Monday, October 12, 2015

Come Undone

A couple of Romance Writer's of America conferences ago, based on what the agents accepting pitches were asking for, I realized I needed to write contemporary romance. The genre is more than just something that happens in current times. They tend toward small towns and quirky people where the setting and supporting cast is as important as the main players. I started out to write something with a Northern Exposure flavor set in small town California. It was a beach town and after my husband gave his two cents (realtor) that a beach town wouldn't be dwindling, it became a mountain town similar to Idyllwild. Then I got a really good response on my paranormal romantic thriller and put this story away to work on another thriller.

I've just unearthed it and begun rereading. It has been out of sight/mind for long enough that my writing was no longer familiar. Pardon my lack of humility, but I really enjoyed it. I felt her anxiety and laughed at her self-deprecating humor. I related to the book and wanted to read more. That just means I have to write it.

Thank you to Mary Wine for telling me to write about a costumer. She also inspired the Hobbit wedding.

To read the opening pages of my work in progress, Come Undone, click below.

Gloria wiggled her toes within silicone false feet, cringing at the tufts of dark hair covering the tops. Keeping her own body hair in order was a full time job—adding extra, on purpose, bordered on offensive. When it came to costumes she was one hundred percent committed, it was her job after all. That didn’t mean she had to like it.
All around her dancers wearing prosthetic feet stomped in rhythm, some peeping out from long hemlines, others attached to very real hairy legs in artfully worn breeches. Nasty, nasty Hobbitses.
For her first Middle Earth wedding, she had to congratulate herself. Noting the gaze of a bearded man with a pipe, she tugged her chemise higher over her cleavage. All in all, the costuming was part Renaissance Fair, part fantasy. The hardest thing was finding a banquet service in large scale to give the illusion that all these regular sized guests were hobbits. That and molding over fifty pairs of feet. Thank God for her sister Grace’s skill in make-up artistry.
Speaking of Grace...
“What is in those pipes? It doesn’t smell like tobacco.”
Gloria took a deep breath and had a sensory memory of her college apartment. “Skunky, isn’t it?”
“Maybe they have glaucoma.” Grace whispered ‘glaucoma’ the same way an old Jewish woman from a Neil Simon play whispered ‘cancer.’ Gloria coughed on her sip of ginger ale.
Eyes burning as soda seared her sinuses, she didn’t see the large man approaching until he had her engulfed in a hug. A bear hug.
“Gloria, we outdid ourselves, didn't we?” Steve glowed, the happiness in his eyes contagious to all around him.
“Congratulations, honey,” she hugged him back. “No job is too bizarre for Blazing Glory Costume Shop. I still can't believe you wanted a hobbit wedding.”
He lifted his mug of root bear in a salute to her. That manicured hand would be much better suited to the stem of signature martini, virgin of course. “I didn't, of course. But Lance did and I want whatever makes him happy.”
Lance, slighter than Steve but clearly the dominant partner, came forward bearing a mug of something not virgin.
“There's my favorite girl.” Lance leaned forward and gave her a peck on the cheek. “Look at those breasts. You'd be in trouble if I liked vaginas.”
Grace laughed, taking a swig from Lance’s tankard. “I told her the same thing when I saw her in that corset.”
“It's not a corset, it's a bodice. Now,” Gloria held up her hands like a shield, “stop looking at my boobs.”
Grace leaned closer, “Gloria, if we don't look, who will? And Gandalf over there doesn't count.”
“Maybe I don't want anyone to look.” Not for the first time, she missed the easy camaraderie that came with a buzz. This conversation would be much less awkward if she were wasted.
And it so wasn't worth it.
She took another sip of her ginger ale and looked down at her breasts. Yep, the bodice offered up her like a buffet. Now serving Gloria's double-Ds with a generous slathering of warm vanilla sugar lotion. Good times.
She pulled up her chemise again just as Lance pulled Steve down for a sloppy kiss.
People around them cheered. Even Grace managed to smile at the hairy man love happening before her. Gloria's eyes brimmed in a weird mixture of genuine happiness for them and total, complete self pity. She wondered if it bothered Steve to kiss a man with the taste of booze on his lips. Did it tempt him to have a drink? Would it tempt her? She had no idea given she hadn’t kissed anyone since her official sobriety date five years and three months ago.
One hand over her cleavage, she ducked under the arms of passing dancers and escaped to the periphery.
Steve may be her best friend and business partner but, as she scanned the sea of happiness before her, she didn't know any of his friends. Or maybe these were Lance's friends—judging by the booze consumption, yeah, Lance. Most of Steve's friends were from Alcoholics Anonymous and, based on their stage in sobriety, a drinking function wasn't always the best place to be.
Hell, even after all this time, Gloria still felt the void—especially when everyone was having such a great time and she, well, she wasn't. Couldn't. That was one thing she never came to terms with when she stopped drinking, the ability to simply have fun without the aid of alcohol. Looking around and absolutely refusing to feel sorry for herself, she wondered, for the gazillionth time, why she couldn't just be in the moment like other people.
Easy answer—she thought too much. Analyzed too much. It was a curse. Gift and a curse? No, just a curse that made it hard to discount alcohol into the 'never again' category. The result? She didn't go to parties, didn't sing Karaoke, didn't even date. Sex required a certain lack of inhibition that she couldn't muster sober. Five years, three months. Damn. So far breaking the seal of sobriety hadn't been worth it, but every so often, now, for instance, the temptation to just say screw it and have a good time with everyone else was almost more than she could handle.
The music got louder, the rhythm of the dancing pounded against her ear drums and made her dizzy. Even the open sky above seemed to crowd her, making her chest tight. She loosened the laces on her bodice, desperate to draw a deep breath and well aware of the full fledged freak out looming. She had to get out of here.
Turning blindly, she ran straight into a wall—a wall of hard chest belonging to a man who would never pass for a hobbit. He wasn't even in costume.
“I'm so sorry,” she muttered, too dizzy to look up and meet his eyes.
“Are you alright?” He gripped her shoulders, steadying her.
“Yes, I just have to go. Excuse me.” She twisted in his grip and his hand slid around to rest over her collar bone, pulling her back against him once more.
Without a word, he walked her toward the dressing rooms. Her heart thudded against his hand, the heat from his touch shocking her out of her panic attack.
He guided her to a bench within the costuming tent. “Sit down and put your head between your legs.”
Gloria sat and got treated to an eyeful of crotch. She looked up with a yelp, met his eyes, then looked back down not sure which was worse—crotch or eyes. Before her stood sex incarnate, complete with chiseled cheekbones and a dark gaze that blazed despite the dim light of the tent.  She leaned back just as the trousers of Mr. Sex’s expensive suit tented before her eyes. Damn.
“Hello?”  He asked, crouching before her and removing his penis from the proximity of her face.
She smiled, her chest still tight but with a tingly sensation instead of irrational claustrophobia. “Hello.” She met his gaze, her breath tight in her chest despite her growing grin. He was too good looking, like he didn’t belong among normal humans. She felt like she was doing something wrong by simply looking at him. “So,” she swallowed and stood, under the assumption that he would step back to give distance. He didn’t. “So, groom or groom?”
She would have backed up herself, but there was nowhere to go.
“Groom. Lance.” Mr. Sex smiled and Gloria’s gaze froze on his lips, full and soft stretched across his perfect teeth. If he kissed her would he have alcohol on his breath? Would she care? 
“Lance,” he continued, “works for,” he paused and his lips pressed into a thin line of an amused smile, “the same company.”
His breath held notes of mint and something citrus. “Shivela Casino? Are you an accountant too?” Gloria’s neck was starting to ache, looking up at him. He leaned closer and she caught her breath. Was it still called claustrophobia when it felt like there wasn’t enough space to breath but you weren’t actually afraid?
He didn’t answer. A sliver of bronzed skin at his neck peaked out where a tie used to be. There was something very sexy about the severity of his thee piece suit without the tie, as if the hint of chest hair was something illicit. She wanted to lean forward and kiss him there.

She bit her lip, looking up, almost worried he would read her mind. It was all she could do to gasp a tight breath before his lips covered hers and thought ceased to exist. 


Stacy McKitrick said...

Nothing to click, as you apparently posted it all there. Right?

Anyway, nice read. Drew me right in.

Erin Kane Spock said...

That's weird, Stacy. I see a "click to read more" link, but that's when I come into the blog as a whole. Maybe if you come directly to the post it shows the whole thing instead of breaking it up (which I did in order not to be overwhelming).
Thank you for the feedback. :)

Susan Kane said...

Good times, indeed.

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