A collection of 5 short stories by David Russell. 

Seductive Semaphore: Fashion Designer Bethesda and journalist Hector live opposite each other, with windows facing. They make initial contact through visible, provocative gestures. Soon afterwards, they get direct contact when Hector assists Bethesda with her folio. She invites him round to model for some of her fashion creations, and proceeds to seduce him. The seduction continues with a ritual visit to a sports centre, and then to a beach. They leave it open as to whether their relationship could ever become long-term. 

The Heroine and the Author: Dreamer Hecate discovers she has a terminal illness. She wants to make the most of the time she has left by being celebrated in literature as a charismatic, legendary figure. She meets Ferdinand, a ghost writer, who is happy to undertake this massive project with her. In the process, She gets an idea of his physique through jogging and the fitness centre. Then there is a seduction scene inspired by the literary models of Sappho and Donne. Being ‘open-minded’, they make a pact for each one to go and have a sexual adventure – his hetero, hers lesbian. Their relationship is enhanced by this extra dimension. 

Dreamtime Sensuality: Romona, highly literary and highly inhibited, goes to an exotic island location. She deeply desires a passionate encounter. At the Pension where she stays, she meets Stefano, who fulfils her requirements exactly. The proprietress of the Pension picks up on Romona’s shyness, and gives her reassurance, including some practice in the art of kissing. Romona orchestrates an elaborate beach seduction scenario, and they are both fulfilled. They never meet again, but their exchange of emails and text messages goes on indefinitely. 

Dancing with Danger: Verona is a Scriptwriter and Gareth an archaeologist. They both have ‘retreats’ near the coast, and discover their common interests. Verona contrives a half-seduction on a deserted beach, wearing 18th century retro gear – related to their common interests. After some further encounters, they give each other a ‘dare’ to go and have a really risky encounter with someone really dodgy. Gareth finds a young woman on the run. Verona has a rapturous encounter with someone who gets hauled in by the police, suspected of terrorism. She uses her charm on the interrogating police officer to extricate herself. So Verona and Gareth both meet up again, to tell their respective tales. 

Art and Life: “Sometimes it feels marvellous to escape from the stresses of life into art, and get recharged by turning away from life. But on occasion, the work of art can be invigorated by facing those stresses head-on. After all, fire was discovered through friction.” This is an intrigue centered on two women, Hermione and Persephone, and two men, Ingmar and Lysander. All four are extremely good looking, and Hermione is a talented artist and fashion designer. She restores confidence to Persephone, whose self-esteem has been shattered by abuse, by drawing her and persuading her to model. In parallel, the two men, having been scarred by their relationships, become mutually supportive. The process of recovery culminates in a euphoric foursome.

From The Heroine and the Author

The next step must fuse art and life. The next scenario she devised involved them doing readings from erotic literature to each other. They dressed up for the session — he in his smartest suit, she in full evening dress.

Hecate read some verses of Sappho, which she felt totally appropriate to his slender grace, so nearly androgynous. She quoted a phrase demanding his fixed, concentrated stare into her eyes. The eye contact was clinched. Hecate’s introduction was a quote from her.

Ferdinand responded to the prompt; he clearly knew what he had to do — gradually, at intervals, he removed his garments one by one as she breathily read the hypnotic, seductive phrases.

His garments came off with ease and grace. He obviously had some long-repressed desire to do this. At last, he stood before her, beautiful, naked, and slender. Somehow, his spirit prevailed over his earlier reticence. He shed his shyness with his clothing. Since she’d first seen him in trunks, Hecate had anticipated this moment with such relish. If the pool had been empty when they were there, she would have taken them off there or in the shower. Perhaps something could happen, or even be premeditated in the future, on a deserted beach, secluded amid the dunes.

She handed him a volume of the collected poems of John Donne. “Now, I think you know which one I want you to read me. Hmm…while we’ve been working together, I bet you’ve had some reveries of me undressing, you undressing me.”

“I have to admit that is so, and I know which poem you mean. It’s Elegy Nineteen — To His Mistress Going to Bed.

“We really are on the same wavelength, darling. I had learned of that poem as a young girl, with a desperate desire one day to enact it. Every word of it struck home as I disrobed alone. For years, I yearned for that lovely partner to give me those instructions live.”

Ferdinand beamed, then quoted from near the end of the poem referring to the poet’s nakedness at the beginning of the action. Then he proceeded to read, with his lovely, hypnotic voice.

He really made Hecate’s girdle feel like Saturn’s rings As she undid her sash and cast it down, she felt her abdomen was bathed in heavenly light, visible only to spiritual eyes. The request to remove her breastplate gave her an etheric shudder. Taking off the brooch at the top of her dress felt like casting away a shield, affirming that strife and combat had been replaced by love.

In response to the exhortation to unlace, she felt deliciously nervous as her fingers twitched on her zips and buttons.

As the gown went off following the next command, Hecate felt she had emerged from a perennial cocoon, that she was the sun liberated from the constricting veils of night. There was one major readjustment from the original poem: the exhortation “off with that happy buske” preceded the reference to the gown; here it would be part of the “beauteous state” revealed by the falling of the gown.

As for a coronet, Hecate was only wearing a slide, but removing it certainly helped her locks flow freely.

It was great to feel liberated from footwear; earlier on, her high heels had felt so sexy, but now her stockinged feet tingled with electric desire.

With her underwear, admittedly, she found nylon, calico, and silk sexier than linen, but the word, so sensually uttered, really relevant.

Their full-frontal mutual revelation was deeply meaningful — as neither of them were naturists, so they were shielded against any anticlimax.

“Hello, Aphrodite,” said Ferdinand.

“Hello, Adonis,” she replied.

Their love was so sweet, so strong, yet so tender, it almost felt as if their gender boundaries were melting with their climax, which occurred three times.

From that encounter, both gathered strength to face any big-time entrepreneur on earth, to clinch any potential deal. Hecate told him about one highly unsatisfactory tryst she’d had and how it contrasted with this one, told him to do a write-up of her account, together with one of a disappointment he’d had, and spice up the publication with it.

Main poetry collection Prickling Counterpoints (1998); poems published in online International Times. Eco poetry collection, An Ever River, published by The Palewell Press, 2018. Main speculative works Translation of Spanish epic La Araucana, Amazon 2013. Romances: Dreamtime Sensuality I & II: Explorations; Further Explorations; Pearlman, Self’s Blossom – all available on Amazon. Self-published collection of erotic poetry and artwork, Sensual Rhapsody, 2015. Singer-songwriter/guitarist. Main CD albums Bacteria Shrapnel and Kaleidoscope Concentrate. Many tracks on You Tube, under ‘Dave Russell’. Editor of online magazine Poetry Express Newsletter, produced by Survivors Poetry and Music.

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