“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” –As You Like It, William Shakespeare.
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But, now, on the theme…this one was hard for me because to me, being foolish, means being stupid. But that’s no so, especially when it comes to relationships.
In so many ways, falling in love is the most foolish act of all.
It takes a leap of faith to believe that the person you love somehow loves you back in equal measure. In a sense, every romance novel character who falls in love is a fool.
The first example that jumped to mind isn’t from my own work but from Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan are on opposite sides in an intergalactic war. Even so, they’ve managed to save each other’s lives. But when Cordelia returns to her home planet, nothing is right. Her superiors believe she’s a hero, the spy agency believes she’s been brainwashed to serve Aral’s people (untrue), and even her mother doesn’t trust her own judgment.
Cordelia flees, wearing casual clothes and with only her slippers on her feet. She goes to Aral, taking a leap of faith that she can be herself among his people.
Undoubtably, the most foolish thing any of my characters have ever done is when Beth kidnaps Alec in Phoenix Rising. Beth sees this smart, powerful, and, most of all, kind, man that she’s come to love being trained by his superiors to became a weapon in a war. She can’t stand it and kidnaps him, having no idea if he’ll listen to her when he wakes up, if he’ll ever trust her again, but she knows whatever the outcome, her own life won’t be the same.
He was born to be a weapon. For her, he must learn to be a hero.
“How would you like to go farther than the clearing?”
Was she asking him to her place?
“That could be good.” He put his arm around her shoulder as they reached the bottom of the hill. The
connection between them was a steady hum. He was close to full arousal and wondered if she was too. But she seemed more distracted than anything else.
Gravel from an old service road crunched under his boots. “How would we get to your place? It’s too far to walk.”
She paused, as if thinking hard about the answer. “A friend left me a car around here,” she said. “At least, I think it’s around here.”
She leaned against him. He pulled her close. “You want me to go home with you?” He held her out from him, searching her face to see if she’d object. This was better than he hoped.
“In a way. The house where I want to take you belongs to a friend but he lets me use it.” She put her hand on one of the large pine trees, looking around, squinting. She took two steps, and banged her knee into something that made a hollow metallic clunk.
“You okay?” he said. “That was no tree.”
“No, it’s our ride.” She rubbed the knee. “This way, we can leave without anyone following. I wanted to surprise you.”
“I’m surprised.” He knelt down to look closer, and dropped her hand. She’d walked into the front fender of a car that was covered by a green tarp.
“Cool camouflage.” He peeled back the tarp. A Honda. He’d been hoping for a sports car. But at least he was leaving with Beth to go to her place, where they could be alone with no watchers.
“Thanks.” She punched in a code on the driver’s side lock.
He got in the car as she pulled the rest of the tarp off. She dropped the tarp in the backseat, sat down behind the wheel, picked up the keys from the driver’s seat and turned over the ignition.
“Wait, how’d you get a car out here?”
“Just lucky, I guess.” She reached down into a side pocket on the door and slipped something into her hand.
His back stiffened. This whole thing was weird. He hadn’t been seduced many times but this suddenly didn’t feel like it should. He grabbed her right hand.
“Counselor? What’s really going on?”
She turned, eyes wide. “I—” Her hand closed over whatever was in her palm. “I work with the CIA on occasion, so I’ve learned to be careful and plan ahead. The car was left here by a friend in case I needed it.”
“Plan ahead for what? Why would you need to hide a car from the Resource? It can’t be just to have sex with me.” He gripped her hand tighter.
“The Resource isn’t as benevolent as you think, especially its director.”
“What exactly are you afraid of?”
She tried to pull her hand free. He tightened his grip. Lansing had warned him the CIA would like to
get hold of him. Maybe that’s what she was doing. And he’d walked right into it because she’d let him put his arm around her shoulder. Daz would never let him hear the end of that one.
“Alec, it’s complicated. It’ll take too long to tell it here, especially given how quick they’ll miss you. As soon as we get where we’re going, I’ll tell you. But I swear, I will not hurt you.”
“Not good enough.” He dug his fingers into her wrist. “Talk to me now, before we go anywhere.”
She tried to pull her hand free. He let her pull him closer to her, intending to pin her to the seat and get some real answers. But she twisted and her left hand came forward. He caught a glimpse of something sharp just before she plunged it into his shoulder. He jerked backward and hit his head on the rearview mirror. He looked down at his shoulder. A syringe was stuck in there, just above his collarbone.
Oh, fuck, another tranq?
“You—” He grabbed the syringe and pulled it out. Blood trickled down his T-shirt. Lethargy started to spread through his arm. Drugged. Again. “Why? I trusted you!”
“I’m sorry. We need to get away from this place. Fast. I won’t hurt you.”
“Yeah, well, this needle doesn’t scream harmless.” He jerked away from her and banged his back against the passenger door. He took a deep breath. Already, his arms and legs felt twice as heavy. He fought to keep his eyes open. “I’m out of here.”
He fumbled for the door lock. Bad enough to have Daz drug him but now he’d been fooled by someone half his size. And Lansing had been right again. He couldn’t trust people from outside.
Alec set his jaw and pushed Beth against the driver’s side door with his TK. She let out a muffled cry of pain. His vision started to go blurry at the edges. Okay, let’s see how she liked a fire show, close-up.
Something shifted inside his head, like a finger scraping against an open wound. He put his hands over his ears to block it out, almost doubling over. What drug did this?
He felt the car lurch into gear as he lost consciousness.
When Alec wakes up, Beth knows she’ll have an angry, possibly uncontrollable firestarter on her hands. One she can’t keep locked up, or she’s no better than the people using him, and one who might turn her into those same people.
It’s a supremely foolish act on her part. But so was falling in love with Alec.
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Note: this is a universal entry form, meaning you can only fill it out once, not on every blog in the April even that you’re visiting. However, many of my fellow bloggers are giving away prizes on their individual posts as well. Check out not only that but some wise and witty words about science fiction romance.