For those of you who’ve been reading romance for a few years, the common tropes are no doubt easily recognizable. Work romance. Billionaire romance. Fantasy. MC. BDSM. Slow-burn. Cinderella. Alpha Male. NA. YA. Etc…
I really love romance. But I really love out-of-the-box romance. Authors like Tiffany Reisz, Alessanda Torre, and Jacqueline Carey to name a few. Characters that step off the page. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. My favorite thing of all? When authors push their craft past your average NYT bestselling romance, taking overused motifs and injecting them with something new. Or turning them on their heads entirely.
I was thinking about the category of “forbidden romance” one day. Employee-Employer. Student-Teacher, etc., and kept brainstorming until I found one that made my skin crawl a bit.
Therapist and patient.
There’s so much inherently cringe-worthy about doctor/patient forbidden love, especially in the realm of therapy. At best, we rebel against the idea of corruption on such an intimate level. A young woman or man being taken advantage of by a person in a role of confessor. Almost as taboo as a parishioner/priest scenario (though Reisz tackles this skillfully in her Original Sinners series). At worst, we want to stab our eyeballs out.
I sat on the idea for a few days. Until it didn’t make me shudder anymore. Until I started asking the quintessential writer’s questions, Why? How? And I found my answers.
This novel, currently a WIP at 20k words, is going to push a few buttons. There might be a trigger warning involved. We’ll see.
But I think you’re going to like Mia. Or at least, you’ll come to know and understand her. As for Leo, aka Dr. Chastain? Well, you’ll probably want to make an appointment.
GRAVITY: Chapter 5: Excerpt
I am a stupid, stupid woman. Only someone stupid or crazy would sneak out of a party at their rehab to stalk their therapist. Not that my decision is surprising. Not to me, anyway. And as I approach the closed office door, wreathed with light from within, I realized it probably won’t surprise him, either.
My brain screams at me to turn around, but my hand lifts and knocks on the wood.
Stop, you idiot. Run.
I walk inside, then close the door and sink against its support. I’m out of breath, like I just sprinted a mile.
Holy shit, I’m a mess.
On the other side of the room, Chastain leans against his desk, slim hips squared. His suit jacked is tossed across one of the leather chairs. My chair. His tie is loosened, the top buttons of his shirt undone. Stubble shadows his jaw, drawing dangerous attention to his full lips.
My mouth goes dry.
I want to destroy him.
“Amelia,” he says wearily, “what do you need?”
A dangerous question. But I’m not so far gone that I’ll tell him the truth.
“I don’t know. I never do. I just… act.”
His brows lift over the slim, dark frame of his glasses. “Were you hoping to catch me dozing? Maybe so you could shave my head?”
Smart doctor. When I don’t say anything, he answers my silent question. “You stare at my hair quite frequently. The way I comb it irritates you, doesn’t it?”
I snort, then slap a hand over my mouth to stifle a giggle. Giggling is inexcusable. Little girls giggle. Women like Kinsey giggle. I do not giggle.
Dr. Chastain’s lips curve a tiny bit, his eyes challenging.
I fucking giggle.
Waving both hands in the direction of his immaculate hair, I ask belligerently, “How do you even get the part so straight? Do you spend an hour every morning with a comb?”
To my shock, he chuckles, lips parting in a soft smile. And damnit, it’s a gorgeous smile.
“Amelia,” he says mutedly, humor fading. “Why are you here?”
My eyes bounce around the office, avoiding his piercing stare. “Callum said you stay on the property somewhere.”
His brows draw together in confusion. “Yes, there are staff cabins.”
I nod jerkily. “That’s great. I mean, convenient.”
“Amelia,” he begins warningly.
Staring at the carpet before my feet, I bite my lip to halt the word-vomit. It spews out anyway. “Will you let me mess up your hair? Please?”
He doesn’t move, but I feel the razored edge of his focus. “What does it feel like, that urge?”
I shake my head wildly. “Like an itch. Inside me. My bones. This need to do something dangerous.”
“Messing up my hair is dangerous?” he asks carefully.
Touching you would be dangerous.
“Yes,” I whisper.
Ten feet separate us—a paltry distance—but I’m held tenuously in place by his eyes. They aren’t kind or guileless, but they are familiar. Too familiar. Like some part of my psyche recognizes some part of his. We’re alike. We have secrets. We keep parts of ourselves hidden.
I wonder if anyone has seen those hidden parts of him, and whether I want to.
Oh, I want to.
But I also know, without doubt, there would be hell to pay.