As I embarked on my third novel, Counting on Him, I wanted to expand the diversity of my characters. But I’m a total heterosexual snowflake–so what’s a girl to do?
Then I thought…I grew up in North Jersey, where I had more Jewish friends than Christian. I know more Yiddish than Spanish, French and German combined. I may be a shiksa, but I’ve shlepped, I’ve schmeared, I’ve moaned oy vey, and I’ve even attended a few Bat Mitzvahs.
Then I looked at the demographics. Do you know how few Jewish romance novels there are? Goodreads has 48. That’s appalling. So, I decided to expand my horizons and feature a Jewish heroine. Plus, I figured Gabby Belofski would have a tad more conflict in her life if she hooked up with Sean Andrews, a cute but aimless goy.
It’s tricky–adding cultural touchstones without becoming mired in stereotypes. But I have actually been witness to many of the conversations and sentiments expressed in this novel. Hopefully, I struck the right balance.
This scene takes place during Lindsey’s wedding reception. Gabby is Lindsey’s best friend, and Sean’s is Lindsay’s brother.
Sean jerked away. The breeze from the air conditioning instantly cooled his skin. Good. Because this couldn’t happen.
He grabbed her biceps and held her at arms’ length. “What are we doing?”
She looked confused at first, all flushed, dewy-eyed and a little drunk. Then she smiled. “Surely that’s obvious.”
A strange clash of warring emotions took hold of him. Rocked by lust, confusion and fear. When she tried to lean into him, he locked elbows, creating a solid space between them. His eyes sealed on hers, he slowly moved his head from side to side.
She smiled tightly, like a teacher trying to convince a truculent student. “Sean, I want this. I want you.”
“No!” he squeaked. Cleared his throat and deepened his voice. “Absolutely not.”
Her eyes widened. “But I’m single, you’re single. Why not?”
Why not? Without a pause, he barked through the list. “One, because you’re my sister’s best friend. Two, because Lindsay will kill me. Three, because we’re both a little wasted and don’t know what we’re doing.”
Totally unswayed, Gabby removed her soft, little hands from his chest and reached for his fly. “Oh, I know what I’m doing, alright.”
He started to cave. Why should his sister have any bearing on his sex life? If Gabby wasn’t bothered by her reaction, why couldn’t they do this?
Then he remembered the one undeniable reason. Grabbing her hands, eagerly probing his throbbing groin, he groaned. “No, Gabs. Really. We can’t do this. I don’t have a condom.”
Fucking Natalie! She’d been so pissed he’d broken up with her, she’d snuck back into his apartment and cut up every last condom. Every goddamn one. Even the one in his wallet that he’d left on the kitchen counter. And now he finally had Gabby in his room, in his arms and…
Her mouth pinched with irritation, then curled up into a pleased grin. “’Sis all right. I’m on the pill.” And she tugged him back.
He shook his head. “I can’t do that. It’s not…”
She mumbled into his neck. “C’mon. It will be fine.” Lifting her head, her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to focus on his face. “Unless you’ve got something goin’ on down there, I don’t know about…” and she waved her hand at his junk.
“No! Jesus, no. I’m—” he tried to come up with an appropriate word that wouldn’t totally destroy the mood, and settled for “Fine. I’m fine. Clean as a whistle.” He puffed out a low note though pursed lips, smiled and joked, “You want to give it a blow?” Aw shit! Now why did I go and say that?
Fortunately, she smiled and tugged him closer. “Not this time, but maybe later, if you’re a good boy…”
When she ground against him again, he knew he was a goner. He was locked and loaded and she’d ripped off the safety.