I love it when writer’s block breaks. This time, it was an exercise in Holly Lisle’s Create a Plot Clinic e-book that broke the block.
I still teeter on the edge of believing whether writer’s block even exists. On the one hand, it is truly all in your mind, and simply reorienting your thoughts will overcome it. On the other hand, overcoming it is frequently an enthusing experience, like an adrenaline rush. My latest theory is that writer’s block is one of the ways your muse tells you to reorient your thought process, because once you do, you’ll experience that rush of satisfaction.
Anyhow, I was having a huge problem with this plot thread. But when it finally all came together, and I put it down on the page… I’m still reeling from this scene. Yes, when I go back to edit it, I may decide it’s not as good as I thought it was. But for now…
This scene connects with the previous snippet in which Clyde advises Mira caution in her feelings about Ike.
Mira lowered herself onto her chair, as Ike held it, brushing the back of her little black dress forward as she sat. The air smelled of garlic and Parmesan cheese. And candlelight cast flickering shadows on the white tablecloth and ceramic dishes. Ike sat across from her, modern gray suit, peach shirt, red-orange striped silk tie. A waiter named Giovanni arrived, asking if they would like to start with some wine or an appetizer.
“Have you ever had escargot?” Ike asked.
“No.” Mira was mildly amused. She didn’t actually believe the common wisdom that snails were an aphrodisiac, but she felt feisty and enjoyed playing along.
Ike grinned handsomely. “Do you trust me?”
Mira grinned back. “Implicitly,” she said, as seductively as she could muster.
Ike turned to the waiter. “Please bring us escargot for two, and a bottle of Pinot Noir.”
Mira was worried about the bill. Who was bankrolling this fancy dinner? Was Ike suddenly irresponsible with money? Or did he have an unknown source of cash? Oh my God! Mira thought. I hope he didn’t steal it.
She spoke up. “I, uh, don’t want to spoil the mood.”
“Okay,” Ike said. “So don’t, then.”
Mira sighed. “Where are you getting the money to pay for this?” She opened her hands as if to wrap them around the table.
“I have a job,” Ike said, clearly upset.
“Yeah, I know.” Mira began to feel a tightness in her chest. “I just meant… This is really extravagant. Are you sure it’s alright?” Her countenance reflected her distress.
Ike’s expression relaxed. “Yes, it’s fine. It’s a special occasion with a special woman. I’ve got it covered.” Then he added, “Trust me. You said you did, right?”
“Yes,” Mira agreed. “Okay, but just promise me you haven’t done anything that will get you into trouble.”
“I promise,” he replied sweetly.
The wine was smooth, earthy, and full. The escargot tasted like garlic-and-butter gummy worms. Mira gathered, that was how snails were supposed to taste, at least when they were cooked in garlic and butter. For an entrée, they each had the Chicken Parmesan with ziti. They talked about table manners, people who annoy you, embarrassing episodes from their pasts, and anything else that could deepen Mira’s feelings without forcing her to talk about Ike’s. Mira told herself that she didn’t want to plunge right into it anyhow, even though she had promised herself that before the night was over, she would ask him how he really felt.
Clyde had elicited that promise from her. Mira needed to promise to ask, because she was terrified of the answer. She was terrified that Ike would see in her eyes how deeply he had won her, and that he would freak out and bolt. She was terrified that he might say they were just having fun and that they shouldn’t get too attached. She was afraid that if she didn’t ask, he would later decide they were “just having fun,” and she would get hurt. She had been here before. She had been here before with Ike himself, though he didn’t know it.
Mira was terrified, so she put off the uncomfortable subject as long as she could. But by the time they were each sipping a cappuccino and sharing a tiramisù, Mira knew she needed to address the issue. She had promised herself as much. More importantly, she had promised Clydene, her best friend and confidant. Which was worse? To face Ike and find out early the unpleasant news, that they were not going to have a relationship? Or to face Clyde and tell her that she decided to let Ike tear her heart out, and that it was her own fault? Ike she had known for months, but Clyde had been a close friend for years. And while in most people familiarity breeds contempt, in Mira’s heart, the bonds of intimate friendship always won out over a new love, no matter how intense.
“Something wrong with the tiramisù?” Ike interrupted her thoughts, and Mira suddenly realized she had been daydreaming.
“No, everything’s wonderful.” She forced herself to smile.
“You look sad,” Ike said.
“I’m sorry. I just–” Mira searched for the words to say next.
“You wish it didn’t have to end?” Ike gazed hopefully.
“Yes, kind of, but–”
“It doesn’t have to end,” Ike said. He reached across the table and caressed the back of Mira’s hand with his fingers.
“Do you love me?” Mira blurted, suddenly overcome.
If Mira didn’t have Ike’s full attention, she had it now. He pulled his hand back, and a look of dismay covered his face.
“I’m sorry,” Mira said. “I shouldn’t have… Forget it.”
Ike said, “I like you, Mira. I like you a lot. I want to spend time with you. I–” He paused. “I don’t know if–”
“That’s okay,” Mira said. “I get it.” She could feel her face burning red. She began to stand.
“Wait,” Ike said, and touched her hand again. “Please.”
His cavernous eyes pleaded with her.
Ike continued. “Can’t we take it slow? Just get to know each other? At least for a short while? It’s important to me.”
Mira could see that he was sincere, desperate even.
“I– I’m afraid,” Mira admitted.
Ike considered this. “Is that why you were so upset about kissing me yesterday?”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said.
“I know.” But that didn’t change anything.
“At least let me drive you home.”
Mira hesitated. But then she looked into his desperate eyes, and she finally consented.
Ike paid the bill, helped Mira on with her coat, walked her out to his car, opened the passenger’s door for her. He placed his hand on her upper back as she was about to step into the car.
She stopped, felt the pressure of his hand through her coat. His touch. A simple touch. How could such a simple thing evoke such powerful emotions? Mira felt her eyes begin to well up.
Ike wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to his chest. She tried to push away, because she was afraid. But he tenderly shushed her, caressed her hair. She could feel him weeping, deep inside his chest.
“If you only knew, Mira, how much I do love you,” he said. Then he whispered, “But I’m trouble, I’ve always been trouble. You don’t want to be with me.” He was crying. “You should leave, just leave, and save yourself.”
But Mira could not.
Other Friday Snippets
The way Friday Snippets works is that fiction authors can leave a link to their own snippet on others’ blog posts that are part of the meme. Many of the participating writers are using one of Mister Linky’s Autolink Widgets to streamline this process. See “Friday Snippets” at Holly Lisle’s blog for more information.