The Untold Dangers of Paperback Romances
Tumbling off White Horses
She liked being held, trapped between unforgiving wood at her back and a passionate man intent on ravishing her.
That he wanted her, she never doubted, yet he'd so successfully reined in his passions, held his desires under such tight control, that she'd got little taste of them ... until now.
Katie Bell did not manage to suppress a gasp as page two hundred and four was plucked brusquely from her grasp. She spluttered a bit, shoving her glasses up the bridge of her nose and clamouring around her paper strewn desk before her eyes managed to adjust from print ... to prat.
"What have we here Ms. Bell?" In his starched oxford shirt and grey trousers, Oliver Wood looked every bit like a handsome young Englishman, the kinds Orlando Bloom and Clive Owens got paid millions to make look natural. However Oliver, despite his looks, wasn't nice nor was he charming. Katie had discovered that fact over a decade ago on her first day of Hogwarts. The prat had highlighted then to the school's population, that poor muggle-born Katie didn't know what Quidditch was, and was, as a result, hopelessly useless.
The only thing that had changed in their relationship was, potentially, her knowledge of Quidditch. He was still a royal arsehole who liked nothing more than to embarrass her.
"Sod-off Wood!" She wanted to scream, but couldn't, because as the Gods would have it, Oliver Wood was her boss and such outbursts got one sacked more often than not. Instead she had to bite her tongue and force a smile, "It's nothing, Mr. Wood."
His blue eyes narrowed suspiciously at her answer, "Looks like a book, Bell."
A genuine genius this one, but she still managed, "That's right."
"You shouldn't be reading during my work hours, that's what lunch time is for!" His accent had the tendency to chip off the ends of words, when she'd been younger she used to ask him to repeat plays countless times just to annoy him. "And what is this rubbish anyways?"
He seemed revolted, not amused by the sight of the swooning woman on the front cover; it was probably made worse by the muscle bound man holding onto her waist wearing nothing more than a tattered shirt and trousers. "To Distraction?" He read the title, "You still read these?"
She could feel her face heating up, if it was from anger or humiliation, she couldn't tell. Around them, the occupants of their small office had begun to peer up from their work to watch, open mouthed, the exchange. "They help to clear my mind." Not, that it's any of your business.
"Not during my work hours!" He didn't bother to keep his voice down and bristling, Katie got to her feet. She was short, what was worse was that he was tall – but she needed to defend herself. And even her five feet two inch frame could be intimidating sometimes. Sometimes.
Katie rolled up the sleeves of her bright pink jersey. "Oliver, I'm doing my work." She indicated the piles of paperwork she hadn't touched and hoped he wouldn't search through, "I had a headache," She was, after all, very allergic to being around him, "And I took a short break," Since lunch.
He frowned, flipped her book open and then, to her horror, began to dictate, "His hand flexed, grabbed her bottom, oh my," the beast always had a flair for the dramatic, "his other hand kneaded her breast, I don't know a great many women who enjoy having their breasts ... kneaded," this got a few snickers from the brown nosing working folk.
"Bell, it would seem to me, you are just using this time to get your rocks off."
Her mouth dropped, "E-Excuse me!" More snickers and she was seeing red.
"Don't," sensing danger, he took her book and dropped it on top of her already cluttered desk, "let it happen again."
And then he was off, limping slightly but still blatantly sauntering along through the rows back to his personal office, side where his slag of an assistant would probably put all of his wood to good use.
"Carajo!" She began to swear like a dirty vagrant; Oliver had that profound effect on her, "Hijo de puta!"
"Katie!" Quite possibly her only friend in the office, a mousy brunette named Jane who was just as plain as her name both physically and otherwise, rushed over once Oliver's door had slammed shut. She didn't understand a word of Spanish, but could assume that her co-worker wasn't wishing Oliver a happy evening. "Katie, he just wants you to do your work to the best of your ability!"
"Que te den por el culo!" She needed a drink! A Tequila and Firewhiskey cocktail, on the rocks! She'd kill him! He had it coming! Twenty life sentences in Azkaban were more than worth it! Finally, taking a deep breath she spat out what the whole of the Wizarding world knew already, "I hate that man!"
"You shouldn't hate anyone." Jane, a good five inches taller than Katie, awkwardly tried to soothe her friend and force her back into her chair, "I'm know that you and Oliver have just slight differences but it's nothing that can't be reconciled over an evening of good tea."
Tea? These damn Brits and their fascination with hot water and shrubbery! "Eleven years!" She couldn't even put it into words, suddenly, Katie felt drained. She sank tiredly into her chair and faced her impending workload stoically. "Eleven years."
"I know, but, when he gets married next month, I know he'll be a lot more amiable." Jane smiled hopefully, a look that stretched her pale skin and thin lips in a terrible way. Poor, naive Jane. What world had she grown up in to believe that monsters like Oliver Wood could change with marriage? Especially when his old slaggy slag-mistress of a fiancée was off slagging down the neighbourhood. That slag.
Still, it wasn't worth the battle to push reality between Jane's ears. "You're right Jane," Katie picked up one of the files from the folder labelled, "Appeal to the Ban on Speedy-Fizz" and quite calmly and very quietly, she began to plot Oliver Wood's slow, painful demise, the victim of a transfiguration spell which would turn him into an amoeba.
Two years ago, when Katie had first gotten her supposedly cozy Ministry job in the Department of Magical Games and Sports, she'd been excited. Why not? The pay was decent; she got free passes to a lot of the big Quidditch matches and she could meet a lot of the Quiddich stars. Really, what more could she want?
She wasn't an over-achiever. She left that to her brothers and sisters, who all wanted desperately to crush stereotypes and promote racial equality in their world. She was the only magical one. None of them really dared to delve that deep into it. She didn't either.
She was fine with everything so long as everything was fine with her. Her eldest sister, Carmen, often scolded her for not doing more with her life, in her mind; it was a sin to not want to do anything other than get married and make babies. Katie, for everything inside of her, couldn't understand why.
She liked babies. She liked the process of making babies. She liked weddings.
Wasn't life about making yourself happy?
She had apparated right outside of flat later that evening, a great deal later on her Friday evening than she would have liked, since Wood wouldn't let her leave until she had finished looking over the patent for Speedy-Fizz. Bastard.
"Stefan!" She turned the old brass key into her door and pushed it forward, slipping into the soft darkness of her living room. It was a small, comfortable flat. Decorated with bright paintings and photographs and crammed with bookshelves overflowing with Mills and Boon. She was remarkably happy in her home. Katie liked the slightly tacky feel of the floral wallpaper and the zebra printed settee. She knew where everything was, even in the dark, and right now she wanted nothing more than to step four paces forward, oh yes, collapse onto her armchair, right there and finish her book.
She reached into handbag, retrieved eyeglasses, wand and book and sighed contentedly. With a flick of her wrist, the flat came alive with light, Katie leaned back into her chair, toed off her fashionably painful ballerina flats and returned to page two hundred and four.
Where was Stefan? She hadn't gotten far before that nagging train of thought stalled in her mind. He should be home by now. He didn't go out to pubs with the guys. He worked at Gringotts as a translator and spent most of his nights curled up next to her trying to conjugate Goblin verbs. He was a bore, she supposed, more than a bit on the dull side. She didn't mind though because most importantly, he was safe.
Men like Stefan did not feel the need to go around shagging everything that moved like other men. She never wondered where Stefan was, because he was always right next to her. Except now, when he wasn't.
Clucking her tongue, Katie peeled herself away from her seat, and carefully placed her book down in her spot. She hadn't missed any owls ... She hadn't missed some spontaneous date (date night was Saturday, always). Katie frowned before she saw it, his boots, dragon skin and impeccable, placed nearly by the linen closet. He was home?
"Stefan?" She began to wind her way through the living room, on her way to the bedroom, which was locked apparently. She clicked her tongue again, a nervous habit and tried to banish the remnants of paranoia left over from the war. "Alohomora!" And the door burst open.
"What the fuck!"
"Katia," his thick German accent floated thickly through the air, "My love, I-I can explain ..."
"You're gay!" She pointed with rattling limbs towards the blushing brunette hiding behind her paisley comforter. "You're gay!"
"No ... No ..." Stark naked, her boyfriend staggered out of her bed and wandered over to her, arms outstretched like a zombie from a horror film. "I am not happy, I am very sad by all of this."
"You are! You are a poof! A-A ..." In her bed! Her bed that she'd bought with her money. Oh, the things they'd done in that very bed! "I'm going to be sick!"
"I am not this poof," Stefan, with his dark brown eyes and thick accent was always adorable. He came over to a paralyzed Katie and offered her a hug. "I am what they call a Nancy boy."
"Like hell you are!" She slapped his arms away, "don't touch me! Don't you dare! How long has this been going on?"
Suddenly, she remembered the wand in her hand, "How long?" She pointed the tip at him angrily, it was useless, in her confused and tragic state she couldn't even remember any good hexes.
Stefan's reaction was immediate, his hands reached up into the air and he began to sob uncontrollably. "It-It is so hard ... having to hide who you are!"'
"Stop it!" Her long brown hair fell messily into her eyes, making everything seem like a messy, hairy blur. "Don't cry!"
"I cannot help it," Oh God, he was drooling, "I tried to love you!" From behind him, the muscular brunette began to sob as well, "But I couldn't help it! I need the cock!"
"Oh Merlin," She felt faint. Dropping her wand, Katie held her head in both her hands and staggered forwards, into the hands of Stefan and later, his lover, who had felt the need to comfort her as well.
"I don't know what to say," They sat her down on the bed, in the background Martin Gaye played on a loop. "I still love you Katia," Said Stefan, quite sincerely, "Raymond, go get her some tea."
"I hate tea," Raymond was also naked, he had a butterfly tattooed onto his stomach which fluttered occasionally. Katie tried not to stare. "Did you at least shower before you came home with me?" This couldn't be real.
"I did. Most of the time," Katie gagged. "I have always been honest with you! I tried to tell you I was batty man, I bought curtains!"
He had bought the curtains. The lavender curtains with the lace trim.
"I-I ..." Katie stumbled to her feet while methodically straightening her black work skirt. Stuttering over words and staggering over steps, she managed to walk slowly out of the bedroom door, "I need some air."
Stefan nodded, even putting up a hand in protest when Raymond wanted to follow her, "No, she needs time."
The two shared a meaningful look while Katie collected her jumper and purse. When the door had clicked shut behind her, the two lovers wasted no time is getting back to where they had been. Both lost in the anticipation of a night of unexpected pleasure, passion and wanting.
The Haunted Tide was a small place in the middle of London which had tried and failed to open as a chic, modern restaurant a few years back. They blamed the economy for their sudden change in business plan, now they were a bar, which had a three hour "happy hour" and free jello shots before ten.
It mostly attracted school leavers; those young, obnoxious eighteen year olds who were fascinated with the fact they could now, legally, indulge in public drunkenness. It really wasn't Oliver's scene. Really, it was a mistake he had wound up in there on his Friday night.
He'd been at wedding rehearsals, a tedious event which was ruining his weekends one Friday night at a time. He supposed he didn't mind, all things considered, the wedding was necessary and therefore, so were rehearsals.
Tonight however, rehearsals had been notably worse than usual. One of the bridesmaids, it seemed, had shagged one of his groomsmen – who had, of course (being male after all), bragged about the ordeal to the other groomsmen, expecting congratulations. Unfortunately, he had forgotten that Anna-Kaye's ex-boyfriend, Derek, was a member of the wedding party. Derek had promptly kicked his arse to a bloody pulp and attempted to curse Anna-Kaye. Two flower girls, his best man and two bridesmaids had been hexed in the entire ordeal.
Right now, he was on his way home from St. Mungo's.
He had walked that night, rather than apparated, all the while thinking longingly about his broomstick. A beautiful Nimbus Thunder – right retired now and stashed away at the back of his closet. It was a beautiful night for flying. He looked up thoughtfully into the dark, starless night while his leg gave a sudden sting. Not tonight, mate, it seemed to say.
The Haunted Tide was right in his line of vision after that. The blinking "Happy Hour" neon letters caught his attention – why not? He deserved a drink after what he'd been through tonight.
It was a small room, brightly lit with black furniture propped against lily white walls. Modern, it screamed at the top of its lungs. The group crammed inside also seemed "modern", young blokes and birds, some who hadn't even lost their mother's faces yet, drinking, laughing and joking at the tops of their lungs. Honestly, it was contagious; their good spirits and Oliver immediately felt as though a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.
He pushed forward through the crowd and reached the bar on the other side of the room, and bellowed to the barman over the noise of the crowd his desire for his strongest gin.
That's when he caught sight of her.
He wasn't sure at all what faces entailed. Words like symmetry and structure were irrelevant in the male mind but he could appreciate a pretty face and Katie Bell, as far as he was concerned, had one of the prettiest he'd ever seen. He'd known her since she was eleven and had had the distinct pleasure of watching her grow into the woman he saw in front of him now. She hadn't had one of the awkward phases that most other girls had struggled through, her body had always been slender, her skin always clear, her eyes always big, brown and bright.
He knew a lot of little things about her; a decade of facts that he had collected from her friends because she had never liked him enough to tell him. It wasn't odd, he'd been interested ... who could blame him? She was part Puerto Rican, had moved to London when she was five. The youngest of eight children. A muggle born. She liked reading, she wore glasses, she loved chocolate and she could speak Spanish. He was, had always been, fascinated.
She sat hunched over the bar, surrounded by empty glasses, rubbing a cherry along her full lips. She seemed drunk or at least blissfully unaware of her surroundings. Presently, at least a dozen blokes attempting to muster up the courage to talk to her.
She giggled as one shouted something into her ear, playfully – drunkenly, she pushed at his arm and wagged her index finger at him. With all reason shouting into his being to leave well enough alone, Oliver pushed his way over to her corner, shoving the smaller man away from Katie's side.
If the man had wanted to protest, the urge had died on his tongue at the sight of Oliver's dangerous green eyes staring him down. Defensively the guy raised his hands to his chest and walked away, merging effortless into the crowd.
"Bell, you're drunk," He couldn't help how harsh his words sounded.
"Wood," She rolled her eyes and pursed her lips, "work finished hours ago."
"Who's here with you," He yelled, girls didn't come to pubs by themselves. This was a fact. He didn't wait for her to answer; instead he peered around the crowded room looking for someone he could recognize.
"I-I ... I don't think I quite like your tone!" She drained her glass before he could tug it from her hand, "you're always around to ruin a good time aren't you?" She collected her purse, shoved her feet into her discarded flats and jumped down from the bar stool.
She smacked him in his chest for all of his good intentions. "I'm going home!" frowning suddenly, and then waving to no one in particular, "Good-night everyone! Thank you for a lovely evening!" Katie took two shaky steps forward then.
Oliver was on her in a second, holding onto her arms and pushing her forward through the crowd, until they were finally outside.
"Let go of me!" Katie wrenched herself away from his grip; she fixed her jumper as she spoke "I understand that you can't take a hint Wood! But I'd ... I'd like to be alone!" Another wobble, another shake and she regained her balance without even noticing that her senses were completely gone.
"You can bloody well be alone all you want when you get home!" He took hold of her shoulder once more, registering that she was still in her work clothes, "what's your address?"
Something crossed her face then, "No," She frowned, "I'm not going home." With a flash of determination she turned and walked down the street.
Oliver cursed himself to damnation for not being able to stop himself from running after her.
"What's wrong with you Bell?"
"Nothing!" She waved her arms wildly before stopping suddenly and taking a seat on a nearby bench. "Sod off, Oliver. I'm not ... I don't need your help, all right."
She folded her arms across her chest and stared up at him – damn handsome bloke he was. She made a point to look away, "My boyfriend's a bender."
He stilled for a moment, while regret bubbled up in her chest. Why'd she tell him that? "A ... he's a ..."
"He's gay," she felt the tears welling up behind her eyes. "I ... I just found out ... and –"
He was laughing. "He's a frigging pansy? And you only now found out?" Damn insensitive Oliver, the first tear threatened to slip from her eyes, "What, did you turn him ..." He stopped when he saw how upset she was. He cleared his throat awkwardly, the sound made her sob uncontrollably.
He bent in front of her, patting her on the shoulder in a last ditch attempt at comfort, "look, err, these things happen," Oliver said, "they're ... err ... other straight fish in the sea."
"My boyfriend before him left me for a Russian waitress!" She was beyond comfort now, tears streamed down her cheeks –her mascara was running and all the other things women had on their faces seemed in a right mess as well. "A waitress!"
"And ... And before that ... he cheated on me with this bisexual tart he met on our vacation!"
"Well," He'd had no idea. Katie had always had a slew of boyfriends, even at Hogwarts – now that he thought about it, none of them had ever lasted very long. "When one door closes," he remembered what his mum had told him when he'd first injured his leg, "another one opens."
Katie didn't seem to hear him. She shook her head wildly before asking in a soft pleading voice, "what's wrong with me Oliver?"
It seemed strange to him that she'd even ask, "Nothing ..." he fumbled with the words, "you're ... um ... very pretty ... and ... you've got ... spirit."
"Those things don't matter," he was so close now that he could smell the liquor on her breath. She wrinkled her nose at him, "your leg." She indicated towards his bent knee.
"Nah, it's ... " He flinched and straightened it out, "it's all right. And you play Quidditch."
She smiled, "that only matters to you."
He smiled back, "that's because I ..."
He was cut off by the feeling of her lips against his. Her mouth was warm and soft; her lips were sweet and gentle. Beneath the tenderness of the kiss was the tang of alcohol that he found invigorating. Her fingers were in his hair now, he groaned throatily when he felt her thumbs graze his earlobes. Just like that, his body was on fire. He opened his mouth and she slipped inside.
His hands were on her face now, slipping along the tracks where the tears had only seconds ago stained. He held onto her as though she were his everything, indeed, right now in his mind she most certainly was just that. She moaned low in her throat when his tongue tangled with hers, instead of crumbling she pushed back, nibbling along his lips until he had wrapped his fingers deep within her dark mane of hair.
When she finally released him, she was breathless. Her insides felt ... strange ... probably the rum and her heart was thudding wildly in her chest. She pressed her forehead against his, "I don't want to go home tonight."
"Katie," His objection was low but certainly not very sturdy. She kissed his nose, something stirred inside her and she ran her hand slowly down the front of his shirt, stopping just before the start of his trousers.
"You won't regret it." Her whisper was husky; those dark eyes were clouded with a thousand emotions – completely unreadable to him. He held her wrists loosely in his hands and pulled her upwards as he stood up.
"I already have." Oliver mumbled. He was getting married in four weeks. Bloody fucking hell.
"Come on Bell, I'll walk you home."
Author: I love this pairing. There's just so much freedom and it always just works for some reason. Originally, I wrote this because I wanted to write smut. I still very much intend to so this – but I've decided to postpone it for some character development. I know right now Katie is not the heroine that we all want but the story is really about her growth so just bear with it.
I came up with the plot sort of based loosely about my life, I own thousands of romance novels and as my brother will tell you I have, "unrealistic expectations of love". I just sort of wanted to write a story about love not really being what you read about in books, but it can be just as good, all the same.
I also made Katie a latina for no other reason that I feel the Hispanic community isn't well represented in the world. The quote from Katie's book is from "To Distraction" by Stephanie Laurens.
Disclaimer: I disclaim.