More Than Words First Chapter

Friday, December 1, 2017
 

Chapter One

"I'm sorry, you want me to what?"

There has to be cotton in my ear. Or maybe I blasted My Chemical Romance too long in the car on my way here today. Perhaps she was mumbling and the words she said became misconstrued in my head. There's no way Jamie just asked me what I think she asked me.

She frowns and clears her throat. "I need you to write an erotic novel."

I didn't misunderstand what she said. Her words were clear as crystal that time. "Um...Why do you need this from me?"

She takes off her glasses, setting them on a stack of papers on the desk. "Our ghostwriter for Juliet Oliver just quit before turning in her latest submission. She was already well past deadline, but we thought she'd pull through at the last second. Unfortunately, she didn't. Now we're in a bind and scrambling to find someone to write a new story while we find her replacement."

I realize their predicament. If a writer goes too far past the deadline, it creates even weightier deadlines for the publisher. What doesn't make sense is where I fit in. I may have been writing and publishing with Gravity Lit for three years, but this request is way out in left field. "Couldn't, I don't know, Gina do it? This is more up her alley than mine." Gina's stories fall into the category of romantic suspense and wouldn't be complete without at least one romp in the sheets.

She shakes her head. "I already checked with her. She's too pressed for time completing final edits on her next release to squeeze it in."

"I don't..." I press my lips together for a second. "I'm not sure I'm able to write that sort of thing."

"What, sex?"

"Well, yeah." My stories are more along the lines of clean romances. You know, the ones full of self-discovery, small towns, and a new-old love that turns into a happily ever after. There are a few kisses, but they barely register on the steamy scale.

Jamie leans forward. "Look, I get it. It's not your usual kind of story writing, but you're an amazing writer, Dana. You have the potential to be able to cross genres seamlessly. It's a lot like your stories. The only difference is the sex."

Not just sex—lots of sex. And dirty talk. And euphemisms for penises that make you cringe.

I take a long look at her and can tell it hasn't been a good day. Her messy fire-red hair is wrapped up in an even messier bun with pieces flying in every direction. It always looks worse at the end of the day—even more so when it's a bad day. I concede with a sigh. "What exactly do you need for this story?"

She puts her glasses back on and opens a file. "The Juliet Oliver stories run between forty- and fifty-thousand words, give or take." She skims down the page with her finger. "There's always a strong female main character, but her job varies, as do the suitors. There are usually no specifics to go by for what kind of protagonist and love interest."

I lean back in my chair and think it over. The requirements don't sound too difficult. I could probably throw together a story easily enough. The hardest part will be the sex scenes. I've never written one before, not even for fun. Not that I'm unfamiliar with lady porn—I have read a few—but reading it and writing it are completely different matters.

I open my mouth to speak, but Jamie cuts me off. "There's just one catch."

"What?"

"We already released a synopsis."

"Oh. What is it?" She hands me the paper and when I read it my eyes widen. Apparently, there are more expectations than she hinted at. Given the specifics mentioned in the synopsis, there's very little wiggle room. Maybe I could manage, given enough time. "When's the deadline?"

"Two weeks."

"Two weeks?" I squeak. "Write forty- to fifty-thousand words in two weeks?" Even National Novel Writing Month doesn't expect this much from writers.

She shrugs. "Give or take."

I would have to be crazy to accept this assignment, even if broadening my horizons does sound somewhat intriguing. Since I'm between projects, it's the perfect mental change of scenery. But two weeks? I don't think I can pull it off.

However, the way Jamie looks at me now makes me realize exactly how desperate they are. If I say no, her hair's going to be far worse tomorrow. Nobody wants to witness that.

There may be only one way to make the decision. I ask, "What do I get if I say yes?"

"We'll pay you double your usual advance."

Without hesitation, I say, "I'll do it."

~*~

"I can't do it." I rest my forehead on the bar and groan. It's the following Friday night and my best friend, Ivy, just yanked me from the confines of my apartment. "I can't believe I told her I could. I'm going to call her and tell her I can't." I sit up in my seat and pull out my phone. The sooner I tell her, the better.

Ivy grabs the phone from my hands and shoves it back in my purse. "Don't you dare give up now! You'll do fine. You're Dana Darling, master of the written word."

I laugh. "I don't know about that." I've been at it for exactly one week, writing day and night. I have the bulk of the story written...but no sex scenes. I've hit a block. The first writer's block I've had in a long time. I'm too afraid to keep going. "I'm not sure if I'm qualified."

"You're an exceptional writer, of course you're qualified."

I shake my head. "No, not that. I know I can write; I just don't know how to write those scenes." The plot involves my protagonist, Melodie, getting lessons on sex from her brother's best friend, Michael. The banter is easy enough to throw together, but when they're about to get down to business, I freeze like a deer in headlights.

"What scenes?" I give her a look and she smirks. "Oh, those scenes." She brushes me off. "All you have to do is go by your own experience and you'll be golden."

I cringe. "I don't have a lot of experience in that regard." My actual firsthand sexual knowledge is extremely limited. I may be twenty-three, but I've only had two serious boyfriends, both of whom weren't remarkable or imaginative in the bedroom. The majority of what I know about sex comes from the few romance novels I've read in my life. Even the pile of Juliet Oliver paperbacks piled on my desk haven't really helped.

Ivy tucks a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear. "You've had sex though, so you know how it works."

"This story calls for several scenes involving varying positions."

"Okay...so?"

I close my eyes and let out a breath. I whisper, "I've only ever done...one position."

Her jaw drops and a choked sound comes from her throat. "Get out! You...you haven't even been on top?"

I give a shy shrug. "Never had the opportunity."

"What do you mean 'opportunity'? You just climb on top."

"Oh good God." Sometimes I forget how bold Ivy is until she comes right out and states it so plainly.

"Are you blushing?" I shake my head no, but touch my cheek to cover it. She tsks me and says, "Honey, you shouldn't be afraid of stepping outside the box."

"I'm not. I just never had a guy willing to."

"Then you need to find one and get to work."

"You did not just suggest I start hooking up with a guy for research."

"I didn't, but now that you mention it..."

I smack her arm and laugh. "That'll be the day."

"I'm serious."

My smile fades away. "Wait, you are?"

"Yeah, why not? Could be good for you," she says with a shrug.

"I don't do sex with no strings." Not just don't—I can't. I'm not good at separating the two. Sex happens when I feel love, not because I want to have fun. "I don't misbehave."

"You should. Playing it safe is why you're so scared of writing this book. Being 'good' is boring. Predictable."

"I don't want to be boring and predictable."

"Then misbehave," she says with a grin. She snaps her fingers. "I've got it. Find a guy to help guide you through the positions without actually doing the act."

"Like a sex position buddy?" I guess that's not a bad idea exactly, but what guy would be willing to practice sex positions without having sex? "Where do I find one?"

Ivy shrugs. "I just come up with the ideas, not the details. You'll have to figure that part out on your own." She downs the last of her drink. "I gotta jet. We have an early morning flight and need to finish packing before we get to bed." She and her fiancé, Wesley, are visiting his parents in Alabama for a few days. It's the first time they've gone back since the engagement, so Sal and Margaret are very excited to see their future daughter-in-law.

When she stands, she towers over me. Ivy's height is just under six feet, which is nine inches taller than I am. She has to lean down to give me a hug. She gives my arm a quick squeeze with her hand before she lets go. "Hang in there. You'll figure it out."

"Thanks, doll. Have a safe trip."

"Always do."

I wave goodbye to her and turn back to my drink. I'm not going to find my answer at the bottom of another vodka cranberry. I need to get home and stare at a computer screen, praying for the words to come. How am I so inexperienced? Why haven't I bothered to assert myself in the bedroom? I know I can be a bit shy at times, but still. I had a small circle of friends all through college that included Ivy and my first boyfriend, Finn. My relationship with him was nice, but we had little in common outside some classes, mutual friends, and physical attraction. I didn't realize until after it ended that there was no substance to it.

When my phone buzzes, I'm thankful for the distraction. It's Landon, my writer friend. We met at a coffee shop several months back. I was struggling with the words for a scene in my last book and he leaned over from the table next to me and asked if I needed some help. Two lattes later and we became the best of friends. It was a welcome change of pace to have someone in real life to talk with about writing.

"Howdy stranger," I say.

"Hey! I'm glad I caught you. Did you turn in my manuscript?"

About a month ago, he asked me if I could get his latest novel in the hands of a publisher. "Of course I did."

"And?"

"And, I don't know. Joel said he'd finish reading it this weekend. He did tell me he likes it so far."

"Oh, thank God." The relief in his voice makes me smile. "I was worried it wouldn't meet his expectations."

"You have nothing to worry about. I read it first, remember? Joel trusts my instincts and I have great ones. You'll do just fine Landon Sinclair, most-likely-very-soon-to-be published author."

"I owe you big time, Darling. Like huge."

"You don't owe me anything."

"Nope. I owe you something. Dinner, a gift card, movie tickets. Anything."

Hearing the word "anything" causes me to straighten in my seat. My head swirls with an idea—one I probably shouldn't be thinking. I can't help it though. Ivy put it there. "Anything?"

"Name it and it's yours."

"I wouldn't be so quick to say yes."


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