I love putting my characters in a room with some ice cream to see what happens. Here’s a snippet from Starting Over, where Colleen, who has recently quit her job as a cop in Oregon and moved to Orlando to get a fresh start on life, hooks up with a new friend she’s just met.
You can read the first chapter on my website.
Colleen toed off her sneakers and tucked a leg under herself on the plush blue couch. Tracy handed her a carton and took a seat at the other end. “Fifteen minutes and we switch, okay?” She took a huge bite of ice cream. “Shit. Wait. Don’t start. I forgot the chocolate sauce.” She jumped up and went back to the kitchen, returning with a jar of gooey fudge. “Careful. It’s hot. I nuked it right before you got here.”
Colleen grinned. “Looks great.” She looked at Tracy, but had no idea what to say. “Are you sure I’m the right person here? I mean, wouldn’t your friends be more supportive? You just met me.”
Tracy tipped the sauce over her ice cream. “You, Colleen, are the perfect person. All I’ll get from my friends is ‘I warned you’. Since you know nothing of Rich, you’re going to tell me it was all his fault and I’m the wronged party here.”
Colleen took the jar of sauce and watched as it flowed like molten lava into her carton. “Rich was wrong, you were right and how dare he!” She looked at Tracy. “What did he do?”
“See, I knew you were the perfect one for this.” Tracy took another scoop of ice cream into her mouth and sighed. She half closed her eyes and finished another bite before continuing. “I guess I was blind. I should have seen it coming weeks ago. Months ago. I probably did, but didn’t want to admit it. Anyway, I was early getting to his place after I left you yesterday and I kind of.interrupted him.” She snorted. “Shit. Interrupted him. How polite. The fucker was fucking my fucking best friend. Ex fucking best friend.”
Colleen burst out laughing, her spoon poised over her carton. “Well, don’t hold back. Tell me what you really think!” She swirled the fudge sauce into the ice cream and brought a spoonful to her mouth. She let it sit on her tongue for a moment, savoring the cold, rich sweetness before she swallowed. “God, this is good.”
“Yeah. Chocolate can cure anything. Speaking of which, hand me the fudge. I’m out.”
“Good grief, you’ll make yourself sick. You’re supposed to mix it with the ice cream, not eat it straight!”
“Don’t you go telling me how to eat ‘I’ve-just-been-dumped ice cream’. Every bite needs to be drowned in fudge sauce or it doesn’t work.”
“You lose the cold and creamy effect that way. Everything needs to blend so you can savor the melding of flavors, textures and tastes.”
Tracy’s eyes twinkled. “Melding, you say? Aren’t you the highbrow? I think we need to test your theory.” She mimicked Colleen’s swirling motion and spooned up a bite. Colleen watched as Tracy contemplated the mouthful, rolling it around in her mouth before swallowing.
Tracy lifted her eyebrows. “Not bad. But you’ve got to try one my way.”
Colleen complied and the thick, gooey fudge clung to the roof of her mouth until the ice cream had melted. Her eyes watered from the cloying sweetness as she worked her tongue over the chocolate.
“Well?” Tracy asked.
“Different. But it has possibilities.”
“I think we need to keep testing.” Tracy dug out another bite.
“Wait! You’re still not doing it right.”
“What now, sister? I’m eating ice cream. How wrong can it be?”
“Trick I picked up from a friend. Turn the spoon over before you put it in your mouth. Then you don’t taste any metal, only ice cream. Or, in your case, fudge.”
Tracy raised her eyebrows, but flipped her spoon. “Mmm. Now that works.” She stopped for a minute. “So, tell me again what a sleaze Rich was.”
“Oh, most definitely a pure sleaze. Had you been together a long time?”
“Two years. But now I’m finding out together wasn’t quite the right word. He had at least three other women. I guess I should have seen the signs. Like he’d only be free to see me on Tuesdays and Saturdays.”
“Oh, for sure. The Tuesday-Saturday-sleazebag syndrome.”
“And I was only supposed to use his cell phone to call.”
“Double scum,” Colleen said between bites. “Not married scum, though, was he?”
“God only knows for sure. But it’ll be Carmen who gets burned now. I’m out of this relationship. The man was definitely scum.” She gave a wry laugh. “And he wasn’t even that great in bed!”
“Typical male. Thinking with his dick. If you can call it thinking.”
“Right. That’s all we are. Receptacles for their little schlongs.”
“They don’t even think of us as individuals,” Colleen said. “When they cheat, they call it having a piece on the side. A piece! Not even a woman.” She drove her spoon up and down in her carton. “All they talk about is scoring. Like we’re goals in a football game.”
“Hoops in basketball,” Tracy added. “And they think nothing-but-net is something to be proud of! Like if they finish first, they win.”
“Well, maybe we should shoot every frigging one of them back to Mars where they belong.” She caught the vehemence in her tone and took a calming breath.
Tracy raised her eyebrows. “Whoa! Sounds like you have issues.”
“Maybe. The last place I worked was predominantly male and if you listened to them talk-well, they didn’t paint a pretty picture of their gender. But you’re right, there are probably a few decent ones left. I never had the energy to try to find one.”
Tracy blushed and dug into her ice cream. “Good grief, listen to me. I’ve known you a day and it feels like a lifetime, but I’m still getting way too personal.” She studied the carton. “Maybe there’s hidden booze in here. It’s loosening my tongue.” She extended the carton. “You try this one. See if it works the same for you.”
After three bites, Colleen looked up. “I don’t know. Maybe you need to ask me something before it’ll make me talk.” She grew hot as she realized she’d opened the door.
Tracy looked at her. “You mean that? You seem kind of.private, you know.”
“Go ahead. I feel like I’ve known you forever, too.”
Tracy set down her spoon. “Damn, I’m going to be sick if I eat another bite. But it was great. Okay, so, tell me. You running away from a man? That why you left Oregon?”
“No. Nothing like that.” Harrigan’s face hovered in front of her again and she stuck her spoon in the carton.
“Oh, sister. Your eyes glazed over and it wasn’t the ice cream. I know that look. You’ve met someone here. Already?”
“Not exactly.” At least she didn’t want to think of Harrigan like that.
“Hey, come on. Spill. Who is he? How’d you meet him? What’s he like? Cute? Smart? I figure you go for the smart ones.” Tracy gathered the leftover ice cream and headed for the kitchen.
Colleen picked up the jar of fudge, now almost empty, and followed. “A deputy sheriff came by looking for someone, that’s all.”
“Yeah.” Colleen grinned. “Killer blue eyes.”
Tracy gave her a knowing look. “So, tell me the rest. I mean, I can see going for a man in uniform, but there’s more, isn’t there?”
“Not much. But the uniform-well, it doesn’t work for me.”
Tracy lifted her eyebrows. “Okay, so you don’t go for a man in uniform. I still want the rest of it.”
“He came back last night. To see me, although I could tell he was trying to make it sound like he was on an official call. Then he was leaving and the next thing I knew, we’re in that ‘are we going to kiss?’ mode.”
Colleen knew her face looked like a Caribbean sunset. She chalked up the way her insides churned to the ice cream and fudge indulgence.
“And? Did you?”
“No. He broke it off and said good night and left.” She pushed her hair back from her face. “I don’t go around kissing guys I’ve just met, but.but if he hadn’t backed off, I would have. In spades.”