Rick woke with a jolt and opened his eyes to see only the glow of the rising sun coming through the drapes. It took him only a few seconds, but the jolt went to worry which quickly went to curiosity and that jumped right on into ease and comfort as he let out a deep breath and brought his head back onto the pillow and he realized where he was. Paris.

Sally. Writing. Paris. Romance. Romance as in book, not as in him and her. 

He tried the trick a friend had told him long ago, “Think ahead to when you’re 80-years old. When you look back at this time, what would you have done differently? Or the same? What’s the important part of the decision and how do you decide based on that? How would your actions affect those involved? How much energy do you put into those around you and how will your actions change the trajectory of their future as related to your own? Also, what would regret more: doing it or not doing it? Finally, what will be more important when you’re 80 to think back on? What would you remember most?”

“A book is forever,” he said to himself as he lay back on the bed and looked up into the ceiling. He was there to write a book. A book that would be around forever. If he and Sally had a fling, it might screw up the book. The romance, well, the physical part of it anyway, would start and finish in Paris. A book would continue on far beyond.

He had no idea what time it was and didn’t care. It was time to get up and time to start writing. He was a writer after all–so was she. They needed to write. They needed to put pens to paper or, well, scratch that, fingers to keyboards and let their creativity fly. They needed a schedule, a calendar, a plan, and they needed coffee.

Rick jumped out of bed with a new energy. One of someone determined to get a job done. He was proud that he was thinking more of the book and how he would work together with Sally and not thinking about how she looked last night or what she thought of him or what her last thoughts were before she closed those luscious brown eyes and closed that mouth with the full lips. Yes, he could be proud that he was only thinking about writing and getting into the flow with her and grammar and creating a book that no one, not even the two of them, expected in just a month.

But it was already Day 2 and they needed to get started. He rifled through his bag and found brown jeans and a blue button-down shirt. Professional, yet artsy. The buttons made it professional. He brushed his teeth and ran his fingers through his hair. He managed to go from the just-woke-up look to casual-rock-star with just a few strokes. He glanced in the mirror and saw a writer waiting to meet his partner and he was ready. His dark and thick hair was falling just right without any help from a brush. He hadn’t shaved, but it was giving him just the right 5-o’clock shadow that would befit an author of his stature. He was ready.

Socks, shoes, ooh, belt. Got it. Would they start with an outline? Or just jump right into Chapter One and create from there? They could discuss it over coffee. Notepad. Pen. Or go all digital? Bring both.

He found his room key and got his laptop bag, complete with notepad and pen, and was in the hallway before he could doubt his mission. He walked down the hall towards Sally’s room with a spring in his step of someone with passion and energy and ready to tear up the keyboard and get started. There wasn’t a single thought of Sally’s pajamas or even her lips or how her skin felt on his fingers. Nope, none of that. In fact, as he approached her door, he couldn’t even remember what she looked like! That was odd, but it had only been a day.

He knocked softly and waited. But he couldn’t wait. It was as if this moment was the beginning of a very important part of his life and he was getting more and more impatient by the second.

There wasn’t a sound behind the door. A thought went through him like lightning, complete with the pain of the electricity: what if she left in the middle of the night? What if she had just thrown in the towel and there was a note with the concierge that she had already checked out? Then a slight noise, maybe a chair moving across the hardwood floor. He knocked again, quietly, five raps with his forefinger knuckle. Ah, footsteps.

The door handle rattled a little and there was a click. The door opened slightly and slowly. He almost couldn’t bear it but was also glad she was still there. Fingers came out to hold onto the door to open it. Silky smooth fingers of lovely skin and delicate build. Then hair. Hair came before her face and everything turned to slow motion. He blinked and shook his head to speed things up as this was just a little odd.

Her face appeared in a scattering of brown hair that was either just slept on or was perfectly coiffed to give her that look it can take a hair stylist hours to perfect. But she had it and Rick was pretty sure there wasn’t a stylist in her room. Maybe Sally was one of those people who woke up and looked stunning in no makeup and a just a white T-shirt.

She had one eye closed and one eye open. Then she switched them. Behind her, the room was dark. A thought flashed across his overworked brain that said, “Uh, dude, you totally woke her up.” But the thought went away as he realized he should probably say something. She just stood there with only a few fingers, lots of hair and her face with one eye open looking directly at him.

A shudder of something ripped through his stomach and up into his chest but he didn’t recognize it. It was warm and he had to immediately swallow because he couldn’t breathe. He realized he didn’t know what he was going to say.

“Hi,” was all he could manage and before he could go any further, she replied.

“Hi,” she said and she did that switching of which eye was open and which eye was closed again. She was disturbingly cute when she did that. The corner of her lips rose in the slightest and it could have been a smile, it could have been that she had an allergic reaction to down pillows.

He spoke without realizing what he was saying.

“Do you know what I want more than anything in the world?” he asked her although if he were in court on the stand and had to swear on the bible where whatever he was saying was coming from, he would have to admit that he had no earthly idea. She didn’t speak, but rather closed both eyes rather tightly and then opened them wide and finally settled on a half-open, half-closed, intense stare into his eyes and again he spoke with as much knowledge of what was coming out as she had.

“I want to write a book together with you,” he said.

Both corners of her lips rose and this time there was no question about it: that was the beginnings of a smile. No denying it. No way. Uh uh.

He had nothing more to say and his only reaction was to smile back and they stood there in her doorway smiling at each other and they both knew it was the beginning of their story.