Authors: Nina Ceves
The Romance Novel Cure
by Nina Ceves
2014 Nina Ceves; 2015, edited, revised
All rights Reserved.
Cover by Nerika Parke
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual persons, organizations, or events is purely coincidental.
I wished my life were more like a romance novel.
Better yet, a paranormal romance novel. Then, Ben and I would be fighting evil, together. Side by side. Instead, we were acting as though we were enemies.
I leaned against the counter in the kitchen. Swallowing past the lump in my throat, I couldn’t believe how distant from one another my husband and I were. It seemed like such a short time ago that we were so in love.
Ben and I? We had felt invincible. Nobody had ever loved as deeply, as truly, as the two of us. The connection we had was full of chemistry and destiny. We had found soul mates in each other. I leaned against the counter and watched water drain down the kitchen sink. How had it all gone so wrong?
Now? Ben slept in the guest bedroom with his igfs (internet girlfriends), we fought about everything, and I felt as though I were drifting, miserably.
“I’ll see you later,” said Ben, politely, from where he was getting his laptop and phone from its charger. “Should we meet there?”
“Yeah,” I said, looking away. “I’ll see you there.”
“Yeah,” he paused for a moment after grabbing his messenger bag. “Okay.”
Our eyes met for a moment, uncomfortably.
“Bye,” he said, leaving, locking the front door after himself. He always remembered to lock up.
We were meeting for our first therapy session this afternoon and I was dreading it, and I knew Ben was, too. I had called the therapist in a fit of desperation, after seeing her card on a bulletin board at my favorite cafe.
We were in trouble, and didn’t know what to do. Not only was my life nothing like a romance novel, my marriage had no romance anymore.
I wished my life were different. Or the way it used to be. Something. I don’t know.
That morning, instead of heading to work, I drove to the nearby cafe that had WiFi. I got some green tea and sat down, starting to get my stuff out of my bag. I wasn’t usually up this early, but I hadn’t been able to sleep. I had wanted to get out of the house. I planned to check in, letting work know I’d be working from home today, finishing up a branding project. I couldn’t wait to lose myself in work.
I just didn’t want to think about later this afternoon. Therapy? I would, what? Talk about stuff to some stranger? About me and Greta? I couldn’t imagine it. Getting my laptop and phone out of my bag, I realized I had Greta’s Kindle. Damn. No way was I going to head back home. If she called me, I’d let her know I had it. Otherwise, I’d give it to her when I saw her later, and just apologize. I didn’t even remember taking it. I was just mindlessly gathering up my stuff to take with me, stressing about Greta.
I sat back in my chair, scrubbing my face, looking out the window. The cafe was quiet, the first morning rush over. The chilly, New Mexico winter air was warming up and the sky was becoming a vivid blue lit by brilliant sunshine. Just a few people sat at tables, reading or working on their laptops. Stressing about Greta: that’s what I did a lot of lately. I had no clue about what was going so wrong between us, but I believed it was all my fault. She used to look at me as though I were her everything. Her eyes would light up, and she’d smile so big. God, that smile would get me every time. I’d feel it, right in my stomach. Every time. What happened between then and now, I had no idea. I never made her smile these days.
I held her Kindle, thinking about her, and clicked it on, thinking, too, about how I should start work. Greta hadn’t created a lock for her screen, so I idly began to browse through her books. I stopped, my jaw dropping. What the —? Every cover showed a dark haired, muscular, bare chested, man staring out intensely, in front of a background of mist and rubble. I scrolled some more. The cover guy was the same in several of the books.
. Who the heck was Silas? I clicked on the one of the books at random.
* * *
Silas placed his arms on the wall on either side of her. She looked up into his fallen angel face, his chiseled features making Sera catch her breath. Her gaze traveled down his bare chest, lingering on his shifter tattoos, to his defined eight pack trailing into worn, ripped, linen pants that hung on his lean hips.
“I told you,” he rasped, “it’s not safe for you. You must stop.”
“Stop?” she asked despairingly, “leaving you alone, knowing what you will face? And all because of me?” She felt two hot tears trickle down her cheeks.
Silas’s face contracted and he reached out with two calloused thumbs to catch her tears. He brought one thumb to his beautifully molded lips and sucked, his eyes dark.
“I can handle absolutely anything,” he ground out. “You hear me? Anything. I’ll walk into the Fire Trial tonight with a smile on my face, long as I know you’re okay.”
“Silas, no,” she moaned, sliding her hands up his muscular arms. “I can’t bear for you to sacrifice yourself for me. How can life be worth living, without… without you?”
“Live for both of us,” he whispered. “And who knows. Maybe I’ll come to you… in a dream.”
“No,” she sobbed, as his hands cupped her face. His lips came crashing down upon hers, claiming her mouth, invading her, hot and wet…
* * *
There was more. A lot more. Well. I sat back, blinking. I looked back down at the Kindle.
* * *
“You’re the best thing that ever happened to me,” Silas’s hands gripped her shoulders. “Don’t you ever forget that. You were worth everything. Everything we’ve gone through. Always.”
He pulled her close against his chest, and by this time her tears were falling steadily, sobs convulsing her. She grasped the sides of his face and pulled him, needing his mouth against hers.
“Sera, no,” he growled, “you must go. Now.”
“Silas,” she whispered brokenly.
Again his mouth met hers in a searing kiss that branded her forever…
* * *
“Need a refill?” the bearded barista asked me from behind the counter.
“Uh!” I said, “I mean, I’m good! For now!”
My heart was pounding and my pants felt way too tight. What the heck? My wife was giving me grief for looking at porn, calling it my internet girlfriends, we hadn’t been intimate in more than a year, and this — ? This? I swallowed, looked around, resisted adjusting my pants, and went back to reading.
* * *
…She clamped her lips shut, and closed her eyes.
“Don’t you dare,” purred Silas, “open your eyes. Open your mouth. I want see your pleasure. I want to hear you. Now!”
She did. She opened her eyes. His eyes were filled with unshed tears, passion, and possession.
“That’s right, angel of mine, let me hear you,” he said darkly.
“Silas,” she cried out, shaking, her head snapping back into his hand.
“Oh, Sera… Sera,” he shouted, his voice echoing in the cavern…
* * *
There was more. It got… highly descriptive, I guess you could say. I crossed my arms and looked out the window, clearing my throat.
“On the house,” called the barista, nodding to cups on the counter. “We’re making up some more.”
The other people in the cafe got up and took the coffee, thanking him. I nodded my thanks but stayed where I was. There was no way I could stand up. No. Way.
I had no idea. I had no idea that
is what my wife meant by
novels. Romance novels? I remembered my Aunt Barb read romances. The covers had couples embracing. The woman usually wore some sort of flowing gown. That’s what I thought romance novels were. Love stories. Guy gets girl, and so on. Hearts, flowers, wedding, the end. This, though? This… Silas and what was her name, Sera? I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Not going to be able to stand up any time soon. This book was so… so… hot.
I clicked the book shut and stared at the home screen for a moment. Then I clicked on the link for Amazon and looked up the Silas novels. They were called the
series. They were by an author named Mireya Santos. Reviews were consistently four stars with lots of raving.
* * *
OMG cannot wait for the next book. If I could give this one a zillion stars I would. OMG Silas! So many FEELS! Best bbf ever!
* * *
What was a bbf, I wondered. I checked it out on Google.
. I nodded to myself. What the heck? Checking the time, I quietly cursed. I really had to work. I put Greta’s Kindle back in my bag and tried to focus. Eventually I was able to get some actual work accomplished, but all too often my mind strayed back to the scene in the cavern.
It wasn’t being charged. I could have sworn I left my Kindle being charged. I looked again in my bag, by my bed, on the coffee table, and then back to my bed, checking under my pillow. Where the heck was it? I had to leave, feeling extremely upset to not have it with me.
I had hoped to read during my lunch break. And my tea break. And I was even considering pretending I smoked, so I could take a smoke break with my coworkers, and get some reading in then, too. I was thinking of getting a Kindle cover that looked like a pack of cigarettes. Then I could just get one extra reading break in every day. It was just that I had bought the latest Caspian ebook last night after work, and couldn’t wait to read it. It was my favorite paranormal romance series: Caspian, the moral, troubled, and very hot vampyre and his human love, Valerie. I couldn’t find my reader anywhere. I even thought of stopping at the bookstore before work. I knew it was also out in print now, and I wanted to buy the book there so I’d have it with me, but it would make me late. It was one of those days that started off badly and got worse.
Our therapist opened the door to her office and smiled warmly at us. “Greta and Ben Fox, welcome, so good to have you here.”
The office space was warm and inviting, with lots of bright, abstract art on the walls, pillows on the floor, and a large, comfortable, denim couch.
Ben and I glanced at each other, sharing a rare moment of understanding. MacIntyre was young. She looked like a teenager, with her dark hair in a long braid down her back, big brown eyes, no make-up, and floral dress. She gestured gracefully for us to sit down, and she sat across from us. She offered us herbal tea or water, and when we declined, began asking us a little bit about ourselves.
Ben: graphic designer, background in drawing and painting. Came to Albuquerque for school at the University of New Mexico and never left. Grew up in Philadelphia, Jewish, small family back east. Dad had passed away right after Ben graduated, and his mom had moved to a small apartment in downtown Philadelphia, and had not remarried.
Me: grew up north of Albuquerque, a preschool teacher who also graduated from UNM. Raised by a sprawling, dysfunctional, racist family who rejected me when I introduced them to Ben.
How we met: my senior year of UNM, I was doing a student teaching placement at a preschool that had very little in terms of resources. I created a project to get the community to make the preschool a safer, more welcoming place. Got a grant and got local workers to fix the place up, and then the last thing was my idea for a mural to be painted all along the ugly cement walls, inside and outside the play area. I got connected with Ben, who had graduated three years ago, and was working in graphic design, and had a painting studio in his live/work loft. He accepted the volunteer work and came up with beautiful designs of mountains, children, and animals. Within a couple of weeks of working together, I could not get him out of my thoughts. When the mural was completed, he asked me out for a drink, and that was that. He took me to a microbrewery on Marble Avenue that had a couple of gluten free beers and he explained how he had celiac disease. I immediately ordered the same kind of beer, too, because I panicked, remembering how I had gone to a training at the preschool about nut allergies. I didn’t know if it was the same kind of thing, at that point, but I didn’t want to drink anything with gluten if it could somehow make Ben sick, if we kissed. I remember being so nervous, sitting across from him and watching him talk, barely able to take in his words. If I could just know that I’ll be able to kiss him, I kept thinking feverishly, if I could just know he wants to kiss me. Finally all I could think of was kiss, kiss, kiss kiss kiss. So, I leaned over the table, getting up onto my knees. He stopped talking and just stared as I slowly tilted my head a little, intent on his lips. So close, finally. I kissed him softly and slowly, sighing in relief. I could taste the beer on his lips, feel the five o’clock shadow on his cheeks and chin, but mostly, the feel of his mouth, tender and sweet against my own filled me with sheer delight and relief. Kissing Ben. I remember pulling back, looking him in the eyes shyly, and sliding back down into my seat. He just sat there, the glass of beer still held aloft, tilting in his hand, staring at me. His mouth was open, his cheeks were flushed, and his eyes darted from my mouth to my eyes and back again. I remember thinking, “Totes
him.” Which was crazy, because marriage, wedding, all of that? Not on my radar. Until that moment, until that very special guy. Ben.
What made him special? Everything about him. I could tell by the way he was with his time and his talents, the way he was with the kids, and the look that came over his face whenever he caught sight of me. It was both gentle and excited. His eyes would soften and he would pause, whatever he was doing. But then, his eyes would also brighten, and he’d start to smile at me, such a sweet, self conscious smile. All the other teachers teased me about it. In my head, I called him Mr. Fox. I had had lots of boyfriends throughout high school and college, always around my own age. Ben seemed so grown up. There was this lack of arrogance about him, as if he truly did not get how attractive and wonderful he was. Huge brown eyes, thick brown, curly hair, a nose that kind of dipped, pointing to his mouth. That sounds weird, but that’s how it felt to me. I couldn’t look at him without going from his gorgeous, warm eyes, sliding down to his mouth and then I’d already be halfway to kissing him. His lips: so full, his lower lip even fuller. He has a slim build that is naturally strong, he has slender arms and a narrow waist. He always looks tanned in a kind of golden brown way. He thinks he is not tall enough, but I’m barely five feet, always in flats, so he always seemed very tall to me when I reached up on my tip-toes to try to kiss him.
Not that there had been any kissing in a long time.
Mac, as she encouraged us to call her, explained a little bit about what drew her to working with couples, how she approached the process of therapy, and we got some paperwork out of the way. I felt really anxious, and I noticed Ben kept nodding at everything Mac said, which he always did when he felt nervous.
“So,” said Mac, sitting back, and looking at us with kindness, “let’s talk a little bit about when things started to feel not okay between the two of you. Ben? Do you want to start?”