As a follow-up to my Wednesday blog post about writing competitions, here is a short story (or more accurately, a short scene) I wrote back in 2000 for a Mills & Boon competition.
It’s not exactly embarrassing but I think there is an obvious subtext that I wasn’t ready to be published yet (i.e. a young author asks a mentor for help, albeit in a Mills & Boon context).
Try not to laugh too much.
Genna Lawrence hadn’t known Daniel Connelly all that long and she had no doubt that was the reason she was sitting here with him now at a secluded corner table. The list in her pocket had four other names on it, all men she knew well, and yet she had immediately come to Daniel with this request.
Anticipating his response was virtually impossible. It was his reaction she was more concerned about though. The duration of their friendship may have been short but she wanted to continue it. And despite the fact that her request might drive a permanent wedge between them, something deep down was pushing her to ask it anyway.
“I need a mentor, Daniel,” Genna stated matter-of-factly. “I need a teacher. And I need that person to be someone I already know, someone I respect, someone who respects me. I want you to be my mentor, Daniel. I want you to be my teacher.”
His expression didn’t change one bit. He simply stared straight at her. Genna fought the urge to toy with her drink. Instead she drank some of the liquid down and tried not to remember that she and Daniel were sitting in the corner of the bar he owned. Before it hadn’t seemed to matter but right then she was far too aware that they were on his turf, literally and metaphorically.
Finally he spoke.
“Is this some sort of scheme for getting closer to me?” he asked without even a hint of arrogance. And silently Genna acknowledged that he had every right to ask.
“No, it’s nothing like that. It’s just a simple work-related issue. I’m one chapter away from a completed novel and I need your help to finish that one chapter.” If only it wasn’t a novel that required several erotic scenes, she added to herself.
He looked sceptical.
“It’s not about love, it’s not about romance, it’s not about any of those things. It’s just about the pure basic instincts, plain and simple.”
Suddenly Daniel smiled and rocked back in his chair, but it was not any sort of joy or gladness responsible for the expression. “If there are two things this isn’t, it’s plain and simple.”
“I can appreciate this must be difficult. And I know I’m asking a lot—”
“The problem isn’t that it’s difficult. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s not every day a beautiful woman comes into my bar and tells me she wants me to teach her everything there is to know about making love and afterwards there will be no strings attached.” Daniel looked straight into her eyes and Genna held his gaze, knowing if she couldn’t even do that then there was little chance of his agreeing to teach her. Even when she felt her skin reddening, she refused to allow herself to look down.
It was a strange request, one that most men would have agreed to in an instant. Meaningless but great sex – it was never really going to be making love – and the ability to walk away afterwards with little more than fond memories. Daniel’s hesitance proved to her that she had been right to approach him; she could never have trusted someone who agreed immediately. But having him reject the idea was not part of the scenario she had imagined. It wouldn’t be that hard for him to respond to her, would it? She was an attractive woman, she thought, and he had just called her beautiful…
She focused back on Daniel who was still regarding her intently but something had changed in his eyes. She waited to see if he would speak but he remained silent.
“Maybe this isn’t the best place to be having this conversation,” she ventured, the surroundings finally taking their toll.
“You’re right,” he agreed, pushing his chair back and standing abruptly. “Come on.” He took Genna’s hand and pulled her out of her chair. “Al,” he called, “watch the bar for me. I’m going upstairs for a moment.”
Al nodded his compliance and Daniel lead Genna behind the bar, out through a kitchen area and up a set of interior stairs, opening a door at the top of the last step and ushering her through. It was obviously his private apartment, conveniently located above the bar.
Initial impressions told her Daniel’s home was stylish, but before she could form further opinions, her arm was seized and used as leverage to spin her around. Suddenly Daniel’s body was against hers, but she didn’t feel any fear. She just looked into his eyes again, determined not to let him see her confusion. That strange new expression remained in his eyes as he stared into her face. And then his mouth descended.
His lips found hers, and pressed themselves so gently against her own, she wasn’t sure it could be called a kiss. But it deepened, and he moved against her and Genna found herself unable to stop from responding. She closed her eyes, glad to shut out the sight of his oddly intense gaze, and felt his lashes drift against her face. One hand came up to caress the line of her jaw and his thumb strayed to brush over her closed eyelids. As he shifted his head to kiss her more deeply, Genna wondered for a moment if this had anything to do with fulfilling her request.
Of course, it did, she told herself before logical thought abandoned her and feeling took control. As the kiss became more passionate, Daniel manoeuvred her back against the closed door they had just entered through and caught her face between his hands. Genna’s own hands pressed against his firm chest, and she feverishly sought the smooth skin beneath his shirt. She wrenched his shirt up, caressing his abdomen and sliding her fingers around to his back, clamping them between shoulder blades that seemed to quiver at her touch.
Daniel’s hands moved into her hair, holding her hostage to intentions Genna was unaware of, until a voice interrupted them and they sprung apart almost guiltily.
“Daniel, your accountant is here.” Genna hazily recognised the voice as Al, the bartender’s.
“I’ll be right down,” he answered without opening the door as Genna’s hands went unconsciously to her ruffled hair.
“What was that?” she felt compelled to ask, struggling with the implications of what had just happened, and his response didn’t settle her mind one bit.
“It may have had something to do with teaching you a lesson, just not the one I think you were hoping for.”