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All About Terrible Guests: The Summer Holiday of Lettuce and Irk

No, of course those aren’t their real names but I’ll never forget the summer they came to stay. And stay. And, stay on. And on.

I had only met them once, at a friend’s house in San Francisco. Irk was the friend’s dear nephew; Lettuce was his ladylove. They were very sweet, I thought, but I only talked to them for an hour or so. They might be going to Paris in a year’s time, and wasn’t I living in Paris? Could they look me up if they arrived? Of course they could, I said — that’s the sort of thing one says without really thinking. After all, how often do people really look you up, especially at a distance of 5,583 miles?

They did arrive, though. My friend wrote me beforehand and asked if I could help them find a cheap hotel, since they had just finished university and didn’t have a lot of money. They would be in Paris for a week; after that, they’d be going on to London. Luckily, a close friend of mine said she would be going out of town for a week, and she would be more than happy to lend them her little studio apartment.

I made dinner for Irk and Lettuce on the evening they arrived, showed them where they’d be staying and gave them the key. On the next evening, they showed up for dinner as well. I had the sneaking suspicion they might do this every night, so I did politely say that they were now on their own. They weren’t unpleasant people, just rather dull. They nodded, smiled blandly.

The next day, they showed up in the afternoon: it was so hot outside, and they were bored with walking around the city. They thought they’d just come and sit on my couch for the afternoon. “I have work to do,” I said rather testily (people think that if you work from home, you are really just fooling around.) They said they didn’t mind, they’d just sit there. Exasperated, I tried to work, but it wasn’t a large apartment, and it was impossible to concentrate with two people sitting on a couch just a few feet away, and waiting for dinner.

Ditto, the next day. And the day after that. Was I not rude enough? Would I be nastier today? Probably. I probably wouldn’t worry about offending that friend back in San Francisco either. As it was, although I did my best to convince Irk and Lettuce to go walk around the city, go to museums, to the park, to sit in cafés, they only smiled politely and said it was so hot outside, that walking around all day was boring. And so, the week passed. They came every day, sat on my couch. I was going crazy.

Then the week ended. They left for London (Oh, today we’ll merry, merry be…) and I was allowed to be alone, and to work. I relished the silence, the pure pleasure of having gotten rid of Lettuce and Irk. My husband and I were relieved to be alone again, free to go out for dinner, for walks in the evening. It really was bliss.

It didn’t last, of course: these things never do. After three days, Irk and Lettuce were back. They hadn’t liked London. No, they were here in Paris for the rest of their holiday. They had rented a room in a hotel (money didn’t seem to be a problem, after all) and they once again took up their places on my couch. “I can’t do this,” I said to them. “You’ll have to go out, amuse yourselves. You cannot spend your holiday on my couch.” They smiled, continued to show up every day.

I decided not to answer the buzzer to the outside door of the building, to pretend to be out. Of course, even in this I was foiled. With clockwork regularity, they buzzed every half hour — just in case I flew home and entered by an upstairs window (I was on the seventh floor.) Yes, I was free of their presence on the couch, but they took up residence on the outside step of the building. And when someone else opened the front door, they came up to the seventh floor and sat in front of my door — which meant I couldn’t go out to shop, to walk the dog, or to live a normal life. Did they eventually take the hint? To a certain extent. I began to see slightly less of them, but I didn’t breathe easily until they finally flew home.

For a while, I did consider writing a book about terrible guests — the ones we’ve all had: those you can’t get rid of; those who sneak down at night while everyone’s sleeping and empty the liquor cabinet; those who turn the house and the kitchen into disaster areas; those who never help; those who rack up huge telephone bills; those who disappear with odd objects; those who come to get drunk and weep on your shoulder for a week; those who show up with impossible children they refuse to control; and those you discover you don’t like, after all. I’ve had one guest who took many things apart — lamps, a water pump, odd machinery, but never put anything together again; another slept in a different room every night leaving me with a mountain of sheets to wash. However, I never did write that bad guest book. It’s pleasure enough just not having them around.


Felicity's Power: Contemporary Romance


San Francisco, 1971: hippies in the streets, music, and revolution in the air. The evening Marek Sumner opened his door to the wild-looking Felicity Powers, he knew nothing would ever be the same. But even love and passion couldn’t keep them together.

Forty-three years later, having lived in the world’s most dangerous places as an aid worker, Felicity is back, still offering love, passion, and adventure. Now a well-known author, Marek loves his calm life in an isolated farmhouse, and he knows their relationship would never work: he and Felicity are just too different. Besides, why risk having his heart broken a second time?

But Felicity is as fascinating and joyful as ever, and the wonderful sexy magic is still there too. Can love be more delightful the second time around?




Suddenly, in one swift and smooth movement, she stood up, crossed to where he was sitting, and crouched at his feet. Her long fingers slid slowly between the inside of his thighs, moved upwards. He was caught in the scent of her, a perfectly natural fragrance of flowers and incense, musk and fresh hay. His eyes skimmed her finely etched mouth, and he almost moaned with the need to cover it with his own. A need he was about to refuse himself.

            Swiftly, he trapped her two fine, long-fingered hands in one of his before she could turn the tight hot flame burning in his groin into a raging storm. With his free hand, he reached out, touched her cheek.

“I meant what I said. You are absolutely beautiful, Felicity Powers. And sexy as hell. And exciting. I want you stretched out under me on my bed. I want to feel you, taste you, lick you. Everywhere.”

            She waited, her eyes fearful at first, then softening. “But?”

            “I want to get to know you better. It’s important for me, and I want it to be important for you too. And we have time, plenty of time, to do just that.”

            He forced himself to stand, pulled her up beside him. He longed to put his arms around her, feel the long, slender length of her

but didn’t dare. They’d never get out of this apartment if he did.

            “Come.” He reached out for her hand.

            “Come where? Where are we going?” She held back warily. Evidently, she felt as though her considerable powers of seduction had failed her.

            He smiled down at her. “I’m going to buy you ice cream.”

            “Ice cream?”

            “That’s right,” he said as if the proposal had been a perfectly normal one in perfectly normal circumstances. “Homemade ice cream. Don’t you eat ice cream?”

            “Of course I do.”

            “And then we’re going for a nice walk.”

            “A nice walk?” Amusement tickled her eyes.

            “Your words seem to echo my own.” He smiled back at her, and suddenly the realization hit him: he was living one of those absolutely perfect moments that come so rarely in everyday life. Magic moments that sneak in surreptitiously, a blessed gift. That vanish at the slightest reproach.



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