By Mary Hughes, author of Edie and the CEO
Think back to high school. How many boys did you like? Did you have a lot of crushes or one big love? Here’s the kicker—how many of those boys knew you liked them? (My answer at the end. ☺)
Romance is scary. It takes two to tango and you’re never quite sure about the other person until you put your own feelings on the line. That’s why romance novels are so deeply compelling. Storytelling is all about conflict, and whether or not to reveal your heart is one of the most personal struggles there is.
But exactly because it’s scary, romance is also fun. It’s exciting for the couple, breathless with possibilities. But it’s even better for the best friend or reader. Watching two people dance around their attraction can be high comedy. They hide behind nonchalance, then dash out to signal their interest before retreating again—usually just when the other person starts flailing their romantic semaphore.
My favorite is the bickering that disguises an explosive attraction, squabbling friction just before the physical flames ignite. Here’s an example from my romantic comedy debut with Crimson Romance, Edie and the CEO.
Edie wants to make her ’60s protester grandparents proud. But championing the little guy gets her in trouble with sexy CEO Everett Kirk. Someone’s trying to force Everett out of his job, and Edie’s latest escapade hasn’t helped. A snowstorm and an empty cabin makes them confront their attraction.
Everett has arrived to pick up Edie for a conference. She isn’t awake yet and he thinks she’s in trouble and breaks down her door. She steps on a broken board and hurts her foot.
“If you risk infection by putting that foot down,” Kirk called from the living room, “I will personally lash your ankle to your thigh. Let me warn you, I tie some pretty wicked knots.”
“I just bet you do,” she muttered. Did the man install an AuthorityCam to see around the corner? Stupid president, autocratic and demanding even off the job.
Grumbling, she hopped to the bathroom, found disinfectant and cotton balls, flopped onto her toilet seat, and pulled up her foot.
It was a dirty, bloody mess.
Phooey. If she hated his high-handedness, she hated worse when he was right. He was already arrogant enough.
She doused the cotton ball with disinfectant and swabbed her wounded foot, but it was like cleaning a muddy car with a makeup sponge. She just smeared the blood and dirt. So she started the water in the tub to rinse her foot instead. Then she decided she might as well shower. It was only efficient. Amazingly rational, considering she hadn’t had any caffeine yet.
But in case Prince Omniscience decided to be his usual argumentative self, she locked the door.
She stripped quickly, got right in, and started shampooing. She’d worked up a good lather when the pounding started at the bathroom door.
Half-blinded, she stuck her head out. The door bowed with each thud, Kill Door Part II. In hindsight, locking it might not have been the smartest move. “What are you doing?”
“We need to get going.” Kirk’s deep voice carried easily through the composite. Another thud told her he was serious. “What are you doing?”
She started to yell, “I’m taking a shower,” but it would only get lost in the next bang. She grabbed a towel, twisted it around her, unlocked and opened the door.
Mid-swing, Kirk’s large and capable hand froze. He blinked. His gaze dropped. Widened.
Turned molten silver.
So how many of your high school loves or crushes knew? Me, I had one big love and a lot of other little crushes and none of them knew. ☺ It took until college for me to brave telling, and that’s how I got my husband. But that’s another story…
I live in the Midwest with my beta-reader alpha husband, two grandcats who demand equal lap time, a basement full of spare computer parts and several musical instruments including a romantic cello and a flute for orchestral twittering birds. Find me on the web at http://www.maryhughesbooks.com, Facebook, and Twitter.