was about six inches from mine.
“May I kiss you?” he asked, his voice husky with lust. “Please?” I asked back. So very gently, he brushed his lips against mine, held them there. I could smell the gin and tonic he’d been drinking, clean and fresh. I reached over and put my right hand on the back of his head so he wouldn’t pull away. I put my left hand on the side of his face.
The kiss lingered.
It was so strange. I’d been with a number of men since the implosion of my marriage. Not once had I kissed or been kissed as tenderly as I was at that moment, nearly naked on top of a bar in a room full of men and women, mostly men.
“Oh my,” he said when we broke to look at each other. “Oh my,” I agreed. “William?” I asked, I didn’t need to elaborate and when I lifted my hips, William slid his hands under my butt to take the top of my thong down, smoothly over my knees. I straightened my legs so the wisp of fabric could be pulled over my shoes.
I kept my thighs together, but extended my left foot so my body was completely visible to the room, which had become quite silent except for the last notes of another song spun by the DJ who was catering to the dancers on the floor below.
Paul put his lips on my hip bone, then closer to the V between my legs.
“Paul.” I said it gently, but with a hint of command. He stopped instantly and looked at me. “I’d like your fingertips from here,” I pointed at my left breast, “to here,” and pointed at my pelvis. He smiled into my eyes and nodded.
“William, I’d like you to work up from the other direction. As gently as you can.”
The two of them touched me like they were enjoying the touch of velvet, back and forth, up and down. I kept my thighs together and neither tried to enter me. Paul stroked the outside of my breasts, the under curve, my nipples ached when he brushed them and then down to my belly.
I reached over to Rick and said, “I need you right here,” and drew his mouth to mine. Once again the gentleness of his lips astounded me. But now I wanted something a little more. I opened my mouth, which caused him to open his. I timed my exhale to his inhale, and he knew exactly what I wanted and pulled my breath into his mouth.
When I was empty, his/my warm breath returned to me and filled my lungs. We were able to keep that rhythm for five full breaths before what we were sharing was depleted of oxygen.
“Oh my,” I said with my first full breath of fresh air. “Oh my,” he exhaled. “Touch me,” I said with something between a request and command. His fingertip went to my right breast and he circled my nipple. William’s hand was at my hips.
I couldn’t stop the moan from my throat or my hips from rising from the bar. But my thighs stayed together. Ricks fingertip went from my breast to my collarbone, then my neck, my throat. When it came to my cheek I turned my head and took it into my mouth with more hunger than I had felt in years.
Eventually, Rick’s fingers found more of me welcoming him. Paul and William changed chairs a couple of times. The experience lasted for a long, long while; the DJ spun many songs; many people came close to watch, left, were replaced by others. I gave as good as I got, and what I got was very, very good.
Here is a rewrite of the first chapter of the new book. The old draft is elsewhere on this site. I could have deleted it, but felt readers truly interested in how these things evolve would enjoy the comparison. This book is taking shape in ways that I find very exciting. ~Jessica
(from the novel “Crosscurrents by Jessica Love”, © 2015, due out in June, 2015)
Often we have some idea when big changes are coming. We get engaged, get divorced, change jobs, have a child, a sick relative dies.
Other times, big changes creep up or just drop in on us. They seem so incidental when they begin that we don’t think much of them at the time, but later on, when we remember them, it all falls into place.
“Jessica, there’s a Geoffry Quinn on line one. He says he needs to speak with you.”
“Claire… “ I started to say, but stopped. No one gets past Claire if I’ve asked her to hold my calls. She knew I was behind with my workload and wrestling with a particularly difficult case with some ethical overtones I didn’t really like. The girl had been busted with two ounces of cocaine in one of the nicer bars in Seattle. The D.A. had offered a deal, but she wouldn’t take it even though I thought she should.
And I was beginning to suspect my fee was being paid by the guy she was working for as a mule.
“Yeah, I know,” Claire said. “But there’s something about this guy, Jessica.”
I trust Claire’s instincts without question for a lot of reasons. It takes a lot of smarts and guts — I’d seen both — to be a single mom and raise two good sons in the black neighborhoods of Seattle. They were so handsome they could have easily taken easier paths, too, but one was a cop and the other made a ridiculous amount of money as a sales rep for a prosthetics manufacturer.
“Thank you, Claire. I’ll take the call.”
“Ms. Love, my name is Geoffrey Quinn. Would you have time to meet with me about a matter that might be of mutual benefit?”
“Mr. Quinn, thank you for the call, but I’m not taking additional clients at this time. If you’d like, I can turn you back over to my assistant and she will take your information. We’ll give you a call when the schedule allows.”
“That is very kind of you, Ms. Love, but my matter is somewhat pressing. Is there any way we can meet just to discuss it? I am happy to make it worth your while.”
It’s hard sometimes to turn away money. Even though I was buried in work this week and the following, my Porsche was in the shop for some expensive repairs, and I was trying to put something away for when my niece came to visit over the summer.
“Perhaps next week we can get together. I’ll ask my assistant to go over the schedule and get back to you.”
“I was hoping for something a little sooner,” said Geoffrey Quinn.
Now I was getting a little peeved. I looked at the clock. I was getting further behind.
“Mr. Quinn, I’m sorry. I have work to finish. If you’d like to speak with my assistant, I’ll transfer you. If not, have a good morning, what’s left of it.”
“Thank you for taking my call, Ms. Love.” That was it. He hung up, and I went back to work. For about ten minutes, until a call came in on my cell phone. Not many people had that number.
“Hi, Jessica. It’s Tony. Got time for lunch?”
“I really don’t, Tony. “I’ve got a major headache on a case scheduled for trial a week from Friday. I’m scrambling.”
“Jessi… have lunch with me today. Okay?”
“It’s like that?” I asked.
“Yeah, it is.”
Anthony Stevens very rarely asks for anything from anybody, and is also one of the few lawyers I will count on.
Tony’s motto is “I never trust anyone who doesn’t act out of self-interest.” That’s just one of the things he taught me after I got out of law school and was working for him in my first job. He was the only one to offer me a job after I got out of jail, too, and had lost my license to practice law. When all that went away, he offered me a partnership in his firm. But that’s old news.
I’d learned a lot of other things from Tony, things he hid from most people: That he is a really good man who does more for others anonymously than most of the well-heeled and well-intentioned people who preen with their acts of generosity.
So I said, “Okay. Pike Place? Fish sandwich at Mo’s?”
“Why don’t we meet at the elevator in ten minutes? I’ll stop at your floor on the way down. Give you enough time to put files away?”
“I’ll just shut the door on the files. See you in ten.”
My law practice is one floor below Tony’s in one of Seattle’s older office buildings. I love this place, the intricacy of the brick work on the outside, the detail of the tiny lobby on the inside. I’d go bat-shit crazy in one of the newer, giant office towers that cast my lovely old building into perpetual shade. They have no soul.
And soul, hard as it is to define, is one of life’s sustaining elements. It’s air, it’s water. That’s why we have The Blues. Or any of the other forms of art, my French grandmother would have said.
“Art finds for us our place in the world, gives meaning, which finds for us significance.”
Her broken English embarrassed her, but for me, the melody of it gave what she had to say even more depth.
For all these reasons I said yes and in ten minutes I was standing at the elevator door when it opened. I stepped inside just as Tony said, “Going down? Please?”
“Tony, why do you have to break the illusion I have of you as a sophisticated, dapper lawyer of intelligence and grace?”
“One of my jobs in life is to shatter delusions.”
“While you create illusions, Sweet Man?”
“Hmmmph.” Tony just snorted. Calling him ‘Sweet Man’ was a warning that I’d use what I knew to prove he was much better than the perpetually cynical, sexually avaricious, hard-nosed urban rat he put on display. He knew I had evidence.
“What’s up?” I asked as soon as we hit the sidewalk for a short walk to Mo’s at Pike Place Market.
“I need you to see a potential client.”
“Tony, do you have any idea what my case load is at the moment?” Not only buried with work, I was short handed. My assistant Sarah was on paternity leave — her partner Lily had just given birth to a baby boy. Claire said that Tony provided the semen, but that was something I didn’t want to think about one way or the other, even if it was in vitro.
“Nope. And it doesn’t matter to me. Probably not to you, either.”
That surprised me. I was silent while we walked on rain-slick Seattle streets to the eatery. I had the small backpack I use as a purse and pulled out a collapsing umbrella, offered to share the shelter, but Tony shook his head, saying “I really do like the rain.”
“I need you to see a client from out near Shipwreck Island,” said Tony when we were settled after giving Sally Jo (really) our order.
“Where in the world is Shipwreck Island?”
“Close to Vancouver Island.”
“But U.S.?” He knew I wasn’t licensed to practice law in Canada.
“Probably,” Tony said.
“Jessica, the client is a friend of mine. Just talk to him.”
“Why don’t you represent him?”
“I can’t, for several reasons. All I ask is that you talk to him. It won’t matter what day, and I guarantee he will make that day worthwhile, even if you or he decide there is nothing you can do for him.”
“You’ll guarantee this?”
“He’ll pay everything, but yes, I’ll guarantee you’ll be paid.”
I thought for several minutes while I enjoyed my fresh halibut sandwich.
Mo’s is really the best place for that. They don’t kill flavors with salt or tartar sauce, the bread is always fresh from another Pike Place bakery, and Mo’s makes their own potato chips. Yes, really, home made potato chips. Thick enough to play poker with, skin on, crisp enough to crackle and each one nearly a mouthful. I promised myself I’d only eat three, but gave myself permission to have the fourth.
I’d work it off in the gym this evening jumping rope after doing weights.
“Okay, Tony,” I said at last. “I’ll see him.”
“Thank you, Jessica. He’ll be calling you at 2 p.m.”
“Tony, how does he know I’ll to talk to him? I just decided about 30 seconds ago.”
“I told him.”
“How did you know?”
“Because, Jessica, self-interest is the only thing you can trust. And I trust yours.”
“You don’t always know everything,” I said, but that was weak and I knew that and he knew it too. The fact is, Tony Stevens knows me pretty well. And I like the fact that he does. It means there is someone I trust who has my back.
Of course, when it came down to it, even Tony couldn’t bail me out of what I was about to find.
* * *
At exactly 2 p.m. Geoffrey Quinn called me. On my cell phone.
“This is not a good way to start out,” I said as soon as he identified himself.
“I thought it best not to bother your staff,” he replied.
“Tony should never have given you my private number.”
“Mr. Stevens did not do that. You and I both know he has respect for those sorts of boundaries, even though he’d like others to believe differently.”
That pried me a little bit out of my peeve. If Quinn knew Tony that well, then perhaps I could give him a break.
“So how did you get this number?” I asked.
“Ms. Love, would it be alright if I did not go into those details? Suffice it to say it wasn’t from anyone you would know? It would be more of a distraction and I know your time is limited.”
There was something oddly charming about this man even while he exerted considerable pressure to get his way. The pressure unsettled me, the charm was intriguing.
“That will have to do, I guess,” I said. “What do you need from me, Mr. Quinn?”
“I’d like to meet with you in person to discuss a legal matter.”
“It’s 2 p.m. on Friday. How about Tuesday?” I said. I could do it after regular hours and before I went to the gym.
“Tomorrow?” he asked.
“Tomorrow is Saturday.”
“Yes, it is. I thought that would be more convenient for you. I’d like you to meet me here at my home. I’m happy to pay your full fee while in transit.”
“Shipwreck Island?” I asked, with some incredulity. That would be at least ten hours travel round trip from Seattle. And would take up almost my entire weekend.
“Near there, yes.”
“Mr. Quinn, you would be looking at nearly $5,000 just in travel time.”
There was a pause, then he chuckled.
“Ms. Love, will you meet with me tomorrow?”
“Yes, I can do that, with your guarantee you’ll pay the fee regardless of the outcome of our meeting.”
“I would be pleased to do that. Can you be at the Kenmore Air terminal on Lake Union at about 7:45 a.m.? They will take you to Friday Harbor, and my assistant will pick you up there. You will be back in Seattle by 3 pm.”
It was my turn to pause. I’d never been on a sea plane before. Though I was disappointed at not getting several thousand dollars to drive the loaner Porsche to Anacortes, the prospect of a new adventure was good compensation, as was the ability to be home and maybe go out the next night to a new club where I hoped to have a little…bit…of fun.
“Alright, Mr. Quinn. I’ll have my assistant call Kenmore Air and make arrangements. Is this the number where you can be reached if there is an issue?”
“That won’t be necessary, Ms. Love. Arrangements have already been made.”
Just then, Claire knocked softly twice on my door and came in with something in her hand. When she saw me talking on my cell phone, she started to turn away, but I motioned her over.
She put on my desk a round trip ticket on Kenmore Air from Lake Union to Friday Harbor.
“Mr. Quinn, how did you…?”
“Ms. Love, I’m so looking forward to meeting you. You have a wonderful reputation, and seem like a very interesting person. See you tomorrow?”