Still Thinking of Youby Adele Parks
Rich has always been skeptical about falling in love. Natasha has always fully expected to. And when these two find each other, they win the entire True Love package -- tenderness and hot sex and open-eyed kisses. Long weekends in bed and talk of marriage and babies. The kind of love where there's no room for/b>/small>
THE WHOLE TRUTH . . .
Rich has always been skeptical about falling in love. Natasha has always fully expected to. And when these two find each other, they win the entire True Love package -- tenderness and hot sex and open-eyed kisses. Long weekends in bed and talk of marriage and babies. The kind of love where there's no room for secrets. That, after all, is what Tash says will keep them going strong: total and complete honesty.
. . . AND NOTHING BUT?
Now Rich and Tash are engaged, and Rich's old school friends crash into their love cocoon with big plans for celebrating, along with spouses and significant others, on a trip to a stunning French ski resort. But a lot can happen in a week that's meant to capture the free-spirited fun they all shared a decade ago. And in the glare of a whiteout on the slopes, Tash crosses paths with the one secret Rich should have kept: his colorful, vivacious, needy ex-lover, Jayne. . . .
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Read an Excerpt
Rich and Tash
It was so easy. Falling in love had, after all, been so easy.
Rich had never been convinced that he had the knack for loving. Sex, yeah, positively expert, but loving? He'd had a sneaky suspicion that "falling in love" was something that happened only to people in movies or to the weak-minded. Or maybe he'd been born without the necessary gene that enabled a healthy, happy, two-way loving thing because he used to find it impossible to imagine wanting to share everything from your sock drawer to your life. His parents were still together, yeah, but they seemed to exist side by side in a state of bored tolerance rather than in perpetual bliss. His mother filled her time with concerns about neighbors' hysterectomies, and his father's chief concern was his golf handicap. Rich doubted that they had ever been young and in love. It wasn't exactly inspiring.
When his mates said that they'd found a girl they wanted to marry, he'd assumed that the desire was one largely driven by practicalities. Clearly some people liked the company, or the laundry service, or the security of being a double-income family. It wasn't that he wanted to be callous. In fact, the reverse was true. He'd always wanted to believe that there was something chemical -- no, something magical -- that dictated with whom you spent your life. He always wanted to believe that there was a soul mate out there somewhere. But he'd given the mysterious "falling in love" dozens of opportunities and thirty-three years to take hold; it never had.
They'd been right. All those people that used to say stuff like "You know when you know." Those starry-eyed blokes who stuttered their way through speeches at wedding receptions, earnestly trying to communicate their passion and their willingness to subdue themselves to a bigger force than their reason. They'd been right. Falling in love did make everything lucid, bright and simple. And yet at the same time it was the most mysterious, exotic and different experience of Rich's life. An irresistible contradiction.
He loved her, and she loved him. They were lovers. Rich wondered how many people across, say, London -- no, make it bigger than that -- say, Britain. How many people were at this precise second telling one another they loved each other? And how many of them meant it as much as he did?
Because he did mean it. He meant it all the time. Not just when they were having sex. He loved her smile; it was broad and frequent. She had fat lips; clearly they were blow-job lips, which was an advantage, but he also admired them because they were happy lips. He loved her laugh; it was low and throaty, like a smoker's laugh, even though she didn't smoke. He loved her thoughts and how frequently and openly she expressed them, and how she insisted on bringing everything back to a personal level. He used to hate the type of person who, during a really sensible discussion of whether U.S. and British troops ought to be deployed to some far-flung place, would pipe up to say, "Well, all I know is it's wrong because my next-door neighbor is in the army and he may see action." That sort of argument used to irritate his intellectual mind. But now he realized that everything was personal at some level; everything was simply about whom you cared for. Tash was right. She was also right to want to drink Fair Trade coffee and use Body Shop products. All that girlie stuff was good.
He loved her body. He loved the smell of her hair. He was fascinated by the things that made her angry, and thrilled by the things in which she delighted. He loved the vulnerable curve in the nape of her neck and the way she shivered when he kissed her there. He loved her cum.
Tash finished cleaning her teeth. She put her toothbrush back in the cup and smiled at her reflection. That was her toothbrush, in a cup, in Rich's flat. Although they'd only been seeing each other for just shy of two months, she had a toothbrush in his flat, and that felt good. Unlike Rich, Tash had never wondered if she'd find true love. She'd expected to. Her parents had been happily married for forty years. Even now she might walk into their kitchen and find them kissing. Not full-on kisses obviously -- that would be damaging -- but affectionate, closed-mouth kisses. Her brother and his partner had two robust, amusing, boisterous boys. They laughed and argued in what Tash considered to be the correct proportions. Love had never been a secret to her. It was easy; it was natural. It was everywhere. She'd been in a number of long and short and virtually split-second relationships, but the dumping or being dumped had always been relatively painless. She'd never cried about anyone for longer than a week.
Tash had a few very close friends with whom she happily shared the contents of her head and heart on a regular basis and a larger number of more casual mates with whom she was happy to have a drink. She was sporty and therefore fit in the health sense and in the leave-men-panting sense. She liked painting (people with hobbies are happier). She had a dog (people with pets are said to live longer). Tash believed in natural justice; she thought there was definitely something in horoscopes; she wished people of all religions could live together peacefully; and she was sure the God whom she believed in would allow unbaptized babies as well as decent nonbelievers into heaven. She thought there might be something in reincarnation; she'd never had her tarot cards read, but didn't scoff at those who had; she had a monthly direct debit to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC); she didn't care whether people held their knives and forks correctly or incorrectly; she recycled her bottles at Sainsbury's; she was a vegetarian, but she wore leather shoes. She had always expected to find true love.
She just hadn't expected it to be this good.
Tash hadn't been able to imagine feeling this excited yet this content. This happy and yet this terrified. This amazed and this amazing.
It was another almost uncomfortably hot night, so Tash pulled the covers off the bed and climbed in next to Rich.
She started to move her hands across Rich's chest and unapologetically down, toward his crotch. It didn't surprise her that he was semierect; they both existed in a state of almost permanent arousal. Rich ran his hands over her lithe body, enjoying again the sensation of her tight ass and tiny, firm tits. He already knew that he wanted to marry this girl. He wanted this beautiful, sexy woman to be his forever, and he wanted it so much it sometimes hurt him. Get that. Richard Tyler, philanderer extraordinaire, was so much in love it actually hurt him.
Of course, in the past he had told other women he loved them -- it was expedient.
They kissed with their eyes open. It used to freak him when he opened his eyes midkiss to find her sapphire blues staring right back at him, but now he always kept his eyes open, too. Tash had explained that she thought it was more honest. She'd kissed plenty of men whom she wanted to shut out, but she wanted to drink up Rich, every ounce of him. It was as though she sucked in his soul through her stare, and she poured back her heart.
"How are we going to keep it this good?" asked Rich in a whisper.
Tash broke away from the kiss and stared at Rich. "God, you are a funny one. It's not difficult," she laughed.
"It is. Staying in love is difficult. There's no point pretending anything else. Tash, how are we going to keep it this amazing, this real and exhilarating?" Rich felt panicked. He could not imagine recovering if he lost her now.
Tash instinctively knew this was not a moment to laugh off Rich's fears. "I think it's down to honesty, baby. No secrets, no lies, just one hundred percent respect and honesty. It's such a simple rule. If we follow it, we can't go wrong."
Rich thought about it for a moment. Could it really be that easy? He ran through a number of scenarios of possible fatal blows to a relationship and tested them against Tash's rule. No secrets, no lies, just 100 percent respect and honesty. It would be impossible for either of them to have an affair if they stuck to the rule (something he had to admit he had been prone to in the past). It would be impossible for the relationship to be eaten up by paranoia or jealousy (God, if he could have a penny for every time some girl lost the plot by torturing herself with unnecessary suspicions). If they respected one another, they were unlikely to fall out about the split of domestic duties, hogging the TV remote or either one spending too much time with their mates (he meant him spending too much time with his mates -- girls were rarely accused of this crime).
Maybe it could be easy.
In their cocoon that smelled of sex and oozed with warmth and affection, Rich could not imagine how anything could ever go wrong. Tash was a genius. Tash held the secret formula to a happy ever after. Tash was his happy ever after.
"Will you marry me?"
"Yes, Rich, I'd love to."
Copyright © 2004 by Adele Parks
Meet the Author
Adele Parks is the author of the London Times bestsellers Playing Away, Larger Than Life, and Game Over. She lives in London with her son.
Visit her website: www.adeleparks.com
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Thirtyish Tash and Rich are in love. They talk about a future together, agree to marry and plan to elope to a French ski resort. They look forward to inviting their friends, many of them Rich has known and partied with for years to celebrate their marriage. --- At first Rich¿s friends seem nice to Tash, but soon they begin to act childish, selfish and boorish. Adding to her discomfit is that instead of asking his buddies to cool it, Rich joins them. Tash begins to have doubts that loving Rich will prove enough as he disappoints her with his hedonistic attitude shared by his increasingly nasty towards her friends. Finally, the ¿She¿ arrives the one that enthralled Rich when they were lovers in college. Will he go off with her during what was supposed to be his honeymoon or will he realize what he is about to lose for a few days of recapturing his early twenties? --- Except for Tash, the rest of the cast is selfish trying to hang on to or recapturing their youth as time moves on. Neither Rich nor his friends seem particular nice as they are purposely stereotyped to be the transition decade from youthful exuberance and excess to middle age reasonability. Though difficult to read because of the attitudes of the players, Adele parks provides a fascinating look at aging, the final frontier. --- Harriet Klausner