A month had passed, and Emma hadn't made any headway at all. She was beginning to panic. She was teetering on desperation actually, and sat for hours in front of her computer, typing and typing, and pressing backspace so often she thought she might give herself a repetitive strain injury.

She had resorted to reading her previous novel, skipping to the sex scenes to gain an idea of what to write. Instead of being inspired, however, she could only think of copying and pasting the entire thing again, and that was not possible.

She had even run through her DVD collection, picking out her favorite love stories and forwarding to the sex scenes, watching as the actors enacted passionate love affairs, but everything she wrote after that was sincerely appalling. At best, she could find certain loving phrases and actions; at worst, she couldn't even initiate the scene.

Screaming in frustration, she threw her remote across the room. One month to go and she didn't have anything! What sort of writer was she? Was her first book a fluke? Was she just a one hit wonder? She cursed the cousin who had gone to bat for her with the publishing house, regarding the passionate sell with annoyance now. If her cousin had not done that, Emma would still be happily lecturing!

She sighed, glancing at the silent TV screen in despair, her mind going back to her unfinished novel. She had written most of the book, leaving only the sex scenes and related sections blank, and was starting to seriously consider paying someone to anonymously write those scenes. There were what, only four or five scenes? It could be done, couldn't it?

She grabbed her phone, dialing her literary agent.

"Black Publishing, Joan Cutler's office, how can I help you?"

"Hi, this is Emma. Emma -"

"Ms. Connelly! Of course! Let me put you through."

Emma waited a beat, before the gruff voice of her agent came through.

"Emma, I hope you are calling to tell me you are done so we can put the book out earlier than expected and give everyone else a run for their money!"

Emma groaned.

"Joan, I'm stuck."


"How do you mean?" Joan's voice was polite, and Emma cringed. That meant only one thing, Joan was pissed. Pissed.

"I just can't seem to get the sex scenes right. They're not working."

Joan laughed, and Emma frowned. Trust Joan to laugh at something as important as this!

"Oh, Emma! I thought you meant you had writer's block or something awful like that!"

"Joan! I can't write the sex scenes! There is no romance book without sex scenes!"

Joan fell silent.

"Well, just grab your man and do some research then! You'll find those scenes flowing through your fingertips in no time." Joan cackled.

Emma groaned, grabbing a cushion and squeezing it.

"I need an extension."

She hadn't meant to say that, but she realized that even though her relationship with Joan was more friendly than professional, she couldn't swallow her pride and ask her for an anonymous contributor.


"What? Joan! Why?"

"No, we can't extend the deadline. I heard that Josephine Maury is putting a book out two weeks after you, and I am not going to allow your book to debut on the bookshelves whilst hers is selling out, Emma."

Emma groaned in aggravation.

"Look, you're a bestselling author. You're my best author right now, and you're excellent. You weave a story like honey being dripped all over my skin, and let me tell you, Emma, every woman wants to be you because they want what you are getting. Your sex scenes are that good, Emma. So stop whining, get off your ass, go do some research, and get that book to me in a month!"


"Emma! Don't even. What you call research is what everyone else calls fun, and some people don't even get that on a regular basis. Now, I'm hanging up. You've used up too much of my time. One month, Emma, one month!"

And with that Joan hung up. Emma sat back on her couch, trying to fight tears of frustration. Research? She would have laughed if she wasn't trying to stop tears from forming. How does a virgin do research on sex?

She picked up the phone again, needing some comfort, and dialed her sister.

"Hello, what's your poison?"

"A shot of arsenic please, straight up," Emma mumbled.


"Jen, I need some comfort."

"Oh, Emmy, what's up?" Jen's voice was appropriately tinged with concern, and Emma sighed.

"I'm stuck. Can't write sex scenes. One month to deadline. Failure." Emma could only speak in key points at that moment.

Jennifer started laughing, long and loud, and Emma couldn't help but crack a smile. Her sister's laugh was contagious, relentlessly so.

"Only you, Emmy. Only you would have such a problem," Jennifer snorted in-between laughs.

"Hey, I take offense to that."

"Yeah, the virgin would."

"Oh stop rubbing that in my face."

"Well, it is really funny when you think about it. Best-selling romance author." Jennifer was stressing the word 'romance', and Emma cringed, cutting her off.

"Okay, okay, I get it."

"Fine, fine, what help do you need? I know! Porn!"

"What? Ew! No! I write tasteful sex scenes!" There was no way Emma was resorting to watching a gang bang, just to find some inspiration. No way.

"Okay, you have one more month, right? Don't panic. How about you come out with me tonight? We'll go out, have some drinks, go dancing, just relax a little and let loose, and then tomorrow we'll both work on your scenes, okay? I'll help. I'll drag Kyle with me and enact scenes out with him if I have to." Jennifer snickered.

Emma grimaced. "Ew, Jennifer! I do not need to see my younger sister and her boyfriend doing anything other than chaste kissing," she muttered indignantly.

Jennifer simply chuckled. "I know, I know, I was just kidding. So, tonight? I'll pick you up at eight," Jennifer said, and they both hung up after Emma agreed.

At eight precisely, Jennifer rang the doorbell and Emma threw the door open, a huge smile on her face. She saw her sister less these days, now that Jennifer was in college and working part-time at an accounting firm. Her sister looked gorgeous, as usual, dressed in a form-fitting white tank top and black skinny jeans. Where Emma was curvy, Jen was built like a model: long and lean. When they were both young, Jennifer had been a tom-boy running with the boys in town, dressed in overalls, but now, Jen had grown into her looks, and Emma was glad.

"Emma, you are not wearing that," Jennifer said, frowning.

"What? What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" Emma looked at herself. She was wearing a full black skirt that fell to her knees, and had paired it with a soft green blouse that matched her eyes.

"You look like we're going to dinner. We're going dancing," Jen said, and started tugging Emma up the stairs, striding into her bedroom and throwing open the closet. Jen rummaged through, tossing out random pieces of clothing.

"Strip," she ordered, her face still in the closet, and Emma sighed, but obeyed without protest. Jen turned around just as she was shimmying out of her skirt, and smiled.

"At least you know how to buy lingerie."

Emma grinned. She loved lingerie. She went lingerie shopping every time she wanted to relax. It was a principle of the matter: even though people rarely saw her in her underwear, Emma always felt sexy and confident with the right lingerie, and no matter what she wore over her underwear, the confidence always shone through.

Jen tossed her a pair of jeans, and she caught them, before grimacing.

"I don't like this one. Let me wear my favorite one, okay?" she said, already moving to the closet to pluck the dark wash from the depths.

"Wear it and we'll see," Jen stated ominously, and Emma laughed.

"Yes, ma'am."

She tugged the jeans on, pulling them over her slim hips and buttoning them, then took a black tank top from Jen and pulled it on. The tight tank top clung to her curves. She shook her dark, curly hair out to neaten it.

Jen smiled proudly. "Now that's an outfit for dancing," she said, clapping her hands, her hazel eyes sparkling. Emma grabbed her tan leather jacket from her closet and a woolen scarf, one that was similar to Jen's, only a different color.

"I love Mom's scarves," Jen commented as they walked towards her car. Emma nodded in agreement. They both received a knitted scarf for Christmas every year, and although Christmas was more than a month away, thanks to Fed-Ex, they'd received this year's scarves already. Jen drove them to a nondescript bar that was slightly less than half an hour away.

"This place is fabulous, Emmy. Kyle told me about it. This is only my second time here, but I'm sure we're both going to have fun!" she said, grabbing Emma's hand and tugging her towards the entrance. As they neared the large wooden door, Emma was finally able to see the crooked sign above it, which read 'The Irish Borthers'. She groaned.

"Giving us all a bad name," she said, shaking her head.

Jen laughed. "What? You mean the misspelling? Come on, you have to admit it adds character."

"Dad will love it," Emma commented. Their father loved anyone who hailed from the motherland. She could imagine him and the Irish 'brothers' reminiscing over a pint of Guinness.

Warm engulfed them as Jen pushed open the heavy wooden door. The bar was packed. People were crowded around booths, others were at the bar itself, and a lot of them were dancing to some jukebox tune.

Emma loved it.

"See! I told you that you'd love the place!" Jen exclaimed upon seeing Emma's bright expression. Emma would have informed Jen that she hadn't said such a thing, but decided to focus on the rowdy atmosphere instead. People were yelling and laughing, but dark wood paneling and dusty memorabilia made it cozy and inviting. There was an air of ease to the place.

Jen was already at the bar, ordering drinks for them both, so Emma took a seat, crossing her legs and looking out over the bar. The music was so loud she almost didn't hear Jen calling her name. She turned to her younger sister and took the proffered glass of dark beer.

"Here's to going back to our roots!" Jen exclaimed, before clinking her glass with Emma's. They both drank the cold aromatic brew. Emma grinned at the bartender when she placed the empty glass back on the counter.

"Keep them coming!" she shouted. The barkeep grinned and nodded, handing them both refills.

The next few hours were spent drinking and laughing as the sisters caught up on each other's lives.

"So, are you having fun?" Jen finally asked, as they sipped at yet another glass of beer; Emma had lost count somewhere after the fifth.

"Yes!" Emma exclaimed. Just then, a blond sauntered up to Jen, asking for a dance. Jen's hazel eyes twinkled, and she looked over at Emma. Emma nodded.

"Go for it!"

Jen took the blond's hand and the two walked off, disappearing into the crowd. Emma turned back to the bartender and laughed uproariously as he set another glass of beer down in front of her before she had even opened her mouth. The barkeep grinned.

"I'll have one of what she's having."

A deep voice resonated beside her, and she turned to see a tall, dark-haired man sliding into the seat Jen had vacated. He glanced at her.

"You seem to be having fun," he commented, his voice raised slightly so that he could be heard above the noise. His voice was like rich velvet, and she smiled.

"I need that," he sighed, stretching, clasping his hands as they moved into the air. She couldn't help but notice how his grey tee-shirt clung to him, his muscles rippling as he moved.

"You need fun?"

He placed his elbows on the counter, nodding his thanks as the bartender placed a glass of Guinness in front of him, and drained the liquid before turning to her. His eyes were an intense blue.

"Yes. I definitely need fun," he agreed.

For some reason, she immediately remembered her publisher Joan saying how sex was the most fun anyone could have. Did he need fun, or did he need sex? She laughed to herself, turning to the barkeep, signaling for a refill, not noticing that he was looking at her until she felt his gaze on her.

She turned to him.

"So, what do you do?" he asked.

Emma shrugged. "I used to lecture, but I write now."

"Lecture? Aren't you a bit too young for that?" he asked, his eyes questioning.

"How old are you?" she asked, ignoring his question.

"26," he replied.

She nodded. "I'm 23," she offered.

"Graduated early?" he guessed.

She smiled. "You guessed it."

"So, why do you need fun?" she asked after she'd taken a healthy gulp of cold beer. She silently noted that he was already on his third glass.

"Because I'm knee-deep in a PhD thesis and about to crumble to certain death."

Emma's interest was piqued.

"Oh, what are you working on?"

"The East-West Schism, which is basically -"

"The division of the Church into the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches," Emma completed, her green eyes sparkling.

The man's mouth parted in surprise, his cerulean eyes widening slightly, before his lips quirked in a smile.

"I lectured European History," Emma explained.

The man laughed. "So, what do you think then? My personal opinion is that the split was for the greater good, and that's what I argue in my paper," he said, leaning slightly closer to her.

Emma frowned. "No, I don't believe so."

"Oh?" His voice had lowered, taking on a silky tone. Emma grinned as she recognized the beginnings of a debate. She squared her shoulders, readying to throw the argument. Nothing made her feel more alive than an intellectual debate.

"Well, you don't need to look very far to see the many reconciliations the Churches have had over the past."

"Temporary, at best. The theological foundations were laid in the fourteenth century -"

She suppressed a twinge of annoyance at the fact that he had made a damn good point, not even two minutes into the argument, but cut him off. "Exactly, and we're in the twenty-first century now. Pope John Paul II made recent steps to attempt an end to the separation."

Emma was forceful, stating her points firmly, but the man was equally as persistent in his views. They were arguing about how the Byzantine Empire had influenced the division, when Jen burst into their conversation.

"Emma! Who is this?!"

Emma blinked, turning to look at her sister, who was grinning far too cheekily for her own good. She had lost herself in the argument, so much so that she had forgotten her surroundings. She glanced at her adversary to realize that they had leaned towards each other during their argument, and as a consequence, were much closer to each other than before. Her bent knees were snug between his, and his hands were on her thighs, holding her in place. She gazed at his hands, and he dropped them, retreating slightly. She looked up then, glancing back and forth between her sister and the man, who had quirked his lips.

"Uh, Jen, this is, uh-"

"Colin. Colin Munroe."

The man held his hand out for Jen, and she took it, smiling mischievously. "And what exactly have you been doing with my sister, Colin Munroe?"

"Jen! We were just talking about the Schism," Emma interjected, trying not to blush.

"The what?"

"The Schism, well, it doesn't matter. European history," Emma simply said.

Jen nodded, her hazel eyes sparkling. "Ah, European history. That's a forte of Emma's here, Colin," she declared.

"Well, I count it as a forte of mine as well," Colin stated, fixing his gaze on Emma. This time, Emma turned to the bartender to yell for a drink to keep her face from burning. The look in Colin's eyes was much too intense for her, she thought.

The barkeep promptly placed two glasses of beer in front of her, and Jen swooped between the two of them to grab one.

"Gosh, I'm so thirsty," she said, chugging the drink.

"Where's the blond?" Emma asked.

"He left when I told him that the only person I slept with nowadays was my boyfriend, and that no, I really couldn't bend that rule," Jen replied, shrugging.

"Oh!" She perked up suddenly. "There was this really cute guy back there interested in you. I've sold you to him," she grinned.

Emma laughed. "Yeah, right."

"Well, okay, so I told him that you'd dance with him. I'm only looking out for my sister!" she pouted.

"Ah, so the both of you are sisters" Colin commented, nodding sagely, adding, "I had a vague idea."

Jen nodded, turning to him. "Well, she's older by 2 years, but what's two years between sisters?"

"Of course." Colin grinned, and Emma fought a blush.

"It's not that difficult to tell, isn't it? I mean, we both have the same dark hair, only she got her pretty green eyes from our dad, and I got my hazel eyes from our mom," Jen offered.

"And you got the model's body while I'm stuck with this," Emma interjected, smiling.

Jen scoffed. "You're like Salma Hayek to my Keira Knightley, Emmy. I mean, who doesn't like Salma Hayek?" She directed the question to Colin, and he grinned.

"Salma Hayek is hot," he agreed, turning his gaze to Emma.

Emma was really going to blush now, so she quickly gulped down her drink, hoping the cool liquid would assuage her skin.

"Emmy, that guy's coming, go, go!" Jen squealed urgently then, pushing her slightly off the seat, and Emma acquiesced, getting up. She swayed slightly, her hand flying out to clutch the counter.

"You okay?" Colin's voice shot right through her belly, and she fought a groan.

"I'm fine, just a little drunk," she said, smiling, before turning around and quickly disappearing into the crowd. The debate, when it grew heated, had really turned her on, she realized. Colin's voice, low and rich, arguing about semantics, had lit a fire in her belly, and what she needed to do was to dance it off.