“Mr. Romance”, Chapters 1 – 3: Hope and Kent, 2/26/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #139)
(I like to “illustrate” my stories–to help visualize the story. So, I incorporate publicly found images of actors as my “dream” cast to represent the characters in my story–as credited in the references with each installment of chapters posted to my blog, “Something About Love (A)”. And images of the brilliantly talented British Actor Richard Armitage–as my muse when I write my stories–will represent the lead male character of Kent Barron. And the lead female character of Hope Maria Springfield is represented by images of the lovely and wonderfully talented American actress America Ferrera.)
Author’s Note: “Mr. Romance” is a story about finding true love, friends, and family. This story has some humorous elements in it. But it also has several deeply felt loving moments. The chapters’ ratings are mostly a PG-13 rating. However, since “Mr. Romance” is a love story–and love is passionate–some of the chapters involve love scenes. My goal is to sensually describe the lovers in a tender and heartfelt way. And I have labeled those chapters with an R rating. Though due to my own conservative nature, some of them are probably more PG-13. However, if you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the rating that I label a particular chapter, then please don’t read it. That is my disclaimer.
“Mr. Romance” is one of three script stories that I began back in November 2010 over the Thanksgiving Holidays–I have already serialized “Handsome” here on my blog–and returned to “Mr. Romance” again and again as I expanded and refined it. It is on the shorter end of the spectrum for my stories–being under 40 pages. I have already serialized “Mr. Romance” on DF. Its themes involve waiting for true love, discovering what true love is, and family–be they colleagues and friends, or blood relatives. Life is what we make of it. We can choose our own paths sometimes. And life is always sweeter, when we can and do choose to love.
“Mr. Romance”, Ch. 1: Nite Caps Friday Night, 2/26/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #139)
Prologue: If we had just one chance to act impulsively, to live differently, and to love completely, would we take it? And if we did, what would happen after that?
Hope Maria Springfield [(2) right] and her work colleagues writing group go out for drinks and dinner ‘after work’ on Friday night, November 12th , 2010 while they are on location in Galena, Illinois as features writers for a regional vacation magazine, Midwest Getaways. They’re all staying at the Galena Hotel. The Galena Hotel is a restored grand Victorian style hotel with lots of dark wood accents—and questionable large floral red wallpaper in the lobby. If they didn’t know it was an upscale hotel in modern times, it might look like a turn of the century house of … Well, we won’t go there.
It has been a long week of researching and putting the finishing touches on their regional vacation magazine’s–Midwest Getaways–first segment of feature articles about romantic wintery vacation spots in the Midwest for the February Valentines’ Day issue and now they can just play this weekend before heading to home base in Chicago on Sunday.
These six writers gravitated to this vacation magazine because it allows them to travel as they review and test out the various vacation destinations. They each have their own areas of expertise that they write columns about for each feature issue. The youngest of the group at twenty-eight, Hope writes about antiquing and special arts opportunities. Mid thirties Bob Phillips [(3) right] writes about novelty hardware and electronics venues. Later forties Sherry Koch [(4) right] writes about wines and food, of course. Kent Barron writes about romantic restaurants and hotels. Finally, Phyllis and Boyd Caldwell [(5) left]—the only married couple of the group—write about living and recreational options. They are a tight knit group of colleagues and friends since they spend so much time together on the road.
In fact, lately Hope and Bob have been going out on ‘dates’ the last few weeks. Well really, there is no romance there, they just like spending time with each other—like a brother and sister. That would seem to leave Kent and Sherry to couple up. But, Sherry is a little older—more Phyllis and Bob’s age in her late forties to their mid fifties—rather than the twenty to thirty somethings of the rest of the group. Besides, Kent comes by his forte of reviewing ‘romantic’ restaurants and hotels naturally—with him being tall dark and handsome and leaving a trail of broken hearts wherever their group travels to. Not that the thirty eight year old Kent [(6) right] is a lothario—well, actually, he is quite the ladies man, but he is a nice guy as well—and he certainly doesn’t seem worried about settling down any time soon given his many romantic conquests.
This Friday night—after their dinners, desserts, and coffees, the six of them troop to their hotel’s bar–cutely named De Barre –for nite caps at 11:00pm and to blow off some steam. They’ve all met their copy deadlines—having emailed their articles in this afternoon—and now they can just relax. Hope, who doesn’t drink, is usually the designated driver of their group. But tonight, they’re staying in at their downtown hotel’s bar. So, they don’t have to go far to get to bed–just upstairs. The rest of them watch with slightly embarrassed amusement, as Kent and Bob prowl around other ladies at the bar—unsuccessfully it seems for the moment.
Sherry: “Hope, I thought you and Bob were going out.” Sherry looks at Hope questioningly as Bob hits on a lady at the bar.
Hope: “Well, not really. We seen a few movies together and he fixed a leak in my kitchen faucet, but that’s been the extent of it.”
Phyllis: “So, not exclusive?” She asks interestedly.
Hope: “Nope. We haven’t even kissed–luckily by the looks of where his mouth is tonight.” She says as Bob tries to nuzzle one of the bar ladies’ necks. The four of them laugh.
Boyd: “Now ladies, boys will be boys. I remember a time when …” He starts to say nostalgically before he is interrupted by his wife.
Phyllis: “Yes, Boyd Dear. But that was before you and I became a couple over twenty-five years ago, so we’ve agreed not to discuss it.” She smiles at him knowingly and he rolls his eyes.
Sherry: “Well after all, we’re writing for the romance features in the February Valentines’ Day issue. So, at least some of us should get some romance in.” Sherry says nodding in Kent’s direction as he chats up a pretty, but overly made up twenty something young woman with her breasts bursting out of her bodice at the other end of the bar from Bob. “Kent is looking successful tonight.”
Hope: “Isn’t ‘Mr. Romance’ always successful?” Hope sighs a bit derisively and a bit longingly.
Sherry: “Hmmm. That comment sounds a bit judgmental for you, Hope.”
Hope: “Sorry Sherry. It’s just that I’m just still looking for romance in my own life.” Hope absentmindedly twirls the drink parasol that Sherry left on the table from an earlier drink.
Sherry: “Well Hope, maybe you’ll get lucky and Kent will strike out tonight and come over here and sweep you off your feet.” Sherry says smiling.
They all laugh at the thought of the 38 year old smooth operator Kent and the sweet and lady like 28 year old Hope ‘hooking up’—except Hope merely smiles. Unintentionally, Sherry has hit the bull’s eye on Hope’s unrealized romantic dreams—about Kent.
Hope: “Right.” Hope says in a sarcastic tone. “‘Mr. Romance’ over there isn’t going to even notice little Miss Shy Girl over here.” She says sheepishly gesturing to herself.
Phyllis: “Now Hope Dear, don’t sell yourself short.” She clucks like the mother hen that she is. “You have a sweet face, a cute figure, and a lovely disposition. Any man would be lucky to have you be his girlfriend. Isn’t that right Boyd Dear?” She says looking at her husband. But he doesn’t respond at first, so she nudges him.
Boyd: “What?” He was not paying attention to the ladies’ conversation having been caught up in watching Kent’s ‘technique’ with the lady he is ‘working on’ at the bar. “Oh, yes, of course Hope. You’re very sweet.” He says in a perfunctory tone.
Hope: “I rest my case.” Hope says raising her arm high as if she was lady justice at the bar. But of course, they are at a different sort of bar and—seeing Hope’s arm in the air–their waitress comes over to check on their table.
Waitress: “Does anyone want a refill on your drinks?”
Sherry: “Yes, I’ll have another gin and tonic.” Since Sherry has to taste wines for a living, she’s gone off them for herself in real life.
Phyllis and Boyd: “Yes, we’ll have the same.” They state swishing their fingers in a circle as they point to their empty glasses.
Waitress: “And you Miss?” She asks of Hope.
Hope: “Oh why not? I don’t have to drive you all anywhere for a change. I’ll have a white wine, please.” She smiles sweetly at their waitress.
Sherry: “Ooh, Hope, you’re being very daring.” She teases. “You better sip slowly, you don’t know what alcohol will do to your system since you drink it so rarely.”
Hope: “I’m good. I never lose control.”
But, that is actually part of Hope’s ‘problem’. Hope never loosens up enough to lose control–or really live her life. Hope is a carefully brought up good girl. But, Hope dreams that maybe one day her regular, predictable, and ordinary life will change and someone will come along and sweep her off her feet. Careful what you wish for, Hope.
To be continued with Chapter 2
“Mr. Romance”, Ch. 2: Friends Don’t let Friends …
Though Kent had looked like he was making progress with one of the ‘ladies’ at the bar, he has had one too many drinks tonight for her to truly think that he is being romantic—despite Kent’s handsome face, his muscular physique, and his natural animal magnetism. So, Kent dejectedly walks back to his colleagues group and plops down in the open chair next to Hope.
Kent: “Crapped out again! I don’t understand it. I’ve been off my game for the whole week we’ve been here. Even hardware Bob is having better luck than I am tonight.” Kent says looking over his shoulder and pointing to Bob. “Oh sorry, Hope. Weren’t you and Bob going out with each other?”
Hope: “Kent, please keep up.” She says primly–a tad perturbed with him. “Bob and I have seen a few movies together and he fixed a leak in my kitchen faucet.”
Kent: “Is that a metaphor, or am I drunk?” He says looking around at everyone with a sly smile. They all laugh.
Sherry: “You’re drunk as a skunk, Kent.” She titters. “I don’t know how you were able to walk over here from the bar without falling down.”
Kent: “Hey, I’m always good at staying vertical, Sherry.” He says raising his finger and then raising his eyebrows up and down suggestively while smiling broadly—obviously referring to something else staying vertical.
Phyllis: “Well, Kent Dear.” She says in a motherly tone, even though she’s just 52 to his 38. “Maybe you should have some coffee before you try to head upstairs to your room.”
Boyd: “Yes, Kent my boy. I think you’re done for the evening.” He says with some disappointment–because watching Kent in action is a great spectator sport for the ‘out of the game’ Boyd.
Hope: “Sipping, Kent, just sipping.” Hope smiles sweetly and says this convincingly, but she’s nearly finished her goblet of wine and she’s feeling quite warm. So, Hope [(7) right] removes her sweater that she’s wearing over her sweetly demure and slightly off the shoulder flower print blouse.
Kent: “Hmmm.” Kent growls deeply as he raises his eyebrow. “We should have you drink wine more often, Hope. Nice shoulders.” Kent [(8) right] says in that deeply timberous baritone voice of his while leaning over to Hope and softly kissing one of her bare shoulders—which startles Hope a bit since she jumps at the touch of Kent’s warm lips on her shoulders.
Hope: “Oh, Kent.” Hope tries to say in a whiney sisterly voice while rolling her eyes—to mask the real effect of his kiss on her shoulder had on her.
Sherry: “Don’t listen to him Hope. He’s always on the prowl.”
Phyllis: “Yes, I think it’s all time that we went to bed if we’re going to get up tomorrow and go up to the Ski lodge for some skiing and such before heading home on Sunday.”
Kent: “I love skiing! What a rush!” He exclaims while putting his arms in the air and weaving his body back and forth as he sits in his chair–as if he’s skiing, drunk.
Boyd: “Well, I don’t see Bob anywhere, so he must have lined up the rest of his evening. So, ladies, let’s get ‘Mr. Romance’ here up to his room and put to bed.”
Kent: Quickly standing up tipsily, Kent says with a deadpan expression on his face as he turns to Boyd standing next to him—with Boyd helping Kent keep his balance. “No offense Boyd, but you’re not my type.” They all howl with laughter.
Hope: “Okay, let’s get to bed everyone so we’re rested for our activities tomorrow.” She says rolling her eyes amusingly.
So, the five writer friends and colleagues all troop to the elevator to reach their third floor hotel rooms that are down the hall from each other.
To be continued with Chapter 3
“Mr. Romance”, Ch. 3: Putting up with Kent for the Night
Unfortunately, Kent has somehow managed to lose his room key card in his bar prowling antics tonight and the front desk is closed for the night. So, where will Kent sleep? As luck would have it, Hope drew the long straw this trip and is staying in the nicer hotel room—a suite actually with a sitting room. The group rotates who gets the really nice room to stay in each time. So, since Hope has a couch, she gets Kent.
Boyd: “Sorry about this Hope. But Kent will be asleep soon.” He says helping Kent sit on Hope’s couch–after helping him walk into Hope’s suite.
Hope: “I just hope he doesn’t barf in here. Remember Milwaukee?”
Hope, Sherry, Phyllis, and Boyd: “Ooh!” They all sigh in unison while frowning.
Kent: “Sorry Hope. I promise not to hurl.” Kent says holding his hand up like a Boy Scout—which he never was. So Kent changes how many fingers he has showing a few times–ending with a thumbs up gesture while grinning broadly.
Hope: “Oh, that’s a great comfort—coming from a drunken man.” Then Hope sighs to Kent while kneeling in front of him and kindly taking off his shoes for him–and noticing how muscular his lower legs feel. “Just get some sleep, Kent.” She says as she stands up.
Kent: “I have to pee first.” He stands up quickly and weaves a bit doing so–almost knocking over Hope.
Boyd: “Whoa there fella. Alright, let me help you.” He says steadying Kent. And they walk in the direction of the bathroom.
Hope: “Make sure he aims.” Hope calls after them as she walks over to Phyllis.
Phyllis: “Sorry about this, Hope Dear.”
Hope: “Oh, it’s not your fault. Hhhh.” Hope sighs. “I have the couch.” Hope says pragmatically while shrugging her shoulders.
Phyllis: “I’m sure that Kent will be harmless tonight.” Phyllis tries to say this convincingly–while still remembering Kent barfing in Milwaukee in their hotel suite. “He’ll be comatose as soon as he’s back in here lying on the couch.”
Sherry: “Are you sure about that?”
Sherry wonders as the ladies all turn see Kent walking back into the suite’s living area. Kent [(9) right] had removed his shirt revealing his muscular arms, shoulders, and chest and then he removes his dress pants like an impromptu strip tease–mercifully, he’s wearing briefs—before laying back down on the couch and covering himself with the blanket throw. Hope’s eyes go wide in shock–and in appreciation for his handsomeness.
Kent: “Sorry for the show ladies.” Kent says tipsily. “But, my pants are scratchy and they give me a rash when I sleep in them.”
Sherry: “I’m thinking that rash came from something else.” Sherry says under her breath thinking of std’s since Kent is such a ‘player’.
Phyllis: “Now Sherry, let’s not cast aspersions on poor Kent. He’s obviously responsible.” Phyllis points to the three or four condom packages peeking out of his pants’ pocket as his pants lay in a heap on the floor.
Hope: “Okay folks, I guess we’ve had the floor show for the evening. We’ll see you all about 8:00am downstairs for breakfast before we head out for our day of fun in the snow.” Hope says this not being a skier herself. “I’ll call the front desk in the morning when we’re up and ask them to send a bellman with another room key card for ‘Mr. Romance’ over there.” She says pointing at the now sleeping and snoring Kent.
Boyd: “Good night, Hope Dear.” He says while patting her shoulder.
Phyllis: “Good Night, Dear.” She says while kissing her cheek.
Sherry: “Sleep well.” Sherry gives Hope a hug while raising her eyebrow.
Hope: “Good night.” Hope says waving wearily to them as she shuts her hotel suite door.
Hope hears Kent snoring and she goes over to the couch to check on ‘Mr. Romance’. Kent is lying on the couch wearing only his briefs and he has kicked the blanket throw off of most of himself. So, Hope appreciatively notices Kent’s manly and muscular form peeking out from the blanket throw—his handsome face, his strong shoulders and muscular arms, his broad chest, his tapered waist and hips, and his long muscular legs. Hope has dreamed of Kent one day looking at her as more than just his work colleague and friend. Because for Hope, Kent without his womanizing ways embodies Hope’s ideal man. Kent is witty, he is kind, he is smart, he is handsome, and he is charming. But, Hope is realistic and she knows in her rational mind that Kent is not the man for her—she just has to convince her heart of that now.
So, Hope considerately adjusts the blanket throw to cover more of Kent’s sleeping body–his legs and chest–so that he doesn’t catch cold. Then Hope tenderly brushes Kent’s hair away from his eyes as she looks upon his handsome face [(10) right]–wishing he might look at her someday with love and tenderness–and Kent sighs in his sleep with Hope’s touch.
Now Hope has to get to sleep herself. So Hope walks into her bedroom—picking up Kent’s shirt and pants that she then thoughtfully hangs up for him so they don’t wrinkle. After Hope readies herself for bed in her bathroom—removing her lightly applied makeup, washing her face, brushing her teeth, and brushing out her long brunette hair that she had pinned up primly earlier to keep it out of the way—Hope puts on her soft stretch cotton flower print sleeveless empire waisted nightgown and she tumbles gratefully into bed and she drifts off to sleep.
To be continued with Chapter 4
(1) The “Mr. Romance” story logo image representing the character of Kent Barron, is an image of the character Lucas North (as brilliantly portrayed by Richard Armitage) in Spooks series 8, episode 2 (pix 94) found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode2/slides/ep2_094.html ; and the red hearts are courtesy of MSWord Clip Art.
(2) Image representing Hope Maria Springfield (portrait shot) is that of the lovely and talented actress America Ferrera found at http://ml.berkeleyblogs.com/archives/americaferreraaward1.jpg
(3) Image representing Bob Phillips is that of the talented John Krasinski found at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1024677/
(4) Image representing Sherry Koch is that of the lovely and talented Kelley Preston found at http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-m4fxdoRjWfw/Tk0mwzp6-dI/AAAAAAAAFQY/xI_5gmz4-Rc/s1600/aa5.jpg
(5) Images representing Phyllis and Boyd Caldwell are that of the lovely and talented Katey Sagal found at http://www.hairstyleswatch.com/UserFiles/Image/2008%20JULY/Katey%20Sagal.jpg; and the talented Ron Perlman found at http://www.nndb.com/people/064/000024989/perlman1.jpg
(6) Image representing Kent Barron is of the talented Richard Armitage from his portrayal of Lucas North in Spooks, series 8 Promo pix cropped and found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spookspromo/album/slides/series8-04.html
(7) Image representing Hope is that of America Ferrera found at http://uglybetty.download-tvshows.com/america-ferrera/
(8) Cropped image representing Kent is that of Richard Armitage portraying Lucas North in Spooks series 8, episode 2 (pix 216) http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode2/slides/ep2_216.html
(9) Cropped and brightened image representing Kent is that of Richard Armitage portraying Lucas North in Spooks series 7, episode 2 (pix 19) found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/album/ep2/slides/cap019.html
(10) Brightened image representing Kent is that of Richard Armtiage portraying Lucas North in Spooks series 8, episode 5 (pix 33) found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode5/slides/ep5_033.html