This is a scene from Chapter 3 of my first novel, “Lost In You”. Cooper finds herself intrigued by two pop stars from the boy band Sound Wave while attending a wedding in Florida. She winds up injuring herself and stuck in Florida longer than expected.
Silence filled the car as Ryan drove. Cooper glanced out the window at the passing palm trees.
“I could definitely see myself living out here.”
Ryan looked over at her, “Well, maybe you’ll get me to visit here more often then.”
Cooper smiled bashfully.
“Maybe. If you’re nice to me,” Ryan shrugged.
“Oh, don’t do me any favors. Just because you’re in Sound Wave doesn’t mean I’m drooling over here,” Cooper rolled her eyes.
Ryan laughed and was a bit surprised.
“Do you think my ego is as big as Matt’s?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really know him…or you for that matter,” Cooper reasoned. “For all I know you can be an arrogant Hollywood snob,” she shrugged.
“And last night didn’t prove that wrong to you?” Ryan wondered.
“Mmm…” Cooper thought for a second. “No.”
“Are you serious right now?” he asked, turning serious himself.
Cooper nodded and Ryan suddenly pulled the car over.
“What are you doing?”
“I thought I was a perfect gentleman last night.”
“Ryan, don’t you know when a girl is teasing you?” Cooper laughed.
“Well, I don’t really know you,” Ryan shot back at her, like she had done to him.
“You’re not the only one with a sense of humor,” Cooper said proudly.
Ryan smiled at her and she studied his features. He did the same to her. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her, even more so than last night. Instead, he reached down to switch gears, but Cooper put her hand over his.
Cooper had never made the first move on a guy. Sure, she’s flirted quite a bit, but never has she been the first to kiss a man or ask someone out. For some reason though, Ryan made her feel bold and secure. Plus, she couldn’t resist him any longer and thought his shy manner in their flirtations was adorable.
Ryan froze as Cooper’s hand covered his. John was right; he was playing a dangerous game. Ryan swallowed a lump in his throat as Cooper’s eyes burned into his. He glanced at her lips and he wanted to pull them against his, but he just couldn’t. That didn’t seem to matter, though, because Cooper was leaving him with no place to go. Part of him was grateful for that, but another part of him knew he should push her away. He didn’t though.
Cooper’s lips softly pressed against Ryan’s at first. As if on cue, they both parted their lips and before they knew it, their tongues were meeting each other for the first time. Ryan fell deeper into the kiss than he had anticipated. His inhibitions were gone as he ran his left hand through Cooper’s wavy hair. He slid his other hand along her waist, feeling the curve that was there before pulling her closer.
The longer the kiss lasted, the more it felt right. Nothing either of them had ever experienced felt quite like this pure kiss they were stuck in. As they separated, Ryan opened his eyes slowly and looked into Cooper’s once more and suddenly, reality crashed down around him. He quickly turned toward the road again. He peeled back out onto the highway. Ryan seemed as though something was wrong. Cooper wondered why. Her only thought was the kiss. How could something so perfect for me be wrong for him? she thought. As the butterflies in her stomach scattered, an awkward discomfort replaced them. She felt stupid for kissing Ryan now, as if she’d been making a fool of herself since last night.
Ryan didn’t utter a word. He was robotic as he drove, and Cooper was too ashamed even to bother to make small talk or attempt to kill the silence with the radio. She just stared out the window with her hand over her forehead. The yellow lines along the road seemed to be endless and were almost hypnotizing. Cooper felt her eyes fall into a daze and she was grateful for that. She just wished her mind would drop out as well.
“We’re here,” Ryan said after he turned the car off.
Cooper made no attempt to get out. She snapped out of the fog she was in.
“Thank God,” she said purposely with an attitude.
She opened the car door and got out quickly, completely forgetting about her ankle.
“Shit!” Cooper yelled, almost falling, but grabbing onto the roof of the car as she winced in pain.
Ryan quickly got out of the car to help her.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
Cooper didn’t answer him as Ryan sat her back down into the car. Tears of pain were in her eyes. Ryan pulled the crutches out of the backseat and helped her up. He started to walk with Cooper up the path to the house. There was such an awkward silence that neither of them knew how to break. I should apologize, Ryan thought. I’m such an ass. He shook his head as he looked over at Cooper, who stared at the ground.
Ryan rang the doorbell and a short, middle-aged woman opened the door a few moments later. JT has her eyes, Cooper realized immediately.
“Ryan!” she shouted.
Ryan returned her greeting and hugged the small woman tightly. Cooper decided to put on her “happy” face. She didn’t want to let Ryan know he got to her and she certainly didn’t want to make a scene.
“You must be Cooper,” the woman turned to her suddenly.
“Hi, it’s nice to meet you,” Cooper smiled and stuck her hand out.
“I’m Joyce, Jamie’s mother,” she said shaking Cooper’s hand.
“Jamie?” Cooper questioned. “Oh, JT,” she realized feeling a bit stupid.
“He’ll always be Jamie to me,” Joyce smiled with a wink.
Cooper felt warmth in her presence. There was some kind of familiarity when she looked at Joyce’s face.
“Thank you so much for letting me stay here,” Cooper said as Joyce welcomed her and Ryan inside her home.
“Oh sweetie, don’t even mention it,” Joyce patted her shoulder.
Cooper glanced around the condo. There was a ton of open space, and ceiling fans in every room. Joyce seemed to favor Asian styled furniture and placement.
“Does your son always push off strangers on you?” Cooper laughed.
“He’s the one who’s strange,” Ryan chuckled.
Joyce nodded along with him.
“Cooper!” JT yelled, trotting past his mother.
He kissed Cooper’s cheek before taking her hands in his and kissed them as well. Ryan rolled his eyes at JT’s actions.
“How’s the ankle?”
“Hurts,” Cooper shrugged.
“Well, while I’m here, I’m your personal slave.”
He winked with a smirk. Cooper raised an eyebrow.
“Oh Jamie, cut out the charm,” Joyce laughed. “He lays it on thick, huh?”
Cooper laughed, “Yeah, but it’s a nice change.”
She looked back toward Ryan briefly. JT caught the awkward look, but ignored it.
“Where are your things? I’ll put them in your room.”
“I got it,” Ryan announced protectively.
“Rizz, it’s okay¾”
“I said I got it, JT,” Ryan said with tension in his voice.
He walked out of the house and JT looked at Cooper.
“What’s with him?”
“I wish I knew,” Cooper sighed.
“Did something happen?”
Cooper laughed, “You could say that. But more like something didn’t happen.”
Joyce and JT looked at each other.
“Don’t worry about it. So, are you sure it’s okay that I stay here?” Cooper wondered, still feeling a bit strange about the arrangement.
“Hey, a friend of my son’s is always welcome here,” Joyce said.
Just then, the phone rang. Joyce excused herself to answer it.
“Does she know we just met last night?” Cooper asked in a whisper.
“Not a clue,” JT grinned. “So, would you like the tour?”
“JT…” Cooper whined. “I don’t feel right about this.”
“Coop, it’s no big deal. I just don’t want my mom thinking I picked you up off the street,” he explained. “Come on, I’ll show you around.”
Ryan walked back into the house a moment later with the suitcases. No one was in sight. Joyce came out from the kitchen and smiled at him.
“Where should I put them?” he asked pointing to the luggage.
Joyce led the way out the side door off the kitchen. Once they walked inside the guesthouse, Joyce turned toward Ryan.
“What’s the deal with this girl?”
“What do you mean?” Ryan asked confused.
Was it that obvious? he wondered.
“Well, there’s some tension between you and my son. I thought maybe she had something to do with it,” Joyce explained, referring to Cooper.
“JT definitely has a thing for her,” Ryan confessed.
“I realize that, but that seems to disturb you.”
“It doesn’t,” he lied.
Joyce decided to drop the topic.
“How’s the planning going?”
“Slow,” Ryan sighed. “And now with the next album coming out, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
“It’ll work out.”
Joyce assured him, with a motherly pat on the shoulder.
JT showed Cooper every inch of the house and saved the guesthouse for last.
“Coop?” he asked, looking over at her as he stood close in case she needed help walking.
“Will you go out with me tonight?” he asked.
Cooper looked at him only slightly surprised. He was straight to the point, and Cooper appreciated that.
She smiled and JT laughed before kissing her cheek. Cooper did want to go out with JT, but she still felt not only horrible about what happened with Ryan, but awkward. She wondered what Ryan’s issue was. He seemed like such an amazing guy. Too good to be true, Cooper realized to herself. She’ll just have to get over it. She was already angry she let herself get caught up in Ryan in just one day. In a way, Cooper was grateful the way things turned out. She knew she wasn’t in control last night, and that scared her.
When Cooper and JT made it into the guesthouse, Ryan was on the phone as Joyce straightened up a few things. Ryan was speaking in a hushed tone that sounded annoyed.
“Is that Danielle?” JT shouted and Ryan waved his hand at him to be quiet. “Tell her that her fiancé is PMSing today,” he snickered to himself.
Cooper looked at JT unsure of what to make of that comment.
“Who’s Danielle?” she asked, not caring that she was being nosey.
“Ryan’s fiancée,” he said casually as if it were no big deal.
However, to Cooper it was a huge deal that explained a lot. Her throat went dry as she spoke.
“Yeah,” JT nodded as he looked at her strangely. “He didn’t tell you?”
Cooper shook her head slowly and looked at Ryan. He had just hung up the phone and turned toward them. Just from the way Cooper was looking at him, Ryan could tell she knew. She had a mixed expression of anger and pain on her face. He felt worse now than he did before.
“I think I’m going to get going,” he announced. “Can I talk to Cooper alone for a minute?”
Cooper was surprised by Ryan’s request. She assumed he’d make a quick getaway out of this one. Joyce and JT walked into the bedroom, both curious to know what was going on. JT had an idea of what might have happened, but poor Joyce was confused as ever. Who was this mystery woman?
The sun shone through the blinds in the living room, highlighting Ryan’s already golden hair. Cooper looked up into his eyes for the first time since they kissed.
“Cooper, I’m sorry¾” he started.
“You’re getting married?”
“Yeah,” he nodded.
“That just slipped your mind last night and this morning?”
Ryan sighed, “I don’t know why I didn’t tell you.”
“Well, maybe you should ask yourself that question then.”
“Maybe I should,” he nodded. “Look, I’m not going to lie and say I’m not attracted to you.”
“So it wasn’t my kissing?” Cooper asked sarcastically. “You almost gave me a complex, but now I realize you’re just an asshole,” she said bitterly.
Ryan hung his head down and nodded.
“I really wanted to get to know you.”
“Why? What good would it do?” she asked in a high pitched tone.
“Because…you’re interesting and seem like someone I want to be friends with.”
She laughed, “Just friends, Ryan?”
“Yes,” he said, knowing that he was definitely thinking of more than friends when they kissed.
“Fine, we can be friends or whatever,” Cooper said not believing she’d ever see him again after this week.
Ryan smiled and hugged Cooper. He did want to get to know her, but he didn’t know why. An engaged man does not befriend a mysterious, attractive woman he meets at a wedding without ulterior motives. Ryan knew what he was doing was wrong, but he just couldn’t fight the feeling that he needs to know Cooper. She wasn’t like any girl he knew.
Cooper was definitely pretty, but not typically. She wasn’t some blonde bombshell that makes men fall at her feet. She was cute at first sight, with soft features, and an easy smile, but once she starts talking, there’s a way about her…a flirtatious banter that suddenly grabs a man’s attention.
Her personality was far from typical as well. She constantly contradicted herself and shifted moods easily. One second she’ll blow a situation off and the next she’s overanalyzing it down to the tiniest detail. Ryan found all of this information out about Cooper last night and he was sure there was so much more he would be fascinated about.