Part espionage thriller, part romance, part fantasy, part adventure, ‘Notoriously Naked Flames’ is Mike Steeden’s first novel. Spanning the lead up to WW2, the war itself and into the early 1950’s the unnamed heroine of the piece, a bewitching albino of Bohemian bent, masquerades in all manner of risqué guises dishing out her own version of clandestine justice to those evils souls spawned of conflict’s disregard for compassion, law and order. Additionally, she also finds herself nursing her lover, a giant of an Englishman once in the employ of MI5, back to a semblance of his former self following his torture at the hands of Cold War Soviets that had left him deaf, mute and blind. Her task is made a little easier with the help an Eastern European girl she befriended in bizarre circumstance.
Together the trio of ‘notoriously naked flames’ take on life in all its demonstrative disguises while the racy heroine keeps under wraps the tale of her otherworldly evolution for were it to become known to the public at large it might just invalidate religion as we know it and bring forth a new Dark Age. Can she keep safe her secret?
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EARLY SUMMER 1952 – SUSSEX, ENGLAND
She examines her defenceless giant searchingly as he bathes. He, the one who is a portrayal of rare full-fledged innocence, and wonders if the macrocosm inside his head replicates the one outside of hers. She hopes against hope that locked within exists a rainbow’s multi-coloured arc, or is all this lost upon the extraordinary self, empty of speech, hearing and sight, unaware that gesture is the only language he bestows. Touch and smell his native inside-out lone connection.
She communicates as best she can. Upon his awakening, she is always there. Her ‘hello of sorts’ a lover’s tangled tongue kiss. No passion though, they are no longer the passing lovers they once were. More that the sharing of her unique taste serves to let him perceive her, recognize her. Always has him gift a beaming smile just for her. She wears the self-same perfume each new day also, it helps him identify her proximity.
With no great difficulty she aids him out of the bath, warm towels, warm heart care. Time for drying and dressing, though the palaver of dressing irks him, induces a frown. Regardless he is immune to nakedness within his ambushed consciousness, his curious dominion. Not for him the embarrassment of the earthly collective.
The sun shone the day before. Albeit keeping a caring eye open, she chose to let him wander the lawn, uncovered. From nowhere a summer storm brewed, small hailstones. She watched as he held out his palms, threw his head back, greeted the spheres of water ice, an air of amazement, no suffering.
The eternal ‘what next’ frustrates her day; muddles her mood. She undresses, calculates he may have no recollection that human beings come in two packages. Her hands upon his chest, fingers spread wide, sensation of touch inviting. Invitation accepted, he mirrors her actions, stroke for stroke, his look curious, questioning, captivated. No folly in innocent exploration.
A telephone outside of his realm rings. Might be important, she pulls away. Notices he sheds a single loaded tear, from which continent of emotion it heralds, likely she will never unearth.
He has been this way ever since she rescued him.