Welcome! I have a quite steamy and intense extract to share with you today. I am always happy to support the Noir genre any way I can. This extract has quite a lot of sexual themes so consider this a heads up. Diana Christmas is a fallen star and this is her story of revenge. Enjoy the extract and let me know what you thought.
17.03.2018 / Self-Published / Noir-Thriller / Paperback / 208pp / 978-1980387718
About Diana Christmas
In 1959, Diana Christmas – the beautiful, vivacious redhead – was a major star in Britain. It was her moment. She was on the cusp of making it big in Hollywood. Then, she simply walked away from the limelight. Vanished from an industry that adored her. Twenty years later, Michael, a young film journalist, arrives at her suburban home and discovers the still vibrant and alluring Diana. Between her sheets, he hears for the first time the reason for her disappearance – a tale of coercion, shame and blackmail. To his shock, he learns that those who destroyed her career and ruined her life still have their claws in her. Totally smitten, he promises to help her. But Michael soon finds that the past doesn’t let go easily…
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Diana Christmas Extract
6 December 1979
“How old are you?”
She rolled naked on top of me, then, with a grin on her feline face which sparkled with bright-eyed sexiness, opened her mouth wide to kiss me. It was like a Roman aristocrat reaching down to chew a big, ripe strawberry proffered by a slave. I was a feast to be devoured, and I didn’t mind at all.
Her fingers greedily stroked my untidy, mud-coloured hair. “I’m probably old enough to be your mother, aren’t I?” she said with a laugh.
In my whole life I’d never been between silk sheets before. Never felt such cool, smooth softness against my naked skin. Her bedroom smelt of lavender. She smelt of lavender too. Probably a coincidence of scents in the washing powder and her perfume, but it felt in my giddiness like she’d just been waiting to take me to bed. No doubt those were my fantasies running away, but why shouldn’t they run? Why shouldn’t they gallop freely? What was happening was so incredible, it was the stuff of fantasy.
We weren’t really between the sheets anymore; the sheets were all around us, scattered from one side of the mattress to the other. Their pristine purpleness was now just crumpled, rumpled, unruly creases.
In my whole life I’d never seen purple bedlinen before.
Certainly not at home, nor at university, nor in my lodgings (where the sheets were an unerotic grey-white, and that’s after I’d got them to the laundry). As I lay there in the faint, grey December morning light, these sheets seemed the colour of passion. More than that, they looked like the victims of passion, the recipients of passion.
“I’m twenty-two,” I told her, before adding, with a kind of adolescent trembling which made me ashamed the instant the words left my lips: “Miss Christmas.”
Her laughter was like the cheer of a chorus line. They’d probably told her how to do it like that when she was on the stage. “Miss Christmas, indeed? Really, it should be Mrs Williams, but the more pertinent point is that I really am too old for you if you feel the need to address me with such formality.”
“Sorry, I didn’t know if you’d appreciate me being informal.”
Quickly she was on her haunches before me, bending over to run her tongue from my navel to my Adam’s apple. Her luscious red hair hung over her shoulders and tickled against my chest.
Her mouth seized mine again, tugging my lips gently with her teeth. “Oh, I think we’re past the point of formality now, my darling. If you’re going to address me as anything, it should be as Diana.”
“Okay, Diana it is.”
“And I should call you?” The twinkle in her eyes was impossible to ignore, impossible not to be aroused by all over again. “Come now, I can hardly keep calling you Mr Mallory. If you’re going to be calling me Diana, it’s not fair you clinging to Mr Mallory. Not after I’ve let you take me to bed.”
It had been only half an hour before, but I was fairly certain that she’d taken me to bed and not the other way around. I hated to admit it, even to myself, but I was not the most experienced around women, and so would never have made a pass at an actual, honest-to-goodness movie star. That would have taken more nerve than I could have conjured in a millennium.
“Michael,” I told her. “My name is Michael.”
She nodded and repeated the name to herself, then said it again and again in a half-mumble as she nuzzled my neck, ran her tongue up my jaw, and gave special tender attention to the spot on my chin where I’d cut myself shaving that morning. Her arms wrapped around my head and she finally sank her lips back down on mine again.
They were so plump and delicious.
I’d always thought so. The first film I’d ever seen of hers was The Idiot’s Lantern, where there’s a famous scene in which she has to press a long, lingering kiss to Alec Guinness’s bashful cheek. Her lips had looked so amazing then and they hadn’t lost anything in the passing years.
“Pleased to meet you, Michael,” she purred, her deep brown eyes staring languidly down into mine. She rolled off me, and, in a fluid, seamless motion, wrapped the top sheet around herself. It was almost as if she suddenly wanted to protect her modesty. Although with the pale, smooth skin of her naked thigh and shoulder poking out, it was hard to think of her as anything else but a gorgeous – and nude – 1950s pin-up.
“Tell me, have you done many of these interviews before?”
“I’ve done some.”
“And is this the first one to go this way?”
She whipped back the sheet to give me a flash of body. Her naked skin looked so smooth and delectable amidst all the rumpled and crushed purple. Her thighs long and limber, her breasts full and round.
My God! She was incredible. Despite it being twenty years now since she’d made a film (and twenty-five years since her debut), she had still kept her physique, maintained her svelteness. Of course, I’d gone through everything I could find about her for research: the clipping-file in the cabinet behind my desk at Classic Cinema Monthly, the reference books, the old newspaper articles. In one particularly yellowed interview, she spoke of her years as a teen dancer in the West End. Undeniably she still had a hoofer’s legs, the toned muscles of a natural athlete.
The sheet back around her, she dropped down and nuzzled into my shoulder. Resting her head there, she peered up with a dreamy smile, inviting me to put my arm around her. To squeeze her tight and hold her close.
“Who else have you met?” she demanded.
She gazed off thoughtfully, her mind taking a trip back to a faraway time. “I liked the other Diana,” she said. “She was older than me, of course, and I didn’t know her well, but I always had a lot of fun at her parties. Though I’ve seen her in the papers the last few years and there’s a girl who has really let herself go.”
That was true.
She scoffed. “There’s God’s gift for you. Although when he finally gets to meet God, I think Stewart’s going to punch him in the face for giving him such a mediocre career. For not giving him the brains to accept Odd Man Out. Anyone else?”
I squeezed her tight. “Just you. You’re the third person I’ve ever interviewed, Diana.”
With a laugh that was again as much a cheer, she rolled herself back on top of me, the sheet giving us both a little rub of static between our naked bodies. “Well.” Her hands moved back through my hair again, caressing and tugging it at once. “I’m certainly glad that you didn’t try to take Stewart or Diana to bed and it was me who got to experience your moves.”
She kissed me again, practically swallowing my lips, rocking her body gently up and down against mine in a way that would have left me breathless even if she hadn’t had her tongue fully in my mouth. What had passed as sex between us had ended too soon. Embarrassingly soon. Although she didn’t seem to mind. I so wanted the chance to do it again. To try and impress her this time.
“Tell me, Michael.” Her eyes, crackling with electricity, held my gaze with no effort whatsoever. “Is it just an editor’s whim that you’re here today, or are you actually a fan of mine?”
“I’m most definitely a fan of yours.”
“Well, you are now!” she trilled. “Now that I’ve succumbed to your advances – but before?”
I blushed a little. “Absolutely. I’ve been a fan of yours since I was a child.”
Again I knew in a heartbeat that I was letting my mouth run too far ahead of my mind.
With a highly theatrical sigh, she rolled herself back off me, but only so she was leaning on my shoulder again. “Please don’t remind me, Michael, of how old I am! I was working before you were born. Hell, I was even making films before you were born!”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
She gave another sigh. “You may just work on that magazine. It might just be a job to you rather than a passion. You may have to fake your way around us old people. Or it might be, as you say, that you’ve been a fan of mine since you were a child.” She tutted and shook her head. “But whichever it is, I must seem to you like an old has-been. Surely I must. Look at you – you’re a young, vibrant man, and I’m an old dear. You’d rather be interviewing someone younger, wouldn’t you? Putting your moves on a lady who’s a current flame? A Farrah Fawcett, or a Bo Derek. You don’t really want me. You may have liked those films of mine – perhaps it gives you a frisson to have finally met the actress in question, to have gone so far as to successfully seduce the actress – but really those films are old and musty now. Old and musty, just like me.”
I shook my head and then did something I would never have imagined myself doing. I pushed myself up and rolled her gently off me. Me, in bed with someone as absolutely delicious as Diana Christmas, and I was willingly pushing myself out of her grasp.
“But it doesn’t matter how long ago they were, Diana.” Her name even came naturally to my lips. I propped myself up and stared down at her, her glorious face gazing back at mine with an expression of expectancy. “And it doesn’t matter if you’re a bit older than me. I’m just happy to have met you. The rest I could never have possibly conceived. I’m a huge fan. Diana, good work is good work, no matter when it happened. You made some really good films, some great films as well. There’s some not-so-good ones too, but that’s fine – every actor has that. But even in the ones that aren’t so good, you bring a vibrancy to them. In all your roles, there’s no way anyone can look anywhere else on the screen but at you.”
She stared up at me with wonderment, like she was a damsel about to be saved. Her lips were slightly apart, her cheekbones were as defined as in her debut.
“Come, Michael, you’ve already managed to take my clothes off. You can tuck your silver tongue away for another day.”
Feeling emboldened, I took the chance to lean down and kiss her hungrily. It tasted just as good as when she did it.
Her arm moved lazily through my hair and then hung around my neck. “I’m not sure,” she said, “that this is the most appropriate setting for an interview. I think we should reconvene. Maybe meet in the tearoom of a Park Lane hotel in a few days and pretend we’ve never, ever laid eyes on each other before. Pretend that we haven’t already done these things to each other. Then we can have a proper and professional interview and you can ask me all your questions, and I can try to answer them without giggling or simpering.”
The thought of letting her go, let alone acting like we’d never met, was just too horrible to contemplate. “I’m happy to do it now.”
She pecked me once on the lips. “Okay, my darling, I’m all yours. Just give me one minute, and then we’ll begin.”
Easing up from the bed in one fluid movement, she pulled on her dressing gown. It was like no dressing gown I’d ever seen before: nothing like the kind of shapeless, old, woollen thing my mum would have worn. No, hers was the type of garment I’d only ever seen in sophisticated sex comedies, or modelled by gangster’s molls. It billowed out behind her as she glided away with lithe, lazy strides.
I leaned back and let my gaze float languidly around the room, squinting a little without my glasses. On one bedside table was a still photograph from her debut in 1954, The Last Rogue. In the movie, still a precocious seventeen-year-old, she gives the come-on to Dirk Bogarde and tries to tempt him into one of the seediest-looking pubs in cinema history. In fact she’s one of three girls who act as sirens (one of whom is Lois Maxwell, incidentally: Miss Moneypenny in the Bond films). Diana Christmas is still effectively one of the chorus, but there’s a reason why she’s the girl given the majority of the lines. Effortlessly – without even seeming to act, or perform, or do anything other than simply be – she is so vivacious, so provocative, so sexy. Of course, it’s all in the editing, but when we cut back to Dirk Bogarde, it’s like Diana and Diana alone has brought that bulging bead of sweat to his brow.
On the opposite wall, as if serving as a bookend, was a small print of the poster for The Long Lost Lord Buttons. It was her first Technicolor movie and, shamefully, her last role. Bob Hope is back on British shores as the son of an old English lord arrived from Chicago to claim his inheritance. It’s far from a great movie, but she’s fantastic in it. She really and truly gives it her all, so that in her scenes with Hope, where his team of gag-writers have given him all the comedy lines, she still wins her fair share of laughs.
It’s a film in which she’s truly effervescent, when it appeared she was ready to burst out of the parochial British film industry and make it big in Hollywood. She’d easily have found a niche, with her looks, her smarts and comic timing. They’d surely have built movies around her. A bombshell with bubbling charisma and an affinity for comedy, with the added attraction that no one’s red hair ever looked so vibrantly gorgeous as hers did on the silver screen. Even in the heyday of Rita Hayworth – an obvious, but lazy comparison – there had never been such brilliantly fiery locks projected in colour.
After that, there had been talk of Hollywood offers from Jerry Lewis, Billy Wilder and Stanley Donen. Hitchcock was allegedly talking to her for a serious role.
But instead, there was nothing.
Instead she stopped, got married, moved out to suburbia at the edge of Surrey. For a husband, she had chosen the very opposite of a leading man: he’d been a wine importer named Timmy Williams. She dropped out of the film world so completely that not only had she stayed out of acting since 1959, she’d barely been mentioned in a newspaper, either – at least not that I’d been able to find. Even her recent widowhood had not made the gossip columns.
With a swirl of silk, she came back into the bedroom, now holding the two tumblers of white wine she’d poured when I arrived. She had asked if I wanted a drink, and I’d answered – like a fool – “a glass of water, please”. All she’d done in response was raise her eyebrow, just as she’d always done when confronted by a piece of absurdity on film. Trying to be manly, but knowing I was wearing rubber armbands in the deep end, I told her I’d have whatever she was having. “Good choice,” she said. And minutes later, we were kissing – I was kissing Diana Christmas! And kissing her as passionately as I’d ever kissed any woman.
The memory made me shiver. But I had to pull myself together. “I’m ready for my close-up, darling,” she said, sliding back into bed beside me.
As far as I could recall, my spiral notepad was lying on the lounge floor, and my glasses were God knows where. But that was fine. I was sure I would remember what she said. I was going to do my utmost never to forget a single detail of this morning.
“I want to know everything. About your start, your big break, about the films you made, the directors and actors you worked with.”
“And you’ll want to know why it was that, when my career was going so well, I just quit.”
“I was going to ask.” Maybe it was the expression on her face, the slightly sad tone of her voice, but I felt somewhat embarrassed even admitting that. As if I were a vulture planting itself down for some carrion.
“I got married.”
“I know, but other actresses got married and didn’t immediately quit.”
“But there are other instances of actresses,” she said, “who, when they married, did choose to leave the business.”
“But generally their careers were failing. Or else they were Grace Kelly. You were bigger than you’d ever been. You were on the cusp of proper Hollywood, international stardom. And then you just disappeared.”
Suddenly, totally unexpectedly, tears filled her eyes. An intense sadness came over her. It happened almost faster than I could blink. All her vibrancy and spark and flirtatiousness crumpled down as if crushed from above by a heavy boot.
“I’m sorry,” I said, my arms moving quickly around her to comfort her. “This morning has been so heady, I’m overstepping my bounds. I’ll let you decide what you want to talk about. If there’s stuff that’s off-limits then that’s fine, I can write around it.”
She took one long sob, which shuddered down the whole length of her body, then she brushed her forearm across her eyes. “No, no. It’s okay, Michael. I want to talk about it.” She nestled into me. “The reason I quit is that a man named Carlisle Collins did a terrible thing to me, the worst thing that has ever happened to me.”
I’d done my year’s training as a journalist, and so my instinct was to automatically ask her what, but I held myself back. She was hurting, and I couldn’t bear to see her hurting.
“He did such a dreadful thing to me,” she continued, “and it drove me out of the business. It killed my confidence, slaughtered my career, left it in mangled pieces. But more than that, Michael, the repercussions of it went on right through my marriage, and now into my widowhood too. It’s been so terrible, Michael. It’s been so, so terrible.”
She sobbed long and angrily in my arms. When I’d met her earlier that morning, she had been vivacious, sexy, giggly. Now it seemed like whatever had broken her once was breaking her all over again.
“I’m so sorry.” It was all I could think of to say. “If there’s anything I can to do to help, you just have to ask.”
She raised her head and her eyes were so alive, burning with anger and hope.
“You can help me, Michael. I’ll tell you all about it. Not for the magazine, but just for you and me. I’ll tell you all about it and then you can help me find Carlisle Collins and make him stop. Will you do that for me? Please – will you do that for me?”
“Of course I will, Diana. Anything!”
She wrapped her arms tight around me, buried her head in my chest and sobbed again. I’d never meant a promise more desperately than the one I made right then.
About F.R. Jameson
Husband, father, author and a man who seems capable of holding seven streams of nonsense in his mind at any one moment. I read a lot, have a passion for cinema and am greatly enjoying living through this golden age of television. (To think, there was a time where I never watched TV). I like to think that I have an array of different interests, but I might be lying to myself about that and am really just exploring different facets of the same interests. I am attempting to improve myself though, trying to grow as a human being by pushing my boundaries, finding out new things and then seeing what happens.
I’ve published two novels of supernatural fiction, THE WANNABES and HELL’S SECRETS. This year I have also released two lengthy short stories, FOLIAGE and THE STRANGE FATE OF LORD BRUTON, while most recently I’ve released a collection of disturbing, claustrophobic fiction, entitled CONFINED SPACES. If you click the links you can read some lovely posts I wrote about their inspiration.
You can also download a free, exclusive story, SOMETHING WENT WRONG – a tale of madness or, perhaps, a tale of monsters – through this link.
The last five years have been odd for writing, in that I seem to have spent a fair deal of time doing it, but never – despite all my best intentions – have I got to a conclusion. I’ve become one of those people with a dozen unfinished stories, novels, even the odd screenplay. Hopefully now though I have the bit between my teeth again and am doing my best to fill all my free time with writing, writing, writing.
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