by Jon Cotton
ROmantica Assignment 1
Brent Summers has short black hair, blue eyes, and a strong chin. His rugged handsome features make him look out of place as a cook in a small diner on the sunset strip. He is a native of the Los Angeles area, and has been a struggling actor for the last ten years. He has done dozens of bit parts, and even a few roles with a single or few lines for major pictures, but nothing seems to be working out. He is 29 now, and he feels like his time is running out as far as making it in pictures.
Brent has had a string of girlfriends, but never been married. He has found that the common dream they all seek outshines anything else of value in their lives. Brent has resigned himself that he will never meet a decent partner as long as he continues to travel in the circles he does. He is looking for someone more genuine, than even himself.
Katarina Barstow is a native of Wyoming. She has long blond hair, and deep blue eyes with a slim figure. She has always excelled in the local community theatre, and at 18, she entered the nearest regional university for the study of drama. She graduated with honors, but soon found the small town life unchallenging, and sold all her stuff to move out west. She has recently taken a job at the same diner on the sunset strip, and works constantly to make casting calls, and tryouts.
Katarina has never had much of a love life. She would be looking for someone to help her navigate the Hollywood life. Katarina is very smart, and knows the ins, and outs of stagecraft. She dreams of being embraced by the big Hollywood dream of success. Will she get together with Brent and live happily ever after, or will the dream of success break them apart?
Romance literature feels like an idealization of real life with a focus of love. Obstacles are still present, and difficulties need to be overcome, but in the end; love triumphs over all. Sex can occur, but it is not necessary for the story.
Erotica is more of a focus on sex. While it is done tastefully, the view is more on sex with or without love.
I think the two can be easily married by lengthening the tension, and desire between the two characters, and softening the edges of the sex scene. This sort of work could appeal to fans of both erotica, and romance.
It was a typical Monday in the diner, and half the staff had called out. Brent had managed to arrive fifteen minutes late, only to be chewed out by Jessica the assistant manager. Jessica was in her late thirties, and while still trying to get her foot in the door as far as acting, had largely given up on it. Streaks of untreated grey were showing in her once flawless hair, and she was constantly flipping through plastic surgery pamphlets, as if that alone would buy her more time. But whatever the case, she was bitter, and she had a tendency to take it out on the staff, particularly the pretty ones.
The morning rush was particularly brutal, and the heat from the grills, the smells of the cooking food, and the steam from the dishwasher made the kitchen almost unbearable. By the time the breakfast rush was leaving, Brent had a slight burn on his thumb, and his apron was stained with grease, and who knows what. He leaned against a counter, and ate his complimentary free meal, feeling grateful suddenly for the calm before the storm that was lunch. He shoveled another bite of eggs in his mouth, and read silently from an obscure horror novel by Robert Bloch.
Jessica came in through the double doors leading a pretty blonde woman already wearing a waitressing uniform. “Hey everybody, listen up!” She called out in a voice made a touch gravelly by a lifelong smoking habit. “This is Katarina. She’ll be joining the wait staff.” Brent winced as he heard the name. The way Jessica said it meant she had already taken a dislike to the girl. It was just a matter of time before it manifested.
Whatever the case the blond was left staring around at the kitchen staff. No one said anything either out of a belief that she wouldn’t be there long enough to bother with, or a lack of skill in English. The busboys and dishwashers were largely Hispanics. The rest of the kitchen were all the same. They would all see each other at casting calls, and tryouts, and in the end all meet up every morning to continue the job that kept their rent paid.
Brent turned toward the table so as to miss the disappointed glance of the new girl. He could see Jessica beaming out of the corner of his eye, and that told him all he needed to know. He suddenly felt someone brush by him, and his concentration on the page suddenly and abruptly ended. The touch and feel of that body brushing by was like magic, and he turned his head to see the new girl move past him. Her scent was like a welcome and pleasant diversion; an oasis in a sea of burnt egg smells, and coffee. She smelled like lilacs, and whatever girlish soap she had used that morning. Brent knew that by the end of her shift she wouldn’t be smelling or looking so pretty, but right now……..
“Excuse me,” she said without looking back. Brent turned to see Jessica folding her arms across her chest. He frowned and folding his book at the page he left off, followed the new girl to the back of the kitchen, where she was storing her purse in a locker.
“Hey,” he said half stopping as he realized he was striking up a conversation with a girl he had just snubbed. He extended his hand a peace offering. “Name’s Brent.”
She looked up at him cautiously, and took the hand in a rather weak grasp. “Hey,” was all she could muster.
“Listen, about that out there; the kitchen staff doesn’t think you’ll last. Jessica already has it in for you.”
Her eyes seemed to tighten, and her forehead scrunched slightly. “Why does she have it out for me?”
Brent smiled. “She hates pretty girls who are younger than her, and have potential. She used to be one, and now she hates herself, and gets off on ruining the self esteem of anybody younger and prettier than her.”
“Pretty,” she echoed the word looking up at him.
Brent suddenly felt tense. “Look, I didn’t mean anything. I just………”
She smiled, and finished tying the knot on the back of her apron. “It’s okay,” she said in a reassuring tone. Her hand reached out and she squeezed his broad chin. “You just can’t help yourself.” He stood a moment, as she walked past him again, and this time he savored the exchange, breathing in the lovely smell of flowers as she sauntered by, and relishing the feeling of her soft skin brushing against him.
She left the locker room, and Brent stood watching the door as it swung closed. He smiled broadly, realizing that there had been plenty of room for her to pass. Her graze was not an accident.
He wandered back out into the kitchen, to find her there leaning against his counter and looking over his book. “What’s this?” She asked with barely feigned curiosity. “You a weirdo or something?”
He reached out and took the book. “It’s a Robert Bloch. He’s a predecessor of Stephen King and a lot of modern horror writers.” He stuffed the book in a pocket in his apron. “I’m researching a role.”
Her eyes lit up. “Really? I came out here to try and make it as an actress. Have you played in anything big yet?”
Brent smiled. He had seen her coming a mile away. Her nodded with a big grin. “Yeah, a few things. I’ve had a few speaking lines here and there.”
“That’s wonderful. I hope I can make it here. I studied Drama at Eastern Idaho State University.”
Brent nodded. “Well I’m sure that can’t hurt anyway.”
“Can’t hurt?” She asked a little testily. “Have you ever had acting lessons Mr. Big Shot, or are you just brimming with natural talent.”
Brent raised his hands. “Simmer down, Idaho. My parents started me when I was young.”
Word COunt 1000