LOVESCENE 2020, Final Episode

The last morning at Lake Somewhere dawned exceptionally early for Andee. She slipped out of Dansby’s bed to prepare a sunrise breakfast on the lakeshore, a twist on his preparing breakfast for her daily during the past month. Seven days since he presented her with a ring and the request that she become his girlfriend, Andee had not answered, opting for casual, fun time spent with him.

This morning, she had an answer. Orange County and Portland, a thousand miles apart. She, age 22, entered the reality love search contest for a dash of adventure and spontaneity. Dansby, age 31 and an established entrepreneur, came here because he believed there was someone who was supposed to be in his life at this point.

Dawn looked dimly golden. Andee donned a fancy black swimsuit, spread a sheet on the sand set with homemade croissants (Dan had shown her how to make them one morn in the kitchen), and waited. She lifted onto her elbows when she heard his steps. Her heart did a funny little thing. Was it the looks of him or what she planned to say?

“Good morning. I found your clues in the kitchen. This is nice.” Subdued, he seemed, although a very handsome morning man. “You’re particularly pretty at sunrise, An.” Dansby sat.

“Good morning.” Andee fed him a croissant. She nibbled one, too, no appetite. He sipped chilled fruit juice from a wineglass. The sun came up as a big orange ball. Soon, the shore would feel sweltering. “Well, Dan…” Andee patted the top of his hand. Crap, she was going to cry. “I thought I’d have more to say, but…I can’t.” Her return flight to LA, leaving in three hours. His to Portland, same terminal departure area, in four hours. “I left you a note and I can’t thank you enough for our time here.” Andee scampered from their picnic like a scolded animal.

Dansby found the promise ring he gave her atop a note on the sheet.

Dear Dan,

You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. In my defense, at 22, never having really left Orange County, California, that wouldn’t take much… Still, you’re a lot to remember always, everything good and fun and right in this world. I have loved our breakfasts, I’m a killer chef now (kind of), the hot air balloon date night will probably never be topped (no matter who or where), and my favorite is when we picked the lock to the loft hideaway and danced and shared our first night together. With my whole heart, I wish you the best. An ~

Wilder lounged in a hammock near the lake. If a man could have butterflies in the belly, he did. Crazy to have that feeling since he knew he loved Paige. Any second now, she would appear and their final date at Lake Somewhere would begin. The butterflies, no doubt, born of an undeniable fact staring back at him.

He had gone all out.

 He came here to find a soulmate and hoped someone would ‘surprise the hell out of him.’ He tapped his fingers on his torso. Well, he got what he came after. The irony, Paige was indeed the type he had been set up with back home unsuccessfully. Wasn’t that just dandy? His mom, dad, siblings and close friends would get a kick out of it: That he signed up for a reality contest, traveled across the country, left the farm for a month, and came home with a music teacher from Kansas. Hopefully.

“Hello, Mr. Wisconsin.”

Wilder flipped in the hammock and barely got his feet under him. His hands went through his hair as he stood erect. “It’s about damn time, Miss Paige.” He hauled her into his arms. “You officially knocked me off my feet.” Their laughter interlaced with their tight hug. Paige’s dark hair fell away from her face as she tilted her head. “Clever.” He kissed her cleverly.

Paige skipped a breath and recovered by stepping in the direction of the paddle boat tied to a post at the dock. “I’m guessing this is next.”  Wilder roped the boat in and held the metal edge with one hand. “Good guess.” They stepped in; she sat close beside him. He glanced. “You know, you’re different.”

“That’s not what you said on our first date.” Paige took a stab at surprising the hell out of Wilder, her blue-eyed, soft-talking, superhero-size man. “I’m going to last. I fully intend to check you out in Wisconsin a month or so from now.” He grinned. She had no idea. He laughed. He took his time spreading cheese on a cracker. The cracker and cheese slid in her mouth with Wilder’s body leaning close. “My dairy farmer, you have proven you are good with your hands.”

He studied his hands. “They’re getting the job done very, very slowly.”

“Is that a complaint?”

“An observation.” With that, Wilder rowed them into a replica of date number two. “Besides ‘being good with our hands,’ we country boys know a thing or two about pastures and moonlight, walks in the woods and quilts in the grass, truck beds and homemade wine, you remember.”

Paige saw a most romantic, familiar display. Flowers and wine and fruit and a guitar and a quilt.

Wilder guided her to the quilt, sat facing her when she sat, picked up his guitar, took a deep breath, and The Beatles “Love Me Do” showed up again. With one big difference! Wilder had placed the quilt and himself directly beside a tree stump. Atop it, an open jewelry box. Afternoon light splintering through treetops revealed a shiny diamond ring. Her dairy farmer kept singing. Paige kept staring, back and forth, Wilder and The Ring. “You can get it out and try it on,” he stated during the guitar interlude. Tentatively, she reached. She modeled the ring on her hand. Perfect style, perfect fit. He set the guitar aside, face glowing. “You know I love you. I’ve told you a thousand times this week.” Both on their knees, he took her hands. “Will you be my wife, Paige Elizabeth?”

She glowed. She glanced at the ring. Perfect style, perfect fit. “I will, Wilder Luke.”

All the encouragement that Wilder needed, he kissed his future wife. Her fingers played in his hair as their lips twisted. It was an urgent kiss. “It’s going to be so much harder to leave you now, Wilder.”

“Yeah, good thing, we get an extra night.” He winked. “I mean, day.” She made a curious face. He shrugged. “And night.”

“But our flights leave…” “Tomorrow, my deal with the producers, if you said yes.” Paige beamed at her ring. “I’m glad I said yes, then.” “Me too.” They popped open a midday bottle of champagne, ate fruit, and discussed life in the real world for a few minutes. “Sounds like we’ve made the first steps toward a real-life plan.” Wilder rubbed his palms together. “I’ll be nervous as hell meeting your dad two weekends from now…”

Paige laughed softly. “I’ll set it up well. He’s gonna love you.”

Wilder stood. “Paige, there’s more.” He took her hand. “We farm boys know a little something about walks in the woods.”

“Mm, probably so.” She looked around as Wilder crouched under tree limbs and led her through a lovely forest canopy. They came out on the other side, a circular clearing fenced by more trees. “Forget being nervous in two weeks. I’m nervous now.” Wilder’s smile looked shaky. Paige stopped in her tracks. Well, my, her future hubby had gone all out. Front and center of their grassy patch tree circle was a bed plus two nightstands. Like a bedroom in the woods. Oh my.

“This will be a better date at night. It’ll be awesome how many stars we can see from this vantage point, Paige.”  Good-looking Wilder did indeed look very nervous. “I’ve put my heart, and my pride, on the line here.” He put his hands on her hips and slid them up her sides as he pulled her closer. Her heart thudded, a good thud. Everything was real; everything was right. “Spend the night with me, my fiancé?”

Paige took it in. Breath, the scent of wild things growing, the taste of champagne and fruit on her tongue, the deep emotion in Wilder’s face.  Her hands squeezed his shoulders. She nodded. “I’m all yours.” ~

The honeymoon came first, by agreement. Yes, Leo and Jace were getting married in Costa Rica in five days! The details of that, thankfully, the producers or LOVESCENE 2020 handled.

That left the lovebirds to enjoy the country’s fascinating terrain. Jace fell more in love with Leo. The hiker/kayaker/tour guide from New Mexico glided her through lush forests, intriguing and sometimes scary wildlife (monkeys, lizards, frogs, snakes, roaming free, yikes), and sunning and swimming on tropical beaches. They ziplined, they sailed and fished, they made love in their tree house suite, they crossed a narrow swinging bridge to make love again on a wooden plank positioned between two treetops, high above land, high on each other.

Their first snag occurred three days before the wedding. Jacinta’s family did not approve. She didn’t know Leo well enough; they didn’t know Leo at all, they protested. If this wedding must take place, they insisted on attending…in Miami.

The lovebirds sat quietly on the shore at sunset and sulked. Finally, Leo offered, “We’ll just wait.”

Jace shook her head. “No, this is my decision. We have the most meaningful wedding planned here and I love you.” She huffed her breath out. “If they are so determined to check us out, they can put their money where their mouths are and fly here!”

“All ten of them?” Leo frowned. Jace had a huge family and they were part of a huge family business back home, he’d learned. Suddenly, Costa Rica didn’t look so fabulous. Or Miami. He and Jace had real lives, real people who cared, real pasts, just five weeks ago. “Please,” Jace enticed before he could reply. “I doubt they show up under those conditions and they’ll realize it’s my choice.”

“On the outside chance they agree to come, I’m paying for it.”

“What? No.”

“I’ll use the contest money. There’ll still be plenty leftover and I’ll get a job in Miami soon, I’m sure. It’s a pride thing, babe.”

The sun sank on blue water. “Okay…” Jace eventually conceded. “It’s a deal, my husband-to-be in three days.” It started with a kiss; the lovebirds took advantage of dusk on their private beach by giving each other a long, lustful night.

Wedding Day arrived. So did Jace’s family, all ten of them, eh, plus one extra, for brunch with Leo and Jace. Her father proved sternest. Upon introduction, he escorted Leo to a corner of the terrace and drilled him on a beautiful patio, set with artful food and yummy mimosas, like they were, instead, one-on-one in a conference room. Then he escorted Leo back to the chatty group and a tearful Jace.  “Jacinta, if you must proceed, then it’s only fitting we introduce Leo to Chale.” Two tall, dark strangers stood toe to toe with a grim father-of-the-bride at one side. “He works in our business. He was…Jacinta’s sweetheart for many years. Since age fourteen.”

“I don’t work there, Dad,” Jacinta inserted coolly.

Leo felt needles prick his skin. Jace’s bio to enter Lake Somewhere’s contest, he recalled that she admitted on the last question, I should’ve… Married my first boyfriend. He was a sweetheart, but I wasn’t ready.

“Jacinta, you know he is part of the family to us. From the look on Leo’s face, he did not know. Now, if you two want to proceed, you’ll have our blessings. Chale, of course, would like to attend.”

“We’ll proceed,” Jace said, eyes only for Leo. “Yes, we will,” Leo concurred. He shook hands with a tense Chale. Leo did not know if they should proceed or not. So close to making Jace his forever, he’d be damned if he’d lose her to her family’s demands, or another man, so easily.

They kissed and said ‘I love you’ in front of her family after a slough of introductions. The females seized the opportunity to doll up the bride before the ceremony.

The lovebirds met at the end of a beach aisle hours later. Her family and Chale stood and watched. Leo thought his heart would explode when their minister stated, “Speak now or forever hold your peace.” Tears dripped on Jace’s cheeks, his stunning bride. Leo did not know if they were happy or sad tears.

Moments later, they had a moment’s peace alone on the sand as man and wife before her family’s vulture-like descent. The first words out of his wife’s mouth after ‘I do’ were, “I’m sorry, Leo.”

The black rubber wedding ring on Leo’s hand felt odd; it’d take some getting used to. He thought of home, home being Taos, of days and nights spent on mountain trails, of carefree living. He had twenty-five thousand dollars left, no job, a plane ticket to Miami, and a new wife with a complicated life. “I’ll do my best,” he vowed. ~

The End, for now 😉

*** LOVESCENE 2020 has a been a quarantine bright spot for me! Faithful readers, I am pleased to announce there will be a novella coming out this year! Behind-the-scenes bonus excerpts from Lake Somewhere AND a final chapter apiece for Dansby & Andee, Wilder & Paige, and Leo & Jace- to reveal their lives in the real world. -Be safe. – CC

LOVESCENE2020 Episode 4

“Three Wishes”

They won! Dansby wholeheartedly accepted the stipulation: He had to pop the question for Andee to be his girlfriend…or his wife. He had the night of their lives planned.

The producers of LOVESCENE2020 arranged transportation to the hot air balloon site. Dansby couldn’t keep his eyes off his date. Andee wore a white slip dress. She looked elegant and tan and ready.

Their lovely jade green balloon glowed in the sunlight. Soon, it launched them into a new world, a wondrous perspective on Earth below. “This is exhilarating!” Andee wrapped her arms around Dansby and kissed his lips.

“It’s kind of scary.” Dansby hardly glanced downward.

“Dan, are you afraid of heights?” She laughed her Andee laugh, full of joy and dares.

He chuckled. “Maybe a little, An. Hold on tight and I’ll be fine.” She hugged him and they catapulted into the fullness of the adventure seekers that they were. They got a bird’s eye view of trees and mountains and water below and a special appreciation that they experienced it all together.

Later, the first of many surprises came to life. Dansby requested the balloon land anywhere on the shoreline of Lake Somewhere in the setting sun. They walked on the sand and simply soaked it up. They found themselves on the dock, reclined and making private jokes and kissing.

Next, he led her to the boat house, another request that the producers honored. Twinkling lights, a quiet dinner for two, and a romantic bed set the stage. They spent the night together with Dansby’s promise of a “very big breakfast surprise.” They had, after all, shared twenty breakfasts with each other so far.

He was a bundle of nerves at daybreak. It turned off exceptionally chilly, making him glad he’d planned the fancy, heartfelt lattes. He left hers bedside with a nudge and scattered petals to a grass path nearby, which they had walked before, talking and laughing in days past.

Soon, Andee tiptoed on the path. He stood, trembling, with a vintage ring held in his hand behind his back. He gulped when he saw her strange face. “What’s this, Dansby?” It was not a face she’d made before.

“There was a stipulation to winning. I’m supposed to, uhm, pop the question, uhm, ‘Will you be my girlfriend…or wife?’” She laughed an odd, nervous laugh in reply. They stood face-to-face. “Andee, with seven days left here, I’ve been wondering anyway, you know, what’ll happen to us.” She looked away. “I did some research. We live approximately a thousand miles apart, Portland to Orange County, California.”

“That’s a long…distance.” Did she have tears in her eyes? “Why can’t this just be fun?”

No turning back, Dansby had given her a most romantic evening and morning. “Will you be my girlfriend?” He produced the brassy, beautiful ring for his brassy, beautiful girl. “I want to leave here knowing we will try.”

She touched the ring; she took it; she turned it to early morning rays. “Wow. So beautiful.” She gave it back. “This is a lot.” She patted his heart and stepped away. “I came here without expectations. You’re…an amazing man. I like you. I…might could fall in love with you.”

“I think I am falling in love with you.” He looked smitten.

What a handsome and happy guy. Andee had enjoyed every minute with him. “Your business is in Portland. You are…uh…stuck there, right?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it stuck. I love my life and I make good money, An.”

“But you’re not moving to California. I love my life, Dan.” She fumbled with the braid at the nape of her neck. “Thank you for the best night I’ve ever had. You’re funny, you’re great in bed, you’re…very good with food and drink.” A tear slipped down her cheek. “Oh, Dansby, this is hard. To accept the ring is to enter a long-distance relationship or…to insinuate that I would eventually move to Portland.”

He didn’t mean to make her cry. This was supposed to be the best morning they ever had, too. “Hey.” He held her. “It’s okay.”

“I’m not saying no. I’m saying…” She looked up at him. “I care about you. I need more time.”

Dansby slipped the ring into his pocket and showed Andee his empty palms. “No rush. We have seven days before the contest ends. I only have eyes for you and…nothing but time.”

Paige wore a black one-piece swimsuit. Understated sexy elegance, just like her. Wilder waited in bubbling water. “This is one hell of a consolation prize. You’re gorgeous always.”

She dipped a toe in. “Thank you, Mr. Wisconsin. The voters have loved us all along.” She slid into the hot water.

He didn’t wait around and roped her in. “Smart people, they are.” He kissed her. They sure did like to kiss.

“Wilder, this is nice. Steamy. Literally and physically. Gosh, I hate to kill the mood, but I must confess. Caroline upset me when she got voted off and left.”

He made a concerned face as they floated apart. “Okay…”

“She told me that if I planned to move forward with you, I should probably know that she showed up in your bedroom the same night we had our second boat date. She said she showed up because you had been wanting her to.”

“Paige, I can explain.” He took her by the wrist. “Look at me.”

She didn’t. “I’ve heard it all before. I told you, I’ve been cheated on twice.” She faced the edge of the hot tub, back to him. “Trust is so hard.”

He didn’t close in on her, sat opposite, and soaked, simmering inside. “There was a spark between Caroline and me, at first, I admit. A few times, we made eyes at each other going into our bedrooms, but…once I had a chance with you, I made it clear when she showed up.” He sighed because still Paige didn’t face him. “I turned her down. Nothing happened.”

Paige dried off. Wilder got out. The bar had been set with champagne and glasses. “What would it take?” He embraced her. She let him. “Paige, I want a chance with you.” He poured champagne into glasses, grasping at any strategy to persuade. “Sweetheart, give trust a try. You’ll never be happy if you don’t.” He handed her a glass. “Trust me. I’m your guy.”

She toasted his glass and nodded. “Thank you for your patience. I am trying.” After a bout of quietness, Wilder told her that he thought it’d be best if he called it a night. He promised her that he was up for anything, when or if, she felt ready.

Paige spent a restless hour in her bed alone. She remembered handsome Wilder from day one onward. His grounded nature, his romantic gestures, their sneaky date offsite, and dozens of snitched kisses since.

She found lacy nightwear in her drawer. After midnight, in a direct replication of Caroline’s boldness, she slipped into his bedroom. She found him awake and not all that surprised. “Hello, Miss Paige. What’s on your mind?”

She sat on his bed with her back turned. “I believe you, Wilder. I thought I might replace the memory of…Caroline here with…one of our own.”

He crawled behind her and put his arms around her. “Thank you.” His nose nudged her hair. “You smell so good.”

“Would you mind if I stay the night, you know, to sleep with you? Like, hold me.” She had a shy smile. “I do love how much we kiss.”

They found their way under the covers. He did hold her. “Paige, you’re a serious kind of girl. I’m falling hard for you. What I mean is, what would you think of life on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, when this is all said and done?”

She giggled. “I’m falling hard for you, Wilder, but I’m a music teacher in Kansas. Any chance your cows would tolerate voice lessons?”

He chuckled. “You’d be teacher of the century if you could make their mooing sound like a song.”

“I definitely want to explore a relationship with you. I told you that I wasn’t planning to you know here. Seven more nights like this and…”

“I read you loud and clear, Miss Paige. Just say when.”

“Kiss me.”


They kissed till she, hesitantly, said goodnight and fell asleep in broad, steady arms.

Who cared about third place? Leo and Jacinta had been voter favorites for weeks. Who cared about votes, anymore, anyway? Not Leo. If he had his way, he’d be leaving Lake Somewhere with the love of his life.

Tonight, he would wine her, dine her, and, well…whatever came next. The other couples stashed away on dates, Leo opted for dinner and dancing on the shore. He held hands with his Jace and led her there. She went ooh and ah.

“Teach me to slow dance properly,” he requested after a relaxed meal on the sand.

“Properly? You, Leo?” She bumped noses with him. “I know you. You’d rather dirty dance.”

“You know me well! Show me the slow and easy and dirty way, Jace.”

“My pleasure.”

Leo had music piping from a wireless speaker. He played Ed Sheeran again, same song they danced to the first time they danced. They ended up falling asleep on the same sheet they picnicked on after a lot of slow and easy moves.

Next morning, Jace awoke to a sparkling diamond engagement ring, a painted rock- Marry Me- and Leo on bended knee. She cried while he spoke. “The winner of the hot air balloon ride was supposed to pop the question, ‘Will you be my girlfriend…or wife?’. Jacinta, I don’t need a stipulation from the producers to give my heart to you. You have it. So, I’m asking…” He winked and took her ring finger. “May I move in with you in Miami? I’m a rambler, a hiker, a tour guide. My home is anywhere I choose to make it.” He wiped a tear on her cheek. “What do you think? You want to start planning our future as soon as we leave here? I love you.”

“You know I love you, too.” She snatched her ring, and after bouncing up and down, gripped him tightly. “Yes, yes, yes! I can’t wait to be Mrs. Leo. Ha, ha! One day…” Leo twirled his Jace around. “One day suits me fine.”


Before Caroline left Lake Somewhere, she ratted out Andee and Dansby for picking the lock to the loft hideaway and Wilder and Paige for stealing the boat and wandering out of sight on their second date.

The producers of LOVESCENE2020 determined that perhaps Leo and Jace fell into third place because the other couples broke the rules and created sultry dates of their own. Very unfair strategies to gain votes, even if it was in the name of love. The punishment? Andee, Dansby, Paige and Wilder – LOCKED AWAY in their own rooms each night- 8 PM – 8 AM- until voting for the FINAL episode ends Sunday 4/26 at midnight.

THE GRAND PRIZE AT STAKE? Six nights in Costa Rica upon leaving Lake Somewhere and $50,000.00 for the winning couple!

Here’s what happened next:

Andee counted on maximizing her days and nights with Dansby to make her decision about the ring and being his girlfriend. They walked in from his morning proposal to have the bombshell bad news dropped on them. She grabbed his hand. “Our only hope is to win that trip, Dan. I’m not ready to let you go. That I do know.” He kissed her in front of the others. “I’ll be in the kitchen making your breakfast at 8AM sharp every morning left here, An. You can count on that.”

Paige and Wilder came downstairs with dopey grins to really bad news. With a frown, she whispered, “We need Costa Rica. I’m ready for more with you.” Wilder nodded. “We’ll win. If we don’t, I won’t lose you.”

Leo and Jace felt sorry for the rulebreakers for about ten seconds after they arrived in the house. Then, they showed off her ring. Leo turned directly to the voters with his plea. “Vote for us. We’re in love and we could celebrate our engagement in Costa Rica. Who knows, we might go crazy and come back married!”

WHO ARE THE GRAND PRIZE WINNERS? Comment below. Take care, world. –CC

LOVESCENE 2020, Episode 3

Leo & Jacinta, “Joyride”

Midafternoon felt hot but not as hot as Jace looked to Leo. They won the jeep keys, first time any remaining competitors had left the property of Lake Somewhere in three weeks. Propped on the side of the vehicle, Leo sipped his cold soda and watched her approach. She wore a tank top and cutoff denim shorts over a swimsuit. The two of them fit like that, he thought, neither being the dressy, indoors type. She called out, “Hey, cool dude. May I bum a ride with you?”

“My pleasure.” Leo would’ve opened her door for her, but he’d taken the top and doors off the jeep for the short ride. A hike, a waterfall, a campfire, a grill, a tent. That’s what the produces of LOVESCENE2020 had offered him for their excursion, along with directions: Three miles down the lakeshore drive.

“Hot day,” Leo commented as he drove away from the house. “But not as hot as you.”

Jace giggled. “Feels good to get away for a while, huh?” She took his hand.

“Feels good to go anywhere with you, Jace.” Leo didn’t even have time to play music in the jeep before they arrived in the middle of nowhere. Their sunshine, lake, and mountain view.

Voter favorites Leo and Jace share a special outing away from Lake Somewhere…

“Wow,” Jace said. “Look at all the trees and trails. Look at the view…”  Leo parked on the dirt road. They stepped out. Their eyes toured- their destination for the rest of the day- and if Leo had his way, the night. It was a lakeview of loveliness, set with lanterns and logs yet lit, a tiny tent for two, and a trail that stretched out then vanished on a slope near the water. Leo sent a silent thank you out to the producers and up to the clouds above. What a fate.

“Didn’t they hint there’s a waterfall around here?” Jace shed her clothes in the broiling sun, revealing a white bikini. Her rich dark skin suggested that she lived and breathed outdoors, like Leo. She took off, dragging him. “Let’s go!”

An hour later, tricked by water splashing all around and setting sun, Leo produced a compass. “Northwest of the campsite, they said. We must be near the origin of the falls.”

Jacinta giggled. “You are a man with a plan. I’m glad you’re mine.” Leo’s eyes stared into hers. “I am yours, Jacinta.” He led her on a twiggy trail until water crashed over the mountainside into a swirly pool right before their eyes. “Let me guess, you’re not gonna wear clothes,” she joked, watching Leo approach the bank.

“Hopefully, you’re not either.” Leo’s challenge issued, they skinny-dipped in their own little oasis until darkness and hunger prevailed.

 Leo got his wish. They spent a starlit night feeding each other grilled meat and veggies, talking quietly by the fire, and much later, entwined together in tent blankets, sleepy and satisfied. ~ ~ ~

Wilder turns romantic to win a second chance with Paige.

The time to act came quickly. …Since Wilder saw Paige the night everyone danced to Jace’s salsa lessons, he’d been thinking about their boat date on day one at Lake Somewhere.

Her beauty stood out among the rest. Quieter, more graceful, ladylike. Often, when he’d sneak a peek at her from afar, Wilder would catch Paige sneaking a peek at him. 

Then the voters went and threw them a curve ball, too. Wilder & Paige, one vote shy of winning the jeep keys. Maybe the voters saw what Wilder had begun to feel- the potential for more. So, he went about the task of recreating their first date on the boat, set to take place (hopefully) while Leo and Jace were away in the jeep. An apology, a second chance, a consolation prize for second place. He went full-scale romantic and slipped a note under her bedroom door this morning. ‘We almost won another date. So…me, you, boat, 5 PM? Wilder

Wilder waited…and waited on the dock. 5:01 p.m. 5:05 p.m. He told himself women are always running late for dates. 5:10 p.m. At 5:15 p.m, he decided to give up on her, maybe even invite Andee or Caroline out on the boat. He’d gone to A LOT of trouble, an evening of surprises, to be stood up. He sighed and turned the corner by the boat house. Paige came down the grassy hill. Wilder was taken aback. This woman, a mixture of formal and informal. She never wore much makeup. Style-wise, he never knew. For twenty-one days, she might be found in jeans, a swimsuit, or a sundress. Today, she wore a sleeveless top and fitted shorts. So fitted that he wondered how she got into them.

Paige glanced back at the house and went onto tiptoes when her body was close to his. She kissed him hastily. “This is nice of you.”

Wilder didn’t know a man could lose his breath. How had he missed this on their first go-around? Or had he? He did have a compulsion to kiss her that day. A memorable kiss… He guided her into the boat. “Easy now. No flipping it over.” He winked in the sunlight. Paige giggled. Both recalled her hammock dumping, first moment they met.

Wilder slid close to her, once seated, and put his arm around her. “Mind?” “No.” “You smell good.” He sniffed her shiny brown hair. “Like last time. Like…honey, I think.” Paige laughed. “Thanks.” She moved away slightly and made eyes with him. “My shampoo, probably.”

“Mm, hm.” He sniffed again and winked again. Certainly not the smoothest conversation Wilder ever made with a woman, but it did keep his nerves at bay, kind of, until he pitched Part 2 of their second chance. “The voters are pulling for us, you know. Must sense something here.”

Paige’s turn to go, “Mm, hm.”

Wilder had rowed halfway across the lake and went for it. “You insinuated, on our last date, that since I’m a dairy farmer, I might be good with my hands.”

Paige made a funny little gasp. “And?” Wilder grinned. “Paige, would you be opposed to anchoring away from the house? We might find a surprise.”

“This is very,” Her beautiful eyes scoped his, “romantic, Wilder.” She looked away. “And I think it’s against the rules.” She laughed.

Wilder made an unconcerned face. “What are the producers gonna do? Kick us off Lake Somewhere? I’d find you and try this again, just so you know.”

Paige frowned. Almost too good to be true, the transformation that Wilder had made. “Dansby suggested you don’t know what you want. That you’ve never played the field, Wilder. A good way for me to get hurt.” Light breeze blew her luscious hair over her shoulders. “I felt something for you, just from reading your bio before we ever arrived at Lake Somewhere.”

Wilder shrugged his shoulders and opted for honesty. “Dansby may be right, about when I first got here. A lot of women, flirting, pressure, but…all I know is, you catch my eye daily, and…I’ve rehashed our date more than once.” The boat landed on a sliver of shore. “Paige, you’re a lady.” He heard her breath catch. He offered his hand. “Will you join me?”

She saw a most romantic display in the grass nearby. Flowers and wine and fruit and a guitar and a quilt. “You did this?” “I did.” “You sing or play?” Paige began to walk toward the setup.

“I make food and music. I’m told I’m pretty good with my hands.” Wilder followed her.

She snickered. “I’m a music teacher, you know.”

“I know. I’m nervous as hell.” He chuckled. She sat. He sat. Her eyes were on the guitar. “Um, how ’bout a glass of wine first?” Wilder opened the bottle and poured glasses. “To second dates,” Paige toasted. They ate fruit and talked about life in the lake house outside the real world for a few minutes. Wilder picked up the guitar, strummed, stared at her, took a deep breath, and…The Beatles, “Love Me Do” showed up. They sang together in setting sun.

Later, lying on their backs, sated by wine and an easy date, Paige considered the dusky sky. “I love evenings outdoors.” She ruffled his windblown hair. “You told me on our first date that country boys know a thing or two about pastures and moonlight, walks in the woods and quilts in the grass, truck beds and homemade wine… This has been wonderful. Thank you.”

Wilder had a wine buzz and a Paige buzz, which made him daring. “I want to kiss you so bad. Are you shy, Paige?”

She smiled through the haze of evening. “Only half shy.”

“The other half?”


All the encouragement he needed, Wilder rolled close to her and kissed her lips. They kissed on the quilt until unexpected raindrops interrupted. “Whoa, a big cloud.” Wilder gestured to the sky. “We should probably go.” They gathered items and rushed to the boat.

Seated and rowing in a downpour, Wilder chuckled into the night. “Rain interrupted our first date, too.”

“Oh yeah…you’re right!” Paige huddled close to him in the chilly pelt. “But, truthfully, Wilder, I would’ve stopped anyway.”

The pitter-patter of droplets hit the boat for a span. Wilder finally said, “I’m sorry, I have to ask. Because you…aren’t interested in me?”

Paige’s half-shy side emerged. “No, I’m very interested, but I’m not planning to, you know, with anybody in the short time we will be living at Lake Somewhere.”

Wilder hunched her body close to his. “No worries, baby. I could kiss you into next month and be happy.”

Paige smiled into the pouring rain. “Good. Maybe the voters will give us a chance to…kiss again.”

“Never mind the voters. I can give you that right now.” Wilder’s lips found hers easily. The boat bumped into the edge of the dock, reminding them that they were in a rainstorm and had arrived at their temporary home. ~ ~ ~

He had, maybe, expected this. He had certainly wished for it, a night or two, going into his bedroom at the same time she went into hers, after an evening downstairs with the Lake Somewhere group.

Right now, Wilder merely felt a mix of compassion and guilt. Caroline had come in second, or third place, to Paige and Andee, garnering votes here and there but never a chance for them to pursue each other away from the microscope of the others.  When his doorknob clicked and partial light came into his room, he hoped, for a flash, that Paige had changed her mind about spending a night with him. He knew better.

So here she was, Caroline, alone, dressed in a cami and pajama pants, striking red curls stacked on her head, standing over his bed. Wilder watched her in night shadows. Her hand touched his head. “Hair’s damp. I heard you and Paige come in from the storm, laughing.”

“I took her on the boat. I’ve, uh…” Wilder shifted on his pillow. He could hardly see Caroline now with the door shut, or decipher what she’d do next. “…felt something for her, all along, I think.”

“That’s against the rules. Taking the boat out. Besides, Wilder, most of the time, you felt something for me.”

“True.” Wilder became aware of her presence, actually her breath. Her fingertip moved along the edge of the sheet at his chest. His pulse did kick up.

“I overheard Paige say that she wouldn’t come into your room tonight…I’m offering.”

Wilder jerked away as Caroline’s knee pressed onto the mattress. “Caroline, what’re you doing?”

“We deserve a chance.”

Wilder gripped her arm lightly. “I have been attracted to you. You’re a beautiful woman and an interesting person. Of course, I’d go out with you if we won a chance.” He climbed out of bed on the other side. He could feel Caroline’s eyes scan his body in boxers through the shadows.  “Otherwise, I…want to give Paige a fair trial. Let’s leave it up to the voters. Goodnight.”

Dansby took Andee by the hand and led her up the elegant second-floor staircase, assuming it would take them to the loft hideaway on the third story. They had agreed at their ritual breakfast this morning; they were tired of coming in third place. Yet, third place…it meant something! A pair of daredevils, they dreamed up a scheme to dress for a real date and break into the loft, come what may. They were going home soon anyway, if they didn’t win more votes. Maybe this would do it…

Dansby brought along hand tools in his pocket. Andee brought wine and cheese. He started to work the lock. “Wait!” Andee whispered. Glancing down the staircase, she squeezed her eyes shut. “Are we sure we won’t be found?”

“If we are, you’re worth it.”

Dansby…” “Andee…” Dansby jiggled and fumbled. Andee, impatient, confessed, “It irked the hell out of me when you danced with Paige.”

He tested the knob. No dice. “Ditto you and Wilder, babe.”

She sighed. What effort she’d put into her dynamic black dress and elegant up-do just to sneak around like a horny teenager. “Have you ever picked a lock before, Dan?”

“No, An.” He paused, looked at her, and smiled crookedly. “But I work with all those fancy coffee machines and ovens and pastries in the cafes. I’ll get it.”


He jiggled and fumbled, jiggled and fumbled, jiggled and fumbled. The knob turned. The door opened. Handsome Dansby in a nice suit held out his hand. “Please, miss. Right this way. A mere coffee guy at your service.” Andee laughed. Their humor matched, always. She stepped in to a quaint, appealing, secretive place. “We’ve officially crossed a line,” she declared.

“Ah, doll face, you have no idea.” Dansby swatted her backside. “By the way, you might be the prettiest woman I’ve ever been this far with.”

“You’re gonna earn it, playboy.” She handed him the wine bottle and opener and started music on her phone. Dansby knew what to do with food and drink. It was forever an enticement. Smoothly, he opened the bottle, poured glasses, and arranged cheese, bedside. Andee started music on her phone. A slow, jazzy, old-timey tune. This guy was a throwback and it did her heart good.

Dansby stepped into the rhythm and waltzed her around the room. The window view to midnight on the lake far below glittered. Andee had been envious of Leo and Jace’s off-site escapade. Until now.

Whatever that tune was (Caroline, an author and librarian, had helped Andee conjure a playlist) faded and “Moon River” (a song Andee recognized) began.

“That’s my favorite waltz,” Dansby whispered. “Did you make this playlist for me?”

“I did.” Her dazzling eyes seemed to smile at his.

“Thank you.” He tipped her chin. “How did you learn to waltz? You’re good.”

“Jacinta. Today. Crash course.”

“That fast? You’re good.” But, Dansby abandoned the waltz to pull her in close. “You know what they say?”

“No, tell me, funny boy.” Andee melted in his arms, floated on his deep voice, and desired more.

“If you’re good at the vertical dance, you’ll be good at the horizontal dance.”

She laughed louder than planned. “Dan, you can do better than that.”

“Right.” He escorted her closer to wine and cheese and soft sheets. “Breakfast in bed at sunrise, An? You love my lattes…”

She was had.

*** VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!*** Ends midnight, Sunday 4/19!

The couple with the most votes gets…A hot air balloon ride date, ON ONE CONDITION! The girls don’t know it, but the guy must conjure a way to pop the question, “Will you be my girlfriend?” Or…wife?!

***The girl with the least votes goes home this week.***

Vote in the comments or on Facebook at Clare Cinnamon, Author.

Stay safe, world! -CC

LOVE SCENE 2020, Episode 2

Leo & Jacinta, “Drinks on the Dock” – Late spring and late afternoon, lakeside, warm sun, and a duo set to enjoy seclusion and the voters’ aim for a love match. Competitors have now been confined to Lake Somewhere for seven days. Week Two, Leo and Jace won a date after Wilder and Paige’s boat date gained 4000 readers but L&J received 25% of the vote!

Leo and Jacinta have found a spark. Will it last?

The LOVESCENE2020 producers left sangria, nachos, and guac on the dock for this New Mexico-born kayak guide and Miami-born salsa teacher. Interacting here and there around the house since day one, they were sincere that they felt like they found each other among the others, and that they were different. Whispers in the house hinted that they were sparking too quickly and, like a firecracker, would explode and burn out fast.

Leo arrived first at the dock and toyed with the setting, fine-tuning the romance. He wore cargo shorts and a dopey-happy face. Jacinta was all he had thought about since they celebrated second place, Week 1, and dove into the lake for a swim. He heard footsteps and saw Jace standing in sinking sun. Her peach bikini and brown skin were sweet accessories to vivid orange sunrays on shiny brown lake water. Their first date.

Perhaps he’d fallen in love…

“Hey, Leo.” “Hey, Jace.” “You’re the first to call me Jace. I like it.” They sat on wooden planks with feet kicking water. “What do you want to know about me?” he asked first.

She smiled. “Actually, I’ve learned a lot about you, our snippets of conversation this week and…well, observing you around the house. Plus, you swam naked on our first day here.” Her eyes made large circles and she giggled.

He grinned. “You didn’t tell me not to… Are you interested in anyone else, Jace?”

Jacinta’s head bobbed side to side. “Too early to say, don’t you think?”

“No, I don’t.”

Her face whipped toward his. “A nacho and guac?” She handed him a chip. “Such a gorgeous day.”

“Yes, perfect. For a gorgeous woman.” They snacked and sipped.

Leo reclined on the dock first. She followed. On their backs, his hand found hers, which she allowed. “Are you going to teach me salsa? I like to dance.”

That possibility lit her face. “I’d love to! Now?”

“Soon. For now, tell me more about you.” Leo was a gorgeous guy, fully muscled and easygoing. Perhaps Jacinta wouldn’t notice anyone else after all. She talked about her life in Miami and her big family, a jovial mom and dad and five boisterous brothers and sisters. Leo talked of mountains and rivers and boats and trails. Their conversation was as easy as everything else had been for them so far. They shared details for an hour. Until the sun was shadowy.

Music drifted from the house. Other competitors had been invited to share cocktails on the patio. Leo asked her to dance on the dock. As soon as his arms were around her, he veered them toward the open door of the tiny boat house.  The cool, fresh air on the water turned woodsy and damp inside. Jacinta, shorter than Leo by several inches, knew he was about to kiss her when he leaned in. Then he did. A delicate kiss, his mouth touched hers for mere moments, to inhale her breath and taste her lips. His kisses didn’t escalate, teasing her with softness. He danced them deeper into the boat house. Her hands pushed his chest lightly. “The others are gossiping. Saying we’ll burn out quickly.” Her words sounded breathless. “That we’re a fluke, you know, disillusioned by all the votes.”

“This has been my favorite first date ever, Jace. Kissing you wasn’t a fluke.”

“Agree.” Her voice still sounded airy. “The party sounds fun.” Happy voices and laughter floated down to them along with the music. “Maybe we should join them? Slow things down.” She couldn’t look at the very appealing Leo when she added, “We haven’t even noticed anyone else.”

He motioned toward the doorway. “Okay…after you.”

~ ~ ~

The party was in full swing when they arrived on the back lawn bedecked in white lights and dusk. Their housemates drank sangria and gabbed. Mamie and Erik seemed to be tiptoeing into their own little world since Skye was voted off. Dansby and Andee conversed with Paige. Jacinta had tied a turquoise, gold-beaded sarong at her waist. She entered the scene with, “Hi, everybody! We had a fantastic first date.” Her fingertips touched her lips. “Leo is a catch and the best kisser.” She winked at him as everyone watched them curiously, then she tinkered with the sound system and her phone. “Anyone up for a salsa lesson?” There were murmurs of agreement. Sultry beats came from the speakers.

Wilder stepped out of the house onto the scene with Caroline on his heels. The first thing he noticed was Paige. They’d been awkward since their boat date and swift kiss. She was a beauty, especially tonight in a fitted top and flowy skirt; it surprised Wilder when his breath caught. Their eyes met. She did a butterfly wave with one hand. He walked over and said, “You are extra beautiful tonight, Paige. Thanks again for a great date. We should make a point to chat soon.” She swallowed visibly. “Sounds great.”

Upbeat Latin music leading the way, Jacinta purposely alternated between Leo and Dansby, who, therefore, alternated between her and Andee. Wilder took Paige and Caroline each by a hand and announced, “A bucket list moment. To dance with two pretty ladies.”

Is Paige still caught up in her gut reaction that Wilder was the one for her?
Read more about Caroline and Wilder in an excerpt further below…

After Jacinta’s brief lesson and the first full successful song completed, everyone had partnered with everyone, left out of breath and loosened up. A slow song began; Leo had changed the music. He took Jacinta by the hand and into his arms. “You said you wanted to slow things down. This is a good song.” Ed Sheeran, it made her smile. “I’ve noticed everyone now, Jace.” He whispered into her hair. “I don’t see anyone but you.”

Wilder happened to be standing in front of Andee. Blonde hair shiny and straight, sexy orange clingy dress. Where had she been for seven days? “Let’s dance,” he dared and swished her into a pose. Andee, a live for the moment kind of girl, abandoned Dansby for a turn with big, handsome Wilder.

Mamie and Erik had moved away from the scene, closer to the shore, not to partner with anyone else. Caroline slipped into the house, disappointed, although she had a sultry salsa dance memory with Wilder. She would get another chance. Their bedrooms side by side, he couldn’t wake up or go to sleep without running into her eventually…

Dansby felt he was unintimidating to bold Wilder and dissed by flighty Andee. He was shocked! He and Andee had been getting up each morning before everyone else. They had a blast in the kitchen. She was a pathetic cook and he was a master chef. They had shared six breakfasts and six kisses. Yet, Paige, right before his eyes that minute, was perhaps the most naturally appealing woman at Lake Somewhere. That, he had noticed before tonight. “A dance?” he offered. “I guess it’s you and me.” Paige’s eyes flitted in Wilder’s direction, then she accepted. Having Andee out of Dansby’s arms nearby, and Paige surreptitiously watching Wilder, Dansby said, “Wilder thinks he came here for a soulmate, but that guy’s never played the field. I think he’s flattered by the votes and female attention, a surefire way to break your heart.” Paige showed Dansby vulnerable, lovely eyes. The windy outdoors took her hair off her shoulders. “You think?” she finally uttered.

“I’m thirty-one, Paige; I know what I’m looking for. I’m here because there’s someone here I’m supposed to meet…”

Paige swayed, attempting to pay attention to the gentle beat of the love song. “I’d like to think that’s why I’m here, too.” Her eyes checked Andee and Wilder once more; they were making a mockery of the romantic music by twirling and swirling and dipping and chuckling. It looked fun. “Meet in the kitchen in the morning for bagels and coffee? I’ll be wearing at least an apron.” Dansby offered her a sympathetic smile. Paige decided to give him her full attention for the rest of the dance.

Read more about Dansby’s first week with Andee at Lake Somewhere below…

~ ~ ~
This week, WHO do you want to see? They are vying for a chance TO KEYS TO THE JEEP- a surprise date off-site! This week, the female AND male with the LEAST VOTES are going home! VOTE in the comments or by PM (Clare Cinnamon Author FB) before midnight, Sunday 4/12.

BE SURE to check out the additional “MEANWHILE” scenes below before voting!

Stay safe. Prayers for our world. -CC

EXCERPT from Week 1, Caroline and Wilder:

Looking back…

At the end of Paige and Wilder’s boat date on Day 1 at Lake Somewhere: “No woman would mind being kissed like that,” Paige had said between heartbeat flutters. She noticed Wilder’s eyes watching something else. She looked up. Caroline stepped from cover nearby. She called out, “Hi. Hope your outing was nice! Wilder, may we chat for a minute?”

 He said to Paige, “Thanks for a good time,” and walked in Caroline’s direction.

Caroline had invited Wilder to join her in Adirondack chairs on the lawn. “Wilder, I’ll be honest. I felt a spark when we were the first two to arrive here and discovered our bedrooms side by side.” Her emerald eyes boldly stayed on his mildly surprised expression. “I saw you kiss Paige, and before things progress with her, I wanted a chance to get to know you.”

He clicked his tongue. “Truth is, you and Paige are pretty women, but I came here hoping for something unexpected. You two are basically what I’m set up with back home.” He had the decency to grin. “Although your gorgeous red curls are a new twist.”

Pleased, she lifted her shoulders. “Good! I’ll bank on that.”

Wilder leaned back on his chair. He glimpsed Paige making her introduction to others at the dock, glimpsed her attractive backside in jeans. “The date with Paige was really nice.”

Caroline nodded. “And the kiss?”

“Too rushed to judge.” Wilder smirked. “And partly interrupted, wouldn’t you say?”

“Wilder, I don’t apologize for going after what I want. So, tell me about life on a dairy farm in Wisconsin…” They talked until the sun went down, well beyond the others going inside, which left them climbing stairs to adjacent rooms in semidarkness.

“It’s just the first night here.” Wilder had a broad smile as he turned his knob. “I guess we’ll get used to this…”

Caroline made a flirty move of her hips. “It’ll be interesting! Goodnight.”

Week 3- Who’ll get the keys to the jeep and possibly a woman’s heart?

Andee and Dansby- Looking back at the first seven days… Six mornings, they shared the kitchen before everyone else got up. It started like this on Day 2, Morning 1 of Lake Somewhere:

“Flour, butter, sugar, spice. I’m trying to impress you.” Andee, in a camisole and pajama pants with cute, crazy-bun hair, lifted a shoulder at Dansby behind her.

“Good morning. I had a feeling I’d find you here, hoping to find me here. What are you…trying to bake?” he jibed.


Dansby saw a recipe card on the countertop. “No need to make buns, Andee. You already have great ones.” He swatted her hip. She laughed loudly and turned around.

“It smells good, but I confess, I’m doubtful.” Dansby glanced between her cheery morning face and the oven. They stood close. “How much longer before they’re ready?”

Andee frowned. “I forgot to check the clock.”

Dansby chuckled. “I’ll take it from here.” He intended to kiss her quickly, their first kiss. Instead, they kissed in the kitchen until his chef’s nose told him the buns were done.

Vote before midnight 4/12! Which pair would like to see with the keys to the jeep?

LOVE SCENE 2020, Episode 1

Winners Paige and Wilder share a first date on the water.


Paige lounged in a hammock near the lake. She had dressed in a lightweight gray top and flared jeans with her dark hair falling in wand-made curls over one shoulder. 5PM, the leather-band watch on her arm read. Any second now, Wilder would appear somewhere around here and their first date on the boat would begin.

Butterflies swirled in her belly. Crazy to have that feeling, she hadn’t even met Wilder yet. Somehow, they missed running into each in the two hours since everyone arrived at Lake Somewhere. All Paige had to go on was the semi-seductive picture of him in the blue robe with a pillow over his face and a bio that claimed he came here to find a soulmate. The butterflies bumped in her belly again. Wilder probably wouldn’t be interested; he had also stated in his bio that he wanted someone to ‘surprise the hell out of him.’ On the contrary, Paige was indeed the type he had been set up with repeatedly back home, unsuccessfully.

Wilder, under the awning of the lake house porch on the back side, peered over the horizon and spotted Paige in a hammock strung between two trees close to the dock.

Her hair danced in the late-day breeze. April first, seventy degrees, and cloudy with a chance of rain; Wilder knew those things because he was a farmer. He could see Paige only from behind as he walked. It had been 300 days since he went on a bona fide date with a woman. This woman seemed harmless and peaceful enough, and wasn’t she just what he was NOT looking for? Softly but distinctly, he said, “Paige…” She flipped in the hammock and barely got to her feet without landing in a heap on the ground. Her hands went through her hair as she stood erect. “Oh, hello, Wilder,” she managed with an embarrassed laugh. They shook hands. Wavy dark brown hair, both saw. His, tousled from a long day of travel and wind, and hers, from being flipped upside down before, commendably, landing on her feet.  Both saw deep blue eyes, too.

Paige skipped a breath and recovered by stepping briskly in the direction of the paddle boat tied to a post at the dock’s end.  Wilder roped the boat in and held the metal edge with one hand. “Try not to flip the boat,” he picked at her.

“I’ll try not to fall out, too.”

Wilder chuckled and openly checked out her physical appearance at close range as she took an ungraceful step onto the boat floor. She openly checked him out as he stepped in with the grace of a native fisherman at sea. He also wore a gray button-down shirt and jeans on a solid frame with great muscles. He sat on the middle bench. She sat beside him with as much space between them as the narrow boat would allow.  He glanced. “We’re too much alike.”

She sighed. “I knew you’d say that.”

“After too many admirable attempts at too many similar matchups, I’ve become a firm believer that opposites must attract.”

Paige felt instant disappointment. She had been told by men that she was exceptionally beautiful and had hoped that Wilder would find that to be so, and might overlook the fact that she did not know how to be The One of six vying females here that could ‘surprise the hell out of him.’  Wilder was exceptionally gorgeous with an accent that surprised her. Wisconsinites had an accent? Then again, so did Kansans, really.

She watched as he opened a cooler. “Let’s see what the producers left for us…Ah, two beers, pimiento cheese and crackers. Interested?”

Wanting a shot at this guy, who seemed so good and real on his 150-word bio (yes, she counted), Paige took a stab at surprising the hell out of Wilder, her blue-eyed, soft-talking, superhero-sized first date. “I am interested.”

He glanced. He grinned. He took his time spreading cheese on a cracker. “Want me to feed it to you? Give the voters a little “thank you for thinking we belong together” moment?”

She twisted her shoulders and opened her mouth in a cute gesture. The cracker and cheese slid in with Wilder’s body leaning close. A smooth, easy move. Yummy. He returned to his side, chomped his own cheese cracker and chugged a long swallow from his beer bottle. She sipped hers and took a second stab at catching him off guard. “A dairy farmer, of course you’re good with your hands.” She blurted it on purpose (she’d been trying to think of something to catch him unaware all afternoon) but felt a blush on her cheeks.

His eyebrows lifted. He studied his large, calloused hands. “They get the job done.” He winked.

Whoa. Such a handsome guy. Paige gripped the seat to steady her. “You’re much more attractive without a pillow over your face.”

“On the contrary, you’re just as fun to look at from behind, Paige.”

She decided she might flip herself into the water after all. She felt rather warm inside. They chomped crackers and cheese before she asked, “Shouldn’t we be getting to know each other? You know, the typical first date stuff.”

“I feel like I already know you.” Wilder looked at her with a crooked smile.

This time, it felt like to Paige, he did not seem quite so disappointed that they were a seemingly predictable match. The participants at Lake Somewhere had been instructed to get straight to the point. They were in jeopardy of being voted off, of going home, if they couldn’t produce a spark. Paige abandoned her inner protests to be the quiet, disciplined good-girl-who-became-a-teacher and stuck with fun banter. “My two ex-boyfriends were city guys. I bet country boys have a little something extra to offer.”

“Besides ‘being good with our hands,’ we know a thing or two about pastures and moonlight, walks in the woods and quilts in the grass, truck beds and homemade wine, if that’s what you mean.”

“Ooh, sounds fun. Yes, I guess that’s what I mean.” She smiled. He looked amused. Their boat drifted aimlessly on a lovely blue-green abyss between two tree-covered mountains. Wilder hadn’t bothered with the oar after he pushed away from the dock.

He swigged his beer. “So, what do you think of living in Kansas? Are you in a big city or small town?”

“City. Wichita. Best place in America.” It felt like he stared at her lips when she answered; he had definitely scooted closer to her on the boat bench.

He elbowed her arm. “Home of Cessna, mentholatum, and Pizza Hut.” Her eyes widened that Wilder knew such facts. “You’re even prettier, by the way, when you’re surprised, and you look good in a pair of jeans.”

“Ditto the jeans, Wilder.”

“This would’ve been a better date at night. It’d be awesome how many stars we could see from this vantage point, Paige.”  

Paige flirted, “Besides our nosy housemates on the shoreline couldn’t see what we’re really doing at night.” She motioned. Wilder counted five Lake Somewhere competitors onshore. He rowed farther away. Suddenly a bug flew into Paige’s hair. She jumped.

Wilder dropped the oar into the boat and swatted the bug. “Scared of a fly?” Their faces were close. A breeze was all that moved between them. Before either said more, rain started to pour. Wilder rowed to shore fast, on the opposite side of the dock to where contestants rushed for cover. He lifted her out of the boat, unnecessary, and Paige wondered if maybe he was showing off since they won the first date. It was a wonderful feel, how his arms and hands touched her body as he set her on ground. True feelings unknown, their blue eyes met. Partially drenched in rain, her thin shirt plastered to her body, Paige got caught up in the romance of being observed from afar by the others and admired up close by Wilder.

All the encouragement Wilder needed, he bent down and kissed her. Her fingers played in his hair as their lips twisted. It was a sexy, sweet, swift kiss. “Hope you don’t mind kissing on the first date. We’re instructed to be on fast forward here.” He smiled. The downpour had ceased.

“No woman would mind being kissed like that,” Paige said between heartbeat flutters. She noticed Wilder’s eyes watching something else. She looked up. Caroline stepped from cover nearby. She called out, “Hi. Hope your outing was nice! Wilder, may we chat for a minute?”

He said to Paige, “Thanks for a good time,” and walked in Caroline’s direction.


Confessions after coming in second place… Jacinta: “Let’s give voters something to wish for Leo!” Leo: “My pleasure, Jace! (May I call you Jace?)”
Third place winners Andee and Dansby share a cup of coffee in the kitchen and make their way to shore.

Andee didn’t like coffee. Never had. A California girl, she was more of a mimosas or green tea type. She found Dansby in the kitchen, like he’d promised in their flirty confessions after the voter results came in. He wore more than an apron, which mildly disappointed her.

A dark, good-looking guy, he asked, “Hi, Andee, want a latte?” He was arranging items on the counter.

“Hi, Dansby. I’m not your basic pumpkin spice white girl.” She laughed. He turned away and worked coffee-shop-guy magic anyway while she watched. Oh, he was such a cutie!

In a minute, he handed her a ceramic mug with a milky heart swirling in light brown liquid. “Try it.” She accepted, blew atop the mug to cool, and sipped. It was the most delicious drink she ever tasted.

“So, Andee, who do you think you’ll like here?” Dansby pushed shabby bangs off his forehead.

She looked into her cup, up at him, and smiled. “You.”

Erik and Skye, fourth place winners after Week 1.
Mamie received one vote in Week 1, with Leo.
Confession after Week 1 voting: “Wilder and me in the hot tub, one vote. I’ll see what I can do about that!”

~ ~ ~
His duffel bag had banged her arm when they met at the bottom of the staircase. Their first glance was nothing like it was in the movies. The rushed bumping into each other, to both, had been shocking. Wilder and Caroline were the first to arrive at Lake Somewhere and discovered their bedrooms were side by side on the second floor, right after he banged into her.
Her hazel-eyed stare clamped on to his face while he twisted his key in the lock. Door open, he paused and stared, too, and she knew, he wondered if the rich color of her auburn hair came from a box. It didn’t. They muttered, “Hello, I’m Wilder.” “I’m Caroline,” before entering separate rooms.

OKAY, EVERYONE… VOTE FOR WEEK 2! 4/2 Closes at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night.

Who do you want to see next and where (library/reading nook, game room, outdoor hot tub, loft hideaway, boat house/dock, boat)?

***Vote here in the comments or on FB, Clare Cinnamon, Author!

Week One results were: 23% Wilder and Paige, 20% Leo and Jacinta,
18% Dansby and Andee and 12% Erik and Skye
Stay tuned! AND VOTE!


Here’s how it works (estimated time for players/readers 10-20 minutes/week):

*These ten fictional characters have never met and will be in seclusion together for the foreseeable future. Each week, an author’s scenario will be presented and voted on BY YOU and eventually characters will be eliminated.

*There are keys to six hidden rooms/scenarios/future scenes where characters can be coupled off, through voting, to get to know each other better. Rooms/scenes: 1. Library/Reading nook 2. Game Room 3. Loft Hideaway 4. Outdoor hot tub 5. Boat house/deck 6. Boat

*Each character has separate bedroom quarters and all of them are invited to co-mingle in plain view in the great room, kitchen, dining area, or on the open porches/shores of the lake house. These writing scenes of all characters will also be included each week, so you know what they’re up to.

*Voting will close each Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. Winning characters will be announced on Monday morning. After voting closes and winners are announced, I will write the scene IMPROMPTU and present it to you on WordPress blog by Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. A new round of voting will begin each Thursday.


*** Learn more about each character under their pictures. ***

(Yes, there are more females than males 😊).

Jacinta – 5’3” 126 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? A connection with potential. To grow as a person through this once-in-a-lifetime crazy opportunity.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? My moves! I’ll have them dancing like pros before it’s over. I adore music and break into song or dance on a whim.
3. What’s your ideal type of guy? Tall, dark, and handsome. Haha. For real, physical attraction is important. Mainly, he must be willing to go out a lot and dance in public and not take himself too seriously.
4. Number of serious relationships? Two. I date a lot, though, especially in groups. Number of tattoos? Actually, none.
5. I should’ve … Married my first boyfriend? Haha. He was a sweetheart, but I wasn’t ready. I am up for whatever this seclusion puts in front of me now.

Leo – 6’0” 183 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? It may be unrealistic, but I’d like to find a life partner. I’ve dated around. I believe in love at first sight. I think I’ll know rather quickly within a given scenario.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? I’m outdoorsy. I’m a hiker and kayak guide. I can fish, swim, hunt, or run with the best of them. I’m a survivor.
3. What’s your ideal type of girl? Adventurous and spontaneous. Lover of life and creation. Deep, intellectual, and meditative. I’ve gone for brunettes in the past, but I’m open.
4. Number of serious relationships? Too personal. It’s all serious for me. Serious and interesting. I have no regrets. Number of tattoos? 1.
5. I should’ve … gone to college, maybe? I tried it. Again, I have no regrets. Every decision leads you to the next level.

Andee – 5’5” 116 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? The experience itself! To meet new people. To have fun and laugh. A new boyfriend if there’s a spark.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? My positivity! People say I’m always in a good mood. I will do my best to see the good in any situation.
3. What’s your ideal type of guy? I don’t have a type. I’ve tried them all. Good at flirting and faithful are musts.
4. Number of serious relationships? Oh gosh, five or six, at least. I fall hard and fast and get bored just as quickly. I kissed a lot of frogs. Number of tattoos: 2
5. I should’ve … toned up and gotten a killer bod for this experience. I have a feeling these guys and gals are 100%.
Dansby – 5’10” 165 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? There’s no such thing as coincidence. I am here because there is someone here who is supposed to be in my life at this point.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? My coffee beans. Step aside and let me make breakfast! I might wear an apron and nothing else, who knows?
3. What’s your ideal type of girl? I’m into books, old music, and art. She has to be able to converse on many topics. A sexy, stylish dresser. A woman who puts it all out there. Total confidence.
4. Number of serious relationships? A lot; some live-ins. I’m 31. 10 -plus girlfriends. Countless good times. I always give love or lust a try. Number of tattoos: Uh, let’s see, 5?
5. I should’ve … bought more empty, rundown buildings before it got so trendy. I own three local coffee shops. I’m successful. Business degree. I’m an entrepreneur.

Mamie – 5’7” 132 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? A hearty, lasting relationship. Someone who brings me out of my shell.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? Good energy. I’m spiritual. I’ll see into their hearts. I’ll probably be the advisor and the shoulder to cry on.
3. What’s your ideal type of guy? Very smart. Bookish but with a lighter side. Someone who loves the ocean, to go on adventures and discover a good view. To sit and have a conversation without words.
4. Number of serious relationships? Zero. I’ve always acted older than my age. When I was young, they would crash and burn, poor boys. Lately, I put my whole self into work in the city and the weekends are my time to reboot. Number of tattoos? Zero.
5. I should’ve … dated more. I don’t know what it means to be in love, and I tend to overthink.

Skye – 5’1” 103 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? I don’t predict the future. It is what it is.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? An edge. I like to surprise people. The more unexpectedness, and even chaos, the better. That’s how you find out what someone is made of.
3. What’s your ideal type of guy? Elusive, mysterious, creative. An interesting past, a jetsetter. Tattoos, a plus.
4. Number of serious relationships? Four-ish. I wouldn’t mind something long-term developing from this. Number of tattoos: Four. I’ll get another to mark the completion of this experience!
5. I should’ve … lived with the Parisian guy and gal who offered during my Study Abroad. I’d still like to live in another country someday.

Wilder 6’3” 215 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? My soulmate. I want to get knocked off my feet and vice versa.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? I’m down to earth. I work outside. I’m grounded. I despise drama. I’m used to a big family and practical values.
3. What’s your ideal type of girl? I live in a small town. I’ve been set up with every Homecoming queen/brownie baker/community sweetheart. They’re all great, but nothing’s worked. I’d like for someone to surprise the hell out of me.
4. Number of serious relationships? One. College girlfriend. She didn’t want to leave the city to marry me. Wait, does high school count? I kissed a lot of girls…I thought I was in love a time or two.
5. I should’ve … moved somewhere besides my hometown before I settled on the family farm. Oh well.

Paige 5’8” 125 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? A long-term boyfriend or husband.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? I’m a teacher. I’ll make sure they follow the rules of the game, set people straight, break up fights, and keeps us on a decent schedule.
3. What’s your ideal type of guy? Loyal, charismatic, not afraid of romance, handsome, not necessarily in that order.
4. Number of serious relationships? Two. High school boyfriend, college boyfriend.
5. I should’ve … never dated either of them. I’ve been cheated on twice. I’m too trustworthy. I believe the best in people.

ERIK 6’1” 200 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? To relax, unwind, and maybe fall in love.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? Medical attention? Ha, ha. Any injuries, I’m your man.
3. What’s your ideal type of girl? Calm, cool, and confident.
4. Number of serious relationships? Uhm…not too many. 😉
5. I should’ve … taken more time off from education and work. I’m almost 30 and never really chilled out.

Caroline 5’10” 141 lbs.
1. What are you looking for out of this experience? A romantic relationship to possibly lead to lifetime commitment.
2. What do you think you bring to the lake house that no one else can? A ridiculous amount of useless trivia and book quotes stored in my brain!
3. What’s your ideal type of guy? Casual, easygoing, down to earth. Someone to confide in and laugh with. Good looks, always a plus.
4. Number of serious relationships? 4 or 5, I guess. I tend to date based on marriage potential.
5. I should’ve … traveled more, but I will!

To 2020

Make a rule, I just might break it.💥

Offer a chance, I’ll definitely take it.⭐️

Share your heart, I’ll be sure to care for it.♥️

Reveal your soul, I’ll say a prayer for it.✨


Hello everyone! I’ll be sharing some of my past writings including poetry, travel logs, short stories, and new stuff too, during this interesting global time. No mention of the c-word or q-word.

Tonight, let’s revisit my pen from the evening of December 3, 2000.


Together we’ll sing and dance the hour long, Let not my capering tune replace your song.

For leaf on trembling leaf does not cover, They inhabit one branch but never vein of other.

And wave upon flitting wave e’er approach the sand, Yet one by one they break upon the land.

Raindrops fall from sky in welcome song, Never does one upon the other throng.

Stars twinkle harmoniously as sky’s splendor, Never does one unto another render.

In all the world and even to Heaven’s gate, I challenge you to find a different fate.

There is no clue that two shall ever be one, For each night’s moon makes way for rising sun.

Mountains open to valley, not new hill.

Songs of birds are beautiful for each peal.

Even in human birth you will not find

that two are one within their very minds.

For each is born of his unique design, And each new breath is never any but thine.

Perhaps you say, we will be one in death, But only I will take my dying breath.

And only Fate knows when that time will be, Or whether you will beat the path for me.

My thoughts on the Master plan just make more clear,

The intention for us in the days of Here.

One and one aren’t two, more likely three, and I will neither live nor die for thee.

Beloved, trees can’t grow within the shade of tree, And crisscrossed rivers shall never find way to sea.

For all that’s strong in this world by divine hand, Seeks its fate and on its merit stands.

So, dance with me till one can hear no tune.

And, sing with me till one can’t see new moon.

Then whether ’tis you or I on Earth remain

Two lived and two rejoice in Eternity’s gain.

Little Women like me

What a glimmering thing the circle of life can be! Scrolling Facebook, I came across a post from Aunt Myra on my Clare Cinnamon, Author page. First, the backstory:

~ ~ ~ I started writing when I was four and wrote so much the next decade that I rarely found time to read.

English teachers, of course, inspired me most, and all of them have a diamond in their crowns from Clare Cinnamon. It was the way Ms. Hilliard presented Where the Red Fern Grows by reading aloud in 5th grade. It was Ms. Clark herself, both drinking coffee and reading feverishly at her desk amid messy stacks of books. It was a poetry section included by Ms. Anderson in 7th grade, with extra spring in her step. It was Ms. Horton’s outstanding outline of A Tale Of Two Cities with a twinkle in her eye. It was Ms. Arnold, tenth grade, calling me in after class (I thought I was in trouble😉) to say, ‘You must write. I move your essays to the top of the stack because I can’t wait to read.’ It was Ms. Krueger wondering aloud how I understood Catherine Earnshaw’s character so well (I may NOT have been fooling Ms. Krueger…I was home at night dissecting characters to learn to write better characters).

Aunt Myra, one of the local high school’s best English teachers, was never my teacher. She was, however, my new aunt when I entered seventh grade at the height of my frenzied, middle-of-the-night writing spells. When I told her I liked to write A LOT but hadn’t yet finished reading a whole novel, I received Little Women from her for Christmas. Certainly it turned out to be one of the best books to read, but it was holding it, getting lost in it, and finishing it that compelled me to make a pact with myself: I would hold my own novel in my hand one day.

Thirty-plus years later, Lainey Cash, Book 1 is my first published fiction novel! So scrolling Facebook, I read this message from Myra on my author wall: Hey!!! You need to get a copy of Lainey Cash!!! It’s WONDERFUL!!!!!

I can’t stop smiling! The circle of life is a special thing. -CC

Lainey Cash, Book 1, my first published fiction in December 2019, has sold out of stock three times on Amazon. Lainey and Jed, Book 2, was released 2/14/20 ❤

Southern soul

At the heart, or soul, of a Southerner (United States) is food, music, land, family. That’s a rough draft list off the top of my head. I’m a Georgia peach.

Today, the hubby and I were out and about in the Golden Isles (Georgia coastline) on Saint Simons Island. I was doing a bit of promotions for Lainey Cash, Book One. We stopped for lunch at a place that’s an ole fave of ours.

Southern Soul BBQ (btw, I’m not getting paid to blurb this place, just writing whatever comes out). It’s BBQ at a former gas station, in a roadside curve, rural-cool decor (you know, forks and spoons in Mason jars, license plates and old ad posters on the walls), scrumptious Brunswick stew.

Oh, do you know what Brunswick stew is? Hmm, how to tell you, if you don’t. One of those classic foods I simply take for granted around here. I’m looking it up, just a moment… From Google/Wiki- Brunswick stew is a dish generally involving a tomato base, local beans, veggies, and originally small game meat, though today often chicken, but usually smoked pulled pork. Yes, that’s it, and most families have their minor variations (yes or no to corn, yes or no to hot sauce, etc.), a handwritten treasured recipe from generations past, and Thanksgiving/Christmas stew-making, freezing-for-winter tradition.

Anyway, as I was sitting in a solid wood booth, surrounded by women in ball caps, men in blue jeans and Columbia shirts, and meat smoke, at Southern Soul, I thought to myself for the millionth time: Isn’t it neat how the things that define you- where you were born, how you were raised, what you eat, your go-to hot spots- pop up in your writing? Often, very unintentionally.

When I write, the primary intention is to portray characters and places that are as authentic as possible.

Lainey Cash is Southern. She’s from Mississippi. She grew up on a cotton farm. She and Jed, the rival/neighbor farmer across the road, eventually share the same heirloom recipe for Brunswick stew. They listen to Led Zeppelin and other old rock favorites. They adore and resent the same scenery. They lack family and long for a family.

Writing is the circle of life. Nineteen years after you pen a novel, you hold the newly-printed copy and think, Ah! That’s why that nugget is buried in there. Or maybe you sit at a chic barbecue place on a December day, sunny and 75, and think, Well, of course, Lainey Cash and Jed McCrae like Brunswick stew. Duh.

Food, music, land, family. Yep, that’s southern. That’s me. –Clare Cinnamon

Roadside bbq shack in GA
Sunny and 75 in South GA today
Snapped a pic that somehow did NOT include Brunswick stew… -CC