By Inés Saint, author of Strangers in the Night
A slow dance, in itself, is not enough to send your senses into a delicious spiral. A few elements have to come together to make swaying in someone’s arms a sensual and unforgettable experience. Sexual attraction, one of life’s great mysteries, is a major part of the equation. After endless studies, many experts agree that it involves a complex mix of visual, vocal, and olfactory cues.
In Strangers in the Night, Jake and Keila first notice each other when Jake is standing in the sidelines and Keila is helping a friend teach a few, complicated salsa steps. His eyes stray to her hips and he gazes at their rhythmic swivels and swerves. Keila looks up and meets his intense, brilliantly blue eyes. Their initial spark is purely visual.
When Keila is forced to teach a reluctant Jake to salsa, her pulse picks up the moment she hears his deep baritone. A deep male voice is a sign of genetic fitness. Like it or not, Keila is genetically wired to react to his voice. Moments later, she’s in his arms, and the dance lesson begins.
Exertion makes their skin glisten with fresh, sweet sweat, which releases scented sex hormones known as pheromones. Some scientists have described pheromones as magical. During a particularly slow and sensual salsa number, Jake is lured in by Keila’s scent, and it makes him tug her closer…and closer. The sense of touch is connected to every other sense, and proximity raises Keila’s responsiveness to new heights. Their attraction is purely physical…so far.
Jake will soon be announcing his candidacy for mayor of Chicago and Keila is waiting to find out if her dream of moving back home to play for a renowned orchestra will come true. They’re both feeling tense. Studies on both sides of the Atlantic have found that dance lowers levels of cortisol; a stress hormone.
When people dance, they unwind and relax. Jake is also just learning to salsa. When he loses his footing, he steps forward just as Keila does the same. His hands go down to her waist, her hands wrap around his arms, and their eyes lock. They laugh, and laughter relaxes muscles, boosts energy, and triggers the release of feel-good chemicals. Shared laughter helps people synchronize their emotions and create bonds.
As these two strangers dance, they forget the world and become lost in the music, their emotions, and each other. They don’t know how different and far apart their lives are, and they don’t care. When the night comes to its inevitable end, they decide to remain strangers. They’re not ready to explore their startling chemistry. But, as time passes, neither can forget their singular night at Chicago’s SummerDance Festival.
Undoubtedly, they’re destined to meet again. This is a romance, after all. And I think most of us would rather explore the intricacies of romance through story than through science. On that note, I’d love to learn a little bit more about your own real-life stories. Has an instant physical attraction ever lead to a long-lasting emotional connection for you?