Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First Kiss #35

TITLE: These Two Seas
GENRE: Upmarket Women's Fiction

Amelia and Paul have been meeting for dinner once a week for four months, but can’t seem to move past a hot meal and conversation. She’s ready to quit, until a chance question prompts him to reveal a closely-guarded secret. He has just told her that he worked on the German chemical weapons program during World War I.

Paul turned and pulled back the curtain. His reflection wavered against a backdrop of shadowy trees. He touched his head to the glass.

“I was wrong,” he said. “The work I did was not the work of God; it was the work of the devil. I did not deserve forgiveness. I asked for mercy, but God took my wife and child. They paid for my sins. But anymore I cannot go to the church and make the rituals. If there is a God he does not hear my prayers.”

Amelia crossed herself. “Are you saying you don’t believe in God?”

The answer was almost inaudible. “I do not know.”

She let go of the rocking chair, stepped forward, and put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

His eyes were dark when he turned around, dark like the shadows under the tree outside, dark like the center of a gas flame. He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. She tasted onions and cinnamon and cherry tobacco on his breath. His beard scratched her face. And when his lips touched hers, a current ran straight to her core. She floated, weightless, outside time and space. The chair, the window, the room ceased to exist. There was only that kiss.

Paul broke away, a look of horror on his face. “ Mój Boże! Es tut mir leid. I must go.”

He was at the hall closet before Amelia could speak. She ran after him, but he yanked out his coat and jerked open the front door. “Forgive me,” he said, from the landing. The door banged shut.


  1. So I am definitely intrigued by the plot and Paul's past. I'd be curious to see what Paul thinks of Amelia.
    Also, I'm a little confused which point of view this is from. It sounds like Paul's, but then there's mention of Amelia's feelings about the kiss.

  2. Jessi - I can see how you might get confused, because Paul is the first character named in this excerpt. It's all from Amelia's POV. Thanks!

  3. I really liked this. Both the characters seemed really strong and the premise was interested.

    There was one sentence that threw me. "But anymore I cannot go to the church and make the rituals." The But anymore just seemed off. Maybe it's intentional, I do not know. But if not, take a look.:)

    Also, the description of what he tasted like made me wince. Onions???? I hate onions (I'm not saying you need to change this...it's just the description got a reaction out of me.:))

  4. Very intriguing. I like the way Paul reacts to his kissing her, very believable. I like the lead in, and the exit from the scene, like the description (especially His eyes were dark when he turned around, dark like the shadows under the tree outside, dark like the center of a gas flame). What I'm struggling with is the sequence of the kiss.
    For example, he cups her face and kisses her, she tastes, she feels. And THEN there is a current that goes straight to her core when his lips touch hers--only, his lips have already been touching, she's already tasted and felt. Perhaps just a reworking of the order of description here would smooth this out. Otherwise, I think this scene works, and it makes me want to read more about this wounded individual.

  5. The dialog worked for me, I could tell that Paul did not grow up speaking English, which made the little hitch in the "rituals" line sound right, even though it's "wrong." I would keep it as written.

    The "forgiveness" thread runs full circle in this scene -- beautifully crafted. I sense the rest of the novel is equally well structured. I would definitely read more.

  6. English as a second language probably explains the stilted dialogue, I wasn't clear on that. For the kiss, she tastes onions and tobacco which honestly don't sound sexy, so I thought maybe she'd have conflicted feelings over the kiss given those particular tastes. This feels a little incongruous with what follows, that she's swept up by it--as a reader, I'm still stuck on onions. I'd suggest possibly having her internalize something about that odd taste combo, that despite it, she was carried away. Or consider changing the tastes.

    Best of luck to you :)

  7. Going to have to agree that tasting onions secondhand doesn't scream sexy to me. There are some great descriptions here, but I'm a little confused by your lead in. I know there's probably a huge back story for Paul and Amelia, but when you said Amelia's thinking there's no connection or future between them, and then all of the sudden she reads as ready to fall head-over-heels in love with one onion-y kiss, it simply strikes me as odd. Just my two cents, take it or leave it.

  8. Thanks for the feedback, everyone! It's amazing what I fail to catch in my own work, no matter how many times I go over it. Guess those onions have to go. :)

    Just to clarify, those who guessed that Paul is not a native English speaker are right. How he learns English is a big part of the story.

  9. Fantastic! I love the genre and can't wait to read your novel. Great time, just the right amount t of detail. Love!!

  10. This was delightful to read! I appreciated Paul's struggle with English, his past and the kiss, and I enjoyed being in Amelia's POV. The onions didn't bother me--I thought it was a nice parallel to the sour and sweet elements of each others' pasts.

    Great job!

  11. Very nicely written up to, and after, the kiss! But knowing they’ve waited for four months, I wanted a little more tension, more anticipation, in the kiss scene. The paragraph starts with a lovely description of his eyes. Could the flame you mention set her afire? Match the flame that has just flared inside her? Could he gaze at her a moment? Touch her face tenderly? What is SHE feeling at this moment?

    And HOW does he kiss her? Gently? With hungry force? I know we’re supposed to work in the five senses, but I’d leave out the taste and the beard here and maybe at the end have her look at the closed door and all she has left is the taste of cinnamon and cherry tobacco. But back to the kiss... You mention a current, then floating outside time and space. Both are good metaphors, but don’t really go together. You could leave both those out and add to the part about everything but them ceasing to exist. Maybe it could feel to her like they melded together, became one being where she can’t tell where she stops and he begins. (Mmm...maybe I’ll use that one!) The rest of your scene shows you can write. Now get that kiss right!!! :)