Category Archives: author

Pink Hibiscus: An Army Nurse’s letter to her sister on December 7, 1941

pink_hibiscus_pretty_nurse

What was life like on the home front during WW 2? Find out in CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN — info at the end of story

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

December 7, 1941 7:30 a.m.

Dear Peggy,

I’m bustin’ with news to tell you, little sister. I only have a few minutes before my shift at the hospital starts, pink_hibiscus_couple_moonso bear with me.

I don’t know where to begin. It all happened so fast. I met Jimmy at the Officers’ Club when I first got here last summer and the handsome Army Air Force lieutenant asked me to dance. The band was playing Moonlight Serenade and before I knew it he had his arms around me, holding me so tight I couldn’t breathe.

Then he kissed me. Oh, it was so romantic. The warm night breeze blowing in off the ocean, the smell of pink hibiscus making me wild with desire, his hand reaching under my long evening gown and sliding up my thigh. Then he picked me up in his arms and carried me down to the beach and we…

7:45 a.pink_hibiscus_nurse_phonem. Sorry, I got called away by the nurse-in-charge. She was worried about a patient wheezing and coughing. She thought it might be pneumonia. Just a couple of nurses on duty this morning, so she asked me to help her with paperwork.

I was disappointed, seeing how I haven’t had much chance to use my nursing skills since I’ve been here. Still, Pearl is the best duty an Army nurse could wish for. We get a few pilots scraped up after a rough landing or with a bad hangover, but it’s mostly sunny days and balmy nights.

I bet you and Mom were all bundled up when you did this year’s Christmas shopping at Wanamaker’s. I love walking down Market Street with all the holiday decorations. The soft, white snow landing on top of the pretzel man’s cart. The hot cocoa with Mom’s fresh whipped cream.

I miss you and the family so much, but don’t worry about me, I’m having the best time of my life. I’ve nearly worn out the soles on my new high-heeled pumps dancing every night with Jimmy. Here’s my news, he…

7:55 a.m. Something’s happening, Peggy, something awful.

Sirens going off, a loud explosion, and everyone’s scrambling. I’ll write more later. I’ve got to get back to my patients. They’re jumping out of bed and yelling for their pants.

We’re under attack . . . oh, God, what’s happening?

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11:30 p.m.

It’s over. For now. A mad, insane day that I shall never forget . . . But my job is just beginning. I wish I could call you on the telephone and hear your voice, tell you that I’m okay, but that’s impossible, so I’ll write everything dopink_hibiscus_nurse_clipboardwn as fast as I can. Here’s what happened earlier today on December 7, 1941 . . .

The second wave of the surprise attack lasted until nearly 10 a.m.

I haven’t stopped since then and I’d still be racing from one patient to the next if the nurse-in-charge hadn’t insisted I get some rest. First, I’ll give you detailed account before I grab a few minutes of sleep, then go back on duty. My thoughts are scattered, so bear with me.

By the time you read this, you’ll know the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on a quiet Sunday morning at 7:55 a.m. I was recording a patient’s vitals when a soldier with a broken leg asked me to help him stand up. Sweat beaded on his forehead and he looked real nervous. Said he heard something that didn’t sound right. Planes flying overhead that weren’t ours. I thought he was joking, then I looked out the big, square hospital window—

Oh, my God, Peggy, I don’t know how to describe what I saw. Planes roaring overhead with red suns emblazoned on them. Loud, ear-splitting explosions. Black plumes of smoke swirling into the sky like a death flower.

It was maddening. Fear choked my throat. My body went numb. Hot tears spilled onto my cheeks. I wiped them away with defiance. Nurses don’t cry.pink_hibiscus_nurse_soldier I let go with a long shudder. I don’t know what came over me. Fear, I guess, but I was okay now.

Duty came first.

This was what I’d spent years studying for, watching, observing, the sleepless nights working in the emergency room in the big Philadelphia hospital. It all came together for me in that moment. Thank God. Within minutes, the wounded came pouring in. Carried in on anything sturdy enough to hold them. The sound of antiaircraft fire ringing in our ears, bombs exploding outside and shaking the walls.

I don’t want to shock you, but you and those at home must know what we’re up against in this war. The pain, the horror. Men missing limbs. Bloodied wounds. Ugly burns with exposed flesh. Others in shock.

We had no electricity, no elevators to transport the wounded to surgery. Not enough nurses. Supplies running out fast. But we did it. We saved as many lives as we could and prayed for those we couldn’t. I went from one patient to the next, never stopping until—

I saw him. My lieutenant. Carrying a wounded soldier on his back, blood splattered all over his uniform. “Jimmy, Jimmy!” I yelled out, trying to get his attention.

“Kitty . . . “

He looked so relieved to see me it made me tear up. I could see in his eyes he wanted to hold me close to him, never let me go. I wanted to feel his warmth, smell his woodsy, masculine scent. Prove to myself he was here, alive.

My patient came first. After I stabilized the wounded man, Jimmy held me in his arms and pulled off my nurse’s cap, and then ran his fingers through my hair.

“Thank God, you’re okay, Kitty,” he said, his lips brushing my cheek. He told me we lost several battleships and more than a hundred planes, but that wasn’t going to stop him. He was going to get into the air no matter what he had to do. Drive all over the island until he found a P36 gassed up and ready to go.

He cupped my chin and said,  “I’ll be seeing you, babe.”

I smiled up at him. “I’ll be waiting.” Then he left. I blew him a kiss. I knew what he was thinking. He had his job and I had mine. Whatever words and soft kissepink_hibiscus_flags we’d exchanged under the swaying palms would have to wait.

We were at war.

And God willing, we’d be together again soon.

But nothing will erase what happened here on this Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor, the sun bright yellow and hot. Then the sky became dark with enemy planes set on destroying us and our way of life.

My heart is so heavy with the pain of what I saw today. The suffering and the dying. It’s my job and the job of every serviceman and woman to stop them before they reach our home shores.

You have a job, too, Peggy. Take care of Mom and Dad, and tell them not to worry about me.

I know everyone will do whatever they can so our fighting men can return home safe.

I can’t wait until I see you all again. When this horrible mess is over, we’ll sit under the old apple tree and eat bonbons and I’ll show you the prettiest engagpink_hibiscus_kissingement ring you ever saw.

Yes, that’s my surprise. Jimmy asked me to marry him.

Till then, little sister, pray for me. And our boys fighting what some say will be a long, hard battle.

But we’ll win. We have to.

For the sake of free men and women everywhere.

Love, your big sister,

Kitty

============== World War 2 women soldiers

I hope you enjoyed reliving the events of December 7, 1941 through Kitty’s eyes. She came to me in an instant when I wanted to write a tribute to the brave men and women at Pearl Harbor and told her story to me. I couldn’t type fast enough…

==============

Enjoy a trip back to Posey Creek, PA during WW 2 on the home front as Kate Arden prepares for the holidays…until her world comes crashing down when her fiancé ships overseas in ‘Christmas Once Again’.

Available at e-tailers everywhere…print and audio book, too.

Find out more in CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN E-book links:

US Amazon https://amzn.to/2pcz2eN

UK Amazon https://amzn.to/31rF4pZ

Follow me on BookBub for new releases and promo deals!

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jina-bacarr

Time travel back to Christmas 1943 on the home front with my holiday Women’s Fiction novel CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN 

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On a cold December day in 1955, Kate Arden got on a train to go home for Christmas. This is the story of what happened when she got off that train. In 1943. In 1943 Kate Arden was engaged to the man she loved, Jeffrey Rushbrooke. She was devastated and heartbroken when he was called up for wartime duty and later killed on a secret mission in France.

But what if Kate could change that? What if she could warn him and save his life before Christmas? Or will fate have a bigger surprise in store for her?

Christmas Once Again is a sweeping, heartbreakingly romantic novel – it’s one woman’s chance to follow a different path and mend her broken heart… ———–

What readers are saying about Christmas Once Again:

‘A fabulous book you won’t want to miss’ ‘A really beautiful story’ ‘Found this book amazing! Would love to read more of her books.’ ‘5* from me’

—————

Christmas Once Again:

US Amazon https://amzn.to/2pcz2eN 

UK Amazon https://amzn.to/31rF4pZ ———

Thank you for stopping by! If you like WW 2 romance, check out my holiday novella that takes place on Christmas Eve during the cold winter of 1943: “A Soldier’s Italian Christmas.”

December 1943 Italy

He is a U.S Army captain, a battle-weary soldier who has lost his faith.

She is a nun, her life dedicated to God.

Together they are going to commit an act the civilized world will not tolerate.

They are about to fall in love.

Winner in the Novella Category in the I Heart Indie contest A Soldier’s Italian Christmas is available on Kindle ~Jina

Also, my Civil War medical drama: LOVE ME FOREVER is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and is on sale December 7-8 for 99 cents!!

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Featured Image -- 2069

If you love Civil War romance and time travel and TWO hunky military heroes, check out my Kindle Scout winner: LOVE ME FOREVER  on SALE for 99 cents 

She wore gray.

He wore blue.

But their love defied the boundaries of war. And time.

===========================

LAST DAY for Summer Love Romance Giveaway…and Vintage WW2 photos for #LiptsickDay

Summer Love

All-Genres Romance Giveaway 

July 9-29

Kindle Fire 7 • Kate Spade Book Tote • Amazon Gift Cards • Ebook Prize Packs

https://bookwrapt.com/summer-love-romance-giveaway/ 

Who hasn’t dreamed of a summer love? Enter our giveaway and you could win a Kindle Fire to load up with a dozen new summer flings, Amazon gift card, e-book prize pack, or a sweet Kate Spade book tote!

Then, shop our book fair and you’ll definitely find that next summer crush. All ebooks priced at 2.99 or less, some FREE. We even have a bonus scavenger hunt giveaway!

And a Book Fair: My New Year’s Eve COME FLY WITH ME is only 99 cents!

(This giveaway is sponsored by the authors listed below)

A.K. Shelley • Amanda Uhl • Bernadette Rowley • CB Samet • Clarissa Lake • Debbie White • E.B. Black • Eichin Chang-Lim • Eliza Watson • Elizabeth Rose • Em Petrova • Emberly Hart • Grace Roberts • J. L. Campbell • Jacqueline Diamond • Jacquie Biggar • Jami Denise • JC Andrijeski • Jina Bacarr • Joan Reeves • Karen D. Bradley • Karen Michelle Nutt • Koko Brown • Lane Hart • Laura A. Barnes • Leslie Scott • Linda Mooney • M.C. Cerny • Mary Morgan • Michelle Dalton • Mimi Barbour • Naleighna Kai • Penelope Wylde • Regan Walker • Rhondi Ann • River Ames • S.L. Sterling • Samantha Holt • Shaylin Gandhi • Soraya Naomi • Stella Marie Alden • Stephanie Queen • Suzanne Jenkins • Tamara Ferguson • Theresa Paolo • Tracey Cramer-Kelly • Vivien Jackson


Special for LIPSTICK DAY!

Check out my Instagram story featuring vintage photos I’ve colorized to show off the beautiful lipsticks of the 1940s and learn more about Christmas Once Again my WW2 time travel romance.

Click on my photo on my Instagram page to hear my Lipstick Story and see all the photos: https://www.instagram.com/jinabacarr/

 

NEWS!!! on my Boldwood Books debut CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN

Pub Date: October 10, 2019

 

CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN is a cozy, homey Christmas story in a place I know well — but also filled with the angst and longing of a determined woman who goes back to 1943 to save the man she loves from being betrayed during a mission in France…and then lost to her.

Stay tuned for more!

 

Summer Love Romance Giveaway and Come Fly with Me for 99 cents! And news about my Christmas WW 2 Time Travel Romance for Boldwood Books

 

Check this out: My novella COME FLY WITH ME is part of the book fair!

Why spend New Year’s alone when you can fly first class with a sexy billionaire?

Summer Love

All-Genres Romance Giveaway 

July 9-29

Kindle Fire 7 • Kate Spade Book Tote • Amazon Gift Cards • Ebook Prize Packs

https://bookwrapt.com/summer-love-romance-giveaway/ 

Who hasn’t dreamed of a summer love? Enter our giveaway and you could win a Kindle Fire to load up with a dozen new summer flings, Amazon gift card, e-book prize pack, or a sweet Kate Spade book tote!

Then, shop our book fair and you’ll definitely find that next summer crush. All ebooks priced at 2.99 or less, some FREE. We even have a bonus scavenger hunt giveaway!

(This giveaway is sponsored by the authors listed below)

A.K. Shelley • Amanda Uhl • Bernadette Rowley • CB Samet • Clarissa Lake • Debbie White • E.B. Black • Eichin Chang-Lim • Eliza Watson • Elizabeth Rose • Em Petrova • Emberly Hart • Grace Roberts • J. L. Campbell • Jacqueline Diamond • Jacquie Biggar • Jami Denise • JC Andrijeski • Jina Bacarr • Joan Reeves • Karen D. Bradley • Karen Michelle Nutt • Koko Brown • Lane Hart • Laura A. Barnes • Leslie Scott • Linda Mooney • M.C. Cerny • Mary Morgan • Michelle Dalton • Mimi Barbour • Naleighna Kai • Penelope Wylde • Regan Walker • Rhondi Ann • River Ames • S.L. Sterling • Samantha Holt • Shaylin Gandhi • Soraya Naomi • Stella Marie Alden • Stephanie Queen • Suzanne Jenkins • Tamara Ferguson • Theresa Paolo • Tracey Cramer-Kelly • Vivien Jackson

 

NEWS!!! on my Boldwood Books debut CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN

Pub Date: October 10, 2019

I don’ t have a cover yet . . . but I can tell you that nylons play an important part in my story in Ch 1 — they were rationed during WW 2 . . . here’s a vintage RF photo I colorized of girls getting their legs painted since they couldn’t get nylons.

I’ll be posting vintage colorized photos. It’s quite a challenge to “paint” these old photos — but I wanted to open the door to WW 2 like opening the door to Oz and seeing how the folks on the home front did their best to win the war — in color.

Imagine daily life with a party telephone line or shoes being rationed…l’ll be taking you on a trip back in time with interesting b.g. stuff about life during WW 2 as I introduce you to the Arden family in Posey Creek, Pennsylvania.

CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN is a cozy, homey Christmas story in a place I know well — but also filled with the angst and longing of a determined woman who goes back to 1943 to save the man she loves from being betrayed during a mission in France…and then lost to her.

Stay tuned for more!

 

It’s time to celebrate!! I’m a Boldwood Books Author

Click on Photo to meet all the Boldwood Books Authors

Meet all the Boldwood Books Authors Click on Here

It’s been an exciting journey — but it’s only beginning.

I’m thrilled to be with this fab London publisher and among the 20 female authors in their launch.

More coming…READ all about Boldwood Books HERE

National Nurses Day…and a sexy doctor, too

Nurses_Day

I couldn’t resist posting this graphic with the adorable nurse and her patients. Reminds me that nursing was a male profession during the Civil War. Women had to be over thirty and plain…and couldn’t work in the hospitals after dark. Male nurses took over the night shift.

nurse_goldbg_tent

Which presents a problem for the time-traveling heroine in my Kindle Scout book, LOVE ME FOREVER, when she–nah, I can’t give it away, but Liberty Jordan soon finds out when she travels back to 1862 that women had a difficult time proving themselves in a man’s world. Female surgeons or doctors serving on the battlefield were completely out of the question. The Union Army refused to recruit women as physicians.

 

It doesn’t help that Liberty falls for a handsome Union Army surgeon…Major Flynt Stephens. Mmm…me, too.

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

LOVE ME FOREVER is on Amazon Kindle. It’s a saga of love and romance and war. Believe me, I walked every road, fought every battle with my characters, even walked around in a hoop skirt to “get it right.”

This is a book of the heart…any questions? Please ask!!

Thanks for stopping by.

~Jina

LOVE ME FOREVER is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

 

More than 400 women fought as men during the Civil War
My heroine is one of them.

Love Me Forever is on sale for 99 cents this week

Passion…desire…lust in the Old South.

==============

“He’s my fiancé,” Pauletta Sue said, fussing with her short, curly hair. “Not yours.”

“You have no right to come back here and fall into his arms,” Liberty tossed back, blowing on her hands to warm them.

Pauletta Sue struck a pose, her indignant green eyes flashing. She had no intention of explaining her actions, and that upset Liberty more than the kiss the belle shared with Flynt. She knew it was wrong to be jealous, but she was in love with the handsome major. To her way of thinking, the woman had no right to him and she told her so.

“Listen, you . . . whoever you are,” Pauletta Sue said, frustrated, “I saved your hide from that Yankee prison and this is how you repay me?”

“You helped me so you could go running around the countryside pretending to be a spy, flirting with every officer who wears pants and calling yourself a patriot.” Liberty sucked in a sharp breath. “Well, I’ve got news for you, Pauletta Sue. No matter what you do, the South will not win the war.”

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Find out what Pauletta does next in LOVE ME FOREVER, on Amazon on sale for 99 cents!

~Jina

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Featured Image -- 2069If you love Civil War romance and time travel and TWO hunky military heroes, check out my Kindle Scout winner:

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

LOVE ME FOREVER is now available from Kindle Press at Amazon.com

Both women wanted him…but only one could have him. Love Me Forever: on sale 99 cents this week

Passion…desire…lust in the Old South.

==============

“He’s my fiancé,” Pauletta Sue said, fussing with her short, curly hair. “Not yours.”

“You have no right to come back here and fall into his arms,” Liberty tossed back, blowing on her hands to warm them.

Pauletta Sue struck a pose, her indignant green eyes flashing. She had no intention of explaining her actions, and that upset Liberty more than the kiss the belle shared with Flynt. She knew it was wrong to be jealous, but she was in love with the handsome major. To her way of thinking, the woman had no right to him and she told her so.

“Listen, you . . . whoever you are,” Pauletta Sue said, frustrated, “I saved your hide from that Yankee prison and this is how you repay me?”

“You helped me so you could go running around the countryside pretending to be a spy, flirting with every officer who wears pants and calling yourself a patriot.” Liberty sucked in a sharp breath. “Well, I’ve got news for you, Pauletta Sue. No matter what you do, the South will not win the war.”

===============

Find out what Pauletta does next in LOVE ME FOREVER, on Amazon on sale for 99 cents!

~Jina

===============

Featured Image -- 2069If you love Civil War romance and time travel and TWO hunky military heroes, check out my Kindle Scout winner:

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

LOVE ME FOREVER is now available from Kindle Press at Amazon.com

Civil War Sister against Sister: “Love Me Forever” Time Travel Romance from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

A Trip down Memory Lane on Independent Bookstore Day

The store opened in 1934

Come with me on a trip down memory lane for Independent Bookstore Day to a fave bookstore in Long Beach, CA that closed a while back.

I shot this video before Acres of Books closed and couldn’t resist pulling it out for a bit of nostalgia remembering all the great indie bookstores.

I loved this used bookstore — and it was very organized. They used to give you a flashlight if you needed it for the back rooms since it was often dark in the smaller rooms. And they had a fabulous collection of old sheet music — I bought lots for my piano!

Do you have any fave indie bookstores?

Check out my video:

1862: When the Tooth Fairy went to war to help the soldiers…

The Tooth Fairy took on a new role during the Civil War. She fought long and hard to help the soldiers keep their teeth, not take them. If a soldier had a toothbrush, it was homemade.

Brushes didn’t show up as commercially made until 1885. Most used a “chewing stick” made from a twig from a tree or bush.

Chomping on hardtack didn’t help. Called tooth-dullers by the soldiers, they tried to soften them in coffee, but often cracked a tooth.

No wonder the Tooth Fairy was so into preventive care.

You see, for a man (or woman disguised as a man) to join the army of the North or the South, they needed a good set of teeth.

As you can see in the excerpt below from LOVE ME FOREVER

Flynt grabbed the young officer and a flash of heat shot through him, a sensation so unexpected it shook his senses to the core.

My God, what’s this?

A woman’s breasts?

He drew back, puzzled then disturbed. Warm nights . . . silken sheets . . . perfume.

He couldn’t speak. He was dumbfounded, his entire being shaken. He couldn’t move and he could barely breathe. He struggled to keep from blurting out his discovery.

The Rebel prisoner was a female.

Would his nurse give her away? Or was she waiting for him to say something? He couldn’t. He felt a stirring within him, something he didn’t want to admit, that brought a hardness between his loins. Did he dare imagine that a beautiful woman existed under all that blood and dirt? He’d heard stories about women enlisting in the army, both North and South, and fighting as men. A good set of teeth to rip open a bullet cartridge, a trigger finger that worked, and a firm handshake was all that was required to join up. It was no secret the promise of a steady paycheck was often the reason behind such reckless female behavior.

That didn’t solve his immediate problem.

Flynt couldn’t see her face under the broad-brimmed hat, but the fullness of her breasts was quite evident when she fell against him. She was tall, making her charade as a man believable, with a leanness about her uncommon to most women he knew. Too often they bound their bodies with boned corsets and rounded hip pads.

He released her, though not willingly. Her lean figure added to her appeal. She was strong and lithe, like the mountain cats he’d hunted west of the Mississippi, but she was no country girl. Her manner of speaking, though strange to his ears, told him she was well educated.

An adventuress? Or was she a female physician? That would explain her disguise since women in the medical field were rare.

Her presence put him off balance, but he couldn’t stop a smile from curving over his lips.

Who is she? he wanted to know.

More important, what was he going to do with her?

Meet Liberty Jordan:

Women Soldiers in the Civil War from “Love Me Forever” from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

So keep our Tooth Fairy happy. Take care of your teeth!!

~Jina

If you love Civil War romance and time travel and TWO hunky military heroes, check out my Kindle Scout winner below.

Love_Me_Forever_500x798LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

LOVE ME FOREVER is a Kindle Scout winner and is now available from Kindle Press at Amazon.com

Meet the Princess and the Stilettos for Valentine’s Day and “Virgin Kiss” short story

Valentine’s Day is here!

This is one of my favorite videos I made about princesses:

————–

And here is VIRGIN KISS

I wrote this fun short story about a high school freshman and her first kiss disaster — here’a preview of Virgin Kiss:

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Riley Murphy is a kissing virgin, waiting for the right guy to come along. Until she joins the Drama Club at Holywell High and has to kiss the class dweeb on stage in front of the whole school on Valentine’s Day.
Virgin Kiss is a short story

What’s in a kiss? A kiss by any other name is—

—sweet, romantic, intimate, passionate, wet, sloppy, disgusting, probing, awful, nasty, sexy, tingly, and sometimes just plain wonderful.

But what if it’s your first kiss? And what if you have to pucker up in front of a live audience? What then?

Pass the Altoids, please.

The kiss-from-hell happened to me, Riley Murphy. Let me set the stage for you.

I was the new kid at Holywell High School, a shy, skinny freshman with cinnamon-colored freckles sprinkled across my nose. And flat-chested. Not exactly Miss Popularity with the bouncy boobs and flirty lashes. More like an olive stuck on the end of a toothpick.

Even with that dossier, I wasn’t a total dork. I’d gotten pecks on the cheek with quick brushes on the lips, but I’d yet to experience the soul-melting kisses you see in the flicks. The passionate lip-lock I dreamed about, wrote about in my diary. I pined for that kiss, but it didn’t happen. No doubt I’d be in graduate school facing lifelong debt before the right pair of lips met mine.

To overcome my shyness, my mom convinced me to try out for the Drama Club. Somehow I landed the leading role in a one-act Chekhov play. Yes, Chekhov. I played this mad, beautiful countess with passion and heart. I loved it. I came alive on stage. I could do anything, be anybody, say anything, I could—

—kiss the male lead?

A gangly sophomore named Harold Brimwell with long greasy hair and an upper lip curled in a perpetual snarl? He was going to anoint my virgin lips with my first big kiss?

Forget the Altoids. I needed a stress pill.

I quit the play. They could find another dupe. Not me. I wasn’t going to let him use my lips for kissing practice.

Then I heard this little voice in my head telling me this was acting, right? Going through the motions at rehearsals and on stage didn’t count on the kissing scale. I could pucker up with him and still be a kissing virgin.

After that, I sailed through rehearsals, knowing my lines, and “connecting to my character,” according to the director, who insisted on method acting. That’s how the trouble started. We didn’t rehearse the kiss. He wanted a real kiss on stage, he said, not some phony smooch.

I panicked. This was not what I’d planned. Worse yet, we opened on Valentine’s Day with a preview performance at the afternoon school assembly. Not only did I have to kiss this guy, I had to do it on the most romantic day of the year in front of the entire student body.

I dumped the Altoids down the toilet.

Valentine’s Day dawned rainy and cold. Perfect weather for a Russian play.

I arrived at the gym early, put on my makeup in the girls’ bathroom, then hooked up my long Victorian black lace dress, the silk petticoats rustling around my feet. I checked my props, including a dainty parasol, dueling gloves, and a small pistol. I saved putting on my lipstick for last. It had to be perfect.

First, I gargled mint-flavored mouthwash until my lips turned green and my mouth went numb. Next, I lined my lips with Chekhovian dark red lipstick and smacked my lips together. Perfect. I was ready for my lip close-up.

It’s showtime.

I was nervous when the lights came up, but after the first few minutes I relaxed. My training took over and I was “in the moment.” The dueling scene went off without the pistols misfiring and that meant it was time for…

the kiss.

My co-star walked toward me with that “I’ve got you now” look fired up in his eyes, his lower lip snarling. I freaked. My stomach did flip-flops. My teeth chattered. My mouthwash stopped working.

It was so quiet in the high school gym you could hear the director chewing on the end of his pencil. My heart pounded as I held my breath when he pulled me into his arms and—

—slammed his mouth into mine. Bile rose in my throat as he pushed my lips apart and thrust his mushy, saliva-coated gum into my mouth, making me nauseous. Then he shoved his tongue down my throat, nearly gagging me. I started choking.

I can’t breathe. I thought I was going to pass out, but I was determined not to faint. I had to get him off me.

With stars circling my pounding head, I pulled up my strength and kicked him in the shin. Startled, he jerked backward, but not before he bit my lower lip. I tasted blood, but it wasn’t over.

He held me tighter, slobbering all over me, licking my face, my throat, coating my skin with stringy gum. The audience went crazy, yelling and shouting like they were at a basketball game and I was the bouncing ball.

I had to do something. Fast.

The pistol.

I panicked. Where was it? After the mock dueling scene, I threw the prop gun down on the round table. It had to be there, but where?

I reached out behind me, my nails catching on the lace doily, edging the gun toward me, an inch at a time. Sweat oozed down my too-tight collar and my knees started to buckle, but I didn’t give up. I couldn’t let him take advantage of me.

Almost got it…there. My fingers wrapped around the pearl-inlayed handle. Without losing my nerve, I grabbed the pistol and jammed the prop into his ribs. Hard. I yanked my body with such fury, I ripped the black lace sleeve out of the armpit. It slid down my shoulder, but that didn’t stop me.

“Get your hands off me, you sloppy kissing, gum-chewer!” I yelled, ignoring the script and re-writing Chekhov. “Or I’ll plug you.”

The director gasped. Loudly.

“Yeah, sure,” Harold stuttered, letting me go, and then backing away. “Anything you say.”

“That’s telling him!” someone yelled from the audience.

Amy Zanderbar. His ex-girlfriend.

Seems I hit a nerve with the females sitting in the bleachers who’d had their share of bad kissers. They loved it. The audience started clapping wildly and stomping their feet, shouting for me to let him have it.

I was tempted to push him off the stage and give them what they wanted, but my thespian instincts kicked in and I got back into character, giving Chekhov his due and ending the play as he’d written it.

The poor darling. I’m certain he had a restless sleep in his grave that night.

We performed the one-act play for the next few nights without further incident, faking the kiss each time. My co-star was cool, not attempting any more way-out kissing. For me, it was strictly acting. As far as I was concerned, I was still a virgin in lip-land.

I haven’t forgotten that V-Day and my experience with the gum-toting, kissing bandit. Not a bad guy, just a rotten kisser.

And in case you’re curious, as time went by, I did find the right pair of lips to land that first kiss. A hottie senior. Jack Dayne. Sexy and perfect.

And when I did, I discovered a kiss isn’t just a kiss, it’s…

magic.

——————–

PS — yes, Riley is me, a shy freshman back in the day.

I still remember the black-beaded Victorian dress I wore when I performed the part of Elena.

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