Are You Ready For The Love Position?

Welcome to an advanced peek at the FIRST THREE chapters of The Love Position –  a forbidden love, one bed, steamy, standalone romantic comedy with a shy academic bringing the hottest yoga teacher in the world to his knees. No cheating or cliffhanger, but all the lols, all the feels, and a perfect happy ending guaranteed in this fabulously funny romcom! 

Please note, even though this novel is finished, edited and ready for you, you may still find some small errors or typos, which you are very welcome to let me know about.


Evie xxx

The Blurb:

After making a ground-breaking discovery, archaeologist Sophia Hunter-Savage has her work stolen and her heart broken. She needs a safe place to lick her wounds, so retreats to her family home in the village of Foxbrooke. Taking up yoga is the first step on the path to healing and when she meets the teacher, Isaac, things start to look up.

Yoga instructor Isaac Hayward has finally found meaning and purpose in his life by helping others. When Sophia arrives at his class struggling with anxiety, his protective instincts kick in, but the undeniable chemistry sets off alarm bells. He’s taken a vow of chastity and relationships are strictly off-limits.

Not wanting to be tempted off the spiritual path, Isaac runs away to an ashram seeking a return to inner peace. But when Sophia unexpectedly turns up, neither can deny the forbidden attraction.

Can their love last the distance or is this one position they can’t hold for long?

Chapter One:


Heart thumping, Sophia squinted at the coin in the half-light.

‘It’s Iceni, isn’t it?’ Maggie asked, the lines around her eyes creasing deeper.

Sophia nodded, running the pad of her thumb across the inscription. ‘Saenv. From the late denominational period.’ An excited giggle escaped her. ‘Maggie, this could be it.’

The older woman glanced around the empty landscape and lowered her voice. ‘You think?’

Sophia nodded again. ‘The walkover survey I did indicates a settlement might have been here, and the raised area at the edge of the field could be a burial mound. Is this is the eighth coin you’ve found this weekend?’

Laying her metal detector on the ground, Maggie rummaged in a battered leather satchel around her neck, then handed Sophia another two. ‘Now it’s ten. I’ve logged the locations using my GPS tracker.’

‘Superstar. If it’s a hoard, it must have been scattered by ploughing, but it’s a sign we could find even more here.’

The two women gazed out at the view from the vantage point at the edge of the escarpment, high above the plain below. The cool January sun was sinking towards the horizon on their left, but Sophia faced east, her mind two thousand years in the past.

Are you here? 

No-one knew what happened to Boudica, Queen of the Iceni tribe, after the Romans quelled her uprising in AD 60. She simply disappeared from the historical record.

I would have fled west.

‘Aren’t you meant to be at some fancy dinner in York this evening?’ Maggie asked, interrupting her thoughts.

Sophia pulled a face. ‘You know I’m not great with big groups of people. Especially ones I don’t really know.’

‘But aren’t you the guest of honour?’

‘I’m one of them.’

‘So, you bailed on the entire weekend and drove five hours just to meet me in a muddy field?’

Anxiety prickled in Sophia’s stomach, and she rubbed the coin for reassurance. It felt warm and alive.

‘My lecture was the first one this morning,’ she replied breezily. ‘I didn’t really need to stay after that. And anyway, this is more important.’

‘Searching for a needle in a haystack.’

‘Maybe…’ She shrugged. ‘But to find this amount of Iceni coinage so far from East Anglia? The only accounts we have of Boudica after the battle is one saying she died of injuries and the other that she took poison. If she came this way, either dying or already dead, then where would she have been buried?’

‘Stonehenge? Avebury? Silbury Hill? One of the countless barrows?’ Maggie gestured to the landscape below them. ‘They’re all in spitting distance.’

‘They’ve been dug already, and Iron age people didn’t have the same attachment to Neolithic sites. I don’t think she’s there.’

‘But you think she’s here?’

Sophia’s anxiety about skipping out of the conference turned to fizzing excitement. ‘I could say it’s an educated guess… But I also feel it in my gut.’

Maggie’s eyes twinkled. ‘Nowadays my guts just grumble. You know I’ve been a detectorist longer than you’ve been alive, and I’ve never found the motherlode when out fieldwalking. It’s always ring pulls and toy cars, not treasure.’

‘But what if it was? Just imagine!’

‘Oh, I do. It’s what gets me tramping fields on my own all day.’

‘You’re the best there is.’

‘Humph. I don’t know about that. I’m just a persistent old bugger.’

Sophia squeezed the coin tighter, as if it held all the secrets of the universe as well as her fortune.

‘Can I…?’ She let the question hang in the air.

Maggie chuckled. ‘You can have it on loan. Just don’t start muttering “my precious” to it.’

Snorting with laughter, Sophia held it up in the dying light. ‘My preshhhhhhhus!’ she hissed.

‘I’ll report what I’ve found to the Finds Liaison Officer in the morning,’ Maggie said. ‘Do you think it’s enough to get a dig?’

‘I’m going to drive straight home and show this one to Marcus. It’s ultimately his decision what we do in the department, but after the research I’ve already done on this site, hopefully the coins will be the tipping point to get the green light.’

‘Even though they’re not Roman?’

‘He’s not that biased.’

Maggie gave her the side eye. She wasn’t a fan of Sophia’s boyfriend, archaeology professor Marcus, and he openly despised detectorists. 

‘I’ll sell them as “Roman adjacent”.’

Turning away from the view, they strolled back through the field towards their cars.

‘He’ll be pleased you’re back early,’ said Maggie.

‘Yes. He was a little grumpy that the conference was over his birthday weekend.’

‘The big six-o?’

‘Maggie! It’s his fiftieth and you know it.’

The older woman smirked. ‘So, what have you got him?’

‘A framed silver denarius of Marcus Aurelius and a weekend away in Rome.’

‘He’ll love that.’

‘I hope so. Anyway, it’ll be nice to surprise him. I’m going to pop into Tesco on the way home and grab a takeaway.’


‘Of course.’

Sophia swung her car through the gap in the laurel hedge and came to a halt outside the house she shared with Marcus. As well as his Alfa Romeo, there was a shabby Vauxhall Corsa parked on the drive. It was vaguely familiar, but Sophia couldn’t place where she’d seen it before.

Marcus had guests?

She’d rung him to say she was coming home early, but the call had gone to voicemail. Taking a fortifying breath, she got out of the car. 

Sociable face on and make an effort

It didn’t matter how tired she was, or how much she wanted to tell him about Maggie’s finds. Today was Marcus’s birthday so everything needed to be about him. Luckily, Sophia had bought enough food to share with whoever he was with, and she could always eat toast if there wasn’t enough for everyone.

Opening the front door, she was hit by the smell of burning and vinegar, and music from Marcus’s favourite CD. The musicians were playing copies of ancient Roman instruments and Sophia always thought it sounded like the percussion section of an orchestra had been taken over by enthusiastic ducks.

‘Hi!’ she called out over the sound of honking reed instruments and cymbals. ‘Only me.’ 

‘Magis! Ita!’ Marcus roared through the living room door.

Sophia’s heart sank. Her boyfriend yelling ‘more’ and ‘yes’ in Latin meant he’d reached the obnoxious stage of drunkenness, where he truly believed he was the reincarnation of Marcus Aurelius.

Please don’t ask me to be your slave girl later

Gritting her teeth, she carried the shopping bags to the kitchen. There was no sign of what could be causing the awful burning smell, but a roll of tinfoil was out on the worktop. Putting it away, she took out the takeaway boxes, turned the oven on, then went to wash her hands, thinking of any task she could do to delay facing a drunk Marcus and his friends when she was completely sober.

She froze as a shriek of female laughter carried along the corridor.

Who on earth is in there with him?

Then there was a high-pitched yelp of… pleasure? 

Adrenaline prickling the back of her neck, she moved towards the living room. Pausing, her hand on the door knob, she heard Marcus groaning loudly from the other side. He only ever made that noise when they were together in bed. Alone.

Pulse pounding in her temples, she entered the room.

The people inside were so caught up in their activities, they didn’t notice Sophia’s arrival. Shock turned her blood to ice as she took in the tableau.

Marcus, her boyfriend of the past ten years, and the only man she’d ever slept with, was facing away from her, kneeling on the floor in front of the sofa, and rutting a woman from behind. His only clothing was a purple bed sheet tied haphazardly around him like a toga, and a laurel wreath on his head.

Sophia’s gaze fixed on his pale buttocks as they clenched and wobbled with every thrust. 

Is this what he looks like when we make love?

She couldn’t see anything of the woman he was having sex with apart from her legs, but did recognise the other woman in the room. Holding a lighter underneath a sheet of tinfoil, she was inhaling noxious brown smoke coming off a substance on the top.

‘Kiera?’ Sophia asked, her voice thin and dry.

The young woman glanced up, her pupils blown out and her eyes glassy. 

‘Oh, shit!’ she gasped, dropping what was in her hands and fumbling to pull a white bedsheet around her naked body.

The foil landed on the carpet, burning side down, and the smoke intensified.

‘Fuck!’ Kiera cried, bum-shuffling away.

Marcus didn’t notice, his backside pounding faster as he cried ‘slave girl’ in Latin.

Dashing forward, Sophia grabbed a throw cushion from the floor and smothered the flames.

‘What were you smoking?’ she asked, her heart thumping against the inside of her ribcage. 

Please let it not be what I think it is

The young woman stared at Sophia, eyes wide like a rabbit in headlights.


She blinked. ‘Opium.’

Marcus was grunting ‘ancilla’ louder and louder. He roared as if victorious in battle, and the woman beneath him screamed like a banshee.

Then the only sounds left were heaving gasps of recovery and discordant reed instruments.

Every one of Sophia’s senses was assaulted. This was her house, her sanctuary, and it was being defiled on every level. Hands trembling, she flicked the music off.

‘Huh?’ Marcus said, his gaze moving to Kiera.

Kiera looked at Sophia.

Marcus turned, eyes bulging in his red face as he clocked her.

Sophia’s breath came faster, her chest tightening as if being crushed by a snake. She couldn’t find any words inside a head filled with white noise.

The thread veins in Marcus’s cheeks were as purple as his makeshift toga. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his irises had been swallowed by the darkness of his pupils.

‘It’s my birthday,’ he said, as if those three words explained everything away.

The woman bent over the sofa shifted to see who Marcus was talking to.

‘Darcie?’ Sophia stuttered.

‘Fuck!’ Darcie gasped, struggling to move away from Marcus. However, she was currently pinned between the sofa and his cock.

‘Er…’ Marcus began, his gaze swinging drunkenly around the room.

‘Can you get off her, please,’ Sophia said, her voice a whisper.

Marcus pulled out of Darcie and faced Sophia. Her gaze fell to his wet cock, rapidly deflating along with the man it was attached to, as if needing confirmation he’d been doing considerably more than dry-humping one of his nineteen-year-old students.

Scrabbling off the sofa, Darcie lurched across the room and grabbed her clothes.

‘Sorry,’ she muttered to Sophia, then tugged her friend’s arm. ‘Kiera, come on!’

Marcus stood and straightened his toga, his movements unsteady. ‘Wait!’

Sophia ignored him. ‘You can’t drive home,’ she said to Darcie.

Kiera started crying.

‘I’ll take you.’

‘But—’ Marcus began.

‘Come on, quickly now,’ Sophia continued, her voice wobbling as she tried to ignore her boyfriend’s whine.

Darcie and Kiera ran from the room and Sophia followed, snatching her keys from the bowl by the front door and unlocking her car.

Marcus followed them outside into the chilly night air. ‘Soph—’

‘Get back in the house,’ she said to him, then bundled the two women into the car, got in the driver’s seat and reversed out onto the main road.

‘Where am I going?’ Sophia asked as she drove towards the centre of Salisbury, her jaw tight with pain as she tried to keep her emotions under control.

‘Bishopdown,’ Darcie replied. ‘Miss—’

‘Don’t. Please don’t say anything.’

‘I’m sorry, Miss Hunter-Savage,’ Kiera snuffled.

‘It’s Ms Hunter-Savage,’ she ground out.

‘I thought you said they weren’t married,’ Kiera whispered loudly to Darcie.

Sophia gripped the steering wheel as if it were her only link to sanity. ‘The title Ms refers to an adult woman without her being defined by her marital status.’ 

‘So, you’re not married to Marcus then?’ Kiera continued.

Pain lanced Sophia’s chest. She’d spent nine of the last ten years hoping for a marriage proposal that had yet to arrive.

‘It’s Professor Thwaites to you,’ she replied, her world smashing into pieces around her. ‘Is this your first time having unprotected sex with him?’

Silence from the back seat.

I’ll take that as a ‘no,’ then… ‘And do you usually smoke heroin at the same time?’ 

‘What?’ Kiera asked.

Sophia’s eyes briefly closed, then she focused on the road ahead, driving as fast as the speed limit would allow.

‘Heroin. The class A drug you were taking.’

‘That’s opium, not heroin,’ Darcie replied. ‘It’s part of the reenactment.’

‘Heroin is derived from Opium,’ Sophia said, her throat tightening with every word.

‘I feel sick,’ Kiera moaned. ‘Can you slow down?’

Sophia sped up. She needed to get them out of her car before she broke down. The two girls were first-year students, barely legal. 

Just like you were, ten years ago.

What if they told other people what they’d been doing? Would someone contact the police? Would she be arrested if they found drugs in the house?

‘Miss—’ Kiera began.

Sophia turned left. ‘I’m nearly there. Darcie, how far along—’

She was interrupted by retching noises.

‘Oh, my god!’ Darcie cried.

Slamming her foot on the brake, Sophia screeched the car to a halt and dashed to open the back door. Vomit coated the back of her seat, dripping into the footwell. 

Kiera stumbled onto the pavement and threw up again.

Darcie came to her friend’s side and held onto her.

‘Which one is yours?’ Sophia asked, glancing up the street.

‘This one,’ Darcie replied, dragging Kiera towards a small terraced house.

Sophia waited till they were inside, then got back in her car, wound the windows down and drove away.

The winter air cut into the car like a knife, but the violent shivers wracking her body were not due to the cold. Her life had been a beautiful stained-glass window, years in the creation, but had just been smashed within the blink of an eye. The sharp-edged pieces now lay on the floor around her, and she didn’t know if they could ever be put back together again.

Calm down!

But her breath was coming too fast to control. Swerving the car to a stop at the side of the road, she cut the engine and clutched her head as her vision began to go.

Come on! Come on!

Throwing open the door, she staggered out of the car, made it to the pavement and dropped to her knees, welcoming the cold, hard reality of the tarmac.

‘Breathe with me!’

Her brother’s voice cut through the cacophony, and she clung to the thought of him.

‘You can do this.’

Even though he wasn’t there, she felt his strength. Four years older than her, James had always had her back. Sophia loved her parents, but it was her brother she went to first with any problem.

But now?

Breathing slowly in and out, she stared at the pavement, glowing orange under the streetlamps. James would kick Marcus’s arse to Rome and back, but that would only land her brother in even deeper shit than he was already in. Last year, he’d lost his job in London and been barred from working in financial services. Now he was living with their parents in Somerset and struggling to run an entertainment company.

One step at a time.

Pushing to her feet, Sophia got back in the car and drove the rest of the way home. The bigger picture could wait. Right now, she needed to find a pair of rubber gloves and scrub away all traces of the night.


No reply.

Closing the front door behind her, Sophia went into the living room. 

Her boyfriend was sprawled on the sofa, asleep, his penis creating a damp patch on a scatter cushion that had the letter ‘S’ embroidered onto it. It had been a housewarming gift from her mother when Sophia had moved in, along with a cushion with the initial ‘M’ for Marcus.

Donning an apron and rubber gloves, Sophia set about clearing the living room whilst her longtime partner snored and drooled. He’d mentioned using opium before in his quest to emulate Marcus Aurelius, but Sophia had shut the idea down. She’d indulged his fantasy of her being his slave girl a couple of times when they’d had sex, but it had made her deeply uncomfortable.

On the coffee table was a polaroid camera and shots of Darcie and Kiera doing things she’d refused to.

I wasn’t enough for him.

Her stomach turned. How many times had he had sex with them? And had there been anyone else? She’d always ignored students flirting with Marcus. Had she been blind?

Running upstairs, she entered his study and rifled through the desk drawers. At the very back of one she found more polaroids, these featuring several former students. Dressed in togas or naked, they had various orifices around the cock Sophia believed was for her use only.

Backing out of the room, she stood in the hallway, desperate to collapse to the floor, but not wanting to touch anything more than she had to. Everything that was so familiar about her home now felt dirty. 

Where will I live? What about work? Have I got an STD? How many people know about this? How have I been so stupid?

Her mind was fracturing into a million thoughts and she didn’t know which one to pay attention to first.

Clean the car. Then you can leave.

Sweating with exertion, her nervous system running on empty, Sophia hauled the last suitcase into the boot of her car. She’d lived with Marcus for nearly a decade, and one night wasn’t enough time to unpick the tapestry of their life together. She had the essentials packed. Everything else could wait.


Marcus was in the doorway, his face puffy and his slate-grey hair defying gravity. He was still wearing the purple bedsheet, but it was crumpled and stained.

‘Come inside and we can talk.’

She straightened. ‘About what?’

He sighed, his expression irritated. ‘Don’t be like that. Let’s be adults about this, okay? There’s no need to be so reactionary.’

Reactionary? ‘So, how exactly would you like me to behave after finding my boyfriend smoking heroin and having sex with his—and my university students?’

Marcus rolled his bloodshot eyes. ‘It’s opium. Plant medicine.’

‘It’s illegal.’

‘And the girls mean nothing. It’s just a bit of birthday fun. When you turn fifty, you can do the same if you like?’

Sophia’s stomach lurched. When she reached fifty, Marcus would be seventy-one. Would they have had children?

‘Why did you come back early?’ he asked.

‘Maggie’s found ten Iceni coins at the site on the escarpment. I thought…’ She trailed off. What did it matter? He wasn’t going to support her now.

Marcus scratched his balls through the sheet. ‘Ten?’

Sophia nodded, staring at him as if for the first time. Had she really given this man a decade of her life?

‘Might be worth doing geophysics now then. And didn’t you say there was a structure that might be a barrow? I’ll take another look at your dig proposal next week.’

‘You’d support it?’

He shrugged. ‘Maybe? Be a good project for the undergrads and we’d get another paper out of it. Now, come on back inside.’

She shook her head.

‘Look, I’m sorry, Soph. It was a one-off. It won’t happen again.’

‘I found more photos in your desk drawer,’ she choked out.

‘What were you doing poking around my office?’

‘What were you doing, poking around with at least ten of your students?’

Marcus ran a hand through his grey hair. ‘It’s nothing.’

‘Nothing? You might have given me an STD!’

He rolled his eyes again. ‘It’s fine. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.’

Sophia stepped back, a hand reflexively touching her stomach.

‘Where are you going to go?’

She swallowed. ‘My parents’ new place in Somerset. I can commute to work from there.’

‘So, I’ll see you at the staff meeting tomorrow?’

‘It’s in four hours, Marcus. And no, I won’t be there.’

He glanced up at the pale sky with a frown. ‘It’s Sunday.’

‘No, it’s not. Today is Monday.’

‘It can’t be.’

Sophia got in the car.

Marcus stepped forward. ‘Soph! Wait!’

She ignored him, slamming the engine into first gear and driving away. She didn’t know what was going to happen next in her life, but she knew with utter certainty that her relationship with Marcus was over.

Chapter Two


Sophia ran a finger over the glossy surface of the Valentine’s card, tracing the cartoon of a fluffy dog holding an outsized heart.

Inside, the words ‘From ?’ had been written by her mum using her left hand in a traditional, and futile, attempt to disguise who’d sent it. 

Ever since Sophia had been a little girl, her parents had given Sophia and her brother cards on Valentine’s day. They’d stopped when she got together with Marcus. 

Now they’d started up again.

Hearing footsteps outside of her bedroom door, Sophia wiped her eyes. She had to put on her big-girl pants. What she was going through with Marcus was nothing compared to what her mother was currently having to handle.

‘You in there, babe?’ her mum called through the door.

‘Yes, come in.’

Beverley Hunter-Savage entered the room and Sophia drew her in for a hug. ‘How are you holding up?’

‘I don’t know what to do with myself,’ her mother replied.

The two women sat on the edge of the bed, hands intertwined. Apart from the same brown eyes and cupid’s bow lips, they couldn’t have appeared more different. Sophia’s thick brown hair was unstyled and tied in a ponytail, whereas her mother’s had been bleached to within an inch of its life then carefully coiffed into a donut bun. 

Sophia rarely wore make-up, however Beverley had never gone a day in her adult life without a full face of war paint. And whilst Sophia lived in off-the-peg jeans, her mum favoured animal-print designer clothes.

Beverley’s manicured nails flicked the edges of Sophia’s bitten ones. ‘You need to get a set of acrylics done. Then you won’t bite them.’

‘Not great for work, Mum.’

‘You could bring a bit of glam to archaeology. You’re so pretty. You should be on the telly.’

Sophia repressed a shudder. It had taken her long enough just to deliver a lecture without an anxiety attack. The last thing she wanted was to be the centre of attention like that.

Beverley squeezed her hand. ‘I don’t know where we went wrong, babes. Your brother’s got confidence flying out his arse, but you…’

‘We’re just very different, Mum.’

‘Yeah… You sure I can’t do you a makeover?’

Sophia shook her head. Growing up with crippling shyness, she’d wanted to fade into the background. However, her mother dreamed of creating a little princess in her own image. Luckily, Beverley loved her daughter more than her desire to create an ‘it girl’.

‘You seen Marcus?’

‘At work.’

‘You sure you’re not going to get back with him?’

‘I’m sure.’ 

Sophia hadn’t told her parents the details of what went wrong. It was too mortifying. She also didn’t trust her father not to call in a favour from an old gangster friend and have Marcus beaten up. Or worse…

‘I just don’t understand, babe. We thought you were so settled.’

An image of Marcus pounding into Darcie flashed into Sophia’s mind, and she tensed. It was now an open secret in the archaeology department of Salisbury University that Professor Marcus Thwaites was in a polyamorous relationship with two of his students. But rather than this news creating uproar and condemnation, he’d received envious back slaps from men and offers of sex from other women. 

Sophia, on the other hand, was treated like a morbidly fascinating train wreck, or someone who’d got what they deserved for having the gall to take up Marcus’s precious time over the last ten years.

Anxiety pricked her chest like a thousand tiny needles, and her heart quickened.


She shook her head rapidly, gulping in breaths. ‘I’m okay. I’m okay.’

Beverley put her arms around her. ‘I’m here, babe. Do your breathing thing.’

Squeezing her eyes tightly closed, Sophia pursed her lips and exhaled a slow, steady breath. Then did it again. Her doctor had suggested breathing techniques to control her anxiety, but they didn’t always work. Held in her mother’s embrace, she got herself back under control.

‘Are the pills helping?’

Sophia nodded, even though the packet lay unopened in the bottom of her wash bag. She hated taking any medication, and after reading the small print about potential side effects, had chickened out of taking the drugs the doctor had prescribed for her anxiety.

‘Good. And you’re going to try that yoga class later with Estelle?’

‘Only if you’re okay with being on your own for a couple of hours?’

‘I’ll be fine, babes. I’ve got a couple of episodes of The Real Housewives of Chelsea, and Estelle’s doggies to keep me company.’

‘You sure you’ll be alright?’

‘Yeah, yeah, of course I will. I’m tough as old boots.’

Beverley’s smile was bright, but Sophia could see the anguish behind it. Her husband and Sophia’s father, Kevin Hunter-Savage, was currently detained in China. James had left two days ago to try and secure his release. The situation was terrifying and Sophia knew just how helpless and alone her mother felt. It was up to her to be strong, but it only took one look, overheard comment, or thought, for her anxiety to kick in. She was ashamed at her inability to handle her emotions, and sick of the negative thoughts running through her brain on an endless loop. Her doctor had recommended yoga, so she was giving it a go.

‘Are you sure what I’m wearing is suitable?’ Sophia asked, a hand twisting in the fabric of her oversized jogging bottoms as she met Estelle by the front door of her parents’ home. 

Estelle was working with James from a wing of the manor house. Now that he was abroad, she’d been staying over whenever Sophia was away and couldn’t keep Beverley company.

‘God, yes. Some women wear pyjamas.’


‘Although, I think it’s just so they can imagine they’re in bed with Isaac when they do corpse pose.’


‘The lying down bit at the end.’


‘He might be talking about chakras and white light but I swear to god all they hear is “Mmm, yeah, baby”. One of them moaned once.’

Sophia snorted with laughter. The movement felt strange on her face, as if the muscles were out of practice.

Estelle winked. ‘Full disclosure, it was me.’

‘Is he really that attractive?’

‘One hundred and sixty-nine per cent. That’s why I’m giving you fair warning. You’ll probably pop a lady-boner when you meet him.’

‘A what?’

Estelle gave her the side eye. ‘You’ve never heard that phrase before?’

She shook her head.

‘Ah well, it’ll all make sense when you meet him.’

Pushing open the manor door, Estelle led the way to a battered Land Rover Defender. ‘I’ve cleaned her up, I promise.’

Sophia got in the passenger side. Her seat was clear, but the footwell was full of receipts, empty food wrappers and dog chew-toys.

‘Just kick it to one side,’ Estelle said, leaping into the car.

‘You sure?’

‘Yeah. Unless you want to start an excavation?’

‘Can you promise me a warrior queen’s final resting place?’

Estelle’s eyes lit up. ‘That I can.’


Leaning into the footwell, Estelle rummaged around, finally pulling a DVD from the floor.

Xena: Warrior Princess. I got it from the charity shop the other day.’

Sophia giggled. ‘Is she one of your heroines?’

‘Yep, along with Scary Spice, Wonder Woman and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’

Lady Estelle Foxbrooke was unlike anyone Sophia had ever met. Confident and stunningly beautiful, her hobbies included mounted archery and driving James Hunter-Savage to the edge of reason. Sophia could see how her brother had fallen for her. Estelle was gloriously and effortlessly herself.

‘I wish I was more like you.’ Sophia’s thoughts were out of her mouth before she could stop them.

‘Really? You want to be the human equivalent of Marmite?’

‘You’re amazing. I wish I had some of your confidence.’

‘You should steal some from your brother. He’s got way too much of the stuff.’

Sophia suppressed a smile. She wasn’t sure if anything had happened yet between James and Estelle, but the two of them were made for each other.

‘Yoga will give you confidence,’ Estelle continued, pulling out of the drive. ‘Or at least help keep you calm under stress. Isaac’s big into pranayama.’


‘The breathing bit.’

Sophia’s mind flashed her an image of Marcus panting in bed above her, his wine-soaked breath filling her lungs.

‘He’s not creepy or anything, is he?’

Estelle’s eyes snapped from the road to glance at her. ‘Isaac? Fuck, no. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He’s painfully professional, and as far as I know, no-one’s been able to get him into bed. And believe you me, I’ve tried.’

‘I just…. I don’t feel great around people I don’t know, especially men.’

Estelle leaned across the console and squeezed Sophia’s knee. ‘I promise it’ll be fine.’

Sophia had told Estelle about the break-up with Marcus, just not the gory details.

‘Is it really bad having to work with your ex?’

Sophia shrugged. ‘I try to keep things professional, but he’s either trying to get me back or flaunting his latest… But I’ve got the dig to plan, so I’m focusing on that.’

‘When do you start?’

‘We’re doing surveys this month, and fingers crossed we can break ground in April once it’s warmed up a bit.’

‘You excited?’

‘Yes. It’s something I’ve been working towards my entire career.’

‘Well, I hope you find her.’

Estelle pulled the Defender to a stop outside a prefabricated building with a corrugated metal roof. A sign reading ‘Foxbrooke Scout Hut’ was above the door.

‘It’s not exactly a temple at the foothills of the Himalayas,’ Estelle said. ‘But it’s the best option until the church hall gets a refurb.’

Getting out of the car, Estelle led the way. ‘I’ve brought you early so you can do the paperwork and get settled. Isaac’s got all the equipment you need, so don’t worry about any of that.’

Inside were men’s and women’s toilets on one side of a corridor, and a kitchen on the other. In front of them was a set of double doors. Sophia followed Estelle into a large, open space. 

Facing away, and pushing an industrial-sized flat mop across the floor, was a tall, tanned, and muscled man dressed in blue shorts and a white vest top.

So this is Isaac Hayward.

He had the body of a gymnast, with lean, defined muscles, and a mop of curly dark brown hair. Sophia hadn’t seen the front of him, but the back was enough to make her heart beat faster.

‘Isaac!’ Estelle called out. ‘I’ve brought Sophia, the one I emailed you about.’

Isaac turned, his smile finding Estelle, then moving to Sophia.

The moment his green eyes locked on hers, the world seemed to stutter, as if fumbling for words. Isaac had the timeless beauty and physical perfection of a Greek statue, but the warmth and heat of a man who was very much alive.

He stared at her as if confused, his tanned cheeks darkening.

Sophia shrank back.

‘I know you got my email,’ Estelle continued. ‘You replied to it and said to come fifteen minutes early.’

Isaac blinked. ‘Yes, sorry. Hi, Sophia. I’m Isaac. Estelle, can you show her where the forms are? I need to finish cleaning the floor.’

He turned away.

Estelle frowned, then quickly replaced it with a smile. ‘He’s got them in a folder on the table over there next to the cash box.’

Sophia followed her to the back of the room. Estelle’s description of how hot Isaac was had been spot on. He looked like the kind of rock star or actor usually found on the cover of a magazine pulling an orgasm face.

‘I did warn you,’ Estelle whispered as she took a new student form from a folder.

Sophia nodded and pressed the backs of her hands against her flaming cheeks.

‘Do you want me to grab you a mat and we can hide at the back?’

‘Yes, please.’

‘Okay. I’ll sort that and you fill this in. Don’t forget the bit about your favourite sexual position.’


Estelle snorted. ‘I added mine to the bottom of the form when I filled it out.’

‘Oh, my god! You didn’t!’

She winked at Sophia. ‘You want to be more like me? Do that. Go on, I dare you.’

‘No way!’

‘You’re no fun.’

‘I know.’

Estelle’s face fell. ‘I didn’t mean it like that. Sorry.’

‘Don’t be. I don’t think I’ll be much fun for quite a while.’

Estelle gave her a squeeze. ‘As my sweet friend, Eveline, would say, “You’re perfect just the way you are”. And she should know. She’s got a direct line to God.’

Sophia managed a smile. ‘She came to the house to see how Mum was doing after Dad… She’s really lovely.’

‘That she is. I only have nice friends, and now you’re one of them, whether you like it or not. Now fill that in and I’ll get us set up.’

After putting in her contact details and answering the health questionnaire, Sophia sat on a yoga mat next to Estelle as people arrived. The other students were mainly women and were of all ages. Even though many were young and dressed in tight Lycra, there were plenty in their fifties and sixties, and one or two did indeed seem to be wearing pyjamas.

Sophia watched Isaac interacting with each person as they came in. He was friendly and clearly well-liked.

‘He seems really nice,’ she whispered to Estelle. ‘Does he have any faults?’

‘Yes, one massive one.’

He does? ‘What?’

‘He won’t shag me.’

Someone cleared their throat loudly next to them, and Sophia stifled a giggle.

‘Okay, everyone,’ Isaac said, sitting cross-legged on a mat at the front of the room. ‘Let’s start in easy pose. Make sure you’re sitting on at least one block. Crossing the legs at the mid-calf point, extend the heels away. Now lift the flesh of the buttocks out and apart so you’re on your sit-bones.’

Sophia followed his directions.

‘Closing the eyes, bring your awareness to the lower abdomen…’

Sophia’s eyes didn’t want to close. Everything was new and her subconscious didn’t trust a roomful of strangers.

‘Bringing the hands into prayer position, let’s begin with three oms and the opening chant.’

Isaac took in a deep breath, his chest expanding, then sang a deep om that resounded through the wooden floor. Everyone else apart from Sophia joined in.

After the oms, he began a chant in Sanskrit that those around her seemed to know off by heart. It was a beautiful sound, but anxiety was shifting around inside her stomach. Was this what yoga was all about?

Isaac’s eyes flicked open and found hers. As he sang, he smiled as if to reassure her and she smiled back. She knew she should make more of an effort to close her eyes, but he was so gorgeous her eyelids refused to shut. The chant continued, filling the air around them, and everything else about the room slipped away. There was just her and him.

Something shifted in his expression, and heat pulsed between her thighs. She was suddenly aware of what Estelle had meant by a ‘lady boner’. Sophia hadn’t felt this level of sexual desire before. Ever.

As the chant finished, Isaac’s gaze moved away, and he dropped his hands into his lap.

‘I wanted to begin by speaking a little about the Yamas and Niyamas, the first two limbs of Raja yoga, so we can start to think about how we might use them in our practice. But before I do that, let’s change the cross of our legs.’

Sophia followed his lead.

‘Yamas and Niyamas can be thoughts of as precepts, or ways to live in yoga, and the first of the Yamas is ahimsa, the principle of non-violence. So, when you’re in a pose, be gentle with yourself. Yoga is a path of internal discovery, not an exercise system to endure. If you need to come out of a posture before anyone else, then please do so.’

A wave of relief flooded through Sophia.

‘The second Yama is satya, which translates as truthfulness. So, whilst you should respect the principle of ahimsa in your body, also employ satya. Ask yourself if you’re being truthful to the pose, or simply going through the motions. Then take what you learn about your own inner truth out of the class and into your life.’

Despite the grief at the end of her relationship with Marcus, Sophia knew she’d been true to herself by leaving him. She was lucky to have grown up with parents who loved and respected each other, and she knew in her guts she could never take Marcus back after his betrayal, no matter how much she’d loved him.

‘The third Yama is brahmacharya, which is traditionally thought of as the sublimation of sexual energy, or chastity.’

Sophia was suddenly far too hot. Isaac seemed to be the embodiment of sexual energy. The women in front of her sat up straighter as they listened.

‘Sometimes brahmacharya can mean sexual abstinence. In my case, I took a vow of chastity twelve years ago—’

‘Fucking knew it,’ Estelle hissed under her breath.

‘But if you think of it as the “right use of energy”, then you can use the concept to think about where you put your focus and attention. In yoga, we direct our energy from external satisfaction, to instead finding peace and contentment within ourselves.’

Wow. This god of a man hadn’t had sex for over a decade? Whereas Marcus had been whoring it up with whoever he could get his hands on.

‘So, in today’s class, think about how you can bring ahimsa, satya, and brahmacharya into your practice. Okay, let’s start with parvatasana. Interlock your fingers, press the palms away and inhale, bringing your arms above your head.’

Isaac demonstrated every posture, pointing at his various muscles to explain each pose, and Sophia copied him, her mind reeling. She tried to keep her thoughts academic, however she’d never been invited or encouraged to stare at a man so intently before, and there was a party going on in her pants.

As Isaac did a perfect headstand, the bottom of his vest top came untucked from his shorts, falling down to reveal a six-pack dusted with dark brown hair.

Oh. My. God.

Estelle leaned over. ‘See what I mean?’ she murmured.

Sophia nodded. Isaac Hayward was off-the-scale hot. ‘But I can’t do a headstand,’ she whispered.

‘It’s okay, he’ll help you.’

Isaac lowered his legs to the floor as if they defied gravity. ‘Okay everyone, come up into headstand. Remember to use any props you need, as well as the wall. Sophia, we’re going to look at the foundations of the pose.’

Estelle winked at her as Isaac brought his mat over and showed Sophia how to position her arms and head.

‘Now, you have a go.’

Feeling awkward and ungainly, she tucked her t-shirt into her joggers, then put her head on the mat with her hands interlocked behind it.

‘That’s great. Lift your shoulders away from your ears, putting weight through your forearms. Now tuck your toes under and walk your feet closer in.’

Upside down, blood rushed to her head. Everything felt too heavy.

‘Do you want me to kick up?’

‘No, not this time. Just get used to the feeling.’

Of what? You standing next to me? 

Lowering to the floor, she rested, her pulse pounding as Isaac returned to the front of the room.

‘Why didn’t he give you a hand?’ Estelle whispered as she came back to Sophia’s side.


‘He always asks first, but he usually helps people get up into headstand if they’ve never done it before.’


‘You’ve done brilliantly, by the way,’ Estelle continued, ‘and your reward is almost here.’


‘Yoga bedtime stories and sleep.’

Isaac cleared his throat. ‘So, moving onto sarvangasana, also known as shoulder stand…’

After a few more postures, Sophia lay on her mat and Isaac talked them through a breathing exercise. No matter how hard she tried, she still couldn’t close her eyes and her heart raced. Emotion squeezed her throat, and she blinked back tears. 

You cannot cry!

Estelle reached across and took her hand, giving it a squeeze. The connection helped calm Sophia, and her eyelids finally closed.

‘Bringing your awareness now to your right-hand thumb, index finger, middle finger…’

Isaac’s voice was deep and soothing as he named different parts of the body to focus on. 

Sophia lost herself in his words, her mind letting go of all the stress of Marcus, her job, her family. The doctor’s advice had been spot on. Yoga was the right thing for her to be doing.


The voice was Estelle’s, but it sounded very far away.


Her eyes snapped open. 

Estelle was smiling down at her. ‘Wakey-wakey, Princess.’

‘What?’ Sophia scrambled to a seated position. The hall was empty apart from the two of them and Isaac, who was putting props into a cupboard.

‘Was I asleep? Oh no, please don’t tell me I snored?’

‘You were as quiet as a baby.’

‘I didn’t think babies were that quiet.’

Estelle grinned. ‘Most people nod off at the end, but you were out for the count. Let’s get you home.’

Sophia got to her feet, her limbs tired and uncooperative.

‘Thanks, Isaac,’ Estelle called over.

He turned and gave them a wave. ‘Thank you both for coming.’

Estelle hesitated, as if expecting him to come over, then turned for the door, Sophia following.

‘Holy shit!’ Estelle cried as soon as they got back in the car. ‘Celibate? Well, that helps explain why my seduction of him was such an abject failure. Anyway, how did you find it? Relaxing?’

‘Yes. I mean, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I can see the benefits, and it’s much better in person than watching a video.’

‘Well, he runs classes most days, so whenever you’re here, you can go.’

Sophia nodded. She knew Isaac would never be interested in her, but knowing he’d taken a vow of chastity made her feel safe around him, and right now, that was what she desperately needed.

Chapter Three

‘Come in, come in!’ Eveline, Foxbrooke’s vicar, said as she opened the back door of the rectory. ‘You’ve arrived at the perfect time!’

The smell of baking and spices filled Isaac’s nostrils. ‘It smells like Christmas.’

‘It’s mainly ginger. Let’s go into the kitchen.’

He followed Eveline through the ground floor. ‘Where’s Jack?’

‘Shopping, AA meeting, then he’s going to pop into Foxbrooke Haven to see Robert and Shirley.’

Entering the kitchen, Eveline flicked on the kettle. ‘Take a seat and tell me how the yoga classes are going over there. I keep forgetting to ask.’

Isaac sat at a round wooden table. ‘Really great. I’m doing two a week now at Foxbrooke Haven and one is entirely chair-based for those with limited balance and mobility.’

‘And are the ladies behaving?’

He rubbed his stubble to hide his smile, then chuckled when Eveline gave him a look.

‘Doris pinched my bum last week.’

‘Oh no… I’m so sorry. I’ll have a word.’

‘No need. She’s eighty-five, and it made everyone laugh like hyenas.’

‘But it’s sexual harassment.’

‘Hardly. She did it when I was looking, and to be honest, her hands are so arthritic, I didn’t exactly feel anything.’

‘They are so naughty sometimes.’

‘I know. That’s why I like them so much.’

Eveline grinned. ‘Me, too.’ She made two mugs of tea and brought them to the table, along with a plate of biscuits. ‘Tuck in. They’re ginger snaps.’

‘For the morning sickness?’

She nodded and pulled a face. ‘It’s not that bad. It’s the tiredness that’s the worst.’

‘Does anyone else know you’re pregnant?’

‘Only Jack, you and Estelle. I’m not even going to tell my mum until I’m into the second trimester. I don’t want to jinx it.’

Isaac took a sheaf of papers from his bag. ‘I’ve been going back over my notes for pregnancy yoga and written a few sequences down. But only do them if you feel up to it.’

‘Thank you, that’s so kind.’

‘There are a few pregnancy classes in and around Bath you can try when you’re past the twelve-week mark.’

‘I will.’ She stifled a yawn. ‘I’m looking forward to feeling a little more myself again.’

‘Are you sure you’re alright with me here? Wouldn’t you rather rest?’

Reaching across the table, Eveline squeezed his hand. ‘I’d much rather spend some time with you. It feels like ages since we’ve had a proper catch-up.’

‘Well, you have been a little busy…’

She laughed, her face glowing. ‘Yes, I have. A whirlwind romance, a brush with death, an unexpected marriage, Christmas, then getting pregnant. It has been an eventful few months.’

Isaac’s heart was full. Eveline was his closest friend and the sister he’d never had. He was so happy she’d found her happy-ever-after with Jack.

‘So, enough about me,’ she said. ‘I want to know what’s going on in your life.’

He paused. On the surface, things were almost the same as they’d been for years. However, on a deeper level, they weren’t. Eveline knew him better than anyone, and he valued the fact he could always be upfront and honest with her.

‘There have been a few changes.’

‘Go on…’

‘Last night I told the class about my celibacy.’

Eveline’s eyes widened.

‘It felt like the right thing to do.’

‘Oh dear, has Estelle been pursuing you again?’

‘No, she seems to have backed off.’

‘Ah. Did anyone else prompt this declaration?’

Thinking of Sophia, Isaac’s heart thumped faster in his chest. He’d been around beautiful women all his life and was used to students showing an interest. In the past, it had been easy to say no. But last night, his body had had an immediate and visceral reaction to the woman Estelle had brought with her.

He cleared his throat. ‘What was it like? The moment you met Jack?’

Eveline’s face lit up. ‘It was like I already knew him on a soul level, as if we’d known each other in another life. It was more of a connection at first sight, rather than love, although I was so attracted to him I nearly fainted.’

Isaac nodded. Meeting Sophia had also made him light-headed, but mainly because all the blood supplying his brain had decided to head south.

‘Have you met someone?’

Isaac shifted in his chair, his skin prickling. ‘Estelle brought a friend with her last night.’


‘You know her?’

‘Yes. She’s absolutely lovely. Did… Did she flirt with you?’

‘No, not in the slightest.’

‘So… If she didn’t appear attracted to you…?’

He passed a hand over his face. ‘The moment I saw her, my body reacted.’

‘Has this ever happened before?’

‘Never. I flicked that switch off years ago.’

‘And now Sophia’s turned it back on?’

Had she? ‘I don’t think so…’ He let out a heavy breath. ‘I don’t know.’

‘Did you tell your students you were celibate so she wouldn’t think to make a move?’

He shook his head. ‘I’m not that vain. I think I said it more to remind myself of the path I’ve chosen.’

‘The path isn’t always easy.’

‘No. And recently I’ve been feeling… I don’t know… Distracted? Even lost, maybe?’

She squeezed his hand again. ‘You need more friends in your life.’

‘I’m going back to India this summer to spend time with my guru.’

‘That’s not what I’m talking about.’

‘I meet people all the time in my classes. And I’ve got you.’

‘Isaac, you know I love you very deeply…’

He sat back in his chair, preparing for one of Eveline’s truth bombs. ‘Go on. Tell me what I don’t want to hear.’

She passed him another biscuit. ‘When I visit Taizé, I’m surrounded by Christians of all denominations. I feel connected, uplifted, and surrounded by divine love. But when I come home, I’m challenged at every turn. People attack me for wanting to remove the pews from the church, or because I’m a vicar, or a female vicar, or there’s a dispute between parishioners they expect me to sort out. When you’re detached from everyday life, it’s easy to hold on to your truth, but when you’re living in the middle of it, it’s far more challenging.’

‘So, you think I’m taking the easy way out?’

‘I think you’re playing safe with your life.’

‘And Sophia is what? Some kind of test?’

‘She might be a gift? Sometimes the people and situations that seem the hardest to deal with can enrich us beyond all imagining. They give us a different perspective. A deeper insight and understanding.’

‘I don’t want a girlfriend.’

‘And you don’t have to have one. But Sophia isn’t Daniella. And you’re not the man you were, thirteen years ago.’

Isaac rubbed the centre of his chest as an old ache resurfaced.

‘Sophia’s going through a lot right now. And I know she’s not looking for a relationship. Maybe a friendship with her is what you need?’

He nodded, but he wasn’t convinced. Life was easier and safer for everyone if he stayed in his lane. But even that was now under threat. Taking a letter from his bag, he handed it to Eveline.

‘This arrived last week.’

She scanned the contents. ‘Oh, my goodness! Can they do that?’

‘Yes. My land is in the middle of the proposed bypass around Foxbrooke. So, if it goes ahead, my home will be under a compulsory purchase order.’

‘Can you challenge it?’

He nodded. ‘But there’s no guarantee I’ll win.’

‘I’m so sorry. Have you taken any legal advice?’

‘Not yet. It’s still sinking in, to be honest.’

‘And after all the work you’ve put into your house. Oh, Isaac.’

‘It’s not a done deal, and I don’t want you to worry. I think this is partly why I’ve been so unsettled.’

‘Maybe. Well, if there is anything I can do, please just ask.’

‘I will.’

‘And even though it won’t solve any of your problems, I do have something for you that I know will put a smile on your face.’


She grinned. ‘And a packet of home-cured bacon.’

Leaving the rectory, his bag heavy with sausages and bacon from Eveline’s pigs, Isaac made his way through Foxbrooke village. It was a crisp and clear February day and normally he would have treated the walk home as an exercise in mindfulness, noting everything his senses took in as he moved through the ever-unfolding present. 

But today he wasn’t grounded in the here and now. He was living in an uncertain future. He knew he was playing safe with his life. After his world broke apart in his twenties, he’d set out to smash every piece of who he was to dust, and create something better and more sustainable. Yes, that involved a simpler life, but what was wrong with that? Why should shallow connections and conspicuous consumerism be the cornerstone of one’s life?

Eveline isn’t like that. And she’s married and starting a family. In the heart of the community.

He shook the thoughts away. Eveline also didn’t have the capacity for uncontrollable rage that he had. Him being romantically unattached was better for everyone.

But I can’t get Sophia out of my head.

Turning off a minor road at the very edge of the village onto a track, he checked the mailbox by the locked five-bar gate marking the entrance to his property. Large signs were stuck to it reading ‘Private Property’, ‘Keep Out’, ‘No Right of Access’. 

Apart from Eveline, no-one knew where he lived and he’d been happy to keep things that way. His home was his sanctuary and the last thing he wanted was to have his privacy invaded in the way that Eveline’s constantly was.

He stared at the signs, printed in angry red letters as if seeing them for the first time.

That’s pretty aggressive for a yoga teacher.

His phone rang. Benjamin. The eldest of his three older brothers.

‘Hi Ben, thanks for ringing me back.’

‘No worries. I’ve got a few minutes between meetings. Just getting a bit of air.’

Isaac listened to his brother’s breathing change as he sucked on a cigarette, and the traffic noise in the background. Taking in the silent trees around him, gratitude filled his heart at how different his life was from when he’d lived in London.

‘How are you? Rachel? The kids?’

‘All good, all good. Quieter now the last little bugger’s at boarding school.’

Isaac winced. Ben’s youngest, Edwin, was seven. ‘You must miss them.’

‘Yeah, of course. But with our long hours, it’s the best place for them. And we’re quids in now we’ve been able to ditch the nanny. The money we’re saving pays his fees with enough left over for us to go to Verbier in half term.’

Isaac didn’t know what to say in response, but luckily his brother was used to filling silences.

‘Anyway, I’ve had a squizz at that letter you sent over. Not my area of expertise, I’m afraid, but I’m going to ask one of the guys at my club. Best thing you can do is contact anyone else affected by the plans and coordinate your response. But there’s no guarantee you’ll fight it off.’

‘Okay, thanks.’

‘Look, gotta run, but you might want to think about finding somewhere else to live. Or cut your losses and come back to London. Plenty of yummy mummies here to keep you busy. I’ll ping you if I’ve got anything else.’

The line went dead.

Isaac stood in the clearing outside his house. Set in two acres of woodland, it had been derelict when he’d bought it at auction a decade ago. Razing it to the ground, he’d rebuilt a different home from scratch, living in a static caravan whilst he did the work. It had taken the best part of eight years, but now he had an off-grid sanctuary.

Covering a footprint twice the size of the original property, the building was single-storey and super insulated. Built primarily from wood, it had a green roof and blended into its surroundings. The biggest extravagance had been the windows. Almost an entire side of the building was glass, and when the enormous triple-glazed panels were open, the main living area continued outside onto a covered deck. No matter what the weather, Isaac could practise yoga or meditate surrounded by nature.

Putting the sausages and bacon in the fridge, he went outside to split logs for the burner. The rhythmic movement of the axe was meditation as well as exercise. 

His body was filled with a restless energy that only physical labour could touch. He’d thought his life was perfect, but his happy-ever-after wasn’t giving him the same peace and contentment as it had done in the past. 

Take longer off over summer. Spend time with Guruji. He’ll get your head straight even if you can’t.


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