What IS love?


Turner Falls-April 15, 2009 (youngest daughter, Stephanie’s, wedding day)

What IS love? Is it a look? A touch or a whispered word? A silent moment of oneness in a special place?

Maybe it’s a bouquet of roses with crystal earrings hidden inside. That’s what Mitch gave me for out first Anniversary. Maybe it’s a surprise night out or a new car with a giant red bow on top (this he did NOT give me 🙂 ). After all, isn’t bigger better? Or is it?

As a romance writer I know about flowery romance. I WRITE it. I spend time thinking up the most radical, to the most simple ways my characters can display their love to a reader. It might be a grand gesture of putting their faith in that one person they have taken a long journey in words with, or it might be something as simple and unassuming. The hero might offer his heroine one single flower with words of love that magically turn it into a full bouquet. But even then, as a writer, I’m driven to make him work for it. Because we all know—romance is NOT easy! 🙂

I can already hear the conversation in my head;

“I had you pegged for a hundred dollar bouquet with your history.” She eyed the solitary pink carnation suspiciously—she loved carnations but he couldn’t know that, had never paid that much attention to her likes and dislikes—as he twirled the stem carelessly between two fingers.

“You have me pegged right.”

As if to reinforce his words he gave the single flower a careless flip and caught it. A show off, he seemed to need attention to thrive. Well, she wasn’t giving it to him, wouldn’t feed that over-sized ego for one breath. Not again.

“You’re wasting your time. I’m not falling for your grandiose expressions of a fake love. I’ve done that and you let me fall flat on my ass three years ago when you left me standing at the alter with two hundred friends and family watching. I only fall once before I learn from mistakes.” Anna looked around them with a pointed stare, arms spread wide as she slowly spun around. She knew he had it all planned out. She’d been tipped off to his hidden plan to sweep her off her feet again. That’s how Ty rolled. Spring the big surprise on her so she’d be too overwhelmed to refuse until it was too late. Then he’d have the last laugh as he sprang into the mist and left her hanging. Not this time. “So, let’s get this over with. Where’s the bundle of impressive you have to woo me into false hope? Where are the roses and posies? Where are the people necessary to hold you up with adoration because you’re incapable of standing on your own in naked sincerity? Where’s the fancy church and all the schmooze and glitter Ty Baker relies on to survive?”

Sure she wanted to marry him, had since she was fifteen years old and over the moon in love with the destined movie star. Heck, even at sixteen he was a showboat actor. The difference between then and now was Anna. One of them had grown up in the last twelve years. She wouldn’t fall for his big ways anymore.

She expected his hung head and shy grin. He wouldn’t fool her this time because he was caught in the act. He knew it, too. The dark green tux that matched his eyes perfectly only reinforced what they both knew. Even when her fingers itched to run through his long California-blond hair, to scratch against the perpetual five o’clock shadow he sported these days, no matter how her lips ached to taste his once more—her heart broke with what could never be.

Then why was she standing in front of him in the ice green dress she’d found on her bed an hour ago? Why was her heart pounding just below where the fabric ended with a daring plunge? Obviously, Ty had picked the sexy dress. It wasn’t even white for God’s sake! That alone should tell her to run like hell to the nearest hills and hide. But some morbid curiosity for what pain he held in store trapped her there, doubting her own sanity. “So, where are they?”

“There isn’t any.”

The serious tone in his voice sent shivers of fear up and down her spine. He’d pulled out all the stops. Why did he so obviously despise her?

When Ty sank to one knee Anna choked on a snort of laughter. Okay, this was the Ty she remembered!

“I’m asking you for the last time, Anna Montgomery, to please marry me?”

“Why?” Not why was he asking her, but why he did this. What could she possibly have done to earn this from him?

“Because I love you. I don’t want to live without you. Your smile is the sun that rises on me, your tears the moon.”


He was good! She couldn’t respond. The moon was cresting in full bloom and she brushed the tears away angrily.

Ty rose and took her limp hand to lead her around the silent merry-go-round. Yes, only Ty would think to take her to the carnival where they had first met to propose. The comical situation staved off the tears. That and her anger at his unmitigated gall. How dare he tarnish those early buds of young love, her favorite memories of Ty Baker. But she wouldn’t fall for it this time.

Anna caught a glimpse of the two of them in a crazy mirror as they passed the dark fun house. They stood out, even in a wavy posture the mirror created they looked perfect together. Dark green against light, tall and broad beside small and trim. Perfect, but for the one altering effect. Their image was one dimensional. There didn’t seem to be any substance to the funky shapes they made. Like their relationship.

“Why did you come back, Ty? You can’t live here, can’t be restricted to a small town. It can’t feed that huge ego of yours because there’s not enough people in Noble, Oklahoma to create the amount of hot air needed to keep you blown up and full of it. So I want to know why you’re here?”

He stopped briefly and gazed at her and Anna could almost swear his eyes glimmered with moisture. Nah. Not Ty. He’s an actor, Anna. And didn’t all actors have built in water works ready to flow at their beck and call? When he began moving again without replying she thought she had her answer. He wasn’t back. This, whatever it was, was nothing more than a pitstop to somewhere better.

She held her breath as he broke the stem of the flower and tucked the head into her hair over her right ear. “I came for you.” He resumed the near silent walk and she allowed herself to be pulled along. Curiosity was not her friend.

Anna slowed and stopped as they rounded the Ferris wheel. Two strangers stood under a hot air balloon, one in the basket. “Oh, well now I see why there are no flowers or people.” How like him! “Of course, you have to make your grand entry. How lame of me to forget that detail.” She wanted to scream her frustration but instead found herself lifted and placed inside the big basket. Ty joined her, still without speaking, and nodded to the pilot after he climbed inside. She had to admit a hot air balloon ride was something she’d always wanted to do and felt the giddy excitement regardless of where it would end.

The balloon rose just above the treeline and power lines and rocked gently through the air. Anna braced her feet and held on to the rope as she looked down and around.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”  Ty leaned beside her and smiled. “The first time I rode in one I knew I’d have to take you up, you’d love it.”

“Are we ready?”

Ty turned when one of the other men spoke and caught her hand to balance her. “Yes. We’re ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“Ty Baker, do you take this woman…”


Three in the morning and Anna stared at the diamond and emerald ring on her left hand. He’d done it. Ty had married her. Even more stunning, shocking, was that there hadn’t been any people, flowers or anything grand about it. That balloon pilot was the only witness and he set them down at the airport where her bags had been delivered by her sister—whom she’d strangle later—and Ty whisked her off to Jamaica. Well, that was pretty grand, but not at all showboat-like. Anna couldn’t help wondering when it would fall apart.

“Quit worrying, baby. It’s just the two of us. Me. You. It’s not a joke and I’m not going to disappear when you blink, so can we go to sleep and begin our honeymoon in the morning?” Ty whispered beside her and dragged her into his arms to kiss her neck in the tropical breeze, under a blanket of stars.

“If this is real…why don’t you want to begin the honeymoon tonight? Right now?” She suspected he didn’t because it would all end when the sun came up, but irrationally felt the need to challenge him to the edge of her own sanity.

“I thought you’d want to rest first.”

“I’m sure you did.”

“If a honeymoon is what you want, Mrs. Baker, that’s what I’ll produce.”

Ty lifted her into his strong arms and Anna fell speechless when he carried her to the huge bed and removed the limp pink carnation from her hair. The salty sea breeze floated through the gauzy curtains as her husband stretched out next to her and turned off the lamp…

Ah- love.

For me it’s not about big gestures. It’s about what’s inside. My darling hubby bought me an early Valentine’s gift last week. I am sporting the cutest new work outfit. For the writers out there, you already know I’m talking about PJs. Is there anything more romantic? For the readers out there, writers often ‘work’ in PJs so you can appreciate how sweet his gift is. They’re Minnie Mouse!

What about you? Do you go for the amazing, grand gestures or is sweet and simple more your style when it comes to Valentine’s Day and your personal hero? Let’s dish! What did you get, or do you hope to get today?


About Calisa Rhose

I'm a mother of three daughters and wife to a wonderful man of 35+ years. I'm also an avid seamstress, polymer clay artisan and die-hard crafter, always coming up with things to make with, and for, my six granddaughters and two grandsons. Check out my craft site https://lisasfancifulallure.wordpress.com/ when you have a moment. I'm also a small online business owner of Okie fLips on Etsy and Poshmark (eBay/Merkari coming soon), https://www.etsy.com/people/cmselfridge and https://poshmark.com/closet/okieflips I'm a published author of sensual romance. I write about stubborn men and women who don't take no for an answer, and there's always that golden HEA. Cowboys and first responders are my favorite contemporary heroes to write about. My light paranormal heroes are strong men ready to protect their women--not that they need protecting, since they are capable of caring for themselves.

Posted on 02/14/2012, in HEA in real life vs fiction, holiday, inspirations and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the “love short.” I’ve had both, from a ruby ring hidden in a rose, to just a video and chinese take-out. The important thing is that we share it together, alone. We celebrate our wedding anniversary with more flare- our own private Valentines Day.


    • It sounds like you both have the romantic gene. Fitting for you! 🙂 How sweet. One year Mitch just gave me a home made card with a poem he wrote himself. I love those and have several he’s made over the years for various occasions. Those are the best!


  2. JIm usually ignores Valentine’s Day — he’s not romantic, but shows he cares all year round. This year he surprised me and invited me to dinner at our favorite restaurant. The day came and we were both too sick with colds to go. It’s the thught that counts,right?


  3. I like the small things – they add up to be much more than the big things in the long run.


    • I agree, Ally. I used to have a t-shirt that said SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL. Of course that shirt was made for something else I didn’t have a lot of, but the sentiment suits this too. 🙂


  4. Your dh and mine sound a lot alike, Ceri. Last year I got my Kindle and this year a new laptop. I love practical.

    If you read this, thanks Babe!


  5. I love the smaller, more heartfelt gestures. My husband is Mr. Practical and I have to remember that. I might not get flowers or a card or jewelry, but I’m more likely to get something like a Nook (last year) or an upgrade for my computer (fingers crossed for this year). I guess I have to accept I’m not married to Mr. Romance


  6. That is SO-O-O sweet! I made hubbs dinner and tinted the rice pink. He isn’t home yet. 😛


  7. I love the small things…not that I’d refuse something awesome like a trip or anything…but there is a difference. The little, thoughtful gift makes me warm inside and smiling on the outside….a huge surprise gift is just exciting.

    I haven’t seen my hubs in about 3 days. He’s in bed by the time I get home from work (I’m working all week, which I normally don’t do) and then when I get up for work in the morning he’s already gone. So, tonight I got home, not expecting anything, but he’d bought me a heart cookie and left it on one of my best crystal plates..front and center on the counter. Nothing major, but a nice touch 🙂

    Enjoyed your post today Calisa 🙂


  8. I’m happy with whatever. Sometimes my man goes big and other times not, which keeps it interesting. The most important thing is how special he treats me all year long.

    Happy Valentines Day!


  9. We’ve discussed what a keeper your man is before, Lo. What’s not to keep about a an Aussie?

    Soft… I love soft and cozy ‘work attire.’ Right now I have my top on with sweats after taking the kid to the bus stop. Typically my hubbs is lucky if I get out of pjs at all during the day. Thanks and Happy Valentines Day! 🙂


  10. I think I’m both types of girl:) I love the over-the-top gifts, and I love the small ones. Mainly, I love a guy who is there all through the year, and still remembers on the special day:)…
    I’m not sure that I’ll receive anything today…my hub’s is in the Gulf of Mexico…but he did pass by my FB page and leave me a message:) I love small gestures like that as much as I do roses:)
    Now, about those work clothes, Calisa…I bought myself two new pair last week also:) I finally decided that pj’s had become my work attire, so why not buy some that felt like the softest things in the world. I’m wearing them now;):) How about you?!!



  11. Love the over the top gestures in movies and books – especially writing them!! But in real life, I’m a simple girl. Not that I’d turn down a flashy new convertible or a trip to Rome….


    • I hear ya Kristi. One of my favorite movie endings is Pretty Woman when Richard Gere disallows his crippling fear of heights to climb the fire escape to ‘rescue’ his damsel and take her to his castle. He didn’t even drop the bouquet. 🙂 Thanks for coming by!


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