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The Love Shack

Avery O’Neil is a film student at UBC, battling a long-time secret crush on athlete Aaron James. What better way to get over Aaron than to try out a by-invitation-only fling at The Love Shack? No lights, no talking, no seeing your partner…but what does Avery do when her first experience gets under her skin?

Age Rating: 18+


The Love Shack by Alex M. Floquet is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.



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Avery O’Neil is a film student at UBC, battling a long-time secret crush on athlete Aaron James. What better way to get over Aaron than to try out a by-invitation-only fling at The Love Shack? No lights, no talking, no seeing your partner…but what does Avery do when her first experience gets under her skin?

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: Alex M. Floquet

My phone buzzed for the hundredth time today, making me seethe. There was no need to check the clock over my head.

The ticking bomb that waited outside was eager enough to remind me it was past the end of my shift, probably jamming our discussion thread with all sorts of undecipherable emojis.

The thought of leaving had crossed my mind more than once, but no well-conceived human being could let old Joanne handle the seasonal hustle and bustle of the library by herself.

I couldn’t bear the sight of uptight students lashing out at her because of her inability to walk faster and meet their pressing demands only minutes away from their exams. Jerks.

I’d stayed an extra hour or so, just to make sure she was all set for the afternoon. She’d tried many times to kick me out of the front desk, in vain, but eventually won me over when the whole zoo went back to class.

“Off you go, sweetheart,” Joanne said, a warm, wrinkled hand on my arm. “There’s a life out there that needs living. You can’t spend your life taking care of the dead.”

She poked her glasses up her crooked nose, eyes smiling as much as her mouth, and limped away to the office to make her afternoon tea.

“Don’t make me repeat that, I’ll choke before I get the chance to.”

Laughing, I grabbed my leather jacket from the locker next to the steaming boiler and kissed her cheek goodbye.

“Alright, Joe. Please don’t die before Monday, I’m looking forward to our morning chat.”

Although my head was still set on book checkouts and Joanne’s heartwarming company, my legs hungrily strode across the park, warming my body just enough to untie the ball of knots in my neck.

“What were you doing, Avery? I was this close to going home!” Elena’s cranky voice stood out in the crowd, and I wasn’t surprised to find her standing in the middle of the road, hands and eyes glued to her phone.

My only response was a yawn that I didn’t even get to satisfy. It was so suddenly interrupted by a horrifying scream spurting straight out of my gut.

A speeding fool honked his way through the narrow, crowded streets of UBC, sending frightened people in the grass upon its passing.

As a brutal shot of adrenaline kicked in and coursed through my veins, I rammed my dearest friend against a wall, yelling, “Watch out! Don’t walk and text or you won’t even reach the building!”

It took me a long minute to pant the fright out of my lungs, and Elena got the scowl she deserved. She’d been so obsessed with her phone lately that she’d lost her natural sense of attention.

She didn’t even look upset or grateful for the risk I’d just taken for her—she never did. I was her guardian angel, she’d say, sent to earth to save her whenever she was in deep shit.

I didn’t know how to feel about that. Angel or not, she could have died right here, right now, and there wasn’t a strand of emotion under her thick layer of makeup.

“Why didn’t you wait inside?” I asked, nodding at the front door of our favorite hangout.


“Something’s wrong with Isaac again.”

Her eyebrows dropped on each side of her round face in a saddened expression.

“Bullseye,” she spat through gritted teeth, “He dumped me for no reason.”

As much as it pained me to hear that my best friend was hurting, I opted for a poker face reaction that luckily cut the whining short.

Comforting her for the billionth time this month was out of the question. I was tired of the melodrama, and nothing she could do or say would turn me against our mutual friend.

The man was a romantic sweetheart with poor experience in the field of women, and I pitied him for being so desperately, helplessly entangled in her nets.

Sighing, I walked through the door at a brisk pace, drawn by the rich smell of freshly brewed coffee that I always craved at the end of a busy week.

Lee’s feet followed me, but her long straight black hair covered her dark eyes—which reflected a mix of Facebook and Twitter blue—and she was too late to register that the door had closed before her.

When she crashed into it, the whole of Vancouver was honored with her strident cursing.

“Fuck!” she screamed, and timidly kicked her frustration into the heavy glass door with the tip of her expensive high heels.

Isaac escaped a nervous chuckle at the ongoing show behind me, and with a spiteful tone, he said, “What a drama queen.”

Still, he watched her strut inside as the crowd parted to the loud click-clack of her heels.

For as long as I’d known her, she’d had a flair for the dramatic, and everywhere she went was an opportunity to step on the catwalk. No doubt she’d become a famous actress someday.

Once the parade ended, Elena came to a pageant halt next to me. She lingered there for a moment, long enough to catch Isaac’s attention, and spun on her heels to sway her curvy hips away from him.

“Hi, Avery, the usual?” he asked, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down as Lee performed her genius grand finale and sat at the farthest booth available, behind the green vegetation wall. Out of his sight.

I nodded, wondering how they could have wasted three whole years of their lives, devoting their heart and soul to a tiresome push-and-pull relationship. Even I couldn’t.

He thanked me as my coins plinked in his register, and turned to the overloaded shelves of cups and glasses to pull two espresso shots from his machine without much energy.

I noticed how huddled up his usually confident posture was today, a sign that his mind was elsewhere. Certainly not anywhere near his upcoming wrestling competition, I thought.

Pouring milk in a metallic jug, he startled me out of my thoughts with a much more irritating subject than Elena’s mood swings.

“How’s it going with your thesis?”

“Ugh, don’t ask,” I started, biting my lower lip. “I’m meeting Sheridan next week to present a detailed project. I have nothing. My head’s a blank page.”

“What kind of film are you supposed to make?”

Before I could answer, the milk steamer went off, hissing through the café, making me cringe. Not to Isaac’s displeasure; the fool waggled his eyebrows in pride until utter silence was restored.

“Documentary,” I whispered, out of tune.

I stretched an arm out, blood pressure dangerously crashing as he sprinkled a good dose of cocoa on our shots of caffeine.

I didn’t mind. Elena would definitely flip out, though. Cocoa on cappuccino was an insult to her Italian roots, and anyone who dared to flout the no-cocoa rule ended up dead, or so to say.

Meaning to object, for his sake, my mouth opened and closed as soon as I met the revengeful look on his angelic face. What the hell, let the cocoa rain. She deserved it.

He handed me a small tray on which laid two full porcelain cups, pursing his lips like he always did when his neurons fumed inside that cute blond head of his.

“I might have an idea,” he blurted.

“I’m all ears.”

“Well, my—”

Thinking the milk steamer would go off again as Isaac was wiping it clean, I frowned in anticipation. Instead, a grave, suave voice interrupted.

“Isaac, I need your advice. It’s about our summer schedule.”

I looked up to the taller, sexier, and manlier version of Isaac. His brother Aaron stood there in front of me, flipping through the pages of a notepad, a pencil between his toothpaste-ad teeth.

We’d never officially met. Yet, I’d spent so much time studying here in the peaceful haven he’d built from scratch that our lives seemed intimately tied in a way.

I suspected he was closer to his thirties than I was.

Something about the way he carried himself suggested he was past battling the oppressions of social conformity—but I’d stopped guessing other people’s age when I lost count of my own.

Aside from the wild night dreams his athletic body entertained my unconscious with, I presumed he lived alone, not far from campus—just down our street.

I knew for a fact that he rode his bike to work every single morning with a tote bag on his shoulder, whatever the weather.

The rest of his character was a mystery to me or the mere product of my unbridled imagination.

My heart skipped a beat. A rough sex appeal radiated through his confident stance and casual appearance, rekindling the memories of our numerous wild nights, the ones we’d only shared in my wacky mind.

He was wearing the same hoodie I enjoyed ripping off his chest. The large computer glasses that I delicately dragged down the edge of his turned-up nose.

And those blue eyes that pierced right through mine each time he thrust deep into me. I kissed; I licked; I bit his well-defined lips and gripped his tousled blond mane between my fingers.

Whenever one of those dreams occurred, it always ended the same way: I let him fuck me into oblivion and woke up wet in my empty bed.

Before Isaac could notice the beading sweat on my forehead, I ducked away with my cappuccinos, clenching my thighs together all the way down to the booth behind the wall.

Why had I come here for coffee? Only a glimpse of him and here I was, fanning the flush of my neck and praying the pool of my juices would wear off fast.

Coffee. I needed coffee. With utmost precaution, I pulled up the hem of my skirt a little and clutched my spoon.

Elena eyed me quizzically and her lips rounded in a circle while acknowledging the presence of a tray on our table.

She groaned, “Bastardo. I dare him to crawl back to me again,” and aggressively scooped the cocoa and frothed milk out of her cup.

Her jaw dropped open as she watched me pour sugar stick sugar stick into my coffee with disgust.

I could feel her judgmental eyes incinerate my hand on the handle, but nothing could stop me from indulging my thirst, bottoms up.

It quickly came to my attention that I was drowning my feelings in sugar again, which she picked up and cleared her throat annoyingly. I just put the empty cup back on its saucer.

“Don’t be too hard on Isaac,” I advised. “Give him some time. He’s younger than you, I’m sure he doesn’t know what he wants yet.”

Elena sank into her seat and crossed her arms, frowning.

“Oh no, he does, actually. He broke up with me the second I popped the question.”

“Again?” I winced. “I thought you were taking it slow this time.”

She straightened back up and aimlessly stirred her coffee with her spoon, her gaze lost in the swirling beverage.

“Moving in together isn’t that big of a deal, you know. It’s been three—”

“On and off,” I interjected. “Stability before commitment. You can’t pressure him—”

She cut off, “When you love someone, you take all of them. On and off. Love is commitment,” her tone harsh.

She sighed. There was truth in her words, even though I didn’t share her point at all.

“We should go out tonight. That’ll cheer you up.”

The corner of her mouth curled up, and I finally gave in to the urge of glancing at Aaron, who ran about his counter, unloading, drying, and stacking a full rack of clean cups.

“Oh, Aaron James again. I see what’s going on,” she said, licking her spoon suggestively.

“Nothing’s going on,”


I couldn’t pick up her next words over the annoying scream of Isaac’s steamer. Damn machine. I cringed, asking, “What?”

“You’re horny!” she yelled, but Isaac had already put an end to his steaming business. All eyes around either widened or fixed on us in surprise, including the two brothers’. Shit.

Out of coffee, I floundered about the booth, desperately searching for a good hiding spot. Teaching discretion to Elena was like trying to drive her away from acting—a lost cause.

By now I should be used to the regular humiliation. Yet I wasn’t. How could a smug smirk widen across her face right now?

“I’m not,” I whispered.

“Don’t lie to me and pretend you’re not leaking.”

She playfully shoved a cold, bare foot in between my legs under the table and giggled.

“When’s the last time you…”

“Does masturbating coun—”


“I don’t know, I…” I forfeited.

She didn’t bother to reply but raised her thin eyebrows meaningfully, forcing me to admit that I’d put all nonessential needs aside—such as sex—for the past year at least.

I didn’t regret worrying more about my future in the film industry than my buzzing beehive, even though it’d been a real, frustrating hurdle to deprive myself of my deepest needs.

But like any ambitious student, it was a choice I’d gladly made.

Now that I only had my thesis project and library shifts to think about, maybe I could cut myself some slack and squeeze some sexy fun into my schedule.

“About Aaron,” Elena ultimately said. “One way or another, I’m afraid you’ll have to shag him out of your head. The secret crush has lasted too long.”

Just as I turned on my laptop, she shut the world out and dived her nose deep into the lines of the movie script she had to learn for her own thesis.

There was nothing to discuss here. She was right. The dirtiest thoughts of him had been a much welcome distraction to my overworked mind and had kept me sane during my exams.

In time, he’d become an addiction, except I’d never questioned his long-term effects on my heart. Aaron James was a god. Out of my league. I had no other option than to let go of the idea of him and move on.

Was I willing to throw away the last four years of fantasizing, though? No, no, and no.

After hours of inconclusive research for my project, I closed my laptop when the smell of lavender hit my nostrils. I was alone in the sole dim light above my head.

All the chairs were properly stacked up on tables and the moonlight—flooding through the windows—shimmered on the wet floor. Shoot, what time could it be?

Elena’s fancy bag was on the table. She couldn’t have gone far without it, and I’d seen her go to the restrooms so many times that I started to believe she’d moved there.

“Elena?” I called as the oversized door screeched open. No sign of life.

Did they lock me up inside and leave? Why would she go without telling me, and without her purse? In a panic, I rushed back to the booth, determined to call her.

The screen of my phone wasn’t wide enough to display all my unread texts.

Ten were from Elena, harassing me out of work, and another ten were from my dad, sharing too many pictures of his blooming flowers in Edmonton.

Before I pressed the call button, my phone buzzed, informing me of yet another incoming text, this time from an unknown sender.

Dear Avery,

You are cordially invited to the launch party of The Love Shack 2020 edition, tonight at 11 pm. Dress up for the occasion and join us there: 1402 Anderson Street, Vancouver, BC. All aboard –

Shh, it’s a secret. Cheers, The Love Shack team.

I sat down to read the text again and knew in my gut Elena was behind it. She knew me too well: Friday nights were better spent out.

What was The Love Shack, though? Nothing I’d ever heard of. I just hoped she hadn’t signed us into some orgy or S&M meetup.

She was an expert at misinterpreting ads and we’d crashed the weirdest parties of Vancouver more than once.

I was weighing the pros and cons of going to that party when a loud thud echoed through the empty coffee shop.

The door to Aaron’s office was slightly open, yet wide enough for me to see the bright neon light on his desk. Was Elena there?

I shuffled inside and closed the door behind me to the energetic pitter-platter of water, which perverted my imagination. Great. Lee was having makeup sex with Isaac in the changing room, and I’d have to wait. Again.

This time, instead of leaving the room, curiosity glued my feet to the wooden floor. I wanted to know. Never mind the risk of losing the fantasy. I needed to know.

The world was full of those anyway. My heart needed to know. So, I rambled in this cupboard of an office, imbibing the smallest details of Aaron’s things, a mere yet valuable one-shot of his personality.

I laughed at the framed motivation quotes and pictures of his trips to Mexico that hung on the only cleared wall.

Like me, he was his own cheerleader and kept his most precious memories close to his eyes, frozen reminders of his ambitions.

I stepped behind his tired desk and frowned, intrigued by his leather-covered notebook. His notes, mainly work-related, bore the consequences of a heavy hand on paper.

His rounded letters had bent and scratched through multiple sheets all at once. I wondered just how many erasures and doodles it took one to scribble out the pain of their tortured soul.

The more I turned the pages, the darker and larger his doodles, which eventually turned into dark drawings of the local wilderness, the perfect replicas of the tattoos on his arms.

Of all people, I could only agree with nature being an effective medicine worth having inked under one’s skin.

A heart picture frame stood next to his computer, and as my gaze landed on it, my mouth dried out and my heart wilted.

Aside from being a thriving businessman and a talented artist, Aaron James was also a boyfriend—or a husband—and a father to two children, a girl and a boy, both blond, his smile on their faces.

There I had it, my antidote. Freshly delivered. There was no decision to make.

Like Elena had said, the secret crush had lasted too long, and with this new piece of information in mind, I doubted I could ever get high on his body again.

Besides, family should always come first. I hoped he cherished it. He was too perfect to be real, anyway.

“Are you looking for something?” Aaron asked from across the small room, his deep voice shaking me out of my grief. I looked up to his damp, athletic body and stumbled on his tote bag.

Seconds later, I was down on my butt, cursing, “Dammit,” loud enough to make him sneer.

For some reason, the stars refused to align tonight and were determined to test me.

The proof was that when I gripped the edge of the desk, mostly for balance, my face met with his bulge—protruding through his tight boxers—which only hung a couple of feet away.

Some things I hadn’t imagined were wrong.

No, Avery. Family, family, family.

“I thought Elena, um…”

He walked up closer and shoved me against the filing cabinet. His soft, glistening skin diffused an unbearable heat that caused me to blush hard. Too close.

What was he playing at? He didn’t even know me. Placing his hands on each side of my face, he tilted his head to the side, eyes pressuring mine for an answer.

Dominance and anger oozed from his stiff posture, just like his drawings, and it didn’t take him a second to see how turned on I was, despite the disillusion in my eyes.

I had no plausible explanation to give, and my heart pounded so fast that all I could focus on was its beating down my wet core.

Confused, I cleared my throat and stuttered, “I-I-I—.” How stupid. I couldn’t even spit out the truth, let alone come up with a lame excuse.

Without a word, Aaron crouched at my feet, his hair brushing my thighs.

“What are you doing?” I gasped.

“Dressing up,” he answered plainly, and got to rummaging through his messy tote bag, from which he retrieved all his gear: shirts, shorts, protein packs, and clean clothes.

I took a deep relaxing breath. This was the perfect moment to leave.

Unfortunately, before I could order my legs to move, up on his feet he was.

The breeze that followed his sudden movement was charged with the fresh aroma of his shower gel, which sent my inside walls into a frenzy.

His eyes plunged into mine as he jumped in his jeans and forced the jammed zipper up against my belly, giving me a feel of his hardness.

Panting, I asked, “Where’s Elena?” Paralyzed, trying to look away from the long, sharp collar bones that floated in the sea of muscles under my nose. He dropped his index finger on my lips, and answered, “outside.”

Slowly, as my hot breath ricocheted on his chest, his fingers trailed down my chin, neck, and in between my breasts. They perked up under his touch, betraying my broken heart.

I was out of breath but still managed to mumble, “I need to go,” hoping it would put an end to my sweet misery.

He stopped at the hem of my skirt, clenched his teeth, and with an impassive composure, whispered, “Then why are you still here, Avery?”

Hearing my name coming out of his filthy mouth sent a wave of chills down my spine, forcing my eyes to blink frenetically.

Exactly what was I doing here? On his wise words, I slid myself under his arms and ran out of his shop in a fury.

Judging by the quizzical expression on his face, this wasn’t a turnout he’d expected. Me neither. My body roared for him, but my heart cried.

I didn’t know if I was more upset at him for playing with me or at myself for letting him. Four goddamn years of pure ignorance, and here he was, trying to get his way under my skirt.

How naïve of me to fantasize about a man who took pleasure in breaking hearts while his belonged elsewhere, somewhere safe.

And how could he seize the first opportunity to betray the ones who loved him so much? The bastard had no honor.

I was done with Aaron James. No more feelings. No more waiting.

I was hungry for revenge, for freedom, for lust, and all the sex I’d missed out on because a part of me had been too busy hoping for a sign. I’d had my sign, all right, but fuck, I didn’t want it anymore.

When I reached the dark, empty street, I screamed my guts out, as loud as I could, thus erasing all images of him from my memory.

After a couple of deep breaths, I finally exhaled the last molecules of his euphoric cologne that still stuck on my lungs. Nothing could ever tie me to him anymore, mentally or physically.

“Everything alright?” Elena asked, smoking on the sidewalk, her peace disturbed by my unusual fuse blowing.

I nodded, deciding not to tell her about Aaron. She had enough on her plate with only one of the James brothers, and I badly needed to forget the final chapter of my secret-crush story.

“How about we go to that Love Shack party?”

As I took a whiff of her cigarette, filling my lungs with cleansing smoke, my best friend’s eyes softened, and a bright smile stretched across her face. It was all the answer I could have hoped for.

Let’s unleash the beast, I thought.


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“A parking lot,” I said, disappointedly looking at the blue P-sign on the wall. Not what someone would expect for a private, invite-only party to which they’d been cordially invited.

I started to doubt Elena’s good judgment, especially after a three-mile walk in a pair of brand-new wedge heels.

She zoomed in on her map, mumbling, “I don’t understand, it’s where the address leads to.” For once, I believed her.

Apart from souvenir shops, the market, the fantastic brewery, and a bunch of restaurants—all closed—there wasn’t much that Granville Island could offer by night outside the summer season.

I slowly walked in, gaze up at the thin, poked ceiling above which the highway roared, and the muffled boom of a bass vibrated through the cracked concrete under my swollen feet.

“Feel that?” I asked. Elena warily followed.

“Yeah. There has to be a door somewhere. I can’t see.”

Her voice echoed through the dark nothingness that laid before us, as though she’d split and teleported, reminding me that one Elena in my life was plenty enough.

My brows furrowed at a neon arrow, flashing over the endless rows of grey cars, and I shouted, “There!”

Elena squealed, snatched my hand, and dragged me all the way down a damp staircase and to a wide wooden door.

The fictitious porthole window that throned in its center and the two towering palm trees on each side invited us to travel far from our foggy city one night. Sleek and efficient.

“Should I knock?” I asked excitedly. She didn’t even have time to register my question that a high-pitched voice pierced through the door, “Ahoy!”

It opened to a very short Jack Sparrow whose pants were missing and provocatively replaced with leather garter stockings.

“I don’t think we’re at the right place,” was all I could muster as I took in the irony of his character: a grim, bloodthirsty pirate in ridiculous attire.

“Welcome to The Love Shack, ladies. I’m Philippe. Password?”

My eyes drifted to Elena for support, since she was the organizer behind our midnight escapade. Her head tilted to the side in an attempt to check under Philippe’s oversized shirt for any sign of underwear.

I elbowed her back straight and asked again, “Password?”

“I don’t have a password, do you?” she whisper-shouted.


“We’re screwed.”

“Not tonight, apparently,” I sarcastically blurted.

“Come on, you must have one.”

“I don’t—”

“You don’t?”

“No, I just told you—”

“Great! So, we’ve dressed up and walked a high-heel marathon, and for what? Nothing!”

Out of despair, my hands tore through the air and landed on top of my skull as I paced around the trees like a maniac. I badly needed a drink.

“Psst, the text,” Philippe said with a fake smile and gazed up at the surveillance camera above his head. Elena immediately dived into her phone and scrolled down her long list of texts.

“Blah blah blah, address, blah blah blah cheers? Shh? Secret? All aboard?” she tried, each time looking back down at Philippe for a sign of approval, as though she was answering the million-dollar question.

“All aboard? All aboard!” she yelled, prancing in glee.

“Please follow me,” he said cheerily and led the way into a small black-painted room with a luminous counter in the center.

His tiny body slid behind it, disappearing from our sight, and his head magically popped up over a wicker basket. There had to be a ladder involved in the trick.

“All personal items go in there, including your phones and any pointy or sharp objects you may carry,” he recited in an automatic, monotonous tone.

I cleared my throat and bit my lip, wondering what kind of objects people could carry to a dark room with neon lights. Where the hell were we?

Philippe checked our IDs with a mischievous smile as we hesitantly stripped ourselves of our jackets, purses, and phones, to Elena’s disappointment.

“It’s your first time here, isn’t it?” he asked, amused.

Elena and I shared an uneasy look and nodded.

“Is it…an orgy?” I whispered.

“What? God, no!”

His laugh burst into the room, loud and clear, reaching the highest notes of his tessitura; even Elena’s deafening squeals couldn’t measure up.

It contagiously spread on us, but we both forced it down the second we saw him struggle, crawling up on the counter to speak, embarrassment pouring down our faces.

“You’re not virgins, are you? I’ve had too many tears to dry already, I can’t handle it.”


“Ugh, these virgin girls keep coming here for true love. Ding-dong! Wrong place! They’re so naïve…” He rolled his eyes, which I found to be quite offensive.

He didn’t know a thing about these girls, and neither did we. Who was he to judge? Somehow, I had a feeling we’d be the topic of his next mockery with other guests.

Crossing my arms across my boiling chest, I snapped, “So, what can you find, then? A bunch of hungry dogs?”

“Ooh, fiery. I like it,” he smiled, waved his paw at us, and meowed annoyingly, earning him a grunt from Elena.

“You’ll find all sorts of people, actually, but no dogs. Women and men from different horizons, like you and me, are looking for something to rock their world. That’s why there’s a party first, so people can…mingle.”

“What do you mean by ‘first’?” I frowned. He turned away from us to go through a cardboard box and type god-knows-what on a computer keyboard, then twisted his spine to wink at us.

“1307, 1308…Well, you came here for the afterparty, right?”

“Sure!” Elena replied, a little too enthusiastically for him to buy the smarty pants attitude.

“Whatever you do, trust the process. Taara’s developed amazing AI technology, you’re going to crawl out of here asking for more.”

He licked his lips in a repulsive way, and I could only hope there wouldn’t be too many people like him at the party. Otherwise, I wouldn’t leave the bar, if there was one at all.

While Elena and our bare-assed matey discussed the fascinating subject of artificial intelligence, I let my eyes wander around the empty room.

I wished my head was just as immaculate right now. Aaron’s face popped up again, and I yielded to the temptation of firing that one burning question at myself.

It was the only way to muffle the tireless voice in my mind.

What would have happened, had I stayed in that office with him?

Nothing good, my head told my heart.

I couldn’t be having second thoughts. Forgetting him was the best decision I’d made in four years, and there was no turning back. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about people’s lives here.

Married or not, they’d obviously come on their own free will and wouldn’t act on impulses they’d later regret.

A “medical center” sign on the back door caught my attention, and it dawned on me that this place was a sex business.

I’d guessed this party would be a chic one where we’d luckily have fun and meet handsome men to spend the night with—although the leather pirate disguise was over the top.

But if there was a medical center here, then the casual hookup booths in the most renowned nightclubs of the city would have tough competition.

A regulated business which would revolutionize the illegal sex industry as we knew it. Genius. Yet, a business implied that its customers paid for its services. Elena and I would need to discuss that.

“These are your masks and should be worn at all times. On your way in, inside, and on your way out. Never take it off, except…”

He wiggled his eyebrows at us—dear Lord—and went on, “They’re connected to your medical file. Off to the medical center, ladies.”

He handed each of us a black velvet and gold Venetian mask, which covered the entire face. The long silver feathers on top camouflaged a flashing green chip.

I placed Lee’s on her face carefully so as not to ruin her makeup and tied it under her slick ponytail. She did the same with mine, and paused to look at me.

“You’re beautiful. Your green eyes stand out.” I took in the compliment, winking.

“You’re a carnival goddess. Wait, is this—” I reached out to a black straw popping out of her cleavage, but she slapped my hand and scowled.

“Don’t—” she whispered.

“Is that…a camera?” I smiled.

“Shh! I want memories.”

“You’re a bad, bad girl, Lee…” I joked.

“Have a good night, ladies,” Philippe said, opening the door for us.

We executed orders and stepped into a heavenly room that exhilaratingly smelled of alcohol. My stomach hopped as I squinted my eyes, adjusting to the bright, artificial lights.

I knew we were almost there: the walls trembled along with the rhythm of loud upbeat music.

Lee and I both sat on two separate recliner chairs, and as soon as we were comfortably settled, both our masks beeped, and a tablet emerged from our right armrests.

Welcome to The Love Shack, 1308, it read. Make sure you keep your mask on at all times to ensure the protection of your identity.

Please complete this quiz truthfully so we can find your best match for the night. First, contraception…

“Ooh,” Elena said excitedly. She stretched her arms out, fingers intertwined, palms out, until her wrists cracked.

“Now you’ve got my attention, Love Shack,” she added and dived into it as though it was a timed test. I sneered at the sight.

It took me way longer than her to answer all those questions about my sex life, including my favorite positions, fantasies, and personal limits. Mainly because I’d never thought about all this.

It actually pained me to realize how poorly I knew the most intimate parts and pleasure triggers of my body.

Without much conviction, I answered genuinely, but scratched my head and nervously laughed whenever confronted with the most disconcerting topics, such as anal penetration.

When I finished, a message flashed on the screen: Please hold on, a doctor will proceed to blood testing.

“Man or woman?” I asked Lee as we both patiently waited.

“I don’t know, I checked both boxes. If Isaac doesn’t want me, somebody else will.”

“Attagirl!” I cheered.

“Good evening, Miss 1308. I’m Doctor Ascott,” a middle-aged, red-haired woman said. Shit. Not her. Not here. Not now.

She sat next to me on a rolling stool, stretching her gloves up to her wrists. She didn’t bother to look at me at first, but my teeth clenched at the idea she might recognize me.

“Please, lay your arm on the rest, and stay still. I’ll just draw some blood for testing.”

She pulled up the sleeve of my blue pencil dress and her fair complexion turned translucent when she saw the black and white peonies tattooed on my forearm.

My head attempted to flee from her intense golden gaze, but it was too late.

“You remind me of a former patient of mine.” She fastened a tourniquet band around my arm and scrutinized me as she rubbed an antiseptic cotton ball on it.

“She had the exact same golden-brown hair as you, and a daughter that should be about your age now. Their resemblance always amazed me.”

I cleared my throat, trying to contain the upcoming whirlwind of emotions.

Satisfied with the soft spot under her cold fingers, she thrust a needle under my skin, on which she clipped an empty vial and sighed, “She passed away,” her tone grave.

I gazed up at the white ceiling when my vision blurred, biting my left cheek. She was trying to get inside my head, her usual manipulative and vile method to get her message across—it was working.

“Multiple sclerosis. She was an angel. I’m sure she’s watching over us now.” She brutally replaced the full vial with another empty one, but I didn’t feel a thing.

“She taught her daughter how to respect herself.”

“She sounds like the perfect mother, that patient,” I replied, gulping.

“She was my best friend, too, and she’d be disappointed to learn that her daughter spends her nights fucking around in this—”

That contemptuous tone of hers sounded the alarm inside my head. I lost it, and snapped, “Fucking around, really?”

Elena and her doctor turned to us, bewildered. I couldn’t tell if they were both as shocked as me. All the blood in me rushed up to my head, preventing me from seeing clearly.

“Definitely. After all her mother’s done for her—”

“Let me tell you something, Doctor Ass-cold. Hide your frustration behind your old-fashioned and preconceived ideas all you want.

“But it doesn’t give you the right to judge nor think for others. Self-respect is about acknowledging and honoring every bit of yourself, body and soul, and acting on it responsibly.

“That’s what my mother taught me. It doesn’t matter what you see or call it, really. If I’m fucking around, then it’s because I’ve chosen to.”

“Open your eyes, you’re just a sex object to—”


“I mean, to those—”

“Thank you, Doctor Ascott, for your very interesting insight on female sexuality. Actually, you should come with us. I think you need it more than we do.

“You won’t need a mask, though. You’re already wearing one,” I vented, and pulled my sleeve down once she finished. I expected another rude comment from her, but she just shrugged.

“Your mask will turn green or red in a couple of hours, depending on the test results. If it’s red, you’re out. Take care.”

I stood up, swallowing my tears back in, and flew across the room to Elena, who impatiently waited by the back door.

“If this was such a big mistake, Natalie, then why are you here, testing people’s blood for STDs?”

She sighed again, picked up my vials, and left the room without a glance.

“What was that about?” Lee asked worriedly.

“Nothing,” I lied.

“Let’s go, then. I’m thirsty.” She put a hand on the doorknob.

“Wait.” Elena froze. “How much did you pay for all this?” She tossed her head back and gazed upward, rolled her eyes at me, and growled, “It doesn’t matter.”

Her hand landed on my cheek and she shared an earnest smile.

“Happy twenty-fourth birthday, 1308.” I wrapped my arms around her for a most comforting hug.

Elena had been my closest friend for as long as I could remember, dating back to kindergarten in Alberta.

We’d been inseparable ever since, and as we aimed for similar, complementary careers, it always felt natural to share the same roof.

Even though we had our tempers and opposing characters, we were family. She was my sail and I her anchor, and that was enough for us. Our bond was unbreakable.

Being far from home wasn’t always a walk in the park, though. So, we’d made a tradition of organizing surprise Friday nights out for each other.

After the hellish day I’d endured at work, I was glad to share my birthday night with her, and glad she could keep record of my age for me.

The double doors swung open before us, and we walked through them without a care in the world.

People like Natalie could shove their judgment up their asses. We were offered the opportunity to free ourselves from the burdens of our identity for a night and welcomed it with open arms.

We strode down the dark labyrinth of corridors like animals, the music as our sole compass.

Empowered, bold, and alive, we were determined to satisfy our thirst, whether it be revenge, alcohol, or sex. Masked, there was nothing we couldn’t do.

Our eyes blinked open to a huge concert hall whose floor had been traded for fine sand. More palm trees and treasures decorated the place.

Our attention quickly landed on sexy pirate strippers dancing inside the wooden cages that hung above our heads, their bodies oily and reflecting the prism of colors beaming from spotlights on stage.

Who would have thought that a regular parking lot could hide such a gem?

The stage—the perfect replica of a ship’s poop—was also the DJ’s booth, our captain for the night.

“Are you ready on the beach? Are you ready in the pool?” He screamed in his mic as the tempo accelerated and the lights went wild over the crowd.

We ordered piña coladas at the mile-long bar while observing the three or four hundred dancers. Philippe was right.

Masked adults of all ages, shapes, and colors partied together, giving the place a friendly atmosphere.

Willing to have my share, I grabbed my drink in one hand, shoes in another, and we both disappeared into the crowd.

Elena’s hands were on my waist as we weaved in and out of the groups of colorful masks toward the stage. The party was on.

Four or five cocktails later, all thoughts of Aaron finally disappeared as my body hungrily swirled and swayed against other people’s.

My feet jumped and glided into the sand in an impetuous need to squish past inhibitions, and my hips wiggled in rhyme with the intoxicating music, as though espousing all the flaws of my scarred body.

They no longer held me back, thus temporarily ridding me of all insecurities. My body was mine again. Men, women, I didn’t care. I thrived on the liberating feeling of being desirable.

Until a tall, stinky drunkard shoved his hand under my dress. Uncontrollable, my fist left my side before I could even think. I punched his masked, bearded jaw and dug my nails in his arm.

But the man rather took it as a teasing act of defiance. He plunged his hand in my panties and squeezed my butt, holding me captive against his large, sweaty bare chest, his free arm around my waist.

When his fingers dangerously trailed down my slit, I saw red.

I scratched, and slapped, and punched, and even bit his arm, but he kept swaying us both from side to side to the song, hidden in the jungle of swarming bodies.

Out of nowhere, two white masks jumped at him. One wrapped his arm around his throat while the other knocked his arm out of my dress.

In a haze from all the booze I’d drunk, it took me minutes to register what was happening. Elena had already pulled me out of the crowd and back to the bar.

“Are you alright? What were you thinking?” She yelled, gripping my jaw as I watched my saviors drag the bastard out of there with two security guards.

“I didn’t give him permission to do that!”

“Hello, look around! I know you didn’t give him permission, but the crowd’s heating up. If you don’t want to go all in tonight, now is the time to go home!”

No!” I giggled and sang along, “Oh, I want to dance with somebody!”

“Come on, we’re going home, you’re dead drunk,” she replied.

“Elena Conti, it’s my birthday, my choice! I’m staying, and I’m shagging you-know-who out of my head! Just not with that disgusting pile of shit!”

I took a sip of her drink and raised it for a toast.

“You hear that, people? I’m fucking Aaron out of my head tonight! Cheers!” I gobbled the whole thing down under the chugs of my supportive audience. But the lights went out, and the music faded.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen. Please welcome the famous, talented, sexy creator of The Love Shack, Taara Bakshi!”

In the ruckus of screams and whistles, Elena gripped my neck—after many blind attempts—and pulled my ear to her mouth.

“Are you sure you want to stay, Ave?” she asked.

Then, thoughts of Philippe, Natalie, my dead mother, the sick bastard, and Aaron washed over me. Did I really want to do this?


Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!


My Valerie

Valerie’s life has always been tough. A mate that wants nothing to do with her is just the newest hurdle. Adrien has no time for romance, solely devoted to being a warrior and nothing else. But the Moon Goddess has plans for the two for them… When Valerie and Adrien are forced together, will the couple fall for each other, or is their mating bond not strong enough?

Age Rating: 18+

Note: this story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.

Racing Hearts

Years after a summer fling with up-and-coming racing driver Drew Jaymes ended in heartbreak, Nicole Bennet returns to Peach Valley to attend her grandmother’s funeral. The young lawyer falls for Drew’s charms again almost immediately, and even agrees to represent him when he is arrested for attempted murder. But Nicole’s reconnection with Drew does more than reawaken long-dormant passions, and the trial puts her on collision courses with her family’s murky past, the town’s criminal underbelly, and the ruthless Carmichael Corporation.

Age Rating: 16+

Shadow Pact

For centuries William has been executioner for the Coven, a sinister organization that keeps supernatural creatures in line. Everything changes the day he rescues Emily from a pack of werewolves. Not only is she a human, but she’s trying to save the life of the woman he’s supposed to kill. If he didn’t feel so strangely attached to her, William would get rid of them both. Instead, he requests the Coven’s mercy, which sparks an earth-shattering revelation.

Age Rating: 18+

Vow of a Mate

Dr. Rose Nooman is about to follow in her father’s footsteps as the pack doctor when she finally meets her mate. As all werewolves know, the mating bond is sacred and can never be broken, which is why Rose is completely crushed when her mate disappears for six months, only to emerge with no memory of her at all. Now she has to find out exactly what happened to him—all while hiding their destined bond from him and his pack!

Age Rating: 16+

Note: This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.

Falling for My Brother’s Best Friend

Let’s say you’re an independent, self-sufficient woman who runs the family company and you find yourself falling for your little brother’s best friend. Now, more than ever, you need to count all the reasons why you need to abandon falling.

Abandon Falling #1 – He’s a womanizer. Hasn’t had a serious relationship a day in his life and changes women more often than he changes his sheets.

Abandon Falling #2 – He’s never serious. He cracks one-liners, mostly at your expense.

Abandon Falling #3 – When things go wrong, he seems unfazed and always remains in control. It’s so annoying.

Abandon Falling #4 – He has tattoos. Lots of them. Everywhere. Not to mention, he owns a tattoo parlor. (Damn it! Why doesn’t that sound like a bad thing anymore?)

Abandon Falling #5 – There’s a growing list of how different you two are. You can’t get along for fifteen minutes—a lifetime together would land one of you in prison.

Keep repeating those reasons and drown yourself in work. Pretend you don’t notice his good qualities or how enticing he looks without a shirt, and do not, I repeat, do not agree to live with the man while your place is being repaired from flood damage.

Trust me, even the strongest of us can only forego temptation for so long.

Their Thief

Damaris’ entire life has been filled with pain and suffering. Desperation leads her to disguise herself as a man so that she can run errands for a notorious gang. But when she is captured by their rivals, the King brothers, they all claim that she is “their mate.” Damaris, terrified and confused, tries to escape their grasp. But now they’ve got her scent and nothing will keep them from finding her.

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Abuse, Child Abuse, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Torture, Violence, Gore, Suicide)

Alpha’s Pet

Evony, heir to the Winter Moon Pack, is self-righteous, greedy and doesn’t care about others’ opinions. She has plans for when she’s alpha, but they are ruined when her pack is invaded. Alpha Axton is in charge now, and Evony is going to find out exactly how it feels to be someone’s pet…

Age Rating: 18+

Rock My World

Fresh out of college, journalist Athena wants nothing more than to start her life and career the right way: by landing that perfect job and making a name for herself. The last thing she expected was to be going on tour with the world’s hottest—and I mean HOTTEST—rock star, Axel Anderson. Now Athena has to reevaluate her plans and decide if she’s willing to throw it all away for a chance to have her world rocked.

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Sexual Assault)