The Fiction Editor
“There’s Sloan Renfrew.”
When Steve didn’t turn around immediately, Jen elbowed him in the arm.
“Ouch,” he said, turning away reluctantly from the buxom blond in the low-cut dress. “Sloan who?”
“And she is?”
Jen made an exasperated noise. “How can you be a successful writer in New York City and not have heard of Sloan Renfrew?” she demanded. “She’s a legend in the publishing world.”
“She must be if Peggy invited her.”
Peggy Lipton was Steve’s agent and a powerhouse in the New York City literary scene. Once a year she threw a party to which she invited many of the city’s best and brightest publishers, editors, agents, and writers. The gossip about who had and hadn’t received invitations started weeks before the party itself.
“Well, are you going to tell me who she is?” Steve asked again.
“She’s the editor of Wet Dream, the most prestigious erotic fiction magazine in America. It’s two magazines really. There’s an online edition and a print edition. They also publish paperback collections of erotic short stories.”
His curiosity aroused, Steve took a closer look at the striking woman who’d just walked though the front door of Peggy’s loft apartment. Although she was clearly beautiful, her dress and grooming seemed designed to downplay her sexuality. Her long brown hair, for example, had been wound into a tight chignon at the base of her neck. And while her expensive suit was beautifully tailored, it was cut in such a way that deemphasized her figure. Even her large dark eyes had a detached rather than passionate quality to them.
“Looks a bit cold, doesn’t she?” Steve observed.
Jen snorted. “Try arctic,” she said. The people who work for her call her the “ice queen.” Apparently she makes Meryl Streep’s character in Devil Wears Prada look like the essence of maternal warmth.”
Steve was quiet for a moment before speaking again. “I write erotic stories,” he said offhandedly.
Jen gave him a funny look. She’d known Steve for 10 years and had never been to bed with him, a rarity among his female friends. The fact that she was a lesbian may have had something to do with that, though she knew at least one lesbian acquaintance who’d fallen under Steve Brady’s spell. Even when he was a struggling writer, before he’d published two highly acclaimed and bestselling novels, women seemed to have found him irresistible. Now they practically threw themselves at him.
“How come I’ve never read one of them?”
Steve ignored Jen’s question. He was still staring at Sloan Renfrew, as if mesmerized. “I’ve got to get Peggy to introduce us,” he said.
“I hope you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking,” Jen said incredulously, “because it ain’t going to happen. From what I’ve heard, Ms. Stick Up Her Ass doesn’t have a love life.”
“What are you talking about, dear girl?” Steve said innocently. “I simply want to get one of my stories published in Wet Dream.”
Jen just shook her head.
“So you’re the famous Sloan Renfrew,” Steve said, holding her hand a few seconds longer than was customary. “I’ve been reading Wet Dream for years,” he continued. “You do a wonderful job there.”
Sloan responded with a tight smile. “That’s high praise coming from the great Steve Brady,” she said.
“There’s something I’ve always wondered about editors in your line of work,” Steve went on, ignoring the compliment. “Don’t you get just a little bit horny reading all those erotic stories?”
Sloan’s smile disappeared. “I’ve read thousands of stories over the past ten years,” she said evenly. “If I let them affect me in the way you suggest, I’d never get any work done. Staying detached and dispassionate helps me to choose the best stories possible. We only publish the best of the best at Wet Dream,” she added.
Steve took a sip of his gin and tonic and then looked Sloan in the eye. “I write erotic stories,” he said casually.
She cocked an eyebrow. “Really?” she asked doubtfully. “I’ve never seen one of your stories in print. Do you publish them under a pseudonym?”
Steve took another sip from his drink. “Oh, I don’t publish them at all.”
“Are you one of those writers who considers himself above erotic fiction?” Sloan asked. Her tone was neutral, but Steve thought he detected daggers beneath the calm surface.
“Not at all,” he said. “It’s just that I use them for social purposes.”
Sloan looked confused. “Social purposes?”
Steve leaned closer. “I wouldn’t want this to get around,” he said in a conspiratorial whisper, “but I use them to seduce women.”
A look of scorn crossed Sloan’s face, though Steve thought he detected a faint blush as well. “You have an awfully high opinion of yourself,” she said.
Steve shrugged. “All I can tell you is that they work,” he replied. “The last time I read one to a woman, she had her pants off and was playing with herself before I’d even finished reading the story.
Sloan was quiet for a moment, as if considering something. Steve could tell she was intrigued in spite of herself.
“If they’re as powerful as you say they are, I might consider publishing one of them in Wet Dream,” she said at last. “You’d have to submit it to the magazine like anyone else,” she added. “And it would have to meet our standard of literary quality. We don’t publish Penthouse letters in Wet Dream.”
If Steve heard the note of condescension, he didn’t show it. Instead, he glanced at his watch.
“Tell you what,” he said. “My condo is just six blocks from here. “If you’d like, we could go there now, and I could read you a couple of my stories. If you were interested in one of them, you could take the manuscript with you for further consideration.”
Sloan seemed taken aback by the suggestion. She hesitated, as if not sure how to respond.
“Of course, if the idea makes you nervous after what I just told you, I’ll understand,” Steve said.
Sloan’s eyes flashed. “I already told you. I stay detached about the stories I evaluate. I have nothing to be nervous about.”
“Shall we go then?” Steve suggested.
On the way out the door, he caught sight of Jen’s surprised face across the room. He winked at her.
“Can I get you a drink?” Steve asked, as he walked back into the living room from his study.
Sloan, who’d been admiring the glittering lights in Central Park, turned around to look at him.
“I never drink when I’m evaluating fiction,” she said.
Steve had to stop himself from rolling his eyes. “You won’t mind if I have one,” he said, putting a manila folder down on the coffee table. He walked over to the sideboard and poured himself two fingers of Laphroaig.
Glass in hand, he returned to the sitting area. “Shall we get to work then?”
Sloan took a seat on the couch Steve indicated. She sat upright with both feet on the floor and her hands clasped over her stomach. Steve retrieved the folder from the coffee table and sat in the chair opposite her.
She gave a short nod.
“This one’s called ‘The Riding Crop,'” he said. And he began.
Halfway through the story, Steve paused and looked up. He was struck immediately by the marked change that had come over Sloan. Her face was flushed, and her eyes had an uncertain\’almost startled look\’about them. Her knees had fallen open slightly, and she was rubbing one of her legs back and forth with her right hand. When he smiled at her, she looked away quickly, as if embarrassed. Still smiling, he went back to his reading.
Ten minutes later, after finishing the story, Steve looked up again. He’d been aware during the last half of the story that Sloan kept crossing and re-crossing her legs. The flush on her face had deepened, and her mouth was slightly open. As he watched her, she licked her lips.
“Don’t tell me what you thought yet,” he said quickly, holding up a hand. “Let me read you one more.”
“I don’t know,” Sloan said, glancing at her watch. “It’s getting late.” Her voice sounded smaller than it had earlier in the evening and less sure of itself. Despite her words of protest, she made no effort to stand up.
“Just one more,” Steve said in his most soothing voice, leaning forward to touch her knee. “You’ll enjoy this one. It’s called ‘On All Fours.'”
Later, Steve asked Sloan if she’d liked his stories.
“Yes,” she answered briefly, sounding both distracted and out of breath.
Steve wasn’t insulted by the brevity of her response. What he noticed chiefly was the husky quality in her voice, a quality that hadn’t been there earlier. He decided he liked it.
“And would you like to publish one of them in Wet Dream?”
Instead of answering this time, Sloan made a low whimpering sound.
“What was that?’ Steve asked. “I didn’t catch that.”
“Yes,” Sloan replied faintly. She seemed to be having some difficulty talking.
“That’s great,” Steve said, “though I don’t necessarily like the idea that I’m getting in through the back door.”
Sloan shifted her weight on her elbows and braced herself. “Back door,” she repeated as if in a daze. “Please. Now!”
Kneeling behind her, Steve slid his cock back into her ass and was gratified to hear her sharp intake of breath. Earlier, he’d been in her mouth and cunt. A three orifice night, he thought, feeling quite pleased with himself.
After he’d finished reading the second story, Sloan had crumbled rather quickly. She’d tried to leave, it’s true, but it hadn’t taken much to dissuade her. A hand on her cheek, another up her skirt. When he’d slipped his fingers inside her panties, she’d gone from buttoned up to unbuttoned to undone more quickly than you could sip a martini.
Steve slid a hand between Sloan’s legs and began to bring her to climax again. The first time she came she’d made a lot of noise. He liked that. Now, as her moans grew louder and more frequent, he thought about a new story he might write. The idea blossomed\’took on a life of its own\’the way his best stories always did. What would he call it? he wondered, and then smiled to himself. “The Fiction Editor,” he thought. It seemed the perfect choice. Simple and to the point.
At that moment Sloan’s pleasure peaked and spilled over into a crescendo of grateful wails.
Steve couldn’t remember ever getting such a positive response to his work.