My first reaction was Harmony in book 2, because she's a writer like me, and she writes urban fantasy. But when I really thought about it, I'm more like Tessa in COOKING UP TROUBLE. Tessa loves family and friends, but she's pretty independent. And the real clincher is that Tessa shows her love through cooking. When she shares a meal with someone, she's letting them know she cares. She's nurturing them. Add on, before I met my John, I never really thought I'd fall in love or get married. I meant to stay single, like my sisters. Tessa thinks she'll always be single, too.
She swore off men when her college fiancee cheated on her. She was too afraid to commit her heart again, and her ex felt responsible for that. He still cared about her, so came to talk to her and get her back on track. Here's the scene:
Gary looked her way and started toward her. She put up a hand to stop him. "No, don't come any closer. Just get back in your car and leave."
Sunlight glinted off his light-blond hair. His sky-blue eyes narrowed on her. He could be an Adonis, but Greek gods were shifty, too, weren't they? "We need to talk."
"No, we don't. We have nothing to say to each other. Go away."
He planted his feet and didn't move. He wore the same jean jacket he'd worn in college. No, couldn't be, but it looked the same. His worn jeans hugged his long legs. Too good looking. She should have known. Good looking men couldn't be trusted.
He tucked his sunglasses in his jacket pocket. "I know I hurt you. I didn't mean to. It's time we moved on."
"We have moved on. You're married. You're happy. Leave me alone."
"Don't call me that."
"What should I call you?"
"From long distance. Leave a message on my machine."
He jutted his jaw forward. He was as tall as Ian, but not as muscular. He took a step closer. "I'm not leaving until we talk."
"Then your wife's never going to see you again. How sad." Tessa pushed to her feet. She wiped her hands on her jeans and started toward the kitchen door. "Don't follow me. You're not invited in."
He didn't listen. He made up the distance between them more quickly than she thought he could. She opened the door, slid inside, and started to close it. He put his foot between the door and the doorframe.
"I have a butcher knife. If you want your toes, get them off my property."
He pushed, and she scooted across the oak floorboards. Then he stepped inside and closed the door behind him. He leaned against it. "I still care about you. That's why I came. "
"It took you a while. I'm over it. I'm fine. If you feel better now, you can leave."
He smiled. "Sadie's pregnant."
She turned her back on him and hung her ratty jacket on the peg by the door. She stepped out of her shoes and padded into the kitchen.
"My parents said your life just stopped, that you've never dated anyone else, and that you don't intend to. That's just wrong."
"You have no right to lecture me about what's wrong or right."
He flinched. "I'm happy. I want you to be happy."
"I am. I like my life."
He raised a blond eyebrow. He'd always called her out when she spouted bullshit.
"I've never liked anyone more in my life than I like you."
Oh, brother. She should have worn boots. She was going to be wading through a lot of crap soon. "I'm thrilled," she said. "You've made me feel all warm and fuzzy. You've done your duty. See?" Her lips curled in a fake smile. "There. Feel better? This isn't about me. It's about you. You were a turd and it's not your usual style. But you were never a knight in shining armor, either, and I don't need rescued. So leave."
He went to the coffee pot, poured himself a cup, and went to reheat it in the microwave. They'd always been comfortable with each other. But things had changed. She scowled.
He took his mug to the kitchen table and pulled out a chair. He stretched his long legs and cocked his head toward her. "I came to talk."
She sighed. Gary came across as easy-mannered, and for the most part, he was. But when he made up his mind about something, nothing could shake him. She sat across the table from him and glared.
"I didn't want to fall in love with Sadie," he said. "I thought I was completely happy with you."
She grimaced. "This is supposed to make me feel better?"
"I want to explain."
She felt like sticking her fingers in her ears, like small children do, but he'd just outwait her. So she crossed her arms. The sooner he spilled his guts, the sooner she could get on with her life.
"I cared about you. Still do." He learned forward to make his point. "I hate it that I blew it, that I hurt you. And I've gone over and over what I did, what happened. The only thing I can say is that I was crazy about you as a friend, but with Sadie, there was chemistry. The like was there, but so was the desire."
Her hand went to her throat. It was true. She wasn't the type who could stir passion in a man. They might like her, admire her, care about her, but they wouldn't love her. A hurt clogged her throat. She couldn't talk. She blinked and looked away. What could she say? "Why didn't you love me?" She'd thought he had.
He frowned. He read her too well. "I loved every minute I spent with you. You know that, right?"
Voice small, she said, "But I wasn't enough. I'm never enough."
Eyes wide, he stared. "My God, is that what you think? Who knows how that works? I sure as hell don't, but you've got it wrong. Some man's going to look at you and want you more than he's ever wanted anything in his life."
She released a sigh of disgust. "Isn't that what every boyfriend says who jilts his girlfriend?"
"But it's true." Gary ran both hands through his wavy, blond hair, mussing it—which only made him look better. "You only need to let it happen, Tessa, and it will. You're too wonderful to live alone."
She pushed away from the table and walked to the door. She opened it and motioned for him to leave. "You've had your say. I listened to you. Have a nice life and congratulations on the baby."
He slowly rose, carried his cup to the sink, and rinsed it. He stopped and bent close to her on his way out. "Let love in, Tessie. It will find you."