In these tales of sizzling erotic romance, deep affection and the warmth of familiarity underlie the erotic connection between longtime lovers. “The Plant on the Mantel” explores the unexpected implications of a generations-past affair on a young married couple. “Honey Changes Everything” finds Kim wondering how to lead her husband out of his state of despair upon losing his job; inspiration comes when breakfast in bed serves up more than just pancakes. And “If…” and “…Then” examine what happens when Valerie finds herself intensely attracted to someone other than her boyfriend—and what he does when he finds out.
With original stories (“Soft and Gray” and “Shattered Angels”) joining the eight previously published tales in this collection, If… Then is a testament to the scorching eroticism that can so seamlessly subsist with long-term romance. " In these ten tales of sizzling erotic romance, deep affection and the warmth of familiarity underlie the erotic connection between longtime lovers. If… Then is a testament to the scorching eroticism that can so seamlessly subsist with long-term romance.
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I entered the bedroom as Sylvia was turning down the sheets, already in her nightgown. Her countenance was thoughtful, as it had been since our return from her grandparents’ estate.
“What’s going to happen to the plant?” I asked her.
“What?” She straightened and turned to me.
“The plant. At your grandparents’ house. Where’s it going to go?”
“Oh,” her voice sounded casual, but for some reason I suspected the thought wasn’t new to her. She paused. “I don’t know.”
“It just seems kind of important, it being so old. Seems like someone should take care of it.”
Sylvia looked introspective and nodded.
“I never really knew my grandmother,” she said after a silence.
I looked at her, unsure where this new thread was going.
“I mean, we lived much further away from them when I was growing up, and I was only 19 when she died.” Sylvia sat on the bed, still not looking at me.
“Her affair seemed...mysterious. I wonder if there are more letters that we didn’t find, or how it ended, or why. I wonder if my grandfather found out. My mom and sister and I found the letters—we decided not to mention them to him,” she added.
I had wondered those things briefly too, but since she hadn’t volunteered any information, I hadn’t wanted to ask. I watched her. She still hadn’t looked at me.
“They were very...explicit. The letters, I mean.” I thought I saw Sylvia blush faintly, and a soft, spontaneous smile lifted my lips.
She looked at me then and saw it. “Yeah, I know, you think I’m a prude,” she said with a self-deprecating smile, huffing a little as she looked back down.
I went to the bed and sat beside her. “No, I don’t think you’re a ‘prude,’” I said. I didn’t. She tended to be somewhat reserved verbally and publicly about sex, but it didn’t stop her from letting loose when it came down to the act. I smiled. “I just think it’s interesting that you would seem surprised that your grandmother may have been sexually ‘explicit.’”
Sylvia blushed more and laughed a little, still looking down. “Well, it’s admittedly not something I ever thought about in relation to her. I just experienced my grandparents as so...stiff. You know?”
I shrugged. “Maybe that’s why she did it. Maybe she didn’t fit in with that environment and needed more than she was getting.”
Sylvia looked up at me, slight surprise in her expression.
“I’m sorry,” I said immediately. “I didn’t mean to be disrespectful to your grandfather.” I paused. “I almost forgot who we were talking about for a minute.”
She looked back down, nodding. “Yeah. I know what you mean. That happened to me earlier this evening when you talked about the plant. What it had seen.” Her voice trailed off. “It’s weird to think that it was sitting there that whole time, all those years, in that same place. It’s been alive and sitting on that mantle for more than half a century.”
I pictured the motionless collection of sturdy leaves, twined together and looped around each other and the surrounding objects, growing languidly for six decades in the best seat in the room for anything that took place there.
-from ""The Plant on the Mantel""
Emerald is the pen name of Emily McCay, an erotic fiction author whose work has been featured in anthologies published by Cleis Press, Mischief, and Logical-Lust. She is an advocate for sexual freedom, reproductive rights, and the rights of sex workers, and she serves as a Facebook group moderator and assistant newsletter editor for Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW). Her first single-author collection, If…Then: a collection of erotic romance stories, is out now from 1001 Nights Press. Find her online at http://www.TheGreenLightDistrict.org.