In my upcoming book, As Lost As I Get, itinerant doctor Zoe Rodriguez and CIA operative Lee Wheeler have a very different sort of missed connection. They meet when he’s sent in to rescue her from kidnappers in Mexico, and there’s no time for romance. After spending two years apart thinking of each other, they get a second chance in a remote corner of Colombia. Of course, second chances are never simple, especially not when both of them have jobs that put them in the center of danger.
Despite the danger, they find the time to reconnect. And thanks to the heat, they manage to find time for a little skinny-dipping of their own.
I had a blast writing their story—I hope you’ll enjoy it. And Taran: if you’re out there reading this, Facebook me!
Missed connections and might-have-beens are great romance novel fodder. Summer romances and flings? Even better! Let me tell you about one of the best pick-up lines I have ever had the good fortune to receive.
The summer of 1995 was a scorcher. Temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s and high humidity. So, naturally, I elected to spend the hottest two weeks of it at a campground in Pennsylvania, wearing layers of medieval garb.
Every August, the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a medieval recreation group, hosts a mock tournament and war called the Pennsic War. 1995 was the first, and alas only, year I was able to attend. In addition to battles and all other things medieval and military, there are medieval arts and crafts (my favorites were music and dance) and lots of partying.
The year I was there, there were also—and this is the important part—two swimming areas. One was designated the family swimming hole, the other, the classic swimming hole. I’m not sure why it was a classic, but I do know this: it was clothing-optional.
Did I mention it was hot that year? And that I was in layers of heavy cotton and linen? Being young and impetuous, when my friends said they were going swimming at the classic swimming hole, I decided to go along. It took all my courage to shuck my skirt and my bodice and my chemise and my underwear and go wading into the water. Which felt, by the way, like absolute heaven.
So there I was, in water up to my shoulders, when up walks (swims?) an absolutely gorgeous man. Green eyes, curly brown hair, nice smile. We started chatting (okay, I was flirting), and he suddenly says, “You have the most amazing blue eyes.”
As is my usual MO when someone I’m flirting with starts flirting back, I panicked. To this day I don’t know how I managed to keep from ducking under the water and running away.
He said his name was Taran, and he was from (alas again) Seattle. We promised to meet up later that night for dancing at the barn. As he was leaving, one of my friends leaned over and said, “You’re standing naked in front of him, and he compliments your eyes. Now that’s a gentleman!”
Even better, when we found each other at dancing that night, the first thing he blurted was, “You look different with your clothes on!” (And he was, to my delight, a fantastic dance partner.)
Well, with him in Seattle and me in Michigan, it could never be anything more than a Pennsic flirtation. We promised to email, but neither of us really did. That was twenty years ago now (!), and I’ve never forgotten him. In these days of Facebook, you’d think I’d try to look him up, but for one thing: SCA members commonly have a medieval name they go by rather than their modern real names. I never learned Taran's real name, and he never learned mine. My own real-life missed connection.
Lisa Nicholas is the author of The Farther I Fall and As Lost As I Get. If she’s not writing, she’s feeding her story addiction any way she can: raiding Netflix, pillaging her local bookstore and library, and (most recently) tearing her way through the comics archive at Marvel.
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