In her witty and breathtakingly sexy novel, Emily Foster introduces a story of lust, friendship, and other unpredictable experiments. . .
Data, research, scientific formulae–Annabelle Coffey is completely at ease with all of them. Men, not so much. But that’s all going to change after she asks Dr. Charles Douglas, the postdoctoral fellow in her lab, to have sex with her. Charles is not only beautiful, he is also adorably awkward, British, brilliant, and nice. What are the odds he’d turn her down?
Very high, as it happens. Something to do with that whole student/teacher/ethics thing. But in a few weeks, Annie will graduate. As soon as she does, the unlikely friendship that’s developing between them can turn physical–just until Annie leaves for graduate school. Yet nothing could have prepared either Annie or Charles for chemistry like this, or for what happens when a simple exercise in mutual pleasure turns into something as exhilarating and infernally complicated as love.
From the author of How Not to Fall comes an electrifying, powerful new story about love, trust, and emotional surrender.
Once upon a time, med student Annie Coffey set out to have a purely physical fling with Charles Douglas, a gorgeous British doctor in her lab. It didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, secrets—and desires—were bared, hearts were broken, and Annie knew she had to leave this complicated, compelling man who remains convinced he can never give her what she needs.
Walking away is one thing. Staying away is another. Annie and Charles reunite at a London conference, rekindling a friendship they struggle to protect from their intense physical connection. Little by little, Annie gets a glimpse into Charles’s dark past and his wealthy, dysfunctional family. Soon, she’s discovering what it means to have someone claim her, body and soul. And she’s learning that once in a lifetime you find a love that can make you do anything…except let go.
Charles and Annie have some pretty big changes going on…
Keep reading to see the full Love Note!
I’ve finally come to understand why I write you these notes each morning of a holiday invented by the greeting card industrial complex. It’s to document, year by year, the difficult, terrifying moments when my heart breaks open and something new is born inside me, a new way of loving I hadn’t known existed in the world, a love I would never have thought I was capable of containing. Every year, it’s something bigger and more all-consuming.
This year, let me tell you of the moment young George and I came to terms with each other.
You were there for the first part. You were there when I caught him.
Nothing had gone to plan. The plan was a water birth at home. But complications brought us to the hospital in the midst of a pandemic and you consented to drugs and we just wanted our baby, healthy and screaming. That’s what we got, so bugger the rest of it. I sat between your feet and watched your pudendum stretch around his head – it looked like you were birthing a giant purple mushroom, and when I thought that I laughed and you said, “What the fuck are you laughing at, asshole?”
I said, “The baby looks like a giant mushroom.”
You said, “Oh, fuck, I was afraid this might happen,” in a voice of such dread and fear that my already rampant pulse shot up higher.
“Oh, god. What might happen?”
And you – in the midst of the maelstrom, after seven hours of labor, seconds away from the birth – said, “Now I’m going to have confess my illicit affair with an Ascomycota. He told me he was an asexually reproducing species!”
I laughed out loud, and I thought that was the moment my heart would burn up and have to remake itself, but that was just making way for what would come.
Our baby’s head emerged.
I caught him.
I caught him – and almost dropped him, the slippery little fucker, before I could get my hands under his arms and lay his warm living weight on your belly.
Then I looked up at you. You were looking at him. You put your hand on our son’s head for the first time.
“Holy moly,” you breathed.
And I thought, Surely now, this, this must be as utterly broken up as I can be. This is the moment when my heart is reborn again. But no. This just swept up the ashes to clear the way for my brand new heart.
Hours later, I sat beside you as you slept and I held George’s sleeping body in my arms. The warmth of him against mine. His tiny, perfect face. I watched that face, knowing that at any moment, he eyes might open and he’d see me. I’d see him. We’d look at each other. He and I would meet at last.
The eyes blinked open, reluctant to let go of sleep.
I know he couldn’t really see me. I know his world was all blurs of light and dark, a cacophony of undifferentiated noise and meaningless smells, grounded in the tactile sensation of being held, warm, against a pulsing, breathing body. But I swear to you he looked at me. I swear to you he recognized me from the months of talking to him through your belly, of pressing my hand against his foot as he stretched and rolled and played inside you.
“Hello,” I whispered.
He blinked and stuck out his tongue.
And my fresh new heart, pink and pulsing, divided, like a cell. Half planted itself inside him and half planted itself inside you, as you slept.
Now, without you both near me, I have no heart.
Difficult. Terrifying. Yet it felt like the fulfillment of my destiny. At last I knew who I was. I knew why I was. Your purpose, my termagant, is enormous; you will change the world. My purpose is you and this boy we made.
I’ve heard the phrase “burst into tears.” I’ve seen patients of mine go from apparent calm to gasping sobs instantaneously. But until that moment, I had never done it.
I tried to be quiet, I didn’t want to wake you, I pressed my hand over my mouth as my body shuddered and fluids coated the inside of my mask. I kept my eyes on this tiny new human whose life was mine to protect. But George seemed to like the idea, because he made his own sudden sound – a small noise, like a distant cat stranded on a roof in the rain.
You woke instantly. I heard you say, “Aw, baby,” all sympathy for his plight. I believe you didn’t notice me and my state as I handed him over to you. If you did notice, thank you for not saying so. Thank you for allowing me to hold that moment inside me, this reckoning between me and this person we made.
I watched you watch him and I held that moment in my heart. I pressed my lips together hard against the waves of emotion rolling through me. Tears wet the edge of my mask.
And then you looked at me. The most amazing human being on the face of the earth, having accomplished the god-like achievement of producing new life, looked at me – stupid, pointless me – and said, “What did we do?” There were tears in your eyes, but you were smiling behind the surgical mask.
While the outside world crumbled around us, you and I made a resilient little island of joy. Finally I know for sure that whatever riptide of love comes crashing at me this year, I’ll survive it.
Until then, happy Valentine’s Day, my domina, my life,
Emily wrote her first romance, How Not to Fall, because she was totally sure it was possible to write a romance about a college student who experiences her sexual awakening with an older, more powerful man, in a way that was sex positive, feminist, and medically accurate, as well as sexy as heck. She was right; Sarah MacLean called it “devastatingly sexy, deeply emotional beginning to one of the most satisfying romances I’ve ever read,” and Sarah MacLean is amazing.
Emily is currently working on more novels with lots of high quality sex between very, very smart characters.
In life outside romance, Emily is Emily Nagoski, a sex educator and bestselling author of nonfiction on the science of women’s sexual wellbeing.
If you’d like to invite Emily to do an event or something, she’s actively looking for reasons to put on real pants and leave the house, so please drop a line to:
Emily Foster (that’s a pen name) writes erotic romances about smart people. She has BES (Bachelor of Elf Spotting) from Last Week Tonight and is an ordained minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.