I worked Monday, still sore. Tuesday I came down with some kind of cold or flu, and spent the next two days in bed. Everywhere that had ached with strain ached with fever, so I probably had weakened my self with my stupid bike ride.

I'm back on my feet today. My head hurts, but I didn't want to stay home any longer. With Sunday that's three days in bed already this week. And I'm going to give Charles's dance preparation a try this evening.


I spent most of Thursday looking through resumes. We ran an ad in last weekend's paper. Most of what I saw I find hard to believe came from people who had read the wording. It's one thing to apply for a job with less experience than we need, that's expected. Like other negotiations, employment ads usually aim high. But to have no experience at all...

Anyway, there were a few who looked interesting, one especially, who's currently in Massachusetts. I asked Terry about bringing in someone from out of state. He doesn't want to pay relocation, but if we can't find the right people here, he said he'd be willing to work with her. Just be sure we do as much screening by phone as we can, so we don't bring her here without a really good idea of who we're getting, even before a face to face interview.

I'll call her over the weekend and get that started.

My "lesson" with Charles went well, though I had to cut it short, because I wasn't completely over the aches. Since it wasn't a formal lesson (i.e. since I wasn't paying the studio where he teaches) we just worked around everything else that was going on. He wanted to work a simple routine with me for tonight's dance. I say simple, but that's only by his standards... although for me it is fairly simple, because his lead is always telling me precisely what to do.

We did okay, and when we danced it with the right music, I could tell that it looked great. The other people at the studio seemed to think so, too.

So that's for tonight, and since it's something of a special occasion, I'm going shopping this afternoon.


Before I left for the mall, I'd been thinking along the lines of a strapless black gown, but I was sidetracked by more colorful evening wear, and fell in love with a backless fuchsia dress. I tried to put it aside, because I had nothing that would work with the color, but I kept coming back to it, and finally tried it on, which convinced me my search was over.

It's bright, but it works perfectly with my coloring. The top is held just over the breasts by two narrow straps, dropping away slightly between the straps and again under the arms. The straps angle outwards, reconnecting to the top on the outside of the shoulder blades, barely behind the arms, and the line continues smoothly down, curving in just above waist height. So the back is completely open, but not uncomfortably low.

The skirt is layered, mid-length and asymmetric. The lowest point of the hem is just below the knee, but the layers cross just above the knee, which give it the appearance almost of a wrap, except that it flows into the top, which is smooth from waist to bust. The matching scarf complements the wrap look of the skirt without spoiling the smooth lines of the top.

After I'd bought it, I had to find shoes, earrings, and even makeup to coordinate with fuchsia.

All in all, a little extravagant for an evening's dance party. And with the color, it isn't something I'm going to be able to wear very often, like the black dress would have been. Perhaps I can wear it to Clarice and Rob's New Year's party.

Charles picked me up for the party. It was much different from the first dance I went to with him. Smaller, more intimate, and everyone - well, almost everyone - was a good dancer. I didn't have the problems I'd had then with weak leads, because most of the guys I danced with were very good, though not as good as Charles, and the ones who weren't knew their own limitations. The only times I got into trouble were when a guy would think I knew more than I did, and I'd not be able to follow as he expected.

There were several short exhibition dances. Our swing routine was one of the first, and went well. And was great fun to dance. Watching some of the others, though, left me in awe. I would love to be able to dance like that. Of course, they've been doing it for years....

Laurel wasn't there. Yolanda was, but she'd brought a date, so she left Charles and me pretty much to ourselves. Charles introduced me around, and partnered me with several guys by stealing their wives or dates from them to dance.

There was plenty of wine - good wine - but that wasn't why I had trouble walking when I left. My ankles were aching from the high heels, the muscles in my legs were showing signs of rebelling so soon after the overuse last week and fever cramps this week, and I could feel ever imperfection of the new shoes in the soles of my feet. I stumbled against Charles a couple of times when we left. "I think I can dance better than I can walk," I said.

It was after one when we got to my house. I invited him in, partly to have someone to lean on - my feet felt even more tender after a few minutes rest. As soon as we got inside I hung up my coat, unwrapped the scarf, and traded my shoes for bunny slippers.

"Nice, ummm... nice clothing sense," Charles commented.

I made him coffee and talked to him about dancing.

"I want to learn those Latin dances you were doing with Emily," I said.

"I'll teach you," he offered.

"Well," I said, "I don't know if I want to come to you for private lessons. I'm always uneasy doing business with friends. One always gets in the way of the other."

"I was thinking more informally," he said. "Just at social occasions, or like we did Thursday. Though you could sign up, I wouldn't have a problem with that. Maybe you could sign up with someone else and then I'll just work with you occasionally."

"Is there anyone else as good as you?" I asked.

"Sure," he replied. "You saw a few of them today. You know I'm not really a professional, I just teach on the side to support the studio and my own lessons."

"You still take lessons?" I asked, surprised.

"Some," he said. "Not as often as I once did."

"What would I do if I were to take lessons?"

"Improve, of course," he grinned.

"No, I mean, specifically."

"Well, you know the basic steps, and you learn very quickly. You need to see beyond the step, you check your feet from time to time, and that confuses you. What comes next is really presentation, which is different for each type of dance."

"Like the wiggle."

"Yeah, the wiggle," he agreed with a smile. "Latin hip motion, we call it. Or the hourglass shape with smooth dancing. Swing's less demanding for presentation. Looking good in waltz or fox-trot, that takes some practice."

"Show me," I said.

He nodded and set his coffee down. When I stood, he took me in a close dance hold, then told me to freeze where I was, and backed away, with my arms still outstretched. Then he repositioned me, having me lean slightly back, pushed at my shoulders to angle me differently, my chin to make me look up and to the left. He moved my arms into more of a semi-circle, then moved back into position, closer than before, but leaning away, his stomach touching mine.

"The lead is from here," he said, touching his waist. "If we dance this close, you'll always know where I am and what I'm doing. You see a couple's feet moving in perfect sync, staying exactly together, that's how. And the shape we make, it's an hourglass. That's the classic closed position for smooth dances. Try a waltz box step, you'll feel it."

He was right, I could. We did a few steps, and I could tell exactly where he was. Then I burst out laughing and collapsed on him.

"What's up?" he asked.

"Waltzing in bunny slippers," I said.

He grinned. "Then try cha-cha."

Again, he positioned me, this time with my hips away, leaning slightly in. He walked me through the basic step, which I knew, then said "now try it with the wiggle."

"'Latin hip motion'," I corrected him.

I tried, but I couldn't get the motion right, not and move through the basic step. So we separated, and he moved me through it in slow motion, then making the steps by myself, while he watched my hips. "Much better," he said.

So he held me again to lead me through the basic step, and this time I did okay. I do think it would get to feel more natural with practice.

"You're doing great," he said, then raised his hand for an underarm turn, and my slipper slid on the carpet. I collapsed against him again, partly because he caught me as I lost my footing, but mainly because I was laughing so hard.

"Thank you," I said, still laughing, and still holding him.

"For what?" he asked.

I looked up at him. "For the lesson. I promise if I ever take a public private lesson," which made me giggle again, tiredness was making me silly, "I won't wear bunny slippers."

"No, you'll wear Winnie the Pooh footwear, I know."

"Hey," I said, "how did you know I have Pooh shoes?" Which also seemed funny at the time. "And," I added, "thanks for the dance. I really did enjoy it. I hope you'll invite me again."

"Oh, I will," he murmured, "if you promise not to wear Pooh slippers." Then he kissed me.

It felt good, after an evening's closeness, holding his waist and responding seemed more natural than dancing, certainly in bunny slippers... and I clung to him as my belly started tingling.

His fingers caressed the back of my neck, then hooked the thin shoulder straps to slide down my arms. The top loosened and started to slip off my breasts.

"Mmm," I said, releasing him to catch it before it collapsed completely. "I don't think so."

Charles was instantly contrite. "I'm sorry," he said. "I thought... I guess I misread. I hope I haven't offended you."

I shook my head. "No," I said softly, "no, I don't think you misread me. Not really. Just... not tonight, okay?"

If he was feeling guilty, it didn't stop him watching in fascination as I pulled the straps back into place. When my top was secure, I held his neck and kissed him thoroughly enough to convince him I wasn't offended.

Then I pushed him away. "Goodnight, Charles," I said, and worked on untwisting the straps.

"Let me help," he said, "I got you all tangled."

"No, that's okay," I replied. "It's coming right off, 'cause I'm going to bed."

"Hey, that was my idea too!"

"That's what I figured," I said, grinning, "and that's why I'm saying goodnight. Goodnight, Charles."

"Goodnight, Helen."

I hugged him at the door and pushed him out into the cold night. Then I went to bed, wondering why I'd turned him down. But I guess a partial answer lies in the fact that I must have lain awake for all of two minutes before sleep hit me so hard I still felt metaphorical bruises this morning.

We've gotten over the storms here, for a while they just seemed to keep rolling in, but where it was warming up a week or so back, it's gotten cold again. I certainly needed my coat when Charles picked me up yesterday, and when he brought me home the temperature had dropped much further. Today was still cold in spite of the sunshine, though it seems to not be quite so biting today.

Not that I've spent much time outside today. If I'm going to any other occasions like last night, I really need to start taking lessons, just so I can toughen up the soles of my feet... :-)


Yesterday evening I finally managed to talk to the job candidate I mentioned last week. It turns out I was using the wrong pronoun... he has one of those names that could be either sex, and I guessed wrong. Anyway, he seems very capable. His wife has family in Texas, and he wants to get back here, he isn't looking because of a poor job market in Massachusetts.

Anyway, I was very impressed with what he says he can do. I talked to him for about a half-hour. Now it's Mary's turn. If she agrees, we'll ask Terry if we can bring him down for interview.

So I talked to Mary about him, and about things in general. I mentioned how I really wasn't looking forward to Thanksgiving, not having Brian around, and she sympathizes, having broken up with her boyfriend earlier this year.

Then she said, "Hey, why don't you come over, we'll have an all-girls Thanksgiving. Do you know anyone else to invite?"

"Not sure. I might be able to find one or two. How many do you want?"

"Maybe another two. More than five of us in the living room would be a tight squeeze. Which reminds me, watching the Thanksgiving football game is way more fun without guys around."


"I'll get the turkey, so I can start cooking it before anyone arrives," she said. "When we know who's coming, we can figure out what each of us can do. But bring booze."

"Will do," I said.

Charles sent me flowers at work, and I'm not sure how to take it. It wasn't an extravagant, romantic arrangement of roses, just a small clear vase of garden flowers, daisies and chrysanthemums. With a note that said "thanks for a great evening".

A couple of hours later, I got email from him which said the real message was to apologize for causing me any embarrassment. But that he couldn't put that on the note, because that would probably embarrass me if anyone read the note...

I wonder if he stopped to consider what my co-workers would think just about me getting flowers. Especially since the only time anyone has sent me flowers here was Brian, and most people here remember Brian both as a colleague and as my fiancé. So I've been answering questions with "No, they're not from Brian", and "No, he's just a guy I know".

Of course, he doesn't know all the history, and I can certainly forgive him for not considering that the implications here are somewhat different than what he intended, but that isn't what's bothering me.

It's this: I'm not interested in romantic involvement. With Charles, or anyone else at the moment. I did have a great time Saturday, and I did regret sending him home, but I'm not looking for a replacement for Brian. And even if I were, he wouldn't be it.

Saturday night, well, I wasn't lying to Charles when I said he hadn't misunderstood. (Do I always write sentences in multiple negatives? I don't think I've noticed before...) He didn't misunderstand. I would have liked to take him to bed, and, obviously, he picked up on that. Hell, it wouldn't have been hard.

So why didn't I?

Partly it was tiredness, but I think we could have overcome that. Partly it's because our relationship is confused. He's been my teacher, my dance partner, my date, a close friend of a close friend (Bev), and is intimate with two other friends, Laurel and Yolanda. And in spite of all this, and in spite of the fact that I consider him a friend, he's little more than a stranger in most ways.

Can I sleep with him one night and pay him for a dance lesson the next? If I sleep with him and don't pay him, would I feel like I was trading sex for tuition? Would he come between Yolanda and/or Laurel and me?

What is his relationship with Yolanda and Laurel anyway? They're obviously not exclusive. Yolanda had a date Saturday, and I didn't see any jealousy from Charles, or from her towards me. But they're together often enough that I have to believe they have a long-term relationship, exclusive or otherwise. Yet none of them fits my concept of what Jill calls "shiny poly people".

The thing is, if Charles can fool around with Laurel and Yolanda, but not be tied down, he's probably capable of spending the night with me without the need to turn casual sex into getting involved. But sending flowers hints of romance, and on top of all the confusion factors above, is he wanting more from me than I would be looking to give?


Mary talked to Mel, the guy in Massachusetts, [Mel isn't his name, of course, but I seem to have used up most of the names I can think of which could be interpreted as either gender, so if Mel doesn't fit what you'd think of as most likely female, my apologies; personally, Mel seems more likely to mean Melanie than Melvyn, so it works for me] and she thought he seemed very sharp. So we talked to Terry, and I'll call him back tonight to see if I can get him down here within the next week or so to meet us all.

I asked Bev last night to see if she wanted to come with me to Mary's on Thursday, but she and Carrie are planning a Thanksgiving at home. So I tried Yolanda, who is going to her family, but she thought Laurel was going to be alone. So I called her, and she thought it would be a great idea. Mary found one other, so I think we should have a good party.

We're planning to get together at eleven on Thursday. Mary says the turkey will take about four hours, so if she starts it at nine-thirty, we'll be ready to eat at about two. The Cowboys are on at three-thirty. Personally, I could skip that part of the program, but what the hell, it's Mary's party.


Looks like we'll be able to get Mel here this weekend. He'll come down Saturday night, and Mary, Terry, and I will interview him Sunday. I've set up another couple of interviews next Monday, too.


I got to Mary's about 9:30 a.m. yesterday. She had the turkey in the oven already. There were two other girls there already, Wendy, Mary's friend, and Irene, who Wendy brought. Laurel arrived a few minutes after me. I hugged her and introduced her around.

We started cooking. Mary's kitchen was way too small for all of us, so we time-shared the labor, switching off with lounging in her living room drinking. While Wendy and Irene were with Mary in the kitchen, Laurel asked me what I'd done to Charles.

"What I did to him? Nothing, why?"

"I saw him Sunday. He seemed to think he'd upset you."

I shook my head. "No, he didn't. He sent me flowers, though, so I guess he thought he did."

"So why did he think so?"

"Uhhh... we had a slight disagreement."

"What about?"

I lowered my voice. "About whether I was keeping my clothes on."

Laurel started choking on her wine. I took her glass from her and handed her a tissue as she started to cough. "Oh, God, really?" she asked, between coughs. "He wouldn't say."

"No, I'm sure he wouldn't," I said. "I probably shouldn't, either, but I want to ask what he is to you and Yolanda." I gave her drink back to her.

She frowned at me. "You didn't turn him down because you think you'd upset us, I hope."

"No," I said, "but... you three seem to have a long-term thing going. I don't want a long-term thing. I don't want a thing of any kind."

She nodded. "We go back a long time. We've worked together on stage. We've screamed at each other off stage. We drink, we look out for each other. We have fun together, usually fully dressed." She had an impish grin as she repeated, "Usually. But we don't really have any kind of 'thing'."

"And Yolanda?"

"I meant the three of us," she said. "If you and Charles were to have a night or twenty of passion, it wouldn't affect us. And if it did, like I say, we don't have any commitment."

I sighed. "You haven't really helped me. I want to know if he's looking for a relationship."

She looked pensive. "I don't think so," she said, "but I really don't know. I know he likes you a lot."

"I like him," I said. "If I didn't, it wouldn't be an issue. I just don't want any romantic involvement, with him or anyone else."

Laurel reached out to brush an imaginary strand of hair out of my face. "Not with anyone?" she pouted. "I'm heartbroken." Then she grinned. "Except Brian, I'll bet. You're still rebounding."

"God," I said, "if Brian walked through that door, right now, I'd..." I slumped back on the couch. "I don't know what I'd do," I said. Then I held my glass out to her. "Please?"

She smiled at me and topped up my drink.

The food was ready soon after that, and pandemonium reigned for a time. But finally we were ready. Mary's table can seat six, but not with all the food, so we set it out in the kitchen and filed through.

I'm sure we each gained several pounds at lunch :-) Especially with the pies...

Laurel and I collected up plates, and since we'd skipped most of the preparation, we washed dishes while Mary led the others through to watch the Cowboys.

"Sounds like they're having a good time," Laurel commented as the sounds of laughter grew in the living room.

"Yeah, let's finish up and see what's going on," I said, and pretty soon we had the last of the dishes in the dishwasher.

Irene was sitting on the left side of the love-seat; I sat on the right, and Laurel squeezed in between us. It was cramped, but better than getting one of the chairs from the dining room. Then we could join in the fun, which consisted mainly of crude jokes - Mary's a changed person away from the office, and we were guzzling wine - with comments about the builds of the various players. I'm sure that "tight butt" isn't really a qualification for being part of an offensive line.

It wasn't all about form and function, though, we did watch the game. Although the Cowboys were first on the board, they didn't seem able to do anything but score field goals, and Minnesota pulled ahead in the second quarter. For a change, I wasn't the only one not rooting for the Cowboys, Mary's from St. Paul, and is a Vikings fan. But the game was boring, and after the Cowboys failed to make up the gap by half time, we turned the TV off and stayed with the jokes and the booze.

Even the hilarity tapered off after a while, but not because we weren't having fun, more that we were really comfortable. We still found plenty to giggle about, but we talked about personal stuff. Irene told us about her boyfriend spending Thanksgiving with his parents, telling her at the last minute that he'd decided to do that, and not offering to take her.

"On the subject of jerks," said Wendy, "I saw Ray a couple of weeks ago." Ray was Mary's ex-boyfriend.

"Oh, how's the rat doing?" asked Mary.

"About the same," replied Wendy. "He was with a Chinese girl, who looked ready to bite his head off."

"Cool," said Mary, "maybe she knows Kung Fu." Then she looked at me. "You know who I keep thinking of? Do you remember Rick?"

"Sure," I said, "the reporter."

"Yeah, him. I've been wondering if he'll ever cover another conference here."

"Email him," I suggested.

"Yeah, maybe," she said. "What about the other guy? Rick said he struck out with you, but now you're single again... what was his name?"

"Keith," I said.

"Oh," said Laurel. She reached up and brushed my cheek with the back of a finger, and I felt my face start to burn. "I think your Rick was wrong."

"Really," agreed Mary. "Y'all kept things very quiet."

"Did I tell you," I asked Laurel, "I've decided to take dancing lessons?"

She looked puzzled. "No. When did you decide that?"

"Oh, 'bout five seconds ago," I said, "so that I can change the subject."

They all laughed.

Mary wouldn't let go. "So you and Keith were doing the horizontal bop all along?"

"God, Mary," I said. "You don't give up, do you? No, we weren't. Not last year, anyway."

"You've seen him again?"

"Yeah, twice. But we didn't... well, we didn't, anyway, until I saw him in Canada a couple of months back."

"Mmm," she mused, "and just after that you broke up with Brian? Coincidence?"

"No," I said, "no coincidence. Now can we change the subject?"

Laurel put her arm around my shoulders, and said "Poor Helen."

"Thank you, Laurel," I said. Then I snuggled back against her. "This is more comfortable, are you okay with it?"

"Sure," she said. "It was a little cramped."

"It isn't designed for three," agreed Mary.

Soon after that the conversation flagged. The food and hilarity had drained me, and everyone else, apparently. Mary offered a second round of desert, but no-one took her up on it. I dozed for a while. While I drifted, I felt someone stroking my face, fingers on my right cheek. That seemed to go on for a long time, but it didn't wake me up. What woke me was the sound of laughter, and my name...

When I opened my eyes, I found I'd nestled even closer to Laurel, my head resting on her shoulder while her right arm was still wrapped around me. She brushed my hair back with her left hand as I was looking around, and said "You snore."

"Do not," I said, sitting up, and everyone burst out laughing. So I guess I do... or at least, was doing.

Mary brought coffee, and this time she succeeded in twisting our arms for pumpkin pie.

"One year ago today," I announced, "I was sitting in front of a wood fire, out in the country, with my brother, my best friend, and my fiancé, playing poker. What a difference a year makes."

"Hmm," said Mary, "one year ago today, that would be Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. No, this is a leap year, it would be Tuesday."

"Oh, dammit, trust a programmer to be so literal," I said, amused. "Last Thanksgiving."

"We can't do the fire or the fiancé," she said, "but I have a deck of cards..."

Irene demurred, and said she needed to leave, but everyone else liked the idea. We said goodbye to Irene, with hugs and well-wishes all around, then Wendy and I cleared candles and condiments off the table and Laurel rolled up the tablecloth while Mary shuffled the cards.

We played for small stakes, mainly drinking coffee and talking. Many hands later, I was a few dollars down, most of my money going to Mary, while Wendy and Laurel were close to even.

"I think I'd better leave before y'all bankrupt me," I said, "but this was fun. Let's do it again, but not at Thanksgiving. I'm not sure I want to make losing at poker a Thanksgiving tradition."

Laurel left with me, Mary insisted we take plenty of wrapped left-overs, and after our goodbyes we took our packages to our cars. Then I hugged Laurel. "Thank you for coming."

"Thanks for inviting me," she said. "I had a good time."

"Yeah, me too."

She gave me a quick peck on the cheek and squeezed me before letting me go.


During the gas crisis and flooding in England, Rose documented the events in her journal. I think it's great to get the first-hand insight like that, especially from someone who's already sharing so much of her thoughts. I think it's much more immediate than some third-party commentator.

I keep thinking that I should have made an effort to do the same with the US Presidential election. The truth is, I'm already sick of the process, and it doesn't show any signs of going away.

I'll just say this: as far as I'm concerned, both candidates have proven themselves unfit to govern, and having no respect for the will of the people, using the courts to exclude the voices unfavorable to their own greed for power.

If this election had taken place in a third-world or Eastern European country, I don't even think the US would have certified the election as democratic. The widespread ballot mishandling, the lack of consistent procedures, and the loser of the popular vote being declared the election winner - to me they're signs of a failure of democracy.

I actually heard a commentator on NPR say in all seriousness that we need to keep the electoral college, because moving to election by popular vote would encourage the formation of smaller parties. As though the consolidation of power in two blocs which differ only in their opposition to one another is a good thing.

Well, perhaps my reaction to stupidity like that will show you why I avoid politics in my journal :-)

If there's a bright side to the credibility problem they've created, it's that the next four years of complete partisan deadlock is going to guarantee that neither candidate succeeds in the next election. If there's still a country left to govern.

[later:] Wow.

And I think Mary agrees with that assessment :-)

I want Mel. But only for the good of the company, you understand :-)

He seems very sharp, very familiar with our processes, and passed Mary's test with no problem. He's also a lean six-two, with short blond hair, glasses and greenish eyes. He reminds me a lot of a very tall version of Brian.

He's also married, and since he's leaving a good job in Mass. to move his wife closer to her family, I'd guess happily so. Damn :-)

Terry said it was our call, but he seemed pretty happy with what he saw, so he'll be making Mel an offer tomorrow, with a relocation allowance.

Mary and I went for a drink afterwards, then we got dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and I got home in the early evening.

I hope Mel takes the offer, I think he'll be a great asset. It makes me wonder if we shouldn't be looking out of state for people. I'll talk to Terry about that tomorrow.


I called Charles at work today to set up dance lessons with him. Yolanda had told him that I'd decided to take the plunge (Yolanda? I guess that didn't register when he said, but it was Laurel I told. I guess the girls have been talking about me :-) He's set me up for an hour on Thursday, then each Thursday through December. After that we'll see how it's working.

My two interviews went well yesterday. The first was a Mexican girl. She's twenty-three and doesn't have a degree, but has put herself through programming classes at a community college and wants to go back to school. She's definitely short on both experience and knowledge, but with as little formal programming education she's had, she seems to have achieved a lot. I'm willing to take a risk on her.

The other was a guy over forty, if I've figured out the dates in his resume correctly. That would make him the oldest guy in the group. He's been programming close to twenty years, and still seems to be on top of technology. He was let go by a local software company who just had massive layoffs. His project was dropped completely, and everyone in his group was laid off. It appears they're all being snapped up, and our ad just caught his eye at the right time.

He's been interviewing at other companies, so I don't know what the chance is of getting him, but I think he'd be an asset.


I guess I discovered how to make email start flowing again. Just don't publish a new story in a long time :-) And to all of those who've been wondering whether I've given up writing: nope, I'm working on a new story now. The two that are in work that I mentioned a few weeks ago are still going to happen, but not immediately. The bike ride story needs forcing back into shape. It changed on me while I was writing it.

Usually when that happens, I prefer what the story becomes to what I'd originally intended. It has happened already with the new story, which didn't start out being a romance, but as a romance it's working okay. Sometimes, though, you need to grab the story and twist it back into shape. The Prince was like that; it wasn't a hard story to write, because I had it carefully mapped out, but I did have to ride it to be sure it didn't head off in the wrong direction.

The bike ride story is more of a mood piece. While I quite like what it became as a readable little piece, it isn't what I wanted, and I think the original feeling is worth pursuing. So it's on hold for a while. Not because I suddenly hate bike riding :-)

In fact, if the weather warms up at all, I'll try to get out again this weekend.

The other story I'm working on has gone okay, but it changed a little as I was writing it, small changes which work well, but which made a little twist of dialog I was going to use as an ending not work. So it needs an ending before I can think about publishing. Expect it by Christmas. It will be called Reunion.

You'll notice when I do publish them that they're mainly about long-term relationships, like Best Friends. I don't think that means I'm running out of ideas. I think it means that writing Best Friends only touched on the possibilities of long-term acquaintances becoming lovers, and I want to explore other variations.