Writing challenge: Let’s use the five senses!

By Deirdre McCluskey, Administrative Coordinator, Harlequin Series

Many of you are preparing your submission for the Harlequin Dare Blitz which opens next Monday. Harlequin Dare is our sexiest series, featuring stories that focus on how the romance develops through the couple’s physical relationship.

As we said in our post, “The Key to Writing Red-Hot Romance”, your book’s bedroom (or kitchen, studio, beach, office, hotel room—wherever!) scenes should “bring your readers into the moment” and “[manifest] what your characters feel for each other.” One tool in your arsenal? Write using all five senses.

Your challenge this week is to write a short (3-5 paragraphs) description of a fabulous meal. Employ all five senses and use the following prompt:

“Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan.”

To get you started, here are 5 tips for writing more powerful descriptive scenes:

  • Describe what’s happening without thinking about beautiful sentences, lyrical metaphors, etc.  Focus on your characters’ experience, not your writing.
  • Choose details that reveal character. Maybe the scent of lime reminds your heroine of the beach vacation where her ex broke up with her. How does she react to the hero’s citrusy cologne?
  • Minimize filter words that “tell” instead of “show”.  Look for phrases like, “she felt”, “she saw”, “she heard”, “she thought”, etc., and replace with more direct language.
  • Remember the importance of taste and smell. It feels natural to describe what your heroine sees, but including what she tastes and smells will add immediacy and depth.
  • Don’t feel you have to include every detail. A Matisse line drawing of a woman’s body says more about the artist’s unique vision than a photograph could. Select the details that are most meaningful to the characters and the story.

Post your scene in the comments below any time between now and Sunday, April 8th, 2018, and we’ll check back with you on Monday!

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  1. Elle Marlow

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan. Fine lines fanned from the corners of his eyes and along the edge of his mouth. Would he ever stop worrying?
    The moment his newest cake creation touched her tongue, she knew he’d hit gold. The lemon frosting smoothed along her tongue and awoke her senses. She could imagine herself walking down a row of citrus trees as she took another bite. She allowed the cake to linger a moment before she swallowed.
    “Well?” he asked, his brown eyes darting between her gaze and the empty fork.
    “It’s wonderful,” she told him truthfully. His responding grin and the tart aroma of Pinot Noir filled the space between them as he handed her a glass.
    “I think this calls for a celebration,” he announced. “The Golden Spoon will find a new home on my kitchen shelf,” he proclaimed, clinking his glass against hers.
    “The competition doesn’t stand a chance,” she told him.
    Ethan sat back with satisfaction and emptied his glass. She watched mesmerized at how sexy he was when he allowed himself to relax.
    His smile, the piano music filtering through the speakers, warmed her blood and carried her thoughts to places a little more romantic than rows of lemon trees. In fact, she was ready to trade in Ethan’s frosting and Pinot Noir for smooth silk sheets and burnt candles.
    Was he as delicious? She wondered.
    “I’m still hungry,” she admitted.
    “Ready for your real desert, then?” he teased.

  2. Sara Abdul

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan.

    She pressed the tines of the fork harder over her bottom lip, her teeth clamping down over the warm silverware. Only the best cutlery laid out for their impromptu evening together. Ethan had gone above and beyond to impress her.

    Or his mother had. Though she’d made herself scarce as soon as she dragged Ethan out of his office. He stopped sulking once the main course had been laid out. And what a meal!

    Rebecca’s stomach grumbled. She wasn’t eating fast enough, it said. She slid the fork from her lips, mulling over the succulent baked ham. The sweet honeyed mustard glaze burst on her tongue first, flowering into the individual spices before the undertone of pineapple finished the bite.

    Her nostrils flared, soaking in the heady cider vinegar and balmy sugar. Sucking in her bottom lip, she held back a groan. She covered it better by sipping at the sparkling, dry rosé Champagne, the spiced nut accent blending with the roasted berry and biscuit notes. The party in her mouth wouldn’t quit.

    “Are you enjoying your meal?” Ethan’s question reminded her she wasn’t alone, and that she was no longer banned from speaking to him. His knife scraped at his plate, his fork plucking up a pink, tender slice of ham, the browned glaze dripping onto his plate. He seared her with his narrowed gaze. “I hope it complements your attempt at humiliating me by showing up uninvited.”

  3. Sabrina Ross

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan. His dark and brooding demeanor was slowly slipping away, maybe there was more to this business meeting than he had implied earlier.
    “How’s your dessert?”
    Relishing the rich creamy filling assaulting her taste buds she couldn’t block out the sensual images that came to mind as Ethan’s deep, warm voice warmed her to her very core.
    Time to up the ante.
    “It’s absolutely heavenly, but do you know what would make it even better?”
    “No, what’s that?” Ethan casually moved in closer to her and his eyes took on a dark and predatory gleam.
    Or maybe it was her imagination.
    “Some nice 20 year old Port would mix beautifully with this, what do you say to a glass or two?”
    “I’ve never tried it before”
    “You’ve never tried Port?”
    Rebecca’s reservations would float easily enough away if he kept looking at her like that never mind the Port.
    “No, not Port. Whatever your dessert is there, Creme Brule? I don’t think I’ve ever had it before”
    Scooping up a generous spoonful of crisp, caramel coating and cream she held up the spoon as she leaned in closer across the table.
    “Maybe it’s time you tried something new.”
    Ethan’s gaze swept over her exposed cleavage.
    Jackpot!
    “Maybe it is.”

  4. Jeanna Louise Skinner

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan.

    “You wouldn’t,” he leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms out in an exaggerated mock yawn.

    Careful to take short, shallow breaths, Rebecca took one last look at the deep fried cockroach. Then she shoved the whole fork into her mouth before her nerve failed. At least it wasn’t wriggling.

    As her teeth bit down into the crunchy insect, Ethan’s eyes and mouth widened in shock. Yes! Noisy clattering and shouts hailed from the cramped kitchens, vendors and tourists babbled over each other incoherently, steam rose in wispy spirals from the hot plates. Rival radios competed for attention; one blasting out a popular K-Pop tune, the other, excitable commentary for a soccer game. Becky concentrated on zoning both Ethan and the Gangnam street market out.

    Something that looked suspiciously like a monkey’s skull drifted across her line of sight, and her stomach flipped alarmingly, but she didn’t stop chewing. Swallowing the final masticated remains of the cockroach – surprisingly salty, unsurprisingly squishy once one got past the crispy exterior – she reached for her bottle, downing the strong beer in one. Then she allowed herself a moment of silent celebration before meeting Ethan’s waiting gaze.

    “Your turn.”

    Ethan didn’t miss a beat. Eschewing the plastic forks, he grabbed a pair of chopsticks before deftly and expertly picking out a cockroach.

    “Very good, Becks,” he wiggled it under her nose in a deliberate taunt; she’d always been useless with the damn things. “But can you eat a live one?”

    Then he popped the disgusting insect in his mouth before she could interject. Typical Ethan, always moving the goalposts – even throughout their three years of marriage. But that was then and this was business, and there was no way Rebecca Rowley was going to let her former husband out score her ever again.

    • Sabrina Ross

      Awesome job! Though the partaking of cockroach isn’t really my forte its delivered in such a way that I want to keep reading to find out how far these two will go!

    • Chrissie

      This one cracks me up. It brings to mind the time I was served egg flower soup in a Chinese restaurant and when I dipped my spoon in a cockroach floated to the top. I caught the waiter’s attention and told him/showed him. And he said “Would you like another bowl?” Like I was going to eat it. Hubby and I got up and walked out and it was the last time I ate there. I still have trouble at Oriental restaurants because I know bugs are considered a delicacy in their countries or an added source of protein as my late brother would say. But me? No thanks. Adorable setup though! 🙂

    • Katie Gowrie

      Jeanna, I love where you took this! Well done — the details were so vivid I feel like I was there. And I love the playful and adventurous chemistry between this couple. Found myself wanting to read more! 🙂

  5. Cherith O'Connor

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan. She looked straight into Ethans blue eyes, and with her full lips she popped the sweet peach off her fork. She smiled, “You are quite the cook. I admit it, I lost the bet, sooo…you win!
    Ethan chuckled, low and sexy, it sent a well known shiver down Rebecca’s spine and made her heart pound a little faster.
    ” Cooking isn’t the only thing I’m good at.” Ethan gave a crooked smile and wrapped his hand around his wine glass and took a sip. All she wanted was to have his lips caress the bare skin on her neck, a feeling she had been longing for.
    “I believe I owe you a penalty now? Name your price, go on…shock me!” She laughed playfully. She watched him walk to the kitchen and breathed in the intoxicating waft of lemon and cedar he always wore.
    He laughed this time out loud and returned to the table with a small bowl in his hand.
    “So…..you want me to shock you?” He stood close now she could feel the heat of his body, his eyes filled with desire never left her face.
    “Yes” Rebecca almost whispered feeling herself blush. Her gaze never left his, and she could feel his iron hard thigh pressing against hers. He dipped his finger into the little bowl and scooped up a light wisp of cream.
    “Oh cheeky, Iv already had dessert .” Rebecca said mockingly smiling at Ethan, admiring the candle light dancing across his strong jaw line.
    “Not this one you havent.” His voice was husky, deep, laced with longing. He lifted his finger to her lips. “Open.” he commended her gently.
    Rebecca parted her lips and wrapped them around the tip of his finger and delicately sucked the sweet cream off. He lifted her chin, ran his thumb across her bottom lip and pulled her to her feet.
    He leaned in closer, his lips at her ear and he whispered.
    “Let’s finish this together.”

    • Connolly Bottum

      This scene was so fun! I really enjoyed the way that you built the tension in this scene. Given the challenge, I wish you had included a description of the way the food tasted and smelled since you primarily focused on seeing, hearing and touch in this scene, but great job overall!

  6. Chrissie

    A little twist, from the hero’s POV:

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan before licking the liqueur flavored tiramisu with the tip of her tongue and slowly settling the fork into her mouth, her eyes never breaking contact with his. When she removed the utensil from her lips and reloaded it with the lush dessert, she smiled and offered a bite to him across the candlelit table.

    Ethan covered her hand with his as she fed him and groaned as the intense sweetness lit his hunger not only for the food but for this temptress inviting him to play. Erotic thoughts eased from his mind to his lower region as he tugged her closer and leaned into a sensual kiss. Sweet cream and chocolate made his hunger for her intense. Her scent of wildflowers teased his nostrils as much as her lips teased his when she opened them to let their tongues duel in foreplay.

    Tempest in the form of Ravel’s Bolero blared through the restaurant intensifying his need to make love to this Rebecca, urged on by the erotic play of musical notes. He pushed aside the flimsy table and gathered her into his arms. He would take her here and now for teasing him so. Yet this was only pretend, a casual dinner play meant to entertain and delight their customers. She was the understudy and he’d not met her before tonight. But after that kiss, after the sensual duel with their tongues, there was no way he would allow her to leave without first getting her real name.

    “Please, who are you?”

    A soft giggle. “Your muse, tempting you into a sexual fantasy of pure delight—if only I were real.”

    And in a poof of white smoke, she was gone. Ethan glanced around the empty restaurant and noted the lack of any sound at all, except for the fast pounding of his heart. Had he been dreaming after all?

  7. Jocelyn

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan. Swallowing hard, she forced a tremulous smile. When, at a muffled pop of a cork, he glanced to the table beside them, she hastily lowered the utensil and swirled its contents on her plate. Peas. Why did it have to be peas? The tines of her fork scraped against the china as Rebecca surreptitiously nudged a trio of the bright green vegetables under a leaf of butter lettuce.
    The restaurant, with its discreet hum of conversation – so perfectly pitched Rebecca wondered if it was prerecorded like the laugh track of a sitcom – didn’t seem like the place for discreetly pushing the veggie off her plate. Rebecca stifled a snort. Ethan’s mother would really think Rebecca was a mongrel if she discovered that her son’s questionable companion had peaed on the floor of Mrs. Howell’s favorite restaurant. And Ruckus wasn’t here to make the evidence disappear from under the table. At the thought of her loveable mutt, Rebecca winced. It wasn’t Ruckus’s fault that she now hated fresh peas. Well, not totally.
    “Is there a problem?”
    Rebecca met Ethan’s concerned dark eyes. Perfect eyes. Everything about him was perfect – except his preference for peas. This was the last time she let someone order for her. It wouldn’t be a problem if they were in a private place. Her place, or his, where, lured by his sandalwood scent, she could drift closer like a Warner Brothers’ floating cartoon character. Curl up on his lap, nibble on his neck, and lick the hollow between the cords of his throat. Leaving peas forgotten on the table. The tantalizing thought vaporized as she glanced again at her pea-ridden salad plate. Okay, maybe only ten little round objects dotted it. But as Rebecca closed her eyes, all she saw were the turgid ticks entrenched on Ruckus when she’d found him as a stray. And the pop and spray underfoot of one she’d pulled off and accidentally stepped on. Ever since, she couldn’t stand to close her teeth on a pea and feel the resulting splat in her mouth.
    Saliva coated the sides of her tongue and seeped under it. Mrs. H wouldn’t be thrilled to hear that Rebecca had hurled over the table linen either. Darting a frantic look around the room, she regretted not reconnoitering the location of the ladies’ room when they’d entered.

  8. Deanna Lynn

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan. Desire swirled in his blue-eyed gaze, mingling with the triumphant gleam he couldn’t quite hide. “I haven’t even tried it yet,” she said, narrowing her gaze. “Why do you look as if you’ve already won?”

    “Maybe I have. You’re here, aren’t you? You agreed to have dinner with me. That’s a win, don’t you think?” His pleased grin smarted, but she wasn’t stupid enough to correct him on his theory, mostly because she wasn’t entirely sure he was wrong. Ethan might not be as powerful as his billionaire father, but he was far more captivating than her initial research of him led her to believe. Which didn’t bode well for her need to keep him at arm’s length.

    Ignoring his self-satisfied grin for the moment, Rebecca took her first bite of the dark, rich desert he’d ordered them. It was almost decadent, the way the moist chocolate cake and its warm, gooey center danced across her tongue. So decadent an unintended moan slipped from her lips, startling them both into a grin.

    “If I’d known all it took was a little chocolate cake to get a reaction like that,” Ethan teased, “I’d have ordered you a dozen of the things weeks ago.” He reached across the table and took her free hand in his, gently rubbing his thumb across her palm as he lowered his voice to ask, “Tell me you’re going to put us both out of our misery, Becca. You know it’s what we both want. Why fight it so hard?”

    Because not fighting it meant giving into him and possibly losing a part of herself, and she couldn’t—wouldn’t—let that happen. No matter how good his man of the woods scent appealed to her senses.

    • Deirdre

      I like how you have smoothly integrated plot points and backstory into your scene. To really bring the scene alive for your readers, try digging deeper and playing up the concrete details. For example, can we see “desire swirl[ing]” in someone’s eyes? What would that look like? Chocolate desserts are often described as “decadent”. Are there nuances of flavor, fragrance and texture that Rebecca can discern “dancing across her tongue”? What might they be compared to? Thanks for writing!

  9. Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan before popping the tangy noodle into her mouth. “Mmmmm, almost ready.” Inwardly she cringed at the unintentional double meaning. The Pad Thai wasn’t the only thing heating up. The simmering in her loins was about to boil over.

    “Good thing. That scent is making me absolutely voracious.” He moved closer as she stirred the bubbling pan. Her skin caught fire as he brushed against her arm, and the prickle of excitement rushed straight to the danger zone. “How about letting me have a taste?”

    Ethan’s warm, familiar growl made her ear tingle and every inch of her body throb with longing. Hoping he’d attribute her flushed skin to the heat from the stove, she forked up another noodle and dangled it in front of his mouth with a wicked, teasing smile. “I think you’re going to be surprised.”

    His dark gaze riveted onto hers as he parted his lips. Tremulous with memories of sensations that talented mouth had once created, Rebecca slid the tidbit between his lips and held her breath. His eyes widened first, then closed in bliss as he savored the food and swallowed. “You’ve learned to spice things up while I’ve been away,” he breathed.

    Rebecca inhaled deeply and was overpowered by the scent of Ethan’s familiar, smoky aftershave mingling with the mouth-watering aroma of Pad Thai. Boldly meeting his surprised look, she answered in a husky murmur, “I’ve learned a lot of things since you left.

  10. Dominique H

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan. He was gazing at her, a stillness filling the air between them. His electric blue eyes were piercing her to her seat as she took the bite, her face betraying nothing. She tasted the cake. The creamy red velvet flavor melting in her mouth, the hint of chocolate sweet and delicate. She closed her eyes, cursing silently to herself. His was better, much better, than hers.
    Rebecca’s brown eyes met his blue ones, a smirking smile playing on his lips. She knew it was all too clear that he had bested her. Rebecca’s lips tugged slightly, her eyes playful as she spoke, “Alright. You win this round.” Ethan’s face broke out into a wide grin, his hands giving a celebratory fist pump into the air. Rebecca threw a nearby kitchen towel at him, her face alight with humor. “No one likes a cocky winner Ethan.”
    Ethan grinned in response and she looked at their surroundings, the spilled batter, the thin layer of sugar that powdered the counter.
    “Ugh this mess is going to take forever to clean.”
    Ethan laughed, “I think that’s a job for the losing baker.”
    Rebecca rolled her eyes and stood from the table. It was only fitting Ethan would win, it wasn’t enough he was good looking and successful, he also had to be a baker as well, as if he didn’t have enough going for him. Rebecca walked to the sink, turning on the warm water. She had begun to reach for the nearest bowl when she felt him behind her, his masculine cologne mixing with the scent of vanilla that hung around them. His lips were near her ear, his breath warming her neck as he quietly asked, “Want some help?”

    • Connolly Bottum

      Great job! I could absolutely picture the scene you created, which is always an indicator of good writing. This scene really benefitted from the way you employed all five senses. Also, who doesn’t love baking?

  11. Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan.
    She slid the cherry into her mouth and chewed, slowly, without breaking eye contact. After she swallowed, he watched the pink tip of her tongue glide along her top lip.
    Ethan felt a bead of sweat slip down the side of his face, it sure was hot in this wedding marquee. The air was humid and hung heavily with the perfume of the table arrangements and the earthy smell of so many guests. Ethan raised his glass to Rebecca, and took a slow swallow, savouring the tickle of the expensive champagne over his tongue. He suppressed a smile as her gaze fixated on his throat. Two can play this game sweetheart.
    She was distracted momentarily by one of the best men, so he had time to plan his next move. With his fork ready and a perfect line of sight to the top table, he waited, every sense focused on the slight figure in the cream satin bridesmaid’s dress. His brain flooded with the memory of their first kiss last night. Her skin had been as soft and silky as the dress that presently hugged her figure and her lips as delicious as the cheery tang filling his mouth. Ethan shifted in his seat as he remembered the soft moan she gave when he had deepened the kiss.
    The distraction moved away and Rebecca glanced over him as he ran his tongue over the sweet cherry before gently easing it into his mouth. She gasped and her cheeks flushed a delightful rose colour that had nothing to do with her makeup. Ethan couldn’t help but smile, cherry pie at a wedding had never been this much fun.

  12. Dina van't Veer

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan. Her tongue snuck out to capture the sweet honey syrup beginning to drip from the heavenly bite of baklava. His eyes were riveted to this sight, he could almost taste the flaky phyllo as he heard the gentle crackle of the pastry being enjoyed.

    It had seemed a good idea as they were leaving to get their meal wrapped to take back to enjoy when he brought her to her cottage.

    A smile started at the corner of her mouth. Talking to Ethan through the dinner of some super savory gyros wasn’t very easy. They’d both struggled to keep the contents in the pita bread. She had outright laughed as he had caught a slippery cucumber between his fingers and it slithered out anyway.

    “Eating anything from the county fair can be a challenge,” Rebecca decided.

    This evening was winding down, the scent of so many different vendors offering a large variety of culinary delights had been heavy in the summer air.

    “Let me have a taste” Ethan murmured in a deep sultry voice as she was bringing the fork to her lips again. He reached his hand to hers to still the motion and brought his lips to the fork just inches from her. Easily cleaning the fork he retained hold of her hand and moved it lower enabling him to lean a fraction closer and have their lips meet for a short moment.

    “That’s it?” she asked. All night the scent of his woodsy outdoors self had teased her. Their conversation all evening had at times skirted risque.

    Ethan slowly shook his head. Watching her through the growing dusk, her light hair catching on her lip in the light breeze or hearing her laugh at the sight of toddler twins playing with balloons had kept him aware of her.

    “Oh no.” he shook his head. The hand removed the fork and he wrapped a strand of that beguiling blonde hair around his finger, His other arm brought her lower body into contact with his.

    An explosion seemed to occur as their lips met this second time. The taste of sweet honey was mixed with the feel of heat as his tongue met hers.

    “The night isn’t over yet,” Ethan murmured against her lips as she led him from the porch inside.

    • Patience Bloom

      Dear Dina, Very good attention to detail from the baklava, to the kiss, to the setting description, and second kiss. I could really “see” this moment between the hero and heroine. Nice!

  13. Patsy Conway

    Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan. It was warm on her lips, having rested in the barbecue sauce, but not so intense that it burned. She slid her tongue over the tines and closed her eyes as the tangy flavors drizzled down her throat. Perfection.

    She loved a man who could cook, one who wasn’t afraid to show that he had many talents beyond the bedroom. As he stood there, bare chested, the drawstrings of his fleece pants tied in a taut bow just below his washboard abs, she couldn’t help but think that this man was something special.

    Ethan had set the alarm for 2am and snuck out to the kitchen to begin preparing the slow cooker. She heard the clanging of a few lids and the squeal of the cupboards as he pulled out the brown sugar, vinegar, and ketchup, but it was clear to Rebecca that Ethan was trying his best to not disturb her when he snuck back into bed.

    By the time they awoke the next morning the aromas filled his entire one bedroom apartment. Pulled pork was Rebecca’s favorite and the little sliders he prepared for her smelled delicious. Best of all, he must have truly listened to her on their first date when she described how much she missed having good old fashioned barbecue in this city. Leaving her parents and family behind was the hardest thing Rebecca had ever done, but it was amazing how the taste of a home cooked meal could resurrect that feeling, that warmth, that security that had been missing. Ethan brought it for her.

    And Rebecca knew she would have to tell him the truth soon, even if it meant losing everything.

    • Rebeca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan. “Been gone a long-time stranger. Come in.”
      “I have. I’ve rodeoed the last twenty years, broken bones and pocket change is all I’ve earned. Not much for a man of maturity.”
      “Ethan, maturity? How old are you?”
      “Let’s just say I’m in the Bible.”
      “That’s funny. Looks like you’ve seen plenty of dirt and sky. You hungry”
      “I could eat. What that’s that smell? Baking a pie”
      “In triple degree weather, Ethan? Take your shoes off and climb the ladder with me,” snatching Ethan’s hand.
      “I don’t know if I can, Becky. I’ve busted ribs. The rungs are creaking be careful. What’s up there?”
      “Get a bucket. The Spanish Moss is so thick on my roof I’ve planted Appalachian Strawberries up here.
      We’ll make ice-cream for dinner. You should always eat desert first, for the just in case.”
      “I tried that when I didn’t want to eat my peas.” His smile was a welcome sight.
      “Yum,” taking a bite, “there in season.” Juice spilling from my mouth. “Try one?” Putting a strawberry between my lips.
      “I didn’t give you permission to grow up. I have been gone to long.” Thumbs inside the straps of my overhauls, inching me closer; I waited in anticipation. “Nope, sorry. I want what every man wants this time of the evening.”
      “A nap, Ethan?”
      “Fuck you. I’m not that old!” I was running; he was faster. “Your blond now, won’t be in a minute.” A handful of strawberries intertwined with my hair. Our breathing slowed, “I’m hungry for something more satisfying.”
      “I have your dinner.” Putting the strawberry, I’ve holding between my lips.

    • Deirdre

      Nice job on including all of the senses in your scene. Just a reminder to proofread your work. Checking your spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and including dialogue tags, will make it easier for your reader to understand what’s going on and become fully immersed in the scene. Thanks for writing!

  14. “Maybe so. Before kisses, I want a woman who smells of Tiger Lilies wearing a leather corset, I laced up, a tendril of desire, lust on her breath. It could be you, Finnegan?”