Excerpt for Be My Own Valentine by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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There was a time in my life where I never put up with bullshit and I was trying really hard to remember it as I sat at my desk in work. It was actually difficult to recall…my last job? The job before that…? College? School? Shit…childhood…? I remember suddenly and with enough of a kick that the last time I stood up for myself was when I was a kid and I was being bullied over my new glasses. I’d whipped them off, thrust them into my friend’s hand and launched myself at the bully who had been tormenting me for weeks. That had resulted in a week’s suspension, my parents wrath and with me suppressing any urge to stand up for myself since then.

But, now, as I watch two male colleagues pat themselves on their backs in front of our boss for a presentation that I put together, that I masterminded, that I had worked nights for…my blood had started to boil.

“You look like you need to go here.”

I face my colleague beside me.


Sarah smiles kindly, handing me a small colourful flyer. “This.”

I scan it. “A massage?”

“Yeah, it’s a new place, opened up around the corner, why don’t you see if you can get an appointment for tonight or something?”

I stare at the information. Stress relief. Ultimate relaxation. Inner harmony. “Maybe.”

“No maybes.” She smiles softly. “You got royally shafted by dumb and dumber again, I’m so sorry.”

I sigh, utterly mortified that my tears are rising. Sarah notices, offering me the press of her hand. “Please don’t quit.”

I laugh. And so does she. “I won’t...not yet anyway.”

I end up getting an appointment in a couple of days time and when I mark it in my diary, I shake my head with the irony. I’m getting a massage on Valentine’s...I had been single forever and work had become my boyfriend.

And he was a cunt.

On the day of my appointment, I’m at my desk chewing a sandwich, watching the feed from a meeting overseas that I had been remotely invited to. I get a rough tap on my shoulder. I turn, finding one half of dumb and dumber there. I remove my headphones, pausing the feed.

“Graham.” I sigh.

“Alright Ashley?” He grins. The city bastard is nothing but Rolex’s and Gucci loafers. I’d been grinding in finance for nearly five years and he had swept in six months ago, rode other’s skill and hard work. I consciously take a breath. “Got a minute?”

“Not really.”

He grabs Sarah’s empty chair, turning it to face me and takes a seat. “I’ve got Dennis asking for last year’s proposed department merger with the chaps upstairs and he wants a projection based on if we actually went ahead and did it; I was wondering if you could do me a solid and put it together for me? I would, but you were there, I’m so new that it would take me ages.” He runs a hand through his model perfect hair. Hair that I’d like to fucking pull clean from his scalp.

I swallow back my shock. “Sorry, you want what?”

He rolls his eyes. “You’re supposed to be whip sharp Ash,” He laughs. “I said can you get me last year’s-”

“I heard you Graham.” I roll my chair back a little, facing him. “That information is on the drives.”

“But can’t you pull it together; maybe bang it into a report or something? You know it cold, all the minute detail...”

Sarah returns with her takeaway lunch and stalls when she must see my face bleaching of colour. I feel my grip loosening. Suddenly, all the small things, capped by the arrival of Graham and his new pal who’d skirted any serious work and my boss, who had lapped it up, as the numbers always added up, makes me see something darker than red.

“So, that’s a yeah right Ash?” Graham is scrolling through his phone, dialling a number. He puts the phone against his ear. “Alright mate?” He speaks down the line before covering the receiver. “Pop it into my inbox Ash, tonight would be good.” He says as he saunters off.

Sarah literally dumps her lunch, grabs my hand and I get dragged off the floor. In the bathroom, she gets me against the vanity. “That vein in your temple looks like it’s going to explode.” She hands me a compress after putting a few paper towels under cold water.

“Did that really happen?”

“I think so.” She sighs. “Are you going to do it?”

“No. No fucking way.” I shake, pained that I’d been suffering, over working myself and getting overlooked for bonuses and much much more. “I think I want to quit. I’ve got enough saved for six months.”

“Maybe you need to sit Dennis down.”

I laugh. Hard.

“Yeah.” She sighs. “He’s the worst one.”

“They’ve made this place a factory to breed testosterone and money and people like us, people who work hard just get looked over.” I dampened the towel again to pat my cheeks.

“What are you going to do?”

I take a long hard look in the mirror. “Something I should have done years ago.”

Our department meeting starts at six; I hadn’t really been paying attention to Dennis who was covering this month’s trends and projections. I’d input my own remit about fifteen minutes in and was looking forward to leaving for my appointment, which I had contemplated cancelling, until they had called to confirm it.

“Ashley is going to take the lead on that one.”

I lift my head up from my doodling to focus on who called my name.

“She’s more than happy to, aren’t you?” I see Graham opposite me, grinning, his co-hort Duncan beside him. Jeez, they were both so new money, they stank.

“Is that right?” Dennis asks from the head of the table “I asked for that last week.”

“I was up to my eyes Dennis. Ash is going to do the mini report for our department.” Graham swivels ambivalently in his chair. “She offered, seeing as she was here and I wasn’t.”

I plaster a smile that almost hurts my jaw it’s so hard. “I would happily do that, but I took a look at it earlier this afternoon and in order to assess the figures, I need to factor in your deliveries, and the spreadsheets that you own haven’t been updated since you arrived.”

Graham’s grin freezes in place. I look to Sarah who is desperately trying to hold her smile back.

“A key part of our role is updating the master forms so we can easily extrapolate data.” Dennis faces Graham, who is trying to keep his cool.

“Yes, I know that, I’ve just been getting to grips with the ropes.”

“You’ve got till Friday Graham.”

“It’s month end-”

“Friday.” Dennis says firmly. “Or it’s my neck on the block.”

Drained, I make my way into the therapy centre. It’s a beautiful looking space, with a warm decor that actually made me feel a bit calmer. The woman behind the desk welcomes me with a big smile. “You must be Miss Reynolds?”

“Ashley, please.” I take off my coat.

“I can take that for you.” She offers, hanging it carefully behind her desk. “So, you’re having the full body works, which is a ninety minute treatment...”

“Oh, no, I think that’s a mistake? I only booked for a thirty minute back, neck and shoulders.”

She checks her computer, before facing me with a smile on her face. “Your friend Sarah called in earlier to upgrade you and she has paid for your treatment.”

I’m taking to room seven. It’s a heavenly oasis of calm and I have to fight myself really hard to acknowledge that my work day is done and that I can truly take some time for me. But I can’t help the tears...the shock of actually standing up for myself leaves me lightheaded and searching for a place in my life where things are going right. Work was a big part of my existence...but that’s all I was doing, existing.

“Miss Reynolds?” The therapist, dressed in a smart black uniform steps in, her smile freezing in place. “Oh, are you okay?”

I smile feebly for the woman. She’s probably in her thirties like me, and whereas I have dark hair, she’s a honey blonde with kind blue eyes.

“I’ve had a rough day and I’m not sure I can relax enough to enjoy the massage.”

“You are more than welcome to reschedule, especially if you are emotionally conflicted.”

“That’s a good way to put it.” I accept the box of tissues that she’s offering me. “I think I hate my job.”

She smiles softly, taking the seat beside me. The room has been set with low lighting, and a candle burns, perfuming the air with something floral. The space is a haven, and here I am, spilling my guts to a stranger.

“From what I have learned in my own life,” She pats my hand softly. “Is that there are no grey areas in life. It’s either love or hate. And I think, deep down, you already know how you feel.”

I nod, dislodging more tears. “You’re right.”

“Are you in finance? I’m guessing you are, as we’re in the financial district.”

“Yes. Yes I am.”

“It’s tough, it’s hard going, I understand. I was you about five years ago.”

“ worked in finance?”

“Yes.” She smiles sadly. “Then I had a heart attack in the middle of my executive meeting. I died for about twelve minutes and when I came back, everything was different.” She must note that my colour has changed. “I don’t tell you that to scare you, I tell you that so you know there is more to life than projections, reports and plans.” She holds out her hand; I take it. “My name is Roxy, and if you let me, I will take really good care of you.”

Given time to undress, get under the towel, I can only sigh with bone deep gratitude when I find the bed has been warmed. I wiggle the cover up, past my bare butt, and get comfortable. I hear the door knock, then open. “Okay to come in?”


She adjusts the cover, which is a soft, sheer sheet resting just at the lowest part of my spine. I hear the soft strains of something melodic start and the lights seem to dim even more. Taking my cue, I close my eyes and let Roxy work.

Her hands, oiled and warm, sweep up the length of my spine. She takes long, languorous loops across and over my muscles. With each pass, I feel her fingertips pressing in and aiming to release the tension. When she works on my neck, it’s almost painful, but her soft explorations result in something shifting delicately. I take a soft breath, letting my tears soak into the covering that surrounds the face hole.

“Is the pressure too much?”

I sniff. “No, it’s just right, I’m just...I’m okay.”

“Okay, let’s get you on your back.” Roxy, guarding my modesty by holding the sheet aloft, gives me the space I need to shift position. With the sheet back in place, she meets my eye line. “I knew women and some men like you. Hard working, gave their all, but at the cost of their health. Mental and physical.” Her hand settles onto my shoulder. “The decline in your health is usually very quiet, but there are warnings.”

“I know what you mean.” I choke up. “I have bad headaches and my periods are out of control.”

“Heavy and sore?”

I nod.

“Okay sweetheart.” She whispers softly “You need something else tonight.”

“I don’t have time to extend the massage.”

“No, it’s something personal.” Her smile grows, and suddenly I note the brightness of her gaze even in the soft low light.


“Yes.” She brushes the hair back from my temple. “When was your last orgasm?”

“I’m sorry?” I sit bolt upright, grabbing the sheet around my midsection.

“Your last orgasm?”

“Oh God, you really said what you said...” I brush back my hair, which has come loose from the bun I’d wound it up in.

Roxy stands beside the wide massage table, centred and those eyes remain charged.

“I’m not into women.” I say hastily.

“This is not about man woman sexuality.” She offers “It’s about taking care of another spirit who’s in danger of breaking.”

“Breaking...” I whisper. “Really?”

“It’s just a release, nothing more...just something to make you feel good.”

“I didn’t know it was that kind of place...”

“It’s not.” She speaks softly, but firmly. “I just see you, and it’s like looking into a mirror.”

“Did you?”

She smiles and I find myself warming to her, even more. “I ended up in rehab, met a guy who knew tantric yoga, and that was that. We’ve been married six years next month.”

“Oh okay.”

“Whatever happens here, it’s from me, as a gift to you, it’s not sex, it’s not dirty, it’s just...I’m scared for you.”

“You are?”

“Like I said, I see you...and I see me.”

“Two years ago.”

“I’m sorry.”

“My last orgasm was two years ago, with a partner...and I masturbated last month...I think.”

With a gentle, sure click, the door is locked, my sheet is removed. Left bare to her gaze, I’m suddenly uncertain and utterly shy. Roxy clasps my hands and offers me a silent prayer that keeps our gazes locked together. “Do you feel that?” She whispers.

“I do.” I note the warmth that trips down the centre of my rib cage.

“That’s your spirit coming together. It’s going to take time, and a whole load of courage, but you can do it.”

When her lips gently press against my temple and she helps me to lie back, I allow her free reign over my body as she gently resumes the massage, this time, on my front, starting at my ankles.

Up, her hands sweep, offering me long, draws of sensation. Knowing what is coming next...I find my pussy softening and wetting itself in preparation. I can’t stop the tears flowing down my face, running away from the back of my jaw to hit the towel covered table.

Roxy places one hand under my rib cage and gently, with unbelievable care, she massages one of my breasts.

Her thumb nudges my erect nipple and I can’t quite suppress the moan that’s making my breath fail and my spine arch.

“That’s it sweetheart, let go.”

“Someone will hear me.”

She shakes her head. “You are the last client of the day, and it’s just you and me. My receptionist left a while ago.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes, so just let go.”

I screw my eyes shut when I feel her mouth on my breast. Her long, sucking drawers make a rampant, volcanic heat roar through my blood. My toes curl and I have to wonder if I’m even awake as this moment feels so heavenly.

“When did you last feel free?” Her mouth latches onto my other nipple, sucking just as wildly.

“When I was a kid.”

“What were you doing?”

I gasp as she trails her mouth down, down, down my torso, before pulling my legs apart and her hand cups me right there.

“I stood up for myself.” I gasp, lost in the moment as her fingers push up and inside of me. It’s enough to make me sit upright, my spine perfectly straight, my legs splayed. “I need to see...” I sob. “I need to see...”

Roxy nods, locking her gaze with mine, before as one; we stare, right where her bare fingers are plunging in a soft, undulating manner. In and out, she moves; I see my juices on her fingers. “Oh God...” Then I get her thumb, pressing hard against my clit. I bear down, chin to chest as my breath starts to tremble, that wild, slow curl of a sensation leaking from somewhere I thought was broken and before I can hold it back, to really savour it, I’m pushed into an orgasm that makes my body vibrate with its power. Roxy pumps her fingers wildly, my juices making noises that would have normally embarrassed me.

Whipped by the sensation, I collapse back, legs splayed and hanging off the edge of the table. Roxy still has her fingers inside of me, and I watch as she removes them. Expecting her to wipe them on the near towel, she instead, traces my stain against my own lips.

“You should taste yourself.” She offers quietly. “Because you need to know just what power you have inside of you.”

I get changed, my legs still wobbling from my encounter with Roxy. I find her outside, in the sudden brightness of the reception area; a stark reminder of where I am.

“I would recommend going home, having a long hot bath and going to bed with a good book.” She powers down her PC, her handbag and jacket resting on the table.

I smile, warm from the encounter. “I’m going to head back to work.”

Her eyes go large.

“I’m going to write up my resignation letter.” Roxy reaches for my hand, I realise that the shaking inside of me, has stopped, something new is birthing in its place. “Happy Valentine’s Day to me I guess.”



Tahira Iqbal

Copyright 2017 Tahira Iqbal

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser or downloader of this book. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic format without prior written permission from the author except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review. Please do not partake or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to institutions or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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