Every time I think of you, that is how I see you, how I see us, frozen for all time on that canvas, immune to the fading of memory. I spend immeasurable moments imagining myself in that scene, until I feel I am entering the space of the photograph and am no longer the man who observes but the man lying beside the woman. Then the quiet symmetry of the picture is broken and I hear voices very close to my ear.
“Tell me a story,” I say to you.
“Tell me a story you have never told anyone before. Make it up for me.”
-Isabel Allende, The Stories of Eva Luna 1989
This paragraph is about lovers in the midst of a good afterglow, and for me this is sexy.
Chemistry may be hard to convey on the big screen, but it is hard as hell on paper. If the right mixture is combined correctly it explodes, if not it falls flat. A wink here a touch there doesn’t quite make the cut in the literary world. There is no swelling music that indicates what emotion the characters are feeling. An author can’t very well write: Cue lovers—They see one another from across the street. With perfectly coiffed hair they walk toward each other in slow motion, action smile and embrace. Not sexy, right? Yeah, yeah, sure this scenario could be written a lot more artistically, but it still misses the key ingredient: heart.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, chemistry is simply a strong attraction between two people. Easy peasy, right? *Shrug*
I’m not talking about sex, which is so much easier to write. No, I’m speaking of the hot stuff that happens way before our favorite characters do the deed. A tilt of the head or lingering stare that makes the reader’s heart pump just as fast as our heroine’s. Scientists haven’t been able to bottle the recipe for chemistry just right. Big words, such as pheromones or composition, are thrown around, but nothing tangible. Hell, even Match.com uses an algorithm that at times is no better than a coin toss in the air.
Historical figures Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett barely touched and yet their fictional chemistry managed to last for centuries.
In my hunt for examples of great chemistry, I stumbled upon several list compiled of top romance novels. The same authors could be cross referenced on all of them. Jude Deveraux, Jennifer Cruise, Beverly Jenkins, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips are connoisseurs on chemistry. These women know the right mixture and should probably be hired by OkayCupid.com if they ever get tired of their day jobs.
Jack Stone has inherited his family’s casino. The only problem? The mob wants it more than he does. If he doesn’t play his cards right, he’ll end up dead.
When his high school sweetheart drops back into his life, Jack’s got an even tougher decision — should he trust the beauty with his life and heart — again? This time he’s hoping the odds are in his favor.
Excerpt: Copyright ©2017 Amber Malloy
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The last remains of the Vegas nightlife surrounded his bar, where the showgirls from the Bellagio ignored last call. Jack Stone cleaned off the glasses with a smile. He had no choice; this town was a world of its own. Only in Las Vegas would a baby shower at the witching hour be acceptable. The star act of the Night Review was not blessing a new life with just any old nightclub but one where old Hollywood had once clamored to get in.
“To Mindy, for getting out of the dance race before she got tossed out on her pregnant ass!” The pack of Amazons cheered at their captain’s toast.
“Last ones, lovelies,” Jack called out. “It’s time to go.”
“Aw, come on, Jack, one more?” they whined practically in unison.
“Sorry, girls, the big boss would have my head if he knew I kept us open this late.”
“We could only make it over after the show.” The tallest of the tribe reached across the dark bar to touch his shoulder. “I’m sure you can pull a few strings.”
Jack kept his smile firmly in place, without allowing them to know he was immune to their charm. “Last one,” he repeated with a wink to soften the blow.
“Okay, you win.” Still sparkly from her performance earlier, the replacement showgirl took her Peppermint Schnapps down like a pro. “What do you say to dinner tomorrow night after last curtain?”
Since his return to Vegas three years ago, this was the same song and dance he went through nightly. He was hip deep in friends with benefit offers. At first he indulged in the available pool of beauties, a distraction from his true mission. It would have been easy to keep going, but the sexy woman who had just stepped into Pauline’s consumed his mind and heart.
Lena Mercier walked upstream of the thin dancers. Toned with curves in all the right places, she was an artistic statue painted in the vibrant hue of milk chocolate.
“Thanks for the drinks!” The showgirls headed out of the bar doors in a peal of giggles.
“You’ve got something of mine, Jack,” Lena said in a subtle tone that stopped the mindless chatter in his head. The Lululemon leggings cupped her perfect ass. It was her usual travel uniform. She must have just gotten off a plane. A fancy tank top and light leather jacket topped off her outfit. Her sleek black hair fell in a swoop in front of her right eye — a sophisticated cut that showcased her elegant neck. Jack noted how perfect she looked. Except for the fact she had left town two weeks ago, and he had no idea where she had gone. It still aggravated him.
He wiped down the deep wood and concentrated on the high polish, instead of the sexy woman in front of him. “Just put your lips together and blow.”
She gave him a cheeky smile before she put her fingers to her mouth and ripped a high-C whistle. In a matter of moments, the heavy panting of excitement filled the damn near empty bar. A squat, furry toad ran at full tilt in her direction. Lena’s Frenchie, Harry, hopped on the chair, then the table before he took full flight through the air. Lena caught the little fucker in the crook of her arm.
Since he never tired of that circus trick, Jack chuckled. “Nightcap?” Happy to see his neighbor had made it back home, he tried not to compete for her attention with the dog.
“Sorry, Jack, I’m beat.”
“You want to talk about it? After all, bartenders are great listeners.” He nudged to get her to open up about her work. Once high school sweethearts, they’d spent more than a decade apart, and then one day she was back. Since he didn’t believe in coincidence, he had his suspicions why Lena had suddenly showed up in his life.
“If only that were true.” Lena smiled before she headed toward the door.
“We’re not good listeners?” He wished she would stay and keep him company.
“No,” she turned around, stopping short of disappearing into the cool night, “the part where you’re just the bartender.”
About the Author:
Amber Malloy dreamed of being a double agent but couldn’t pass the psyche evaluation. Crushed by despair that she couldn’t legally shoot things, Amber pursued her second career choice as pastry chef. When she’s not writing or whipping up a mean Snickers Cheesecake, she occasionally spies on her sommelier. Amber is convinced he’s faking his French accent.
Amber loves to talk to her readers and can be found at www.ambermalloy.com