In Competition No. 3249, you were invited to submit an extract from a Mills & Boon novel whose central character is a contemporary politician. The much-mocked pictures of a proudly hirsute, manspreading Macron, looking every inch the M&B hero, gave me the idea for this challenge. But he was nudged aside – in a truly top-notch entry – by the lotharios below. It’s £25 each to the winners.
She thought about him now almost all the time.
Pink moon, dry gin, the delicious drawl, the thin pinstripe. He was all of these, and more, and she knew she was being gradually sucked further into the vortex, the very elegant vortex of his being. Yes, he was old-fashioned, but love, wasn’t that old-fashioned, too? She began to breathe again, breathe properly, like inhaling and exhaling light itself. Oh but his charm!
She pictured him, déshabillé, stretched on her sofa, explaining some arcane regulation or other, with that strange subtlety of his, with those unsullied fingers, with that languor, as if freshly bathed, as if dried in a private steam-room. And she had – foolish woman! – contrived to be away when he had called, personally, in person. She reread his beautiful note: Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon. Heaven!
Heart skipping, cheeks colouring, Nurse Nightingale struggled to compose herself as Doctor Putin took charge in theatre. The excitement of being the only nurse assisting in a special operation for which his dunderhead international colleagues saw no justification coursed through her veins. She put herself entirely at his disposal: though the physique of a man who had bested Siberian bears in combat strained against his scrubs and a mind of inscrutable decisiveness throbbed behind that puffy brow, he was endearingly clumsy at work and bashful about the physical intimacy necessary for its completion. Between his characteristically careless incisions, she reached over, dabbing a pearl of sweat. In an ecstatic rasp reminiscent of the first wintry chill across the steppes, he commanded: ‘Get out!’ Though his fists balled behind his back, she regretfully sighed, her ardour frustrated; his brutally enforced hand-hygiene protocols would prevent him ever dirtying his on her.
Gazing adoringly along the green benches, she couldn’t take her eyes off him. A farmer – so wholesome! – on the rural affairs committee… Rural affairs! The thought set her heart racing so much she thought it would burst, imagining them together in Devon, riding along clifftops, the wind in their hair. He was her strong, masterful Gabriel Oak; she, his Bathsheba. Whenever I look up, there he shall be and whenever he looks up… He hadn’t looked up. He had been glued to his phone throughout the debate. He’s avoiding making eye contact but I know he wants to and he knows I’m watching him. I know it by his heavy breathing. He’s becoming aroused, I can tell… Hmm, whatever he’s looking at must be urgent constituency matters, or crucial committee reports. Such an important man. She couldn’t resist sneaking a peek over his powerful farmer shoulders… Oh, my!
‘Oh, Princess Priti,’ sighed Carstairs, dusk settling romantically over Agra, ‘tell me again of your plans for intensifying the death penalty.’ He tried concentrating on her passionate tirade, truly he did, but seeing the flare of her hot coal eyes and the petulant set of her jaw, his mind raced ahead to the imminent explosion of physicality between them. It would take barely a whispered word of liberality from him and – whoosh! – some priceless Moghul gewgaw hitherto concealed in her voluminous silken sari would come arcing toward his soft English cranium. Evasive manoeuvres natural to a British diplomat, Carstairs would duck to fleeting safety, but his continued presence in her jealously protected palace garden affronted and excited the Princess, who terrorised him with a thousand humiliations he adored, exciting her own paradoxically adoring ire yet further. Her guards would expel him, their half-heartedness signalling her desire: he must come again.
His heart missed a beat as he caught a glimpse of the face that filled his dreams: plump cheeks, flushed like the skin of a ripe peach, that sensuous mouth and, above all, the blond, tousled hair that made him yearn to run his fingers through it. There was an innocent sincerity in those blue eyes, lit by a sparkle of impish humour. Who could resist? The memory of countless amorous affairs in his past meant nothing compared to the passion that was consuming him at this moment.
Choking with emotion, he moved closer, lips almost touching, his hot breath misting the surface of the mirror.
‘Yes, Boris,’ he murmured. ‘You are the only true love in my life.’
He stood to speak, so near yet so achingly far across that Commons divide. Priti’s heart hammered frantically, yet she must not express her feelings. The archaic customs of this place demanded she join in the cat-calling when he opened his mouth. So manly, so decent, so kissable Keir Starmer’s mouth was. Yet never could it be hers.
She sighed at the brilliantined neatness of his hair, crimped into waves by a man who knew what he wanted his hair to do. Not like that blond blusterer…
So disturbed were her feelings that she added another furious clause to her plans for asylum seekers. Plans which would stir Keir to angry protest. The Daily Mail had suggested he wasn’t certain what the definition of a woman was. ‘Oh Keir,’ she moaned, ‘let me teach you!’ – just a little too loudly. Jacob Rees-Mogg, sitting beside her, looked somewhat disturbed.
No. 3252: sorry effort
You are invited to write a letter of condolence on the misfortune of an acquaintance which, intentionally or not, would have the effect of lowering rather than raising the spirits. Email entries (150 words max.) to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 1 June.
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