By DonnaG
Published: October 16, 2007

“Hold my hand. This isn’t going to be easy.”

“Nothing ever is with you! What have you done now?”

“No, come on, Jen! Hold my hand. I need to feel your fingers, your soft palm. Squeeze hard.”

“You’re sweaty. This is serious, isn’t it? You haven’t been made redundant, have you? Or … oh, Christ. It’s another woman …”

“You cook the best Shepherd’s Pie on the planet. How the hell could it be another woman? I want to tell you a secret.”

“Hon, we’ve been married for nearly twelve years. I wash your underwear and try not to comment on the smell when you come out of the bathroom. We do practically everything together. This isn’t about the way I wouldn’t …”

“… go naked under that dress out to the pub last Friday? No. I’m willing to let you get used to that idea … No. It’s … I’ve always known deep inside that I was meant to be …”

“Gay?? You can’t be … you …”

“Jen. Sweetheart. Squeeze my hand harder. Look at me … see? Not gay. Not by any stretch of anybody’s imagination.”

“You know I have a wild imagination, hon. And right now, I’m imagining way too many things … the best one of which is …”

“Uh huh. Later. I’ve written a novel.”

“A … book? About … what?”

“Yeah. Well, it’s taken me ages. Had to work away at it when nobody was paying attention at the office. And those nights you woke up and I was downstairs playing Solitaire and you joked ‘cause you thought I was looking at porn or chatting to iffy women … well, I was writing. I just always kept the Solitaire handy in the background, you know? I didn’t want anybody to find out in case I couldn’t finish the damn thing. I’ve been writing since I was fourteen. But the kind of stories I wrote weren’t very macho … no men flying around on horseback slicing off other mens’ heads. I wasn’t into the Stephen King stuff and I was sure no Hemingway.”

“Stephen King?”

“He writes horror, blood and guts and scare the crap out of you kind of books. He’s made a lot of money. You wouldn’t like it, Jen. Give you nightmares for months. No, the book I’ve written is more like … ‘Gone with the Wind’ … sort of.”

“Historical epic?”

“In a way. It’s about a castle in East Anglia where people go to enjoy themselves.”

“Oh. Like a holiday resort?”

“Like. It’s … ummm … well, I’ve sold it and it’s being released next week and I was hoping you’d come with me to the book launch. It’s in London where nobody knows us …”

“Of course I will! Ohmygawd! I can’t believe it! My husband, an author. So, what’s it called and can I read it. Where’s this launch? Do I have to dress up … there’s only that one black dress you like …”

“The black’ll be fine. It’s called ‘Dying for Punishment’. Not my choice for a title but the publishing firm insists it’ll catch the eye and …”

“Punishment? What kind of …”



“Keep squeezing my hand, Jen. You’re going all slack …”

“You mean … it’s about … whipping people’s bottoms and stuff?”

“There’s a cheque in my pocket. Made out to me even though the book’s got another name on it … they picked Carissa L. Honoria even though I liked Miranda Wonder much better …”

“Bondage? Tying people up and doing painful things to their private parts?”

“Yeah. But nobody we know is gonna know I wrote it, Jen. Trust me. The advance is £5,000. We can go on that holiday to Spain now. And I’ve proposed three more … if the first one sells at least 1,000 copies, we’re laughing.”

“Oh … my …Can I let go of your hand now, please? I need a drink. Order me a double scotch, will you?”