I’ve always been fascinated with sex and the senses. My first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly, is a modern retelling of Psyche and Eros in which the heroine is not allowed to see her lover’s face. The third book in The Mount series, To Rome with Lust, is based on what might happen if we were more like our animal cousins and better attuned to our sense of smell. What would that mean to us sexually? But what would happen if, in sex, we were denied the mother of all senses, the sense of touch? That was what I wanted to know when I wrote The Tutor, a novel about a haphephobic sculptor who works out his powerful sexual urges through his art. I wanted to experiment with just how dependent intimacy is on human touch and see if I could write a story in which there were viable substitutes.
The Tutor was inspired in a workshop led by fabulous writer and good friend, Kay Jaybee. I was given the prompt of a tin of pears in heavy syrup. From there, it was non-stop. The Tutor was one of the most interesting, and arousing, adventures in writing I’ve ever had. Here’s an excerpt involving the infamous tin of pears.
The Tutor Blurb
Struggling writer, Kelly Blake has a secret life as a sex tutor. Celebrated sculptor and recluse, Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine, can’t stand to be touched. When he seeks out Kelly’s advice incognito, the results are too hot to handle. When Kelly terminates their sessions due to what she considers her unprofessional behavior, Lex takes a huge risk, revealing his identity to her at a gala exhibition, his first ever public appearance. When Kelly helps the severely haphephobic Lex escape the grope of reporters and paparazzi, rumors fly that the two are engaged, rumors encouraged by well-meaning friends and colleagues. The press feeding frenzy forces Kelly into hiding at Lex’s mansion where he convinces her to be his private tutor just until the press loses interest, and she can go back home. They discover quickly that touch is not essential for sizzling, pulse-pounding intimacy. But intimacy must survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal.
Excerpt: A woman feels like nothing you’ve ever touched before
“Was this your idea or Dillon’s? Kelly asked, hoping to relax him.
“It was mine, after Andy told Dillon and he told me. I thought it was something that I …” The muscles along Lex’s jaw looked as though they were made out of iron, and a fine blush crawled up his neck tinting his ears bright pink. “I’ve never touched a woman … in that way.” He forced a laugh. “Obviously. I’ve …” the blush deepened and he avoided her gaze. “I’ve put lube on some of the sculptures – you know — down there, but I … well it isn’t the same.”
“The pears won’t be either,” she said, her heart suddenly aching at the physical isolation this man endured on a daily basis, and it wasn’t just her heart that ached, she felt his lack deep in her core. It had been easier with Andy. She had been almost flippant with him. She was sorry for that now. She spread one of the towels on the Queen Anne chair across from him and settled herself onto it so they were facing each other. “The texture will be different and with the pear there’ll be less give.” She dipped her fingers in the bowl and rubbed the heavy juice between her index finger and her thumb. “If you touch a woman, she’ll be much warmer.” She gave him a conspiratorial smile. “You’ll be amazed at how warm and how soft she’ll be down there when she’s ready to be touched. With Andy, this,” she nodded down to the pears, “was improvisation, this was the best I could do under the circumstances, but a woman, well a woman feels like nothing you’ve ever touched before.”
He was no longer avoiding her gaze. His eyes were locked on her, and he was struggling to keep them on her face, she knew that; she understood the urge for him to drop his eyes to the place of which she spoke, the place with which she was so intimate, the place that couldn’t help but respond to the topic, to the situation, to the strange intimacy they had shared almost since the moment they’d met. “You can look, if you want,” she opened her legs so that he could see the place in between clothed in black denim, completely disguised and yet so very obvious. “And I’ll look at you too,” she nodded down to his own jeans straining to contain him already. “It’s what men and woman are naturally inclined to do when there’s a sexual attraction.”
With her heart hammering in her throat, she took one of the pear halves into the cupped palm of her left hand, then she brought it down between her spread thighs, feeling the juice of it run over her fingers and drip onto the towel as she spread her legs a little farther and held her palm to mimic the position of her vulva. “Touch it like a woman would touch it, and you’ll always get it right.” She drug her index and middle finger up from the bottom of the pear to the center and felt her own body respond in empathy. “The pear has no folds, no secret valleys, no swollen flesh to be teased open, so you’ll have to use your imagination with that.”
Lex gave a little moan soft and deep in his chest as he shifted to make himself more comfortable. “I know the anatomy,” he said. “I’ve watched porn and I’ve studied drawings. I know how it looks like it might feel. I know the response it elicits.” His tongue flicked nervously over his upper lip. “Of course that’s just acting, isn’t it?”
“Porn is about fantasy, about voyeurism, and it doesn’t matter if it’s real if it gets you off. But when it is real,” she spread her index and middle finger up the sides of the pear’s central opening, “if you’re good, if your sensitive, you’ll feel the spasms of your lover’s orgasm, even see them if you’re using your tongue; and you can feel them gripping at your cock when your inside her. If you’re paying attention.
“The clitoris,” she laughed softly, “Well with Andy I used a Ticktack, but he’s a chemistry major. He likes charts and graphs and periodic tables. You’re an artist, you live in your imagination, so you don’t need a Ticktack. Some women like the thumb stroking and circling while the other fingers work inside. Some women like to use their fingers.” She demonstrated on the pear, and Lex groaned. “It’s always best to ask and be sure.”
“What do you like?” His words were a labored rasp against the back of his throat, and Kelly found herself stunned by the question, and way more aroused than she wanted to be. He shouldn’t have asked. She should have answered. But she did.
“I like it this way.” She shifted her hips and opened a little further so he could see her thrust and scissor, circle and probe technique, and her body responded with the tight grip and release of muscle memory.
“Jesus,” he whispered moving forward on the sofa and leaning closer for a better look. “And when someone uses their tongue?”
She caught her breath in a giddy laugh. “Afraid I can’t tell you what I do since, sadly I’m not that flexible.”
“But you can tell me what you like.” His voice had gone rough.
“I like the flat of the tongue to part me and then probe me, circle my clit and then kiss and suck.” She closed her eyes, finding it difficult to meet his gaze when she spoke about something so intimate, so secret. Come to think of it, she’d never had a man actually ask her how she liked it. The few who had given a rat’s ass about her pleasure had been happy enough to let her order them about, but never quite got the hang of it.
It was the loud schussing sound that caused her to open her eyes. Lex had moved the coffee table out of the way paying no attention to the slosh of pear juice all over the towel V had spread. His eyes were locked on Kelly as he fished out his own pear half and fell to his knees in front of her. When she realized what the man was about to do she dropped the pear she’d been holding with a little gasp of surprise and scooted as far back in the chair as she could. He knelt low, holding the pear in the cup of his hand, as she had, placing it against the edge of the chair between her legs! She gave a little yelp and scrambled back in the chair still further, spreading her thighs over the rise of the chair arms to keep from touching him. He moved forward, the back of his hand so close to her crotch that she could feel the heat of it, and he lowered himself still further until his hair nearly brushed the insides of her thighs. Then, still looking up at her from his position on the floor, he began at the bottom of the open pear half and ran his tongue flat and undulating all the way up, flicking in just slightly in a little circle at the top end before he closed his lips around the apex and she could hear the slurp and suck of the sweet syrup.
“Oh! Lex! Ah!” And then she went non-verbal, holding her breath, tightening muscles deep inside her body, the only muscles she dared to move if she were to keep from touching him. She raised both arms and fisted her hands in a suicide grip around the back of the chair to keep from curling them in his hair. Her thighs trembled from her efforts to keep her legs on the chair arms and not throw them over his shoulders for leverage. She didn’t move. She didn’t breath as he licked and nuzzled and suckled until pear juice ran down his chin and onto his tee-shirt, until his face was damp and sticky, until his forehead was sheened with perspiration, and still he held her gaze as though they were locked together in each other’s orbit neither able to move without the other’s consent.
“Oh God, I’m gonna come.” She barely managed a warning when his own convulsion brought him dangerously near her body. He had stopped breathing, she was sure of it. She practically climbed the back of the chair to keep from touching him as he lost control. Then with a tremendous gasp of oxygen, he straightened, let the pear fall from his hand onto the aubusson carpet and looked up at her.
“I’m going to pass out.” And he did.