Every time the sun goes down, Sugar Babe

I grabbed Alex, held her close. “I’m sorry,” I begged. “I’m sorry.”

Her fists were clenched against my chest. “That’s all right, let me go,” she said.

I held her tighter. “I hope your dreams come true … I really do …”

“They won’t! They never will!” she wailed. She twisted in my arms. “Because I’m plain!”

I held her steady and looked deep into her green-hazel eyes. “There is no such thing as a plain woman.” I caressed her soft black hair and she untensed fractionally. She dropped her eyes, doubtful, miserable. “Take your hair down,” I whispered to her. I tugged at the hair clip, and her black hair cascaded about her shoulders.

“Now,” I said, holding her against me. “Say, I’m pretty.”

I’m pretty,” she said dully.

“Mean it,” I said.

“I’m pretty. I’m pretty. I’m pretty!” she said. And she was.

So I kissed her, full on and proper, as she trembled in my arms. Her lips shivered against mine.

Look in my eyes,” I said, “and tell me what you see.”

And she saw her reflection in my shining eyes, and asked, “Is that really me?

I nodded. And the next time we kissed, she put her arms around me, and kissed me back passionately.

Ten minutes later, Alex said, “I am so glad that we got the kissing out of the way early. If you don’t do it early in the rehearsal process, then it can become the five-foot high neon-lit THE KISS. And the kiss can get inappropriately emotionally charged.”

To say the least. I half-remembered my personal obsession: life inside a white house that has only ever existed in my imagination.

“I agree one hundred percent,” I said.

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