“Love, Memory, and the Trouble with Threesomes”
When I started my novel, Broken in Soft Places, I was in the middle of a renewed love affair. There is nothing else like that feeling of falling in love with the same person for the second time. Things that had irritated me in the past about my old, and now new, lover had faded with memory and the passage of time; her breaths were sweet to me again, our lovemaking more adventurous and tinged with the confidence of knowing what each other liked. As I fell deeper into love with her again, I wondered about the nature of memory and the ability to find something new in the old, of forgetting past hurts in order to give present delights a chance.
And so, I imagined another me, Sara Chambers, who in the past loved a woman so deeply that she was willing, in the present, to give that love another chance. What would that redux look like? Is it possible that love 2.0 has a chance to survive?
I dove into exploring Sara’s ambiguities, into the reasons she gave herself for going back to a lover who had already proven herself to be wrong for her. I continued this book even as my own rediscovered love fell apart and our couple-hood proved itself to be just as impossible as the first time.
In writing the book, I found no real answers to my own questions. Only a character who stubbornly resisted most of my directions, insisting on going her own way and making her own mistakes, taking her own pleasures and accepting all the consequences that came along with them. Sara Chambers is by no means perfect, but in writing her story, I found too that no love is perfect. If you’re willing to accept a flawed person for what they are, you must be consistent with that acceptance. They won’t change simply because you’ve gotten over your renewed appreciation for make-up sex in lieu of forgotten dinner plans or extravagant floral arrangements when it would have been better not to have an argument at all.
Of course, Sara’s affair plunges into territories that mine never did. Her story is filled with passion, betrayal, missed opportunities, and the many ways that those who claim to love us often end up being the first to wield the knife. An out lesbian, she is taken aback when her lover brings a third person into their bed and into their lives. A man.
In the end, I think I’ve written a pretty story. Not one with a typical Hollywood ending or even with orgasms bursting in every other chapter. Instead, Broken in Soft Places is a silken trap of a novel that tugs you into the heart of Sara, into her lover Rille, and the man who ends up being part of their lives in a very unexpected way. I hope you enjoy it.
Amazon.com http://amzn.to/1917o1DCharis Books: http://bit.ly/1gE9khF
Photo credit: TEKA Photography
Some mornings, Sara Chambers wakes in bed next to her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s lover wondering how she ended up there. Beautiful, successful, and a force to be reckoned with at her Atlanta law firm, Sara is still powerless in her attraction to the rebellious and reckless, Rille Thompson.
As college girlfriends, Sara and Rille’s relationship had been incendiary, burning away Sara’s innocence and self-respect even as it widened her world beyond her wildest imagination. Now, almost twenty years later, Rille still pushes Sara beyond her limits, bringing a third lover into their bed and domestic lives when their monogamy gets stale. The hold Rille has over Sara—and their new lover—becomes as powerful as it is dangerous. Can Sara pull herself free in time, or will her life turn to cinders in the wake of Rille’s powerful flame?
- How did you get started writing lesbian fiction/romance? – I grew up reading romances as a child- probably way too young – and always wanted to write the kind of books I had read, only featuring people like me. So, one day, someone actually took a chance on some of the mad scribblings in my notebook. My first nationally published story came out in Best Lesbian Erotica 2005.
- I write because… – I love it. And I’m not good at much else.
- Heels or flats? – Flats all day.
- What kind of characters do you most like to write about and why? – I love to write about strong women with thorny and painful pasts. Writing them helps me to find my own strengths and conquer my weaknesses.
- Tell us a little about your new release… – My new book is fantastic. You should read it!
- Name three things on your desk right now. – Over roasted almonds, hand lotion, and caramel ginger candy.
- What are some of your favorite lesbian fiction/romance/erotic authors? – I love Karin Kallmaker, Jewelle Gomez, and Michelle Cliff. All amazing writers.
- Favorite dessert? – Jamaican rum cake.
- Plotter or pantster? – Pantser. It’s much more fun that way.
- What are you working on now? – Right now, I’m writing a story about a (formerly straight) runaway bride who escapes to New Orleans and ends up trying to steal her godmother’s girlfriend.
- Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know. – I like to kill bugs.
“Why can’t men be more like lesbians?”
Kendra looked at Sara as if the slender lawyer held the answer to that question and more. Sara shook her head, smiling gently.
“You’re asking the wrong one. Maybe your god would know the answer to that, darling, not me.”
Sara leaned back in her chair, letting the gentle spring breeze ruffle the skirt around her calves. The honeyed scent of blossoms from the trees surrounding the coffee shop’s terrace blended with the creamed coffee smell of their drinks. Kendra sighed and propped her chin in her palm. Her straightened hair swung heavily forward, curving around one rounded cheek.
Sara’s affair with Kendra had been a brief indulgence from the previous year, a blatant rebound after she’d walked in on Rille with a student from the university. The second forgiveness, but not the second infidelity, not by any means. Sara glanced down at the clear glass cup of mochaccino steaming near her hand.
“Vic is acting like a total shit,” Kendra said. “I tell him about one damn girl on girl relationship and he gets hysterical, getting jealous of every girlfriend I see. Boys don’t even worry him anymore. And in bed it’s worse, fucking insecure but acting as if it’s my fault. It’s too bad; he used to be a great lay.”
“Before you told him about us?”
“Right.” She sucked her teeth and smiled over at Sara. “You look good though.”
Sara laughed. “I know. Martyrdom must really suit me.”
She hadn’t come here to cry on Kendra’s shoulder about the madness with Rille. It wasn’t a coincidence that she’d finally agreed to meet up with her ex-lover after weeks of avoiding Kendra’s company. Sara needed the distraction.
Last night her lover had come to bed with kisses and revelations. After the tremors of satisfaction eased, leaving Sara’s body liquid and soft, Rille leaned over her with a different kind of attentiveness. There was a boy she’d recently met. She wanted Sara to meet him. He was beautiful. Special. Sara jumped out of the bed in shock, the air cool on her naked skin, denial of Rille’s desire for someone else rising up in her throat like bile.
No, baby. No. Don’t be like that. This is not like last time, Rille said.
No. This wasn’t like the last time. Then she hadn’t told Sara about wanting someone else. When Sara found them together in Rille’s office, the girl’s face awash in worship as she knelt before a cool-faced Rille whose legs were spread as wide as the chair would allow. That was different. This was honesty.
Sara grasped her cup and sipped the hot drink, absently licking her lips to rid them of the foam she knew had gathered there. Across from her, Kendra followed the motion with a hungry look then blushed when she noticed Sara’s eyes on her.
There were good reasons Sara had chosen her after the short-lived breakup with Rille last year: Kendra’s commonplace good looks that were nearly opposite to Rille’s peacock-on-a-chicken-farm flamboyance. And her ability to be completely and absolutely immersed in whatever thing she was doing at the time.
Sara lightly tapped the table top with a long finger. “Honesty is overrated anyway. Maybe you shouldn’t have told him. I’ve heard that men can only handle bi-sexual girlfriends in theory.”
“You should have told me that before.” Her red mouth glistened in the sun as she pouted. ”I figure since he asked me to marry him that he deserved to know.”
“I don’t know why you think that. Have you ever thought that he hasn’t told you about everyone that he slept with?”
Kendra sighed again, this time wrinkling her nose. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” The hot coffee she’d ordered sat on the table untouched. She leaned back in her chair, flickering her eyelashes up to look at Sara. “Distract me.”
It would be easy. She could just reach across the table and touch her hand, slide her fingers between Kendra’s and suggest a quieter place, something wetter, saltier on her palate. But she didn’t. She never did. Still, her thoughts continued on the same route. Teasing. Familiar.
Life was simpler with Kendra: days of laughter and food and sex, the nights with more of the same. But even with the sweat drying on her skin and Kendra tugging on her body for another round, her mind was with Rille, steeped in its misery, remembering her smell and their own after-sex rituals. No, she hadn’t been happy with Kendra, she had been waiting. Sara released thoughts of Kendra’s hand and smiled.
“Come on, let’s go to the park. We can sit in the swings and eat ice cream.”
Sara thought she saw a droop of disappointment to Kendra’s mouth, but was too busy gathering up her things to pay attention.
Jamaican-born Fiona Zedde currently lives and writes in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of several novellas and novels of lesbian love and desire, including the Lambda Literary Award finalists Bliss and Every Dark Desire. Her novel, Dangerous Pleasures, was winner of the About.com Readers’ Choice Award for Best Lesbian Novel or Memoir of 2012.
Writing under the name “Fiona Lewis,” she has also published a novel of young adult fiction called Dreaming in Color with Tiny Satchel Press. Find out more at www.fionazedde.com.