The other day I was chatting with a friend who’s currently reading The Deception. She said she wanted to deck the boyfriend who dumps Carrie in the first chapter. Little did she know this chapter was inspired by a real-life event.
A few years ago my friends and I visited Seaworld in San Diego. As we walked around the park we happened to pass by a well-dressed young lady sitting on a bench who was sobbing her eyes out. A young man, most likely her boyfriend, stood next to her, with a very serious look on his face. As we hurried past I realized he’d brought her there to dump her, thinking she wouldn’t cause a scene. And yes, I wanted to bitch slap him. It truly was an act of cowardice on his part.
Needless to say, that picture stayed in my mind. And you know what happens when something stays in a novel writer’s mind, don’t you? It comes out in a story. In this instance, it became the inspiration for the opening scene of The Deception. This time, however, the lady is dumped at The Arizona State Fair. Like his real-life counterpart, her boyfriend thinks dumping her in public means she won’t cause a scene, but he’s wrong. Very wrong. Dumping someone in public only adds more humiliation to the person being dumped.
Inspiration for a contemporary romance novel can from anywhere and everywhere, oftentimes when I least expect it. I’ve included an excerpt from the opening scene below.
A sample read from The Deception by Marina Martindale
Carrie Daniels closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she tried to quell her growing anxiety. The big metal chain made loud clicking sounds as it pulled her up higher and higher. Her breaths grew shorter and tighter as she opened her eyes. The last thing she saw before the first big drop was the stark, clear blue sky. She heard herself letting out a loud scream as the roller coaster plunged and whipped along the track. The butterflies roiled in her stomach as she held tight while the car zoomed around another hairpin turn before taking one last, final plunge. As the ride slowed to a stop, she reached up to pull a loose strand of her long, dark hair away from her face before leaning over to give Doug a kiss.
“I don’t know why you insist on calling it that,” he said as he climbed out and began walking away.
“Calling it what?” She quickly climbed out, picking up her pace to catch up with him.
“Our anniversary. Anniversaries are supposed to commemorate a specific date. Neither of us can recall the exact date anymore.”
“I can to,” she said, flirtatiously. “How could I forget our very first date? You took me to the opening day of the Arizona State Fair, and every year for the past ten years we’ve come back on opening day to celebrate.”
This year, however, Doug didn’t seem to feel like celebrating. He had been acting strange for some time. Carrie kept asking him what was wrong, but he kept brushing her off, saying he had a heavier than usual workload at the office. Carrie, however, couldn’t shake the nagging feeling there was more to it. They walked in silence as they wandered into the carnival gaming area. Finally, she tapped him on the shoulder.
“Aren’t you going to try to win a big teddy bear for me?”
He stopped and turned, rolling his eyes. “Carrie, you know these games are rigged.”
“That never stopped you before. Every year you try to win the big teddy bear for me, so that makes it a tradition for us. And remember what you said to me the year before last? You said if you ever won it, you’d propose to me.”
“You know I never meant it literally.”
“What’s gotten into you, Doug? You’ve haven’t been yourself for weeks and it’s scaring me.”
“I already told you. I’m stressed out with work, and on top of that all I’m hearing out of you lately is how your biological clock is ticking. All these years you’ve been telling me you weren’t in any hurry for us to get married. Now, all of a sudden, you’re in a big rush.”
“Well, if you recall, we celebrated my thirtieth birthday last month. I’ve finally come to realize I can’t wait another ten or fifteen years to start a family. I want to have a baby, Doug, and I want to have it with you.” Carrie noticed some of the people walking by were giving them strange looks. “Look, this isn’t the time or place, okay. Let’s just try to enjoy what’s left of the day. We’ll talk more about it later.”
She walked up to one of the games and reached into her purse, handing the man a twenty-dollar bill. He gave her some large plastic rings, which she began to toss. Much to her surprise, a few landed around the pegs. Once she finished, the game operator presented her with a small white teddy bear.
“Well,” she said, beaming, “it may not have been the big bear, but at least I won something.”
“Carrie, would you mind taking a seat?” Doug pointed to a nearby bench. “We need to have a little talk.”
Her heart dropped like a ball of lead. Nothing good was ever said after those words were spoken. She sat down on the bench, and as Doug sat next to her, he let out a long sigh.
“Carrie, I want you to know that the last ten years have been really great, and for a long time I really thought you were the one.”
Her heart skipped a beat. “What are you saying, Doug?”
He let out another sigh, glancing around the midway before turning his gaze back to her. “It’s like I said. Back in college, when we first met, I really, truly thought you were the one. I figured someday, you know, when the time was right, we’d take it to next level and get married, but lately things have changed.”
“Look, Doug, I know things haven’t exactly gone the way we planned.” A hint of desperation wavered in her voice. “We didn’t expect my mother to have a stroke and end up in a nursing home. We didn’t expect for her insurance to run out, and that I’d have to deplete my life savings in order to pay her medical bills, but things are going to get better, I know it. I know it’s been a strain on you having to pick up the slack, but my photography business is starting to pick up. It really is. I’ve landed two new clients in the past month. If you’ll just be patient with me and hang on for a little while longer, I know I’ll be able to start paying more of the bills. Things will get better soon, just wait and see.”
“That’s not it.” He paused for a moment, squeezing his lips tightly together. “Carrie, the reason why I brought you here today is because I wanted us to go full circle.”
“What do you mean?”
He let out another sigh. “It means, Carrie, that this is goodbye.” He paused for another moment, allowing it to sink in. “I want you to know that the past ten years have been some of the happiest of my life, but now the time has come for me to move on.”