For six years, around the time of the new millennium, I was lucky enough to live in Ireland. I lived in an old coach house, in a tough and traditional small town not so far from the border with Northern Ireland. It was a fabulous few years, and I enjoyed the everyday spontaneous wit I heard around me, warm conversations with strangers, the joy of traditional music lifting the rafters in a pub late at night, and particularly the close-knit community of a small town.
There were downsides, of course, because that is the way of things, and a perfect life would be a boring one. One downside that lingered longer than any small annoyance and required a tactful approach was small town politics. That seemed intensified in the border region, where old grudges were often rooted on either side of the political and religious divide that, until more recent times, was part and parcel of Ireland.
The basis for my new novella, Never-Tied Nora, came from those years in Ireland. At the root of the story is a long-running feud between two London Irish families: the Kellys and the Flannerys. The reason for the feud is a minor one, but in the microcosm of London Irish society, petty grievances take on a life of their own. So when my main characters, Nora and Geraldine, fall in love, they not only have to deal with the adjusting of life around a new relationship, they also have to deal with their very traditional families, and the fact that those families are sworn enemies. Their brothers beat each other up in the streets, their sisters taunt each other.
Nora and Geraldine’s story is told against a London backdrop, and the turmoil and banter of their large families. There’s a lot of red wine, a staunch best friend, and of course time between the sheets. Or on top of them.
I hope you’ll take the time to check out Never-Tied Nora, which is available now from Ylva Publishing, as well as Amazon and other retailers.
Nora Kelly loves her carefree London life where there’s always a new woman to seduce. Her big Irish family tease her about her footloose ways, but she knows she’s in no danger of losing her heart. Her family has only one rule when it comes to dating: Nora can date any woman she wants—as long as she’s not a Flannery. The Kellys and the Flannerys have been feuding ever since both families arrived in London from Ireland sixty years ago, and time has not lessened the hatred. But never-tied Nora has just met the woman of her dreams, and suddenly commitment isn’t a dirty word. Trouble is, Geraldine is a Flannery. Can Nora convince Ger that, despite their families, they are meant to be together?
The Korean place was modern—tiled, cold, and echoey, but I didn’t care. We were shown to a table at the back where huge potted plants muted the worst of the noise. It was far enough from the kitchen that the service was beyond woeful, but I didn’t care. I sat opposite Ger once again and watched her expressions and gestures—the quick smile that lit her face like lightning over the ocean, and her small, white fingers with their short, blunt nails as they pointed to a menu selection.
We ate sizzling beef brought by blank-faced waiters, and if I’d been with Sue I’d have been whining about the price of everything and how that should at least get us a smile. But with Ger, complaining didn’t cross my mind. Indeed, I welcomed the awful service as it meant more uninterrupted time to look, to flirt, to touch her hand, to dream, to imagine, and to fantasize about an outcome between us. We finished the bottle of wine but didn’t order another. Instead, we drank water, and played the getting to know you guessing game.
“You’re a professional women’s hockey player,” I said. “Or a coal miner. Final answer.”
Her sigh was theatrical. “You’ve caught me. Want an autograph? Actually, my sister plays hockey. She says I should learn—I might meet someone. She reckons she’s the only straight woman on the team.”
I picked up her hand again. “Tell her you’ve already met someone.”
Her gaze clung to mine. “I might do that. Or I might let her set me up with Big Betsie, the goalie. I love a woman with muscles.”
I pushed up the sleeve of my jacket to show my forearm. “I have muscles,” I said in pretend affront. “All the typing I do, how could I not?”
“You’re a writer,” she guessed. “You ghostwrite autobiographies of the rich and famous. Or you’re a PhD student, four years into the world’s longest thesis.”
“I wish. Think dull. Think of the jobs that send you to sleep.”
“Hypnotherapist? Is that how you’re so successful with women?”
“You don’t know that I’m successful. I could be Never-Laid Nora, the unloved.”
Her expression sobered, and she shuffled her chair around the tiny table so that she was next to me. She was so close I could smell the spices from the meal on her breath. She moved her chair enough that it was angled toward mine, her legs capturing one of mine between them.
“Nora, look at me.” The laughter fled her voice. “If you are the unloved, if you are the unlaid, then—”
“Then what?” I was trapped. Caught in the intensity of her eyes and the steel of her thighs.
“It’s my lucky day, as you must be desperate.” Warmth radiated from her fleeting smile.
She leaned forward, enough that I could see the dark flecks in her sea-green eyes. “I won’t lie to you, Nora. I’ve gone home with women I’ve just met. Met them in a club, or a pub, or at my sister’s hockey game. And I’ve spent a night with them, and at the time it was wonderful. Sex, out of this world. But afterwards? Not so much.” She dragged a deep breath, sat back, and took a gulp from her water glass. “I’m tempted. I’m tempted to lean in and kiss you. Learn your taste, the sigh of your breath. See if your hair is as soft as it looks. I want to know you. Learn what your skin feels like. And in the morning we’d have coffee, and kiss, and swap phone numbers, and then I’d leave, or you’d leave, depending on where we were, and I’d wait for your call. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I’d have written you off as just another one of those women, and I’d go into work, and maybe I’d cry on my boss’s shoulder over you. Maybe not.”
Her quiet words held me spellbound, and even the tardy waiter arriving to clear away the dirty dishes didn’t interrupt.
“What do you want from me, Nora?”
My voice was a croak worthy of any frog princess. “Everything. I want everything you’ll give me.”
Never-Tied Nora is now available on all of the Amazons as well as Smashwords. And of course, you can buy it direct from Ylva too. Stop by and check out their site for an amazing array of lesbian reading.
And now, I pass you on to the next stop on Ylva’s blog tour: fellow Aussie, Jane Waterton, whose fantastic book Times of Our Lives was released by Ylva last November. Jane is guest posting over at Jae’s blog, and that will be live on 14 January.