“Her bodice heaving she strained against him, hoping at last this was the man to deflagrate her.”
I stopped reading, took off my glasses, wiped them, steadied them back on my nose and tried again. Yes, it was still there! I sighed.
Joyce Hunibun, one of the best selling authors(esses?) we had, seemed to be doing it again. How being an editor at Hearts and Roses publishers has widened my vocabulary! I went to the dictionary, not there. I used the online approximator, no synonyms, just a link to the definition. Subsonic combustion, burn down. What on earth was the woman thinking?
I used the highlighter, popped in a comment suggesting deflower as the word and continued reading. If you can call that reading. Checking for typing errors, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, contextual mistakes. Oh dear, sometimes it seemed my brain was being numbed by the pulp that daily poured across my desk. 5 books a week, read and edit, or read and reject. But we needed 3 per week from each editor, so one had to be fairly lenient.
I finished “Her Heart’s Desire”, flagging it as acceptable, needing discussion with the author, with the kind of money Joyce made for us, I would be stupid to reject any of her work. But I felt sure that no chemical engineer, no matter how her auburn hair whipped across her cheeks as she surveyed the pipeline, was likely to still be a virgin at the age of 29 and a half, pretty much an ‘ice princess’. The job description would probably have to change to assistant or something similar. Travelling with her boss, the engineer. Maybe an older woman, to keep the female competency idea alive in the book.
I sent off the standard text message to Joyce. Book needs discussion, call for appointment.
Immediately the message system flashed back. “in the building, where are you?”
Typing fast I replied “Floor 3 cubicle 16 on the right from the first door”
A few minutes later I heard footsteps, not the pattering of high heels as I expected, but quiet ones, sounding more masculine than the little woman I imagined Joyce to be.
A head peering around the cubicle wall. Male, familiar somehow.
“You paged me”, he said.
“I was expecting Joyce Hunibun” I said, looking sternly at him, hoping he wouldn’t frighten her away.
“At your service” he said, smiling.
“Deflagrate!” I said, pointing to the screen. How could you!
My husband smiled and said “aha, you have my secret. The engineering world hasn’t been paying well, but Joyce, well she does!”
Pulling up a chair he said “and now my pretty editor, help me find a less technical term for how he sets her aflame with passion.”