How do you know if you're ready?
A huge sort of tremor ran through me. After so long, so much fantasizing, I'd actually kissed him. I hope he didn't see that shiver, I thought. I don't want him to know how overwhelmed I am, not yet.
About the Author
Kate Cann lives in England with her husband, daughter, son and dog. She worked as an editor for many years before writing several books, including Ready?, Sex, and Go!, which were bestsellers in the UK.
Read an Excerpt
As the hot water pounded down on me, I was suddenly aware I was not alone. Someone was standing very close to me, under the same shower. I opened my eyes, blinking away water. It was him. He must have followed me out of the pool. Water was splashing onto his broad shoulders, running off his body and onto mine.
He shrugged, smiled. He was so beautiful. "All the others are taken. Do you mind...sharing?"
I couldn't answer. Without knowing what I was doing, I began unscrewing the cap from my shower gel.
He took it from me. "Let me do your back. The bits you can't...reach." Then he turned me round gently and began rubbing gel over my shoulders, with wonderful, sensual strokes...
"You've got fabulous skin," he murmured.
I turned slowly toward him under the pounding water. His face was almost touching mine. He laid one hand against my cheek, and said...
"ARE YOU DEAD OR JUST COMATOSE?"
My mind twitched. Winced.
"Colette! Can YOU HEAR me? I've been shouting for hours! Have you died up there or something?! Shift yourself! if you intend EATING dinner tonight perhaps you could come and put some MINIMAL EFFORT into its CREATION!
And with those words my favorite fantasy was nuked. The steamy shared shower evaporated. My grim, solitary bedroom took its place.
Reality was back.
It was my mum shouting. She likes to use words, lots of them. "Come and help get dinner" is far too homely a phrase for her. And she likes to be loud. Very loud.
With a groan of regret I heaved myself up from my bed. I hate the way Mum blasts into my inner life like that -- just as it'd been getting really good, too. It'sbad enough sharing a living space, but when you have your fantasies invaded as well it's too much. Mind you, it was a pretty pathetic fantasy. A total fantasy. Guys like the one I was thinking of didn't come and share your shower at the pool. They hung around glowering until one was free, or they kicked someone younger and weaker out of theirs.
I trooped downstairs, deflated. Cooking sounds and smells met me halfway down. Thursday night suppertime. Exactly the same as all the other suppertimes. They were supposed to be the high point of the day, the warm center of our shared family existence. I hated them.
Every member of the family was expected to help prepare the meal, or Mum lectured you on freeloading. She was very hot on not being a domestic slave. She said that would be deeply unhealthy for all of us, not just her. I thought it might have been quite nice sometimeskind of restful -- but I suppose I could see her point.
The kitchen was in its usual chaos-never quite cleared up from the last meal, every surface crammed with stuff. Mum was standing at the stove, banging away theatrically and cooking up a big pot of her special Mediterranean stew. She dominated the kitchen. Dominated it? She practically filled it.
"Larger than life" is how her admiring female friends describe her. You couldn't describe her as fat, that's too lazy a word. Enormous will do. She has formidable energy. She's strong. She's loud. And she's huge. "Disagree with me," she seems to say, "and I'll crush you!"
My little sister Sarah was in the kitchen, too, standing at the table. She would have already peeled the potatoes, mixed the crumble, earned Mum's approval. She makes a religion out of Being Helpful. Evil little creep.
Mum turned from the stove to glare at me. "Ah, Colette, you've decided to JOIN us at last, have you?" she boomed. "Very good of you. Perhaps you could chop some cucumber -- if that's not too ONEROUS a task?"
Dad came through the door. He must have heard Mum bellowing. Come to think of it, they must have heard her five doors down the street. He looked anxiously toward the stove and asked, "Anything still to do, dear?"
Mum picked up the colander of draining potatoes and shook it furiously, as though she'd caught it stealing from her handbag. "No, Frank. As usual, it's all in hand."
Dad gave a little shudder. He had Failed To Helpagain.
Sharing the housework was the subject of an ongoing, bitter dialogue between my parents. Well, more like a one-way complaint from Mum to Dad. it's sad, because Dad genuinely believes that men and women should share the work in the house, but somehow he never manages it. He gets so involved in his own workhe's a freelance architect -- that it's always too late by the time he offers any help. So all Mum's views about the worthlessness of men are confirmed, and she's permanently resentful, pointedly martyred.
She has a job, too, you see, five mornings a week. Speech therapy. That's a joke. She'd be the only one doing the speaking. Her patients must need therapy when they LEAVE one of her sessions. It must be pretty tense being locked up with her for an hour, trying to get a word in.
Mum spooned a large dollop of stew into her mouth, savored it, and announced that supper was ready. Dad sat down guiltily and I joined him. Mum heaved the huge cast-iron pot from the stove and slammed it on the table. Sarah followed virtuously with the potatoes. Supper -- oh, joy -- was served.
"Well, Sarah," Mum beamed as she doled out plates of red and green gunk. "How was your GYMNASTIC SESSION today...Love Trilogy #1: Ready?. Copyright © by Kate Cann. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.