Only two weeks until Private Politics will be out! And today, I’m going to share one of my favorite moments: the epic hug. I’ve teased this before, but it’s a scene that I wrote and thought, “Oh, I like that.” And I’m very critical of my own writing.
The context: Alyse and Liam have a stressful conversation with a third party. Then this happens. There a few bad words.
Just as he was going to ask what was up, she crossed the space between them, slid her hands around his neck and pressed herself up against him. He inhaled deeply and reminded himself this was a friendly hug. Nothing more than a friendly hug.
Except they had never been this close physically. He’d never been able to fully experience how good she smelled or feel her hair catching on the stubble on his cheek. He’d never run his hands over her lower back, brushed the soft fabric of her clothes and pulled her body flush with his. The jolt of hip-on-hip was jarring, not so much because they hit each other with any great force but from the rightness of it—which was a silly, romantic fantasy.
What choice did he have? It would be bad manners not to return a hug. But once she was gathered up against him, it was damn hard to remember why she couldn’t be all the time.
“I mean it,” she whispered, her breath tickling his ear. “Thank you.”
He made a noise in assent, not trusting his voice. He tried to calibrate his arms correctly. He didn’t want to crush her and he wanted her to know that he’d release her the second she pulled away, but he wanted to enjoy the only hug he would ever get from her.
Rather than detach immediately, she let her head fall against his neck and shoulder. This wasn’t about gratitude; it was about consolation. She needed comfort right now.
He was so stupid and selfish. No matter how many times he had said he was done hoping, he knew he wouldn’t ever be done. Probably because she was perfect. Absolutely fucking perfect. Except for the part where she’d never go for him. That part sucked. But right now, he could do something for her, giving her this hug and helping her figure out what was going on. And nothing else.
Though that didn’t stop him from pretending. Maybe he’d worked up the nerve to ask her out six months ago, right at the moment when the crush he’d been nursing since the moment they’d met had turned into a full-on preoccupation. Maybe she’d said yes. Maybe they’d been dating ever since, first casually and now more seriously. Maybe Millie and Parker gave them crap for the PDAs. Maybe she’d come to him first with everything at work and this was the fiftieth hug he’d given her since then.
She shifted against him and the fantasy faded. It wasn’t like he needed a story to make this moment meaningful. Alyse, in his arms, wanting to be there, was enough. He was so far gone for her it wasn’t even funny.
Romance needs more hugs, I think.