The story behind the story #2 – The Sweetest Thing
Continuing with the theme of sharing which of my own real-life experiences have influenced my steamy books, I bring you ‘The Sweetest Thing’; a shorter story, which forms part of the recently published compilation ‘Black Lace and Promises – Volume 3’.
This book definitely contains two of my favourite characters that I’ve written this year. Hiker Eloise accidentally-on-purpose wanders off a public right of way to explore. She ends up on multi-millionaire Leo’s ancestral estate, being threatened with criminal charges by his over-exuberant gamekeeper. But when she meets the delectable Leo himself, he is far more relaxed, asking only that Eloise accompany him to a party, in exchange for her trespassing crimes. What Eloise doesn’t immediately appreciate is that Leo struggles to walk, having previously survived a light aircraft crash, which was fatal to all other passengers.
So, which parts of this story are personal to my life experiences?
- Trespassing. Perhaps I shouldn’t formally admit this, but I’m always wandering off the beaten path and heading onto land which isn’t strictly a public right of way. I walk a lot – at least two hours every day – and I cover a lot of ground. Like Eloise, I use the time and freedom to clear my head, work through any problems I have plus, of course, write! Fortunately, where I live I’m surrounded by beautiful English countryside. Lots of woodlands and fields and narrow winding footpaths to explore. Indeed, the woodland I live next door to is just a maze of footpaths, suggesting I’m not the only person around here to wander at will! I’m not sure I’ve ever been caught though, and certainly never with such positive consequences as to meet a guy like Leo! With my luck, I’d be much more likely to be caught by the repugnant gamekeeper, Carmichael who is described in the story as follows:
“Standing above me is a stocky man who wouldn’t look out of place in a horror film. With a heavily lined face, a chipped front tooth and nicotine-stained, grey-yellow hair, I neither like the look of him, nor the leer he’s sending in my direction. No, I don’t like the look of him at all.”
- A Tenacious Tomboy. There are a few scenes in this story where Eloise certainly strikes a chord with my own characteristics. For a start, she is fiercely tenacious, simply not taking no for an answer, which I know all about. She has a certain pig-headedness about refusing to give in to a situation and fighting for what she believes is right. She is also something of a tomboy, appreciating nature and the outdoors a damn sight more than dressing up and going out. In one scene, despite being dressed in a ballgown with her hair perfectly arranged, she drags Leo onto a rollercoaster. It is only once they are starting the slow drag up to the top, that Leo offers her a clean handkerchief to wrap over her head, in an attempt to protect her hair. Just like I would be, Eloise is completely oblivious to the impact a rollercoaster ride might have on her appearance!
- Disability. In my younger years, I did a great deal of work with disabled people. It all started when I began my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, and required a ‘Service’ to undertake. Being extremely into horses, I chose to help with our local Riding for the Disabled group. Groups like this meet weekly all over the U.K. and provide those with disabilities a chance to ride horses. All the specialist kit is provided, such as harnesses and hoists, to lift the riders onto their steeds, if that is required. Each rider typically has one helper leading the horse at the front, and then additional helpers on either side of them, to keep pace as the horse walks or trots. Of course, not all disabled riders require this level of assistance; just check out the recent Paralympic Games for evidence of that! However, many riders did require assistance to be held on.
I was actively involved with riding (and later also carriage-driving) for the disabled for over a decade, all the way through my Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh awards and beyond. As a result, I saw first hand some of the intense frustration and pain that disabilities can cause a person, as well as the unexpected humour that some use, to cope with situations. I hope some of this comes across in Leo’s character in the book, for example, in this scene where Eloise attempts to get Leo to embrace the dare-devil side of his character, which has been absent since his accident, by going on a rollercoaster:
Undoubtedly we provide quite an unusual spectacle that afternoon, walking through the seaside resort in our finery; me in a bow tie and Eloise in a ballgown. It’s blatantly obvious by now that her scheming mind is operating at full power, but I’m far too happy and carefree to question her, content to simply let things play out. Eloise’s grand plan becomes crystal clear when, grinning broadly, she encourages us to join a queue for the famous roller coaster.
‘Are you game?’ she asks challengingly.
‘Oh, I’m game,’ I confirm with confidence. ‘You don’t ever need to worry about that. I am the bionic man, after all.’
‘Sweetheart, I’ve got more lumps of Titanium in me than I care to remember. Just don’t ask me to walk through an airport. I’ll probably cause a security incident.’
As we step up to the front of the queue, Eloise scrabbles in her purse for some coins.
‘Two please,’ she requests.
‘Here, let me,’ I offer, grabbing the wallet in my trouser pocket. It’s an inbuilt, automatic reflex reaction that I pay. I just always do. Any companion I’m with, particularly a girlfriend, is always well aware of my level of wealth and so expects me to pick up any expenses. It never really bothers me…well, not much.
‘It’s fine. I’ve got this,’ she replies sweetly, placing a hand over the one holding my wallet and gently rebuffing my offer. This situation is just one of a thousand examples, but to say everything about this remarkable woman makes a refreshing change is a gross understatement.
Wordlessly, we make our way towards one of the cars and I hand my crutch over to an attendant who eyes me suspiciously. I get the distinct impression he feels those with physical disabilities probably ought not to be taking any frivolous risks.
‘I test roller coasters for a living,’ I inform him with a completely straight face, as he pulls the bar across both of our laps and ensures it’s firmly fixed in place. ‘My last job was four months ago now,’ I continue to explain. ‘Unfortunately, I had to fail it on some safety aspects. It didn’t exactly end well,’ I add confidentially, pointing towards my legs. ‘I guess we can only hope this ride is more successful?’
Before the shocked attendant is able to respond, the car lurches forwards and we’re off. I’m surprised to realise that’s the first time I’ve ever been able to joke about my disabilities and I attribute the change entirely to the woman who sits giggling hysterically beside me. The sound of her laughter is priceless and only buoys me further.
‘You’re completely brilliant,’ she admits, dabbing the tears from her eyes. Her words cause my heart to soar, high and free.
‘Black Lace and Promises – Volume 3’ is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.au. It can either be purchased, or read via a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Here are the links to sign up to a free 30-day Kindle Unlimited trial on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
The latest news from Fenella Ashworth can be found at http://www.fenellaashworth.com.
Fenella is a British author of contemporary erotic romance for 18+. All of her stories are available from Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Her most popular books are ‘One Hot Wynter’s Night’, ‘To Love, Honour and…Oh Pay’ and the Daniel Lawson Series.