Because of Jacqueline – How I came up with the idea for the plot.
Have you ever seen one of those TV commercials for an Internet dating website with a man and woman who met online, and are now in wedded bliss? My husband and I could be that couple. I still tease him that my online dating membership was the best $29.99 I ever spent! The day after I decided to dip my toe into the Internet dating pool, I received an email from my future spouse, and the rest as they say…is history.
But I quickly realized we aren’t an anomaly when I began to ask people how they met their other half. I discovered co-workers, friends, and family members who are happily married today, as a result of a cyber relationship. Curious, I researched online dating and found some startling numbers on Statistics Brain. As of January 2014, there were 54,250,000 singles in the US and 41,250,000 of them have used online dating. That’s a whopping 76%!
Since so many people are falling in love via the Internet, I thought readers would relate to a heroine and hero who meet online. The idea for my sexy contemporary romance, Because of Jacqueline, was born. To make things interesting, I decided to delay their first date. Jackie must travel out of town for work. The couple spend the next two weeks in a tantalizing state of limbo filled with emails, texts, and phone conversations that go on seamlessly for hours.
Even though they have never met, their souls touch. The story taps into our desire to find one person who will love of us for who were are, not just our outward appearance. The conflict arises when they meet and their relationship changes.
Jackie Simms moves back to her hometown, St. Louis, to rebuild her life in the wake of divorce, including a foray into the world of online dating. She responds to an intriguing email from Marc Montgomery, who shares many of her interests, as well as a love for baseball. As their cyber relationship deepens, her skeptical side wonders if he’s too good to be true.
When Jackie’s work-related travel delays their first date, the couple spends the next two weeks in a tantalizing state of limbo filled with tender emails and intimate phone conversations that go on seamlessly for hours. Even though they have never met, their souls touch.
When they finally meet, will Marc be Jackie’s dream come true? Will she learn the truth about this enigmatic man? Will self-doubt lead Jackie to believe she is the barrier to her own happiness?
The martini tasted delicious. And potent. The drink went straight to my head at the first sip. Minutes later, Marc joined me in the living room.
“This sofa is comfortable and good looking.” Not as good looking as the owner. His polo shirt clung to his well-defined chest. Obviously, he worked out on a regular basis.
“After I had the house rehabbed, I worked with a friend of my mom’s. She decorated the whole place.”
“Impressive.” I murmured, thinking more of him than his furnishings. The gin continued to fog my brain. My plan to remain cool toward him became a distant memory.
After we finished our drinks he asked, “Hungry?”
“Yes, some food would be good.” I needed something to soak up the alcohol.
“Come,” he ordered softy.
I followed Marc to the kitchen—a chef’s dream filled with high-end stainless steel appliances. The beautiful custom ebony cabinets boasted brushed nickel hardware. Five bar stools lined the massive marble-topped island. A round table with leather chairs set for two occupied the bay window. The kitchen opened to a grand family room with a high tray ceiling.
My attention went to the opposite wall. “Marc, what is the size of your flat screen?” I’d never seen anything comparable.
“It’s eighty-four inches. You like lingerie. I like to watch movies and sports.”
“On a gianormous screen.” I giggled.
“Gianormous? That’s a word I haven’t heard.” He looked bewildered.
“I picked it up from my girls. It’s a combination of giant and enormous. Teenagers have a unique way of expressing themselves.” I chuckled to myself.
“Your martini seems to be agreeing with you, Jacqueline.” His smile widened.
I took the opportunity to look for the lower front crooked incisor he mentioned, but I couldn’t see anything except perfect teeth. The buzz in my head intensified. My eyelids started to droop.
“I’ll get the food. Can you get a couple of waters from the fridge?”
“Sure.” I tried to steady myself. I never should have had a drink on an empty stomach.
“We have egg rolls, wonton soup, and Mongolian Beef, light on the onions, as you requested.”
“Thank you. It looks tasty.” He looks tasty. Jeez, I feel like a horny teenager!
Thankfully, as we ate, I began to feel more coherent. Yoake sat curled up on her floor pillow nearby as Marc updated me on his acquisition plans with the internet company. He seemed pleased when I shared with him my daughters were coming for a visit. This evening is starting out much better than last week.
After dinner, Marc produced his movie collection list. “Take a look. Tell me what you’d like to watch. They’re arranged by genre in alphabetical order.”
I stared at the list in awe. “There must be over five hundred movies here.”
“I removed fifty from the list last month.”
“Glad to see you are cutting back,” I teased.
“What’s your pleasure? An old classic, a drama, action, or maybe sci-fi? I’m guessing you’re the romantic comedy type.” I could only see his blazing blue eyes over the top of the list.
“Do you have any recommendations?”
“Last week I bought Hitch with Will Smith and Eva Mendez. Have you seen it?”
“No, I haven’t. Let’s watch it.”
Marc started setting up the DVD.
I wonder how many other women have been to his place for Chinese and a movie. He had been single his adult life, while I’d been married. I remembered what Trish said to me about STDs and using condoms.
I certainly wasn’t planning on having sex with him, but it felt incredible when he kissed me last week. Marc took a seat next to me on the sofa. His inviting scent was clean and fresh with a note of spice.
“Can I get you something to drink?”
“I’m fine,” I murmured.
“Yes. You are,” his eyes glimmered as he stroked my arm. A shiver ran down my neck and across my shoulders. His lips brushed mine. The quivering spot in the pit of my stomach exploded.
As Marc pulled me in his arms, he kissed me softly. When his warm tongue pressed into my mouth, a combination of panic and burning desire ripped through me. My lips couldn’t deny his moist, sweltering kiss. He stopped and took my hand. Without saying a word, he stood and led me out of the room down the hallway.
I knew where we were going. Yoake trotted along beside us swishing her tail, as if she knew too. Looks like this isn’t the first time Yoake has accompanied someone to Marc’s bedroom. She ran ahead and nosed open the door. The late summer sunset lit the room in a soft, warm glow. A king size bed with a tall, fawn-colored upholstered headboard and button tufting dominated the large space. The soft neutral toned bedding appeared to be a sumptuous raw silk.
Marc stopped a foot from the bed. He wrapped his arms around my waist and kissed me. Slow and deep. All the blood drained from my head. The air in the room became thick. When he pulled my T-shirt over my head, the heat from his body blanketed my bare skin. With ease, he unsnapped my bra with one hand and dropped it to the floor.
The temperature in the room was warm enough for me to remove my jacket. As I took it off, I noticed Marc glance at me over the top of his menu with a hint of appreciation in his eyes.
“Would you prefer a bottle of wine or a cocktail?”
“I’d like some wine this evening. You’re the expert, please choose.”
The Sauvignon Blanc Marc selected complemented the roasted salmon dish we ordered for dinner. As we ate, I couldn’t seem to get Marc engaged in regular conversation. I decided to shake things up a bit. “I have a question. Do you know how many women you have slept with, including me?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Trish told me when you sleep with one person, it’s like sleeping with seven people. I would like to know my exposure. From an STD perspective.” Am I brazen for asking the question?
“I’m not into one-nighters. Including you, I’ve probably slept with fifteen women.” His nostrils flared slightly.
Fifteen. My lucky number. Pressing my lips together, I paused to calculate. “If I’ve done my math correctly, the total would be one hundred and five.”
“I assure you, I don’t have unprotected sex.” His jaw clenched, creating a tension in his face.
“You are only the second man I’ve had sex with.”
“Doesn’t matter to me,” he shrugged.
“That was the past.”
Funny, I don’t think his issues from his past are behind him.
On the way home from dinner, Marc turned on the CD player in his car. He skipped through the songs until “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” began to play. Is he trying to tell me something? Regardless, I appreciated the sound.
As we silently rode up in my elevator to my condo, I wrung my hands and watched until the light stopped on floor fifteen.
“Thank you for dinner, Marc,” I murmured.
“You’re welcome,” he answered. “I’m totally jet-lagged so, I‘m going to head home.” He kissed my hair and began to turn away.
Say something. “Drive safe.”
“I will.” He gave my hand a squeeze. “Good night.”
I went to the bedroom, kicked off my heels, and fell on my bed. My eyes began to sting with tears. Moxie jumped up beside me and licked my face.
Is there something wrong with me? With him? I slammed my fists on the bed.
I took in a deep breath and exhaled. “Do you want a cookie, Moxie? Maybe we’ll both have a cookie.” Her big brown saucers stared up at me.
On my way to the kitchen, I heard a knock. Is it Marc? Did he forget something?
I opened the door. Marc stood in front of me. Under the shadow of his knitted brow, his eyes darkened to a deep, sea blue.
Is he going to tell me adios?
He stood silent. I steadied myself.
“Did you forget something?”
“No. I mean, yes,” he stammered. “I forgot this.”
He pulled me close, covered my mouth with his lips, and plunged his tongue deep inside. I was shocked, confused, and totally turned on.
He held his kiss as he moved me through the doorway and skillfully pushed the door shut with his foot. I tore my mouth away and said, “I thought you were jet-lagged.”
“I got a second wind.” He continued to devour me with his mouth.
He unbuttoned my jacket and slid it down my over my arms. As he kissed and nipped at my shoulders, my breath caught in my throat.
“I’ve been thinking about this all night.” His voice was rough.
This time I led him to my bedroom. I walked him over to the edge of my bed and pushed him back on the mattress. He looked a bit stunned, but pleased.
Cynthia Pomranz lives in the Midwest with her husband. She has two beautiful daughters, and a shih tzu that thinks she is a retriever. Cynthia earned a BA from Knox College, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. After years of writing software training manuals, she followed her heart and wrote her first romance novel with the love and support of her family.
You can follow Cynthia on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.