Friday, April 6, 2012

Write On Edge: Romantic Things Challenge

I know romance isn't your cup of tea, but don't run off just yet, Dad.

This week's challenge affords 450 words to introduce a romantic element into a storyline. A quick way to liven up a plot, a romantic interest can provide a way to further character development. It can up the stakes for a protagonist in a suspenseful thriller or it can be a train wreck waiting to happen for star-crossed lovers.

This week I give you a snippet from my YA work-in-progress titled Catalyst. While Catalyst is from the viewpoint of Emma Baker, a freshman in high-school, this post is centered around her mother.

I offer the following in response: Inquiry

Jack allowed a moment to pass while his eyes adjusted to the light of the bar. A Wednesday night, the crowd was slight as expected and hushed as he meandered through the tables. He made eye contact with the bartender, who flashed him a tired smile. “What’s your poison?” she asked, cheerily.

“Club soda,” he said, acquiring a bar-stool at the vacant end where he could keep an eye on the door.

She reached for a glass, smile fading. “You workin’ tonight, Officer?”

“Depends,” he replied, grinning. “Jack Sutter, US Marshals Service.”

She accepted his offer of a handshake, hesitantly, “Arizona.”

“Can I ask you something?”

Her eyes narrowed, “I’m a single mom of two teenaged girls. I don’t date strangers I meet in bars.”

He looked at her again, this time paying attention to her features. She was certainly attractive; blonde hair tucked into a twist and a faint crinkle in the corner of her blue eyes. He sensed a strength within her that intrigued him. “Not the question, but good to know.”

She blushed as she delivered his soda. “I’m sorry. You must think I’m stuck-up now. It’s just, working here, I get hit on. A lot.”

He glanced at the patrons. Most belonged to the chain of motorcycles parked along the side of the building. Black leather, spikes, and chains littered the room. Everyone seemed covertly trained on him, ready to protect their bartender. “If I didn’t think they’d rework my face, I’d be tempted,” he said honestly. “And since the only thing I’ve got going for me is my stunning good looks, I’ll have to hold off on the pick-up lines.”

She laughed brightly and the tension in the room eased. “They make this job worthwhile. They look out for me; keep me safe.”

He retrieved a picture from his pocket. “You know this man?”

She blanched and fussed with the condiments behind the bar. “He in trouble?” she asked timidly.

“I’m just looking to ask him some questions,” he assured her.

“Ol' Coop comes in on Thursdays and Fridays and takes up real estate on the far pool table,” she gestured towards the back. “I don’t know much about him. The guys might but they’ll be reluctant to talk to you.”

“In that case, I’m not working tonight. I’ll have a bourbon neat.” He polished off his club soda while she pulled a bottle from the shelf. “And your phone number.”

She blushed again, “Single mom of two teenaged girls and a bar full of bikers didn’t scare you off?”

“Just thought I’d arrange a meeting at a coffee shop,” he said, winking. “That way, you didn’t meet me in a bar.”


  1. I like his comeback, ie, last line. The telling part is him admitting what he did for a living. cop friends I have or work with tell me that you only tell someone who you work for out of uniform if you eally like them or trust them.

    good piece...more please

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      My brother was a police officer for nearly a decade and there were times I felt I was in boot camp training with him. We still speak in "cop codes" like 10-21 10-19 re dinner (call home about dinner)or phrases like non-injury TC auto vs. auto. As a result, I try to be sensitive to the reality of police-work and not just what a civilian might assume police-work is all about.

      Anyway thanks for sharing your thoughts! I'm glad you enjoyed your stay!

  2. I like that she pegged him as cop right away. The word play was smooth ans natural sounding.
    And so...what's next?

    1. Yeah, I think most bartenders would be able to peg a cop, or other law enforcement, even if they're not flashing badges. It's in the shoulders, the hair cut, the way they walk. Add the club soda, and it was a dead giveaway.

      Next? Well eventually he has to meet her daughters...the book is supposed to be about her youngest...

      Thanks a bunch for stopping by and leaving your feedback!

  3. I'm going to echo the first to comments because I like the dialogue. It was smart and flowed well. I believed it.

    Can't wait to

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm thrilled the dialogue is working. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. They have a great back and forth chemistry. Really enjoyed this

    1. I'm happy this worked. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback!

  5. You have great rapport here, and as introductions to supporting cast members go, this is excellent. Your cop sounds natural, your bartender relaxed and confident, the atmosphere is really well imagined.

    1. Thanks! Arizona's been through hell and Jack will be an important strength for her struggling family later. Of course, he has to pass the daughter test first. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!