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Where had the day gone? Blossom wondered as she woke up from evidently having fallen asleep in contented bliss after eating her fill earlier. The sun was high in the sky now. She’d wasted precious time nodding off that she could have spent with Ferdinand. That really curdled her milk!
Just about to hurry away, a small patch of temptingly green grass caught her eye. Well, it had been a couple of hours since she’d eaten. A quick bite wouldn’t hurt anything. After all, she needed to maintain her figure. Ferdinand liked her big-bovine form. He had such good taste.
A few generous nibbles later Blossom found her interest lie more with seeking out Ferdinand than in eating. Had to be love, pure wonderful love. “Love, love, love. I’m so in love,” she sang as she ambled off toward the far end of the field.
Behind her she could hear yet another disparaging “humpf” from Elsie. Blossom knew the other cows were torn between agreeing with their leader and with wishing they could be as carefree as Blossom. She really didn’t care, nothing mattered but seeing that hot one-ton stud again.
Momentarily lost in both her desire to be with him and with warbling out new verses to her latest song, she almost missed hearing the throaty, Southern-accented moo. Almost. When the sound drifted in the gentle breeze again, Blossom froze in her tracks and gaped in horror at the other field. Less than ten yards away stood the love of her life, looking lusty-eyed at that awful, awful Sasha, the new Guernsey Farmer Sam had recently purchased. A Guernsey from Louisiana. Why, oh why couldn’t that bovine temptress have been drowned in some swamp!
Blossom gave an involuntary, mournful moan and spun around. Her heart felt pinched with pain. Ferdinand had found another cow and cast her cruelly aside. He’d moved on to someone younger, leaner, and firmer. Oh, how her heart hurt. A tear trickled from one eye. Her legs felt leaden as she attempted to make her way as far from the love struck pair as possible.
Ferdinand bellowed out to her, futilely trying to stop her. Heavy hooves pounded the hard ground and she knew that he had come after her as far as he could. His bellow turned sad, desperate.
Sasha’s annoyed Southern-laced moo fluttered Blossom’s direction as well. Hussy!
Blossom continued on her way. She didn’t care about Ferdinand’s too-little-too-late attempt to speak to her. The mammoth scoundrel had wounded her deeply. Let him discover for himself how shallow that Southern belle really was! All she wanted him for was… Well, she didn’t want to think about that. She’d rather enjoyed that with him, too. But she’d enjoyed other things about him as well. How he’d just stand there—probably bored out of his mind—and let her ramble on about one topic or another. How he’d valiantly shove back a piece of the fence so she could join him in his field. How he’d share his favorite patch of grass.
Oh the memories! Tears nearly blinded her. She didn’t want to face the herd, especially not Elsie. The Jersey had been waiting to say, “I told you so. I told you he wasn’t worth it.”
No, she needed to be alone. She needed to let the misery really sink in, until her fighting spirit returned. Then, maybe, just maybe she would go give that big fellow a talking to that would have his ears ringing for days. She might just bite his rump, too. Serve him right. After taking care of Ferdinand she’d do something awful to Sasha, but she didn’t know what yet. But it would be awful!
Determined to mire in her unhappiness, she headed for her best thinking spot: the middle of the pond.
Ferdinand had never felt so tiny in his life, not even when he’d been a young bull. He’d also never felt so incredibly sad. And what was that pinching around his heart? This was all new to him. He’d been with more cows than he could count in his life, most he couldn’t even remember.
He heaved a deep, deep sigh. Actually, he couldn’t remember any of the other cows he’d been with. His glance slid sideways to the Guernsey attempting to rub temptingly against him. Scrawny, bony. Boring. He’d been beyond insane to help Sasha through the partially downed fence. He just hadn’t wanted to see her get hurt trying to squeeze through by herself. A gentleman, that’s what he’d been.
She rubbed against his side again and he rumbled a warning bellow. Her head bobbed up and her eyes widened in surprise at his apparent lack of interest in her efforts to arouse him. Okay, she aroused him just by being a cow. He wasn’t any different from other bulls. Give any of them—including him—even the scent of a cow and certain body parts were ready for action. Thinking with their—his, too—brain slowed down to almost nothing at all. Which was exactly what had happened to him, which was why he faced this horrible situation now.
He shifted away from Sasha, glowering for her to keep her distance from him. Sure she’d temporarily distracted him and almost made him make a serious mistake. Almost made him betray the cow love of his life. The love of his life. He blinked. Yes, that’s exactly what Blossom was. Not just some cow he enjoyed flirting with now and then. She made him laugh, and he didn’t laugh easily. She made him smile, inside—bulls never smiled on the outside. They had a certain fierce reputation to maintain after all.
He looked across the other field, watched Blossom drag herself toward her thinking pond; saw the droop of her shoulders. Her normally vibrant spirit was broken. His stomach rolled with the upset of knowing he’d hurt her, and then his second stomach rolled, too.
Sasha tried another of those ridiculous Southern moos to entice him her way. It grated on his nerves. He’d give anything to see Blossom happy again, to hear another of those silly songs she’d been singing lately. He knew Elsie had been putting her down for singing, telling her that it was undignified for a cow to sing. A proper cow simply spent their days eating, eating, and eating some more. Occasionally they’d wander to the pond for a drink, but then they’d go back to eating. After eight or so hours of that, they went back to the barn to get fed yet again.
He glanced toward Blossom where she now stood in the middle of the pond, sulking. Blossom was not a “proper” cow. Okay, she did her fair share of eating. But she didn’t simply spend her days eating and standing around swatting flies with her tail. His Blossom had adventures…like when she got into the whiskey barrel behind Farmer Sam’s shed. Or like when …
Enough! What the hell was he doing standing around her with Sasha-the-floozy when he could be trying to win back his ladylove?
With a burst of energy and strength, he shoved the fence post in front of him over. He took a few steps back, and then leaped over the fallen fencing as if he were a young bull again. Then he ran—not trotted—ran to the pond. His heart pounded. His mind whirled, trying, trying to think of how to make things right with Blossom. Then it occurred to him what would get her attention, and, hopefully, win her heart once more. Could he do it? He’d look and sound ridiculous, and bulls never liked looking ridiculous.
He saw Blossom’s shoulders shudder. Was she crying? Over him?
Ferdinand slowed as he approached the pond. He knew that she sensed him and just didn’t want to face him. He sucked in a steely breath and threw pride into the wind. “Blossom. My lovely Blossom,” he rumble-sang, feeling foolish with every cow focused on him. Every cow but Blossom, that is. He had her attention, though. “Blossom. Oh Blossom. I can’t sing, but I can feel. Blossom, oh lovely Blossom. I love you so.”
There was a mixture of moo-sighs from the herd as they walked closer. But he didn’t care. All he wanted was a response from Blossom.
In the next instant she was scrambling from the pond as fast as she could go. She slipped and went down to her knees, smiling at him. Her big brown eyes glistening with tears and sparkling with happiness.
Although he normally detested getting muddy, he raced into the pond. To His Blossom. To his lovely, precious Blossom.
I especially like this from Step 4: “The relationship between a man and a woman is, I feel, the most complex one in existence. Here you have two people, each with their own emotional baggage, screwball ways and contractions trying to (or fighting against!) merging their separate paths into one. The road to that point is utterly fascinating. You make your love scenes real by making your characters real.”
Building Romantic/Sexual Tension (Tina LaVon)
“Romantic tension is the building of the emotional feelings bringing the two characters together. Inspirational authors usually deal mainly with romantic tension and not sexual because of the religious themes in their books. They build this tension by first showing the hero and heroine are good people worthy of the love of the other. Then by showing an emotional connection developing between the two. These people need each other because they are happier, better people together than apart.”
Crank Up the Tension (Bronwyn Jameson)
“Sexual tension = mental foreplay. Make the buildup memorable; do so through employing the senses, through making it unique and character-driven (this could only be happening between THIS man and THIS woman) and through slowing the pace and honing right in on the sensual details.”
Developing the Romance in the Romance Novel (Virginia Kantra)
“Something should be at stake with each kiss and encounter. The physical action should reflect or impact, complicate or resolve the emotional conflict.”
Headache, Heartache – Tips in Writing Romance (Annie Evett)
“Be comfortable with the choices your character makes with regards to the level of intimacy they explore. Emotions can be as hot as physical lovemaking. Even when it comes to sex scenes its not necessary to describe the act – but the thoughts, feelings, sensations a character is experiencing.”
“I think keeping the heat up in these books is no different than in any other – remember, it’s the wanting that’s hot, not necessarily the getting.”
Push Me, Pull Me (Mary Danielson)
“Push and Pull come in three types: Physical, Emotional, Symbolic”
Sexual Tension (Gabriella Anderson)
“After the initial meeting, the awareness has to build. It has to grow until it dominates how the hero and heroine respond to each other. This is the tricky part. It can’t grow too fast or the story will end before the conclusion. And it can’t build too slowly or the story risks becoming boring. It’s a balance, probably the hardest part of writing a romance. The sexual tension must be sustained from the moment of meeting through the middle, to the climax.”
Writing the Love Scene (Patricia Kay)
“…you shouldn't be able to cut and paste this scene from one book to another. Yes, there are only so many ways two people can make love--the PHYSICAL act of love--but there are thousands of different ways two people can make emotional love.”
Why did you marry her Nathan?
"Because, because I loved her."
Do you not love her now?
Nathan looked at the crying woman before him. "Do I? God I don’t really know."
If you don’t know that you love her, why should you get to sleep with her? Is she only here to meet your needs? Love is based on commitment, on your covenant with another person. Has that covenant been revoked? Do the words, for better or for worse, still apply?
Nathan felt a blush of shame rising in his face. "Am I so selfish that that’s the only reason I haven’t left her, because we always had great sex? Is that my ultimate goal in staying together, my physical gratification? What a pig, no wonder she stays on the couch."
“Dad, Dad we’re done eating, do we have to clean off the table?” Nate called from the kitchen door.
Nathan turned around, “Yes, Nate, I would appreciate it. Is Zack still sleeping?”
“Yeah. Why’s mom crying again?”
“She’s just tired, I’m going to put her to bed and then I’ll come to help.”
Nathan gently picked Sara up in his arms, “I’m sorry Sara.”
She scrubbed her face like a tired child, “Why? Why should you be sorry? I’m the one acting like a big baby. Where are you taking me?”
“I’m sorry for everything and I’m taking you to bed. You don’t have to worry, I’ll wake you up when I come in and you can switch with William.”
Surprise filled Sara’s face when she finally realized he meant his bed. He stood her up next to it and folded the covers back for her. When she looked so confused he gently sat her down, knelt on the floor and removed her old tennis shoes. His hands lingered on her bare feet as he rolled her socks off and Sara struggled to draw in air.
“Do you want to sleep with your jeans on or would you be more comfortable with them off?”
Nathan watched her face expectantly for an answer as he absently rubbed her feet. Her eyes held surprise and something he couldn’t quite identify, “Sara?”
She gave an involuntary shiver that stirred the fiercely restrained passions within Nathan’s body. His eyes darkened as his pupils dilated and his hand slid up Sara’s ankle of its own accord. She reached out and gently touched his face and this time her whispered name was an impassioned plea, “Sara.”
Before he gave himself time to think Nathan leaned in and gently brushed his lips on hers. He tilted back slightly to gauge her reaction when she suddenly pulled his head forward and met his lips with a violent passion of her own. He groaned as he gathered her to him, her body fitting within his arms with the ease of much practice. They shared kiss after kiss, their breathing becoming ragged and shallow, their bodies crying for the relief they had long been denied.
All thought of the outside world had left Nathan, only the woman in his arms was real and the cry of “Dad, Dad” was slow to penetrate. He felt the change in Sara as he slowly realized that Nate was calling him. They reluctantly pulled apart and Sara laid her head upon his chest and clung to him as Nate called once more.
He had to clear his throat before he could respond, “Yes son, what is it?” Nate’s beet red face peeked around the bedroom door cautiously, “Um Dad, Zack’s up and he pooped again.”
Nathan’s sigh could be heard clear across the room. “Ok, I’m coming.” He looked into Sara’s eyes and saw embarrassment as well as regret as he stood and pulled her up off the floor. He kissed her forehead, turned and quickly walked away, “Get some sleep Sara.”
* * *
Nathan quietly carried William into their bedroom and laid him down opposite Sara. When he walked back to her side, his eyes fastened on the jeans heaped upon the floor, as if she had just stepped out of them and crawled into bed. He felt his desire stirring and briefly entertained the idea of seeing what would happen if he pushed her a little.
Love does not behave unseemly by being rude or pushy Nathan. Love does not seek its own selfish will.
The sound of Nathan’s slowly expelled breath mingled with the soft tones of Sara and William as they peacefully slept. I know Lord, I’m sorry to be selfish but it’s not like she isn’t interested. If Nate hadn’t interrupted us, I don’t know what might have happened. I only want to see if she could be persuaded to finish what we started.
Is this really the time to rekindle your physical relationship with your wife? Two days of sick kids, she’s exhausted, you’re tired and nothing has been resolved. Have you worked through any of your past issues yet? Will you stay motivated to do so if you now get what you want? Are you willing to do what is best for the long run Nathan or are you content to go back to the pattern that got you into this mess in the first place?
Nathan stood in the darkness of their bedroom, gazing at the face of the woman he once loved with everything in him. The light filtering in from the hallway erased all signs of fatigue, worry and age from her face. His body and heart fought to dominate his spirit, to control the outcome and dictate his next action but in the end he realized the truth. He still loved this woman, with all of his heart, and he had hurt her enough for one lifetime.
We’ll do this your way Lord. I’ve already done it my way and look where it got us. Please just help me Lord, help me wait until you say it’s right.
Derek’s gaze dropped to the expanse of flesh swelling over the bedding she clasped against her body. Fiery warmth flooded her face.
This scene is from the last finished futuristic, survival, romance Zone novel. Warning: It is not a lyrical as some. The book ends well. Villians vanquished. True love wins out, etc. The woman known as Ama is Helena's nanny/mentor/governess from birth on.
Excerpt from "In The Zone: Pitin's Problem" by Blatant Appeal
"I remember shaking.”
“Finish this story,” he commanded, hating every syllable. He needed to hear it all.
“Ama shut down the light she held. She told me I would be expected to stay until I had mastered balance on the wall. I stood up and began to feel the way with my toes. I walked forward, sideways, backward, always quicker and faster.”
“The sun rose, but so did the wind. I tried to keep going, but it was colder and on one turn, as I was backing up, I missed a step and didn’t come down on my other foot as boldly as I should have. I fell.”
“Were you hurt?”
“I broke my leg.”
Pitin’s tension eased—she hadn’t been badly hurt. He had imagined worse. “You fainted, then what?”
“Passed out. Blacked out. Lost consciousness.” he explained. At her continued look of incomprehension, he said hopefully, “from the pain of breaking your leg? The darkness?”
“I did not ‘faint’ from breaking my leg or the fall. Ama picked me up and wrapped my leg properly before my punishment.”
Pitin kept his mouth closed. Barely. Only the sure knowledge that he was in the middle of a
“For breaking your leg?”
“No. For falling.” She couldn’t look at him. Now he would know another imperfection.
Pitin watched as
“I didn’t learn the lesson of balance at that time because my mind was on the cold.”
He couldn’t take much more of this line of query. Mind healers didn’t get paid near enough to listen to this kind of recounting. He took a large breath and forcing his jaw to unlock, spoke quietly, “Go on. Tell me about the darkness.”
“After Ama wrapped my leg, she took me to the revealing room. She pulled the darkness hood over my head. My wrists were placed in the punishment fetters. Then she closed the door.”
Pitin carefully gathered her as close to himself as he could hold her as he asked the last question.
“What is the revealing room?”
“It is where one is left without clothes, without light, without movement, to experience what will happen if the darkness ever decides you will never see the light again.”
Naked and injured! Ama had terrorized an injured, naked child. He could feel, but not see, the slight quakes that rippled through Helena's body. No wonder she was afraid the darkness would take her. She’d had that threat of a certain fate held over her head from infancy!
While he held her close, rubbing her back, trying to calm her tremors, he made a couple of decisions. Number one: he would never again consciously pry into her past. He didn’t care what the prevailing theory of improved mental health had concluded. It was sadistic to make a person relive a painful episode.
As far as he could determine, the revelation of such an experience merely made them both feel badly. How could it really help? Maybe that was why humans were given the gift of forgetting—to use it. She needed to have new information, not relive old learning experiences. She needed to believe in him.
Number two: they would face the future together. Whenever a ‘
“We still need to talk.” He felt her stiffen in increments, pulling away from him. “The word will not hurt you, I will not hurt you and we must discuss…” He stopped his explanation of talking to see what she would do next—letting her go as she moved to stand up, wanting her to feel free to run. Then he deliberately relaxed back into an indolent posture to look as non-threatening as possible.
The suspenseful time between the transgression and the instruction in perfection had always been the worst part of her lessons. She had learned to keep her mind empty during the long hours of motionless silence before, during, and after the punishment. Unmoving silence was a much better way to pass the time until release than nursing bruises and chaffing.
Pitin watched for a while, thinking that surely she would move or speak. He shifted his position—no movement from
“Why don’t you sit here and we’ll discuss our future and what we want to do with it,” he said encouragingly, giving her a determined stare while patting the spot beside him.
At least he got a response, she looked at him. Her eyes changing color, she seemed…confused? Maybe that is what he needed to do—keep her off balance and confused.
No. He couldn’t do it. She might be rigid in her thinking, but she needed reassurance and an anchor more than anyone he’d ever met…no matter how self-contained or elusive she appeared.
Her confused thoughts bounced around. Pitin didn’t look violent, but what response did he want? What did he mean? He didn’t make sense. Again. The future? Our future? What could she do about it? What did he think he could do about it?
“Yes.” But it had never mattered how many questions she had. No one ever really answered them.
“What questions do you have about our future?”
“What future?” she responded, hoping to get real information.
Awareness shivered down his back—spearing through into his chest—tearing a raw wound in his heart. Burning acid hit his stomach.
He loved her.
Barely able to keep his last meal down, he got up. Holding his jaw locked, teeth clenched against disaster, he tersely ordered her, “Stay here,” and fleeing the scene of his disaster, left her standing there...alone.
Pitin made it an unknown distance into the trees before he staggered, fell to his knees, and heaved his guts up.
I’ve destroyed myself, he anguished. Turning in lone misery, he covered his eyes with one arm, and sat back against a tree, oblivious to his surroundings. He loved a woman who’d had her heart tortured out of her so early in life she never knew it missing.
With an embarrassed cry, Mrs. Worthington fled from the room. Looking to Vincent, Mina waited for an explanation. He busied himself behind the desk and avoided making eye contact.
“Yes?” His tone was timid at best. Not the usual bluster she’d come to love and admire.
It was the perfect opening to tell him of her decision but she was interrupted by a knock at the study door. Stanley opened it and announced, “Constable Monroe to see you, sir.”
A tall, dapper man with shining brass buttons on his uniform doffed his helmet and stepped forward. “I thought you would like to know, sir, that a man has been arrested for the murder of your son. The wire came from Salina, Kansas just this morning.”
“No, Miss. It seems a whiskey trader by the name of Dubois was caught with stolen goods. In order to gain favor with the court, he gave up his former accomplice. He told the sheriff in Salina that he witnessed the murder of Arthur Smith by one Devlin Elder. He was even willing to lead the authorities to your son’s grave.”
The butler rushed into the room. “Yes, Miss. Is everything alright?”
It most certainly is not. Send a cable to Sheriff Wilson in Salina telling him to delay the execution of my husband’s murderer until I arrive. Secure me a ticket on the next train to Kansas at once. Have Sabiha loaded along with my riding gear and my guns. Go, go!”
“Yes, Miss.” He bobbed his head and hurried away.
Inside the narrow jail cell, Devlin sat on his cot with his back propped against the wall and read the letter that had been delivered today. It was from Buck. The young man and his nephew had made it safely to Denver. They had managed to locate Buck’s sister-in-law and Caleb was now learning to get along with four cousins.
Devlin folded the letter and laid it on the coarse blanket covering his cot. He’d have to write Buck and let him know he wouldn’t be able to look after their ranch.
For the hundredth time, he considered writing a letter to Mina. Somehow, he knew he’d never be able to get the words in his heart down on paper. Besides, what could he say? I love you, darling, but by the time you read this I’ll be dead. No, it was best to let her go on believing he’d drifted out of her life.
She dabbed at her eyes. “No. It is my Christian duty. Has he asked for a man of the cloth?”
Mina rolled her eyes. “I thought as much. I have come to offer him my forgiveness. By doing so, perhaps I can help him turn to God in these his final hours.”
He kissed her, cursing the bars that held them apart. He wanted her in his arms. The joy of seeing her again and the pain of knowing she would watch him die almost broke him. “Mina what are you doing here? Why did you come?”
She pulled back a little and frowned. “What a stupid question, Dearest. I’ve come to break you out of jail. This is my first prison break, of course, so if you have any useful information I’m open to suggestions.”
She pushed the gun through the bars to him. “I am nothing but a distraught widow who came here intending to shoot the man who killed my husband. Can I help it if you lured me close to the bars and disarmed me? Of course not. I'm a weak woman. After that, you will hold me hostage at gun point and I will scream for help. Oh, do be careful. The pistol is loaded.”
“Open the cell door, Wilson, or I swear I’ll kill her.”
“You heard the lady,Wilson. Drop your gun.” He pointed his at the sheriff and motioned for him to comply.
As Devlin shut the cell door and locked it, Mina realized she had no idea where he was going. The state had four borders. Which way would he go? How would she ever find him again? She looked at him a panic.
Sexual: symbolizing or implying desires or activity to someone.
Tension: the act of stretching or the condition of being stretched.
When writing Romance there are two key elements to focus on. Create a central theme for love and an emotional but happy ever after ending.
The major element I want to talk about is Sexual Tension. There must be a solid physical attraction between the hero and heroine. Having inner feelings, builds believable characters. Conflict enhances a push-pull emotional drive. Chemistry between the couple could be a racing heartbeat, butterfly like sensation within their stomachs or a nervousness that can’t be explained.
Sexual tension could merely begin with a look, nod or smile. The hero and heroine are physically attracted from the start.
Our Hero is in awe of her appearance. The swaying of her hips in a short mini skirt. Her fully developed breasts gently pushing against a tight see through blouse. Shinny black shoulder length hair swaying with each step she takes.
The Heroine notices his tight cowboy shirt barely hiding his muscular chest. A powerful masculine voice echoes in the moonlit night. The way his body moves in his tight blue jeans.
Characters are touched by heat of each other’s breath. Passion deepens with a stimulating desire for each other. A bold kiss or two moves tension to a deeper level of intimacy. One or both find they can’t stop thinking about each other. Each time they meet brings their desire for a longing fulfillment to take place. A kiss may last longer with a warming embrace.
Powerful sexual tension comes from incorporating elements such as the kind of weather. The pitter patter of rain drops upon a side walk. Rustling sounds of leaves while walking in an overgrown forest. Sounds of loud bolts of thunder coming from the sky, displaying silhouettes of brightness, in the midst of darkness.
Utilize your surroundings if your characters are indoors. An open window causes a gentle breeze moving a curtain swaying back and forth. A Grandfather clock ticks to the sounds of each breath they take. A semi dark room shows the illumination of a glowing candle.
You don’t have to have a love scene. You want sizzle, spark and an everlasting bond between the couple. Sexual tension is the key to success. Sensual romances are best when the sexual tension level is high. Each chapter builds more anticipation for the reader. Creating a rhythm of sexuality between your characters. Just remember their relationship enriches their obstacles and finds their true love. They’ve found their soul mate.
My suggestion is to write your story. When it is finished, polished and ready for submission, you can choose what sub-genre will fit and appeal to your publisher.
Regency Historical Romance
Happy Valentine’s Day!!
Holly's Big Bad Santa was released in December 2009 from Black Velvet Seductions
This is my "happily ever after" moment, which I sooooo love to play with.
Jared had been in war zones where he’d been certain he wouldn’t survive. He’d risked his life time and again for some rich guy he hadn’t even actually respected, but protected. Yet the most difficult thing he’d ever done was stand here in the front of the church and wait for Holly to appear.
“You’re starting to look like maybe we need to nail your feet to the floor,” Axel taunted from beside him.
“You that scared of getting married?” Troy asked. “If so, why the hell are you doing it?”
Jared turned his attention away from the sanctuary packed with family, friends, neighbors, and a whole lot of people he didn’t know. It seemed that the entire town of Danville knew Holly and loved her. But they didn’t love her near as much as he did, which was the entire reason he stood here instead of fleeing for his life.
“When your time comes to face this moment, you’ll understand,” he stated. It wasn’t getting married or being married that had him fighting hard to be patient. He’d survive the wedding ceremony and looked forward to a half century or so with Holly. It was feeling like he was on display for all of these people. He worked behind the scenes, specialized in not being seen.
He reached up to readjust his tie yet again, feeling strangled. Ties and tuxes were not his thing.
“Leave it alone,” Jason loudly whispered from the other side of his partners. When Jared glanced at him, his oldest brother gave a small smile of understanding. They’d finally made peace a couple of days ago. His brothers had helped him with a legal matter, buying the building Holly had rented for years to give to her as his groom’s gift to his bride. He’d also bought the building attached to it to use as a base for his new background search business, a branch of the security firm that he’d agreed to continue with as a partner.
The organist switched to the wedding march. All three men standing next to him straightened and turned their gazes to the back of the church. Jared’s stomach churned, panic tried to creep through him, but he forced it back. The time had come! Could he really do this? Yes! Hell, yes! He probably needed to clean up his language—even his thoughts—here in the church.
His skin felt clammy, knees weaker. But he straightened his shoulders and faced the doorway. Her bridesmaids, Jocie and Bridget, walked slowly up the aisle in dark green, calf-length dresses. Both women were beaming. When Bridget drew opposite him, she winked at him. She liked him, fully approved of him marrying her boss. He liked her, too, and was secretly arranging a college scholarship for her.
Kandee entered the room next. Her gaze went straight to Jason and she smiled. She’d forgiven him—Jared, too—for interfering with her buying Holly’s shop, which was no longer for sale. Jason had agreed to her at least working part-time there. The only person who wasn’t aware of any of this was Holly. She still didn’t know what Jared had decided about his partnership, which would affect her shop.
The music picked up in tempo and finally the wedding guests stood to watch James Danville step up to the aisle with Holly on his arm. His dad looked as proud of her as if she was his own daughter. She’d been part of their family already for a long time. But it wasn’t his dad he’d been waiting to see.
So beautiful. So damn beautiful. His heart raced, like it did every time he first looked at her. She was finally going to belong to him. No. She’d made it darn clear that she wasn’t a possession, not something or someone to belong to anyone. They would simply be sharing the rest of their lives, supporting one another, loving one another. All of that was acceptable, but, truthfully and secretly, she would belong to him. He just wouldn’t tell her that.
Their gazes met and she smiled only for him. He grinned back, only for her. He wanted this ceremony done and behind them. He wanted the reception done with as well. Most of all he wanted to get back to their home, Holly’s cottage—their cottage—and strip her down to nothing but soft, creamy skin. Then he’d see how many of those 1,001 positions they could manage tonight. She didn’t know that he’d found the book in her nightstand when he’d been adding some fun little body lotions to the drawer. But he’d never been so pleased with a discovery. She was a constant surprise, his Holly.
The next fifteen or so minutes passed by in a haze. The minister who’d watched him grow up, witnessed the problems in his youth, seemed to think this was a good time for a brief sermon. People were squirming in their seats, wondering—like he was—when the actual Do You and I Do stuff would happen.
Finally, Axel nudged him in the side. “Your turn.” Evidently he’d missed the actual start of the ceremony.
He blinked back to the moment and glanced at Holly. Her pursed lips told him he’d been caught not paying attention. She’d probably grill him later, try to get him to repeat what the minister had said. He was in trouble with her already.
If that was the case, then he might as well do something to really get on her bad list. He motioned for the minister to hold up and stepped right in front of Holly. Gasps from his breaking wedding ceremony rules, or whatever, flew around them. His mother’s eyes widened and she seemed to prepare herself for him to do yet something else to make him fodder for the gossip mill. His father merely grinned. Holly, apparently, didn’t know how to react and just stood there.
He tossed the veil over her head, pulled her close, smashed the bouquet between them, and kissed her. He’d needed this kiss, bad. It wasn’t a simple peck on the lips, either. He kissed her.
Way before he was ready to end it, Axel tapped him on the shoulder. “You’ve skipped a few steps here, buddy. The crowd is getting hostile. They want the whole works: I do’s, the pronouncement, etc.”
Instead of being upset with him, Holly gave him a final kiss of her own. Then she took his arm and tugged him with her until they stood together right in front of the minister.
“Okay, the short version, Reverend,” she said boldly. “We’ve got places to go, things to do…if you know what I mean.”
His face reddened, but he smiled. He looked at her. “Do you?”
She nodded. “I do.”
He looked at Jared. “Do you?”
“To loving Holly, honoring her, protecting her, and anything else for the rest of my life…I definitely do.”
The reverend gave a curt nod and looked at the guests. “We’re done here. Time for cake!”
The Captive Heart
Digan opened his eyes, or tried to. One wouldn’t open farther than a slit. He touched his face—still swollen. His body ached with the bruises he’d received subduing the last enemy of his father.
The brilliant sun shone through a slice in the rags covering the hole. A bird sang, sounding close outside the window. A beautiful day for the things he must do. He sat up stifling the groan that sprang to his lips. He had at least one broken rib, maybe two. Staggering upright, he almost stepped on his prisoner.
He touched her arm. She didn’t move. He’d have sworn that he’d not harmed her—or not any more than necessary. He clutched his side and bent closer, trying to focus on her chest. Was it moving or not?
He went to his knees.
He sensed life, but would swear she was asleep, worn out from yesterday’s fight and the long ride to this hidden place. It was he who bore injuries from the fight as he’d done all in his power to subdue her without killing her. He reached to touch the shining lock of her hair where it ran down one shoulder. Soft. Would that he could soften her heart for there is where her future lie. With him.
A silky strand caught and with a life of its own seemed to wrap around his finger. Unable to stop himself, he brought it to his lips and kissed it.
She moved. Stiffened. Knew he was near. If only he could remove the hood tied around her head. She reminded him of a falcon, wild, beautiful, cunning, and deadly. But, like a falcon, until she understood his place in her life, she had to be protected from her own nature.
He staggered up, to fetch water for them both and tripped over an out flung foot. She was upon him like one of his father’s demons. Her hands almost clear of his ties, she arose in grace and somehow knew exactly wherever he rolled as she kicked what was left of him from yesterday. If she ever got the hood untied, he’d be dead. Fending off her deadly feet, he managed to finally grab one long enough to bring her down to the floor with him—hard.
He moved quickly, covering her, holding her down with his weight as he subdued her hands. One knot had held fast. By one knot he’d almost lost her.
Tying her hands back and doing a better job of it this time, he tried to think of words to woo and win her. He had to. For if he couldn’t tame her, he had to kill her.
Recently divorced Becca Tyler is at the end of her rope. Her rental home has been sold to a mysterious new owner, and she and her three children have nowhere to turn. Until Nick Morelli comes back to town. Becca had stomped all over Nick's heart once—for all the wrong reasons. Now the boy from the wrong side of the tracks is a successful builder, while the high school golden girl is a single mom just scraping by.To their surprise, Becca and Nick soon discover the spark of their first love still burns as bright as the Christmastime stars. But Nick is keeping an important secret from Becca. Could it ruin the sweehearts' reunion before it even begins?
Becca looked again at the tool set Nick had given her son. It was sized for a small boy, and Danny hadn’t been able to put it down since he had unwrapped it.
“Yes, honey, it’s wonderful,” she told him. “But you’ll have to be careful and learn how to use everything correctly.”
Danny’s head bobbed in a nod. “I know. Nick’ll teach me.” He looked at Nick. “Won’t you?”
“You bet,” Nick answered, reaching out to lay a hand on his shoulder.
When Danny ran off to join the rest of the Morelli offspring, she turned to Nick. “You do realize how lucky you are, don’t you?”
She sighed, knowing he had no idea what she was talking about. “I mean this.” She pointed to the Morelli living room, filled with laughing people and discarded wrapping paper and boxes.
“Oh, that,” Nick answered, grinning. The grin disappeared and was replaced by a more serious expression. “Yeah, I do know how lucky I am. In a lot of ways.”
She was grateful to Nick for insisting she come with him, but she was even more grateful to her father for admitting his past mistake of driving Nick out of her life. If things had been different... But they hadn’t been, and it was time to move on.
The drive to Nick’s parents’ house had been short and left little time to talk, what with three children in the backseat of her car, who had been taken from their beds and dressed in a rush. Now that she’d had some time to think, there were unanswered questions that needed answers. With everyone busy and the spotlight finally off of her and Nick, it seemed to be the right time to ask.
“Why my house, Nick? Or maybe I should say your house.”
He was silent for a moment, staring straight ahead. “I told you the story about how Corey and I sneaked in to check it out.”
“But why buy it?”
He shrugged, and she sensed his hesitation, but she hoped he would eventually tell her.
“Ever since that night with Corey and even before, I’ve had a fascination with it. There was something special about it, but I’ve never been able to put my finger on it.”
“It’s a good house.”
He turned to look at her, smiling. “It’s a great house. And maybe that’s it. Maybe.”
“Do you go around buying all the great houses you see?”
“This is the first one. I can’t promise it won’t be the last though.” He turned to face her. “You see, it has character, like this one. This house has made it through almost thirty-five years of marriage and six kids, and it’s still as good as the day Pop bought it.”
“You told me, one night a long time ago that someday the Watkins place would be yours, and you would make it a showplace.”
“I remember,” he said, his voice nearly a whisper. “It was raining, and we were parked down the road from it.”
Emotions knotted in her throat at the memory. “That wasn’t the only time. There were more.”
“I know there were. I remember them all. And I will make it showcase, Becca,” he said. “Everybody has a dream, and that house has always been mine. But it’s only a part of it.”
She wasn’t sure he would share, but she had to ask. She needed to know. “What are the others?”
He leaned back and closed his eyes, a soft smile touching his lips. “A family like my parents gave us. A house filled with love and laughter. And a little battle, now and then,” he added, opening one eye to look at her and then the other. “I want children. They’re the lifeblood of a family. My parents are proof of that.”
Haunted by his draw to her children, she looked down to stare at her hands. “Is that why you’re so drawn to Danny and April and——”
“No. Not because I wanted them to be my family, although I wouldn’t mind that. It’s because they’re great kids. And I’m crazy about kids. Maybe because my own childhood was so good.”
Becca looked around for her children. Daisy was safely sleeping upstairs in a nursery with Gabby and Joseph’s tiny son, and she finally spied Danny and April, laughing and playing with the others, their eyes shining with delight and a joy she hadn’t seen in a long time. This was the kind of family she had always wished hers had been.
Cat’s sudden shout filled the house. “Mommy, Mommy! Snow!”
Beside her, Nick groaned. “As if we didn’t have enough two weeks ago.”
“But it’s Christmas, Nick,” Becca reminded him, feeling more in the spirit of the holiday. “We’ll have a white Christmas. What could be better than that?”
His gaze met hers for a moment, unreadable. “You’re right, of course.” He stood and held out his hand. She took it and let him lead her outside with the rest of his family.
“It’s coming down pretty good,” Angelo said, while his son stood on the steps and stuck out his tongue to catch snowflakes.
“It’s so pretty,” Beth agreed, pressing her pregnant middle against the porch railing and leaning out to catch flakes in her hand.
Nick put his arm around Becca’s waist, pulling her close. She didn’t resist, needing to be near him, if only for a while. In spite of everything Nick had said, she wasn’t convinced he wanted the forever that she dreamed of, so she was making memories to take with her.
“It’s getting cold,” someone behind them grumbled.
“Time to get the little ones inside,” Elena said. “Nobody needs a chill for Christmas.”
Realizing everyone was going back into the house, Becca turned to follow the others inside. Nick caught her hand and gently pulled her back, wrapping his arms around her from behind as they gazed at the beauty in front of them.
Becca had never felt so happy, yet so sad at the same time. No matter where she went or what happened, this night would remain in her memory forever. “I envy you so, Nick Morelli,” she whispered. “To grow up in a family so filled with love had to be special. It must be why you are, too.”
“Why did you move to the Watkins place?” he asked her, his breath warming against her hair.
The question came from nowhere and surprised her. “Because I could afford it,” she told him. “And because it held memories, too, I think. Why did you buy it?”
He turned her until she was facing him, his arms still encircling her. “You are the most important reason I bought the house.”
“Yes, you.” He kissed the tip of her nose.
Afraid to believe what he was saying, she shook her head.
“Do you remember how we dreamed about sharing our lives in it, once I finished college? We had our life planned out. Together.”
“I remember,” she whispered. “I never forgot.” And it seemed that Nick hadn’t either, even though she had thought he had.
He gazed down at her, as a golden glow from inside lit their corner of the porch. “Everyone has been hinting that the family needs to be bigger,” he said.
Becca laughed, but didn’t look away. “I think Beth and Tony are doing a good job of that.”
“Yeah, they are, but...” He shifted his weight and pulled her even closer. “Becca,” he whispered, “I always wanted that house for us. That was our dream.”
He pressed a finger to her lips. “You know how much I love your kids. They’re very special to me. But what you don’t understand is that what makes them so special is that they’re a part of you.”
She ducked her head, not knowing what to say. Her heart drummed in her chest and breathing was difficult.
Tipping up her face with a finger under her chin, Nick smiled. “Becca, I love you. I’ve loved you all these years. That’s why I went away when we broke up. I couldn’t stay, if I couldn’t have you.”
“Let me finish. When I saw you that night on the road, I was angry. But it wasn’t with you. It was with myself for still loving you. There you were, the wife of another man, or at least that’s what I thought, and all those old feelings were surfacing, and I didn’t know how to deal with them.”
Fighting back tears, she managed to speak. “Nick, you don’t have to tell me.”
“Yeah, I do, because I’m just now figuring this out.”
“But I understand. I’ve done the same things.”
He stared at her. “You have?”
Smiling, she nodded. “I love you too, Nick.”
“I told you. I was afraid Danny and April would be hurt. Daisy, too.”
He let out a long breath. “I’d never do that.”
She could see the honesty in his eyes, and her heart opened. This was the man she had always needed. Her heart had known it all along. Lifting her hand, she pressed it to his face. “I know.”
He placed his hand over hers. “But you have to be careful. I understand that.”
She nodded and laid her head on his chest. His heart beat strongly, and she knew she had nothing to fear from him. For the first time in years, she felt safe. Loved.
“There’s just one more thing,” he said.
Moving away just enough to look up at him, she asked, “What’s that?”
Movement caused her to look down, and she saw his closed hand between them. Slowly, he opened it. She gasped at the sight of a brilliant diamond ring, sparkling in the light from the house.
“Will you marry me, Becca Malone Tyler?”
His voice was rough with emotion, and her eyes filled with tears. Unable to speak, she nodded. “Anytime, anywhere,” she finally managed to say.
Taking her hand, he slipped the ring on her finger, and they both were silent. When she looked up at him, she was crying, but they were tears of joy.
He gathered her in his arms again, kissing her deeply, and she responded with all the love she had carried in her heart for so many years. When they both came up for air, he glanced over his shoulder.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, standing on her toes to see what he was looking at.
“Nobody interrupted us.”
Laughing, she surrendered herself for another toe-curling kiss, wishing they’d never have to stop. When they finally did, he held her close, and she listened to the even rhythm of his heart, calming her and assuring her that her life and her children’s would be filled with love and laughter.
“Oh, one more thing,” he said.
She leaned back to look at him. “What’s that?”
“Big Sky Construction will start work on a low income apartment complex later this year. It’s my Christmas present to you.”
Becca swallowed the tears that kept her from speaking and pressed her face to his chest, breathing in the scent of the man she loved. The man she had always loved.
“It’s stopped snowing,” he said, and Becca turned in his arms to see.
A light blanket of snow covered the ground, twinkling in the glow of distant streetlights. Above, the clouds were beginning to clear.
“Look at that,” he said, pointing to the sky.
Safe and secure in Nick’s arms, Becca watched a falling star until it disappeared. “Thank you,” she whispered.
BOND OF HONOUR was published in 1980 by Dell Candlelight. In it Lady Juliane Perrill is determined to escape France in 1793, to bring her orphaned niece and nephew to safety in England. When she awakes in a farmhouse after nearly freezing to death in a snow storm after a coaching accident she finds an unconscious Lord Adrian Tarrant, Earl of Tretain, abed with her. Mistaken for his wife, she continues the charade after the children are attacked.
As Adrian recovers he begins to fall in love with Juliane. In the hope of winning her he continues the pretence of family and takes her to his estate. With the arrival of his mother, Adrian’s hand is forced.
Andre and Leora are Juliane’s niece and nephew. Louis Comte Cavilon, is a friend of Adrian and fellow spy
BOND OF HONOUR
Juliane allowed him to lead her out, but gave Comte de Cavilón an uneasy glance. The dance did nothing to alleviate her sudden apprehension. With every chance she looked to the comte. He watched her closely--speculatively, she thought. Everything had been so perfect up to that unexpected question--that “Are you happy?”
Had not André’s tears put the first pall on the night? The situation was far from perfect. She must be careful not to lose herself in a dream world.
Nothing was guaranteed for the children, least of all their safety. She was foolishly in love with this cool, stark man she knew little about and who passed her off as his wife as if it were a usual experience. Where had her reason gone?
* * *
It seemed an eternity for the guests to exclaim upon the success of the ball, their enjoyment at meeting her, and finally take their leave after two in the morning. All the while Juliane smiled and murmured the expected pleasantries while her mind worked furiously. Had she been led into a false aura of safety? Was she deceiving herself by trusting Adrian? The present situation could not go on indefinitely. The more she thought, the stronger became her conviction that it must end--and tonight.
Lady Juliane would have been amazed to learn that Lord Adrian’s thoughts and plans coincided with hers. He had some days earlier reached the same conclusion. Circumstances could not be tolerated as they were. He was far too involved. Adrian had reached what he considered a feasible solution, but his indomitable male ego kept him from appraising Juliane of his decision.
Lady Juliane looked about the ballroom. It seemed everyone had magically disappeared. There was no sign of Lady Tretain who had hovered near all evening. Only Lord Adrian remained and he had a most peculiar look. If she could think it possible, she would have supposed the look to be one of trepidation. Occupied with her own problems, Juliane did naught but note it.
“I . . .” Lord Adrian hesitated. “Would you be so obliging as to walk with me? There is something I wish to show you. More importantly, some news I must impart.” Taking her arm, Lord Adrian guided Juliane slowly through the house. Reaching the door that led to the used portion, he stopped and searched her face. Then he kissed Juliane, held her tight, crushed her to his lean, hard body as his lips demanded satisfaction.
“My lord,” she breathed questioningly when he loosened his hold. He claimed her lips once more and Juliane’s heart overrode her mind once more as she answered his passion.
Reluctantly, Lord Adrian drew back. “This decision is correct,” he stated breathlessly. To Juliane he added, “You see, my dear, I always keep my word. Come, they await us.”
Still swirling in the rapture of his embrace, Juliane could make no sense of his words. “Who is waiting?”
“You shall see. This part of the house is not used these days. At the end of this corridor is what once was the family chapel. I doubt it was used even during my father’s time. I have had a surprise prepared which I hope will please you.” Adrian smiled, entreated her approval.
Lady Juliane stopped him. “Adrian . . . what is it you have in mind?” she asked, suddenly wary.
“Will you not be surprised?” he answered.
“It is best not to be.” She refused to move. “Now tell me.”
Adrian shifted his weight nervously as she waited. “It is the most sensible solution, you know,” he managed, fear of rejection hobbling his usual glibness.
“Sensible solution--to what?” she asked faintly.
“You could not escape from this unscathed--not unless there was no need to escape . . .”
His look beseeched her understanding. “This loss of words is most inopportune. Perhaps on the morrow you will feel more talkative.” She turned but he locked her hand in his.
“You cannot go. This must be done. You cannot object. It is your honour that will be maintained. The House of Tretain is old and highly regarded.” Adrian paused to gaze deeply into her eyes. You do not find me totally repulsive.”
Understanding his words and yet not, Juliane sought only to escape. Joy would have been boundless had he given the one reason she sought, but he had not. In truth, it seemed expediency was what he wished.
“I will be willing to adopt the children if it is possible,” he urged her. “They will never want for anything.”
She looked searchingly at him but his face had become impassive. It chilled her. Her fingers grew numb in the clench of his hand.
“Why the tears, Juliane?” Adrian asked more softly. “This is not my sensible one.” He gently wiped them away. “You are no young miss. There is no way out of this and it is more my fault than yours. Come, follow my lead. The special license arrived this afternoon.” Taking her hand, he led her to the doors at the far end and knocked.
There was a pause.
Then the doors slowly opened to reveal a small chapel dimly lit with candles. Large bouquets of white hothouse flowers of all kinds filled the side aisles and altar. A cleric in flowing robes, holding an open prayer book, awaited them.
Someone put a large bouquet of white roses mixed with baby’s breath in Lady Juliane’s hands. She stared in disbelief. Forms to the side began taking shape as they walked down the short aisle. Lady Tretain, Sir Percival, and Comte de Cavilón were all there.
Juliane heard words solemnly intoned, questions asked. The answers she spoke seemed to come from far away, not from her own lips at all. A numbing coldness pervaded her. Then it was over and they were surrounded, congratulated, kissed.
“So beautifully done, my son,” said Lady Tretain. “So happy.” She dabbed at her eyes.
“Best wishes to you both,” offered Comte de Cavilón.
As the comte left the chapel, Lady Tretain detained Lady Juliane. “You must forgive me, Juliane, for . . . for all my doubts concerning you. Adrian has told me how hurriedly you had to be married--the loss of your sister. Your niece and nephew shall always be treated as my own grandchildren. “When he said you both wished for a simple renewal of your vows in our own family chapel--well, I was so relieved. You do forgive me?”
She spoke with such earnestness that Juliane laid a hand on her arm in reassurance. “You are not the one needing forgiveness.”
Lady Tretain shook her head. Taking Adrian’s and Juliane’s hands, she placed them together. “A long life and many blessings--the best of which is sharing.” She blinked back tears of remembrance. “Good night, my dears.”
Once more they stood alone. Neither spoke. Finally Lord Adrian coughed. “We cannot spend the night here.”
Lady Juliane flung him a look which spoke “why not?”
“You must be very tired. Let us go to our rooms,” he urged.
The long walk from the chapel seemed magically and frighteningly brief. Before she could forestall it, they were in the corridor outside their rooms. Seeing the guards at the children’s door, Lady Juliane stalled for time. “We must check on the children.”
Lord Adrian quickly agreed, in truth not as dauntless as he pretended to be.
Quietly they entered. Lady Juliane tiptoed to the large cradle. Lord Adrian walked softly to the bed. Each slowly picked up the coverlets so as not to awaken the child beneath. Startled look flew to startled look as the coverlets were dropped--only pillows were beneath them. The children were gone.
* * *
Adrian is badly wounded and almost dies rescuing the children. When he is recovered Juliane goes to have one last conversation--
Juliane became conscious of Adrian’s grip on her hand, of the warmth his touch brought her. Searching for words, she thrust back those she wished to speak and said instead, “The children--I must find Uncle Thedford for them. He named André his heir.”
“I have had word about him,” Adrian said slowly and released her hand.
“You knew I meant to go to him?” she asked in disbelief.
“Not exactly, but it seemed the most likely thing. You mentioned an uncle on your first night here.
“I fear your plans are hopeless,” Adrian continued. “There is no estate. The reason your family never had anything to do with him was that he was more than slightly daft and had lost everything shortly after André was born. An old family retainer kept him until he died a few years ago.”
Juliane studied the quilting on the coverlet. What would she do? Where would they go if . . .?
“I have said I would adopt the children--do you object?” Adrian’s voice throbbed with emotion.
Her eyes flew to his, her heart pounding.
“My lord, my lord,” Mallatt scampered in excitedly. “You won’t believe it--it can hardly be credited. Look,” he held out one of André’s toy soldiers for them to see.
“I was straightening it and it broke. See what fell out!” With a shake of the toy several green stones tumbled onto the bed.
“The emeralds,” breathed Juliane.
“The other soldiers are full of them,” he continued, then, noticing that the two before him had eyes only for each other, added, “We will see to this later, my lord.
Of course, my lord.” He bowed and hurriedly withdrew.
“How could I have doubted you?” Juliane breathed.
“I could have explained I was an agent for the ministry.”
She brushed her fingers across his to silence him. “There is no need to tell me now.”
Adrian caught her hand once more. “Do you love me? Can you love me? Every moment since I regained my senses I have feared you would leave--that is why I dared not send for you. I love you so.”
“Oh, Adrian, I have longed to hear--”
He claimed Juliane’s lips--claimed her heart as well. “My angel,” he breathed, “my own.” Drinking in the love glowing in her eyes, his happiness brimmed complete. “On the dressing chest . . . “
Juliane gave a puzzled glance toward it. The rings he had given her lay upon a tray.
“Will you not wear them? Always?” His ardour caused his voice to tremble.
She rose and retrieved them. Sitting beside the earl, she asked saucily. “Will you not replace them . . . my lord?”
He slipped the rings on her finger, saying sternly, “You know I shall have to break you of this formality in address.”
“I know . . . my lord,” Juliane teased again and happily surrendered to his fervent embrace.
Bond of Honour is available as an ebook at Regency Reads
under Joan Vincent on the left.
Cast: Faith, Hope & Gloria are sisters. Kitty and Wyatt are their parents. Derby is in love with Hope. Pastor Monroe is in love with Faith. Delores is J.D.'s mom and Zoe is his daughter. The Elvis impersonators are attending the wedding because the Hotel at the end of Lonely Street burnt down and they had no where else to stay. :)“Keep going,” Gloria snapped at Pastor Gray Monroe—but didn’t dare turn around. This was a nightmare—a soap opera in the making.
“Gloria?” J.D.’s confused gaze darted between her and the imposing presence interrupting their wedding.
“This can not be happening to me,” Kitty wailed. Clutching her lace hanky to her chest, she stood and promptly fainted, warranting a chorus of gasps from the sequined, jumpsuited Elvis crowd and bringing her husband to his knees over her panic-stricken body.
“Gloria.” Hector’s thick accented voice raked down her back like fingernails on a chalkboard.
“Continue.” She prodded the minister with a sharp nudge from her bouquet to the bottom of his bible, nearly upsetting the good book in the process.
Gray looked a little more than confused. Apparently bound by some unspoken wedding law, he kept his mouth shut, waiting for the mess to clear up. One way or another.
J.D. took off his suit jacket and tossed it into the crowd a good six rows back. Unbuttoning the sleeves on his shirt, he pushed them up to his elbows and then doubled his fists. “Do you know this man?”
Was he preparing to protect her honor? Or was he just going to beat the crap out of Hector and then desert her? Was getting left at the altar always going to be her fate?
With an impatient huff, Gloria twisted at the waist to look behind her. It was time to put an end to this. Her future rested on this very moment. “Hector, what are you doing here?”
“I came to see you.” Hector stepped closer. His smudged sneakers pounded the carpet of the so-quiet-you-could-hear-a-pin-drop and not-miss-an-ounce-of-gossip church.
“I’m kinda in the middle of something. Can you come back in say . . . fifty or sixty years?”
Hector shook his head.
Cupping J.D.’s cheek with her palm, she turned his face to meet her wounded gaze. She loved him more than anything in the world, but his were her mess to fix. “J.D., do you trust me?”
Her heart stopped beating until he nodded and his lids fluttered shut, covering the hurt in his blue eyes. Hurt she’d caused. Hurt she’d spend the rest of her life trying to erase.
“I’ll be right back.” Kissing his clenched lips, she shoved her bouquet into her sister Hope’s chest, gathered the length of her dress with one hand, stepped over her mother and marched down the rose petal adorned aisle.
As if he’d won Olympic gold, Hector puffed his chest and grinned.
She stopped three pews shy of his outstretched arms. One of the 1968 come-back Elvises, decked out in black leather, leaned out of the last pew for a better listen. Gloria felt everyone’s eyes boring into her. Well, all those except for her mother’s. They’d rolled back in her head right before she passed out.
“Hector, what are you doing here?”
“I’m ready to get married now.”
“You what?” J.D. yelled from his place at the altar.
“My green card expired. I need to get married right away or they send me back to Mexico.”
“I’m marrying him. I love him.” She pointed over her shoulder at her intended.
J.D. must have mistaken this gesture for an invitation to join her, because he stepped over Kitty and stalked down the aisle to tower over Hector prompting almost all of the Elvis impersonators to stand in anticipation of the mid-wedding brawl. In a fair fight, Hector’s fast food cooking body would be no match for J.D.’s fire fighting physique.
Hector smartly took a step to the rear. “Willie Wong say I have to get married soon or his wife call immigration.”
“Why would she do that?”
“Because I make love to her daughter.”
“Lynn Wynn Wong? She’s only seventeen.”
Pursing his lips together, Hector lifted both shoulders. “So, you marry me, then I won’t have to go to Mexico and I could sleep with you too.”
“You’re in love with me?”
“I love the girls that, how you say, put out. Since I never got laid with you, I no love you.”
J.D.’s fist came out of nowhere, connecting with the left side of Hector’s face, sending him spiraling backwards to land at the feet of one of the many Hawaiian kings in attendance.
“There, now you got laid.” J.D. shook the pain from his hand, stepping over Hector on his way out the door. “Gloria, maybe we should call this whole thing off.”
She too, stepped over the newly laid man lying on the floor of her church. There was no way she was going to let J.D. go. He was more important than all the Hectors in the world.
“No. Please wait.” She placed a hand on his forearm and felt the muscles tighten beneath her grip. “I love you. I’ve loved you since the first day I met you. More than anything in the world I want to be your wife and Zoe’s mother. I never loved him. I’ve never had feelings for another man like the ones I have for you.”
J.D. stopped but didn’t turn around. His massive shoulders slumped.
“I made a mistake. But, you and I were made for each other. We belong together.”
He slowly turned around. A smile lit up his face. “I love you.”
“Ahhh,” the Elvises sang in perfect harmony.
J.D. lifted her into his arms and kissed her hard. Cradling her to his chest, they stepped across Hector, past pews of Elvises, over the now-awake Kitty and came to a standstill at the altar bathed in fragrant rose petals.
J.D. kissed Gloria again and set on her feet.
Hope handed her the bouquet as Derby stood to hug her from behind.
Zoe clapped her hands and squealed in delight.
Delores patted her son on the back.
Aurora stroked her Mason jar.
Wyatt wiped away a tear and helped Kitty back onto her seat.
And Faith winked at Pastor Gray. “I think we’re ready for a wedding now.”
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