“Mr. Romance”, Chapter 17-22: Hope and Kent’s Stay in Duluth Marks a Turning Point for their Relationship, 3/09/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #147)
An Original Fiction Story Copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace (all rights reserved)
[(1) “Mr. Romance” story logo, left]
Author’s Mature Content Note (R rating): “Mr. Romance” is a love story–and love is passionate. Some chapters contain tender love scenes and are rated accordingly. However, if you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the rating I provide, then please don’t read that chapter. That is my disclaimer.
Author’s Scheduling Note: I am fast tracking posting “Mr. Romance” this week so that we can conclude its storyline before FanstRAvaganza 3 starts next Monday. So, subsequent installments of chapter bundles will be posted on Saturday, and Sunday this week.
“Mr. Romance”, Chapter 17: Shopping in Duluth’s Saturday Gives Kent a Test of his Fidelity to Hope
One of the great features of the freezing cold Duluth, Minnesota winter is that its downtown shops can be accessed completely inside for several blocks in each direction—via aerial walkways connecting the buildings. So, that is what Kent and Hope and their colleagues do on Saturday morning—shop with abandon. However, they also take a taxi to an old beer brewery converted to a shopping mall with specialty shops and restaurants—the bead and yarn shop actually shares space with the large old copper brewing vat. And, since Hope’s features area is antiquing and special arts, she and Kent head out together to explore those possibilities while the others split off for their articles’ ‘research’. Kent is still hobbling on crutches, so they have to keep their shopping and browsing brief.
Hope: “Don’t worry Kent. I won’t take too long in here.” Hope says facetiously as Kent curiously glances around the large warehouse sized antique store. “Why don’t you sit on this sofa and I’ll go out and back to different sections of the store?” Hope says kissing him and then walking away from him as he sits down to get comfortable.
Kent: “Okay, but if I don’t see you in ten minutes, I’ll start ‘pinging’ for you. Marco.” Kent says amusingly. [(2) right]
Hope: “Polo.” She says smiling at him as she walks down an aisle.
Kent looks around from where he is sitting, wishing that he’d brought some reading material with him. So, he opens his cell phone and plays a game on it. Most of the people walking around the antique store are older—at least fifty, well that’s ‘older’ to the thirty five year old Kent—and they really shouldn’t need to add anything more to their homes, Kent thinks. But, there are also a few ‘younger’ people as well. And Kent is handsome—and with his sprained and wrapped ankle and crutches, he’s a magnet for caring types of women. Without Kent noticing—because he’s engrossed in his cell phone game—an attractive women in her mid twenties sits down next to him on the sofa and strikes up a conversation.
Woman 25: “Ooh, what happened to you?” She asks flirtily while flipping her blond hair over her shoulder.
Kent: Looking up from his cell phone, he sees the pretty woman sitting next to him. Kent feels a little discomfited because if he weren’t in a relationship with Hope, Kent would be hitting on this young woman like the stud muffin he is– or was. “Oh, well, I sprained it on the slopes last weekend.” Then he adds to let the young woman know—and to remind himself—that he’s attached. “After trying to teach my girlfriend how to ski.”
Woman 25: “Oh.” She says a bit dejectedly. But then she brightens, because he is sitting alone. “I love skiing, what a rush!”
Kent: “Yes, that’s how I feel—except when I fall down that is.” They both laugh.
In the meantime, Hope is on her way back to Kent and she sees the back of his head and the back of a young woman’s head sitting next to him on the couch. At first, Hope wants to march right up there and let her presence be known to the young woman–claiming Kent for herself. But, Hope realizes that if she and Kent are to have a shot at making it as a couple, Kent has to mend his womanizing ways. And there’s no time like the present for him to start.
Woman 25: “Are you visiting in town?”
Kent: “Yes, we’re on a writing assignment, researching romantic wintery vacation spots for our regional magazine.” He says amiably.
Woman 25: “Well, Duluth’s winter snow and ice makes for very cozy fireside cuddling.” She says flirting with Kent shamelessly.
Kent: Feeling on the spot and not wanting Hope to see him chatting with someone so pretty, Kent [(3) right] decides to be honest with her. “Look miss, you’re very pretty, but I’m taken. I would get up and leave, but I’m limited in my mobility at the moment.” He says touching his crutches.
Woman 25: “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean step on anyone’s toes. Nice meeting you.” She stands up and leaves.
Kent: “Nice meeting you.” He says cordially. Then when the young woman is out of earshot, he says to no one in particular while shaking his head. “Whew! That was a close one.”
Hope: Patting Kent’s shoulders from behind him, startling him, Hope says. “Yes, it was, Kent Dear. But you behaved well.” Hope walks around and sits on the sofa next to him. “I guess you passed your first test, ‘Mr. Romance’.” She smiles at him knowingly and she leans in and gives him a kiss.
Kent: “Hope! I didn’t see you. … How long had you been watching us?” He asks her questioningly and with a worried look on his face.
Hope: “Long enough.” She says raising her eyebrow. Then she smiles impishly and says teasingly. “I guess even injured, you’re still a babe magnet.”
Kent: Kent rocks his head back in laughter. “Sorry, I can’t help it.” He says shrugging his muscular shoulders and giving Hope one of his blindingly handsome smiles as he puts his arms around her. “It’s like a moth to a flame.”
Hope: “As long as I’m the only moth that you let get close to you from now on, I think we’ll be fine.” Hope says kissing Kent adoringly. [(4) right]
But moths that get too close to the flame get their wings singed or burned. And in the back of Hope’s mind, she wonders if she is setting herself up for heartache as the others had cautioned her about with Kent. But she pushes that worry out of her mind for now. Hope just wants to enjoy her and Kent’s growing relationship. After making a few purchases at the antique shop, Kent and Hope head back to their hotel for a restful afternoon before dinner at the hotel’s top floor rotating restaurant with their colleagues.
To be continued with Chapter 18
“Mr. Romance”, Chapter 18: Hope & Kent get ready for Dinner Saturday, then become lovingly side tracked (R rating)
Hope wants to look especially pretty for Kent tonight for dinner with their colleagues. Maybe because Kent was approached this afternoon by a pretty young woman, she thinks. Hope is a teensy bit jealous and she realizes that since her and Kent’s relationship is so new, they haven’t had the time yet to really solidify their relationship with a firm foundation. They are still finding their way. So, Hope curls her long hair, but leaves it down to flow softly and romantically over her shoulders. Then she applies a teensy bit more makeup than usual for a more dramatically sexy look—to go with her sleeveless cocktail dress [(5) right] that she bought new this morning. Hope wants Kent to have eyes only for her tonight.
Kent’s own primping routine earlier consisted of a shower and a shave. Men—even stud muffins like Kent, it seems—don’t require much preparation. So, Kent sits on their suite’s couch reading a magazine in his sport coat, open collared dress shirt, and trousers with his ankle wrapped, iced, and elevated while waiting for Hope to finish getting ready. When Hope comes out of their bedroom, Kent looks up at her and smiles appreciatively.
Kent: “Well look at you. Hope Darling, you’re stunning!”
Hope: “Thank you.” She smiles coquettishly. “You’re quite handsome yourself, Kent Dear.” She leans over and kisses him sweetly.
Kent: “You mean, despite me annoyingly having a sprained ankle?” He says grabbing his crutches and standing up. “No dancing for us tonight, I’m afraid.”
Hope: “I hope that’s not a metaphor.” She says cheekily.
Kent: Rocking his head back in laughter, he says. “Not at all. But, we’ll have to get back here quickly after dinner so that I can show you my full appreciation for your beautiful charms.” He says nuzzling her neck adoringly.
Hope: “We’ll see.” She says mocking her prim persona. Then Hope wraps her arms around Kent and they kiss each other adoringly for several minutes—with Kent balancing on one foot.
Kent: “Hope Darling, are you sure you don’t want to just order room service and eat in our room tonight?” He asks huskily while kissing the creamy skin of Hope’s bare shoulders as he caresses her bare back.
Kent: Ken smilings lovingly while he gazes into her eyes [(6) right]. Then says “Alright Hope Darling. But just dinner, then we come back here for dessert.” Kent kisses Hope passionately again.
Hope: “Yes.” She says weakly nodding her head–her resolve wavering.
Kent and Hope kiss each other lovingly, lustfully, and longingly. And, then Kent and Hope do forget about dinner—or at least, the appetizers—and they hobble and walk quickly back into their bedroom, undress each other, and make love. Their lovemaking is desirous and passionate and lustful and adoring as Hope sits astride Kent who is propped up on the pillows. Hope’s little virgin persona seems to have given way to her finding her womanly confidence as she and Kent lovingly, beautifully, and rapturously join their bodies and souls together while kissing and caressing each other with loving abandon. Hope raptures first, then Kent raptures, and she lays on his chest breathing deeply as they continue to kiss and cuddle with each other. And, oops again, they were so eager to make love that they forgot to use a condom again. But, they’ll be careful the next time—not only not to have an unplanned pregnancy, but also because of Kent’s long prior sexual history, though he his healthy.
To be continued with Chapter 19
“Mr. Romance”, Chapter 19: Dinner Saturday Night amid the twinkling lights of the city and the stars
Kent and Hope turn up for dinner with their colleagues at the Radisson’s top floor rotating restaurant a little late—missing the appetizers—but they enjoy the restaurant’s romantic ambience with the softened evening lighting, and the twinkling stars and city lights through the restaurant’s windows. Hope and Kent each order their entrees quickly—a steak for Kent and a chicken on rice pilaf for Hope—and then they catch up with their colleagues and their article researching activities today.
Sherry: Always the first one to remark on Kent’s behavior, she asks. “So, what have you two been up to?”
Kent: “No good.” Kent says with a dead pan expression and the group howls with laughter while Hope blushes. “Well Sherry, what did you expect me to say?”
Bob: “We just noticed that you two were a little late joining us this evening.” Then he coughs knowingly.
Hope: “Well, if you haven’t noticed, Mr. Hop Along Cassidy here …” She points to Kent and his crutches. “… doesn’t move too fast.” She says trying to deflect Bob’s attention.
Kent: But then, Kent foils her plan. “I take umbrage at that characterization, Hope Darling.” He says leaning in to her with his arms around her and giving her cheek a kiss. Then Kent whispers in Hope’s ear. “From the ‘reports’ I receive back you, I’m slow or fast as needed.” He says raising his eyebrow mischievously and Hope blushes profusely.
Sherry: “I still say you should be careful about ‘Mr. Romance’ here, Hope.”
Phyllis: “Oh Sherry, ease up on Kent and Hope.”
Hope: “Yes, besides Kent had a little test earlier today and he passed with flying colors. A pretty young woman sat next to him at the antique store while I was down the aisle shopping and I watched him shoo her away.” Hope smiles sweetly and Kent grins broadly.
Boyd: Looking nonplussed, he says. “Kent, my boy, it sounds like you’ve reformed.”
Kent: “By the love of a good woman.” He says smiling at Hope. Then Kent caresses Hope’s face with his hand and kisses her tenderly—right in front of their colleagues. And Hope welcomes his attentions.
Hope: After Kent and Hope come up for air from their kisses, Hope turns to look at their stunned colleagues and asks. “Any questions? Now let’s eat!”
And the writing friends and colleagues group does go on to discuss Bob’s novelty hardware store finds, Sherry’s suggested wine selections—which Kent has to avoid since he’s still on some medication for his sprained ankle—and Phyllis and Boyd’s house hunting and winter recreation options. With Duluth being only six hours away from Chicago by car or two hours away by plane, Kent thinks that he and Hope might find Duluth a cozy get away in the Winter and Summer. He’ll have to ask her if she would like that.
To be continued with Chapter 20
“Mr. Romance”, Chapter 20: Sunday Snow Fun in Duluth
Though their group is one person down—Kent—from a skiing mishap last weekend, that doesn’t stop Bob and Sherry from trying the ski slopes on Sunday morning in Duluth. So, Boyd and Phyllis and Kent and Hope sit amiably sipping their hot cocoa’s at the Ski Lodge’s outdoor patio while watching Bob and Sherry float above them to their ski run.
Kent: Taking the lead, he asks mischievously “So, what do you think about Sherry and Bob?”
Boyd: “Now Kent, you’re not going to start teasing them because they’re teasing you?”
Hope: “Why not? Let them get a taste of their own medicine.” She says snuggling up next to Kent under the blanket covering their legs as they sit together on the patio bench.
Phyllis: “Hope Dear, you’re sounding a bit more … strident than usual. Shall we say?” She says wondering if Kent is a good influence on Hope or not.
Kent: “Now Hope Darling, eventually, they’ll get tired of needling us. So, we just need to ignore them. Though I will say, if I hear one more reference to me being ‘Mr. Romance’ out of them, I might just …”
Hope: “Now Kent Dear,” She says trying to be the cool headed one as she pats his muscular arm. “I take your point—about ignoring Bob and Sherry. However, you shouldn’t be insulted by them calling you ‘Mr. Romance’. Bob and Sherry have both been jealous of you for years.”
Kent: “How so?” He asks quizzically.
Boyd: “Well Kent, Bob wants to ‘be’ you. And, …”
Hope: “And Sherry wanted to ‘do’ you.” She says cheekily. Hope, Bob, and Phyllis laugh.
Kent: “Hope!” He says a bit shocked by Hope’s frankness.
Phyllis: Laughing she says. “Hope Dear, I think Sherry and Bob may have underestimated you.”
Hope: “Well, still waters run deep as they say.” She smiles impishly.
Kent: “I’d say so.” He smiles and squeezes Hope’s shoulders while giving her a kiss on her cheek.
Hope: “Now Kent, I’m sure you can do that one better.” And Hope kisses Kent sweetly on his lips—in front of Phyllis and Boyd. Then Kent and Hope smile at each other tenderly.
Phyllis: “Yes my dears, Boyd and I are happy for you. Aren’t we Boyd?”
Boyd: “What?” Once again, Boyd wasn’t paying attention to what his wife was saying as he continues to be startled by Kent’s tenderness with Hope—a stark contrast to Kent’s previous ‘love’em and leave’em’ persona that Hope had alluded to earlier.
After Bob and Sherry complete their ski run, they cheerfully join Boyd and Phyllis and Kent and Hope for another hot cocoa.
Bob: Seeing his colleagues amused expressions, he asks. “What?”
Hope: “Oh nothing.” She says raising her eyebrows knowingly.
Sherry: “Yes, what’s up?”
Kent: “That’s a loaded question, Sherry. You tell us.” Bob, Phyllis, Kent, and Hope laugh–giggle actually.
Bob and Sherry sit back in their chairs looking perplexed and wondering if their colleagues have been sitting out in the cold not moving for too long and hypothermia is settling in on their brains.
To be continued with Chapter 21
“Mr. Romance”, Chapter 21: Montage of Duluth early in the week
Since not only is Duluth cold and snowy—at least 100 inches of snow falls each Winter—the lake is frozen over and no boats can come or go for them to watch. However, there was one local yahoo who decided to play fetch with his dog on the ice floes—alarming the emergency responders called into action to ‘save him’ only to discover that he was just being foolish. Ah, Duluth. So, the only other thing to do in Duluth in the Winter time is ski, sleigh ride, eat, and make love. So, that is what Hope and Kent do delightfully with each other—except for the skiing. They don’t know what the others in their group are doing.
Hope and Kent have really made a loving connection with each other. And, as Kent feels a little better now in his second week of recovery from his sprained ankle, he can be a bit more athletic—in the bedroom at least. Kent has never spent as much time romantically with one woman in the past as he is spending with Hope now. Perhaps, it helped that Kent and Hope were friendly colleagues for two years—before becoming lovers—but Kent doesn’t want to over analyze their relationship too much. He just wants to enjoy it.
For her part, Hope feels loved and cherished by Kent—something she has dreamed about for a long time. And, with Kent being Hope’s first lover—and she hopes her only lover—Hope dreams of someday marrying Kent and starting a family with him. While Kent is enjoying the present with Hope and not thinking about what tomorrow might bring—beyond Kent wanting his tomorrows to have Hope in them. So, Hope is a little further along in planning for a future with Kent than he is.
To be continued with Chapter 22
“Mr. Romance”, Chapter 22: Tuesday Farewell Dinner with the work friends colleagues
Since Wednesday will be a travel day for all of the work colleagues friends group—and they will separate to go to their own Thanksgiving Holiday arrangements–they decide to eat dinner together Tuesday night since it will be more than a week until they see each other again. Hope and Kent have not yet discussed their Thanksgiving Holiday plans with each other. But, they are put on the spot as they all chat this evening waiting for their meals to arrive.
Phyllis: “Does everyone have fun Thanksgiving plans? We’re going to be home since our college age kids are coming home for a change this year.”
Hope: “That sounds nice—having family together for Thanksgiving.” She says truthfully, but also starting to drop some hints to Kent as she nestles into his arm around her shoulders–since they haven’t discussed their plans yet.
Boyd: “Yes, it is. Now that the kids are grown and in college, they have lives of their own and often go to their boyfriend or girlfriend’s family for Thanksgiving and then we get them for Christmas. But this year, it will be just the four of us. Oh, and a neighbor lady down the hall who lives alone. She’s a good friend and waters our plants for us when we’re gone.”
Sherry: “And, I’m heading East to my brother’s in Pennsylvania. Their kids are still in grade school and junior high. So we always play card and board games. What about you Bob?”
Bob: “Well, the last couple of years, Kent and I have gotten bowl tickets in one of the warmer climates since we don’t have family we’re that close to.” Then he turns to Kent and asks. “Kent, did you order the Florida Bowl tickets last month?”
All eyes turn to Kent. Because if Kent and Hope are a couple, then they might be spending their Thanksgiving together. Or at least, Kent should be thinking about that.
Kent: “Yes, I did Bob.” Kent says nodding his head amiably. Then he looks down at Hope and notices that she’s gotten very quiet and she looks a bit disappointed. And Kent sees the others’ eyes on him and says to Bob “… But, Hope and I haven’t had a chance to discuss it. I don’t know what her plans are for Thanksgiving.” Then Kent looks at Hope hesitantly and asks her—in front of everyone. “Hope Darling, would you want to go to Florida with me?” Hope doesn’t say anything. “Or, am I invited to join you for Thanksgiving?”
Now all eyes are on Hope and she feels them. The last thing that Hope wants to do is attend a football game—even if it is in Florida.
Hope: With a little trepidation, she lays out for Kent her Thanksgiving Holiday plans. “Well, I’m afraid that we do the full on Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving with kids, aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas. They’re actually coming to me this year since we rotate who gets it and I’m centrally located. So, I have a thirty pound fresh turkey on order at the grocery store—since there’s no time for me to thaw it since we’re traveling. But, everyone pitches in with other parts of the meal.”
Kent: Kent asks a bit nervously [(7) right] due to the size of the turkey. “How many people are we talking about, Hope?”
Hope: “Oh, it’ll be a smaller core family group this year—only about fifteen people.”
Kent: “Fifteen people!” He says a bit incredulously. It is one thing for Kent to behave ‘acceptably’ with his four other work friend colleagues, it’s quite another to be on his best behavior all of the time with fifteen people.
Hope: “Too daunting for you, Kent?”
Hope: “Yes Kent, I’d like to have you over for Thanksgiving.” Hope smiles sweetly up [(8) right] at Kent.
Kent: “Okay Hope, then that’s what we’ll do.” Kent kisses the tip of Hope’s nose. Then he turns to Bob and says sanguinely. “Bob, the bowl tickets are in an envelope in my desk at work—top right hand drawer.”
Bob: “Alright, not a problem.” He says sanguinely. “I’ve bought the airplane tickets, so I’ll see if one of my other buddies wants to go with me and split the cost.”
They go on to have a lovely dinner and then wish each other a Happy Thanksgiving as they bid each other farewell.
To be continued with Chapter 23
(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 cropped red hearts are courtesy of MSOffice Clip Art found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=red%20hearts&ctt=1#ai:MP900440293|mt:2|
(2) Kent image is that of Richard Armitage portraying Lucas North in Spooks series 8, episode 2 (pix 193) found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode2/slides/ep2_193.html
(3) Kent image is of Richard Armitage portraying Lucas North in Spooks series 8, episode2 (pix 199) found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode2/slides/ep2_199.html
(4) Hope Image is of America Ferrera found at http://images.wikia.com/disney/images/d/dd/America-Ferrera.jpg
(5) Hope image is a photo manip mask of America Ferrera found at http://www.ayushveda.com/mens-magazine/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/america_ferrera_300.jpg
(6) Kent image is that of Richard Armitage portraying Lucas North in Spooks Series 8, episode 2 (pix 211) found at
(7) Kent image is of Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks 8, episode 2 (pix 216) found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode2/slides/ep2_216.html
(8) Hope image is of America Ferrera found at http://cdn0.wn.com/pd/a6/e6/d6e89b83c1a88b81aeb365d43766_grande.jpg
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