Welcome to Romance

I am a contemporary romance writer. I published my first novel, Take 2, in Dec 2012. I chat about relationships and love. I'm no expert! I'd love your feedback!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Unromantic Romance Writer

I know, you're asking,"WHAT?"

I'm really not a romantic. Never have been. But I love writing and reading romance. Maybe it's my lack of romance that attracts me to it. The sweet love stories, the torrid, stormy romances, the historical highlander-invades-and-kidnaps tales - I love them! Don't ask me to recite a gushy romantic comment. I don't have any in my vocabulary. If they are said to me I have to hide the eye-rolling terse comment that tries to escape my thoughts. I know, its sad.

So, now you're wondering, "How does she write romance then?" Well, I watch everyday life. I listen to other people.  I read a lot! Yes, my friends can vouch for me  - I steal their lines, their stories, their comments. I have many romantic friends who tell me their tales, in confidence of course, and, yes, I use their love, pain and mushy stories. No one is safe!

I can't help it! They are my muse. Oh, I have the voice in my head that comes up with a bit of gooeyness every now and then, but my friends are my real motivation.  I enjoy reading and, especially, writing romance. The ideas flow but to add that special something - the perfect quote, a great setting, that special description of the perfect kiss - my friends are great contributors.

So, as you read my blogs and, hopefully someday, my books, you'll know I had a ton of help in writing them.  Oh, I could never disclose who gave me that perfect line or that warm and fuzzy date.  That would be just wrong on so many levels. Also, that friend would stop sharing their feelings with me. Just enjoy the fact that you know the story is a collaboration of great friendships coming together to share their deepest secrets.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is There an Answer to Why?

I had a girlfriend tell me recently that she prays to God and asks him why certain things are happening to her and her family and she's receives no answer.  All she wants to know is why?

I think the answer is trust. Trust in God and his wisdom to take care of us, despite a rough road.  I know this isn't the typical romance blog I normally write but it is about romance, our romance with the Father. Do we love him and trust him enough through the hard times to stay with him during the good times? If we don't, can we ever truly trust a human being? I mean, reality here, we know all humans are imperfect and we can all have good intentions, but we make mistakes.  Sometimes whoopers! God, on the other hand, is perfect, good and loving. He never promised if we followed him life would be a dream. On the contrary, he said it would be a hard, bumpy road, but worth the ride.

So, back to the question, why? Maybe the answer isn't for us. Maybe how we handle the bumpy road will make us an example to someone else, helping them along by seeing our strength.  Maybe gaining strength through the adversity is what we are to learn. Maybe he just wants us to trust him and that's it.

Are you putting your trust in the right place?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Time For Patience

Patience...Not something we enjoy having.  In our got-to-have-it-now society its definitely not encouraged.  I was even told on multiple occasion not to pray for it. Reason being, the way to gain patience is to practice patience.  Who wants to do that?

Whether its in looking for a job, looking for a new home or car, working on a relationship or raising children, patience has a roll. How do you handle patience?

Patience can be your friend or your foe.  Its so hard not to rush into things.  Impatience is so much more popular.  The struggle to wait on something, something that can be great, is difficult for most. Friends, family and colleagues will suggest you "do it now", "hurry before you change your mind", "you deserve it now".  But do we really need anything at this very moment?  Aren't some things better when you have to wait on them a bit? Don't we learn to value relationships we have to cultivate? Don't we appreciate something if we wait until we can really afford it?

When we have children we are constantly telling them they will have to wait.  Why aren't we taking our own advice? Sometimes, once we've waited a bit, we decide the thing we thought we really wanted isn't so important anymore - saving us the time and money we would have wasted otherwise.  And, sometimes, we find out having to wait on something or someone has made it more worthwhile.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Outsider

Were you ever the outsider in high school? You know, the one no one really noticed? Oh, you had friends, even close ones, but you never really fit in.

You know who I'm talking about, the gal who had the crush on the quarterback but could never tell him.  Instead she shared her History notes, let him cheat off her Spanish test and passed the notes he sent to the head cheerleader.  But she had the hugest crush. She knew he would never like her back but she still couldn't help crushing.

Look around you.  These outsiders are still around. Crushing on people they know will never reciprocate their feelings. You know these people. Maybe you're one, maybe you have someone around you, crushing on you. How do you treat them? Have you embraced them as a friend or do you abuse their over-eagerness to please you?

Why am I writing about these outsiders, you're asking? To remind us they have feelings too. You may never date this person but acknowledge they are are important. If you think back they have probably been a better friend to you than whomever you are calling your best friend. Also, to remind us that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  I know it cliche, but very true.  Sometimes, when you take the time to really get to know them, you find there is more to them than meets the eye.

My favorite outsider reference is the movie "Princess Diaries".  The story of a clumsy, plain girl - an outsider - who becomes a princess of a country.  Come to find out, she has on outsider following her - a cute boy - who she comes to realize is a great guy.  My only complaint it she has to be remodeled physically.  Too bad. Would have been a better story if they had accepted her as she was. The princess was still inside.

My point being, look around you. If you have an outsider crushing on you, realize there is more, so much more, to them.  If you're an outsider, find someone to be your friend who'll accept you for who you are.  We all have a prince/princess waiting to get out!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Into the Darkness

There's no light. No stars, no headlights, no glow from storefronts. Just darkness. Black, inky gloom swallowing up everything in its midst. No sound, no breeze. I walk along and not even my footsteps echo. I'm alone.

A small twinkle flashes in the distance. The air is thick, heavy.  My breathing is labored but I trudge on. Something grabs my arm. It pulls me back. The darkness engulfs me, weighs on me like lead. I panic, fighting for air, escape. I scream a silent scream. There's no one to hear it. I struggle but the bonds only tighten. The small light twinkles teasingly at me. It taunts me.

My struggle becomes frantic. Fear of never escaping feels like a reality. The darkness presses in. The light winks at me. I'm exhausted and my struggles lessen. The grip of gloom loosens. I wiggle free of the bonds. Once again steps are made in the direction of the flash. Like sloshing through muddy water, thick with sludge, I drag on. Desperation forcing me to continue.

After all energy is spent, my last breath is used to touch the light. Warmth, brightness.  My feet are suddenly light. My breaths are even and full. A bird chirps, a dog barks.  I feel a breeze on my face. My spirit is lifted and my soul is light. A rainbow kisses the sky.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Can a Realist Become a Romantic

If the knight in shining armor doesn't exist, what does? Do the moonlit walks and candlelit dinners? Or are those just in the movies? Do men really whisper sweet nothings or is that just in books? Is there really sexual tension or do most couples jump into a physical relationship so quickly that there is no tension?

Think about how sexual relationships on television have changed. Remember the days when couples slept in separate beds? Those days are gone and so has our imagination.  Even during prime time scenes are very explicit.  So, how does that fit into our view of romance?

For realists, romance is dead.  We all have busy lives and are lucky to be able to sit down to have dinner, much less light candles and have a glass of wine.  A quickie is the norm. Romance is for the big screen and novels; a fantasy best left to the imagination.

For romantics, its alive and well.  The slightest touch or softest breath can stir up desire. A look or smile can cause the heart to skip a beat.  Intimacy starts with holding hands and a slight kiss.  Sexual tension is meant to build. Time and place are considered just as important as the act itself.

Which category do you fit in? Realist? Romantic? Is a romance novel or a movie an aphrodisiac? Is there time for romance in the 21st century? Can you be converted?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Perfect Chapter 5

Chapter 5
The flight from Dallas to New York was never ending. Alex told Mattie she just had to get away but didn’t tell her to where or with whom.  Kathleen, her confidant at work, was the only one who knew her true destination.  Alex was looking forward to the trip until she boarded the plane, then she began to feel foolish.  She knew Derek paid for the flight but what was she expecting from this? A mind-numbing good time, an escape from reality? Sure! But was that realistic? Shouldn’t she just try, like other widows, to deal with the loss and move on?  Was it fair for her to have this extra time to live in a dream?  Was she just postponing the inevitable? 
Once she disembarked at JFK and she saw Derek waiting for her at the end of the ramp she didn’t care if she was foolish.  He made her feel giddy, something she hadn’t felt in years. He washed reality away and let her live in the moment; a moment defined by them, not reality. She didn’t care what anyone thought and she banished the dread she had earlier. She was going to enjoy this trip!
Derek had on a baseball cap and sunglasses trying to blend in the crowd.  As he and Alex travelled through the airport a few cameras flashed in her peripheral vision.  Alex tried not to look around. Derek had arranged for them to be ushered onto the awaiting flight to be out of the crowds. He sat next to the window to avoid being seen.   
The flight to London was 8 hours.  Two hours into the the trip, once her and Derek had caught up with what each other had done over the last four years, the reality of why she was taking this trip hit her.  Alex, sitting in her plush first class seating, began to cry.  She just couldn’t control it.  She had no real explanation of it, it just happened.  Derek didn’t try to stop it.  He seemed to know what was going on inside her and just held her.  He didn’t ask any questions, just let her get it out.  
Once the tears dried up Alex apologized to Derek,“I’m sorry.  I don’t know what came over me.”
“Its ok.  I’m sure this isn’t the last of it.  You’ve had a rough time.  I’m here for you, what ever you need.  A shoulder, tissue, hug....never apologize.  I didn’t expect this to be a bunch of fun and laughter.  I thought you might need someone to just lean on.” Derek’s eyes were full of understanding and warmth.  
Alex was very glad she took this trip.  At home she feigned cheerfulness to keep everyone from saying “I’m sorry” all the time.  That drove her the craziest!  Why were they sorry?  They weren’t the ones driving the car that hit them! No, the drunk woman was in jail.  Probably not long enough and eventually she would be out again to kill someone else. Alex began to feel she could show whatever emotion gripped her without guilt. Derek made her feel at ease.  
Once in London they headed for Derek’s home on the north side in the borough of Barnett.  The house was a brick two-story.  It was warm and inviting, with rich burgundy and browns decorating every room; definitely masculine with no feminine touches.  It was tasteful and handsome. Any  rumors of women living with Derek were dispelled by his decor.  They stayed there two days while Alex recovered from jet lag.  The temperature in London was chilly but sunny most of the time and Alex relaxed in Derek’s garden enjoying the blooming flowers. Derek was very attentive and catered to Alex as she gathered her strength for their upcoming travels.
On the highway to Glasgow, Derek’s favorite place in Scotland, Alex enjoyed the beautiful countryside.  After being in Texas where the flora can go from grass to desert within a hundred miles, seeing continuous fields and mountains lush with green vegetation was a pleasant surprise.  The color was a bright contrast to the dreary sky. It was overcast and occasionally drizzled lightly.  The air was cool and crisp.      
Once in Glasgow they spent hours walking the streets as Derek showed Alex some of his favorite sights.  He was excited to show her his old stomping grounds. That first afternoon they walked along Buchanan Street looking at the Edwardian architecture housing modern art galleries and shops and spent time at the Lighthouse on Mitchell Street, walking up the 135 steps to view the city from the top.  They passed back through Buchanan Street at night, the blue streets lights illuminating the shop fronts.  Alex had never been out of North America and marveled at the centuries old building designs. 
The next afternoon they strolled to Sauchiehall Street to relax at the Willow Tea Room.  Alex was in awe. The outside was white and black, a  modern design, especially compared to the Victorian style buildings surrounding it.  They were shown to a room in the back, a bit darker than the front, with a cozy fireplace.  Old photos of Charles Mackintosh, the building designer, and Kate Cranston, the original owner, lined the walls giving the place a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  They enjoyed tea and talked about actors Derek had worked with.  
Sauchiehall Street was a busy place.  There was a large concert hall and shops from end to end.  At one corner Derek and Alex passed a group of bagpipe players in kelts performing traditional Scottish music.  In an area farther down a street band with a drummer, two guitar players and a saxophonist were playing a more modern tune.  There was something for everyone.  
Every place they went Alex experienced something new; a sight, a smell, a taste.  Even the weather was unique to her; all four seasons could be experienced in one day.  Scotland was irresistible in every way.  Derek had become irresistible too.  Every look and touch from him made her senses tingle.  
Their room in the Alamo Guest House was spacious and cozy, a Victorian bed and breakfast. The large fireplace was warm and inviting.  They had requested one of the suites with an extra large tub for two.  The owners made them feel welcome and part of their family.  Even their cat was charming.  The hospitality was unlike anything Alex had experienced.  She wasn’t well travelled and her only experience with hotels was Motel 6 on the rare occasion Josh took her anywhere.   
The Alamo was on the west end of Glasgow, in the arts district, overlooking the Kelvingrove Park.  The view was magnificent. The park was lush with nature, plants and wildlife.  After dinner Derek and Alex strolled through the tranquil park.  They walked past victorian statues, the Kelvin River and the center fountain, dedicated to Robert Stewart who brought fresh water to Glasgow many years ago.
The instant they arrived in Glasgow all the feelings of gloom Alex had been harboring melted away.  In the mornings she woke blissful and at peace. Derek’s slightest touch caused her to burn with desire.  Every fiber of her being was consumed by him every morning and night.  She was never too tired and he was always willing to oblige. Each climax stronger than the last, each feeling as though their last breath lay in the other’s chest. Their passion for one another’s touch grew with each passing day.  Derek had never felt such a connection to anyone.  Alex was lost in her desire. 
After exploring Glasgow’s art galleries from the west to the south side, the couple ventured to Edinburgh.  It was only a one hour drive through rich farmland and rolling hills.  They passed the M8 Church in Salsburg, Kirk of Schott’s Parish Church, built in 1450.  It was repaired and rededicated in 2007 and a very popular landmark in Scotland.  The countryside along their route was lush and bursting with life.  Alex never realized how much she had been missing, not just from never traveling but in her everyday existence.  She now had a fire in her, as if opening her eyes for the first time. 
Derek reveled in watching Alex’s reactions.  Very few people he met enjoyed the things he did.  He had a couple friends he’d known for years that loved to travel, see amazing things, live on the edge, but none of them were women.  Alex was open to anything.  She saw great beauty in the smallest parts of nature as well as marveled at the grandeur sights.   
Once in Edinburgh the Ceilidh Festival would be one of Alex’s favorite memories, filled with Celtic culture from bagpipes to dancing.  The festival boasted of its homegrown talent.  The music and dance displayed traditional as well as more modern forms. There were choirs and bands with open sessions that visitors could join.  There was poetry reading and music dedicated to Robert Burns, the beloved national poet of Scotland.   Derek took pleasure in sharing his culture with Alex.  She danced to the music, tasted haggis and listened intently to the storytellers with their tales of Celtic fairies and folklore.  Derek tried to interpret for her but she shushed him, enjoying the accents when she couldn’t understand the words. She was like a child on her first outing. Until they were alone. 
Derek was amazed at their voraciousness. He found a new thrill each time they came together and their passion only seemed to grow.  They had to be careful on their outings into the city, for if they touched each other their lust took over. On their second day in Edinburgh, Derek had taken Alex to  Prince Street Gardens.  They had a lovely view of the park and Edinburgh Castle from their room at the Caledonia Hotel. As they walked through the park, admiring the  the statues and scenery, they stopped at the Ross Bandstand, admiring the view of Edinburg Castle.  Derek stood behind Alex, his arms around her waist, telling her some of Edinburgh history.   She leaned back on him as his breath warmed her neck.  As he spoke his voice became low and hoarse, his body heating up next to hers, his hands began to wander over her, slowly, steadily. Derek backed up to lean on something solid to keep his balance. Before they realized what they were doing they were in a grove of trees, groping each other like teens. 
Derek and Alex realized then that they needed to be careful in public.  With paparazzi always on the prowl all they needed was to be arrested in Scotland for lewd behavior.  The tabloids would have a field day. They limited their physical contact to holding hands and an arm over her shoulder or around her waist.  Anything more and they just couldn’t control themselves.
Derek was recognized in Scotland even more so than in the States.  He was putting Scotland back on the map as a major tourist attraction, visitors hoping to experience a “Derek Dunbar” type Scotsman. The paparazzi were not as forward as in the US, thankfully.  They stayed at a distance but cameras were clicking around them periodically throughout their visit. Derek hoped unsavory press would not follow Alex home. 
Derek took Alex to East Lothian to see the rolling countryside, golden beaches and the cliffs along the shore.  They stopped at Tantallon Castle on the Firth of Forth.  It’s castle lay in ruins but they were able to climb the staircase and view the breathtaking coastline. They could see Bass Rock Island, made of volcanic rock, and its lighthouse.  The island was uninhabited but for the gannets that nested there.  Alex watched their white and black bodies, pointed wings and long bills sore in the air and dive into the water where they hunted for prey.   
After Edinburgh it was back to London and a flight to reality.  They spent one night, their last night, in Derek’s house in London.  Their passion was at its peak, their lust uncontrollable.  In the afterglow, Alex felt Derek’s touch like fingerprints at a crime scene, lingering on her body.  She hoped to still have that feeling after she returned home.  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Perfect Chapter 4

Chapter 4
Alex’s plane left New York at 11am.  Derek had left with the early dawn.  He’d given her a feathery kiss and disappeared. She had barely felt him go. 
As Alex walked through the airport it was as though New York had just been a dream.  Alex went back to her life, to her routine; New York was a faint memory.  Alex never told anyone about her experience with Derek Dunbar.
One year later, April 16th, Alex received a text message:
How’s my fantasy woman?
Alex didn’t know the number but she knew it had to be Derek.  She’d never mentioned anything about fantasies with anyone but Derek. She had thought about that night with him often but figured she would never hear from him again. She answered back:
Doing ok my fantasy man
Alex saved the number in her phone - Derek D.
The next year, April 16, Alex received another text: 
How’s my fantasy woman?
She answered back:
Ok, how’s my fantasy man?
Alex received a response back:
Busy as shit!
Alex knew it was definitely Derek.
The following year Alex received the same text.  She responded the same and the response back was: 
Busy as shit and I’m bloody tired!
In February of the next year tragedy struck Alex’s family.  Josh and Alex were on their way home from a friend’s and a car going the wrong way on the tollway hit them head on.  The driver was drunk driving the wrong way on the access road and entered the tollway through and exit ramp. The accident was horrific.  The cars were mangled; the drunk driver dead on impact. Josh died on the way to the hospital. Alex had a severe concussion, broken ribs from the seat belt, burns on her arms from the airbag and was in a comma.  The police used their cell phones to find relatives’ numbers.  
By the next morning family had gathered at the doors of the ICU to check on Alex. She still had not regained consciousness and the doctors were not sure if she would.  The rest of her injuries were cuts and bruises, all minor.  Waiting for Alex to awaken was what the doctor’s worried about the most. They were not sure what damage had been done. 
On the second day in ICU a stranger arrived at Alex’s bedside.  Alex and the stranger were alone in her room.  He wore a baseball cap, sunglasses and baggy clothes.  Only the nurses saw him enter and leave two hours later.  No one paid attention to him. The next day he was in the room when Alex finally awoke.  
Things were blurry and when they came into focus Alex was confused.  It took a minute for her to realize where she was.  She looked around and saw Derek at her bedside.  She thought she was hallucinating. 
“Derek?” came out as a whisper. 
Derek looked up. “Alex! You’re awake!”
Alex saw the concern on his face.  She must look a sight! 
“What happened?”  Alex was trying to remember the last few days.  Something about a dinner party....
“You were in a car wreck,” Derek’s look was despondent.
Derek shook his head. Not meeting her eyes he said in a whisper, “He didn’t make it”.  Derek could tell the news wasn’t registering with Alex.
 Alex saw tears in Derek’s eyes.  He was sad for her.  Alex was confused.
“Derek, why are you here?” 
“The police went through your phone and called everyone with a D for a last name looking for relatives.  When I got the call I told them I was your cousin so I could find out what happened.  When they said you were in a coma I came right away.  You’re my fantasy woman.  I had to come.” 
It was too much for Alex to take in.  She plunged back into unconsciousness. 
The next morning Alex was back in reality, Mattie sitting at her bedside. Mattie barely spoke, just sat holding her hand. She remembered seeing Derek but since no one mentioned him she thought she might have dreamt it. Other relatives wandered in and out, discussing plans for Josh’s funeral.  Alex let her mother-in-law and Josh’s brother take care of the arrangements.  She didn’t want deal with any of it. 
Within a week Alex was in a regular room.  The doctor told her she would probably go home in a couple of days.  Each day Derek came to visit, dressed inconspicuously, able to blend in, morning and evening.  He sat at her bedside, cheering her up with his quirky humor.  As friends came in and out of her room none ran into Derek.  Alex never mentioned to anyone he was there, afraid he would disappear.  He was her only distraction from reality, a reality she didn’t want to be in. 
The day before her release from the hospital two of Alex’s co-workers came to visit as Derek was leaving.  Kathleen knew about the text messages he had sent to Alex. Kathleen had been the only one Alex had finally confided in the year before.  
“Was that...?” Kathleen’s eyes were wide.  Monica, too busy staring at the male nurse in the lobby, had not even noticed the guy leaving Alex’s room.
Alex made a face at Kathleen, the “shhh, don’t say anything” look.  Kathleen changed the subject, discussing work and what Alex had missed.   It was a secret between them. 
The next afternoon Alex was released from the hospital.  Her family members were all there to help her home.  Alex noticed Derek had not come by and wondered if she’d hear from him again.  He had been such a comfort to her. 
Late that evening she received a text:
Glad you were released.  Didn’t want to be in the way.  I’ll keep in touch.
Alex was pleased he thought of her and returned the text:
You made me feel so much better
A few days later was Josh’s funeral.  His favorite music played and wonderful things were said about him. People Alex didn’t even know hugged her and shook her hand. It was surreal.  Alex couldn’t believe she was alone.  She hadn’t really been alone in twenty-four years. Over half her life she’d been married.  Even with the long hours Josh worked she knew she was never alone.  Mattie was rarely home and had been mostly moved out for the last couple of years, coming home to do laundry or have an occasional meal.  The house was very quiet.
Between the hospital stay and the funeral, Alex had missed three weeks of work.  She was ready to return to her routine.  Or so she thought.  The first day back was overwhelming and Alex had a hard time keeping up.  She knew it would take her a couple of days to get back in the swing of things. Coming home in the evenings was toughest.  So quiet, so deserted.  Mattie tried coming by often but it didn’t help. 
Derek sent texts every couple of days.  Those were Alex’s bright spots. Derek called at the end of her first week back to work. 
“Hey there! How’s my fantasy woman?” Derek’s voice was light and cheery.  He sounded so relaxed. Hearing his voice warmed her from head to toe.  She could hardly believe he seemed to really care about her.
“Ok, I guess.  It’s been a rough week.” Alex didn’t mean to sound so pathetic but she had tried so hard to be up and cheerful all week.  Now she was crashing and Derek seemed to understand. His tone invited her to let go, be herself. 
“Maybe you shouldn’t have gone back to work so soon?”  Derek’s concern was welcomed.
“Sitting around the house is worse!” Alex didn’t know what she should be feeling.  This was all new ground for her.  She tried acting like nothing happened but by the end of the day she was so emotionally exhausted.  She’d try to go to sleep but only tossed and turned.  Her dreams were flashes of her past with Josh - arguing, yelling, no pleasant moments. The week had been grueling. 
“What about getting away for awhile?” Derek asked.  
Alex didn’t know where she would go but the thought was inviting.
“Where would I go?  I don’t really want to be alone.”  Alex like the idea of getting away from everyone but the thought of being alone in a new place didn’t sound any better than being home alone.
“Well, Scotland is beautiful this time of year.  I have some free time coming up.  We could spend a couple weeks seeing the countryside.  Scotland is very therapeutic.” 
Derek wanted to take her away for awhile. Was he serious?  The thought was irresistible.  She wanted to go. Would work give her more time off? She had to try.  
“Really?  You want me to go with you? I don’t know if work would give me more time off.” Alex loved the idea.
Alex told her boss she needed more time away and they gladly gave her time off.  Derek made the travel arrangements.  They would meet up in New York and travel together from there.

Dating After 40

I have been asked a few times recently if I thought dating later in life was any different that in our teens/twenty-somethings? I asked a few friends and this is what I came up with.

Basically, even though we are older, dating is the same.  The major difference is baggage. The baggage each person brings to a new relationship.

Baggage, you ask? What about being more upfront with our intentions? What about honestly and less fear at stating true desires? Ok, I'll give you that. Some are experiencing that, however, its our baggage that has brought us to that point. The totes, duffle bags and trunks from past relationships.

By baggage I mean the hurt feelings, guilt and poor self-image. The trunks full of Dickens' ghosts from Christmas' past.  I've seen new relationships start and end quickly due to misunderstandings brought on by a memory from a bad past. I've seen relationships stall due to a fear that they will go bad. I've seen some sabotaged a great friendship because of wrong expectations. That trunk that is dragged from relationship to relationship, only opened to add more to it, not clean it out.

How is a relationship to blossom if baggage is in the way? Let's go back to honesty.  Sharing your baggage with close trusted friends is a start. Having them help you work through your fears.  Deciding from the start that a repeat of the past relationship isn't an option.  Patience on the part of both parties is the only way a relationship can flourish.  I think we all agree that life is short and we shouldn't let great people slip though our fingers.  How we can keep them close, despite our baggage, is the challenge.  Losing our fear of opening those trunks and letting the ghosts out is the greatest challenge but provides the greatest reward.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Perfect Chapter 3

Chapter 3
Derek’s career had moved fast. He had loved acting as a child but when it was time for college the performing arts was out of the question.  It wasn’t the kind of career a gentleman chose.  Besides, what opportunities were there in Scotland? None. His mother,Gillian, a traditional proud Scot, insisted he pick a respectable profession, so Derek chose law.  He made honor roll in high school and excelled at debate, becoming a solicitor seemed the perfect choice. 
Gillian wasn’t well-to-do; average middle class better described her upbringing.  Her father had been a welder and her mother a housewife.  Gillian had married young to a fisherman, had three children and then was left to care for them on her own.  She had been a good cook and worked in restaurants as a chef while Derek, his older brother Carl and his older sister Fiona were growing up.  Once the children had all left the nest Gillian opened a bakery of her own in Inverness in the Highlands.  She was self-sufficient and enjoyed her new found freedom. 
Law school didn’t agree with Derek, or one might say he didn’t agree with Law school.  He didn’t agree with the early hours, endless chapters of homework or lugging around the heavy books.  But Derek loved his mother and decided he would make her proud.  He worked hard and was unparalleled in his studies.  He had honors and was president of the Law Society.  At first glance you couldn’t tell Derek’s passion wasn’t law.  
Upon closer inspection it was apparent that Derek would not become a lawyer.  Many nights were spent at the local pub, drinking and singing with the band and barely getting home before dawn. Derek enjoyed liquor in any form. Along with the liquor were the many women in his life.  He was with no one in particular, the more variety the better.  The women knew there were others and they didn’t care.  To be on Derek’s arm, even just for one night was a privilege in its self. He was popular, dashing and so irresistible. He oozed charm and finesse; he had a gift for saying the right thing and sounding like he meant it.  It was powerful stuff and Derek knew how to use it.
His last year of school Derek finally came to the realization that law was not going to fulfill him.  All the women were not going to fill the void.  The most difficult task was to tell his mother. What would he say and how would she react? She had always been so supportive of Derek as he grew up.  She really loved telling her friends her son was going to be a lawyer.  Worse still was to tell her what career he really wanted...acting.  He had to have a plan. 
Derek decided after graduation and his internship he would give Gillian the bad news.  Fate had a plan of her own.  Derek headed to London to his internship to find the office abandoned.  The company had had a run in with the police and decided to close its doors and sneak out of town.  Derek saw this as a great way to end his law career.  The celebration ended two weeks later in an alley between a dumpster and an abandoned crate.  Derek couldn’t remember how he got there or who he had been with.  He’d lost his wallet, his keys and his underwear.  His head felt like it had cracked opened and his brains would spill onto the pavement.  He knew he couldn’t go home like this.  So Derek called a friend.
Craig had been Derek’s buddy since childhood.  Tall, lanky and with a gift of gab, Craig was very creative. His parents were artists and encouraged him to pursue screenwriting. They’d grown up together and had few secrets from each other.  Craig had moved to London just after high school.  His dream had been to be a playwright.  Craig had acted in plays with Derek in grammar school and had written plays for Derek in high school.  Craig’s parents had been products of the 60’s and felt his “free spirit” needed to soar. He worked hard in London trying to sell his plays to the theater but he was an unknown and no one was interested.  So Craig worked backstage at the playhouse part time and at the local TV station the rest of the time.  At the theater Craig worked on sets and lighting. At the TV station he learned how to use the cameras and  teleprompter.  In his spare time, what little there was, Craig still wrote plays. 
Craig had a small flat but willingly shared it with Derek while he figured out his next move.  Derek’s first step was to visit the playhouse.  The producer quietly listened to Derek’s plea to hire him...to do anything at the theater.  The producer was in the early stages of a new play and was in need of a good supporting actor.  He let Derek read, expecting failure and disappointment. To his amazement Derek was good. Really good. Derek had a job! He was an actor! Now to tell his mother....
Derek’s mother knew about his carousing ways and he figured she would blame that on him losing his prospective law career.  Derek also knew if he was to take this new vocation serious, and Gillian was to accept it, he needed her to know how important this was to him.  Derek quit drinking cold turkey, started going to bed by midnight and stopped having casual sex with every woman that flirted with him. His new career needed to take precedence.  
After landing the supporting roll in the current play at the London Playhouse, Derek journeyed home to give his news to Gillian.  He arrived home in time for dinner.  The aroma of lamb and potatoes filled his senses, reminding him of his childhood. He felt more and more like a youth coming to tell his mom about the school yard brawl he was suspended for.  
“Mom, I have some important news for you”, he announced in a voice quieter than he planned.
“Derek, what’s wrong.  You look like you’ve eaten something sour.  Are you feeling ill?,” Gillian questioned using her best concerned parent look.
“Mom, please, sit down.”
Gillian moved to the sofa and sat down.  
“Derek, your worrying me.  What’s wrong?”
“Mom, I have quit law.  Before you say anything, you knew I had no passion for it.  It didn’t suit me.”
Gillian started to interrupt.  She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  Her son the lawyer...what was going to come of him? As her mind reeled she heard him say something about not drinking and a play? Was she hearing things?
“Mom, I want to be an actor.  I have a job.  I’m in a play at the London Playhouse.  I’m staying with Craig.  I no longer drink.  Please don’t be mad at me.  I really want this. Its very important to me.  Please let me prove it to you”, Derek pleaded.  He was in agony as he waited for Gillian to say something.
Gillian focused, hanging on his every word.   She watched his face as he desperately tried to convince her of his good intentions.  She knew her son had the ability to succeed at anything he set his mind to.  She recognized the steel determination in his voice despite his fear of disappointing her. She took a deep breath. 
“Ok.  I hear you.  I’m not saying I agree, yet, but I will support you and stand by you.”
Derek gave his mother a huge bear hug.  He felt the weight of the world fall from his shoulders.  That night he had the first peaceful sleep in years; no nightmares of failures to come, just tranquil, undisturbed slumber.
Derek did well in the theater.  His first role as supporting actor garnered praise from the theatrical community.  His next three roles were leads and proved he was talented and convincing in each character he played. 
During his role as lead in “Tartuffe” an American producer expressed interest in Derek coming to the States to be in his movie. Derek accepted the challenge and moved to Hollywood.  Gillian was proud of her son’s accomplishments and made him promise to visit her often. His first film was nominal but the reviews were outstanding.  Derek’s confidence grew. His next film garnered accolades from his peers. He was now able to pick and choose his roles, and most were high dollar flicks.  Derek’s passion became an obsession.  He was a dedicated professional.  Other actors rallied to work with him. He was in demand and that was important in Hollywood.  Derek realized as he went from film to film that his popularity was fleeting.  Anytime he could fall off the pedestal and go back to obscurity.  
Derek’s stunning good looks during college only intensified as he aged.  By forty Derek was considered one of the best looking men in Hollywood.  With experience he learned not to take himself so serious and played practical jokes on set. Crews and actors enjoyed working with him.  He made everyone feel at ease. Gossip rags speculated on his love life.  He was a relentless flirt but Derek kept his affairs discreet. By the time the paparazzi suspected a romance it was over or they guessed wrong all together. 
Derek’s career was in the fast lane but his love life was lousy.  He tried dating actresses but their careers pulled them to opposite sides of the globe.  Never spending time with each other didn’t help their relationship.  He tried dating women out of the entertainment industries but they didn’t like his long hours and all the travel.  So Derek stopped dating altogether.  He let the gossip magazines and TV shows believe there were multitudes of women flowing in and out of his life, keeping the reputation of a womanizer.  Fans loved speculating who his next date would be so he gave them things to speculate about.  In truth, Derek was so busy with his career, acting in lead roles, directing and producing, there was little time to fit dating in.
Derek and Alex sat at a table in the far corner away from the windows of the deli.  They ordered dinner and talked about Dallas.  Derek was curious what Alex did for a living, was she married and why she watched so many movies. 
Alex laughed, “Because I have a boring life.”
Derek replied, “I doubt that.  You said you’re married and have a daughter.  That must keep you busy?”
“Oh please.  My husband works a lot and my daughter is in school and isn’t home much.  I have a question for you.”
Derek looked wary, “Ok, shoot!” 
“You were in an interview a while ago and the interviewer asked if you had ever written a love letter. You said yes. Who was she?”  Alex remembered that faraway look in his eye in that interview.  She wanted to know who stole his heart.
“Oh, that was a long time ago.  Back in college.  She’s married now.  Why?”  Derek had that same faraway look Alex remembered from the interview.
“Because its obvious you really loved her.  And with all the women you have been associated with I’m curious who could have actually had a hold on your heart.” 
Derek was very somber, “Yeah well.” Then the wall went up and the jokes started. “She had a big black mole on her nose and it just wasn’t going to work! Hahaha!”  The mood had totally changed.
Alex tried to go back, “You’ve dated many women. What’s your dream woman?”
“Dream woman? Hmmmm...You first, what’s your dream man? Your husband? He must fit the bill? You’ve been married a long time.” Derek was enjoying this question much better. 
Alex was pensive. 
“My dream man.  Physically - dark hair, light eyes, 5 o’clock shadow or a thin beard, tall - over 6 foot, complicated - not easy to figure out - I like a bit of a challenge, a sense of humor - in general and about himself, and, no, this does not describe my husband.”
Derek was deep in thought.  Suddenly he snapped out of it. 
“Hey, that’s me! No fair!”  He was roaring with laughter.  
“It’s fair.  You asked!”
“But you really don’t know me.”  Derek was still laughing but didn’t like to be on a pedestal. He knew he had a lot of faults that Alex didn’t know.  
“You just said I described you.  So obviously I know you better than you expected.”  Alex was tickled she was making Derek squirm a bit. “Your turn.” 
Derek thought about what he truly wanted in a mate.
“She’d have to be patient and spontaneous, passionate and creative, and be able to deal with all the quirky parts of my personality.  She’d be no taller than 5’8”, probably have dark hair and eyes that reflect her soul.   She’d have to enjoy the outdoors and be physically active”, Derek had a mischievous look in his eyes.   
“How old should she be?”
“Does it matter? As long as she meets the other criteria?”
“Well,”  Alex knew Derek was missing one small detail.  “You told a reporter in an interview that you still wanted the wife, children and a white picket fence.  You’re not getting any younger, no offense, and your wife would need to be probably twenty-five to thirty-five if you want children.”
Derek hadn’t been thinking along those lines.  “I think twenty-five is too young for me.  At least the ones I have met so far. Why not over thirty-five?”
“Most women prefer not to have children in their forties. You could always adopt.  Have you thought about how soon you’ll want to have children?”  Alex was enjoying this. She really had Derek thinking.  He had been spending most of his time enjoying himself and working.  A family had not been on his mind.
“I’m not ready for any right now! Maybe five or ten years...”
“Derek, you’ll be 50.  You’re children won’t be going to college until your 70.  You’ll be one of the oldest dads at graduation.  I know your career is paramount right now but you need to prioritize.  You could marry a woman with adult children and just go right into being a granddad...”  Alex could see the visions going through Derek’s mind.  She couldn’t help but smile at his expression.
“Ok, you bring up some good points.  I’ll have to rethink things some. Damn! You’ve messed up my impulsiveness! Woman! Ugh!”  Derek was frustrated.  He loved being spur of the moment.  He also knew his mom wanted him to settle down.  He just wasn’t ready.
“Quit worrying! It was a fantasy remember?  Not real life. Geez, calm down!”  Alex liked seeing Derek off his game.  In interviews he always seemed to have the upper hand, always in control.
“What about her career?  Actor or in the entertainment business?”
“No, I don’t think so.  We would always be going in different directions?”  Derek suddenly grinned his famous crooked smile, “Now that you’ve stressed me, we need to go have some fun! Come on!”
Derek got up, grabbed Alex’s hand and dragged her out of the deli.  The car careened up 2nd Avenue to a pub Derek frequented when he was in New York.  The pub was a place he could be himself. It was crowded, smoky and loud.  There was a band playing and they all waved at Derek as he and Alex passed to a table.
They ordered sodas and when the band went on break they came to sit with Derek and Alex.  Derek had known the guys since he bought his apartment in New York. He even sang a couple songs on the next set with the band.  Alex couldn’t believe how much fun she was having.
After a couple of rowdy hours at the pub, Derek offered to take Alex back to her hotel.  She had enjoyed her dream evening, spending time with Derek Dunbar as himself, no pretense, no cameras.  As they neared her hotel she felt reality creeping in.  She was just an ordinary woman and he was extraordinary, out of her league.  At least she had the memory of this day. 
Derek pulled up to the front of the hotel. 
“Would you like to come up?”, Alex couldn’t believe she had said that!  That was her, right?  What was she thinking?  Oh, he could just walk her to her door, harmless.  She wasn’t his type anyway.  
Derek gave her a warm, sweet smile and told her he would.  Alex’s mind reeled.  She knew he wouldn’t try anything; he’d been a gentleman all night. 
Derek followed her into her forty-fourth floor room.  It was simple but clean and understated.  It was one of the nicest hotel rooms she’d ever stayed in. Alex didn’t travel much.
“Water? Its all I have”, Alex offered.  In her head she thought, That was awful.  I’m sure he can’t wait to leave.
Derek looked around.  Then he looked at Alex.  There was something about her. Something he was drawn to.  She had her back to him when she offered the water.  He advanced to within inches of her.  In her ear he spoke in a quiet heavy Scots accent.
“No, that’s not all you have.”
Alex’s heart quickened.  She felt every inch of her was radiating heat.  Was she lightheaded?
Derek touched her shoulder and ever nerve in her body tingled. She was in physical pain.  There was a definite ache she had never felt before.  She turned to Derek and looked in his eyes.  They were giant, blue pools, so clear and inviting.  Alex could barely catch her breath.
“I...” Was all Alex could say.
“I don’t have a habit of seducing married women.  I’ll not ask you to do something you’re not wanting to do”, Derek’s brogue was thick and husky.   
Alex felt there was no air left in the room.  She had never considered cheating on her husband.  Josh wasn’t even on her mind.  She was having  a hard time focusing on not fainting.  
Derek leaned in toward Alex’s neck.  His breath was steamy and chills ran up her spine.  Alex was dizzy. She leaned toward Derek and his burning lips grazed hers. Electricity streaked through Alex’s every nerve ending.  She ached for him to touch her, to relieve her of the agony she was in.  Their kiss deepened. Alex became weaker and grabbed the front of Derek’s shirt.  She pulled him closer. Their bodies melded together. 
Derek touched every inch of Alex’s yearning body, with his hands, with his mouth.  Alex only wanted more. Alex responded to Derek as no other woman had.  Everything he did, every where he touched elicited a desire for wanting more.  Women had told him he was skilled but never such wanton abandonment.  Alex was totally uninhibited.  
Derek’s fingers were warm as he unbuttoned her blouse and caressed the valley between her breasts. Alex helped him off with his shirt, staring openly at his rippling abs and firm pecs.  They both slid out of their jeans simultaneously. Derek took no pause at removing Alex’s bra in one quick movement. His eyes roamed over her, liking what he surveyed. Alex was grateful of her workouts and the time she had been spending on her physique. Five years earlier she would’ve been terribly self-conscious.  
Derek’s hands and mouth explored Alex’s body. His touch caused excruciating desire that Alex had never experienced before. She ached for release. Alex’s responses to Derek fueled his need to consume her. Women responded to him but not like this.  He could feel her body heat rising as he stroked her skin. 
Alex gladly invited Derek between her legs.  As his member glided into her  Alex thought she would scream.  Finally, the ache was being quenched! Alex didn’t know if she moaned or screamed, she just knew when ecstasy came it was like no other.  Oh, she’d had orgasms before but this time she saw bright lights and swore she stopped breathing this time.  This was the pinnacle!
Derek couldn’t believe his response to Alex.  Never before had every nerve in his body been so heightened.  Every move he made triggered a tingle from head to toe. When Alex reached her orgasm she dug her nails into Derek’s back.  Derek in turn reached his peak and buried his face into Alex’s shoulder. Derek wasn’t sure when he started breathing again.  He looked up as she gasped for air and opened her eyes.  The two lay in silence, catching their breath, his shaft still resting inside her.
“Shit! What the bloody hell was that?”  Derek had a knack for stating the obvious.  He had never experienced anything like that before.
Alex could hardly speak.  “Don’t move.”
Derek’s legs were weak, “No problem.”
“That was unbelievable!”, Alex was finally able to say between breaths.
They both lay there, trying to catch their breath.  Alex looked up into Derek’s eyes and touch his cheek with her fingertips.  She felt like this was a dream.
Derek studied Alex’s face, memorizing every detail. 
“What?” Alex was becoming aroused again, realizing this moment was reality and she wanted to take advantage of every moment.  She wanted to make this the most remarkable memory. She squirmed under Derek.  Her hands exploring his neck and chest, lightly carving every detail.
“Alex, what are you doing?” Derek felt himself growing hard.
“Again?” Alex had a mischievous smile.
Derek obliged.  Both became sweaty and exhausted for a second time.   

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Perfect Chapter 2

Chapter 2
The Plano sun beat down mercilessly on Alex’s black Honda Civic.  Sweat trickled down her forehead. Inside the car it had to be 100 degrees; hard to believe the air conditioner was on. All it seemed to be doing was blowing hot air. By the time she got home there might be a cool breeze coming from the vent.  
The gym was Alex’s solace,but in the heat it was hard to feel refreshed after her workout. She had been overweight all her life, sometimes more so than others.  At forty-four Alex was wanting to look better than she ever had before. She didn’t want to reach mid-life and look like a frumpy mom.  So she hit the gym five times a week and it was starting to pay off.  Even her husband, Josh, of twenty-two years, was starting to notice. 
Alex had tried exercising at other times in her life but could never stick to a regime.  This time was different.  She was starting to feel the effects of aging, stiff knees, sore back, in bed early every night, and she wanted to ward it off as long as she could. The weight lifting and aerobic classes were paying off.  Not only had Alex lost 40 pounds but she had never felt more alive.  Josh noticed the changes in Alex and enjoyed watching her move in her new found body.  She was sexier now than she was when they got married.  She was thinner too. Alex was aware of Josh, as well as other men, noticing and it made her feel young and alive, motivating her to continue her routine. 
Alex attributed her commitment to fitness to Veronica Becker.  Veronica routinely had fitness gurus and “before and after” guests constantly motivated her. If they could do it, she could too.  Alex watched Veronica’s show every day to catch the latest fitness news and see which “unobtainable” guest she had snagged. Veronica also had great contests for her viewers.  She gave away designer clothing, appliances, trips to her show, as well as vacations.  
Josh was tall, blonde and a bit arrogant.  As a financial advisor for a large firm, he worked long hours and tried to pay attention to his wife when he was home.  He loved her and tried not to take her for granted, but Josh knew he had gotten the better end of the bargain when he married Alex.  The other men he worked with complained constantly about their wives, the nagging, inattention to their sexual needs and how much money they spent.  Josh was a blessed man and he knew it.  Alex worked an average paying job that appreciated her hard work, paid her handsomely for it, and that was their play money.  His check went for the bills and the necessities of raising a child.  Their daughter, Mattie, now twenty-one, took classes part-time at the local community college and worked part-time at the school computer lab.  Her expenses were low and Josh knew it would be no time before she would be moving out on her own.  He knew he had the ideal family and tried very hard not to assume it was by happenstance.  
Josh and Alex had endured some rough times too, mostly over the raising of their daughter.  Alex was too tough, Josh too lenient.  Then they would swap.  It kept Mattie on her toes, never knowing which parent might be on her side.  Sometimes backing each other up caused more arguments once Mattie left the room.  When she started college, life around the house had become less chaotic.  Mattie became absorbed with school and work and was home less and less, giving Alex more time for herself.  Alex had let her appearance go over the years, concentrating on rearing Mattie.  Josh didn’t seem to mind, his career was kicking off and the less distraction the better.  And so their lives plowed on at an average speed in an average direction in no particular fashion.
Now that Alex had more time to herself she began to realized the disadvantage of marrying so young.  She had never done anything for herself.  From eighteen years old Alex had put someone else before her; first Josh and his career, then Mattie and her rearing. She had a full time job as a customer service rep for a marketing company.  She spent eight hours a day in a cube talking to customers and vendors.  She enjoyed her job and liked the people she worked with. She spent a minimum of five hours a week in the gym, usually getting closer to ten. She kept to herself at the gym and was very focused when she worked out. At home she still made dinner each night for Mattie and Josh. If they came home late, or in Mattie’s case not at all, they both knew leftovers would be in the fridge waiting for them. Now, for the first time in her life, Alex was trying to take more time to focus on herself and become more independent. 
Josh arrived home from work later than usual and Alex was coming out of her skin with excitement.
“You’ll never guess what happened!!!”
Josh was exhausted.  Just watching her sucked what little energy he had left. “Tell me.”
“I won a trip for two to New York! To the Veronica Becker show! Can you get away?” she asked expectantly, but Alex already knew the answer
“When?” Josh was snowed under at work and knew it didn’t matter when it was he couldn’t leave the office.
“April 15-17,” she replied in a hushed tone.  
“That’s the end of tax season and things will be crazy at work.  No, I can’t get a way.”
Josh and Alex hadn’t had a vacation in 4 years, since Mattie was in high school. “See if Mattie can go”, was Josh’s response, even though he knew that was not what Alex wanted to hear.
Alex was disappointed but wasn’t surprised.  She knew Mattie would have to work and not be able to travel with her either. On Monday, when the rep from the Veronica Becker show called to finalize the details, Alex had decided she would travel alone.  Although she really didn’t like venturing to knew places on her own, she was not turning this opportunity down.  Time to try this independence she was looking for.  
April 15th arrived and Alex could think of nothing else.  Josh’s usual day was ten hours or more but during tax season he could be at the office up to twenty hours, barely sleeping or eating. Mattie was excited for her mom but school projects had her weighed down. So Alex shopped alone for a new outfit and worked out extra at the gym to look good on TV.  Her plane tickets arrived and her seat was in first class.  She looked on-line at the hotel she was to stay in and couldn’t believe the luxury. This was the trip of her dreams. 
When her plane landed in New York she navigated through the maze of corridors to the escalator, following the signs to “Ground Transportation”.  She prayed she could find the car that was sent from the show to pick her up. To her amazement, a driver stood at the front of the crowd holding a sign stating:
Alexandra Daniels
The Veronica Becker Show
She could hardly contain her excitement! She was really here, New York City!  And riding in a limo!
The driver dropped her at her hotel and told her he would return for her at 1PM the next day.  Alex checked in and was told all her expenses were paid and to enjoy her stay. 
The room was on the forty-fourth floor.  The view was breathtaking.  She could see for miles. She had no idea what part of New York she was in, maybe Manhattan.  The room had plush carpeting and the sheets on the bed were the softest cotton. She plopped on the bed, sinking into the plush satin, and flicked on the TV.  As she channel surfed she ran across a Derek Dunbar movie about three fourths the way through.  She finished watching it, took a relaxing shower and called for room service.  Josh called at nine to wish her good night.  Mattie sent a text with the same.  Alex felt she was a million miles from her life.  
At 1PM the next day Alex was downstairs and getting in her car.  The trip to the studio took about forty-five minutes, traffic was brutal.  Nervous about meeting her icon in person, Alex’s stomach was in knots.  The studio was immense. There were people everywhere, rushing back and forth.  It seemed like organized chaos. Alex was taken to Veronica’s dressing room.
“Oh, good afternoon, you must be Alexandra Daniels! Welcome.” Veronica’s smile was so genuine.  Alex began to relax.
Veronica’s makeup artist was hard at work making her beautiful.  
“Please, call me Alex. I’m so excited to be here!  Thank you so much for this trip!” 
“Alex, take a seat. Tell me about yourself. How was your flight and your hotel room?”
Alex raved about the luxurious room and gave the Reader’s Digest condensed version of her life. Veronica seemed genuinely interested, despite having the crew rush all around her. 
“Alex, you’ll be seated in the front row. I’ll introduce you.  And after the show you can meet my guests.  Today we’ll be having fashionista, Barbara Marx,  and actor, Derek Dunbar, as my guests.  That should be fun.  I haven’t met him yet.  Do you like him?”
Alex’s heart skipped a beat.  Could it be? This was definitely the best trip ever! “Oh, yes!  I have seen all his films.”
Alex cast her eyes down, ashamed of her fan-ness.  “Yes, all. I’m quite the fan. Its a bit embarrassing.”
Veronica was light-hearted, “Don’t be embarrassed.  Thats how actors make their money. Without fans they wouldn’t last.  Well, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting him, won’t you! Glad we could make this a memorable trip!” Veronica giggled as Alex was rushed away to the seating area. 
The show drug on for Alex.  She couldn’t wait for Derek to come out. 
Not only had Alex a passion for working out but she’d also become a movie junkie.  New releases, old releases, at home or at the theater.  Her spare time had been filled to the brim.  Watching an R-rated movie had been a forgotten luxury while Mattie was growing up. Josh and Alex focused on good quality television whenever Mattie was in the room. Now that Mattie was grown and rarely home, Alex decided to do some catching up. Since Josh spent long hours at work, Alex had a void to fill. She could only spend so much time at the gym...
In her obsession with films she came across a movie star she was unfamiliar with - Derek Dunbar.  He was handsome, tall, blazing blue eyes and had a Scottish accent. At least she thought he did.  His accent varied from movie to movie.  He reminded her of her first actor crush, Sean Connery, in the 70’s.  Even as a young girl she was fascinated by his accent.  In her west Texas town they didn’t have accents, not compared to their relatives in Dallas or Houston.  Not his kind of accent. She’d been drawn to it.  She was drawn to it still.  
She went on the internet and watched YouTube interviews with Derek Dunbar.  He was definitely Scottish.  She enjoyed hearing stories from his film sets, practical jokes, funny moments, the way he laughed.  It aroused her.  He seemed genuine, friendly.  She saw videos of him giving autographs to groups of fans, at premiers shaking hands with the crowd.  Not the typical “get out of my face I want my privacy” star.  But then there wasn’t much information about his private life.  Oh, there was a biography about his childhood and how he came into acting but not much about girlfriends, dating or law troubles.  Alex searched more YouTube interviews.  
Derek, with his most inviting smile, talked to an interviewer about his latest movie.  In an effort to ask the most unusual question of the day the reporter asked,
“Have you ever written a love letter?”
Derek eyes looked to a faraway place, melancholy, “Yes, I have.  A long time ago”.  Then laughing it off says, “Who writes when there is texting?” 
The reporter laughs too but isn’t dissuaded.  She wants a story.  
“Do you want a wife, kids, the white picked fence?”
Derek smiles, “Sure someday. But where’s the time?”  And laughs it off.  
His laugh is contagious but his eyes are not laughing.  The interviewer is finished but has not seen the depth of the question.  Did she hit a nerve?  
In other interviews Derek is accused of womanizing that he neither acknowledges or denies.  He laughs the questions off.  He is branded a playboy, unable to settle down. Photos of him encourage the reputation.  Shirtless, pensive, an Adonis.  Rumors of dates with various starlets circulate the gossip magazines in the grocery store and the internet. 
Alex watched every movie he was in.  She discussed her interest in Derek as an actor and found the other women she worked with lusted after him too.  He was obviously in running for the “Sexiest Man of the Year” by the way women talked about him.  Alex felt her obsession wasn’t so bad after all.  She shared it with half the women on the planet.
Finally, Veronica introduced Derek. Alex was giddy but tried to contain herself.  She didn’t want to appear the crazed fan, even if she felt like it inside.  She couldn’t believe how excited she was. Now she understood her mother’s fascination with Elvis Presley and how thousands of women could swoon over a man. 
Derek came out and was just as Alex had expected.  He was warm, friendly, funny, and made eye contact with her. At least she thought he did.  This portion of the show seem to fly by and was over too soon for Alex. She waited hesitantly for Veronica to call her up to the stage.
The show ended and Veronica invited Alex to come up and meet Derek.  
Alex took a deep breath and tried to steady herself.  
“Hello Alex! I hear you’re a fan of mine too”, Derek stated teasingly, admiring her blush. 
“ Yes.  I really have enjoyed your movies.”
Derek invited Alex to have a seat next to him and asked,  “Which one do you think is the best?” 
Alex thought a moment. 
“Best movie overall or the best movie you were the lead in?”  Alex had many favorites but there were a couple that stood out to her.
“You tell me.” Derek was surprised Alex actually had a real opinion.
“I have really enjoyed the period pieces you’ve done, The Great Queen and The Hun are my favorite of those.  Of the more modern movies The Stranger and Judgement I thought were very good scripts and the acting was great in them.  Which was your favorite to make?” Thrilled she was able to put two coherent sentences together, Alex was felt calmer.
Derek thought about it, “The Great Queen since it was my first but Judgement was a great movie and the first I produced and directed.  Although The Stranger is very dear to me.  I love that story.  I think you’ve picked my favorites too.”  
As the crew began closing down the set for the day Veronica thanked Derek again for his appearance and congratulated Alex on her good fortune.  As she excused herself to prepare for another show, an assistant began escorting Alex and Derek down the back hall. 
“Do you have dinner plans?”, Derek asked her as they paused at exit door.
Was Derek inviting her out?  Alex needed to steady herself.
“No, I don’t.  I don’t have any plans.”
As Alex and Derek walked out the stage door.  The paparazzi swarmed them as he tried to open a path to his car.  Derek grabbed Alex’s wrist and dragged her behind before she was engulfed by the crowd of cameras. There was a frenzy of shouted questions about Alex.  Who was she? Were they dating? Is it serious? Is she a future co-star? Derek tried to be polite, refusing to acknowledge any questions while asking the crowd to back away a bit while they tried to make their getaway.  
Derek Dunbar wasn’t just any actor but one of the busiest actors in Hollywood. He had sandy brown hair, bright blue eyes, a strong square jaw with a hint of five o’clock shadow and an alluring scottish accent.  He wasn’t just good looking he was a good actor; versatile, playing comedy, drama or action. Women found him sensual and sexy, men admired the way he made women feel.  He could have any woman he desired and most often did.  His career, only 12 years in the making, was gaining strength and he had his pick of scripts.
“Is it always like this?”  Alex was surprised how vulturistic the paparazzi were. 
“Yes, it is.  I’m sorry about all that. I should have expected they’d have the car staked out.  I’m sure you’ll be in a few tabloids tomorrow. Try not to think about them. Have you been to New York before?”
Alex couldn’t believe what was happening. “No I haven’t. This is my first visit.”
“Let me show you around.  We’ll need to lose these cameras. You don’t mind fast driving do you?” Derek has a mischievous smile on his face.  It made Alex smile too. 
“No, I’m used to it.  Show me what ya got!” Alex was getting comfortable and brave.  This aught to be fun.
Derek didn’t lie, he drove fast.  Really fast for the traffic in New York. He stopped at a deli on a quiet street, out of the way of the busy traffic.  Away from the paparazzi for a moment too, Alex imagined.