When I read - or write – an especially romantic scene, I get a little pain in my chest. Nothing to go to the doctor about, but it's my heart's indicator telling me the romance level has reached a 10.
Here's an excerpt from my first book, Secret Vegas Lives. It's the secondary characters, the day after they met. Monica is heading back home to Vegas after assisting with a burn victim.
That afternoon, with Katie stable and her parents assured of a good outcome, Monica said goodbye and headed to the heliport. Halfway through the hospital, she spotted Joe talking to a resident. He ended his conversation and caught up to her.
“Leaving us, doctor?”
Pinching the skirt of her yellow silk dress between her fingers, she smiled. “Got a date tonight.”
He walked beside her, his head hanging forward, his hands in his pants pockets. “Someone special?”
“I’ll find out in a few hours. It’s our first.”
He laughed. “I can’t remember what a first date feels like. Or any date, for that matter.”
She looked at him through her lashes. “I can’t believe that. You’re a big shot here. The women must hound you.”
“No. I don’t have time.” He opened the door for her and walked with her to the helicopter.
“Dr. Pappa…” She held out her hand. “It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for the professional courtesy.”
“You’re welcome, Dr. Kane. I hope we meet again.”
She turned and climbed into the helicopter and strapped herself in, sliding on the headset. She looked through the window to wave at Joe, but he was on his phone with his other hand over his ear to block out the noise of the rotors starting.
The pilot gave her the thumbs up, she returned it, and they lifted off but immediately landed again when instructions from the hospital sounded through the headsets. The pilot told her, “We’ll be carrying another passenger.”
He jumped out and opened the door, and Joe stepped in and sat beside her. Putting his headset on, he spoke to her through the microphone. “Mind if I ride along?”
She was smitten.
The trip seemed much shorter this time; when they landed in Las Vegas, he got out with her and walked her to her car.
He shook his head. “Why am I surprised that you drive a pickup truck?”
She shrugged. “I like to haul stuff.”
He let out a startled laugh. “Stuff? Lady, you’re extraordinary.”
She looked into his eyes. “I’ve never been called that before.”
He touched her arms then drew her close. “I’m the first man to appreciate it in you.” He slanted his lips over hers, firm, assured. The hot sun warmed her skin, while his kiss turned her insides to lava.
She set her hands on the lapels of his white lab coat and kissed him back, wanting to deepen it, to invite him home with her, but it was too soon, the timing wasn’t right.
Too quickly, he pulled away and released her. His voice was low, filled with the promise of passion. “I’ll call you, Monica.”
“Bye.” She swallowed her eagerness, not wanting to jinx the moment by saying too much.
He brushed his fingertips over her cheek then turned and jogged back to the helicopter.
She slid into her truck as she watched them take off and turn west toward LA. Blowing air out her compressed mouth, she ticked off the reasons a long distance relationship would never work. She turned the key in the ignition and heard a beep from her phone. A text message.
It was from Joe. “Don’t go on that date tonight.”
She smiled, her heart filled with hope despite her pessimistic tendencies.
What excuse could she use on online dating service guy?
Just the thought of a man as impetuously romantic as Dr. Joe makes me sigh.
From the same book, here's another scene that tugs at my heart. Antonio is an Italian writer, and Valerie is a psychologist. They're the main characters in Secret Vegas Lives (the ones who lead those secret lives!)
“Thank you. The pleasure was all mine.” Antonio watched Monica leave then turned back to Valerie, a look of amusement in his eyes. “I have two sisters, so your conversation is nothing new.”
Lindsey busied herself putting the beer in the refrigerator. How could Monica embarrass her that way?
“Come over here.” An irresistible smile lit his face. He turned the barstool.
She shut the refrigerator door, walked around the island, and stood in front of him. He pulled her between his legs and squeezed her with his knees. His eyes locked with hers.
There would be no explaining away her sister’s comments. “I’m so sorry, Antonio. I expected that kind of crap from my parents, but my sister is really not that way.”
“Your cheeks are still red.” He brushed a finger softly over her blush. “Did she embarrass you?”
“She always embarrasses me.”
“Maybe she’s right.”
Her jaw tightened. “She’s not right. Neither are my parents. They’re comparing you to Troy and Bryce, and because you’re different, they think you’re not our social equal.”
He kissed her, and she tasted beer and lime on his tongue. Her blood heated in her veins.
“I’m not your social equal, Valerie. And if that’s important to you, tell me now, and you’ll never hear from me again.”
His statement chilled her. Valerie backed up and looked at his handsome face. His eyes were intense. “Do you really think I’m a snob?” Hurt and anger threatened to make her overreact, but she held her emotions in check.
“Of course not. But if you’re getting shit from your family —”
“I don’t care what they think, Antonio.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “They’ve been too involved in my life for too long. I need to cut my own path.”
“Your mother asked you if you were dating me to rebel against them.”
Valerie looked down. “She’s passive aggressive. She said that because she knew you’d hear it.”
He stood and put his hands on her arms.
She looked up at him.
“Yeah, I heard it. What better way to declare your independence than to date a bad boy.”
She stepped closer and put her hands on his chest. “That’s not what this is about, Antonio. If I gave you the impression that it was, I’m sorry.” She swallowed. “This is more to me. More than I’ve felt for anyone.”
“Damn.” He put his hands on the sides of her face. “I guess I feel the same.”
“God, listen to us.” She laughed. “Scary, isn’t it?”
I love that moment when the hero and heroine realize they've found someone special. Someone they can see being with for a long, long time.
This next excerpt is from my upcoming release, Scandalous L.A. Desires. Dante is an artist, and also Antonio's brother.
Dante worked through the night to finish the mural. The formal opening was the next evening and the paint needed time to dry.
Morning sun streaked through the windows as he yawned and made a few final brush strokes. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone at the playroom door. Strangely, he sensed it was Lindsey, but what would she be doing here?
He turned to her. "Hi."
She smiled. "Hi."
He chuckled. "This is a different side of you." She wore a black Minnie Mouse warm-up suit and bright red running shoes, her hair in a braid with a red polka-dot ribbon tied at the end.
"The hospital board asked me to remind you that you're welcome to take part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow night."
"I wouldn't miss it." He set the paintbrush down and wiped his hands on his white painter's coveralls. "Are you on the board?" he asked as he walked toward her.
"I'm a new member, but I've volunteered since high school. One morning a week I play with the children. That's where I'm headed now." She backed up half a step.
"That explains the outfit. You like children?" He stepped over paint cans and tarps.
"Yes, very much. They add so much to my life, and if I help these little ones and their families…" When he reached her and held out his hand, her sentence trailed off.
"Let me show you the mural. It's almost finished." He stood with his hand out waiting for her to decide. He could see the hesitancy in her eyes as she looked around the room.
He smiled. "Will you come in and see it?" The bigger question was, did she trust him?
She tentatively put her hand in his, their eyes met, and he noticed that hazy look again. He fought the urge to pull her into his arms and kiss her breathless, and instead led her into the room, steadying her as she stepped over obstacles.
Still holding her hand, he stopped in the middle of the room and they turned to get the full effect of the painting. He heard her sharp intake of breath.
"Dante, it is beautiful. I'm absolutely awestruck. It's like being under the sea--whales, fish." She eased her hand from his and moved closer to the mural. "The coral is so lifelike, and how you captured the filtered sunshine. It's perfect. The children will love it."
He heard a catch in her voice and when she turned to him, a ray of sunlight hit her face. The tears in her eyes sparkled. He took a step toward her, overwhelmed by the need to touch her.
"Forgive me for being emotional. Just knowing how the children will appreciate it makes me happy."
"Art is worthless if it doesn't evoke emotion." He put his hand on her shoulder, then slowly moved his fingers down her arm. "I am humbled by your response." He lifted her hand and kissed her fingers. He wanted to kiss her sexy, pink lips, hear her sigh, and see her eyes misty and unsure. He'd kiss away all her doubts…
Her cell phone rang and they both took a step back. This was not the place. She volunteered here and served on the board of directors. Construction workers and custodians were walking by. He didn't want their first kiss to be public.
"I'm sorry, but I have to take this." She held her phone. "I hope to see you tomorrow evening."
Dante has been pursuing Lindsey, but she's not falling for his smooth moves. In this last scene, she's starting to see him differently. There may be hope for them after all!
These are the secondary characters from Scandalous L.A. Desires. Jill and Nick dated in college, but she cheated on him. Jill's an architect, and Nick is hiding from the world making custom motorcycles.
"Nick, would you like to come to my place for supper tonight? There's a pool on the roof and we could swim, I could grill some--"
"No." He forced himself to remember her in another man's bed, and used the anger to slam away his softer emotions. "You don't get it, do you? This was just sex. Nothing more." He grinned and winked. "And you were good, baby. Really good."
She let out a heavy sigh. "Okay, I deserve that. You can be as rude to me as you want." She walked around him, into the shop and picked up her purse from the workbench, came back outside and stood three feet from him.
He could see her hands shake, heard a tremor in her voice. "But I'm not going to give up, Nick." Her brows drew together. "Maybe I haven't made my intentions clear. I want you back. I love you, and I--"
He chuckled, covering the bitterness. "You never loved me, or you wouldn't have been doing some jock the minute I left the country."
"If you want to talk this out, here's the truth. After you caught us together, I told him to leave and I never saw him again. I've been out on a few blind dates since then, but nothing, no one, could replace you in my heart."
He shrugged. "I don't really care." But it was a lie.
She stepped closer, her voice became more determined. "Here's what's going to happen now. I'm going to think of you every hour of every day, and I want you to think of me." Her eyes locked with his, her intensity stunned him. "Every night, I'm going to pretend you're there with me. Whatever woman you're with, you're going to look at her and wish it was me."
He shook his head, knowing it was true because it was exactly what the last year of his life had been like.
She walked toward the gate in the fence that surrounded his shop. Surrounding his life. The dogs followed. She sat on her heels and scruffed Bert and Ernie's big heads. Talking over her shoulder to him, she said, "I want our children to come to work with their daddy and play with these sweet puppies."
The thought had his every nerve ending going numb. He wanted babies with this woman, so badly it made his eyes water.
She wasn't done. "I'm going to get help, Nick. Powerful help. I'm going to pray. That you'll forgive me, that you'll take me back, that I'll be able to spend every day of the rest of my life making you happy. Loving you."
Finally her tears came, she lowered her head into her hands and sobbed. The dogs wined, lay down next to her, and looked to him for guidance.
He blinked rapidly, wanting to have her in his arms, they could comfort each other, make everything perfect again. But he waited too long.
She stood and wiped the tears from her cheeks, and without another glance his way, walked to the gate. "Let me out."
He had to decide. He could go to her now, or let her slide from his life.
Damned pride. He reached an arm into the shop and opened the gate. She stepped out. He closed the gate, walked into the shop, and pressed the button to close the overhead door. Close her out of his life.
He stared at her as the noise of the metal rollers sounded his decision. Her crying shook her whole body.
And he wished he were dead.
I love that scene because it's emotionally potent and wonderfully romantic. Jill opened her heart, swallowed her pride, and did everything she could to bring Nick back into her life.
As you can guess, my heart is giving me that little pain right now. And I love it! When I can have a physical as well as emotional reaction to writing, I'm the happiest person on earth.
Do you have a reaction to reading especially poignant scenes? I'd love to hear what affects you, and how it moves you.
Thanks for stopping by today,