First Touch

first touch

She was feeling a little reckless tonight.

Maybe it was the Christmas spirit? Maybe it was the end of another year?

The beat of the music had worked its way through her body until she could feel her pulse pounding in rhythm with it. Sweat trickled down her spine, long hair stuck to her neck, and she knew her makeup had melted off hours ago. She didn’t give a shit. Nobody knew her here. Nobody cared if the normally calm and sedate Natasha Harper was letting loose, wearing clothes a little too tight, a top cut a little too low. Here, she fitted right in. These people were her tribe, even if she was an anonymous member of it.

She was never more aware of her body than when she danced. Every swing of her hips, every turn of her shoulder, every lift of her arms brought her pleasure. She closed her eyes and felt the music permeate her skin and move into her muscles. Her hips moved, every bounce on the beat, as she felt her shoulders and back, roll and flex.

God! It felt good. Powerfully good.

Her every sense was alive and it was almost too much.

Once a month she left her life at the nightclub door and dived into the sound, the energy, and she forgot for a short time what people expected of her. She forgot about everything she couldn’t have.

And every time he was here.

Opening her eyes to that thought her hungry gaze sought him out.

Dressed in a dark t-shirt and jeans, he was completely still in an ocean of moving bodies. A couple of fingers held the long neck of the beer bottle nonchalantly by his side.

Dampening her lips, Natasha waited for him to take a drink. She loved to watch his head go back, his throat muscles move as he swallowed. She wanted to taste him there, salt and cologne, as she ran her tongue over his skin. She might even take a bite.

The bottle lowered, but his eyes didn’t. She wanted him to watch and that’s what he did. His heated gaze stayed locked on her as she turned around. She knew he would follow her hips as they swayed and rocked. His own personal metronome, beating out an untouchable rhythm.

Closing her eyes, she raised her arms in the air and felt her body stretch and undulate, reaching for and holding every beat of the music, before she let it go and took hold of the next one.

She danced for herself, she danced for him. And it was enough.

It had to be enough. Anything else would mean breaking every rule she’d set herself when she decided to come here for the first time. Arrive alone. Leave alone. No strangers could know who she was outside of here.

Natasha turned to face him, needing to see him. Knowing he was watching seemed… insubstantial tonight – she had to see his eyes. Continuing to dance, she found herself closer than she’d realised. Somebody bumped into her back, pushing her forward a little more until she was less than a couple of metres away from him. She watched his eyes widen a little, watched as he turned and placed his beer bottle on a table beside him. Waiting.

As he faced her once again, she could see the hard line of his lips and the dark freckle on his cheekbone, just above the shadow of his stubble, leading to his neat ears and the curls that peeked out behind them.

Her stillness could have been a warning or an invitation. All she knew was that she couldn’t look away. She couldn’t not look at him. She didn’t want to blink. Her body, that had felt so fluid while she danced, now felt tense and ready for flight.

He wouldn’t come to her. She knew that. They had never been this close before while she danced, still, she knew that he would wait for her to make the final move. For how long, she didn’t know, but this game they played seemed to live without an expiration date. She only knew that one day he wouldn’t be here. Only then would she know it was over, that he couldn’t wait for her anymore.

A sense of panic flashed through her body, her chest a clenched fist. The reality of her life, of what she’d allowed herself to become, threatened to suffocate her.

In this place, there was no room for the fears and anxieties of her real life. Here, the dark lights and the music set her free. Here, she could be everything she wanted to be.

So she walked towards him. She saw the question in his eyes but she chose to ignore it. She didn’t want words, she wanted him to touch her, with his mouth on hers and she wanted to taste his skin. She needed to know what it would feel like to have his big hands on her body. She ached to know what it would feel like to be held in his arms.

Now the floodgates had opened, her desires drowned out the rational part of her brain, half-hearted arguments swept away in its reckless, rushing flow.

Standing before him, the music beating in her blood, she lifted her hand and cupped his beautiful face. Her thumb traced lightly over his cheekbone, coming to rest on the freckle that she’d fallen in love with the first time she’d seen it.

His eyes were so intent on her, they looked so deeply inside her that she imagined he knew her every thought, her every fantasy. How she’d danced wanting to feel his hand on her hip, his lips on her neck. How every flex and move had been for him, leading to this moment.

When his fingers closed over her hand on his cheek her heart jolted. Did he not want her to touch him? Was this the cruel rejection she had always been terrified of?

He did lower their hands, but his grip remained firm as he turned and pulled her towards the back of the club. Her heart stumbled into another unsteady rhythm as she wobbled slightly on her heels, desperate to stay with him. The crowd that had seemed such a comforting presence only minutes before now seemed to stand in her way. He pulled her close until her hand came to rest on his back. The supple movement of his lean muscles under her touch sending the heat of arousal flooding to her cheeks.

He swung her into an alcove behind a dark velvet curtain. She had no idea how he’d known it was there. Her nipples brushed against his chest, tightening into hard points as she moved past him. Until her back pressed against the wall in this small cocoon, the music’s beat muffled but still singing in her blood.

She watched the hard line of his lips open a little. There was a softness there now, a willingness to surrender to whatever this was. Her eyes moved up to his, her head fell back as she was pinned to the wall by the hunger in his gaze. This risk that she took didn’t magically disappear with the heat of his body against hers. There was anxiety snaking through her desire for him, but she recognised it for what it was – fear to take what she wanted – fear that she didn’t deserve it.

A silent but powerful “fuck you” rang out in her brain and heart, strong enough this time to push the little shitty doubts back into their box and turn the key.

Tonight, she was going to be reckless. Tonight, she was going to take what she wanted.

She watched her hand curl around the back of his neck. She felt an initial resistance, a final hesitation before he gave in to the pressure she exerted. His hand landed on the wall beside her head, the other came to rest in a burning rush of heat on her hip. Then his lips were on hers, soft and light. A break to pull back, to check. Always so cautious, before, she pulled him back in and took his mouth how she’d longed to for so long.

It was her hunger that drove her. The primal need for contact, to touch and be touched, to lick and taste, to feel that need returned. Her skin was electricity. Sparks of initial discomfort where he touched her starved body, morphed into heated sensation that rapidly became addictive. She couldn’t get close enough, kiss him hard enough.

She felt him say her name against her lips before he nudged her face to the side so he could move to devour her neck. Eyes closed, her knees nearly gave out when he hit a spot halfway down. Her fingers gripped his hair. She didn’t know if she wanted to push him away or hold him against her forever. Her nerve endings sang with agonising delight. It was too much and not enough. She wanted more but never wanted to leave this exact place or this exact moment.

Him.

His lips moved to the shell of her ear, his breath a warm caress.

“Tell me you want this.”

Turning her head, relishing the weight of him against her body, her lips rested against his ear.

“Yes.” There was no hesitation. No going back, not now that she had had this first touch.

“I’m taking you home.”

“Yes.” God, yes, please!

His breath warm on her skin.

“To my bed.”

Her tongue licked into the shell of his ear before she whispered, “Please.” His growl of approval vibrated through his hard chest into her heart that beat so strongly against his.

He drew back to look at her. “Natasha, you know I have to resign.”

She jerked a little as real-life slapped her around the face. It was a statement rather than a question. She’d hoped they could have this night before he brought it up. No matter how prepared she was, the thought of him no longer being her bodyguard hurt her in ways she didn’t know how to deal with. Regret attempted to seep into her mind, but she tried to hold it at bay.

“I know you do,” she replied, really hoping he didn’t notice the way her voice trembled, or that she was struggling to meet his eyes now. Fear was such a bitch. It took all your pleasure, your happiness, your certainty and turned it into cold, grey ash.

“Look at me, Tasha.” Fingers of one hand pushed into her hair, the other cupped her face as her reluctant gaze met his. “I’m not going anywhere. Do you understand? Nothing in this world could keep me from being by your side – if that’s where you want me to be.”

The honesty and pure emotion with which he said those words swept through her mind and body leaving only warmth and light in its wake.

It had taken three years, but she couldn’t regret any of the doubt or loneliness. Not when this was her reward. Not when she finally had the freedom to tell him everything. All the little things: how she loved that his eyes danced with laughter over a shared joke, even when he had to keep a straight face in public. Or the big things like how he always made her feel welcome in his space, like by being there she made his world better, brighter. And how that meant everything.

His eyes smiled into hers. “I need to make up for all the times we denied ourselves. I want to move aside your blouse and kiss your collarbone while you’re writing, wrap my arms around you whenever you look sad, eat breakfast together, drink decaf coffee before bed, hold you close as you fall asleep each night.” His thumb ran across her lips. “I want to watch you come undone for me, Tasha. I want to see what happens when we don’t have to hold back anymore.”

She shivered with anticipation, suddenly unable to wait another second.

“Take me home, Jack.”

His mouth tipped up in a smile of satisfaction that mirrored her own as he took her hand and pulled her out of the alcove towards the exit.

Sometimes being a little reckless paid off and sometimes it was good to kick out the old and welcome in the new. It was a feeling of hope that carried her so swiftly through the crowd this time. Their hands locked together, their lives entwined as they moved into the cold, starlit, winter night.

****

Happy holidays, everyone!

KTx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everyone Needs A Little Help Sometimes

For various reasons, writing has been hard for me this year. I finished my first manuscript early in the year and took a bit of a break before I started planning my second.

I’ve never been a very thorough planner. I’ve had vague outlines before, but I’ve always been a pantster at heart. For this second story I set about finding a good way to plan, because everything I’d tried before had fallen flat. My main aim: to write faster.

romancing the beat coverLike every aspiring writer,  I’ve read various blog posts and books about writing craft, but nothing really seemed to fit writing romance. Then during my Twitter time, I noticed that several published authors who I read or follow on Twitter kept recommending Gwen Hayes’ book, ‘Romancing the Beat’ – Story Structure for Writing Romance. Or as Gwen calls it ‘Writing Kissing Books‘.

To say that this book is a revelation is an understatement.

I bought the paperback because I like to highlight and write on stuff. I could’ve highlighted the entire book! Her writing style is funny and often irreverent. She’s a successful romance author in her own right, as well as an editor to others. So, as far as I’m concerned, she’s the person I wanted to be ‘talking’ to.

An extract from the blurb captures the uniqueness of writing romance: “Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around.”

A lightbulb went off in my head and suddenly everything made sense. Gwen then takes you through twenty romance beats, split into four easy to follow sections. I duly bought some index cards in four different colours –  they’re so pretty – and planned my second book.

Below is an example of the first phase of beats:

gwen c

PDF available on her website just click the image

It still wasn’t easy to plan my writing because I struggle to see the story very clearly until I’m writing it. I’m pretty sure that’s something that I’ve just got to accept about myself. However, I have now got a SOLID outline and I know where my MCs need to be emotionally at each beat in the story.

So as I’m writing, I can change and fiddle with the setting or characters in a scene without altering too much because I’m following the overall plan. It’s genius, really.

I thought that planning meant I couldn’t be flexible and go off on an interesting tangent if I wanted to, but actually, it gives me the freedom to do that, knowing that I’m not going to get lost.

I can’t recommend this book enough if you’re trying to write kissing books.

Happy writing,

KTx

Screw You, Inspirational Quotes!

 

wonder-woman-facepalm

“I can’t even… just don’t ask, ok?”

 

I have decided that this whole writing thing is designed to break you and the only people who survive in this game are the ones who say, “Fuck you, world! I won’t be beaten.”

You’ve got to be up for a bit of a fight, or a good scrap as they say round where I’m from.

My social media is full of inspirational quotes. I read them and at the time I think, ‘yeah, that’s so true’ or ‘I really need to absorb that thought and remember it next time things don’t go well.’

Right now, I just want to say to all those people who came up with those snappy little phrases that say so much, but give you absolutely no idea how to achieve them:

“Screw you!”

The hardest days are the days when you doubt what you’re writing (that’s my inspirational quote for you!)

When you believe in your story and how you’re telling it, rejection from outside sources is bearable, because this is a subjective game and you believe that someone out there will like what you write because it’s at least half decent, right? But on those darkest of dark days, when you don’t like your own words, it just feels like you’re typing them into a black hole and what’s the ever loving point in that?

Basically, the point of this rant is that I had a plan. That plan is no longer working for me, so I’m thinking about changing it. I’m also questioning the need to change it, because isn’t the point of having a plan, to stick to it?

Excuse me for a moment, while I just go and bang my head against a wall somewhere.

Ok, I’m back.

So…. it’s pretty clear that I’m having a crisis of confidence. I don’t know what the answers are at the moment. What I do know, is that I’m driving myself a little crazy vacillating between getting on with my planned writing project or changing course completely.

I’m giving myself today to weigh up the pros and cons, then a decision WILL be made.

Either way, I’m pretty sure I’m saying “Fuck you, world! I won’t be beaten.” (There’s another inspirational quote for you!)

Yey, me. *Half-hearted fist pump*

 

 

 

 

 

Hacking A Limb Off – Otherwise Known As Editing.

editing21

*Stands up*

“Hi, my name is KT and I have a real problem deleting my words. Thanks.”

*Sits down*

A few days ago I read a tweet from one of my favourite authors, Melissa Blue, saying that she’d deleted a whole scene while editing a draft. I nearly had a panic attack on her behalf.

I have come to realise that I have a serious problem… deleting big chunks of my words. I will do almost ANYTHING to not have to do it. My thought process goes something like this:

‘I spent bloody ages writing that. Blood, sweat and tears, a ton of chocolate, pounds of nuts and every other thing I nibble on when I’m writing will not have been nibbled in vain, Goddammit! I am NOT deleting it. No way. No.’

The editing process for me is more about adding and tightening things up than getting rid of much. I write quite slowly, editing as I go, so I don’t ever come to edit a draft that is a disaster.

So far I haven’t deleted a whole scene, I have only added them. I’m girding my loins for that day, I tell you.

Obviously, this is not the best approach to editing. I’m working on it. Slowly but surely I’m realising that they’re not wasted words and it wasn’t wasted time. They’re training, practise, experience.

I have thousands of words stored on my computer from unfinished stories, early short stories and flash fiction that will probably never see the light of day. Every single word was practise; every paragraph was me finding my style and learning how to do this thing called writing a novel.

More importantly, every word brought me closer to my first big goal. Finishing!

Hopefully the more I write, the faster I’ll get. So I foresee more mistakes or changes in future editing sessions on this second manuscript. This will mean more deleting I’m sure, so deep breathing may be necessary, but I’ll get through it…

I hope!

Thanks for reading,

Kx

 

O’Shea’s #6 – Kate

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the sixth one. Friends to lovers… I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

The early summer sun felt good on his back as Jay pushed through the doors to O’Shea’s. He’d worked up a thirst during the twenty-minute walk from his house. While he walked, he’d been running through some work issues, trying not to think too hard about who he was about to meet.

He wasn’t happy about the low-level nerves that had kept his stomach tight and his thumbnail short for the past week since she’d emailed him about meeting up.

It was just Kate.

They’d been good friends through university and they hadn’t seen each other for a few years but it would be fine. They’d have a catch up over a few drinks, maybe call for a curry on the way home.

It would be fine. Great even.

Images of her had been flickering through his mind all week, but along with images of her had been images of Dan. By the time Jay had laid eyes on her at uni, they’d already hooked up and they never unhooked. Together. Forever.

He’d been too late and the bittersweet taste of that had haunted him for months. Until he’d wrangled that ghost into submission. So he’d fully committed himself to trying as many different tastes as he could at uni. He’d been determined that she’d never know. If you can’t have the girl, then have some pride and all that shit.

Yeah, he’d managed that for the most part. Although, he was pretty sure he hadn’t always been one hundred percent successful. That irked him, but what could you do? Too many nights drinking too much booze and pining for your best friend’s girl. There were bound to be some slip ups, right?

So here he was, searching O’Shea’s for her tell-tale red hair, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest, hoping he didn’t look too pathetically eager to see her.

There!

He caught a brief glimpse of ruby red and like a heat-seeking missile started threading himself through the after work crowd. He saw her tuck a thick, glossy strand of hair behind her ear and remembered a hundred other times she’d done the same. Her little crescent moon tattoo appearing like magic on her neck, just below her ear – taunting him and testing him at the same time – his loyalty, his self-control – testing his self-respect.

He had never and would never blame her for his feelings. She’d never led him on, nor given him any idea that she’d felt even remotely the same. That wasn’t Kate. She was in love with Dan and she’d let the whole world see it.

Now he was close enough to see the sweep of her eye lashes and the freckles dotted over her cheek.

“K-t-.” The first attempt came out completely scrambled. He coughed and tried again. “Kate.”

She turned towards him and he watched her face light up. It was like the sun rising. His gaze swept over her, sparkling green eyes, rose coloured lips – the bottom one fuller than the top, soft pink in her cheeks. He saw them shape his name in a low whisper as she pushed her chair back to stand up.

She stepped into his arms. He felt the warmth of her body, smelled the wildflowers in her hair and closed his eyes. He needed to hold her. Just for a moment. Then he’d let her go. Well, he’d let her go in a minute or ten.

“Jay,” she laughed with her face pressed against his shoulder, “it’s so good to see you.”

“You too, Kate.”

Then he asked the question that had been drilling a hole in his chest for the past week.

“Where’s Dan?”

He saw a rainbow of emotions cross her face: pain, sadness, acceptance and held his breath.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

 

 

Musings On The Epilogue…

musings

Just moo-sing about the epilogue…

So I just finished a book by one of my favourite authors. I was in love with the heroine and hero, totally immersed in their story, and so glad that they’d worked things out for themselves and their relationship. During the last 10% I found out she was pregnant – a much wanted baby, awesome! So I reach the end and gleefully turn the page for the epilogue, wanting a little snap shot of them both with the baby…. only to find, no epilogue.

Wait! What?!

The romance epilogue is like finding you’ve still got a piece of your favourite chocolate left. You eat it as slowly as you can, savouring it because you know it’s nearly the end of a beautiful thing. The epilogue gives us a brief glimpse of the heroine and hero in the future, letting us know that they’re still together, living and loving their happily ever after.

When you don’t get an epilogue, it’s like someone nicked your chocolate *eye twitch*. There aren’t many books that don’t have one these days. I was starting to think they were pretty much a prerequisite. I’ve got one in mine.

I’m stating right now – it should be illegal not to have an epilogue!

Dear romance authors – please don’t steal my chocolate.

 

O’Shea’s #5 – Reading Guy

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the fifth one. A chance meeting… I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

O’Shea’s was just getting over the lunchtime rush when Sophie sat down. She chose a window seat, wanting the warmth of the Spring sun on her face.

Pulling out her e-reader, she tucked her phone in her bag and put her glasses on while doing a little internal jig of excitement because a long awaited book had zapped onto her device that morning.

She was just about to take a sip of her beer when she saw him.

She couldn’t help smiling a little at how engrossed he was in his book. Broad shoulders, hunched, thick tattooed forearms framing the book. His hands were huge. She could see a sprinkling of dark hair across the back of them, their knuckles rough and red, and wondered if he’d hit anyone recently, maybe in the ring. No, that wasn’t fair, she was making judgements due to his size and build. She saw the delicate way in which he turned the page and imagined them dancing over her skin.

Whoa!

She shuffled on her seat and switched on her e-reader, determined to stop perving over the poor guy who was just looking for some peaceful reading time. Maybe she needed to switch to a good thriller and give the romances a rest for a while.

She started to read, but found herself frowning and re-reading the same paragraph over and over.

Seriously?

Nudging her glasses back up, her eyes mysteriously found their way back to the Reading Guy.

She wondered what he did for a living? Whether all those muscles were the result of hard manual work or a gym membership. It shouldn’t matter, but it did. It was a far more appealing thought to think that he was sweating over cutting down a tree or something rather than lifting dumbbells. She rolled her eyes at her blatant objectification of him.

Thank God he couldn’t read her mind.

She wondered what it would be like to be with a guy like him, someone she could talk to about books; someone who appreciated some quiet time, alone, to read and… just be. The world was so hectic, so difficult to negotiate. What would it be like to not do it alone?

God! Really? You’re going there, now?

Pressing her nails into the flesh of her hand, she dragged her eyes back to her e-reader and tried to ignore the urge to keep looking at the Reading Guy. There was no way in hell she was ever going to do anything but look at him, so feeling sorry for herself wasn’t going to help at all.

Taking a deep breath, she turned back to her much anticipated novel and began to read. She found her rhythm, sipping her beer every now and then as she immersed herself in the fictional world she was reading.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been reading before she felt a tingling heat on the side of her face. She tucked a dark, curly lock of hair behind her ear and placed a cool hand over her flushed skin, a little frustrated that she’d become distracted during a key point in the scene she was reading.

Without thinking her eyes flashed to the Reading Guy to find his eyes on her. Her heart kind of stopped, then stuttered on.

No, maybe he was looking out of the window or someone was behind her. She casually looked over her shoulder while she pulled her long hair around her face.

Nope, no-one there.

Drawn back like opposing magnets, she slowly turned to face him.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx