My Favorite Part of The Color of Trauma

When I first started writing The Color of Trauma, I anticipated the genre as supernatural suspense. Upon reflection, I think that’s just called urban fantasy, though the novel never fit snugly to that genre, or any genre. I started the story in 2017 as a camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project. As I wrote, I discovered that my favorite bits of the entire novel were the relationship scenes. At one point, I submitted a thirty-page sex scene to my critique group. I hadn’t even realized it was quite that long until one of them pointed it out. 

Eventually, I accepted that I was writing a romance novel. I enjoy writing sex scenes, but even more than that, I like to write about two characters connecting and bonding. When Kiera and Dean step beyond their professional, practical association, they find an intense yet easy connection. At one point, Kiera unearths some information about Dean from an old friend of his, and she shares what she learned. She has the upper hand for mere moments.  

“What’s wrong with the stubble, by the way?” he asked.

She mock-shuddered. “I’ll bet it’s wicked scratchy.”

Dean wiped a hand over his jaw. Then he slanted his eyes to her. “Why do you care?”

“I don’t.” Her face burned.

He grinned at her. “It’s not so bad. Go on, feel it.”

“I’m not going to touch your face.”

“Because you’re weird about touch.”

She gaped at him. “I’m weird? You can’t ask near strangers to touch your face.”

“You brought it up. I think you secretly want to touch my face.”

Kiera spluttered. “With my fist.”

“Tenderly. With much affection. I think I’m growing on you.” He was teasing her, trying to force a reaction, and it worked. Dean Matthson was charm incarnate, and she couldn’t stop blushing.

Banter isn’t always easy to write, but when the muse shows up, I love creating the back and forth that reveals not just a mutual sense of humor but lets the reader also smile with the characters. I feel that sex without an underpinning of mutual respect and affection isn’t as powerful. The playful exchange earlier, I hope, gives the physical attraction and expression a deeper significance. 

Once Dean and Kiera return to Kiera’s place after their day out together, trying to be “normal” people, their attraction blossoms. It starts, as love scenes often do, with a kiss.

Too far away. Dean was too far away, but every time Kiera inched forward, he countered, keeping the exact same distance between them.

Jesus, how long was her hallway?

Just the pads of three fingers touched her face, the contact so light it was like a ghost. Then those fingers, those small patches of cool against her skin, slid down her jaw, drawing a line of shivers. After her jaw, they moved to her neck, the tingling sensation shattering her control. She moved closer until they were almost touching, snaking her arms around his neck. He kissed her harder, and then she felt it.

Stubble.

Scraping over the delicate skin of her face. Kiera pulled away and mock-frowned. “Just as abrasive as I’d imagined.”

He ran his hand over his jaw, never taking his eyes off her. “Got a razor?”

Offering to shave for her comfort sprouted a grapefruit in her throat. She pressed a fist to her mouth, needing a moment to compose her expression. “Can I do it?”

Like a lot of people, I had an aversion to romance, my mind conjuring bodice-rippers of old, where consent was immaterial and jerks were somehow attractive. I finally realized that romance isn’t a monolith and I could make any kind of love story I wanted. This is it. 

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