…[I]f the whole truth were to be known, Neville wasn’t the only one who found the ups and downs of this romance mystifying; Ross himself had trouble figuring out just what it was he was supposed to say and do for Amber, and when. Women before her hadn’t seemed at all to care about his thoughts or his feelings, just that he performed to a degree of satisfaction.
But Amber constantly pressed him for his opinion on things, even of the most mundane nature:
“Which do you prefer?” she asked as they were browsing the produce at Crispin’s later in the week. “Cherry tomatoes, or plum?”
“I don’t care,” he muttered, picking up one yam and trading it for another of heftier quality that he dropped into their basket.
She made a sniffing sound. “What do you mean, you don’t care?”
“I mean, I don’t care,” he replied. “A tomato’s a tomato.”
“They’re not all the same,” Amber insisted. “If they were, they’d all be called just ‘tomato.’ Not ‘Roma’ or ‘Campari’ or whatnot.”
He turned to her with an exasperated groan. “What does it matter? They taste essentially the same-”
“Ah-ha!” she snapped, pointing her finger at him, nearly into his nose. “So you admit that they aren’t all exactly alike!”
Ross pushed her hand away from his face. “It doesn’t make a difference.”
“It makes quite a bit of difference!” she told him with a nod. “If you prefer one over the other, then we should get that one, and not settle for something you don’t like as much, just because you don’t want to commit to a decision about it.”
He groaned again, and then – because there were other people about – he leaned toward her, rumbling, “I don’t care! And what’s more, I don’t understand why this rubbish is so bloody important to you!”
She paused, then straightened on her heels, feet together, and blinked. “I just want to please you,” she said from between half-closed lips, her soft-spoken response quieting and humbling him instantly.
So he stood back again and felt his shoulders slope, as he let go a low breath. The honest, trenchant look on her face was so precious that he relaxed, and he was struck by a now-familiar surge of affection for her. He smiled then, and told her, softly:
She smiled back at him. Then she reached out and with one deft, quick stroke of her hand she stole one of the tiny tomatoes from their wooden case, and rose on her toes to pop it quickly into his mouth. And the sudden burst of sweet juice between his lips then was as nothing compared to the sweetness of her kisses later that same day, when they were back at the loft, clutching tightly to each other as she bounced up and down in his lap.
This lead-in has some light-hearted happiness to it, but there’s also a touch of conflict, if you look. Lovers experience a whole gamut of emotions when they’re courting, not all of it dealing with the sexual side of things.
In some stories, characters fall in love and that’s their story. I almost never end with just that, though. Because real love is about so much more than physical attraction or mutual affection. It’s also about the growth of trust and honesty, the overcoming of fear and uncertainty. Sometimes, love occurs from huge leaps of faith. And sometimes, love happens in the little moments. I like examining both, because I think that both are very real.
As a love story, Fearless doesn’t have any gargantuan revelations or crescendos of thrills. It’s more about people learning about themselves and about each other. It’s quiet and gentle, but I’m also hoping that it is honest, too. Because that’s what I like in the stories that I read.