Chapter 4

Written by: GreggMattson


The sunrise blinded Daniel as he buttoned his shirt and looked across at Melanie’s farm from his bedroom window. He could see her red pickup parked in the melon field as Dave’s old truck arrived. Though they were far from him, he saw Melanie stand up from picking the melons when Dave got out. Daniel could almost make out her bobbing ponytail as she answered Dave’s call.
Daniel bit his bottom lip. He still had no idea how to get her to go out with him. He released a futile sigh and turned to his small office. He scowled at his unfinished report, shook his head and mumbled, “How do we stop those damn smugglers?”
For today’s drive to market, Melanie picked melons from a row of ripe, succulent fruit as sunbeams broke over the horizon. With her crate filled, she struggled to lift it into her Toyota’s cargo bed, then returned with an empty crate for more sweet smelling, dew-covered fruit. She paused a moment to bask in the rising sunshine, breathed deep and filled her senses with the odors of damp earth and ripened fruit.
Her thoughts wandered to the broad shoulders she saw yesterday. She remembered how she focused her attention on Daniel as he loaded crates of corn on his truck with the Nigerians. She visualized the tight, flexing, bulging muscles of his chest beneath his shirt’s thin material while he lowered cabbage crates into his truck.
A warm glow grew as she remembered how his muscles had rippled when he lifted the heavy boxes. When he turned away from her, his khaki shirt followed the lines from his shoulders to his trim waist. His back formed a perfect triangle tapering to his tight jeans.
As she dropped another melon in the crate, her thoughts lingered on his bulging arms that seemed to have a soft touch as he unbuttoned his shirt to let air cool his glistening abs.
Melanie knelt in the field to reach the next melon and fell deep into her thoughts as she ran her fingers over the melon in her hand. Distracted by her strong emotions, the melon she held fell and missed the crate. The dull thud it made as it hit the ground jolted her back to reality. She balanced herself against the crate and gasped for a breath of cool air.
Dave yelled again and finally caught her attention, "Melanie, if you dawdle any longer, the market will close by the time you get there."
Melanie buttoned her blouse and scolded herself because she hadn’t noticed Dave as he drove up. She tossed the wayward melon into the crate, stood and turned, “Don’t worry. I just finished filling the last box.”
The last visions of Melanie’s daydream faded, but their warm afterglow left a crooked smile on her lips as she followed Dave to his truck.
She glanced nervously back at Daniel’s house and made a silent wish. “If only he’d ask me,” she thought.
Gregg Mattson (USA)


but I was laughing by the second paragraph of Melanie remembering what Daniel looked like. Either it went on a little long or I just don't appreciate good romantic jabber - which I know is the case. I was a little disappointed in the last bit - I'd rather have seen her chewing on how she was going to ask him out than the traditional waiting for the man to make the first move. And I might have taken one of those body image paragraphs and had Dave notice the object of her daydreams and get mad. But there probably wasn't enough room.  In reality, this is probably a perfect chapter for the Romance genre.
I don't know about other readers thoughts, but you seem to have taken the weekend off. For me this chapter showed two things. This author wrote in an alien genre that he is has never tried before and to my mind, that earned him a few browny points. It also shows how hard this genre is as most of the story is to do with the main characters' feelings/emotions and inner tension set against a plot that has to be believable. Obviously this genre is a specialist one, mostly written by the ladies who think and feel a lot different than the gentlemen when it comes to life's love tangles. This was a really good attempt and I liked the opening paragraph. I could see and feel the three characters.  
I just described my body.
Love your sense of modesty.
Actually, it isn't bad for romance writing since men usually have difficulty with this genre.  About the only guy I can think of that ever did it justice was Nicholas Sparks and after a while his stuff just seems like "a much of a muchness" as the English say.  Romance is not really my thing either but I do love well written Victorian erotica.  It was like being tempted to taste the perfect red, ripe apple even though you knew it was poison.  Wow, is my strict Irish Catholic upbringing showing?  As they say, the devil is in the details and you did a good job on the details, Greg.  This is just one more skill we need to at least be able to make peace with to write any genre. So what is the difference between well written erotica and the magnificence of Michelangelo or the way light and shadows caress the human body in nude photography?  Is the written word somehow vulgar when the visual art is beautiful or is it the Christian influence that seems to haunt us into feelings of guilt when we "see" the human body as beauty incarnate?  Might be a good subject for discussion.
Romance genre is one of the hardest and easiest  to write. The plot is easy and normally follows down the same path of jealousy mixed with power and greed. The eternal triangle is another. What makes romance hard to write is the inability some of us, particularly men, have in conveying deep emotional feelings of love and sexual awakening within our characters. Either this is because we feel uncomfortable around the subject of physical love or cannot research the subject properly despite thousands of books on the subject. To my mind the only men who may truly understand the intricacies of love are psychiatrists or psychologists who actually deal with women's emotional problems. Women, on the other hand, have an in built store of emotion that us poor men can only marvel at. I think that shows in the number of ladies writing a chapter in this serial. Writing romance is not for the feint-hearted.