The Love Story Formula
A guest post by Erin Nicholas
“And here’s the she’s-so-sad-because-she-loves-him-but-she-screwed-up-and-now-they’re-going-to-break- up music”.
I turn to my thirteen-year-old daughter. “What do you mean?”
She rolls her eyes. “This is the part of the movie where we’re supposed to think they’re breaking up but they’ll end up back together.”
No, this isn’t a movie she’s seen before. But obviously she’s figured out the formula. She can pick out the hero within a couple of minutes of seeing him on screen, knows to expect a dark moment, and knows that it in no way means that they won’t end up together.
I’m trying to make her into a romantic. A challenge as she got a healthy dose of cynicism and sarcasm from her dad. (I love the man, I really do. But he is extremely hard to impress. Incidentally, I’ve always taken that as a compliment!
So, does knowing the formula make it less entertaining getting from point A to point Z?
I personally don’t think so. Then again, I may not be the best judge. I write romance novels. :-)
But, as I’ve tried to explain to my husband, what I like about romances (books and movies) is exactly what makes him roll his eyes: the formula. The predictability. The guarantee.
For me, the only thing that has to be a for sure is that point Z includes a happily ever after. The fun is seeing what happens between say A and M, or M and P. Okay, so they end up together, but there are so many things that can happen in between. That’s the part I love as a reader. And a writer. How is this love story different from any other? Because they all are. Even in the real world, right?
And that’s what I write. Love stories with happily ever afters… and lots of curves and bumps and detours along the way! (Can’t make it easy on them right?)
Because of my love or romance, I’ve always been fascinated with asking people how they met their spouse. What is their story? I’m also interested in how different stories end. Were they together for 60 years and one of them passed away? Were they together for 6 years and they grew apart? Did they have a dark moment but then came back together for their happily ever after?
My husband and I met when we were counselors at a summer camp. We were friends for six years. He was my go-to guy. The guy-friend who would put on a tie and be my date if I didn’t have one. The guy who interpreted what other guys were saying or doing for me. Okay, the guy who would buy me and my friends beer for our weekend college parties before we were old enough. I was the girl who would go to dinner with his parents when they came to town for the weekend. The girl who would make cookies and lasagna for him and his buddies. The girl who was friends with one of his girlfriends and helped him through their break-up.
Then suddenly one night he was dropping me off at my house and I said, “Have you ever thought about us being more than friends?”
We were engaged seven months later and have been married for almost 15 years.
How about you? What’s your story?
Anybody who tells their story, or a favorite true love story (maybe parents or grandparents? Best friend?) will get a sneak peek of chapter one of my March 30th release Just Right! Be sure to include your e-mail address in your answer!!
And here’s the blurb and an excerpt from Just Right! Check the whole thing out March 30th from Samhain Publishing!
ER nurse Jessica Bradford is a good girl. Okay, more like a reformed bad girl, determined to be the woman her late father wanted her to be. And she’s sworn off bad boys. Definitely. Instead she wants someone like Dr. Ben Torres: responsible, dedicated, selfless. The tall, dark and handsome part is just a bonus.
What a difference twenty-four hours can make. Yesterday Ben was incredibly handsome, too sexy for words and definitely one of the good guys. Now he’s just incredibly handsome and too sexy for Jessica’s own good. Yet she still wants him like ice cream wants hot fudge.
Ben’s done being everybody’s hero. What’s being a trauma surgeon ever gotten him but late hours, patients who don’t remember his name and a whole lot of frustration? He can’t even seduce Jessica, and her bright red thong, because of work rules. So he quits. Or to be more exact, gets suspended.
Jessica can’t believe Ben is acting more like a kid in a candy store than a man who’s about to throw his career away. When she’s manipulated into babysitting him, she does her best to keep him out of trouble—except trouble is all Ben’s interested in. And suddenly Jessica’s having trouble remembering why that’s a bad thing…
Ben turned to see Jessica standing next to Hank, shoes off, holding a pool cue.
“Do you know how?” Ben asked, smiling at the picture she presented. This wasn’t the type of place he’d ever pictured her in, but she seemed to be adjusting…almost getting comfortable. Interesting. Very interesting.
“As bad as you suck, I’m not sure it matters if I know how,” she said. “But yeah, I’ve played.”
“By all means,” Ben said, gesturing at the table. “Show me what you’ve got.”
“I think we need to establish what the stakes are.” Jessica rubbed the little blue square of chalk over the end of her stick as she watched him.
He shrugged. “I’ve only got about fifty bucks left.”
Jessica moved into position to break. She leaned over the end of the table, her skirt riding up on the backs of her thighs, positioned the cue between her first two right-handed fingers and lined up her shot.
And he might let her win if it kept her standing like that.
“If I win, you let me take you home, finally.” She looked at him over her shoulder and smiled knowingly when she caught him studying her posterior assets.
“Okay.” This pool game suddenly seemed like the best idea he’d had in a long time.
Jessica looked smug as she turned back to line up her shot again.
“Don’t you want to know what I want if I win?” Ben asked, blatantly taking in the view.
“Sure. What do you want?”
“The next forty-eight hours with you.”
She stared at him over her shoulder, then straightened and faced him. “What?”
“If I win, you spend the next forty-eight hours with me.”
“Just like that?”
He shrugged. “Yeah. You drive me home and then you stay.”
“I’ve, um. I’ve got…stuff to do.”
“Call in sick.”
She didn’t hesitate. “I’m not sick.”
Ben shook his head. “And you won’t lie about something like that, right? It would be irresponsible.”
Jessica raised her eyebrows. “Of course it would be.”
Ben sighed. It was typical that the first woman he wanted to sleep with in far too long to remember was a good girl.
Ben rested a hip against the pool table and regarded Jessica. “What happens when you want to spend the whole day in bed?”
That annoying little flippy-thing happened in Jessica’s stomach again. It had been a long time since she’d wanted to stay in bed for the reasons Ben was implying. But, yeah, he had a point. If that happened, what would she do?
She cleared her throat. “I could put the stuff off until later, I guess.”
“I want you to spend the whole day with me,” Ben said seriously. “Two days, actually. Forty-eight hours.” Then he shrugged. “I can probably find someone else that would be
interested though. Since you’re too busy.”
Jessica frowned. Come to think of it, she did feel ill when she thought of Ben with any other woman.
“Fine. My stuff can wait.”
Ben straightened and looked at her for a moment before he asked, “But you won’t lie about being sick, right?”
“I’m not sick,” she repeated. “But I’ll take care of it.”
“I’m sure you will,” he said, almost to himself. But before she could ask him what he meant he said, “So, it’s an enthusiastic yes?”
“It’s a reluctant fine.”
He grinned. “Good enough.”
Jessica broke the triangle of balls apart with a resounding clack…and went on to sink five of her seven balls before even pausing to survey the table.
Ben was staring at the pocket into which yet another striped ball had fallen when she turned to smile at him smugly. It was worth all the irritation to see that look on his face.
She walked around the edge of the table to position her next shot. As she pulled her cue back she was confident that she would only need one more shot after this. But as she started her forward motion, Ben leaned over.
“Look at this picture,” he said softly. “A long stick, hard balls, you bent over the table…”
Jessica stared at the ball that had bounced off the edge of the table and rolled back toward her. Damn. That should have been an easy shot.
Ben laughed and came around the corner of the table. He nudged her aside with his hip against hers.
“Okay, big shot. Let’s see if you can win without me letting you.” She slid over only enough to let him line up his shot and crossed her arms.
Ben lined up the shot and Jessica watched and heard the balls smack together, then the dull thud of them falling into the pockets: two balls in the same shot, in the two corner pockets on the opposite end of the table. It was a brilliant shot. The shot of someone who had played a lot. Not the shot of someone who had been losing money at the game. Not the shot of someone who had been drinking heavily.
He continued shooting until no solid balls were left on the green surface.
“Game over,” Ben announced as the eight ball was still rolling down the shoot. He tossed his pool cue onto the table and lifted the beer mug, finishing off the last half.
She was still staring at the table.
“Let’s go.” Ben took her hand and started toward the door without a word to any of the people he’d spent the better part of his night, and wallet, on.
“You could have done that all along, couldn’t you?” she asked, grabbing her purse off the sticky tabletop as they passed and then tripping along behind him.
He glanced back at the table. “Yeah, probably.”
“Why didn’t you? With those guys? Why drop all that money?” she asked as he pulled her out the door and into the parking lot.
He shrugged. “No motivation to win.”
Jessica suddenly realized that she might have her hands full with Ben. Still stunned over how he’d finished the pool game just as she’d been completely convinced he could barely walk a straight line, Jessica stopped at her car door and inserted the key to unlock it. She might have her hands too full with him she amended. And not in a good way.