In 2017, I had a dream about a man and a woman talking. That dream inspired me to write the following scene, which became the basis for my debut novel, ONE TOUGH COOKIE.
At the time, I thought this would be the start of the book, but then I imagined Karina and Ian’s first date and wrote about it. I realized I needed to start earlier, to when they met, eventually arriving at the moment this scene depicts.
Spoiler warning: If you haven’t read the book yet, this scene depicts events that ended up as Chapters 29 & 30 of the published version. Note that it is a first draft, so the writing is not as polished. I wanted to leave it as intact as possible so that you can see how writing a novel develops from idea to published book. I’ve always been fascinated about how creators come up with ideas and develop them, so I thought it would be cool to share a small piece of my creative process with my readers. I hope you enjoy seeing what stayed and what didn’t.
This scene is set at a company picnic. You will notice that Ian (originally named Ray) has a POV section here in contrast to the book. I decided early on to include only Karina’s POV since my intention was always to write a women’s fiction story showing her journey. But in this first scene, I wrote what came to mind without analyzing how it would end up. Also note that Karina refers to her friend Stacy here, who would become Natalie later.
Ray watched Karina as she bit into her hot dog. She wore a white tank top and black jeans. It had been a while since he’d seen her outside of work. She was always hanging out with the production girls while he was stuck with the maintenance guys. It was about time they had a talk. He walked over to her.
“You should try the burgers,” he said. “They’re really good.”
She smiled. “I’ll have one next, don’t worry.”
“You lost weight.”
“Nice of you to notice.”
“It’s not like we see each other that often. Not like before.”
“Yeah, that’s true. It’s better that way, don’t you think?”
“Is it? Somehow, I don’t think so.”
She frowned but didn’t respond. She finished her hot dog and went over to grab a burger. Ray followed.
“So what’s new with you?” he asked.
“Nothing much. And you?”
“Same.” He knew she wasn’t dating anyone, not since that last guy she hooked up with after breaking up with Ray.
“Mmm,” she said. “These are good.”
“Told ya.” He grinned and bit into his own burger.
“Listen, it’s been nice catching up, but I should go back to Stacy.” She made to go but he grabbed her arm.
“What’s the rush? It’s not like you don’t talk to her every day. Why not keep talking to me?”
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea.”
“Come on, K. You used to like talking to me. We used to tell each other everything.”
“How’re things in the world of maintenance?”
They talked about work and pretty soon moved on to more personal stuff like family and silly things from the time they were together. Before they knew it the party was over.
“Hey, you wanna go over to a bar or something?” he asked. “I’m having too much fun.”
She hesitated. “Okay. Let me tell Stacy.” After a few giggles and teasing looks from Stacy she was back by his side. “Let’s go.”
They got into his car and they drove to a bar near his place. They each ordered a beer and continued talking.
“So, where to next?” she asked. “Back to your place to have sex?”
He spit into his bottle. “That wasn’t my plan. I just wanted to spend time with you.”
“I’m not opposed to this, just so you know.”
“You want to have sex?”
“Why not? It’s not like I’m not still attracted to you. But we would have to set some ground rules.”
“Number 1: it would only be tonight. It wouldn’t mean we’ll start dating again.”
“Number 2: no romanticism. Just good old-fashioned sex.”
“So, no kissing?”
“Some kissing is okay. But no cuddling afterward.”
“I don’t know if I can agree to that.”
“Then there’s no deal.”
“Come on, maybe just a little bit of cuddling? It won’t kill you.”
“Fine.” She chugged her beer. “Let’s go.”
“Yeah, let’s get it over with.”
As they neared his building, Karina started losing her nerve. Was she really going to have sex with Ray? She’d never had sex with an ex before. It was supposed to be a thing, but she’d never done it. She hadn’t even thought Ray would want to, but he was a man, and he’d probably do it with anyone he was mildly attracted to.
He led her inside and then into his apartment. “You want another beer?”
“Sure.” She sat on the sofa. “You really haven’t done anything to this place since the last time I was here.” He still had the same cushions and rug she’d bought for him.
“You’re not here to help me choose stuff.” He sat next to her and handed her the beer.
She rubbed one hand on her leg and took a long gulp.
“You nervous?” he asked.
He was too good at reading her. She turned to him and gave him her most seductive smile. “What’s there to be nervous about? I know all your moves.”
“So what will I do next?”
“Well, you already got me the beer and we’re sitting on your couch, so if I remember correctly from our first date, you’ll next start playing with my hair and then kiss my neck.”
“I’m that predictable?”
“Pretty much.” She stared at him, waiting for him to make a move, but he stayed put and drank his beer.
She laughed. “Are we really going to do this?”
“It’s up to you. I don’t want you to say I took advantage of you.”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake.” She put her beer on the coffee table. “We’re both adults.” She straddled him, cupped his face, and kissed him hard on the lips.
“Okay, that I didn’t expect,” he said.
She grabbed his beer, took a sip, and placed it on the side table. She took his hands to cup her breasts. He squeezed gently.
“What are you waiting for?” she asked. “Take me to bed, dumbass.”
“Now, let’s not rush into it.” He wrapped his arms around her and pressed her against him, kissing her. She’d forgotten how she could get lost in his kiss, how once she went under, she never wanted to surface again. Ray liked taking it slow—he could spend hours just making out, but she wanted it to be fast and sleazy. If they were going to have sex, she wanted it to be meaningless fun, not a romantic trip down memory lane.
She pulled away. “Come on, Ray. If you’re going to fuck me, then fuck me. I don’t have all night.”
He looked actually hurt and she regretted it immediately. “If that’s what you want, then let’s go fuck.” He pushed her off his lap and stood, grabbing her hand and leading her to his bedroom. Once there, he let go and rummaged in his dresser drawer. “Shit, I only have one condom.”
“One is enough. Like I said, I don’t have all night.” She started undressing.
He stared at her a moment before taking off his shirt. Damn, he still looked good enough to eat. There should be a law against looking that good.
When they finished undressing, they stood in front of each other, looking the other one over. She was acting as if she did this type of thing all the time, as if she didn’t care, but damn if she didn’t want him. Staring at his naked body brought back all sorts of feelings and emotions that she didn’t want brought back. Maybe this was a mistake.
“This is a one-time thing, got it?” Her voice was strained and it was hard for her to breathe. “There’s no do-over and we’ll never mention it again. Deal?”
He nodded and finally closed the distance between them and kissed her. She gave in, and soon she was lost in his lips and his arms and his touch. He rolled on the condom and then was inside her and time stood still. This wasn’t fucking. He was making love to her, like he used to, and suddenly she was angry but she didn’t want it to stop. She never wanted him to stop.
They kissed and caressed each other, and she didn’t allow herself to come, not yet, not ever. She bit her lip and gritted her teeth, and tensed her whole body, knowing he wouldn’t come until she did.
“K, let go.”
“Not yet. Don’t you dare stop.”
And he didn’t. The son of a bitch made it last. It seemed like hours before he paused outside her to turn her onto her stomach and thrust into her again.
“Shit.” He stopped. “The condom broke.”
“What?” She could hardly move, she was so wound up.
“The condom broke.” He threw it onto the floor.
“You can come outside. Just please don’t stop.”
He pushed inside her again and within moments she came with such force, her whole body trembled. A few minutes later, he pulled out and she felt his warm cum on her lower back.
She felt him wipe her back dry and then the bed shifted as he lay down beside her. He moved her hair from her face and she opened her eyes to see him smiling.
“You look beautiful.” He kissed her hand.
Uh-oh. Ray got super lovey-dovey after sex. It was her favorite thing about him when they were together, but now it would just confuse things. She needed to gather her strength and leave, but all she wanted to do was sleep.
“I love you like this.” He rolled her onto her side and kissed her neck. “So spent and weak you have no energy to fight me.”
“I don’t fight you.”
He laughed. “That’s all you ever do. You keep pushing me away when all I ever want is to be near you.”
No, no, no. “I should go.” She tried to push herself up but her arms shook and she sunk back into his arms.
“You don’t have to go. Just spend the night.”
“No.” Spending the night meant breakfast in bed and more sex. She’d be back where she started.
“Karina, don’t be like this.”
“I came her for sex, and we had sex, so there’s no need for me to stay any longer.” She stood up and started getting dressed.
Ray remained in bed, lying on his back with his hands covering his face. She knew she was being stubborn and unreasonable but being mean was the only way to get it through his head that it was over.
“Let me drive you home.”
“I can call a taxi.”
“I’ll drive you home and that’s that.” He got up.
What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.