#WritingChallenge: Rivals under the mistletoe

By: Katie Gowrie

This week on SYTYCW we talked about writer’s block. As the holiday festivities ramp up, it can be hard to maintain focus on your writing. It’s easy to get distracted, or just plain stuck. Maybe a particular scene has come to a standstill and you can’t find your way forward. Or perhaps revising your story through the haze of burnout has become a fruitless exercise.

Our advice? Take a deep breath, minimize that draft, and dive into this writing prompt that’s sure to get the creative juices flowing! We’ve raised the curtain on our heroine, who’s just encountered a professional rival under the mistletoe! Your challenge this week: give us the next three lines of this scene.

The last place Melissa Egan wanted to be was at her boss’s Christmas party. Scratch that, the absolute last place she wanted to be was standing under the mistletoe with her rival, Charles Knight, while the law firm staff stared at them expectantly. She’d almost managed to slip away from the damning hanging foliage, but one drunken accountant had already yelled “Kiss!” They’d been caught…

Post what happens next in the comments by Sunday, December 10, 2017, and we’ll give you our top three picks on Monday. Happy holidays!

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  1. Cera Fallon

    “Well, this is awkward,” she says. “Shall we give them something to talk about?” She asks.
    “I’m willing,” he says with his characteristic rye smile and he leaned in toward her, his eyes closed and his lips almost touching hers.
    Melissa could smell the creme de menthe on his breath, she thought, “Fuck he even smells like Christmas.” She started to lean in too but her senses took hold and she walked away. Everyone laughed, clapped and howled.
    Charles was pissed.

  2. A glimpse at his dark brown eyes –yes, she’d noticed his eyes, he might be a jerk but he was a jerk with gorgeous eyes – revealed that he shared her dismay. Melissa’s breath caught at his half-smile as he dipped his head. It might have been a memorable kiss if the punch bowl hadn’t exploded first.

  3. Chrissie

    The last place Melissa Egan wanted to be was at her boss’s Christmas party. Scratch that, the absolute last place she wanted to be was standing under the mistletoe with her rival, Charles Knight, while the law firm staff stared at them expectantly. She’d almost managed to slip away from the damning hanging foliage, but one drunken accountant had already yelled “Kiss!” They’d been caught…in the wrong place at the right time. Even though she couldn’t stand Charles’ business antics, she’d always wondered how those full lips would feel against her own. She went to turn away, but was captured in his arms and pulled into his muscled chest with an “oomph”! She opened her mouth to scold him for being so bold, but his mouth covered hers and she sighed into his embrace. Wow, Merry Christmas, indeed.

  4. Sara Abdul

    The last place Melissa Egan wanted to be was at her boss’s Christmas party. Scratch that, the absolute last place she wanted to be was standing under the mistletoe with her rival, Charles Knight, while the law firm staff stared at them expectantly. She’d almost managed to slip away from the damning hanging foliage, but one drunken accountant had already yelled “Kiss!” They’d been caught…

    “Your move, Egan.” One corner of Charles’s lip lifted with his teasing. If she hadn’t been thrown by the mistletoe and their expectant audience, Melissa would have sworn uptight Charles was enjoying himself.

  5. Ann Malley

    The last place Melissa Egan wanted to be was at her boss’s Christmas party. Scratch that, the absolute last place she wanted to be was standing under the mistletoe with her rival, Charles Knight, while the law firm staff stared at them expectantly. She’d almost managed to slip away from the damning hanging foliage, but one drunken accountant had already yelled “Kiss!” They’d been caught . . . but then a match off between the Georgetown giant and Tyndale’s Tinkerbelle had been coming since scuttlebutt of adding another partner hit the water cooler.

    Downing the peppermint martini she’d sought to nurse her through this holiday hell, Melissa crooked a finger at her nemesis, waiting for the man she could never date thanks to work dip to her level. The ooos began—nothing compared to Knight’s insidious quirk of angel-hewn lips and olive hooded eyes honing in her like some Kris Kringle giveaway—but expectations were a man’s worst enemy.

    “Merry Christmas,” she whispered, playing the willing kisser until a discreet tug of beard saw her lips land a chaste peck that felt anything but on his brow.

  6. Marcie R

    They’d been caught…
    “Guess we should do this. Unless you don’t want to.” He lifted a brow.
    Melissa narrowed her eyes. “Oh. I want to.”
    They moved closer as that same accountant gave a piercing whistle.

  7. Fiona Marsden

    It wouldn’t have been a problem with anyone else. But she could still remember the taste of him from that one night after the Law Guild Charity dinner. If he touched her, the whole place was likely to go up in smoke.

  8. “If I kiss you to shut them up, what guarantee do I have you won’t slap me with sexual harassment?” Charles asked giving the mob a strained smile.
    “None whatsoever,” Melissa said through clenched teeth, giving the crowd a indulgent wave.
    Why did she want him to take the risk anyway?

  9. They’d been caught . . . Charles snagged her around the waist and pulled her into his embrace amidst whistles and shouts of “Way to go, Knight!” He might get junior partner and the corner office, but she would show him she wasn’t defeated. She drew his head down to hers and poured her soul into the kiss. When they finally separated to catch their breath, he looked in her eyes and murmured for her ears only, “Way to go, Egan.”

  10. Dina van't Veer

    The thoughts swimming in her mind since Charles Knight had arrived at the firm, thoughts of if the body he looked to possess was as muscular and substantial as her speculation imagined swamped her. Melissa Egan looked up at the mistletoe as he did, their eyes lowering to meet, a current of awareness, understanding and desire zinged between them making her breath catch, alert and accepting of the inevitable.
    Charles slipped his hand around her neck pulling her closer, Melissa rose to her tiptoes meeting his lips and fireworks seemed to explode between them, neither wanted this kiss to end, where might it lead she wondered. This Christmas might be more merry than the forecast had predicted!

  11. “Mistletoe, could Walcott find something even more inappropriate? It’s unprofessional,” Melissa said stiffly.
    “You go ahead and tell the senior managing partner your thoughts, Mel. I dare you.” Charles whispered in a low tone as they turned to the crowd, cheering on the next set of victims.
    “I don’t want to kiss–,” she broke off as Charles dropped to one knee, grasped her hand and placed a gentle kiss on her palm. Melissa blinked, surprised not just at Charles’ actions, but at her own reaction as well.

  12. kisha friday

    If I can just get this stupid thing down. Melissa thought reaching up to get the mistletoe. Curse this height. She grumbled. Melissa could not reach the mistletoe. Charles chuckled as she kept trying to remove it.
    Just leave it up there. Charles said, I wouldn’t kiss you with a ten inch pole anyway.
    I wouldn’t kiss you either. Melissa retorted, I don’t like you.
    I don’t like you either. Charles spoke.
    They move a little closer to each other. Charles removes the mistletoe throwing it across the room. A couple female employees scramble to get the mistletoe.
    “You disgust me.” Melissa said.
    “You disgust me more.
    So if we kissed then we’ll still be enemies right? She said.
    Yeah. Charles agreed pulling her to him. I hate you with all my might.
    Melissa stands on her tiptoes and they kiss.
    “I really don’t like you. She spoke softly.
    I don’t like you either said Charles as he kissed her again slowly and assuredly. But as your new boss, he said biting her lips, this won’t happen again.

  13. They’d been caught… checking each other out.

    If he hadn’t winked, she might have let him kiss her, except that wink was exactly what Billy Smith had done when she was about to win the Seventh Grade Spelling Bee. She’d kissed Billy to settle the score, and he had misspelt his word. It occurred to her that this grey eyed man was just a big kid and she touched his arm, “Merry Christmas Charles, let’s kiss and make a little joy for everyone!”

  14. Eileen James

    Her breath caught in her throat as Charles leaned in, so close she could smell the fruity scent of holiday punch on his breath. He was going to kiss her, and she didn’t trust her lips to stop him. Just as she felt his five ‘o clock shadow brush her cheek he reached up and ripped the mistletoe from the door frame and whispered in her ear, “In your dreams, Egan.”

  15. The last place Melissa Egan wanted to be was at her boss’s Christmas party. Scratch that, the absolute last place she wanted to be was standing under the mistletoe with her rival, Charles Knight, while the law firm staff stared at them expectantly. She’d almost managed to slip away from the damning hanging foliage, but one drunken accountant had already yelled “Kiss!” They’d been caught…
    “If you don’t ask for permission, this could be called harrassment.” she warned him.
    “I think the fact that you’re standing under the mistletoe is implied consent.” he countered.
    She opened her mouth to respond, but he silenced her by leaning down and touching his lips to hers.

  16. Katie Gowrie

    Hello Romance Writers!

    Thank you, everyone who participated–we had so much fun reading your submissions! Without further ado, our top four in no particular order (yes, four, because we couldn’t narrow it down to just three):

    Jocelyn – loved the burst of action at the end with the punch bowl exploding. Sounds like this is gearing up to be a thrilling holiday suspense!

    Sara – nice tension created by Charles putting the ball in her court 😉

    Eileen – is she going to let Charles get away with this? We want to know what happens next! 🙂

    Ivy – love the sparring here, and Charles’s unexpected actions at the end!

    Thanks again, everyone. All the submissions were wonderful and so fun to read. Until next time–and happy holidays!

  17. They’d been caught, and Melissa was not going bow to public pressure, she was a criminal lawyer not a puppet on a string. Drawing a saccharine smile from the depths of her stomach, she tilted her head to one side and presented her cheek to Charles, feeling triumphant at being in control of the situation.
    Obviously Charles had other ideas. He moved even closer, placing himself squarely in front of Melissa. Startled, she looked up and he grinned down at her with the tiniest shake of his head. He exuded confidence. He gently tilted her chin up with a long forefinger. Melissa caught smell of good quality soap, fresh linen, and a hint of mint. She felt her shoulders tighten, and saw his grin soften into a smile of understanding as he dropped his head to brush his lips over hers, his eyes glinting with a wicked light at her obvious discomfiture. Unwittingly she sucked in a breath, his scent permeated through her. Her lips parted and a soft gasp escaped her, before he crushed his mouth over hers.
    Melissa’s pulse pounded in her ears. Somewhere, far in the distance, she heard a chorus of cat calls and laughter. Damn it!

    *Sorry I’m late. I was writing as Katie posted, so I thought I may as well add it in. Well done ladies!