I’m usually one of those people who raves in fury when they see Christmas decorations up before December 1st. I try to dig my heels in and resist and do a good amount of tutting and head shaking at those who get into the Christmas spirit too early. Yes, it’s a case of bah humbug. Stubborn, perhaps. Even my local cathedral has had a Christmas shop open in town since the summer. People have moaned like hell about it, but it’s always full of customers.
I admit, however, this year I’ve eased up. Our family (ie hubby and two kids) have decided to do Christmas just with us this year. I’ll see my folks on Boxing Day and send pressies to others in good time, but it’s just going to be the four of us and the cat on the day itself. And, boy, am I relieved. And with the stress of having to nimbly negotiate the minefield of wider family tensions removed, I find I’m looking forward to Christmas so much more. I’m itching to get my hands on the decorations. I’m desperate to go out and get a tree. I’ll resist, of course … (she said, her left eyelid twitching). But the Christmas spirit is beckoning hard.
It all seems to come at a rush from late October onwards – Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night, Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day. The tales of the soldiers in the trenches of World War One move me like little else, and I never fail to experience a huge swell of heart-wrenching emotion.
With these two events so close together, it seems a good time to mention a Christmas story of mine. It combines my love of the soldiers of World War One with my love of a cosy, old fashioned Christmas in a country cottage. And it’s a ghost story. And it’s erotic.
A WWI officer (who may or may not look remarkably like Tom Hiddleston in ‘War Horse’ – whistles innocently), a crackling fire warming an isolated snow-bound cottage, spooky goings on, carols in the distance … and great sex. What more do you want?
Here’s a little taster from ‘Willing Spirit, Hungry Flesh’. We join Emma as she settles down in the isolated, and supposedly haunted, holiday cottage she’s rented for Christmas.
Emma looked out at the snowstorm as it swirled pale against the dark of night. The wind railed around the isolated building and she shut the curtains against it. After locking the door, she put on her carols and nestled down on the sofa with a glass of wine and a book.
‘This is the truth sent from above …’ The warming tones of the choir of King’s College, Cambridge combined with the alcohol and lulled her. The wind continued to howl outside. Time slowed.
Emma sat straight up, eyes wide, mind alert. Someone was knocking on the door. Surely not. She tried to ignore it. It must have been the wind.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
No. That was a knock, loud and insistent. Shit. Who the hell could it be? Should she answer? It could be one of the men from the pub; she cursed herself for telling the landlord where she was staying. But in this storm, someone may be in trouble. Picking up a fire iron for safety’s sake, she walked to the door and, with a breath of resolve, unlocked it and opened it an inch.
There was indeed someone outside. Huddled against the cold with a large woollen coat clasped about him stood a man, tall, braced against the blizzard.
His eyes were the first thing she noticed. They shone out with depth and intensity, piercing through the stormy gloom. For a moment she was too dumbstruck to act. This was certainly no man from the pub; the person now standing before her was altogether much younger and immeasurably better looking. And, bestowing her with the most mesmerising smile, he spoke.
‘I’m back. I’ve come home.’
And, believe me, Emma makes him very welcome indeed.
If you fancy getting into the Christmas spirit a tad early, ‘Willing Spirit, Hungry Flesh’ is available in two anthologies from Xcite Books: Santa’s Hot Secrets and A Seasonal Victorian Spanking, both of which contain other fabulous Christmas stories from a range of great authors. Click on the titles for an early Christmas treat.