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A Magical Proposal

February 17, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

By Lori Pyne

My husband, Chris, had no idea how challenging it would be for a romantic and creative soul to be involved with a logical and practical gal. I can still remember his expression of horror as I sat there with a calendar before me and discussed the dates that would work for our wedding. I explained that I had checked the schedules of our parents and siblings and had narrowed our choices down to three dates. I then told him why I liked a date a year and a half in the future. I asked what he thought.

He stated that we could not discuss a wedding date since he had not proposed yet.

Worried that I had read the situation wrong, I was relieved to confirm that he did want to get married. I did not understand what the problem was. He had a year and a half to propose.

He protested that I had eliminated any suspense or surprise. Everyone would be waiting. He could not just take me out to a nice dinner and propose. He would have to do something unexpected.

I shrugged, said do your best, and turned my mind to wedding planning.

My husband’s best turned out to be incredible. He spent months plotting and planning. Long after our discussion, he had everything in place.

As a surprise for his mother while she was visiting, Chris arranged for a magician friend to procure a number of tickets for the Magic Castle, a private magician’s club in Hollywood. He then had all of my girlfriends call me and ask what I was doing Friday evening. Each then gushed that she had always wanted to go to the Magic Castle. I knew we had extra tickets so I kept inviting friends to join us.

His mother’s face was priceless when we pulled up to the Magic Castle. She had wanted to go since hearing about it from our friend. After enjoying a few smaller shows and performances, our group of fifteen decided to see the show in the largest room. I was disappointed when the room filled before we got in the door. Everyone decided to wait for the next performance.

Our group filled the first two rows of the next performance. I whispered to my husband that this magician was known for taking assistants from the audience and that we would have to make sure that the magician tapped Chris’ mother. The girlfriends, who overheard my comment, agreed with my idea and we chatted about how to draw the magician’s attention. I never noticed that my normally gregarious guy was mute.

Throughout the performance, the magician picked many of our group to assist in his magic. I was very disappointed when he finished his act and had not pulled Chris’ mother on stage.

As the clapping slowed, the magician announced that he had one last bit of magic to perform and needed a special lady to help him. I squealed and pointed to my future mother-in-law. Even as he stood in front of me with his hand extended, I kept pointing to her. I was shoved on stage by my friends. Once there, I fell into the role. I pointed, examined and marveled as the magician took an ordinary sheet of paper and cut it with ordinary scissors into a row of connected heart. I gasped when the hearts burst into flames revealing a slender chain on which an object dangled.

The magician revealed that the object was a ring, turned to me and asked me to marry him. I stood on the stage with my jaw agape as he explained to the audience that he was not proposing for himself but for the gentleman in the front row.

To thundering applause, my future husband leapt onto the stage and bowed. The magician clasped him on the back and handed him the ring. Chris then pulled me to his chest and gave me a fierce hug.

I pulled myself from his arms and pointed to the ground. Before the roomful of people, he knelt in front of me and asked me to be his wife.

I burst into tears.

I do not remember leaving the stage. The next thing I remember was being congratulated by friends as we all stood in hallway. After minutes of hugs and tears, the magician stood beside me and said that as I had not said yes to either of them, he figured he was still in the running.


I spun towards Chris and said, “Yes.”

I explained to the grinning magician that I had to go with the guy who knew how to create real magic.

Lori Pyne
OCC/RWA Book Buyers Best Contest Coordinator

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A List of Demands

February 15, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

By Sara Black

Whenever I see Pride and Prejudice I find myself sighing in my seat and thinking how I wish life were more like the movies. While watching the latest adaptation, for the second time, the perverse realization of what that would actually entail came over me.

So, in the interest of assisting Tech Support towards being the most romantic boyfriend he can, I am creating a useful list for him.

Don’t tell me you love me.

Of course you’ve already told me you love me and that spoils it a bit, but we’re just going to have to backtrack a bit. Please stop telling me you love me this instant.

Instead I would prefer that you direct very intense stares at my neck at every possible moment. Extra points if I am doing something graceful or requiring particular skill and you stand behind me with admiration warming your cool eyes. Of course I must be unaware of these stares, except for a few moments where our eyes meet and then quickly part again. Should I catch you at it too often however, the illusion will be ruined. Above all, I must not actually know you desire me.

Don’t be too obvious in your affection. This of course goes with the above. You should not pay too much obvious attention to me. Furthermore, when you do pay attention be sure to be as confusing as possible. Engage me in excellent conversation, make me laugh, and then the next time we meet be as cold and reserved as possible. Do not encourage me at all towards a romantic attachment. If anything, deter me from one with veiled hints, or even send some friends to crush my spirits. Bonus points if I end up sobbing in confusion.

Make things as difficult as possible. If men just declared their love the instant they felt it and offered to marry the object of their admirations the world would be a far poorer place. Leave the city I am in for a fabulous weekend in Italy or just move away entirely. Declare you love me in such terms that I feel it is an insult; try to denigrate my mother while you are at it.

Have several others vying for your affection. How romantic is it if I should win your heart when there is no other competition? Make sure the other party is nasty and underhanded. And also rich.

If possible, orchestrate some sort of terrible family tragedy that threatens to destroy all my happiness. Only when I have sunk to the deepest despair can I truly realize how much I love you. Of course, the fact that you may not love me will only deepen my suffering.

And if you successfully achieve all that, I might finally consider you the romantic boyfriend worthy of all my love and affections.

by Sara Black
(Sara is Gina Black’s daughter)

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The Proof is in my iPod

February 14, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

By Michele Cwiertny

December 1, 1988. I’d bolted upright in my bed before the alarm shrieked and knew, just knew, that on December 1st my life was going to change. I had no reason to assume that day would be any different than the rest. And I can’t explain how I’d come to this conclusion. I just did.

Giddiness carried me through the school day.

Everywhere I turned–in the halls, in the quad, in the gym, by the lockers–I hoped to discover who, or even what, would rock my world enough to waken me before my bedside alarm startled me to consciousness. Believe me, not just anything or anyone could accomplish such a feat. Seriously.

But I tucked myself into bed that night, confused and defeated. Nothing had changed.

Closing my eyes, I decided to forget the whole thing. I’d been acting ridiculous and merely chocked it up to an over-active imagination. Life was the same as ever. And I just wanted to make it through my senior year, relatively unscathed.

So, I did just that.

The following year, I’d just taken a retail job at a mall. My second day on the job, in walks this guy about six feet tall and around twenty-years-old. His hair: dark and spiky. His eyes: hazel. His fingers: long and slender. He wore all black and carried a portfolio. An artist.

Oh, man. An artist. I was hooked.

As I stood behind the cash-wrap, staring at him, he flicked a glance at me and smiled.

All I could do was pray I was returning his smile.

Without stopping, he proceeded through the store and into the back room. A co-worker. Woo-Hoo!

Each time we spoke over the next few days, we became closer. Soon, I found I looked forward to going to work at the mall–even the day after Thanksgiving!–just so I could get to know him better.

He was different than any other guy I’d met. He made me laugh.

About a week and a half later, I woke up before dawn and resolved that was the day to make my move. Our store’s holiday party would be coming up soon and I wanted to go with him, but I had to act quickly because two other girls from work made it perfectly clear they wanted to go out with him, too. And I was the newcomer.

Definitely a monumental decision for me, as I’d never had the courage or confidence to ask a guy on a date–shyness had nearly crippled me in high school.

That evening, I was at the register, and even through the crush of holiday shoppers, I knew the moment he entered the store.

He came straight over to me and waited while I finished helping a customer.

Then he stepped up to the glass counter, and said, “Here. I have something for you.”

A cassette. He was giving me something? I didn’t know what to say, except, “Thanks.”

“It’s a mix of songs I like. Thought you would, too.”

A mixed tape meant a guy really liked you, right? A familiar giddiness built inside me as I studied the cassette. For Michele was scrawled across the top. Even spelled my name right.

I swallowed back my excitement, and this time, I didn’t even need to summon the courage to lean in closer to him. “Do you want to go to the Christmas party with me?”

He flashed me a smile. “Yeah, I do.”

Just then, a customer barreled toward us and dumped her purchases next to the register. She pulled open her checkbook and asked, “Do you know the date?”

“It’s December 1st,” I answered, too happy to care that she’d interrupted such an important moment.

And that was when it hit me. December 1st. The day my life was going to change.

As I rang up the woman’s purchase, I sent him a sidelong glance.

He stood off to the side and waited for me.

And this time, I know I smiled.

Okay, so my life-changing moment happened a year later. I just needed to be patient.

This past December 1st, he walked into our house after work, concealing something behind his back.

“Here. I have something for you,” he said.

When I held out my hand, he presented me with an iPod. “I filled it with your favorite songs.”

Reminding me all over again why I love him.

So when friends ask me whether my husband and I still feel the romance, even after thirteen years of marriage, I grin.

“Oh, yeah,” I tell them. “The proof is in my iPod.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Michele Cwiertny

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February 13, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

By Mary Castillo

My husband doesn’t always say the right thing. Not that long ago when our Little Dude was sleeping four hours a night, he asked why we didn’t have clean towels. He sometimes makes honking sounds while I’m changing my shirt, or sings commercial ditties so that they’re about … well, potty humor.

Lucky for him, when he says the right thing, he really does it right.

This month, four years ago, I completed my first draft of Hot Tamara. Back then it had the very serious title of, “Her Mother’s Daughter.” Anyway, this was the first story of mine that I feared would get me into trouble with my family, my friends, and my then, brand new husband. It was so honest that I even considered holding onto it until certain people died.

But I let him read it because he had read everything of mine; from that awfully cliched screenplay I wrote in my senior year of college, up to the paranormal romance about a recovering alcoholic who could see ghosts. Even though he loved me and showered me with affection, he was no nonsense when it came to improving my writing … but in a nice way, of course.

So when I announced that it ready for him to read, he went for his red pen and took a seat at our dining room table. I handed him the manuscript and then disappeared into my office to await the verdict. I lasted three minutes.

When I ventured out, he was holding his head with both hands. The red pen lay neglected to the side. “What do you think?” I asked hesitantly.

I’ll never forget his face when he looked up from the manuscript. Tears were in his eyes and he said to me in an unsteady voice, “You did it, babe. This is going to be the one that’ll sell.”

For a year and a half during which this story went through several revisions, and was then rejected 17 times, he never lost that conviction. Those words sustained me back then, and right now, as I valiantly strive to meet my Feb. 15th deadline, I hear his voice when I worry my brain is no longer capable of original, much less coherent thought. So if I’m ever lucky enough to be honored with a Rita, I hope my words to him will show the depth of my gratitude for that one moment.

Mary Castillo
Author of HOT TAMARA, Cosmo’s Red Hot Read April 05
and coming in March 06, IN BETWEEN MEN
Please visit or

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I Married Mr. Perfect

February 12, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

By Dana Diamond

I married Mr. Perfect.

Trust me, I hate me too. I mean, as I write this, he’s bringing me homemade hash browns and scrambled cheddar-eggs in bed. And he doesn’t even know I’m writing this! He did it Just Because!

But this is supposed to be about romance so I was wracking my brain trying to think of the most romantic thing he’s ever done for me. But he’s done so damn many romantic things, they all blend.

It’s not that I’m spoiled, well, maybe I am a little, but really, it’s how do you decide which is the most exquisite rose from a perfect bouquet? They’re all so magnificent, I couldn’t possibly choose.

And, I guess, when you get down to it, the most romantic thing he ever did for me wasn’t the gorgeous European rose arrangements he had delivered so often that the florist knew me by name. It wasn’t the way he surprised me by proposing with my grandmother’s wedding band in the jewelry box that snapped opened with a press of a button like I’d dreamed of being proposed to with since childhood. It’s not the way he holds my hair and gets me water when I’m sick. And it’s not the love notes he leaves on my pillow Just Because.

It was the way he wore me down.

See, he knew we were perfect for each other long before I did. It’s a long drawn-out story, but suffice it to say I was otherwise engaged when we met. And by the time we were both single, he’d become such a good friend, I never wanted to “go there” with him and ruin a great friendship. I know, total “duh!”, but I was young and dumb. I’m human.

So one day, my brother says to me, “You’re gonna marry him.”

And I’m like, “You’re on crack. I can’t marry him. He’s my buddy.”

“I’m tellin’ you. He’s gonna wear you down.”

My brother’s not exactly the kinda guy to pay too close attention to relationships and girly things, but he’d said it with such utter conviction that I couldn’t forget it. Frankly, it creeped me out.

But he was right. Actually, now I cringe at the hell I put my husband through, poor baby. He listened on the phone when I excitedly told him about my engagement to another, he went to a surprise party for me that another boyfriend threw, he waited, he dated, he baked cookies with my two year old niece and told me it was fun…while football was on!

So when I think of romance, it’s not Mr. Gorgeous who looked hot on my arm or Mr. Gorgeous-Body who looked hot in the sack, or Mr. Bad-Ass who when my mom’s best friend found out I was dating him, she gasped, or Mr. East-Coast-Prep who took me great places and chauffered me around in his Porsche or Mr. Card-Carrying-Member-of-Mensa who was cerebrally sexy.

Don’t get me wrong. They were fun and wonderful and they had their place. But it’s the guy who isn’t any one of those things, but is a little of all of them and more who gave me the romance I needed. It was sweet Mr. I-Will-Cherish-The-Hell-Out-Of-You-Until-My-Dying-Day that I wanted to come home to…my Mr. Perfect-For-Me.

That’s what I want for the little girls in my life. When they grow up, I hope they too will marry Mr. Perfect.

Dana Diamond

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