Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating love. For romance writers, well, we celebrate Valentine’s Day all year long! There are all levels of love and romance throughout our lives, from the peck on the cheek of the boy next door when we were six to first date kisses to good-night kisses to good-morning kisses. From sweet to sensual to hot and erotic. But I think the most magic of all are first kisses – and I don’t mean the six-year-old peck-on-the-cheek. (Sorry, Danny!) For some it’s the good-night-after-a-first-date – whether movie or beach party or prom.
Think back – it’s the moment when a line is crossed between pals…and romance. The beginning of something new and terrifying and wondrous – when everything changes and all things seem possible. Trembling, dry mouth, sweaty palms, pounding hearts…remember? I started thinking about it with my current WIP, entitled “Riever’s Heart.” My heroine Verdeen is a lot like me – so busy keeping up with the boys she forgot she was a girl. Until she met Aryk. Attraction mixed with trepidation – what to do with him? I wanted their first kiss to be that magical, terrifying mix – it was her first kiss, period. (I’m mean like that.)
Verdeen and I have a lot in common. I was a late-bloomer, an incorrigible tomboy who was the despair of my dean when I forgot about our formal dinner and went horseback riding in the mountains with my friends while our dates showed up at the dorm with corsages in hand. I was 15 and boys were WAY down on the radar below horses. I hung out with the cutest boy in school who was my friend because I was the only girl who wasn’t chasing after him. We were best friends – he liked me because I wasn’t a girl. I look back at that and laugh, because back then I didn’t think I was a girl, either!
How things change.
The “girl faerie” finally caught up with me when I was 18. Guess we all gotta fall sometime. She was a rowdy little thing, too – cross between Joan Jett and Lita Ford. I ran her ragged. She got even by throwing Jon Bon Jovi and Kip Winger across my radar screen. Yeah, I went through a long-haired-musician stage. Mom still has nightmares… So I hung out with guys way older than me, and met “Nick” at a friend’s birthday party. We got to know each other over the course of several days, and he invited me to go cycling in the park. Perfect spring day, clear and warm, lots of joggers with dogs. There are benches by the lake, but those were all taken, so we climbed to the top of the hill to watch the sunset on a big rock. Sounds romantic, but the rock made my butt go numb and the mosquitoes were terrible. (The things you don’t see in a Meg Ryan film…) The sun put red highlights in his hair, and turned everything golden. Funny how time seemed to stop when he leaned in. I forgot to breathe – no wonder you’re panting and breathless afterwards! Our noses bumped – another thing that never happens in a romance novel. I was shaking so hard I was afraid my teeth were chattering. And then his lips brushed mine and I forgot…everything. Including my own name. It was slow and sweet and…perfect. That shivery kind of perfect you wish could go on forever.
Below is a first-kiss excerpt from HEDDA’S SWORD, with another tomboy heroine. Her name is Maleta and she takes anti-dating to a whole new level – she’s an assassin nun. She has no reason to trust men…until she meets Cianan. Despite her best efforts, he gets through all her barriers, and slowly the warrior becomes the woman:
Maleta found herself recalling that first quick almost-kiss and wondered if she dared do it again afore she returned to her brother. She bit her lip, uncertain.
Cianan’s gaze heated as it dropped to her lips. “If you do not leave now, I may have to kiss you right here in front of Mother Kitta and everyone,” he murmured. “You cannot look at me like that, elingrena, and not have my eternal optimism take it as an invitation.”
She quivered at that lethal whiskey tone, at the warmth in his gaze. Her cheeks heated, and she knew her face flamed. He held her loose enough to release her if she wanted to pull back, but she didn’t. He looked so sure in the idea of them she found herself wanting to test her own courage. His eternal optimism and her newfound hope. “Mayhaps it is,” she whispered.
His head dipped, and her eyes closed in anticipation mingled with dread. The first touch of his lips stunned her; she squeaked. Then all she could do was feel. His lips caressed hers, slowly, warm and firm. A tingling spread from her lips downward, igniting a warm glow deep within. Hesitant and unsure, she kissed him back, the slightest of movements against his mouth. He kept the kiss light and gentle. His tenderness left her shaking, melting, and wanting more.
Cianan pulled back, and it took her a minute to gather the courage to open her eyes. The love in his eyes made her blush anew. If he let her go she swore she’d melt to the floor. She didn’t trust her voice to speak.
He smiled. “You are a wondrous woman, elingrena. Go to your brother.”
“C-can we save him?”
His gaze warmed. “One miracle at a time, elingrena. Now go.”
So here’s to celebrating Valentine’s Day and remembering first kisses. Feel free to comment with memories of your own. All commenters can enter a drawing for a free ebook of their choice from my “Guardians of Light” series from Samhain – Duality, Hedda’s Sword and Lycan Tides.
CONTEST: All comments are entered to win a free ebook from the Guardians of Light series – reader’s choice of Duality, Hedda’s Sword, or Lycan Tides. Come see what this critically-acclaimed, award-winning fantasy romance series is all about!