After the kiss on WIP Wednesday

canal-path-at-nightIn a romance, so various mentors have told me, the sexual tension builds and builds until at last the couple kiss. And if that moment is not at the end of the story, when all the conflicts and plot twists are resolved, than the writer has a problem.

We’ve got them together. Now how do we pull them apart? For the tension to continue, their relationship can’t stay in calm waters. Our readers need to feel their longing. After the kiss comes the slap, or the fight, or the pull between loyalties, or some other interruption to their courtship.

This week, I have another excerpt from A Raging Madness. It comes when my couple’s first kiss, began almost accidentally but continued with enthusiasm, has been interrupted by external noises.

She dropped her hands from his shoulders, tried to cover her breast and pull down her hem, blushed furiously in the dark. “I am so sorry, Alex,” she said. Though whether she was sorry to stop or sorry that they had ever started, she had no idea.

After a moment, he pulled away, swinging his legs around so that he sat beside her on the bed.

“I am not that kind of woman,” she said, trying to sound convincing to herself when her whole body was screaming to complete what they had begun.

“Right.” He sounded strained. She could hear him sucking a breath in, then letting it slowly out through his teeth.

“I cannot apologise enough…” Ella began, but Alex interrupted, his voice as courteous as ever, though she could hear the strain in it.

“The fault is mine, Ella. I meant only to salute you for the gift of my future, and I forgot myself. I..” He stopped, and took another deep breath. “I cannot bring myself to apologise. For any impression of disrespect, yes, indeed. I beg your pardon with all my heart if I have offended. But for offending you, not for kissing you.” He stood, and moved away from the bed. She could not make out what he was doing, but he had not returned to his own bed on the other side of the cabin.

“It was everything I have dreamed this age,” he said, almost under his breath. This age? He had been dreaming of kissing her this age?

But she had to correct his misconception. “Each other,” she said.

Whatever he was doing—it sounded as if he was putting on his boots—he stopped. “Each other?”

“We kissed each other,” she explained.

The amusement was back when he replied. “We did, and very nicely too.”

“And we cannot do it again,” Ella warned, hoping her regret was not obvious.

“No, I suppose not. I am going to take a short walk, Ella. I won’t go far, but the cold will be— beneficial.”

He had opened the hatch and was leaving before she spoke again, giving him a gift of words in return for his.

“It was better than I dreamed.”

His only response was a catch in his step before he continued, but a few minutes later she could hear him begin to whistle as he walked the canal path.

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9 thoughts on “After the kiss on WIP Wednesday

    • I’m sure you’re right; I am relatively new to the world of romance fiction and am still bemused by the often-strict parameters surrounding the genre. But, then, I sometimes find the whole notion of genre to be headache-inducing and more of a marketing construct than useful categorization. I am a crotchety reader! But I keep returning to historical romance for authors like you, who are spinners of very fine tales, indeed.

      • Vivian, I’ve never met a ‘rule’ I didn’t want to break. 🙂 I like to think of it as being more akin to the rules of poetry. You can do whatever you wish, but if you don’t follow the normal pattern for a sonnet or a haiku, you have a different kind of poem.

        And I agree that genre is not a particularly useful concept. I think it is about book shelving more than anything else.

  1. Your comment about the writer’s problem, what with conflict to resolve. Sorry Vivian, but here’s another. In this case, the hero pulls away. He’s determined to leave her, and doesn’t want to start what has no future. Besides, well, there’s pregnancy to consider.

    From The Reluctant Wife, still in progress
    By the time he stopped, she lay panting beside him, confused and lost.
    He fell to his back, one arm over his eyes. “We should sleep. We have another long travel day tomorrow. They’ll want to leave early.”
    Clare shivered beside him, humiliation nibbling at her. She rolled away from him, curling into a fetal position, and he immediately puller her back.
    “Don’t. Don’t do that and please don’t regret what just happened—or didn’t.” He rose to his knees and pulled her up, keeping distance between them. “I’m leaving. Have you forgotten that? I can’t just have you and desert you.”
    Her face burned and she swallowed growing anger. “You offered me marriage twice.”
    “And you wisely refused. I didn’t expect to care for you. How can I do that and leave?”
    Her hand stung from the slap that snapped his head back.
    “You don’t care for anyone but yourself. You wanted a nanny for your children, not a wife,” she growled, rising to her feet and shaking her skirts out.
    How can you be so stupid Clare? So weak? Falling for another worthless lout in a uniform! She gulped down the shame of it. Falling for him? Oh God! I’m falling in love with Fred Wheatly.
    “Stay away from me, Mister Wheatly. Stay far away,” she hissed turning back toward the tent. And keep your damned kindness to yourself. I can’t bear it.
    He didn’t follow and, perversely, she hated him for that too.
    ###
    How do I always end up in the wrong? Fred’s resentment festered all the way to Cairo. He had behaved as a gentleman ought, and she treated him like the worst sort of rake. She wanted him, lying there with the stars above. She didn’t try to hide it—not that she could have. He had been the one to exercise restraint, to do the right thing. He gave her honesty and honor. She gave him a cold shoulder.
    When she flounced off toward the tent, he almost followed but knew that for a fool’s errand. She wouldn’t have let him close, and he couldn’t have stopped a second time if she had. He went to wake her the next morning prepared to make peace and found her dressed, packed, and sullen. When he offered her tea for breakfast she mumbled “no thank you,” cutting off her nose to spite her face. It served her right to do without, or would have if he hadn’t seen her fetching some herself.
    When he tried to help her into the sedan chair she ignored his offered hand, gripped both sides of the door and pulled herself up. When he brought water at the way stations she took it readily enough but didn’t meet his eyes. Meghal had to remind her that good manners required thanks. She gave it grudgingly.
    The damned woman acts like I tried to take advantage instead of behaving like a gentleman. As usual Wheatly, you do the decent thing and end up in the brig. I should have just taken what she offered. It isn’t as if she acted like some skittish virgin.
    He chewed on that thought for several miles; it disturbed him. She didn’t, did she? She wanted it as badly as I did. There are hidden depths to Clare Armbruster that’s for certain.
    He mulled that thought for several more miles before another question came to him. Is that what she’s so mad about? I got her aroused and she— That didn’t make much sense to him, but he wanted to test the theory. He would do too if it wouldn’t earn him another smack to the face. He stared at the sedan chair, the back of her head just visible inside, as if he might find an answer. Maybe I should just ask her. Would I get a sensible answer? I doubt it. If any man understands how women’s brains work that man is not I.

  2. I fear I may be in the minority, but I find the pulling-apart-after-the-first-kiss to be frequently tedious and annoying. Romance fiction has so many tropes! I assume many readers find this predictability to be comforting–I guess I don’t. I say, Let ’em have at it!

    • Vivian, there are other types of tension that can sustain the story, but the essence of a romance is the building relationship. If all difficulties have been resolved, there is. No story.

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