I’ve talked before of the necessity for me to have a title before I can comfortably start to write. It can be as inane as Disclaimers in the Prologue or as telling as The One Who Got the Bullet Was Lucky.
This time, it was simple. I was writing about a couple of men who were getting married, so the title would be Here Comes the Groom.
But then I realized that the crux of the story was being faithful, so I changed the title to The Wedding Vow. No, wait a second, they’d both be exchanging vows, so: The Wedding Vows.
I usually find listening to music very conducive to writing. (and less distracting than watching TV) WAVV, the radio station down here in SW Florida, is great for the easy listening sound that’s my music of choice, but Sonic, the music service offered by DirecTV, nails it when I want to hear tunes of the ’50s.
We were talking about titles, weren’t we? How did we get to music? Let me tell you about that. ;-)
One evening, while I was listening to Malt Shop Oldies on Sonic, Chuck Berry’s “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” came on.
All right, the perfect title! Brown-Eyed Handsome Man!
Now, Kipp was always going to be a blue-eyed blond, but Hyde’s coloring was up in the air. Hearing this song gave me the perfect description for him.
But wait a second: brown-eyed, as used in song, usually denotes someone of color. (The Righteous Brothers’ “Brown-Eyed Woman” and Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl”.) Id never written an interracial romance before. Could I do it?
Yes, I could! I’ve got a great title, two loveable characters, and I like the route this story is taking.
So I’m keying my little heart out, and all of a sudden, Kipp is having a conversation with his Granddad:
I shook my head. “That clause in the contract…. Why marry me?”
“Haven’t you looked into a mirror recently?”
“Of course. ‘Item, two lips, indifferent red—’”
Wait, what? Okay, I go for offbeat titles (see my first Dreamspinner novel, Bless Us With Content –emphasis on the second syllable), but this one... I liked it. I liked it a lot.
I finished the story, sent it off to Dreamspinner, and signed a contract for it.
And that, kiddies, is how Here Comes the Groom came to be Two Lips, Indifferent Red.
(Although the folder is still labeled Groom.) *falls down laughing*
Charlestown, Pennsylvania was beautiful in May. The trees that lined the streets of the small university town had leafed out earlier in the month. Flowers bloomed in a riot of color and scents in front of the stately homes that now served as dormitories for Charles T. Armand University.
Of course, I wasn’t able to enjoy that balmy spring day. The semester had come to an end, and while I’d taken most of my finals, there were two left, and I intended to do as well on them as I’d done on the others. Scholarships funded my education at Armand U, and I needed to maintain my GPA.
I took a break when my bladder informed me in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t pay a visit to the john now, things were going to get ugly.
And since I had already interrupted my studying, I decided to go down to the first floor, where there was a vending machine. I could use the sugar rush, and a bag of M&Ms would do the trick.
It would take a little while for the sugar to work its magic, so I went out onto the front porch and leaned against the railing.
The air was like warm silk against my face, and I closed my eyes, tipped back my head, and breathed in the lovely fragrance of the flowers I’d helped plant earlier in the spring.
Well, standing here doesn’t get the studying done. “Time to get back to the books, Llewellyn.”
I returned to my room, opened the door, and frowned.
“Hey, Kipp! I thought you’d fallen in!” My roommate, Andrew Scott, was sprawled casually on my bed. Of course he wasn’t on his own bed—that was piled high with the clothes he was packing to go home.
I could have lived without him, but I hadn’t been given much choice. I’d learned early on in life not to make waves, and so I generally wound up with the roommates no one else wanted: players, partiers, and general pains in the ass. The room would be mine alone during the summer semester, but hopefully, come the fall I’d have someone who didn’t get quite as much on my last nerve.
“Kippers! You with me, boy?”
I paused for a minute before turning and closing the door behind me. I hated when people called me Kippers, but I hated being called “boy” even more. Hearing that always made me look around for my father.
“Phone call for you!” He waggled my cell phone.
“And you felt the need to answer it?”
“Hey, we’re genetically programmed to do that. Besides, that ring tone….”
“Oh?” My heart felt like it was doing somersaults. “Was it ‘Brown-Eyed Handsome Man’?”
He shrugged. “I didn’t recognize it, but it sounded like elevator music to me.”
That didn’t surprise me. If it wasn’t something like “I Wanna Sex You Up” or “Bust a Move,” he had no idea what it was.
I rarely got phone calls, so I assumed it was a prank he had set up. “Tell whoever it is that I’m not interested and hang up my phone.”
“You sure? She sounds sexy as all hell!”
Now I was certain it was a prank. Sexy-as-all-hell women didn’t call me. Not that I minded; I’d much rather have received a call from a guy, and one guy in particular. He was older, and so sexy, although that wouldn’t have mattered—I’d have been content with someone who loved me, no matter what he looked like.
I’d learned better than to let a handsome face draw me in.
I thought of Daniel, who’d not only made a fool of me in high school, but who’d broken my heart as well.
We’d gone to grade school together until second grade. At that time, I was sent to a boarding school in upstate New York, where no one knew me as Marcus Llewellyn’s son, and where I was happy.
That lasted until I was fourteen, when, as abruptly as I’d been sent away, I’d been ordered to return home and informed that I would start Benjamin Martin High in the fall.
I ran into Daniel when it turned out we had homeroom together. And embarrassingly, I popped wood. Every time I looked at him, I wound up with an erection, and so I got into the habit of wearing my shirt untucked.
By our senior year, not only was Daniel a jock, he headed the debate team, played clarinet in the school orchestra, sang in senior chorus, always got the lead role in drama club, and was president of the student body. Added to that, he was so handsome there wasn’t a girl in school who’d say no to him. Rumor had it that included some of the teachers as well.