Selecting my hometown, St. Louis, as the setting for Because of Jacqueline seemed to be the perfect choice. The old adage, write what you know, provided me with the opportunity to share with the reader the unique flavor of the city known as the Gateway to the West, and all it has to offer.
Whether the heroine, Jackie, is admiring the Grand Basin in Forest Park, restored to its World’s Fair glory, riding the Metro downtown to a ballgame at Busch Stadium, or enjoying an Imo’s pizza, the Midwestern town comes to life in the interesting details sprinkled throughout the story.
The depiction of St. Louis helps set the mood and influences the way characters behave. By bringing Jackie and Marc together in a steamy St. Louis summer with a season of Cardinal baseball fever woven through the plot, the setting binds everything into context as the sexy romance unfolds.
If you happen to be from St. Louis, you will appreciate the references to city’s expressions, landmarks, and great places to eat. If you aren’t familiar with my town, when you read, Because of Jacqueline, I hope you will fall in love with our gem of a city!
When Jackie’s work-related travel delays their first date, the couple spends the next two weeks in a tantalizing state of limbo filled with tender emails and intimate phone conversations that go on seamlessly for hours. Even though they have never met, their souls touch.
When they finally meet, will Marc be Jackie’s dream come true? Will she learn the truth about this enigmatic man? Will self-doubt lead Jackie to believe she is the barrier to her own happiness?
“This sofa is comfortable and good looking.” Not as good looking as the owner. His polo shirt clung to his well-defined chest. Obviously, he worked out on a regular basis.
“After I had the house rehabbed, I worked with a friend of my mom’s. She decorated the whole place.”
“Impressive.” I murmured, thinking more of him than his furnishings. The gin continued to fog my brain. My plan to remain cool toward him became a distant memory.
After we finished our drinks he asked, “Hungry?”
“Yes, some food would be good.” I needed something to soak up the alcohol.
“Come,” he ordered softy.
I followed Marc to the kitchen—a chef’s dream filled with high-end stainless steel appliances. The beautiful custom ebony cabinets boasted brushed nickel hardware. Five bar stools lined the massive marble-topped island. A round table with leather chairs set for two occupied the bay window. The kitchen opened to a grand family room with a high tray ceiling.
My attention went to the opposite wall. “Marc, what is the size of your flat screen?” I’d never seen anything comparable.
“It’s eighty-four inches. You like lingerie. I like to watch movies and sports.”
“On a gianormous screen.” I giggled.
“Gianormous? That’s a word I haven’t heard.” He looked bewildered.
“I picked it up from my girls. It’s a combination of giant and enormous. Teenagers have a unique way of expressing themselves.” I chuckled to myself.
“Your martini seems to be agreeing with you, Jacqueline.” His smile widened.
I took the opportunity to look for the lower front crooked incisor he mentioned, but I couldn’t see anything except perfect teeth. The buzz in my head intensified. My eyelids started to droop.
“I’ll get the food. Can you get a couple of waters from the fridge?”
“Sure.” I tried to steady myself. I never should have had a drink on an empty stomach.
“We have egg rolls, wonton soup, and Mongolian Beef, light on the onions, as you requested.”
“Thank you. It looks tasty.” He looks tasty. Jeez, I feel like a horny teenager!
Thankfully, as we ate, I began to feel more coherent. Yoake sat curled up on her floor pillow nearby as Marc updated me on his acquisition plans with the internet company. He seemed pleased when I shared with him my daughters were coming for a visit. This evening is starting out much better than last week.
After dinner, Marc produced his movie collection list. “Take a look. Tell me what you’d like to watch. They’re arranged by genre in alphabetical order.”
I stared at the list in awe. “There must be over five hundred movies here.”
“I removed fifty from the list last month.”
“Glad to see you are cutting back,” I teased.
“What’s your pleasure? An old classic, a drama, action, or maybe sci-fi? I’m guessing you’re the romantic comedy type.” I could only see his blazing blue eyes over the top of the list.
“Do you have any recommendations?”
“Last week I bought Hitch with Will Smith and Eva Mendez. Have you seen it?”
“No, I haven’t. Let’s watch it.”
Marc started setting up the DVD.
I wonder how many other women have been to his place for Chinese and a movie. He had been single his adult life, while I’d been married. I remembered what Trish said to me about STDs and using condoms.
I certainly wasn’t planning on having sex with him, but it felt incredible when he kissed me last week. Marc took a seat next to me on the sofa. His inviting scent was clean and fresh with a note of spice.
“Can I get you something to drink?”
“I’m fine,” I murmured.
“Yes. You are,” his eyes glimmered as he stroked my arm. A shiver ran down my neck and across my shoulders. His lips brushed mine. The quivering spot in the pit of my stomach exploded.
As Marc pulled me in his arms, he kissed me softly. When his warm tongue pressed into my mouth, a combination of panic and burning desire ripped through me. My lips couldn’t deny his moist, sweltering kiss. He stopped and took my hand. Without saying a word, he stood and led me out of the room down the hallway.
I knew where we were going. Yoake trotted along beside us swishing her tail, as if she knew too. Looks like this isn’t the first time Yoake has accompanied someone to Marc’s bedroom. She ran ahead and nosed open the door. The late summer sunset lit the room in a soft, warm glow. A king size bed with a tall, fawn-colored upholstered headboard and button tufting dominated the large space. The soft neutral toned bedding appeared to be a sumptuous raw silk.
Marc stopped a foot from the bed. He wrapped his arms around my waist and kissed me. Slow and deep. All the blood drained from my head. The air in the room became thick. When he pulled my T-shirt over my head, the heat from his body blanketed my bare skin. With ease, he unsnapped my bra with one hand and dropped it to the floor.
You can follow Cynthia on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.