Yup, my puppy's been loosed on the world. I apologise for not blogging yesterday because, well, life has a funny way of tripping me up once in a while.
So, without further ado, you can go check it out here: http://www.bookstrand.com/tainted-love
And, a little excerpt to tantalise:
Marianne arrived home much later than she’d intended. She’d told Carl she’d gone out for drinks with Judith, but now, as she took the stairs up to the first-floor apartment she shared with her boyfriend, she realised she’d have to tell him about her taking shifts at ImperialHouse sooner than later.
No, make that a correction—she needed to tell him. After all, it wasn’t like she could really hide the fact that she was stripping once she started buying some of the outfits Katja had briefedher on. Killer heels and skimpy thongs were the least of it.
Carl was watching some cop show on telly and didn’t offer her more acknowledgement than a cursory grunt when she paused on her way to the bedroom. Acting on some strange impulse, she looked at him. Really looked at him, examining this man she’d spent a good few years of her life with.
Already at twenty-six his features were softening, his skin pasty from too little time spent out of doors. Soft, mousy curls were thinning at the top, though he made a valiant effortto gel his hair in such a way to lessen the effect. Marianne took a deep breath. She had to do this. She had to talk to him.
He glanced away from the screen for the barest moment before looking back. “What?”
“Can we talk? Without the telly on.”
He sighed. “Can’t it wait? This is the penultimate episode. They’re probably leaving this one on a cliffie, and I need to find out who killed Derek.”
Marianne rolled her eyes. She hated it when he talked about the people in the shows as if they were real. “No. I need to talk to you now.”
He gave no reaction, the screen painting his face in flickering of light.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Marianne, can’t you see I’m busy watching the show? I’ve had a shit day dealing with pushy clients who want everything yesterday. All I want to do is relax a little and not listen to you bitching all the time.”
Marianne snapped her mouth shut. She didn’t want to point out to him that he was working late most nights. That would only lead to further trouble. They hardly spoke as it was. He glared at her until a sound from the television set distracted him and he resumed watching the show.
Taking a deep breath, Marianne said, “I’ve decided I’m going tostart stri— dancing at a revue bar. I’m not cut out for working in call centres, and, besides, we kinda need the money right now.”
Carl made a non-committal grunt, and Marianne took that as her cue to go to the bedroom. Still, it hurt. How had their relationship come to that? She thought back to the earlier days, when she’d still been in college. It had seemed exciting then to be dating an older guy who drove his own car and had a steady income, who’d whizz her off to have dinner at fancy restaurants or take her into the country for a dirty weekend. Now…
It was difficult equating that suave creature belonging to her memories to the slightly doughy fellow who was so absorbed by a stupid TV show. Marianne had barely passed the couch when Carl’s hand snaked out, the fingers closing on her wrist. “You’re what?”
Good. She’d gotten some sort of reaction after all.
“I’ve taken some shifts dancing at a revue bar.” It’d be better notto say “strip club.”
He frowned. “You’ve what?”
“I’ve taken three shifts a week doing erotic dancing. Look, why don’t you go back to watching your show. I’m going to bed.”
Carl wouldn’t let go. “What the fuck are you playing at?”
A low groan escaped Marianne’s lips. “Look, we need the money…” Should she tell him about that fateful night Judith dragged her out for the amateur contest? No. “And the job I have with the medical aid scheme is driving me a bit bonkers.”
He continued staring at her for a bit, and Marianne assumed Carl was processing the information she’d passed on to him.
She almost started laughing. “What do you mean ‘no’?”
“I won’t have it. It’s not right.”
“Yet you and Paul have regularly had your ‘boys only’ nights.”
“It’s not the same,” Carl said.
This time Marianne did laugh. “What do you mean it’s not the same? How’s you getting a lap dance from some bottle-blonde Russian sloozie any different from me giving a lap dance to some old codger who’s going to slip a fifty in my bra strap?” Granted, there was a difference, but Marianne was too miffed at Carl’s reaction to want to think too long or hard about her suggestion.
“You’re cheapening the meaning of our relationship by even considering this.”
“And you’re not while you’re busy getting a hard-on.”
His eyes bulged. “No way.”
“So you just went for shits and giggles, is that it? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, Carl. There’s no use trying to hide from me that you and Paul have gone to Blue Velvet or Imperial House more than you’ve admitted. So, you’d like to look at those girls, get all hard, yet you don’t want me to be seen as a sex symbol when you’re happy to be the object for someone’s desire. Even if you have to pay her.”
Carl’s mouth opened and shut. Marianne realised belatedly that he reeked of beer and his eyes were just a little too glassy. He went very pale and rigid. When had she ever gripped his shoulders as though she would shake him? Marianne had not been aware of becoming the aggressor in this conversation. A pang of guilt informed her this was not how her mother had raised her. She let go abruptly, stepping back.
Her boyfriend staggered to his feet, his gaze never once leaving hers. “I will not be spoken to like this.” He wiped his mouth as though he’d tasted something bad. “Bitch.” He breathed the word while scrabbling for his wallet and keys. When he made for the door after grabbing his jacket, Marianne knew she’d pushed him too far.
“Where are you going? It’s late!” She rushed at him.
Carl shoved her away. “Out.”
“We need to talk!”
He snarled at her before turning on his heel. The slam of the frontdoor resonated through not only the apartment but throughMarianne’s very being. She’d crossed some sort of invisible threshold. Why did it feel so final?