Thursday, 2 April 2015

Cocks as in Peacocks!

 Post by Lily Harlem



Welcome to the Brit Babes blog. Today I'm chatting about a character in my new novel Breathe You In. But not the hero or heroine, meet Chester a peacock that brings the hero and heroine together in a round about kind of a way.



Breathe You in is a sexy romance with a twist and set in England. I adore living in England and one of the things that I remember from being a little girl are the peacocks in the town parks. Peacocks are so beautiful but they’re also very loud and to be honest, when you’re little, rather big and scary too.

Here's the moment the peacock acts as a catalyst for Ruben and Katie to start talking…

I walked, unsteadily, past the side of the museum, the deep gravel hampering my steps. I could hear the aviary the receptionist had mentioned—the happy chatter of sociable little birds. As I turned the corner, a pathway edged with large-domed wire cages led toward a distant bandstand set on a wide lawn.
A cup of tea was just what I needed, preferably with a dash of brandy in it. It was so strange to come face-to-face with Matt’s recipient like that—almost as if he were waiting for me here and all I’d had to do was come and find him. Of course, that was rubbish and fanciful thinking. If that stupid exhibition room hadn’t been so loud, I would never have even stepped back into him. We would have had nothing to talk about. We’d never have met.
I paused, gripped the railings that lined the path and stared into a cage full of zebra finches that were darting about. Did Ruben know anything about Matt? Did he know the heart that now beat so strongly in his chest came from a fine man who had been loyal and kind, had hated injustice and adored West Ham United? Had the transplant team told him that Matt had always dreamed of being a father, of being a grandfather too? That he’d disliked cheese of any description and could listen to U2 for months at a time in his car without bothering to change the disk?
Movement caught my attention.
Shit.
The peacock was right next to me. There wasn’t an arm’s length between us—or a leg if I had to kick it to protect myself. The damn thing had its tail feathers spread into an enormous shimmering fan shape and it was making a strange snorting sound.
Its black beady gaze was fixed firmly on me.
“Shoo,” I said, pressing up against the railings. “Go away.”
I flicked my handbag toward it, but that seemed to enrage the fierce-looking bird further. It shook its arc of colorful feathers and scraped its foot on the floor as if preparing for attack. Its beak appeared sharp and wicked, hooked at the end, prehistoric almost. I wondered how fast they could run. Were they like emus and could sprint for miles?
Suddenly it tipped its head back and made an awful screeching sound. Its little black tongue waggled as it cried out its battle scream several times over. The murderous sound made my ears ring.
“Get out of here, Chester. Stop bullying the visitors.” Sharp snapping came from my right, someone clapping hard and fast.
I flicked my bag at the peacock again and stepped away, not daring to take my eyes off the ferocious creature.
“Go. Go…be off with you.”
The peacock shuffled backward and in its place stood Ruben Strong.
Fight or flight warred within me. I should have run away but was compelled to stay put. The adrenaline rush gave me a giddy sensation. “I am sorry about this,” he said with a smile. “You’re really not having the relaxing time we hope our visitors to the museum will enjoy.”
“What’s the matter with that thing?” I asked shakily and now unsure whether or not to stare at Ruben or the peacock that was still eyeing me up as if I were his next meal. Part of me was hugely embarrassed that I’d been cornered by a damn bird, the other part hardly believed that the man who I’d come only to catch a glimpse of was standing before me, again.
“Oh, he’s just grumpy. His peahen is sitting on eggs, though whether it will come to anything this late in the season I don’t know, plus they’re terrible parents.” Ruben turned and gave a final flick of his hands, sending the rogue peacock on its way. “I think the heat must be bothering him too.”
It strutted back toward the entrance of the museum, huge tail still spread, haughty neck bobbing.
“Well, thanks. It was about to mug me.” I took a deep breath and set my attention on Ruben as he tipped his head back and laughed. He had dark-brown hair, a fraction over-long, and it fell past his ears and down his neck. He also had sideburns, again a bit too long, as was the fashion at the moment.
“Unless you’ve got a stash of sunflower seeds in your bag, he wouldn’t have mugged you.”
“Mmm, I’m not convinced.”
I managed a small smile. Ruben’s was infectious, wide and genuine. It created tiny crinkles at the corners of his eyes and showed a neat set of teeth, though his right canine protruded a fraction. I felt a hesitant calmness wash through me—the claustrophobia of the museum and the shock of accidentally bumping into Ruben was fading. We could talk a little. Right?
“They’re actually considered symbols of immortality,” Ruben said, glancing at the departing bird.
“Why?”
He turned back to me and slipped on a pair of shades. “Apparently the ancients believed peacock flesh didn’t decay after death.” He shrugged. “Which of course, it does, but it’s a nice thought.”
Again I looked at his chest. His name badge was at an angle. Not all flesh decayed after death. Some lived on. Some could allow others to live on.
“Er…is the café this way?” I asked, my voice croaky.
“Yes, are you meeting someone there?” He skimmed his attention over my left hand.
I was clutching the strap of my handbag over my breast.
“Your husband?” he asked.
Instinctively I looked at my wedding band. I’d been unable to remove it. In my mind I was still married. Matt was still my husband. We hadn’t divorced. He’d gone, but not because he’d wanted to.
“My husband is dead.”



Please don’t think Breathe You In is a depressing story, because while it certainly examines Katie’s grief after losing her husband and donating his organs (you’ve probably guessed now that Ruben has his heart) it’s also a tale of passion and love and looking to the future. Ruben’s new heart is serving him well, he’s becoming the vibrant, sexy young man he was before his illness, and he’s ready to get back in the driver’s seat of life and he want’s Katie with him for the ride. Breathe You In is fun, flirty, it also takes on serious issues, and because it’s a book from my imagination, the bedroom door is left well and truly open when the temperature heats up and you get to find out all the sexy details.

Being part of Totally Bound’s What’s Her Secret imprint means there is a big secret, and that’s what Katie is keeping from Ruben. She should never have orchestrated their meeting, there are laws in the UK that prevent donor families meeting recipients of organs, but she went ahead anyway determined to catch a glimpse of him, needing to catch a glimpse of him It’s the peacock that brings them together and from there… well let’s just say she neglects to tell him whose heart he has as things get steamy between them.

When Ruben says that peacocks are symbols of immortality to some he’s right. This is what I found out before writing this scene…



Peacock Symbolism

The peacock is a symbol of immortality because the ancients believed that the peacock had flesh that did not decay after death. As such, early Christian paintings and mosaics use peacock imagery, and peacock feathers can be used during the Easter season as church decorations. This symbol of immortality is also directly linked to Christ.

The peacock naturally replaces his feathers annually; as such, the peacock is also a symbol of renewal.

Early belief held that the Gates of Paradise are guarded by a pair of peacocks.

The peacock has the ability to eat poisonous snakes without harm.

Pythagoras wrote that the soul of Homer moved into a peacock—a hyperbole to establish the respect and longevity of the Greek poet’s words.

The Greeks dedicated the peacock to Juno, the goddess of sky and stars, in recognition of the golden circles and blue background of the peacock’s tail.



Finding out information like this is wonderful as a writer and the peacock fits so well with the storyline in Breathe You In, because organ donation does mean that flesh lives on, it gives new life. I’m sure the ancients had no idea that their beliefs would be interpreted in this way all those years ago, but it worked for my story, which I’m very happy about.

I hope you’ll check out Breathe You In, I adored writing it and these characters will really tug your emotions and heat you up.

Thank you for stopping by today.

Lily x



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