Please be aware that this excerpt contains sensual content that is only suitable
for adult readers who are comfortable with frank language and descriptions of
Find out what happens in an alternate universe when a drop dead gorgeous amnesiac
[who might once have been the Eighth Doctor Who, allegedly] turns up on the
doorstep of beautiful and sensual widow Claudia Marwood...
When a confused and mysterious young man stumbles into the life of the recently widowed Claudia, he reignites her sleeping sexuality. But is the handsome and angelic Paul really a combination of innocent and voluptuary, amnesiac and genius? Claudia's friends become involved in trying to decide whether or not he is to be trusted. As an erotic obsession flowers between Paul and Claudia, and all taboos are obliterated, his true identity no longer seems to matter.
N.B. Something of a period piece now, The Stranger is a reprint of a title first written in the early 1990s, and thus predates a lot of the familiar technology we take for granted today e.g. mobile phones, high speed internet, GPS etc.
A Black Lace Classic
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Chapter 1. The Man in the River
There was a storm coming.
Claudia Marwood looked up at the sky, and seeing only its high, blue canopy,
pasted with a thin scattering of hazy gauzelike cloud, she wondered why she
found the lovely sight portentous. It was a perfect summer's day, a classic,
yet something inside her sensed the distant threat of thunder. She couldn't
hear or see it, yet she knew it was on its way.
She paused in the scullery, eyeing her umbrella, and the light cotton jacket
she sometimes wore out in the garden on cooler days. Don't be a wimp! she told
herself firmly, taking only a broad straw sun hat with a yellow ribbon, then
stepping out onto the terrazzo tiled patio at the back of her house. If it does
rain, you'll get wet. So what? It won't kill you!
As she crossed the lawn, adjusting the angle of her hat as she went, she analysed
her burst of small scale bravado. She felt wild, sort of, and slightly daring.
It suddenly dawned her she was actually very happy.
What a relief! At last! Brilliant! Striding out faster, almost skipping, she
enjoyed the spring of the immaculately cut turf beneath her sandal-clad feet,
then felt faintly dizzy for a second as she inhaled the rich odours from her
abundantly stocked flower beds. The roses, the sweet peas, the scented shrubs.
Good God, it was summer, she was as fit as a fiddle, she had no commitments
and there was nothing at all that she had to do! The wood pigeons were cooing,
honey bees were hovering over the roses and the pelargoniums, and she too shared
their unquestioning contentment.
At the bottom of the garden a little lych gate led through into the copse beyond,
and the path beyond it led down towards the river. As Claudia passed through,
she felt another rush of satisfaction. This was also her land, and she could
enjoy her stroll in perfect peace without meeting other walkers. This new feeling
of hers had a delicate quality to it; and she wanted to examine it, and analyse
it, not have it popped like a balloon before she could savour it. She would
be wanting new people around her soon, she was sure of that, but for now, she
felt more comfortable alone, or with just her closer friends.
And the copse on a summer's afternoon was a magical place to be alone. The dappled
shade was green and fresh and cool. Alive, yet tranquil. Dense with a brooding
quality of expectancy. It was the sort of place one might imagine sprites and
elves could be found, although it was only the pigeons, the rustling leaves
and the nearby river that chattered to each other.
Not that it hadn't been a nice place for company too, she thought, waiting for
a pang of pain, then smiling when, thankfully, it didn't come. Only happy memories
surfaced. Herself and Gerald, on another post-prandial summer walk, both tipsy
on good wine and feeling silly and rather randy. They had rolled in the undergrowth
and actually fucked here, beneath an old tree that stood to her right. They
had climaxed noisily amongst the ants and twigs and mud.
We were good together, she thought, taken all round. Her smile turned wistful.
Oh, there had been rough patches, of course - the difference in their ages,
and Gerald's devotion to business matters had meant that frantic fucks in the
bushes were quite infrequent - but it was only the cheerful times that were
printed in her memory. She imagined she could see where the grass and the ferns
had been squashed down, and feel the good earth beneath her back, as she celebrated
life with her lover, her husband.
But it wouldn't be with Gerald the next time, would it? Her dear old husband
was dead, and had been for eight months. She would have a new lover in the copse
one of these days though, when the time was ripe. And her husband's smiling
shade would cheer them on.
Don't be weird, Claudia, she instructed herself, treading boldly onwards, and
stepping over the occasional root, or straggling creeper that had strayed across
the path. In the relative quiet of the woodland bower, she gradually became
aware that the water-sounds ahead were changing. The leisurely flow of the river
was still a reassuring susurration in the background, but there was a louder,
more arrhythmic splashing too. The sound made by a human occupation of the water.
Where the river bellied out, diverted by an island of rocks, there was a wide,
inviting pond, and from the sound of things, it was obvious that someone was
Claudia frowned. It wasn't that she begrudged people access to the land. And
it wasn't clearly marked as private property, or fenced off in any way. It was
just that she felt protective of her hard won little store of equilibrium, and
her sudden and self-nurtured bud of happiness.
Despite her qualms, though, she moved on. You're going to have to break out
some time, Mrs Marwood, she told herself, and it might as well be now. She could
almost feel Gerald just behind her, pushing her forward.
But just as she was about to burst into the clearing and reveal herself, a dose
of sixth sense told her to hold back. Slipping her hat off, she held herself
quite still, her breathing shallow, then risked putting out a hand to draw aside
the greenery and take a peek into the open area beyond.
Sitting on a rock where she often sat herself, to dangle her feet in the pool,
was a naked man, dangling his feet in the pool. Tall and young looking, he had
a longish mop of curly mid-brown hair, and he was gazing down intently into
the stiller area of water around his ankles. Whatever he saw there had produced
a frown upon his face.
Once she had got over the initial shock of the young man's nudity, Claudia allowed
herself to breathe properly again, and study his appearance more closely. He
was very handsome, she quickly realised. Quite beautiful, in an eccentric sort
of way. But there was something wrong, something disturbing or distressing him.
He had obviously been responsible for the splashing she had heard, because his
pale skin was gleaming with water, but he had climbed out again now, and was
staring, in a fugue, at his own reflection. His angular but boyish face was
certainly one Claudia would have happily stared at herself, for as long as he
would allow her to, yet the manner in which he was contemplating himself was
in no way narcissistic. He looked worried to death more than anything, almost
afraid of his own attractive features.
And you've taken a beating too, haven't you, stranger? thought Claudia, noting
that the young man's smooth, lightly muscled body sported several spectacular
bruises in the area of his ribs and thighs. As he put up a hand, and brushed
his soft, wild hair back off his brow, she saw that there was also a red and
nasty graze upon his temple. When he touched this gingerly, and winced, she
winced with him; but when, after a pause, he rose slowly and gracefully to his
feet, what she saw then made her forget all thoughts of pain.
Oh yes! Oh yes yes yes!
Claudia felt a crazy urge to wolf-whistle, but kept the sound as a silent tribute
inside her mind. Whoever this mysterious stranger was, his body was familiar
to her senses. He had exactly the kind of physique she had always preferred
in a man. Spare and lean, but strong looking; with fine, straight limbs, and
a chest that was deep, nicely defined, but free of hair. His swinging penis
was substantial and distinctly perky. Claudia would have liked a better look
at that particular part of him, but he chose that moment to jump back down into
Under cover of the aquatic commotion, Claudia crept a little nearer, and sank
into a more comfortable semi-crouch. In spite of her concern about the young
man's injuries, her overwhelming feeling as she watched him was excitement.
A delicious, clandestine devilment that sped through her system like a fortifying
wine. He was so gorgeous, so appealing, so unaware of her. She felt as if she
was stealing pleasure from his winsome, youthful body.
You ought to be ashamed of yourself, woman, she chided, grinning hugely, and
feeling even more recovered than she had done earlier. She was a widow, and
getting a little too close to middle age for her own liking, but the sight of
this man, so innocently vulnerable, yet so tempting, filled the female core
of her with sudden jolt of yearning.
Who are you, mystery man? she thought, feeling her own body come alive beneath
her cotton dress and minimal, summer undies. And what are you doing here in
my little bit of river?
After a few moments, what he was doing became quite evident. As Claudia watched
from her hiding place, her heart hammering madly and her fingertips tingling
with the denial of not touching him, the young man began a makeshift but strangely
First, he ducked his head, then rose again, rubbing at his tousled hair and
making the motions of shampooing it. He washed his face carefully too, running
his fingertips over his jaw as if he were monitoring the length of his stubble.
His regretful shrug indicated that he generally preferred to be clean-shaven,
but as there was clearly nothing he could do about it, he began to dash water
over his arms and back and shoulders, again and again and again; so much so
that Claudia wanted to race back to the house, and return with towels and shampoo
and shower gel, and all the fragrant, expensive grooming products that a man
so fastidious would clearly relish. He even scrubbed frantically at his teeth
and his gums with the pad of his forefinger.
When he had attended to his upper body to his satisfaction, the young man moved
towards the bank, into the shallower water, in order to wash himself just as
thoroughly below the waist.
Claudia held her breath again. Believing himself alone, her cleanly young god
was completely uninhibited, and after working his way up over his legs and thighs,
he began massaging water freely over his buttocks and his genitals. Claudia
watched wide-eyed as he meticulously scrutinised and dowsed himself; then shared
his wry, but unexpectedly sunny smile when the inevitable physical reaction
to this occurred.
It took her all her time not to sigh, then gasp, as the stranger's wet penis
swelled into long, stiff erection between his fingers. As he handled himself,
his lean young face became more tranquil, losing the expression of fear, and
worried sadness that had seemed to haunt it. In the midst of her own arousal
- a rush of wet heat between her legs that was so sudden and so copious it shocked
her - Claudia realised that caressing himself was as much a comfort to the young
man as it was an act of sex. He seemed reassured by his body's own responses.
But that took nothing away from the eroticism of his performance.
As the stranger's eyes closed and his head tipped back, Claudia felt as if a
gate she had been pushing against had finally swung wide open. The feelings
that had been coming back gradually were suddenly all-consuming. Watching the
flashing fingers of the young man in the river, she gave herself permission
to reach down and clutch her groin.
She wanted to laugh. She wanted to cry. She wanted to lie back, throw her legs
apart and make herself come until she couldn't see straight. But most of all
she wanted to thank her mystic stranger.
That bud of happiness was now an open flower.
© Portia Da Costa and Virgin Books 1997 and 2012
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