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Loving Eric

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Two people - both fiercely independent and unapologetically restless. Bound together by a love that is both beautiful and dangerous. Can they learn to trust and rely on each other, or will their individual natures tear them apart? Find out what happens in this captivating and steamy story of Loving Eric.

Chapter 1

Emma sat in her room, her mind flying about the place in a cloud of thoughts. She'd had a busy day at work. Rearranging and stocking rows and rows of shelves with books that had sat in the store for so long, had to count for something, right? She gently massaged the base of her neck.

Sales had dwindled over the months since she joined Patrick at 'The Hippocampus Bookshop'. Patrick had been in the book business long enough, even before the advent of Amazon Kindles and tablets, so he knew they were barely hanging on a very slim thread for survival.

"These kids don't know the joy of owning a paperback," he'd always shake his head like a priest at a funeral every time the subject was raised.

It was hard to deny the truth. With fewer books leaving the store daily, they could only fight to hang on for as long as possible. Fees from the book club meetings and activities, coupled with some generous donations from Patrick's friends who were authors, were just about enough to raise money for the rent and taxes. But that was all it could do. Even the publishers had noticed the steep decline in sales and had reduced their delivery to the store.

Emma sighed in exasperation and pulled out her laptop from the tote bag she'd taken with her to work. There'd barely been any time to take it out and do some updating on her Reddit blog. Her engagements had soared recently and she planned on keeping it that way, except life had other plans, very shitty plans. But she remained grateful that Patrick wasn't an overbearing boss and he let her do just what she wanted. Giving her best to the job was her way of showing gratitude to him for his support.

Through book club's social events, she'd been privileged to meet with big shots in the writing game, people with New York bestsellers to their names, and she had Patrick to thank for that.

A notification blinked at the bottom of her laptop screen. It was an email from her dad. The last time they spoke, he'd been in some European country, "on a quest to find the meaning of life". He tended to just wake up and leave for as long as two months, only to call you from some resort or jungle in the middle of only God-knows-where, to say he'd found the discovery of a lifetime. And almost every time he did so, it turned out to be a dead end and he came back home, tail between legs in shame and disappointment. Emma knew her dad loved her, and even her mum when they were still together, but for how much longer would she keep on making excuses on his behalf?

She shut the laptop without opening the mail, the zeal to write leaving her. She picked up her phone to go sit on the bed, gently massaging her temples to calm down her nerves. She'd scarcely sat down for a second when her phone rang into the warm evening, jolting her from the whirlpool of thoughts she'd been stuck in.

'Mum', the caller ID read. Her mother had probably called to begin her usual tirade of rants about a new boyfriend who's been an *ssh*l* or some other insignificant nonsense. Emma rolled her eyes and watched the phone ring for a while before putting it on airplane mode. It felt selfish of her to snub her mother's call, she could have at least listened on as usual. But she had issues of her own to deal with, her mother's boyfriends would come later. Besides, who was to say that she wouldn't call again to complain?

Emma was about to shut her eyes and take a nap when she remembered she'd been having a conversation with her match on Tinder. She quickly picked up her phone and true enough to her intuition, he had left her a message. They were going to meet later tonight for a dinner date at "Buona Sera". He didn't have a bad taste as far as she was concerned. Not everyone took their Tinder matches to fancy restaurants for their first physical date. She scrolled through his pictures again just to convince herself that he was worth it, that he wouldn't be another disaster to write about on her blog.

A WhatsApp message came in from Patrick, reminding her to write something tonight as they'd agreed. He'd taken up his role as her accountability partner seriously and helped her to develop some discipline. She smiled fondly and texted him back.

Aye aye mon capitane! :⁠-⁠D

She shut down the phone and fell back on the bed, counting the ceilings unconsciously as she lay face up. Her eyes traveled to the bedside clock; six-thirty p.m. Scarlett would barge in any minute from…

"Hey hey honey," Scarlett strutted into the room, without knocking on the door as was her usual practice. Emma rolled her eyes and laughed in her head. Even Snowball, Emma's ragdoll cat who'd been napping in a corner, seemed to roll her eyes at the disturbance and let herself out of the room.

"Hi, Scarlett. Off to work?" Emma smiled weakly.

"Yeah. What'd you think?" Scarlett swept both hands down her body. She was dressed in a white crop top and a red checkered miniskirt, both legs cold in stockings which ended in a pair of matching sneakers. The three piercings arranged on either of her ears, coupled with the tiny hoop hanging from her nose made her look like Harley Quinn; that's if the Joker's bride was a redhead.

"You're beautiful as usual. A man would kill to have you," Emma winked jokingly.

"Yeah right," Scarlett twirled before taking a mock bow. "So what's happening? You're not gonna glue your lazy bum to that bed tonight, right?"

"Well.." Emma began and trailed off.

"What's the matter?"

"There's my date with this guy I met on Tinder. But…"

"But what? Emma, honey," she came and crouched over Emma on the bed, "You're getting your *ss out of this room!"

Emma jolted in shock before bursting into laughter at the spontaneity of Scarlett's action.

"I don't wanna go," she whined like a naughty toddler.

"You're already there as far as I'm concerned, baby girl. Now get yourself into the bathroom and get ready for a beautiful night out at…" She waved her hand in the air for me to provide the answer.

"Buona Sera," I offered.

"Oh my god. This one has some taste, huh," Scarlett slapped Emma lightly on the thigh.

"I don't know, Scarlett," Emma turned around and buried her face in the bed.

"You don't know what? You need a man in your life, baby," Scarlett nodded her head as she spoke, a gesture Emma found quite amusing.

"You're older, you need a man more than I do Scar," Emma teased jokingly.

"Don't be silly Emma. Life's given you this fine man now and he's taking you to the bubu place for dinner too."

"It's 'Buona Sera'," Emma corrected, giggling under her breath. Scarlett rolled her eyes, as if to say, "whatever". "But why don't you have a man yourself?" Emma asked, trying to shift the focus away from her.

"It's a choice I've made. Besides, who wants to pull a man into this shitty life?" Scarlett turned around and walked towards her small closet.

"Don't say that, Scarlett. You're an awesome lady with an awesome life and an awesome job," Emma sat up, cocking her head to the side with a kind smile.

"Bet your grandma has changed her mind then?" Scarlett turned around to face her, a mischievous smirk playing around her lips in an "I didn't think so" manner.

"I'm a stripper darling, I'm used to sh*t like that. It's cool. But you, honey pie, should step out and meet someone. Starting from tonight," she said, pitching her voice to rise over Emma's groan of protest.

"You're going to meet your Tinder date tonight, and that's it. Get up," she took Emma by the arms and pulled her up till she stood to her full height.

Chapter 2

Emma dragged her feet into the bathroom and spent so much time in the bathtub, long enough to make sure Scarlett had left for work by the time she was out. She planned on sitting in with the excuse that she didn't have a dress to wear.

"Check this out. I think it's perfect," Scarlett announced once Emma got out of the bathroom.

"You're still here? Won't you be late for work?" Emma jumped with a start.

"Oh no way you'd expect me to leave you here without first kicking your ass into a cab headed to the bubu place," Scarlett slapped the air.

"It's.., never mind," Emma rolled her eyes and chuckled.

She picked up the red velvet dress lying on the bed. It looked so beautiful on the bed she wondered if putting it on would disturb its perfect beauty. Emma knew she wasn't among the generous number of girls who were applauded mostly for their internal beauty for lack of the outward appeara

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