#WritingChallenge: Find your voice

By Deirdre McCluskey, Harlequin Series

This week we’ve been talking about voice. Difficult to define, yet unmistakable when you see it, your romance voice is an expression of your point of view. It affects word choice, characters, and plot, and makes the story uniquely yours.

But in order for your voice to be heard, you have to reach beyond what you think people want to read, throw out the well-worn phrases and situations, think harder, imagine further, and be true to yourself. Scary!

Your challenge this week is to take our writing prompt – a romance situation we’ve all seen a thousand times – and make it fresh, original, and authentically yours. Ready? Here’s the start of your scene:

Kayla dropped her bag on the desk and checked her phone. Seven minutes late. Well, this temp job wasn’t worth her punctuality, or her expensive foundation either. She glanced up to see Archie, the ridiculously sexy 3D-printer technician, looking at her, one perfect eyebrow raised. Kayla felt herself blush.

Post your 3-4 paragraph scene in the comments below by Sunday, February 25, 2018, and we’ll check back with you on Monday!

108 replies on “#WritingChallenge: Find your voice”

It had only happened once, when the dredge of the day had gotten to her, but their little romp in the janitor closet had been on her mind too. Right now he was probably picturing the way her full breasts had peeked from her lacy brassiere when he’d practically ripped the pearl buttons of her silk blouse open. His animalistic passion had surprised her. It wasn’t the most romantic of locations for a midday pick me up, but it had done the trick. Only now she was stuck with the awkward moments like this when his eyes bore into her and her skin tingled for one more touch. She hoped she’d move on soon and leave this mess behind. Well, maybe not too soon…she did still have the key to the closet.

Great job, Melanie! I like how you used that quirked eyebrow of Archie’s to indicate they’ve acted on this attraction already once before. One tip–watch character descriptions in POVs. Would this heroine have imagined her own breasts so vividly during their interlude or is this something that’d be more natural in his POV? What does she remember about how he looked that day? Just some food for thought. Nicely done! 🙂

Damn! She was late again! Cussing softly under her breath Kayla turned back to her workstation and made to kick the desk leg with her Manolo Blahnik heel.
Connected with air and propelled awkwardly backwards into sexy 3D printer technician’s arms.
She could feel the heat of his hands on the sides of her breasts as she struggled to maintain her balance and dignity. Her efforts however only furthered her vulnerable position as the hands which were firmly clamped onto her had been shifted by her wriggling and were now closer to fully cupping her silken clad breasts.
Freezing momentarily in the hopes that he might save them both from the potentially humiliating experience and right her without further incident Kayla groaned inwardly as she glanced up and discovered the entire office was staring at them. Which wouldn’t have been half so bad if her skirt had stayed in place rather than bunch up around her waist exposing her black lace thong panties to all.
The strong, hands quickly shifted off her breasts and expertly pulled her skirt back in place while assisting her upright as she struggled to cool her flaming face.
“Good morning to you Kayla!” Sexy tech’s flirty tone wasn’t lost on her and she began to perk up. Maybe this temp gig was going to be more advantageous than she’d originally thought!

Sounds like Kayla can’t catch a break! You’ve shown us your distinct voice here and made room for humour. Nicely done.

“The Force be with you, too, Mr Spock.”
“Good morning would do, Kayla. You don’t need to insult me by mixing up your Sci Fi first thing in the morning. Especially when you’re late.” The eyebrow fell back into place, but was replaced by the flash of an amused smile. Why did the geek have to be so gorgeous? Could those even be called anything as banal as ‘lips’? ‘Slopes of sin’ seemed more appropriate when he smiled like that.
She waved her hand flippantly. Anything to cover the rush of her hormones. He already thought she was an airhead and her pride hadn’t plunged so low that she was going to correct his misapprehension. And letting on that she found him attractive despite the raging geek factor would be more mortification than she could afford right now.
“Someone really needs to give you an education,” he continued, his grin growing as she spluttered in outrage. “I mean about Star Wars. If you’re going to hold a job in this industry, you can’t go mixing up Jabba the Hutt and Jar Jar Binks.”
“I speak geek,” she insisted.
He snorted. “Yeah, about as well as I speak woman.”
“Huh,” was all Kayla trusted herself to say in response. He didn’t seem to have any trouble communicating with her womanly parts. But, yeah, he was a total geek.

Love this, Leonie! The voice is part of what makes this scene so quirky and flirty–great job adding some fun dialogue too.

Honestly, it’d been, how long now since she’d last had sex? Three months at least, and clearly way too long if she’d started getting vibes from the very unavailable tech and his silly eyebrow. Never mind that he was the hottest thing this office had to offer, bar his girlfriend. Kayla should know better than to daydream about sweaty romps in one of the backrooms. As if.
Casually reminding her of how silly her train of thought was, Mariana, Archie’s pretty girlfriend, perched herself over Kayla’s desk that very same moment. Kayla blinked, surprised by Mariana’s sly wink and by her generous cleavage very suddenly right in her line of sight. Archie was smiling at both of them now, all crinkly eyes and adorable dimple showing.
“He’s interested, you know?” Mariana asked, her accent curling itself cutely around her words.
She would have to be Colombian, too, Kayla thought restlessly. She was about the most interesting thing that had happened to this overly white little town in ages, and not only was she hot, but she was both funny and kind. Paired with Archie, they were more than Kayla could take on a regular Monday morning.
“Wait, what?” Kayla asked once Mariana’s words registered fully. She was still blushing.
Mariana smiled, big enough to almost keep Kayla’s eyes away from her overflowing breasts. “Archie, he’s interested.”
“I don’t – I mean -”
“Don’t worry, so am I.”
That said, Mariana sashayed away from her, leaving a trail of perfume behind and taking Archie with her. They both looked back once more at Kayla, Archie’s eyebrow once again enticingly raised, as if in challenge.
Well, Kayla thought, challenge accepted.

Love this twist, Lola! I can hear your unique voice coming through, and it helps make Kayla a funny and relatable heroine.

Kayla wiped at the coffee spots on her beige coat, quietly cursing the commute. Barely acknowledging the co-workers she passed, she dropped her knock-off purse on her desk, upsetting a framed photo of her college graduation. Righting it with a huff, she marveled at how far she’d fallen from being that bright-eyed, smiley graduate two years ago. No one had warned her being an adult would be so hard.

“Only seven minutes late,” she mumbled, ignoring the five texts glaring at her. Not even the least bit tempted to find out what her crazy roommate-cum-ex best friend threatened to do now after Kayla cut her off from her expensive foundation. It remained the one thing she splurged on: pricey makeup and face care products. Kayla locked her bedroom for a good reason. Too broke to move out, and too much of a masochist to hunt for a new roomie.

Sighing, she turned to hook her coat over the back of her chair and froze, her hands hanging mid-air with her outerwear. She hated how the heat rushed to her face in an instant, her body prickling with goosebumps. Like her life, it was just one more thing she couldn’t control very well.

Because Archie was looking over again. He raised a dark blond brow, his lips quirking in amusement, and light green eyes sparkling behind his boxy glasses. For the PR firm’s 3D-printer technician, he certainly appeared to be in the wrong trade. Jacked arms, roped muscles bulging when he flexed his biceps to fold his arms over his broad chest, and his white T-shirt clinging to his body, hinting at sculpted abs. He had no right to be that deliciously handsome working a printer.

Nicely done, Sara! Great way to use the fun voice to tell us something about the heroine, who seems relatable and doesn’t take herself too seriously. One thing to watch for is repetition–if this scene is a continuation of the prompt, she’s already put her bag on the desk. 😉 Well done, though!

Stop it. You’re not going to be here long enough even to say yes if he asks you out for coffee.

Coffee was why she was late in the first place. Kayla should’ve known better than to park in the overcrowded lot after seeing the mile-long line at the drive-through window, but she had to have the oversized cup of courage to get her through the day. Otherwise, she’d walk out before she’d worked a full week. Without pay. Or a recommendation, which she probably needed even more than the money.

Scratch that. She needed money right this minute, or she’d be late with her phone bill. Kayla could live without a lot of things, but being connected to the internet, to her texts, and to her voice calling wasn’t one of them. She’d dumped the TV service months ago, after her perfect, “I can tell you’re going places in this company” job dumped her. She was going places, all right. Right out the door. Her bestie Latisha had told her to chill, that every company needed good, CAD-trained graphic artists, that she’d find a super job in no time. What neither of them had reckoned on was the economic downturn, and the glut of artists looking for jobs.

Kayla started when Archie cleared his throat. He’d left his desk while she was busy worrying and now towered over her. “Um, want some coffee?”

Love this, Marion! Some nice transitions here–we learn a lot about the heroine and her situation here and the engaging voice makes it interesting. The exposition doesn’t go on for too long before we get dialogue–well done.

Kayla McIntire balanced her caramel macchiato venti in one hand and her over-sized pink Prada handbag looped over the other as she hurried into the office, her stilettoes clicking on the polished linoleum floor.

“You’re late,” a deep voice reminded her. “Seven minutes late to be exact.”

She swung around, her handbag hitting the speaker mid-chest. “Oh, my God, Archie! You scared the crap out of me.”

He chuckled and leaned against the wall of her office cubby, raising that single perfect eyebrow. “Whatcha got there, sweet-lips?”

“Here, the coffee is yours– if you don’t tell the boss.” She held out her morning ritual cup and smiled. “Please. I need this temp job, if nothing else to pay for my foundation.”

“You’re building a house?”

The amusement on his clean-shaven face as he accepted the coffee irked her. He was so smug, so self-assured, so damn smart. A nerd was what he really was, but he came in the sexiest packaging. Tall, dark, and handsome was put to shame by his wavy auburn hair, his mid-height, and his startling green eyes. He took her breath away and he knew it.

“Sure, why not? Right in the middle of Central Park, next door to you.” She dropped her bag on the desk and dug through the contents. “Oh, double crap! I left my cellphone at home.”

“Must be why you didn’t respond to my calls this morning.”

His whispered words were far too close to her ear and if she turned around now, she’d be far too close to him. Her cheeks flushed with heat as he ran his hand along her bare arm. The rumors were true. He did have a crush on her. He was crazy to pursue her when it was against all rules, even her temp employment agency discouraged fraternizing with the office staff. But, my oh my, he was pure temptation.

Chrissie, you’ve made this scene your own but your strong voice pulls the reader in! You’ve done a nice job establishing chemistry between these two with some fun and witty banter. Well done!

Thank you, Katie! I was hoping this challenge was to find “our voice” and what line it would belong in. I would love to know which line that still exists fits mine.

Kayla dropped her bag on the desk. A quick glance at her phone showed she was only seven minutes late. Not a bad effort. Navigating the city without a personal driver had proven more difficult than she expected, but she made it. She’d survived four days of mind-numbing data entry work already. Three more weeks proving herself in this insignificant temp job, and Daddy would have to agree to releasing her trust fund early.
After getting the antiquated computer started, Kayla made quick work of checking her socials. She might be spending this month living like a pauper, but that didn’t mean she could afford to lose touch with society entirely. The posts were all the usual, new shoes, new handbags, new…
Kayla was unable to comprehend the post on her screen. A photo of a stunning engagement ring being placed on her best friend’s finger, by the man Kayla had been led to believe was her future betrothed.
“What on Earth?” Kayla shoved away from her desk; a futile bid to distance herself from what she’d seen. The abrupt movement sent her designer handbag tumbling to the floor, the contents scattering for all to see.
She glanced up to see Archie, the ridiculously sexy 3D-printer technician, looking at her with one perfect eyebrow raised. Heat rushed to Kayla’s cheeks. She could only hope her expensive foundation would do its job and temper the blush.
Wait a moment! Kayla looked again at the technician. She’d met Archie numerous times over the last week. She didn’t recall him ever striking her has sexy. Nor did she imagine printer technicians wore perfectly tailored bespoke suits to work.
Who was this tall, broad-shouldered Archie impersonator?

You reset the scene in an intriguing way! Love the developments that come out of this scene, and the voice tells us something about our heroine.

Kayla gave herself a mental shake. Don’t screw this up. Pull yourself together.
It was always nice to be admired by a sexy guy. But, she didn’t have time for flirting even if he had gorgeous eyes and a crooked smile. Plus, Kayla was pretty sure she had caught Archie checking out Doug, one of the other computer techs yesterday. Pasting on a smile, she gave a nod and winked at Archie.
Logging on and into the network, Kayla got to work on the gaming code she’d been assigned. She reminded herself that this was temporary when this assignment ended she would have just enough money left over after paying her mom’s medical bills to pay off some of her own.
She glanced up from the screen, pushing her glasses up on her nose when she saw her boss and the CEO, Conner Radcliffe stalk his way through the cubicles towards the back of the room where her desk was located.
She resisted the urge to fuss with her afro puff and fix her make-up. Even dressed down in jeans and a graphic tee, her boss was the definition of sexy. The shirt fit just tight enough to show off the muscles that usually hid behind designer suits and button-up shirts. Kayla wiped her hands on her jeans and stood as he approached her.
“Ms. Ramsey. We need to discuss your attendance.” He paused, “I’ll give you a few moments to finish and save what you’re working on. I expect you in my office in five minutes.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Conner.” he corrected before turning and leaving the same way he had advanced.
Kayla saved the file, turned off the computer and gathered her things. It wouldn’t matter that she had a good excuse for being late. Her mother had been admitted to the hospital the night before and she hadn’t slept much. Kayla hadn’t wanted to leave until the doctor had made his rounds. She wasn’t going to use her mother as an excuse. People like Conner Radcliffe only cared about one thing, results. Grabbing her bag, she held her head up high as she made her way to the maze of partitions towards the executive suites.
This is only a temporary setback. She reminded herself. But the sinking feeling in her stomach and the pang in her heart disagreed with her brain’s logic.

Katie, I love how you’ve managed to tell us so much about your heroine and her situation in this scene. An engaging voice goes a long way when sharing character and backstory details. Well done; I’m intrigued as to how this scene will play out 🙂

This was getting ridiculous. She had to stay focused and professional. She was married to her job and a pair of sexy green eyes and the body of a hard working cowboy, was not going to distract her from her objective. If she could pull off this PI gig she would have enough saved to take her bastard ex husband to court. It was so long since she had seen Cara, her daughter had been only three when the custody ruling had ripped them apart. Nothing was going to stop her this time, nothing was going to stand in the way of getting her daughter back.
Keep it together Kayla, she reminded herself as she stowed her bag in her open draw and turned on her computer, today was payday. Today she was going to harvest those incriminating files and be out of this stink hole of corruption that they called a finance company. In reality it was a cover for an organised crime syndicate to wash their money clean.
‘Mislay your broomstick Zara?’ Archie addressed her by the cover name she had given and he was still staring at her. Oh boy, was he a distraction to her goal. They had sniped at each other since the day she had started and sometimes the tension was so intense she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to shoot him or take him to bed.
‘Shut it Archie, I’m not in the mood for your poor attempts at humour.’
He raised his Starbucks cup to her in a mock toast. ‘It’s nice to know you eventually graced us with your presence.’
She ignored him and reached surreptitiously into her bag for the external hard drive, she may as well get this over and done with. The encrypted evidence had been difficult to find, but her hacking skills, under the guise of data entry, were equally as clever and now she was so close. In a few minutes she would be walking out of the huge front glass doors to payday.
She felt a presence near her and looked up to see Archie’s grim expression.
‘What the hell do you think you are doing?’ His undertone reached only her ears. He swiftly hid the small device in his jacket and hauled her to her feet. ‘I think you need a coffee.’ He announced to the other partitions as they moved quickly from the room.
On reaching the long corridor, he pulled her into a small meeting room and quietly shut the door. Kayla shook off his grip and reached under her skirt and tried to grasp the knife from her thigh holster.
‘Oh no you don’t.’ Archie swung her around so she was trapped between the door and his muscular body. He flipped open a small badge and held in front of her face. ‘FBI sweetheart and your amateur hour is going to get us both killed.’
Kayla glared up at him, it was so hard to concentrate on her rage when his lean lines were touching all the right places.
‘Now who are you working for princess?’
‘Go to hell!’
‘Oh honey, you will have to try harder than that, I’m already there.’

Very intriguing, Rose! I’m curious about how this will play out 🙂 We learn lots about Kayla’s determination and no-nonsense attitude through the voice you’ve presented here. Nicely done!

Kayla was rethinking this job might not be too bad after all. Archie was certainly something to look forward to every morning. She thought only if he knew that I day dream about him through out the day holding me in his arms, caressing my hair and planting soft kisses on my lips. Archie was oblivious to my feminine instincts that he had awaken. I didn’t care if this temp job was not worth my expensive make up or my punctuality but my IT man was and I was there for him. He was the reason why I was still there. I blushed every time our eyes met. I could feel his eyes penetrating through my clothing as if he was trying to explore every inch of my body without saying a word just raising his eyebrow as a signal of approval. I did not understand why he never had the courage to ask me out for lunch or at least approach me with small talk. I always wondered if he knew that he was handsome, smart and that he possessed a lot of good qualities that women like me are drawn to. Archie was too much of a gentleman and not a flirt, at times I wish he was. He was making it so hard for me to show him my true feelings. My days feel long when he is not there. I’m always wondering if he thinks about me during his days off. I wish I was off too with him in his apartment. I can see myself arriving at his batchelor pad, Archie opening the door and greeting me with a long wet passionate kiss. He holds my hand guides me to his bedroom as he whispers in my ear I love you. We both sit on the edge of his bed as he goes for another kiss. I can feel his lips kissing my neckline and his hot breath on me. I cannot contain myself let loose those wild instincts. As we are in the heat of the moment I hear my name being called. I quickly looked up and realized it was my boss and I was still at work.

Evangelina, your paragraphs set a sweet romantic tone to the scene (with a little bit of heat at the end!) and we’re carried off by your heroine’s day dreaming. One tip–watch your tenses and double-check that you’re not flipping between past and present tense. It’ll make it even smoother for your readers to be swept away 🙂

Kayla felt herself blush, biting back the comment she wanted to fling his way, in your dreams Archie, this is so not happening! Fixing Archie with a steely eyed glare to warn him away, Kayla sat herself down at her desk and logged in to her computer. She felt Archie’s stare at her back and huffed out an irritated sigh, if he thinks for one second his good looks and sexy come-ons are going to melt her resistance, he’s dreaming. The man is egotistically full of himself, walking around like he’s a gift on the proverbial platter, ignoring all the barriers and multiple warnings Kayla gave him in no uncertain terms, but for all that, he still came on to her. Every morning like clockwork, Archie was a thorn in her day.

Kayla clicked open her Inbox and saw an email from Jake Turner, the department supervisor. Oh, if only she could catch Jake’s eye as easily. This time, Kayla’s sigh was heartfelt adoration. As opposite of Archie as he could be, Jake had no clue how much he appealed to the women in the office, most of all her, with his rugged good looks and shy smile that held all the promise of a better day. Jake was consistently kind and patient, but he had a bit of a temper that made his eyes darken from hazel to nearly black when things didn’t go his way. Jake Turner was the only reason she hung on to this deadbeat temp job. His assistant left recently on maternity leave, and Kayla applied for the position, even though it’s just for a few months, the opportunity to work with Jake is worth more than all the good-time Archie’s in the world.

Maybe, Jake’s email held the promise of a promotion? Kayla held her breath. Herat racing, she was afraid to open it…

Sent from my iPad

Nice job, Diana! We get the sense your heroine is open to love but isn’t afraid to shut down advances she doesn’t want. One tip is to double-check tenses and see if you can be as consistent as possible. Well done, though! 🙂

Kayla dropped her bag on the desk and checked her phone. Seven minutes late. Well, this temp job wasn’t worth her punctuality, or her expensive foundation either. She glanced up to see Archie, the ridiculously sexy 3D-printer technician, looking at her, one perfect eyebrow raised. Kayla felt herself blush.

“You’re late.” He straightened up from where he leaned against the workbench.

Kayla smoothed a self-conscious hand over her wind blown hair. Great. He’d finally noticed her. Too bad it happened on the day when she’d had to run six blocks to get here on time. Well, nearly on time she correctly herself.

He moved closer, his dazzling, sultry eyes appraising her thoroughly.

She had to stop herself from stepping forward to meet him.

He stopped in front of her, much too close for comfort.

Her temperature rose another notch. “I was followed.”

“To here?” His awesome eyes sharpened on her intently.

If he blinked she must have missed it. He’d been a great help to her once she’d confessed that she was hiding from a deranged killer. She dangled her bare wrist in front of his face. “No. I lost them. Once I got rid of the new smartwatch you warned me about.”

Kayla frowned at him. At the rate she was discarding belongings thanks to his advice, she’d soon be coming to work in her underwear.

At Archie’s surprised expression she groaned inwardly. “Did I just say that out loud?”

He nodded, a tiny smile playing about his nubile mouth.

She looked down, embarrassed. Her eyes widened at the handcuffs he held. “What’s that for?”

“You,” he said cuffing her in one swift, fluid move.

Her mouth gaped open, dumbfounded. “Is this some kind of sick game you’re playing?”

The easy smile disappeared. A stranger stared down at her, cool and wary. “No Kayla. You’re under arrest for the murder of my brother. And this time you’re not getting away.”

Great twist, Margaret! Didn’t see that coming. Love the engaging voice here and how quickly this scenes moves. Intriguing 🙂

Kayla dropped her bag on the desk and checked her phone. Seven minutes late. Well, this temp job wasn’t worth her punctuality, or her expensive foundation either. She glanced up to see Archie, the ridiculously sexy 3D-printer technician, looking at her, one perfect eyebrow raised. Kayla felt herself blush.
A pity he played for the other team. For a brief moment she wondered if he were into threesomes. She’d never tried one, but for a chance to touch that perfect body, she might consider it. For a nerd, he managed to pack enough lean muscle under that sweater to fulfil the naughtiest girl’s fantasies. Not that Kayla was a naughty girl. Which was why she was working for an agency instead of climbing the corporate ladder at Selby Blahnick and Co. Bennick actually, but blah exactly described how she felt about the junior partner after that last trip to Paris.
“You’re late again.” Even his voice was delicious, deep and dark with a husky tone. As if he’d just tumbled out of bed.
He’d noticed her tardiness. Hard not to when he’d been hanging around the office every morning this week. She suppressed the little tremor of excitement that he’d been watching. “I’ll make it up at the end of the day.”
“That would be a pity. I had planned to ask you to join me for a drink after work.” His dark eyes lingered on her dressy suit with the silk blouse and Hermes knock-off handbag. “Unless you already have a date.”
It had been his knowledgeable comment about her bag on that first day, along with a sly comment from the office manager, that had alerted her to his lack of availability. The way he was looking at her, maybe she misinterpreted the signs. “I thought…” She stumbled to a halt, heat burning her cheeks.
One corner of his mouth curled up in a wry smile. “I get that a lot. The pretty boy tag.” He nodded at her desk. “My sister has one of those bags. She bought it in Hong Kong on her honeymoon.”
She could feel herself smiling. “In that case, I’d love to join you.”

Fiona, there’s a strong voice here that carries the scenes and makes room for humour and a bit of quirkiness. Well done!

Slender shoulders lifting in a sigh, Kayla toed off her flats and pulled her heels from her bag. “What did the fish say when it ran into a concrete wall?” Slipping on her pumps, she glanced at Awesome Archie in time to see him raise the other brow.
“Dam.” She sank into the office chair, careful to brace herself against the pending wobble of the loose seat. Her pencil skirt, along with Archie’s attention, slid up her thigh.
Her blush had faded by the time his eyes, as dark blue and magical as she’d dreamt about, lifted to meet hers. “I don’t suppose you’d believe that my dog ate my alarm clock?”
His eyes flicked to the cell phone. “Not when it’s currently in your hand.” His Sam Heaghan lips hooked up on one side to reveal a dimple.
“Well, he didn’t eat it, but he had to poop twice. And I’d only brought one bag.” Kayla’s face flashed hot again. First conversation with the most attractive man she’d seen since moving here and she was talking about pooping pets. Reaching out a wine-colored fingertip, she jabbed her computer awake, holding her breath until the relic finally blinked its eye.
Frustrated with the daily battle, Kayla vowed that if someone in the Federal Marshal system didn’t find her another job soon, she would. With or without their help. She focused her attention on the screen, the back of her neck heating under Archie’s regard, as the old desktop hummed to life. At least the printer was a piece of junk like her computer and chair. The attractive technician had been the bright spot of her days for the past two weeks. If the temperamental machine didn’t break down again this afternoon, she might just kick it on her way out – after she put on her flats.
But a dose of Alluring Archie was worth a jammed toe. Kayla’s eyes traveled down his forearm, visible under his rolled-up shirtsleeve. They lingered on his very capable looking hand currently grasping a tool kit. A hand talented in maneuvering cantankerous parts into a happy hum. Forgetting her rebellious chair, Kayla squirmed, trying to stifle her rarely used parts that were clamoring for a happy hum. She bit her tongue when the seat jolted down two inches on one side.
She winced. Her morning was becoming as crappy as the baggie she’d pitched in the trash earlier. Tamped down since it’d landed her in this whole situation, Kayla’s impulsive nature was booting up faster than her computer. The chair squealed as she swiveled to face the tall auburn-haired man.
“I don’t suppose you’d mind checking out my…seat.”
His smile grew. The gleam in his eye indicated he’d relish the prospect of getting his hands on anything in that general vicinity. “I wouldn’t mind at all.”

It is clear that you understood the core of this assignment. By avoiding clichés and commonly-used words and phrases, you ensured that your voice came across clearly. Great job!

Damn. She hated an audience when her performance was anything less than stellar.

“Morning.” Even his voice sounded silky smooth. Like butter and syrup dripped onto a bed of pancakes.

“Good morning.” Worse. She hadn’t managed time for breakfast. Were all her thoughts today going to involve food?

“You look rushed. Bad start?” He pulled back the sleeve of his crisp white shirt and gave a quick glance to the watch on his wrist.

Kayla felt her blush deepen as the tell-tale heat spread from her cheeks down her neck. “Well, I…” Her voice trailed off.

She’d forgotten to set her alarm. The water heater decided this morning to conk out, leaving her with a cold shower as her only option. She’d missed her subway, and when she did squeeze on the train amongst a crowd of what smelled like week old unwashed athletes, they made it three stops before grinding to a ten-minute halt.

Kayla attempted a thousand-watt smile, knowing the warmth didn’t reach her eyes. “What starts badly will end well, I’m sure.”

“Let’s hope so.” He gave her a two-finger salute, picked up a folder from his desk and sauntered down the hall, away from the cluster of cubicles.
Her eyes followed his broad shoulders and athletic frame for a moment.

How long since she’d had a date? Too long to remember.

As Kayla turned back to her desk, she intercepted the knowing glance of a fellow worker.

“Good looking guy, isn’t he?” the girl spoke softly from the desk beside.

Kayla felt like mimicking his two-finger salute in answer. “Too bad his personality isn’t as nice as his ass.”

As she dropped into her chair and swivelled to face the computer on her desk, she heard the other girl’s chortle of laughter.

I really loved the way you used imagery in this scene. I could visualize every moment. I certainly hope the rest of Kayla’s day goes well! It seems like it can’t get worse at least…

Kayla always prided herself on her punctuality, herself control, and the way she would reasonably handle every aspect of her life. But lately something was off.
For the third day in a row, she was late to work. Sure her temp job was boring and lacking any challenges, but it was the best she could get. It paid her bills, and kept a roof over her head. And for that she was thankful.
But was not the bit thankful or appreciating the gazes directed from the hot Tech. guy that he kept pouring out to her.
What was he thinking? One look at her, and he should have known what kind of a girl she was….She was timid, prude, and very traditional, who would never in a million years indulge in any office raunchy activities. And with the Tech. guy. Please…it wasn’t even worth the hassle her mind was going through.
But then, she dared her eyes to look at him, and with one eye brow meeting his hair line, she got a hint of what was wrong lately.
Slowly and deliberately, he was tempting her, enticing her, to break her shell, to get out of her comfort zoon. He was telling her, to look at him, to see him, to really see him.
And she looked again. No…. she stared, in awe of what her thoughts where leading her.
“You’re blushing, Kayla” he said, a smug smile visiting his handsome face.
And instead of brushing off his remark, she unwittingly touched two shaky hands to her flaming cheeks. And hell broke loose.
He strode forward, marched with steps of a mad man, a man who had waited far too long for his victory to arrive.
“Archie” she warned in a voice that held no ounce of knowledge to what a tone of warning should be.

I like the direction in which you took this scene. While you didn’t necessarily break from the norms of what is expected in romance, I enjoyed the way that you described the turmoil within the heroine. Next time, though, it might make sense to try to emphasize your own voice by using tropes in slightly more original ways. You clearly have a good sense of how they work, so the next step is to make them your own.

Kayla tossed her bag onto the desk and set her to-go cup of coffee next to it. She dug her phone out and checked the time. Late again. It hadn’t been her fault this time. Carstairs had detained her too long at the meeting, making her arrive at the office seven minutes after eight. Oh, well, this temp job didn’t affect her resume or even pay enough to keep her in her favorite foundation.

She glanced up. Archie, whose name fit his nerdy occupation of 3D-printer technician, looked at her with one eyebrow raised. He had scrutinized her the last few days as though he knew her purpose here. He scrunched up his white sweater sleeves and she glimpsed a long expanse of toned forearms. Or maybe he only found her as interesting and attractive as she found him. Heat suffused her face. “What?”

“You’re late again.” His eyes darted in the direction of Mr. Delgato’s office. “The boss noticed.”

Delgato couldn’t fire her yet. Only a few more hours and she would know who passed company secrets to the competition. So far Archie had been one of the few co-workers who had cooperated with her. “What did you tell him?”

He eyed her cup. “That you’d stopped to pick up his coffee at Starbucks.”

She smiled. When this job ended, she may break her cardinal rule to never take anything from the office home with her and smuggle Archie out. “Thanks. You’re a gem.”

Great job! I really appreciated your decision to include some additional layers in this scene. Since Kayla and Archie are working together (unbeknownst to everyone in their office), it adds a nice undercurrent to their relationship.

Kayla dropped her bag on the desk and checked her phone. Seven minutes late. Well, this temp job wasn’t worth her punctuality, or her expensive foundation either. She glanced up to see Archie, the ridiculously sexy 3D-printer technician, looking at her, one perfect eyebrow raised. Kayla felt herself blush.
After all, Kayla was the one who jammed the printer in the first place. Her co-workers joked that she had done it on purpose just to bring Archie back again after yesterday. But she would never have caused such a commotion for such a selfish cause. Would she?
Kayla dropped her coat on the back of the chair and made her way to the printer, extending her hand.
“I’m Kayla,” she said, pointing at the hot pink letters K, A, Y, L and the half-A that was stuck in the printer.
“Ah,” Archie said. “We were wondering about you. Half the guys bet you’d never show your face here again.”
“Believe me,” Kayla said, “I thought about it.”
“Well, it would have been our loss,” Archie said. “Besides, why would anyone want to use this to print models of the buildings they have designed now that they’ve seen how to make such cool nametags?”
“Ha, ha.” Kayla smiled. “They say it’s all about making a name for yourself.” She was never great at sarcasm but those terrible puns tended to flow naturally when she was attempting to flirt.
“Oh, that was bad,” Archie said. “So bad I don’t even have a comeback.”
“Why don’t you comeback to my place for a drink then?” she said. Awkward silence filled the mailroom. “So then you’d have a comeback?”
“Yeah, I get it,” said Archie as he stood up and straightened his glasses. “Very funny. But I don’t think my boyfriend would approve.”

Ok, so she was late. But after having to skip most of her morning routine, chase after the bus and missing her morning coffee, she didn’t care. Bad hair day, no makeup, being late .. who cared, this was her last week at the office anyway. She looked at Archie, he was still looking at her, his eyes sparkling with laugher. Ok, maybe she cared a little. Had she known he would be here, she would probably have spent a few moments in the restroom, freshening up.

She was going to miss him, not getting the daily dose of the infamous Archie smile would be a great loss. Of course, they had spoken, usually during lunch, but always with other colleagues present. Mostly day to day, work related stuff, nothing personal. And now, with only a few days left, that would be all. Wonder if he could make a 3D copy of himself?, she thought. It would fit perfectly in the corner of my bedroom.

Over the day, she caught him glancing at her.. Not being ashamed of being caught looking, he would give her a devilish smile, as if they were sharing an intimate secret. I wish, she thought, I wouldn’t mind some close encounter with him. But at the end of the day, her reaction to his smile started to frustrate her. Oh, get over it Kayla, she said to herself. It’s just a smile! She placed her head on the table, glad she was going home in half an hour. I’m a grown woman, she took a deep breath. Get a grip!

Talking to yourself I hear. Not a good sign. It took a second for her brain to react to the low sensual voice, another to realize the owner was just a few feet away. She abruptly raised her head, and found herself staring right into Archies sensual eyes. Need a second opinion? Because I can tell you right now, you are definitely a woman!

This scene was really cute. I especially liked the opening. It is very relatable. The idea of having a 3D copy of a cute guy is also a fun addition. Good job!

She immediately was annoyed with herself which, she knew, only served to heighten the crimson tint creeping up her cheeks. Sitting down and busying herself by logging into her computer, Kayla tried to pretend that she wasn’t aware that Archie was approaching her desk. “Hello,” he said, smiling as he stopped right in front of the desk. She looked up as he continued to speak. “I want to apologize in advance,” he said, “because I will be here all day servicing the printer.”
What seemed like a thousand thoughts passed through Kayla’s mind in a matter of seconds. She had noticed him from a distance on other occasions as he made his way through the annual service schedule for the various company printers. Up until now, he had never been in such close proximity. His voice: It was a rich, deep rumble that vibrated in her chest to the rhythm of her heartbeat. His eyes: They were ice blue and penetrating. Yet, somehow, they emitted warmth. In a millisecond sweep, she captured a glimpse of perfect, full lips, and a chiseled, angular jaw.
“Oh….whatever!” Kayla thought to herself. “He’s just a nice package, a cliché, a handsome blue-collar in a corporate environment. This assignment is over at the end of the week. I will have proven to Dad that I can hold down a job if I need to; I’m not getting caught up with distractions!”
Kayla looked up at Archie coldly and replied, “No worries, I can easily ignore you.” Archie’s eyes held hers for what seemed an eternity. The warmth that she had noted earlier disappeared behind unreadable shields – not cold, not angry, just….unreadable. Archie’s smile never left his face. His only response was, “Nevertheless, I will try not to be too disruptive.” He then turned and walked away.
Kayla watched him return to the printer. His response caught her off guard. She was used to men expressing their appreciation for her beauty, regardless of whether or not she chose to accompany it with any charm—or civility. She was spoiled that way. But, yet, this…”blue-collar”….why was she staring after him?

It was interesting to see you take this scene in the direction you chose. Instead of choosing to start something between the hero and the heroine, you closed them off from each other. It would be interesting to see how you would get them back on the same page following this interaction.

Kayla plonked her bag onto the desk. She was late. Again. Stabbing at her phone she saw it was seven minutes. She hated being late. Shrugging out of her coat she defiantly threw her phone onto the desk. It wasn’t as if anyone cared, or noticed. Hell, she could probably send in her photograph instead of showing up and still get paid in this job. It didn’t even keep her in a decent foundation, let alone the one she was used too. She glanced around the office fully expecting to prove her point and then blushed to her roots when she saw Archie was looking straight at her. He was over by the printer, shirt sleeves rolled back, printer ‘bits’ all around him. Not for the first time that week she wondered how an impossibly good looking guy like that could be an office tech. She’d seen him several time during her first week on different floors, tinkering. black hair flopping over his eyes, concentrating on his job.
Except now, he wasn’t tinkering. His eyes were totally focused on her. Two pools of molten, black molasses. One perfectly arched eyebrow raised. Watching her. Watching her being late. Again. What could she do? She could only offer a weak smile and a chin tilt in his direction as acknowledgement, all the while believing that with her luck of late he was probably the bosses son. Or worse. Oh, God, what could be worse?
Kayla busied herself emptying drawers of files and docking her laptop. She dared to take another look in Archie’s direction only to find his eyes still on her but this time his lips were lowered to the rim of his mug, making the most of sipping from it and all of a sudden her mouth went completely dry. She stared. Like a gormless teenager, she stared at his mouth as he drank from his mug. What was the matter with her? She knew the job bored her beyond words but this? Really?
Oh no. he was coming over. This was a disaster. was he going to ball her out for being late or just totally embarrass her for staring at him?
” Good Morning.” His smile was like a 120 watt bulb snaring her in its brightness, totally not knowing what to say.
” I believe you’re new here.” It was a stand alone comment. Up to her to fill in the rest. But the words stuck in her throat. Up close he took her breath away. leaning so casually against her desk he could hardly be aware of the way the light fell on him. The way it lit the fine hairs on his strong arms so they danced like myriads of golden splinters along his skin, the way it fell on that boyish flop of hair that fell across his fore head and turned it to the burnt colour of a rich Irish whiskey, so alive that she wanted to reach out and touch it. He was waiting, his burnt, black eyes, smiling, but expectant, were waiting for her reply. She swallowed hard, shaking herself to respond.
“Good Morning. Yes, I started this week. I’m Kayla.” She nodded, stupidly towards him.
“Kayla Pennington. I’ve seen you.” She flushed again. What the hell was she saying?
“I mean, I’ve seen you on the different floors since I’ve started here, in the offices” She knew she sounded lame but somehow carried on regardless.
” I mean, you know, tinkering. With the printers.”
“That’s me. The Printer guy. When I see something needs fixing, I like to ‘tinker’ as you put it.” He smiled again but something in his dark eyes deepened. Weather it was amusement or something far deeper, Kayla couldn’t be sure.

I really loved the way you took the heroine’s thoughts at the beginning of the scene and quickly showed her that she was wrong. The fact that Kayla was so certain that no one would notice her made it that much sweeter when Archie did.

“Look away,” she muttered to herself in the sing-song tone that always came out of nowhere when she was nervous. As if he was reading her lips, his own full ones curved up into a crooked smile, increasing his sex appeal exponentially. Tearing her eyes away in response, she sat down at her desk in a huff, at least relieved he hadn’t filed a sexual harassment complaint with the HR department against her. Albeit, the day was still young; that could still happen.

How was Kayla supposed to know that at the end of yesterday, she was scheduled for routine maintenance to her printer? And that it would be Archie, whom she had been eyeing hungrily since her first day at the office, who would perform the check-up? And that he would be performing a print test as required? If she had known, she would have closed out the juicy, non-business instant message conversation she was having about him with Janice, the other temp employee who ogled Archie just as much as she did. When he had stopped at her desk, she was typing something akin to the fact that she would rather “be on a deserted island beach, alone with Archie”. She hadn’t even noticed he was standing in front of her, opposite her monitors, she was so engrossed in her typing. When he called her name, she almost fell out of her chair and quickly turned the second monitor off so he wouldn’t see her instant messenger box conversation, starring him. Why, oh why, didn’t she just minimize the box?

After he deftly completed the printer check and had her hit print screen, though the monitor was pitch black, everything that was still open printed out. She knew the moment he saw his name in black and white when he retrieved the pages, because he did a double-take and stopped in his tracks to read EVERY word of the incriminating messenger. Janice picked the perfect day to take off, leaving her alone to figure out this mess! She stole a quick glance in his direction and her heart dropped. He was still wearing that curious expression as he slowly sauntered towards her desk.

I laughed so much while reading this scene. You created a hero and a heroine who were both unique and interesting. Great job!

In an instant, her schoolgirl reaction turned to frustration as she blurted out sarcastically “What, Archie? Does my tardiness amuse you?”
Archie looked at her curiously, pausing for a second as if he was considering the repercussions of his responses. When he did speak, he simply said “No.”
Kayla stared at him for a second, waiting for whatever was so obviously on his mind to come out, but he just stared back without a sound. She took a deep breath and turned to her computer to start her day. There was an unnerving electricity in the room, one that she knew she had sparked with her snappy response, but she was sure that once they both got into their work, it would wane. It surely would have disappeared already if they weren’t alone in the office today.
She heard him get up from his desk, certain he was leaving for the break room or one of the labs and she could breathe again. Of course, that wasn’t her luck, and before she knew it he was sitting on the corner of her desk.
“I’m not amused,” he said in a low voice, “I’m curious why you dislike this place so much. Yeah, having to start as a temp sucks, but it gets you a foot in the door to some great opportunities here. I’d hate to see you mess it up and have to leave…I kind of like seeing your face…”
“You’d hate to see me mess up a great opportunity?! I know what great opportunities are, I’ve had them and believe me, this isn’t one of them. I also know very well how not to mess up one when I get it. Yeah, I may have lost the last one, but that’s because I trusted the wrong person and paid dearly for it. Now, I’m stuck here getting lectures from the noisy tech guy!” As soon as she finished her strangled whispers, she realized two things, 1. she had actually said that whole thing out loud, not in her head as she normally handled these little speeches and 2. he had been trying to express interest in her when she had interrupted him with her tantrum. She was terrified to look at him and sick to her stomach over what she had just done. He was the only thing that made this job worth coming to on most days and he had finally shown a spark of interest, but she had been too busy getting on her high horse to realize it.
She could feel his eyes burning into her, but she couldn’t look at him. After a moment, he silently left her desk and the office. All she could do was sit there frozen and wallow in the spectacular way that she managed to destroy potential relationships. Talk about messing things up, how in the world was she going to fix this?

You did a great job of building tension in this scene. I really want to know how she is going to fix what she did!

“What are you looking at, Archie?” Kayla snapped. She unlocked the bottom drawer of her desk and shoved her purse inside, before twisting the lock into place. Straightening her stance, she powered on her computer. On any other day, flirting with the deliciously handsome 3-D printer tech would’ve made Kayla smile, but not today. She’d barely gotten enough sleep. Now, the only thing Kayla wanted was peace, quiet, and an energy drink.

“You,” he answered with a casual shrug.

The way the simple word rolled off the tip of his tongue should’ve been illegal in all fifty states, Washington D.C. as well. What was it about the obvious computer geek with the body of that famous professional wrestler turned action hero that made her brain go haywire? Kayla shifted in her seat. Her eyes trailed over the bulging muscles of his arms hidden beneath the light blue button-down shirt, over the broad expanse of his chest and broad shoulders before dipping lower to the front of his pants. The man was definitely a work of art. Chiseled from the finest stone, carved to perfection by a master crafter, painted with the gentlest of brush strokes.

Archie continued to stare at her with that silly-yet-sexy smirk tilting the corners of his lips. Kayla rolled her eyes. She tried her best to ignore the overwhelming urge to slap it right off his handsome face. Or kiss it away.

“Earth to Kayla.”

Kayla shook her head to clear the thoughts. “What Archie? What do you want?”

His eyes widened. The tip of his tongue snaked over his lower lip, pulling it between his teeth. “Is that a rhetorical question, Kayla? Because,” his long strides ate up the distance from his place next to a water cooler and stopped at the entrance of her cubicle. The intoxicating scent of his cologne wafted to her nose, momentarily rendering her speechless. “The answer to that question is as simple.” His voice lowered an octave, causing the hairs at the nape of her neck to stand on end. Archie continued forward until he stood directly in front of her desk. “Simple as 1-2-3. You and me.”

I loved the way you ended this scene. You avoided clichés, which helped you develop more interesting characters.

Kayla always prided herself on her punctuality, herself control, and the way she would reasonably handle every aspect of her life. But lately something was off.
For the third day in a row, she was late to work. Sure her temp job was boring and lacking any challenges, but it was the best she could get. It paid her bills, and kept a roof over her head. And for that she was thankful.
But was not the bit thankful or appreciating the gazes directed from the hot Tech. guy that he kept pouring out to her.
What was he thinking? One look at her, and he should have known what kind of a girl she was….She was timid, prude, and very traditional, who would never in a million years indulge in any office raunchy activities. And with the Tech. guy. Please…it wasn’t even worth the hassle her mind was going through.
But then, she dared her eyes to look at him, and with one eye brow meeting his hair line, she got a hint of what was wrong lately.
Slowly and deliberately, he was tempting her, enticing her, to break her shell, to get out of her comfort zoon. He was telling her, to look at him, to see him, to really see him.
And she looked again. No…. she stared, in awe of what her thoughts where leading her.
“You’re blushing, Kayla” he said, a smug smile visiting his handsome face.
And instead of brushing off his remark, she unwittingly touched two shaky hands to her flaming cheeks. And hell broke loose.
He strode forward, marched with steps of a mad man, a man who had waited far too long for his victory to arrive.
“Archie” she warned in a voice that held no ounce of knowledge to what a tone of warning should be.

Dear Maggie, I like the intensity of this scene, almost all in the heroine’s point of view. We really know how she’s feeling and can relate to her. You mention her struggles and values in life, then juxtapose it with this intriguing situation with the “tech” guy. It makes a reader wonder what will happen next. Well done!

She was sure the heat extending into the roots of her hair left her a deep beetroot not a becoming pale pink. He grinned obviously used to her reaction of dumbstruck females. How can he legally be allowed to be that gorgeous? She thought. “Hi. Are you the new girl? ? A soft highlands accent it just keeps getting better. She smiled. “Yes, I’m Kayla Mc Kenzie, I’m covering for Sarah ‘s maternity leave “. “Another Scot, I like you already. I’m Archie.” He reached out to shake her hand. As soon as their hands touched she felt a jolt run up her arm. “Sorry carpet and my runners are a dangerous combination. I’ve been sent to give you the guided tour. Anne apologises she couldn’t meet you. The boss flew in unexpectedly so the core team are getting their asses handed to them on a plate”. “I hope it’s not too serious.” “Nah. He likes to throw his weight around every now and again. Keep us on our toes. Right are you ready?” “Lead on Mc Duff.” Slapping her hand over her mouth she couldn’t believe she could get any more idiotic. Her eyes dared not see the condemnation in his face but she looked up anyway. If she thought she had a red face before she was sure it was livid now. It was more disbelief she saw in the slack jawed expression that looked down at her “Are you a bit..you know? ” ” Sorry I don’t know what made me say that. I’m stunningly stupid?” “Stunning yes, but I meant psychic?” “What?” “How did you know? I only introduced myself as Archie.” “What?” She was so confused. “Mc Duff…my surname “

I really liked your decision to make both of the characters Scottish. I always love seeing unexpected connections between characters. Also, who doesn’t love a guy with an accent?

The red lights on Kayla’s phone flashed like fireflies, alerting her to the number of messages that awaited her attention. She was only seven minutes late for goodness sake. Well, they’d have to wait for her to, at least, enjoy a sip of her latte. She dropped her bag on the desk and sat down gracefully in her chair. Only another couple of weeks in this job and she’d be out of here. There’d be enough money then for her ticket to Italy, where she planned to find a position worthy of her talents and maybe – no, Kayla, lets go for broke – definitely, a man worthy of the name.
At that moment she glanced up and her gaze fell into the green eyes of Archie the printer guy. He was looking at her with an expression she couldn’t read. Archie reminded Kayla of a cat. His expression was inscrutable, his gaze uncomfortably direct, and the colour of his eyes was a mint green with interesting flecks of – what? She’d never been close enough to find out. Unfortunately.
‘Can I help you with something?’
Archie smiled, and she felt like a mouse he was contemplating pouncing on. In a playful fashion, of course.
‘Well, now, I can think of quite a few things you could help me with. Whether you’d be willing to is a different story.’
Kayla blushed. What is it with this guy? Few men had the power to make her feel as vulnerable as he did. Or as desired.
‘How about you give me a clue as to what the hell you’re talking about, and maybe I can give you a sensible answer.’
‘You’re a temp here, aren’t you?’
‘Yes – so?’
‘So, you’ll be moving on soon – to pastures new. Or somewhere else equally out of reach.’
‘Ah – yes. Is that a problem?’ Kayla sipped her coffee and watched him over the rim of the cardboard cup. He walked slowly forward and leaned over the desk. The flecks in his eyes were little pieces of gold. She’d never noticed that before. His hands were strong and capable, and his smile was causing the coffee in her cup to boil over.
‘Only if I don’t get the chance to take you out to dinner before then. I’ve been watching you since your first day and I think you’re stunning.’
Stunning! No man had ever called her stunning. She gulped and put her coffee down before she spilt it. She was leaving the country soon, she couldn’t afford to fall for a guy, even one with eyes like Archie’s. Maybe she could ask him to wear sunglasses.
‘Of course, I’ll have to consult my diary, but I may be able to fit you in.’
He smiled then and she knew she was lost. ‘I’m counting on it,’ he whispered. ‘Tonight would be good for me. Let me know if your diary agrees.’
As she watched him walk away, without looking back, she couldn’t keep the grin off her face. She’d wanted to go to Italy for a long time – she could wait a little bit longer.

Dear Jackie, The heroine seems like a carefree woman who is open to just about anything. I wondered what she wanted to do in Italy and what kind of position would appreciate her talents. This is an intriguing start and voice really contributes to this. It raises many questions about the characters. Well done!

Kayla dropped her oversize bag to her temporary desk with a sigh of resentment. Seven minutes late because the cosmetic shop on 5th, the only store in town to carry the foundation she needed, opened and closed in unison with her new temp office hours.

The expensive foundation to cover her scar wasn’t worth the trouble it caused. The same could be said for the man who’d made the need for it a burden on her life.

“They’re gonna can you if you’re late again.” Archie, the 3D-printer tech who’d been saddled with showing her the ropes, already had their next project lined up in the printer. He glanced at her, one perfect eyebrow arched over sky-blue eyes and a sideways smile that made this mornings bagel dance in her stomach. Her cheeked heated at the look.

She gave Archie another glance. The Poly-Tech Printing Company logo stitched on the arm of his polo stranded with the movement of his shoulder while he repositioned the machine.

Oh lord. Hadn’t a broad-shouldered, blue-eyed boy with a smile as addictive as any drug been what knocked her life off-kilter in the first place?

Dear Ann, You pack a lot into a short scene–a bit of the heroine’s backstory, her makeup needs, and her unique feelings for the hero. Your including so much, balancing it all, give your voice real energy. This takes such skill. Nicely done.

“Don’t look at me that way. Like you’ve never been late.”
Archie walked over, his lean frame towering above her. “It’s not like you, though. There must be a reason.” His green eyes sparkled behind the dark rimmed glasses.
Kayla smiled, shyly. “I see you’re here on time.”
“Yep. Unlike some, I actually get up and get ready.”
Kayla opened her mouth to protest but closed it. She should have gotten up earlier.
“I can’t help that I was wore out. I don’t participate in that kind of activity very often, you know.”
Kayla thought back to the night before. Archie might look thin, but he had muscles in all the right places. His ivory skin had felt so soft against her own. She thought it would be awkward, but here they were, talking about it like what happened was an everyday thing between the two.
Archie spoke, his voice so low and deep that it sent shivers down her spine.
“Well then, I’ll make a note to start earlier.” He smirked and walked away.
Kayla was left flustered, hoping she would be able to concentrate on work.

Dear Kimberley, I like the secret that they have, which you hint at here oh-so nicely. You also include just enough interest to pique the reader’s interest. The writing is well-paced and all of this contributes to an effective scene. Well done!

Thank you so much for your positive feedback, Ms. Bloom. Your words have renewed my faith in myself. I can’t wait for the next writing challenge.

Kayla dropped her bag on the desk and checked her phone. Seven minutes late. Well, this temp job wasn’t worth her punctuality, or her expensive foundation either. She glanced up to see Archie, the ridiculously sexy 3D-printer technician, looking at her, one perfect eyebrow raised. Kayla felt herself blush.

Okay, so the position did offer some benefit beyond starvation wages. If only she could figure out what caught Archie’s attention. Her being late? Or the porcelain doll perfection she’d managed to pull off, provided her bangs did their part. Smiling off the urge to cringe–Ms. Pimple paid her an untimely visit–she touched fingers to her forehead only to die a little more than she had upon first seeing it. She always broke out when she interviewed and getting out of this go-nowhere was mission critical.

“So what happened this time?” Archie’s tone was anything but professional.

“Excuse me?” He couldn’t be talking about her zit.

“I’ve been out to fix the same problem on this poor 3-D seven times in the past month.” He set down his tools and pushed up from the floor to thread muscled forearms against an athletic cut dress shirt rolled up at the sleeves. “And I thought we were all clear.”

“All clear?” Kayla fluffed her bangs. “About what?” Sexy was morphing to snarky.

“If any of you ladies in the office want to ask me out, go for it. I’m open. Good coffee’s expensive and I appreciate quality conversation. But cut the game playing, okay.” He shook his head, sending sandy hair crashing over his black rimmed glasses. “I’m trying to build a business here not a fan base. See you in six months for ‘regular’ maintenance.”

“I don’t think so. You’re. . . you’re fired.” Kayla didn’t have the authority but she was taking it. She’d be gone tomorrow anyway and it just felt good saying it. Besides, she’d never be seeing Archie the love tech ever again. The nerve.

Dear Ann, I love the humor in this! The heroine was very easy to love and her point of view fairly pops off the page. Good for her for facing this upstart guy! This is a very good example of “voice.” Well done!


Thank you for the time spent and encouragement. I’m trying hard to learn and you’re making it far easier.

Enjoy your week!

Archie had given her that same inviting look yesterday when she had been late, again. Only this time those sweeping lashes and green eyes would not reel Kayla in. Hate it or not, she still needed this job and if there was a repeat of that behaviour, she would be fired, for sure.
‘Archie,’ she acknowledged.
Kayla hoped she sounded professional. She needed him to recognize there was to be no replay of yesterday’s risky, albeit incredible mistake. She watched as his eyes narrowed and his smile turned wicked.
‘I believe you dropped something.’
His low baritone rolled over her as he knelt down beside her chair.
‘I didn’t…oh!’
His lips were gently brushing her naked ankle, while hot breath blazed a trail upward. Kayla squeezed her thighs together.
Archie stood up, placing a paperclip on her desk. He leaned in. Kayla gripped the arms of her chair, refusing to meet his eyes. His mouth moments from her neck, his words warm.
‘Let me know what else I can do for you today.’
Kayla squeezed her eyes as he walked away, sure as she opened them, the whole office would be staring. No one had noticed. It was just her body that was demanding attention. She spun around her chair, watching as long legs and tight jeans got further away.
Kayla grabbed her purse and phone. There would always be another temp job.

Dear Samantha, It’s easy to see the romantic desperation that the heroine has for the hero. You can feel that sense of urgency. Obviously, one would hope that the heroine found the job of her dreams by the end of the book. Nicely done.

Kayla didn’t know why she was blushing – she’d met handsome men before, but there was something about Archie that made her pulse race. She tried to compose herself.
“Archie, what can I do for you?”
His eyes swept over her features caressingly and finally settled on her full, pink lips. Kayla felt herself grow warm again and she held her breath while she waited for his reply. But when he spoke, his voice was all business.
“I need your expert help for a little while seeing as you are our graphic designer at the moment,” he said. “Can you come to my office when you’re ready?”
Without waiting for her reply he turned and walked away. Kayla watched him go and couldn’t help admiring his broad back and slim figure.
After checking she had no other pressing matters to attend to, Kayla paid a brief visit to the bathroom to freshen up, run a comb through her hair and re-apply her lipstick, before making her way to Archie’s office. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door before entering.

Dear Athina, I can tell from this scene that you’re just getting started. There is a tension brewing between the two of them. Their chemistry is not quite explosive–yet, but I can see how you’re setting up their relationship with detail and the heroine’s point of view. Well done.

“I’m so stupid!” She said under her breath.

Archie came over. “No you’re not. You’re just processing a lot. With the weight your carrying. I’m glad you’re here at all.” She pulled him into the office and closed the door. Her boss was away all week and with that she was allowed to use the office. They embraced.

“Thanks,” she replied. “By what magnificent means did you come into my life?”

“Just blessed I guess,” he said smiling, while he held her in his muscled arms. She looked at him, this man, who had come to mean everything to her in such a small period of time. “You came into mine, and I’m so extraordinarily glad you did.” He caressed her precious face, and saw bewilderment there, like a deer waiting for the inevitable rending. She’d been through so much. “I won’t let that happen.”

“But what if you’re wrong?” She whispered, anxiety brewing in her voice.

“I’m never wrong,” he smiled brilliantly. “I just came by because I was at the hospital and wanted to see if you were okay. I know we got into some pretty powerful details yesterday.” They had both gone to an evening anxiety workshop, and hit it right off, enormously.

“I know we did. I didn’t mean to,” she said afraid.

“I didn’t either. But I’m glad we did. Made it more intimate,” he smiled even more mischievously, brown eyes flashing kindness and alleviating her deep soulful ones. He kissed the underside of her hand. Shivers went up her spine, thinking about the exciting moments to come. “You can believe in me.” The 3D printer technician / owner of the company pulled her even closer to him, still holding her hand. People didn’t know, but he would come to the 3D printer training sessions disguised as somebody else to see if they liked and were able to use the company’s equipment. Hence the cover name, Archie. “I will see you tonight. Keep your head up. If you need anything just phone me okay?”

“I will,” she said smiling deeply.

“You promise?” The brown eyes mirrored her own and yet somehow righted her like a beacon in the storm she was embattled with.

“Don’t go,” she said suddenly, in a voice she didn’t immediately recognize as her own. But he smiled gently, kindly at her.

“Sweet heart I must. But I will pick you up at 8 and we will discuss everything, okay.”

“Okay Kyle, oh I mean Archie,” she expressed laughing at the cover name. “See you then.” He smiled again as he closed the door and did a thumbs up sign. She clutched her heart, alone in the room. Oh but she loved that man! She didn’t know how it was possible, but she loved that man! Putting her emotions aside for the moment, she picked up the chart and began to work.

Dear Cheryl Anne, Nicely done. There’s a sweetness to this scene that will appeal to readers, which is part of the overall voice. The one thing to add for a romance is romantic tension. What is pulling them apart or threatening their love? Well done!

Thank you Patience for your advice. I am so motivated to be a romance writer and you’ve helped me.

Heat suffused her face. Did he know, that she was the one who kept sending the repair requests. ‘Of course he knows you idiot, you emailed the requests.’ Her internal monologue berated her. Kayla had requested maintainence on the photocopier five times in the last week, a nuisance true, but it was worth it to have this gorgeous man displaying dexterous fingers on those white sheets of paper – she imagined scenarios of other white sheets and his dexterous fingers. Kayla’s face grew hot again.

‘Excuse me, Kayla, isn’t it?’
Kayla looked up to find him – the subject of her every fantasy for the last 21 days – standing in front of her desk.
She breathed deeply before answering, inhaling an intoxicating blend of spice and man. ‘Yes, I’m Kayla.’
‘Well, Kayla, it’s all fixed.’ Archie smiled, his top lip hitching slightly upward and to the right. ‘The paper was getting bound around the spindle in the feed, but it should be fine now.’

Everything was more than fine, from where Kayla was sitting as smiling green eyes watched her from the other side of the desk, the tips of Archie’s talented fingers rested on the desk. His dark hair falling down across his brow, giving him the roguish look of a pirate. Kayla swallowed hard.
‘I’m not exactly sure why you’ve had so much trouble with this machine. The 9000’s are usually pretty reliable?’ Archie lifted his eyebrow, ‘ Five breakdowns is virtually, unheard of, I think in future, it might be better to contact me directly.’ He took a card from his top pocket, scribbled a number on it and held it out to Kayla.

Kayla reached out to take it, and pulled, but he held it tight, watching her intently.
‘If you want me, anytime, give me a call. The telephone is faster than email, and I can take care of your needs much faster.’
With a knowing smile and a wink, he turned and walked out of the office.
Kayla had just discovered the ’employee benefits’ program.

Kayla felt an angry heat rise in her cheeks. She was over Archie and his supercilious eyebrow. Anytime anyone on the floor did anything wrong he had the same superior judgemental attitude. Unfortunately Archie was all looks and no substance. Well today he was in for a little surprise.

She looked over again towards his special projects room, now he was smirking at her.
‘He probably thinks I’m blushing because I fancy him, little does he know I think the opposite,’ she fumed. Kayla smiled sweetly at him while quickly punching in her online banking details. Yes! She did an internal high five for one, with the help of the latest pay, she had enough saved to cut this dead end job loose.

She levered herself from her desk and sauntered over to Archie’s project room and closed the door. ‘Do you have a moment, Archie?’ The man didn’t even bother to stop tapping away at his tablet.
‘Yes, if you would have been here on time, but I’m busy now.’
Kayla maintain her bright smile, ‘This will redeem those lost seven minutes and leave you with a memory you will never forget.’

Kayla grabbed the back of his chair and wheeled it and his slouched form out from behind the desk, twirling him to face her. Archie’s face was a mixture of surprise and expectation. His expression grew intense as she deftly unbuckled his belt and undid his zip. He eagerly shuffled out of his slacks, his Calvin Klein’s remained in place.
‘Now close your eyes and relax.’ Kayla ran a red painted nail along his anticipation.
‘Smile Archie’, she snapped the image as his eyes flew open and he launched himself toward the phone.
‘Why you little bitch!’
Kayla avoided him and made for the door, loading the image to Snapchat in one hand. She pressed share to all and immediately heard the jumbled chorus of mixed message tones.
Standing out side the door she raised her arms outwards. ‘Thanks for the memories everyone , I’ve left you a parting gift, see you in the universe.’

Kayla left the building with a huge smile on her lips, she felt free.

Dear Charles, I think Kayla gave Archie what he deserved! Nothing like a supercilious eyebrow to bring a lady down. The pacing moves quickly and I like how heroine-focused this scene is and not so much with a romantic bent. The writing is very energetic! Well done.

Thank you for reading my post and comments. First time post and newbie, so rushed it and forgot the hook on the end.

This entry is from my 13 year old daughter.

It was only her second week on the job and she had already fallen in love. Those gorgeous pearl teeth and his incredible wavy hair was enough to make a girl feel weak in the knees. Luckily, Archie had invited her to join him for lunch today. She was planning to casually slip in the fact that she was newly single.
Kayla moved the dark wisps of hair away from her face.
“Good morning, Archie,” she waved.
“Morning, Kayla, are you still coming for lunch?”
Archie was polite, although she could sense mischief behind those electric blue eyes.
“I’m not sure, Archie.” Kayla smiled as she turned away.
She hoped that he still knew she was interested and was only playing hard to get.
“Well you’re not saying no,” Archie winked.
“I’m not saying yes either.”
Archie grinned and gave his head a shake.
“I’ll pick you up at noon.”

Too young for adult stuff. Mean no harm but 13? I wouldn’t want my 7 year old to write a romance. Makes one wonder why a 13 year old is doing writing romance? At this age thats the last thing to worry about. Stick to writing stuff for kids and teens. Dont be in a hurry to grow up. Its not all fun and games. Rough out here. Again i meant no harm but this kind of thing is too grown for a little girl or boy and 13 is not grown. Still a child. But best of luck to this future writer though.

The dialogue is cute and sounds natural between the two characters. There’s a wide range of romances and this sounds like it is on the sweet end of the scale. My daughter started reading my sweet romance books when she was ten and then started writing when she was about eleven. Your writing here is quite a bit like her first attempts. She kept writing as I hope you will–Mom seems to support that and sounds like she’s pretty proud of your accomplishment. My daughter is 24 now and her writing has improved a lot from when she first started. If you keep a copy of what you’re writing now, in a few years you will be able to see a vast difference in your skills, too, and will have a sense of pride in your accomplishments. Keep up the good work.

Dear Alexandra, Your daughter has budding talent! I love the hopefulness in this scene, how the hero shows he enjoys the heroine, and this is well paced. Nicely done!

“You bozo! You seen me standing here! Yelled Kayla at the yellow hummer vehicle driving away. It was bad enough it seemed to be raining nonstop. Why this fool in the hummer had to hit the pool of water for? Now she is soaking wet. Figuring she had time to run to Candy Apples for some new clothes for work Kayla ran into the store and came out with an outfit and a pair of shoes.
“Made it! Kayla was tired but happy she got new clothes.” Oh sure. You made it alright. Seven minutes late”. Kayla thought looking at her watch. Seven minutes! What the fudge!
“Instead of shopping you should have gotten to work on time.” said Archie, the finest tech there ever was.
“Oh go and suck data somewhere. Kayla grumbled. Its been a rough morning.”
” Excuse me then. Don’t let me “rain” on your parade. Archie joked, oh wait! Somebody already has!
“I see you got jokes. Kayla said.
“Oh don’t be such a soaked rat my love. I’m only trying to lighten the mood. ” Archie replied. Meant no harm but if you dont get out of those clothes you’re going to be sick.
Kayla rushed to the Women’s restroom only to find it locked. The only place to change her clothes would be in her cubicle in the far back of the office. The “make out zone” as some of her coworkers call it. Kayla and one other person were the only ones to have a cubicle hidden away. It was alright with her though.
Dumping her new clothes on the desk Kayla sheds her old clothes and just happened to look up to see Archie staring at her with the oddest look on his face. He wasn’t smiling or even cracking a joke. Just one sexy, bushy brow raised. Kayla managed a smile blushing because he’s seen her fully naked. At least the “queen’s” hair was nicely shaped up down there.
” Well, guess I can’t hide now. You’ve seen me. Kayla managed to say.
“Yeah, Archie clears his throat, I’m glad you were soaked cause I wouldn’t have gotten to see you like this without being in my bed. You’ve made this nerd’s dream come true.

Dear Kisha, You cover a lot of ground in a few paragraphs! From getting doused by a car to revealing her birthday suit to the hero! That’s impressive. What comes out in your voice is humor, which readers will love. Also, there’s cute banter between the two characters. Nicely done!

Karie dropped her bag on the desk and checked her phone. Seven minutes late. Well, this temp job wasn’t worth her punctuality or her expensive foundation either. She glanced up to see Archie, the ridiculously sexy 3D-printer technician, looking at her, one perfect eyebrow raised. Kayla felt herself blush.
There was no need to explain.
“I was early, but John Dexter spoke to me in the elevator,” she trailed off.
“Before I knew it, it was after eight.” The words sounded like a school girl lie, telling tales to make her life seem important, when really she had slept in.
“What did the CEO want with the office temp?” Archie asked his voice serious. “The manager noticed you were not at your desk.”
“I don’t remember.” she responded. “He was nice.”
“Nice?” Archie said, “Nice? The man in charge of a company that did over two billion dollars in sales last year is anything but nice.”
“Yes,” Dex smiled at me and asked. “How can you be so versatile?”
“And that was, nice?”
“And you, do you do anything other than operate a printer?” she retorted.
It was ridiculous that the only empty desk a major corporation could find for her to do her work was in the room with the 3D printer. For one thing, the noise level was obnoxious. There was no place for the paper files that she was digitizing on the desk and the office manager must have known that it was impossible to work efficiently in the space they had given her. Karie had thought about complaining but decided that it wasn’t worth the effort. At least, she wasn’t working alone, like last time.
“Sure,” Archie said. “I can do more than push a button marked print.”
“Well, then?”
“People talk about him.”
Being a temp was dreadful, no one greeted you as you walked into the place, not even a nod or a question about the weather. If she was early no one commented on it or came over and passed the time shooting the breeze. She needed sometimes to feel that she belonged.
“What did you really talk about?” Archie asked.
Karie sat down at her desk. She opened the database that she had been working on. The list of address was still staring at her from yesterday.
“I mentioned to the CEO that I had seen the news.”

Dear Kathryn, I like the banter between Archie and the heroine. You set up their relationship nicely. This tone contributes to the overall feeling of “voice.” In reworking this, I would add physical description as much as you can. Well done overall!

Kayla dropped her bag on the desk and checked her phone. Seven minutes late. Well, this temp job wasn’t worth her punctuality, or her expensive foundation either. She glanced up to see Archie, the ridiculously sexy 3D-printer technician, looking at her, one perfect eyebrow raised. Kayla felt herself blush.
“Do you like working here Kayla?” Archie asked smiling his calm cool smile and lacing his fingers behind his neck. He was always so straight to the point. Kayla found it exciting and unnerving at the same time. His forthcoming nature elicited a desire in her to reciprocate in kind.
“It’s a job.” She said with an easy smile, despite the little jitters that were troubling around in her lower stomach. That answer seemed to have satisfied his curiosity for the moment and he became busy once again with his computer.
If he only knew that the only reason she even cared if she lost this job she wasn’t cut out for, was because she wouldn’t have a reason to exist in his orb… but she was a master of composure. She forced herself to reel in her inner lap dog and looked over the clients she was to add to the mailing list and hoped that her lateness would be chalked up to her position as a new employee and lack of familiarity with the time in clock.
“Some associates of mine and I have a project we’ve been working on. It’s going to be a fusion restaurant, right on the outskirts of town. We have the building paid for in full and we’re almost finished with the renovations now. We’re hiring staff in advance and we still need a hostess.” Archie was looking Kayla right in the eyes. He wasn’t joking at all. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Was he offering her a job? What the heck kind of random thing was this anyhow, he owned a restaurant too? Was he superman? Yes. Of all the guys she’d met in her life so far, she believed Archie Wells was a super man.
“How much would it pay?” Was her first response, in kind again.
“Fifteen dollars an hour.” He said without hesitation, “Plus tips.” He smiled.
Damn that dimple. She thought feeling the most wonderful happiness begin to well where the worries had been moments before. There was no way in hell she was going to say no.
“When do I start?” Was her direct answer. She was ready to clock out now.
“We start training Monday after next and open in mid March.”
She could give two weeks notice and still collect one paycheck here. That would pay the rent until pay from his restaurant kicked in. That worked. She was going to get to keep herself in his orb and make more than she was now. It was solid.
She smiled and reached her hand out towards her sexy new boss. He put his hand up in a high five position.
Kayla laughed as they high-fived. She had a feeling this was going to be the best job ever.

Dear Jennifer, I like how heroine-focused this scene is and how we’re so immersed in her thoughts. And I like how things turn out for her. Looks like an intriguing beginning.

Thank you Patience, I appreciate you taking the time to give feedback for me. I am editing it in so many ways now looking at it again! Your input is generous~ Jennifer

“Don’t worry,” he said. “She’s not even awake yet. The baby kept her up all night.” Surely, he was in charge of this multi-bazillion dollar mansion’s offices. But, I did wonder why the tycoon’s trophy wife bothered to diaper her own baby.

The Household Manager stepped in, her blond hair sleeked back into a ponytail, white blouse and tan pants ironed with military creases. “You’re late,” she said. In Manhattan, her job would have been titled ‘butler,’ but I didn’t remember Niles ever looking like that.

“Stuck in traffic,” I mumbled and tucked a loose red curl behind my ear. Sounded good, Los Angeles was famous for traffic.

“An educated, polished nanny is never late, nor does she offer excuses for anything.” The towering female narrowed her hazel eyes. “Clearly, you’re just a babysitter.”

“Oh, Bridget, stop scaring the bajeezus out of my temp.” An even more ridiculously handsome man stepped through the door and shook my hand. “Hi, I’m Cary, the nanny.”

“Carrie…Cary, you’re a man!” I sputtered. Literally. And, Holy Mary Poppins, what a man!

The guy wiped a drip off his shirt. But, he laughed too, dimples and dancing blue eyes.

I had to know why a guy like that chose a profession dominated by females, and that made me feel like such a sexist pig. That, and the sweat dripping off my nose.

This is quite a twist, Kimber Li. I like how you create the confusion for the heroine and the description. Definitely a sense of voice here. Well done!

(Just saw this–hope I’m not too late!)

Kayla readjusted her underwear and her hand froze. Damn. It was a habit she’d had since middle school when she began to outgrow her clothes at a record pace and had to wear things not just out of date several sizes small. Now, impeccably dressed (and perpetually behind on her utilities) she did it whenever she was nervous. But she wouldn’t let Archie see that. Kayla straightened her spine, stuck out her chin and plucked her buttocks, like a queen suffering a royal bug-bite. She rolled the offending (though imaginary) spider between her fingers and flicked it into the trash. Then she wiped her hands imperiously hands on a tissue and cast a glance at Archie to make sure he was still watching.

Gone! And his cart was gone. The job was done. She’s never see him again–

“Darla!” Kayla called over to the next desk snatching her purse up, “Aunt Flo. Could you cover me?” Without waiting for answer Kayla rushed toward the service elevators. The ladies room was in the other direction, but she’d make it up to Darla with a double mocha no whipped. This was an emergency. The elevator door was closing. Kayla thrust her foot in, but the door didn’t stop. “Owfff!” She crumpled over her bruised foot and – even worse– ruined shoe.

Archie hit the stop button and squatted to take her ankle in his strong hands. Dizzying jolts of warmth surged up Kayla’s legs. She looked right into his eyes. Brown with dancing flecks of gold with thick lashes that bent back in perfect formation beneath incongruously bushy brows for such a boyish face. Kayla could hardly breath. ““What’d you do that for?” Archie asked.

This is one zany heroine, but I’m sure readers can relate, especially chucking away the invisible spider to cover for awkwardness. There’s real fun to this scene and I like how clever the heroine is in going for what she wants. Nicely done.

Patience Bloom–Thank you! This was so fun; I wrote more, but wanted to post within the limit. I can’t wait for the next one!

Seriously? He’s going to stare at her like that? Again? He’d been doing that ever since she started this temp job. She could always feel his eyes on her. It was rather annoying. And yet…. it was somewhat invigorating to know a man was looking at her. Especially a man who looked like Archie.
“Sorry, I’m late,” she said. If only he’d quit looking at her like that. Like he wanted to devour her. “Traffic.” She tried to busy herself with her desk, her bag…. anything to keep from getting trapped in those green eyes full of desire and lust. She finally let out a huff. “WHAT are you looking at?
“Oh, nothing….” he teased, a smile quirking his lips, his green eyes darkening. “Just admiring the view.” Then, he let out a hearty laugh when she blushed even more.
“Oh, stop it!” Kayla grumbled. “Honestly!”
Archie approached her. “Stop what, pretty Kayla? I haven’t done anything to you…. yet.”

Thank you for reading and commenting on my story. First time submission and newbie, so rushed it and forgot the hook on the end.

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