Chapter 1: Writer’s Block
Eve was an uninvited spectator. She sat still, unmoving, in the back. She almost held her breath as the march began to play, afraid that her meager presence would disrupt the uneasy equilibrium in the church.
She took in every detail with the eyes of a detective in a cheesy whodunit from the 80s.
In her head, she imagined the vilest secrets that each detail of the scene presented.
The red roses and their petals scattered on the floor hid thorns that would bleed skin. You can’t have roses without the thorns.
The scent of flowers and the bride’s perfume wafted in the air along with the tinge of dirty money. Luxuries such as scent cost money—money that this middle-class couple probably had to work extra hours at their meager jobs to earn.
The bridesmaids were all dolled up to perfection, better to hide the envy behind their thick fake eyelashes. If Eve could have a closer look, she could see the dent that their plastic nails were making on the stems of their tiny bouquets.
On the other side of the aisle, the groomsmen looked slick in their clean pristine black suits each with a single rose pinned to their collars. They eyed the bridesmaids like hungry predators going in for the kill.
And the bride’s white satin and lace gown embellished with pearls and crystals…
No, the bride’s gown was perfect, Eve thought, sighing. Whether for despair or disappointment, she didn’t know.
She looked at the groom who was dabbing a neatly folded white handkerchief on his cheek as he watched his bride walk up to him.
Eve sighed again and stood to leave.
If staring at a blank page for hours on end wasn’t helping, then watching these two strangers getting married sure wasn’t going to help her get any more writing done.
This morning, she was just sitting in front of her laptop—a blank sheet with the blinking cursor cursing at her for not typing in a single word. For the heck of it, she typed her name: Eve.
The last royalty check from her previous book was about to run out, and her publisher wanted to meet with her first thing tomorrow morning. She knew it was about her last book, which flopped majestically in the stores. No one was buying into her romances anymore.
She needed to get another book out. Fast. Or else she’ll have to do freelance writing jobs again. She groaned at the thought of mooching up at strangers in press conferences.
She had a finished manuscript sitting in the top drawer of her desk, but her publisher had rejected it. It was too off-brand for a romance author, too—what’s the word—literary. Too speculative fiction and not in the right way.
And it wasn’t what the publisher was looking for.
They wanted her usual stuff. Romance, grand gestures, big-ass wedding scene endings, the whole shebang.
Three books ago, a romance novel could have been easy to write. She would have bought into all of it—the clumsy imperfect heroine, the perfect leading man, and the fairy-tale romance.
She just wasn’t buying into all of that anymore. She’s a different writer, a different woman.
She wasn’t mad at love. She loved love. She loved her mother. She loved her dead dog. She loved the stories that came to her in the middle of the night when she wasn’t thinking about love.
She had an issue with romance. And what she felt was deeper, more cutting than anger. It was rage. And loathing.
And maybe that was the problem, she thought, which was why she was at this random stranger’s wedding, hoping to catch romance like it was a virus.
She took one last look at the bride and groom, holding hands and looking at only each other and living the fairy tale, warts and all.
She turned to leave. She wasn’t invited.