Shannon here: Contemporary Romance author, Ann Lee Miller shares insight into her real life romance plus a chance for 3 winners to each win an e-book copy of Kicking Eternity. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing. Deadline: Nov 5th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Ann:
Incandescent Ribbon by Ann Lee Miller
I marched, oblivious, through my first date with Jim as though it were no big deal—gritting my Florida-grown teeth against the frigid February First Ohio night. My fists jammed into the pockets of my coat. I trudged the ribbon of shoveled cement, snow glittering at the edges, toward my dorm.
I peeked at Jim, tall—I’ve always liked tall—sharp-elbow thin, and hat-less. “You make nine degrees look like a minor inconvenience.”
His chuckle whited the air and dissipated. “Thanks to all those Pennsylvania mornings when my hair froze on the way to school.”
I eyed him, marking off another who-knew? like discovering Christmas card snow turned your fingers to stiff, white corpses.
Beneath our conversation, Jim worried about whether he’d somehow blown it. Regardless, he had to give it his best shot. He sucked in a breath for courage. “Hey, I heard about a new coffeehouse in Mansfield, The Yellow Deli. They have live music on weekends. Do you want to check it out on Friday?”
A voice in my head said, that sounds like a real date, but he hadn’t tried to touch me tonight, and though he didn’t talk about her, I’d seen his girlfriend. It would be just-friends like tonight.
Really? said the voice in my head.
I ignored it. “That sounds like fun!”
The wind pistol-whipped my cheeks and I yanked my hood tighter, waved good-bye to Jim and darted through the glass doors into Amstutz Hall. Heat, light, nirvana.
I jogged up nine flights of stairs—because I disliked elevators and liked exercise—thinking, not about Jim, but about the guy I’d go out with the following night.
Jim walked to his car, hands buried in his coat pockets, whistling, thanking God I’d agreed to a second date.
On Wednesday during Alpha Theta I bottled up bad news from home. After our usual trek across campus to my dorm, instead of leaving, Jim followed me inside and plunked down in an orange vinyl chair in the lobby.
I slipped off my gloves. I could work through the family drama later.
Jim centered his blue denim gaze on me. “Tell me about your family.”
My eyes widened. The guy had read my mail.
Every last detail spilled out.
Jim soothed my pain with comfort and compassion and forty-five minutes later I felt… better.
Jim stood, shrugged into his coat. He smiled at me, the kind of smile that made me hope he’d read my mail again—soon. Because I’m a sucker for brainy guys, natural leaders, ones with integrity; because his timing was perfect; because my subconscious sensed I’d be safe with Jim—my heart slipped open. Silent. Cataclysmic.
Even without Jim touching me, he crowded my heart. And it scared me. So, on Friday I climbed into his car as he held the door for me.
It felt like a date. Excitement knotted in my stomach. I’d just go with it, analyze later.
We sat across from each other in the glow of the restaurant lighting. The clink of dishes and murmur of voices floated around us.
Jim said he and his girlfriend had broken up over the holidays.
I blinked, a geyser of joy springing up.
The conversation moved to the church he hoped to plant someday, a dream of teaching college when he was old. I told him how much his emotional support on Wednesday night had helped. I wanted to have a family full of kids, write fiction. And, under our words ran the incandescent ribbon of the brand new “us.”
We listened to a guy play guitar and sing God songs, then wandered through the gift shop, neither of us in a hurry to leave.
Jim didn’t try to hold my hand. Despite the ten-degree temperature I smashed up against the passenger door in his heater-less 1974 Dodge Dart. But I couldn’t deny that I felt completely different about him than I had a week earlier.
Thirty minutes later, we pulled into my dorm parking lot. I didn’t want the evening to end. “Come up?”
We sat in straight-backed desk chairs in my room, a stubby college-issue dresser between us.
Jim’s gaze centered on me. “Would you like to pray together?”
Praying had been the favorite part of my last relationship, something I’d mentioned at The Yellow Deli. Though praying would become foundational in our relationship, it didn’t crest my list of fun things I’d do with Jim. That night, however, prayer became a benediction on what was happening between us.
Jim leaned forward and closed his fingers around my hands.
Warmth skittered across my knuckles.
He bent his head.
My eyes drifted shut. I heard his voice praying for my brother, my dreams. I floated to a place where I wanted to curl up and stay forever.
About Ann: Ann Lee Miller, author of 5 Christian romances, earned a BA in creative writing and is working on a Master’s in Fine Arts in creative writing. She works in the English Department at Grand Canyon University and teaches creative writing classes in the Phoenix metro area. When she isn’t blogging memoir about growing up on a sailboat at AnnLeeMiller.com, you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives. Over 100,000 copies of Miller’s Kicking Eternity have been downloaded from Amazon. Learn more or connect: Ann’s Facebook
About the book – Kicking Eternity: Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She’s a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal’s surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her. The artist in Cal begs to paint Raine’s ivory skin, high cheek bones, and internal sparklers behind her eyes, but falling for her would caterwaul him into his parents’ life. No thanks. The girl was self-righteous waiting to happen. Mom served sanctimony like vegetables, three servings a day, and he had a gut full. Rec Director Drew taunts her with “Rainey” and calls her an enabler. He is so infernally there like a horsefly—till he buzzes back to his ex. Raine’s brother tweaks. Her dream of Africa dies small deaths. Will she figure out what to fight for and what to free before it’s too late? For anyone who’s ever wrestled with their dreams.
Question for Readers: Has anyone every “read your mail?”
Come back Oct 20th to see how Ann’s real life romance developed!