The first kiss is a turning point in any romance by virtue of taking two people from being objects of interest to each other—perhaps antagonistic, flirtatious, or only passing interest—to, at least for a moment, being objects of fascination for each other. While the hero and heroine have each others' attention, the writer also has the reader’s attention, and it’s a prime moment to sketch in some character details.
Here’s my first, first kiss to make it into print, from “The Heir, in a scene shared between Anna Seaton, a housekeeper with a lot of difficult secrets, and her employer, Gayle Windham, the Earl of Westhaven. Anna has just finished tending to the earl's injuries, and has perhaps done a little surreptitious admiring of his physique as well:
The earl took a step closer to her. “And what if I am in need, Anna Seaton, not of this great love you surmise between my parents but simply of some uncomplicated, lusty passion between two willing adults?”
He took the last step between them, and Anna’s middle simply vanished. Where her vital organs used to reside, there was a great, gaping vacuum, a fluttery nothingness that grew larger and more dumbstruck as the earl’s hands settled with breathtaking gentleness on her shoulders. He slid his palms down her arms, grasping her hands, and easing her toward him.
“Passion between two willing adults?” Anna repeated, her voice coming out whispery, not the incredulous retort she’d meant it to be.
The earl responded by taking her hands and wrapping them around his waist then enfolding Anna against his body.
She had been here before, she thought distractedly, held in his arms, the night breezes playing in the branches above them, the scent of flowers intoxicatingly sweet in the darkness. And as before, he caressed her back in slow, soothing circles that urged her more fully against him.
“I cannot allow this.” Anna breathed in his scent and rested her cheek against the cool silk of his dressing gown. He shifted, easing the material aside, and her face touched his bare chest. She did not even try to resist the pleasure of his clean, male skin beneath her cheek.
“You cannot,” he whispered, but it didn’t sound like he was agreeing with her. “You should not,” he clarified, “but perhaps, Anna Seaton, you can allow just a kiss, stolen on a soft summer evening.”
Oh dear lord, she thought, wanting to hide her face against the warmth of his chest. He thought to kiss her. He was kissing her, delicate little nibbles that stole a march along her temple then her jaw. Oh, he knew what he was about, too, for his lips were soft and warm and coaxing, urging her to turn her head just so and tip her chin thus…
He settled his mouth over hers with a sigh, the joining of their lips making Anna more aware of every aspect of the moment—the crickets singing, the distant clop of hooves one street over, the soughing of the scented breeze, and the thumping of her heart like a kettledrum against her chest.
“Just a kiss, Anna…” he reminded her, her name on his lips a caress Anna felt to her soul. Her sturdy country-girl’s bones melted, leaving her weight resting against him in shameless wonder. When his tongue slipped along the seam of her lips, her knees turned weak, and a whimper of pleasure welled. Soft, sweet, lemony tart and seductive, he stole into her mouth, giving her time to absorb each lush caress of lips and breath and tongue.
And then, as if his mouth weren’t enough of a sin, his hands slid down her back in a slow, warm press that ended with him cupping her derriere, pulling her into his greater height and into the hard ridge of male flesh that rose between them. She didn’t flinch back. She went up on her toes and pressed herself more fully against him, her hands finding their way inside his dressing gown to knead the muscles of his back.
She wrapped herself around him, clinging in complete abandon as her tongue gradually learned from his, and her conscience gave up, along with her common sense. She tasted him, learned the contours of his mouth and lips then tentatively brushed a slow, curious hand over his chest.
“Easy.” He eased his mouth away but held her against his body, his chin on her temple. Anna forced her hands to go still, as well, but she could not make herself step back.
“I’ll tender my resignation first thing tomorrow,” she said dully, her face pressed to his sternum.
“I won’t accept it,” the earl replied, stroking her back in slow sweeps.
“I’ll leave anyway.” She knew he could feel the blush on her face.
“I’ll find you,” the earl assured her, pressing one last kiss to her hair.
“This is intolerable.”
Anna and Westhaven take another 400 pages to figure out they should never be apart, but in the moment of their first kiss, each begins to acknowledge the hope for a future that drives the rest of the book. What a fun scene to write—and I hope to read!
What do the successful first kisses you read or write reveal about your characters?