Thursday, 3 December 2020

Some loves we bury In shallow graves

Some loves we bury
Six feet under; buried deep,
Hail storms and thunder.
Some loves we bury
In shallow graves,
We walk away;

Though the dead
Plead and mumble,
Tongues pressing
Wet through
The dusty gravel.
We walk, we run;
We flee, we travel
Always away; because
Some loves we bury
In shallow graves,

And though the corpse
Is cold and still,
We dare not turn
Least we see
Through the dirt
Carelessly strewn

The delicate tumble
Of fingers around
A pleading palm,

Still offering love,
Begging tenderness
As an alm.
Manuela Cardiga

Monday, 17 August 2020


Had no love letters
Had no slow dance
Had me no candlelight romance

What I had
Oh what I had
Was a no-good man

Had no kisses in the moonlight
Had no sweet whispers in the night
Had me no love at first sight

What I had
Oh what I had
Was a no-good man

Can't blame anyone but myself
I took that cut-price slice of pie
Can't complain if that love was a lie

Had no sugar bitter coffee time
Had no dreams wading in slime
Had me a trial for a violent crime

What I had
Oh what I had
Was a no-good man

Can't blame anyone but myself
I let him beat me, deceive me
Couldn't let him up and leave me.

Had no love letters
Had no slow dance
Had me no candlelight romance..
And I guess I won't get no second chance
What I had, oh what I had is gone


Tuesday, 11 August 2020


You want me to love you

But there'll be no miracles tonight

Love makes you blind
Nothing can cure my sight
Seen too many heartaches
Seen way too many lies

Need a love resurrection
But there'll be no miracles tonight

Leper hearts fall to pieces
Fake messiahs tear them apart
False promises on the phone
Flesh falling from the bone

You want me to love you
But there'll be no miracles tonight

Those demons eat my soul
Only love can cast them out
But my sighted heart can see
You're not the man for me

I need a love resurrection
But there'll be no miracles tonight
No laying on of hands is going to set me right

I need a love resurrection
But there'll be no miracles,
Not one miracle tonight

So walk on baby
There'll be no miracles tonight


Saturday, 8 August 2020


Think about it: it will be 51 years tomorrow that Charles Manson's "Happy Family" started their murder spree.

The motivation behind the murders, Manson would later reveal, was to start a race war between blacks and whites, and bring down the government of the United States.

Yep, Charlie Manson is surely dancing in his grave to the cheery sound of "Helter Skelter."

He is surely grateful to all the good solid people out there who are willing to keep killing, and keep his dream alive.

Happy anniversary, Charlie!


Strange how the traveling mind
Torments the squirming soul.

Even now that she has grown
Old, and the feverish anger cold.

Even now as she sits where she wills
Drinks wine, snarls or spits;

Even now that freedom should be
Second nature:

Something in her squints
Cringes and flinches,
At the casual danger in a voice,
A face, even if a stranger.

Even now as she sits in the warmth
And the winter sun unfolds 
The pain from knees twisted
By age into fanciful shapes.

Even now she recalls 
The slap of his flesh 
And the burning sour-sticky 
Rain of his sweat.

Manuela Cardiga

Plague Season

We've forgotten
we've forgotten
The hollow ring of
"Bring out
your dead,"
And stay in bed
With a hangnail instead

We've forgotten
We've forgotten
The deadly dance
Ring a Ring o' Roses
We all fall down
Silent as ashes
To the ground

We've forgotten
We've forgotten
The sweet-hot touch
Blossoming flowers
Rancid fruit of death
Corrupting our precious flesh

It comes, it comes,
It comes again
Oh sweet dark wind
The Plague Gods arrive
Leaving neither
Righteous nor sinners alive

The Black One hovers at the gate
And cares not for wealth or state

So pray, so pray
It goes away
Plague Gods come back
Another day
Chant it loud
Chant it clear
Maybe some
Kinder God Will hear

But pick out your funeral dress
Beg and borrow
Relics of health
Streptomycin, gentamicin,
And confess, make redress
Dying sinless is best

The Plague Gods are coming
Dancing, and shrieking
So wait, wait for the screaming
And remember, remember
The rancid-voiced bell
"Bring out your dead,
and the living as well."


Thursday, 16 July 2020

Colin Kaepernick Killed George Floyd

Seriously, I mean
I blame Colin Kaepernick
It was all his fault
Wasn't it?

"Take the knee! Take the knee!"
All that blather and bother
And the dude did

He never realized
He wasn't supposed
To do it on George's neck
But then
Nobody's perfect
We're all on a learning curve, right?

Ye...Maybe that brave officer
was trying to straiten
race relations
the Kaepernick way
and now he's getting the blame.

These celebrities
Are all the same
They scream and blabber
But when the shit hits the fan
(or fans as it might be)
They are no-where near.

Ye...I blame Kaepernick
There's just one thing I don't understand
Couldn't the good officer see
that George cried uncle
When he called for his mother?

Playground rules, man.
Even Kaepernick knows that.


Thursday, 2 April 2020

Guilty Pleasures - Chapter 3

Chapter 3

One of my most surprising cases was a seventy-six year old grandmother who firmly told me she didn’t plan on dying a virgin. She’d had four children and she still felt as ignorant as a bride. The anatomical mechanics were no mystery, but the rest . . .

Her husband, a cheery, quite uninhibited, and accessible man, was horrified to discover she’d been biting the bullet for fifty-two years.  He’d firmly believed their sex life was better than fine. It was. For him.

The blame, in this case, can be firmly set at the lady’s door. She was afraid to hurt him by telling him she wasn’t aroused. She was ashamed of her unresponsiveness, and so, believing herself to be frigid, she faked her pleasure in order to ensure his. It was a recipe for disaster.

The loving husband laboured away happily believing she was in heaven, and she submitted with growing resentment, until she simply started to refuse him.

Their active sex life dwindled to nothing, until one of her granddaughters shattered all of her preconceptions by telling her casually that she was teaching her new boyfriend how to pleasure her. She resolutely sought out a solution, and came knocking at my door, looking for help in finding her missing orgasms.

—Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate

Cold as it was at four in the morning, Lance opted to top his outfit with a V-neck cashmere sweater in a soft charcoal grey. After his frugal breakfast and morning ablutions that included a clean shave down to his bellybutton, he set off for Glass Street and Millicent Deafly.

The London streets were empty with low fog settling on the corners and embracing the lampposts. It was still dark, with daybreak hours away, when Lance stepped onto the curb in front of Guilty Pleasures. It was a late nineteenth century building, with a grim, brick façade of narrow windows.

“Wilfred Peckerless?” The voice that grated out of the London fog was anything but feminine. It was, in fact, decidedly harsh and threatening.

“Um, Pecklise, Wilfred Pecklise, actually.”

“That’s what I said.” A large shadow loomed out of the mist and resolved itself into an odd, short silhouette. “I’m Serge Moreno—the cook.”

Lance’s gaze dropped down sharply as he studied the short man in front of him. “Oh. I was expecting a Miss Deafly.”

Serge’s dark visage stared up at him. “Yeah? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you! I’m the one’s gonna be running you. Might as well see if you can take the heat, eh?”

Lance winced back. “Um, I’m at your service, of course, Mr. Moreno. I’m a hard worker, and I want to learn—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know that speech! I hear it at least twice a month! There’s no work, they say. Unemployment is rife, they say, but still they quit. Well!” Serge Moreno peered up from his diminutive height. “You look like you can carry a load. Let’s try you out.” He threw him a keychain with a Toyota car key. “You ever driven a box van?”

“No, sir, but I’m sure it won’t be a problem.”

“I can’t drive, see; can’t reach the pedals. Bloody things are built for beanpoles.”

Lance nodded respectfully. “It can’t be easy, sir, you being a little person . . .”

Serge Moreno gasped in outrage. “A little person? Did you just call me a little person? I’m a fucking dwarf, boy, understand? A dwarf! There ain’t nothing little about me. Nothing.”

Lance stammered out, “S-sir . . . M-mr. Moreno . . . I’m sorry, sir. I meant no disrespect.”

“You forget that polite and politically correct bullshit with me and we’ll get on better. I call a spade a spade, and a cock a cock, get it? Now then, Willie, to the fish market!”

Serge Moreno was a curious figure. He was under four feet tall, with an oversized square head dominated by a pair of large, lucent dark eyes. He was black, wrinkled, and had the soured expression of one who has discovered his half-full glass contains mule piss. His personality seemed likewise lacking in any redeeming sweetness.

Lance decided such an unpleasant demeanour must be rooted in astonishing talent and thought it might be expedient to flatter him. “From what I understand, Mr. Moreno, you are a legend in your profession.”

“Trying to butter me up already, my lad? Forget it! I grew up on board the sorriest tramp steamer that ever sailed the Indian Ocean. I’ve seen just about every sorry kind of creature put on earth by God who calls himself a man, and the sorriest of them all is an arse-licker! So now, hang a right at the next intersection, and we’ll take it from there.”

Lance wisely maintained radio silence until they arrived, then carefully manoeuvred the van into a parking space and got out.

“Come along. You get to carry the groceries home for Mama. I’ve got a bad back, you know.”

Lance nodded and followed the small, strutting figure into the bustling market. Sounds and smells overwhelmed him. Colours blossomed in the harsh neon lights. On the tables, squirming, slapping shapes tumbled over glistening ice.

“Jerry!” Serge cried, addressing a small redheaded man with a heroic handlebar moustache. “A dozen lobsters for Millie. And throw in some sea urchins, six dozen oysters, and three or four she-crabs. Make sure you tie up their claws properly this time; I nearly lost my johnson last time!”

“Wouldn’t happen if you kept it in your pants, you old perv!” Jerry grinned and peered curiously at Lance. “Who’s this, then?”

“This here is little Willie Peckerless. My brand new muscleman.” Serge smirked suggestively and giggled at Lance’s outraged expression. “Come along, little Willie, time’s a-wasting!”

Lance picked up a large green plastic box filled with ice and shifting armoured crab shapes, balancing a smaller one filled with oysters on top, while Serge took charge of a small container full of spiky sea urchins.

“Sweets for the sweet, and pricks . . .” Jerry cried out as they moved away.

Lance heard Serge reply in some guttural language, drawing a shout of laughter from the redheaded man.

Serge watched with an eagle eye as Lance carefully placed the boxes in the back of the van. “Now, little Willie, fruit and vegetables!”

“Mr. Moreno, I really would rather you called me Wilfred!”

“Ticked off already, are you?” Serge scrunched contentedly into the van. “I knew you couldn’t take no shit! Written all over you!”

Lance was indignant. “Sir, I’m not a quitter!”

“Well, Willie little, that’s what we’ll see! Right, left, left again at the third intersection, and step on it!”

Lance followed Serge’s curt instructions and drove them briskly to the greens’ wholesalers where Serge bought a great variety of vegetables and fruit. Lance had never even seen some of the colourful produce before. He disregarded Serge’s brash behaviour and immersed himself in the intoxicating new scents rising all around him. He struggled to identify them: peach, melons, sweet apples, oranges, limes, and pineapple. Other strange and exotic perfumes overwhelmed him. He turned to find Serge watching him.

“Like wine, ain’t it?”

“Yes. Like wine.” Lance smiled back, surprised by the sweetness of the dwarf’s smile.

“Come along, Willie, more to do!” They took their purchases back to the van and settled them in carefully. “Now, some coffee before sunup!” Serge directed him to a small café on the waterfront.

A plump woman greeted Serge affectionately and settled them at a small table by the window. Without asking, she brought over a large plate heaped with delicate sugar-dusted pastries and a pot of steaming coffee. She poured out the first round into small china cups and left with a smile.

Serge smacked his lips and shuddered at his first taste. “It’s crap without sugar, but if I want to eat my pastries, I’ve gotta cut down somewhere, or else Millie’ll burn my arse. Eat up, my man!”

Lance found the coffee hot and delicious, and he thought the pastries, though sugar loaded, were nonetheless delectable parcels of unidentified delights.

“Italian pastries, my boy. Good shit.” Serge swallowed the last pastry on the plate, licked his fingers, and burped hugely. “Let's go, Willie Wanker. Gotta get to Guilty Pleasures before eight.”

Lance was starting to enjoy the foulmouthed little man. His salty language was refreshing after years of sensitivity, sweet talk, and suggestive flirtation.

Parking in the loading zone, Lance opened the back doors of the van and began unloading the boxes onto the curb in front of Guilty Pleasures. Just as he was carefully manoeuvring the box of restless crustaceans out without soaking his cashmere sweater, he heard Serge address someone behind him.

“Morning, darling! Got everything you wanted! Juicy Jerry came through like always!”

“Good morning, Serge. Excellent! It’s going to be quite a day! Are you going to introduce me?”

“Miss Millie, this here is my new assistant, little Willie Peckerless.”

Lance felt a deep wash of heat rising up the back of his neck. He turned around quickly and found himself looking down at a short, pleasantly plump woman with a contrite smile he recognized as Millicent Deafly.

“Serge, behave!” she said.

Serge chortled evilly.

“It’s quite all right, Miss Deafly,” Lance said. He slanted a grin at the dwarf. “Mr. Moreno and I are coming to an understanding.”

“You wish, Willie Wanker, you wish!”

Grinning, Lance followed Serge up the oak-panelled stairway to the first floor.

“This way; I’ll show you what goes where,” Millicent said, smiling.

“Why, darling, at his age I expect he knows!” Serge smirked.

“Shush, Serge! That’s quite enough now,” Millicent scolded.

Lance grinned and followed them into the heart of Guilty Pleasures.

The kitchen was large, well lit, and with shining aluminium workstations running around three sides of it. Some of the counters had a running step alongside, which Lance immediately saw was for Serge’s benefit. The stoves, with their huge stainless steel exhausts, gleamed. A calm, tranquil atmosphere permeated the airy space.

“So, Wilfred, has Mr. Moreno discussed pay and work conditions with you?” Millicent’s voice was calm, melodious.

“No, Miss Deafly. Not yet. I think he was waiting to see if I lasted the morning.”

“I see. Well, like I said in the ad, the hours are odd, but the salary is quite reasonable, plus we offer benefits and health insurance. You will be expected to be here in the early morning to do the shopping—our daily purchase of fresh supplies—usually from four to eight. After that, you can go home until three in the afternoon when you will return to work. You will help Serge in the kitchen and to set up the meal up until whenever the dinner ends. Helping Serge entails you driving him wherever he needs to go; also you get to chop, carry, and clean for him as needed. Is this all right?”

Lance nodded.

“We do only dinners, Tuesday to Saturday. Sundays and Mondays are off. We sometimes deliver to special customers, and you’d be doing that, too. I must explain something to you: Guilty Pleasures is not a restaurant and we are not open to the public.”

Lance raised an enquiring eyebrow. “You’re not?”

“No. We are a members-only private dinner club, Wilfred. Our philosophy is to give our members an unparalleled culinary and sensory experience, in privacy. What happens at Guilty Pleasures stays in Guilty Pleasures. As I said, you will be primarily assisting Mr. Moreno. We have a maître d’, Mr. Hendricks, and he handles the waitressing staff in the dining rooms. I’m mostly involved with liaising with the club members and suppliers, and working with our decorator to create the ambiance they desire. The heavy cleaning gets done by a professional crew after hours, but the kitchen will be your province.”

Lance nodded. “That sounds just fine, Miss Deafly.”

“I’m not going to gild the pill here, Wilfred. Mr. Moreno is not an easy man to work with. He uses up a lot of assistants, and your work experience is not exactly what I was looking for, so I’d like to wait a few weeks to see how you fit in with the rest of the team before we sign a contract. Though you will still be paid, of course, but you will be on a probationary status for the first three months. Your benefits would start after you’ve completed this period. Does that seem acceptable to you?”

Lance took a deep breath and was about to agree when Millie interrupted.

“And we can hold off on doing all the hiring paperwork for now—contracts and such[e1] —just until we are all satisfied it’s going to work out for you at Guilty Pleasures.”

Lance smiled. “That seems very sensible, Miss Deafly. When do I start?” he asked.

She laughed. “Why, you already have! Be back here at three this afternoon, and please call me Millie.”

“Thank you, Millie. Please call me Will.” Lance smiled shyly and glanced down bashfully. Yikes! The entire front of his trousers, groin and inner thighs were soaked with the fishy-smelling runoff from the ice packing of the dastardly crabs. So much for a gallant exit. Backing toward the door, Lance nodded to Millie and Serge. “Three o’clock then, Miss . . . I mean Millie. Mr. Moreno.”

Millie waved good-bye, and Serge gifted him with a snarly smile.

Lance walked down the stairs. He definitely had to rethink Wilfred’s wardrobe, and wear something more suitable for the job—such as heavy duty denim—from now on.


Back at his apartment, Lance thought about his day. Hmm, not bad for the first contact. The woman was quite acceptable. Not a stunner, but her eyes were kind and her smile mischievous. Her skin was quite lovely, and she projected a sensuous warmth. Her figure was definitely on the lush side, but pleasantly so. Millie was not at all what he had been expecting from her picture. He found himself quite liking her. Things might just work out. With a bit of luck, he would worm himself into her affections, and seduce her.

Lance decided Wilfred would take up cotton boxers, and leave Lance’s silk G-string thongs in the drawer. There were a myriad of new skills to be acquired, and solutions to be found. His immediate future, it seemed, would be full of the weird and the unexpected. An immersion in a strange new world far from the rigid and rigorous structure he had created for himself. Yes, things would work out.

Lance shook his head to dispel a sudden vision of Millicent Deafly’s clear, honest gaze, and dived headfirst into writing his book, taking on the challenging task of trying to explain women to men, getting Venusians and Martians, if not onto the same planet, at least into the same bed.


“Do you think he’s going to work out, Serge?” Millie asked as Lance walked away.

“Too soon to tell, darling,” Serge said, staring at Lance’s backside. “But he sure looks yummy . . .”

Millie laughed. “I’m going home to take a nap, Serge. You behave yourself!”


From the Diary of Millicent Deafly:

I had a great morning today.

I got the confirmation for the Fifth Annual Food Fest for Fashion Victims dinner for thirty five supermodels, none of whom are anorexic or bulimic, according to their relevant psychiatric reports.

Serge actually liked the new assistant, Wilfred, and says he has a nose. Wilfred seems pleasant, but vaguely geeky, like Pee-Wee Herman on steroids! He has nice eyes, though, and a sweet smile. I hope he lasts.

In other news, I had lunch with dearest Mum. She took me to one of those horrendous places where you pick out your food from a menu that lists the calories before the price.

Mother looked splendid—perfection, as always. I’m happy to report she was in fine fettle and she weighed me to the last ounce, commenting I had gained a “little” weight.

She then proceeded to praise my perfect peach velvet skin with a distinct tone of sour grapes in her voice, then kindly advised me to be careful about my breath. But, of course, she was only telling me this out of concern for my well-being. Because she loves me, and doesn’t want me to go through the pain of rejection . . . again.

Ugh! Being with her was really unpleasant.

Ah! I nearly forgot. Our visit wouldn’t be complete without her questioning me if I had met anyone, or tried to meet anyone. She also asked me if I had considered speed dating, or maybe tried the Internet. When I sighed, she told me that a woman like me, especially at my age, couldn’t be choosy.

I told her I didn’t want anyone. But of course, she told me that the frigid facet of my personality must have been inherited from my father.

It took everything in me not to throw my drink at her and walk out, so instead, I ordered a nine-hundred calorie sundae for dessert. She sat in furious disapproval, biting at her augmented lips. I can’t tell you how good that sugar tasted.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020


Chapter 2

Never twiddle nipples. Always caress with your fingers or thumb.
Nipples are not knobs. Clitorises are not knobs.
Do not tweak and strum frantically at a woman’s clitoris.
Both respond best to slow, almost-there-never-quite-arrive caresses.
Try to tease, tantalise. You may be firm, but never coarse.

—Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate

His cell rang. It sounded just like an old-fashioned telephone ring tone. “Jane, hello! Are you well? How goes it?”

“Fantastic, darling, and you?”

“Great! I have this new client actually, which is why I’m calling. I hear you’ve been to Guilty Pleasures.”

“You hear right! Jake and I are devotees! It’s amazing! Are you enrolling some lucky girl?”

“Um no, I mean to say . . . I need this to be for your ears only, Jane.”

“Lance, mum’s the word!”

“I’ve been hired to do an Awakening . . .”

Dead silence greeted his revelation, followed by a giggle. “For Millie? You are Awakening Millicent Deafly?”

“Now, Jane, you know I can’t reveal who or what I’ve been hired for.”

“It is Millie! Oh, Lance, my dear man, you have no idea! Millie is just so . . . it’s hard to imagine you can . . . well, one word of advice, dab soy sauce on your pulse points and garlic oil on your nipples! I can’t imagine she’ll notice you unless you’re edible!”

Lance laughed. “Jane, my dear, really! Soy sauce indeed! Where exactly is the restaurant?”

“It’s not a restaurant. I mean, it’s a sort of place you go to eat . . . I mean really eat. Millie doesn’t do that chic cuisine where you starve half the time. It’s real food, lots of calories, high cholesterol, loads of sugar, an absolute shot to the liver, which is why you’re only allowed in once a month . . .”


“Well, by Millie, of course. She’s really strict. Anyway, it’s on Glass Street, number 36, I think. I’ll check for you.”

“Thanks, Jane. Lunch on Tuesday as usual?”

“Of course, Lance dear! See you there! Kiss-kiss!”

Thoughtfully, Lance switched off his cell. Soy sauce, indeed! He knew how to get a woman’s attention and soy sauce was definitely not it.

Lance took a prolonged shower to remove the remnants of the dastardly pheromone spray. Refreshed and with his annoying rash carefully covered in pink calamine lotion, Lance went back to the drawing board. Casually meeting Millicent was out. As a client, he could only have access to her once a month, so what else?

He opened the Guilty Pleasures site once more. A Help Wanted button was flashing in the upper right-hand corner. He clicked on it and read the ad.

Wanted: Cook’s slave and general ASSISTANT. Only strong men (or really muscular Slavic women) need apply. Hearing-impaired welcome. Excellent salary, great health insurance, No experience required. Apply through this site.

Maybe . . . working for her could work. Unrestricted access, physical closeness . . . yes. That would be it. Lance positioned the pointer and hit enter with a masterful tap.

“In like Flynn!” he exclaimed. Lance read the ad through twice. It was witty, whimsical, quite charming . . .

He clacked away industriously, looking for, rectifying, and uploading a bogus resume and cover letter. He pondered several false names and settled on Wilfred. It was a good name. Wilfred Pecklise. Yes, that was it!Wilfreds are nonthreatening and reliable. He hit send and he was on his way.

Yes, this was perfect. A reluctant client was most accessible where she was most confident and relaxed. Often people who flinched from social interaction were more open in a work environment where their abilities were enhanced and their guard was down, as evidenced by the overwhelming number of in-office affairs.

Now to build Wilfred Pecklise into a creditable, likable, and hireable personage. Glasses? Maybe . . . no. No glasses; it was too nerdy. It seemed to him that a Wilfred would be preppy, shy, sensitive, and unaware of just how good-looking he was. Rather like a young man he had once been: a long since forgotten young Lance.

Lance softened his hairdo. He would go for a gangly and vulnerable look with an underlying hint at a hidden dark sensuality. He proceeded to his walk-in closet and started working on Wilfred’s image. Jeans? No.

Lance picked out pleated pants in a fifties cut, and a ton-sur-ton burgundy-striped bowling shirt, buttoned up to the neck but with very short sleeves that revealed his muscular arms to perfection. He added two-toned shoes in cream and ox-blood red. A retro chic and bookish, preppy image was absolutely perfect for his alter ego, Wilfred Pecklise.

Lance smiled sexily at the mirror. No. Too seductive. Wilfreds are not overtly sexy. They creep in under the radar, and hit you when you’re not looking.

He smiled endearingly and rubbed at his nose. That was it! That’s the expression he was looking for, Wilfred’s trademark mannerism. For his scent, Lance hesitated. Pheromones were a no-no. He somehow doubted Millicent was into Carolina Herrera. He decided on going unscented.

A few hours later, his computer pinged. He accessed his e-mail’s in-box and scrolled down a long list of messages. Several were from grateful clients, and one was a long rant from his mother complaining that he never called.

Lance scrolled down further, skipping several ads, and read through three new referrals from a fellow therapist. There was also a message from George, his best—and only—male friend, asking him out for a booze-up. And finally the last message made him smile. “Yes!”Lance cried and opened an e-mail from Millicent Deafly.

Mr. Wilfred Pecklise, kindly present yourself at four in the morning tomorrow at number 36, Glass Street in Westminster City for an on-the-job interview/tryout for Guilty Pleasures.

Don’t be late.

Best regards, Millicent Deafly

Fantastic. The sooner the better. He’d have to forgo his morning run, reschedule a meeting with his ghostwriter—a harried single mother of three who was bravely helping him write his ground-breaking self-help/how-not-to book for men: Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate—and skip his afternoon visit with his gran. Lance decided to keep the day free in case his interview ran longer than expected.

Calm, confident and relaxed, Lance sat down to his raw all-bran and cabbage salad, took his multivitamin complex tabs and did his pre-bedtime exercise routine.

Arms pumped, abdominal muscles admirably defined, Lance smiled in the full-length mirror in his gym. Life was good and going according to plan.


“You headed home, Millie?” Serge asked.

“Yes, finally! You did an amazing job cooking alone today. But don’t worry, I’ve set up a new tryout for tomorrow morning—a Wilfred Pecklise. He’ll meet you here at four tomorrow morning. Please behave, Serge! We need someone to actually stay.” She leaned down to kiss him. “See you tomorrow, love.”

Shamefaced but unrepentant, Serge scowled. “Namby-pamby idjits! I’ll try, okay, Millie? G’night, sweet-pea!”

Millie rubbed at her tired shoulders, sighed, and shouldered her handbag. She walked down the steps and out into the chill London night.

From the Diary of Millicent Deafly:

Dinner went well tonight, though I must remember to reinforce the no-plate-licking rule. Otherwise tonight I hosted quite a reasonable group, though they swore like troopers and drank like fishes. The new Portuguese white wine from the Alentejo went down very well and really complemented the zuppa caprese.

For tomorrow’s dinner, Jackson Rivers confirmed for a French Baroque supper for twelve—Louis XV style—with a string quartet and bel-canto performer. I must get more candles and more Veuve Clicquot champagne—at least three cases.

His wife, Charlene, wants breakfast in bed at nine in the evening with hot chocolate and buttered croissants with blueberry compote and clotted cream served by a dwarf in livery and powdered wig! And where on earth can I get my hands on a Louis XV canopied bed at the last minute? I wonder if I can talk you-know-who into putting on a wig?

God! I must remember to reinforce the no-sex-on-the-premises rule, especially with a bed there. This whole sensual immersion/culinary experience we offer at Guilty Pleasures seems to stimulate the gonads as much as the taste buds.

In kitchen news, another one of Serge’s assistants quit. He’s the third one this month, but at least this one didn’t call the police. Serge stuck to verbal abuse this time, and no sharp objects were involved. God be thanked for small mercies.

Luckily, I got a new applicant today, and I’m starting him out tomorrow. I hope Serge behaves—as much as he can. We really must get a more permanent arrangement. This constant training of new helpers is very unsettling, and bad for business.

Also, Mother called wanting to schedule our monthly torture session. God only knows why I still agree to these little encounters with her. It does me absolutely no good. She will start criticising me the moment she sees me: my hair, my nails, my weight, not to mention my personality, my values, and who knows what else.

She will then proceed to tell me all about her friend’s daughters’ stellar achievements, how many children they have produced, and how happy other women are to have such successful children. Then she will really sharpen the knives and start on Father: his inadequacies, his weakness, and of course, how I inherited all those traits from him.

My lovely cannibal mother.

Still, I can’t say no to her. I agreed to see her for lunch tomorrow at one o’clock sharp.

Oh, Shakespeare, forgive me. “Come, you Spirits that dwell on human thought . . . fill me from crown to toe with heavenly patience . . .” Lady Macbeth would have sorted this out, no sweat.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020



Lance Packhard, sex therapist, the world’s number one G-spot sleuth and premier undercover man, was flummoxed. Never in his long career had he been faced with such a challenge.

Millicent Deafly—his mark—ignored him. Him. It seemed almost impossible. Instead of eyeing his magnificent body, Millicent was lasciviously fondling a cucumber. Her eyes misted. Her delicate pink
tongue flicked over her pouty lower lip.

“Yes. Oh, yes!” she whispered. “Tonight, yes . . .”

Lance had spent the last hour following her through the local supermarket trying to get her attention, to no avail. Millicent ignored him at the fruit and vegetables section, and at gourmet cheeses he deliberately brushed up against her back, murmured an apology in his huskiest bedroom voice, and accomplished nothing.

Undeterred, he followed her to the wine section, where he attempted prolonged eye contact. Alas, she always seemed to be looking in another direction, and Lance found himself trailing her into the Seafood Court.

There, he liberally doused himself with a powerful pheromone spray he usually avoided using because of the unpleasant side effects. But again nothing happened. Nada.

All he got was a serious skin rash from the pheromone spray and a multitude of lustful supermarket attendants—not all female—insisting on giving him a “hand.”

Lance should have known when he first saw Millicent that she was trouble—big trouble. In fact, he should have known before. He’d never been hired by a mother. Husbands hired him, lovers, concerned friends, even someone’s boss once, but never a mother.

Something in the almost always competitive mother/daughter synergy precluded a mother from fixing her daughter up with a man she fancied herself, and let’s face it, Lance was well aware that all women fancied him.

From his dark, silken hair to his sinewy—and talented—toes, he was regarded as prime genetic material, and he had improved on nature’s bounty. He worked out four times a week—running for an hour each morning before sun-up—and rigorously watched his diet. He used a moisturiser, a hair conditioner, and carefully barbered his muscular chest and abdomen, while cultivating a becoming three-day scruff. All this was in addition to a six-foot-three lean and mean frame, a sculpted face with dreamy green eyes, and a sulky, sarcastic mouth.

Everything about him screamed absolute bastard and he came across as absolutely irresistible.

And what happens when an irresistible object collides with an indifferent target? Something’s gotta give . . .

Chapter 1

If you have never explored the hidden depths, or valiantly searched for the Holy G, fear not . . . the cavalry is here!

—Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate

Lance struggled valiantly with inspiration and was deep into chapter twenty-three, “Go for the G-Spot,” of his revolutionary how-not-to book, Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate, when his phone rang.

“Lance Packhard.”

“Mr. Packhard, it’s Gwen Spencer from the Willow Bend Clinic.”

“Mrs. Spencer? My gran is . . . is something wrong?”

“No, Mr. Packhard, not at all. Mrs. Pecklise is as well as can be expected for a woman of her age, and in her clinical condition. The problem . . .” She paused, trying to word things delicately. “Um . . . I really hate to do this, Mr. Packhard, but you’re overdue by two months. We have a rather strict policy. We provide the best care, and that is most costly. We cannot carry patients. If the settlement is not made by the end of the week, we shall need to ask you to remove Mrs. Pecklise from our facility.”

“Mrs. Spencer, please, I just need a little more time! I have some assets I’m trying to liquidate, but I can’t acquire the funds overnight. Would you consider depositing my art collection with you as surety?”

“I’m afraid not, Mr Packhard. Settlement in full, for the last two months, and don’t forget next month is due in two weeks’ time.”

“I won’t.”

“Thank you, Mr. Packhard.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Spencer. I’ll be there on Friday.”

“I look forward to seeing you then.”

Desperate, Lace ran his hands through his hair. Three months? That came out to a little over nine thousand pounds. He already had his car on the market, and he had been trying to sell some of his art collectibles for several months now, but in this financial climate, people just weren’t buying.

Busy as he was with his clients, he just wasn’t making ends meet. His last hope was tied into the self-help book he was writing. When he handed in the bloody edit, he would get the first instalment of his advance, but he was at least two months away from that.

Somehow, he had to come up with the money and fast. But since when did money rain from the sky? He sighed.

By three o’clock, he was busy juggling numbers in his accounts when his appointment arrived. They exchanged very short pleasantries before she got straight to business.

Mrs. Deafly, an elegant platinum blonde in her sixties who exuded perfection, deliberately leaned forward in her chair and fixed a cool, analytical eye on Lance. “Mr. Packhard, I want a grandchild and I am prepared to pay handsomely for it.”

“I’m afraid you’ve been misled, Mrs. Deafly. I don’t do impregnations. I do Awakenings. You know, help women get in touch with their senses, unlock their sensuality, and awaken their libido. Whatever you may have been led to believe, I do not touch or engage in any sexual or physical contact with the client,” Lance explained.

“Mr. Packhard, my daughter is not interested in sex. Not with men, not with women. I even gave her a Great Dane three years ago to see if her inclinations steered that way, but nothing attracts her. If she’s not into sex, I can’t get her to procreate.”

“That’s unfortunate, but I fail to see how I can—”

“We are the last of our line, Mr. Packhard—a fertile and lusty line, I might add. I could tell you some stories . . . but the truth is that I am faced with the extinction of my way of life. Unfortunately, my late husband’s grandfather had the ridiculous idea of entailing his estate. Under the provisions of that entail, my children need to reproduce and continue our family line before their fortieth birthday. My son is forty-two, and has gone from being high on drugs to being high on God. My daughter is thirty-six. It’s now or never.”

“Mrs. Deafly, I’m sorry but—”

“Now you see, Mr. Packhard, if I don’t have a grandchild, control of Deafly Enterprises passes from my hands in four years’ time. I know all about your financial situation, and I am prepared to pay you handsomely for your services.”

Lance shifted uneasily. “Mrs. Deafly, my financial situation is not up for discussion—”

“Mr. Packhard, as profitable and successful as your practice is, it does not come close to your actual financial needs, does it?” Her perfectly shaped head swiveled on her long neck, taking in the pristine expanse of the office’s exquisitely decorated open space full of artwork: the early Francis Bacon on the wall, the Lucian Freud hanging opposite it, and the tiny Paula Rego of a girl kneeling with spread thighs, arched back on an artist’s easel in a corner.

“I regret you—”

“You have expensive tastes. Very expensive tastes indeed, but I must admit, quite exquisite!”

“Mrs. Deafly, thank you for your praise and the offer, but I must refuse. Unless of course you’d be interested in purchasing some of my art pieces.”

“I have no need for art, Mr. Packhard. I was commenting on your financial situation. You have, as I said, exquisite taste: refined and most expensive. Which is all wonderful, but you also have a huge mortgage on one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world, a 1936 Aston Martin in a garage, a grandmother who has recently—and most inconveniently—been diagnosed with an incapacitating degenerative disease—”

“Mrs. Deafly! My family is not your concern!”

The lavishly elegant hand lifted in dismissal. “An absurdly expensive degenerative disease, requiring twenty-four hour care. The elderly are so inconsiderate! All that lovely lolly you’d so diligently squirreled away over the years—an impressive amount, or so my investigators informed me. How unfortunate it just vanished in that pesky financial crash everyone seems to go on and on about.”

“Mrs. Deafly—”

“You are on the very edge of bankruptcy, Mr. Packhard. Within a few months you’ll lose all this, and your grandmother goes into NHS care—well if she’s still alive, poor thing.”

Lance stood up. “Madam, I must ask you to leave.”

Mrs. Deafly leaned back deliberately in her chair. “How unfortunate that you are counting on writing yourself a best seller. A dicey venture for a man who likes betting on sure things.”

Lance slowly sat down. Could this woman somehow be the reason why no one was offering to buy his artwork? “What do you want? It’s obvious you’ve gone to a lot of trouble over me.”

“I’m so glad you asked. I’m suggesting you use that talent of yours in a truly profitable way.” Mrs. Deafly ran a caressing hand down her own throat and smiled. “You come highly recommended, Mr. Packhard. Here is an opportunity to use your talents, all your talents.” The perfectly delineated lips curved. “It won’t hurt, Mr. Packhard. All that’s needed is one little prick, and all your problems will be solved. For life.”

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but my answer is—”

“Three million, Mr. Packhard. Payable on completion of your assignment. Here is ten thousand pounds, your monthly allowance for your time and expenses.” She handed him an envelope. “I don’t expect you to labour unrewarded. So do tell me, Mr. Packhard, are you the man for the job? Are you up for it?”

Lance gasped. Three million? And ten thousand right now? He could keep Gran at the clinic, wipe out his debt, and retire before his thirty-sixth birthday. He could have a life. Holy smoke, but a child? The thought of a child—his child—growing in a strange woman’s body was repugnant to him. And getting paid for it like a whore was worse. It would be the perfect solution, but no. He couldn’t. He shouldn’t.

But what if he took the money now, did an Awakening, and reneged on the rest of the deal later? He could treat the venture as a loan and as soon as the money for his book came in, he’d tell Mrs. Deafly she could go suck an egg, and throw the cash back in her face. But right now, Gran needed him.


Lance took a deep breath. “Well, Mrs. Deafly, I’ve never done this sort of thing before, but you have piqued my interest. I will certainly do my best to make an attempt to approach . . .”

“That’s all fine and good, Mr. Packhard, but I am a businesswoman. I pay for results. You will receive the rest of the money as a monthly bank transfer into your account. Don’t worry about giving me your banking details, I have them already.” She handed him another envelope. “Here are my daughter’s particulars: name, home address, and current photo.”

Lance stretched out his hand to take the envelope, hesitating for a second. “You understand, Mrs. Deafly, that there are, of course, no guarantees. There is a strong possibility I will not succeed, and I’d like to discuss my legal obligations? If there is a child?”

“As for legal obligations, rest assured you will have none. I intend to have full custody of my grandchild. All responsibility will be mine.” Mrs. Deafly dabbed carefully at the corners of her artfully made-up eyes and uncrossed her shapely ankles. “Please, Mr. Packhard, you are my very last hope.”

Lance noticed Mrs. Deafly had not once referred to her daughter by name. Curious, he slipped the photo of the daughter—Millicent Deafly—and ID form from the envelope.

Yikes. Poor girl. The photo was a ten by fifteen inch colour glossy. Millicent Deafly stood precariously balanced on her toes on a windy shingle beach, clutching a broad-brimmed white hat to her head. Yikes again.

Millicent had a round face with pretty, dark eyes and a sultry, pouty mouth. She was also not a low-fat-no-sugar person. Her five-foot-three frame was well fleshed, with full rounded hips and thighs, and she obviously didn’t go to the gym.

Well, Lance had faced bigger challenges. He winced. What is that peeking out from under the edge of her black fifties-style bathing suit? Yep. It was the dreaded bane of butts and thighs: cellulite.

He continued perusing the photo, but nowhere did he find any evidence that Millicent had ever had any kind of surgical interventions or improvements. She was, in fact, completely au natural from her small breasts to her very generous hips. It was unusual, almost unheard of, and quite unlike her very polished and well-tucked mother.

It was time to make a plan.

Lance started out by investigating Millicent’s background. Like any good detective, he set a search engine on her trail on the Internet. There she was. There were lots of references to her business, Guilty Pleasures. The site had no contact information. There was just one way you could get in and that was to be invited, through personal referral only. Weird. Very mysterious.

Customers’ comments on the site were mostly anonymous—with a sprinkling of famous entertainment-industry names—and looked like they were mostly from women. They featured gushy statements about how Millicent had changed their lives, broadened their sensual horizons, and braved new frontiers.

What in the world does this woman do?

Aha! Halfway down the commendation list he saw a name he knew: Jane De Mondio, who was an ex-client and current friend of his. Lance had met Jane when her current husband—her fifth—had hired him for an Awakening. Jane was a lovely, bright, and well-known television actress. At fifty-two, she was stunning and confident, and had responded astonishingly well to Lance’s methods. They became fast friends and did lunch regularly. In fact, a remarkable number of Lance’s new clients seemed to be Jane’s friends or acquaintances.

He could talk to her as she was very discreet and canny. Her insight would be invaluable. He reached for his cell. “Jane baby, call me. I need to chat!” He left the message on her voice mail and got back to studying Millicent Deafly.

Upon further investigation, he discovered that Guilty Pleasures seemed to be some kind of restaurant or dinner club. Enrolment was by referral only, according to the site, and subject to medical and psychiatric evaluation. Health issues were elimination factors, as were any kind of eating disorders.

Obviously Millicent had something going. Evidently, he would have to get onto that list to make her acquaintance. Lance was confident. He would do an Awakening, leave the rest to chance and nature. Soon, very soon, he would be hard at work building Millicent’s libido and releasing her pent-up sensuality. All he really had to do was worm his way into her confidence and buy some time before he finished his book, so he could pay back Mrs. Deafly in full. He was sure the harpy would be having him watched like a hawk and he needed to keep the cash flowing for at least three months. He would have to be seen to be hard at work.

Unaware that her peace of mind was about to be rudely shattered, Millicent Deafly proceeded with the tranquil routine of her well-structured and most satisfying life. Humming softly, she walked into her pretty little townhouse, placed her groceries on her kitchen counter, and turned on her radio. Kicking off her shoes, she poured herself a glass of red wine and walked to her desk—a lovely rosewood eighteenth-century antique, a gift from her father.

Millicent opened her diary. It was a large hand-bound linen-paper relic, with a fine-tooled Moroccan leather cover in deep red. She sat down and opened it, smoothing the page and rolling her pen between her slender fingers.

A huge black and white Great Dane wandered in and threw itself under the desk with a heartfelt sigh, rolling onto its back and groaning in ecstasy as she gently scratched at its belly with her bare toes.

“Hello, Horse baby. Come to share Mummy’s thoughts?”

The dog snuffled and licked her ankles. Nibbling on her full lower lip, Millicent ordered her thoughts, made ready her square-nibbed fountain pen, and proceeded to unwind the day’s happenings in graceful scrolled loops of lilac ink across the creamy page.

From the Diary of Millicent Deafly:

Today was a great day.

I found a supreme cucumber. It was firm, had perfect diameter and length, great colour, and absolutely no blemishes. It was perfect for accompanying ground slow-roasted lamb—with rosemary, of course, and a garlic yogurt dressing, saffron rice, topped with melted goat’s cheese, and with a side dish of caraway seeds and dates. Would wild honey and orange zest be too much? Or maybe pine nuts?

I must not overdo the condiments, though I must experiment. I’m really excited about the big do tomorrow.

Freaky thing happened, though. This really weird man followed me around the supermarket all afternoon—sleazy type, smelled bad, too. I was about to call security, but the supermarket staff must have caught on and chased him away.

I came home and puttered around in the kitchen, watered the orchids, curled up with that new book I was recommended, and took Horse out for a walk. The bloody animal nearly tore my arm off chasing a Chihuahua. Thank God he’s actually quite a gentle sort: all size, no rage. What on earth possessed Mother to give me a Great Dane, I’ll never know.

We walked to Nunhead Cemetery and put some lovely, sunny daffodils on Daddy’s grave. I miss him so much, more it seems with each passing year. Horse and I walked around between those lovely old mausoleums, and I could just imagine Victorian ghosts peering out through the lacy ferns with reddened eyes and skeletal fingers, weeping for dead lovers.

We went home and had a quiet dinner: roast lamb for me, a pound of steak tartare for Horse. I’ll admit to the better part of an excellent bottle of Shiraz . . .

All in all, despite the stalker, it was a lovely and quiet day off from work.