Forced Intimacy


hristie Brinkley has been all over the news lately because although she is 60 years old, she looks 30 in photographs. And while she's best known for being highly ornamental (which is my least favorite thing for a woman to be known for), she's also been in the news on other occasions, such as when she and her then boyfriend, Rick Taubman, were in a helicopter crash in the Colorado mountains. After the crash, Brinkley married Taubman and gave birth to their son, only to get divorced eight months after the wedding. Why am I discussing a former supermodel's love life?
It's because I've been thinking about high adrenaline situations that lead to a false sense of intimacy, which in turn leads some to mistake what should be only a moment for forever. That's what happened to poor Ms. Brinkley. It's also happened to some of my favorite fictional friends. The whole near-death-experience-leading-to-happily-ever-after is a common trope in paranormal and urban fantasy, and one I'd like to explore. So come on in and sit for a spell while I contemplate crisis-based communion.

I'm just finishing John Hartness’ Quincy Harker novella series (I know… they’re short… but life has a habit of getting in the way of pleasure – aka reading and writing). In the second book, our favorite demon hunter saves the life of his favorite nemesis and sometime partner, Detective Rebecca Flynn, using magic. By doing so, Quincy opens an irrevocable mind link with the detective. So not only do they share an extreme situation that results in Quincy healing Rebecca’s mortal wounds, but now they're permanently in each other's heads. It doesn't get much more intimate than that. 

As an avid fan of the proverbial HEA, I've been expecting them to ride off into the sunset together ever since, even if they remain snarky as they lope along to their HEA. But so far, my expectations have been dashed. Grrr…I have about 45 minutes left to read in the final installment, and I'll update you if things change, but it seems that Quincy and Rebecca’s relationship is unusually restrained given the mortal wound scenario they conquered – together. Even Q acknowledges that the particular chain of events could lead one or both of them to misconstrue the intense emotions around the unfortunate occurrences as true love. Yet, they are rational enough enough to understand the resulting mind link has led only to feelings of warmth and affection, where perhaps they hadn't existed before. But not to passion. There’s not a sex scene in sight, more’s the pity.

Contrast that with the experience of my very favorite paranormal couple, Dragos and Pia Cuelebre. In their original story, Dragon Bound, author Thea Harrison throws our protagonists into all sorts of harrowing situations, including a car crash, kidnapping, imprisonment and subsequent escape. These plot twists serve to cement their adrenaline-fueled feelings for each other fast, leading to satisfactorily steamy and intensely emotional sex scenes and an eventual HEA (after more harrowing, near death experiences, of course). 

And because this is fantasy and not truth, Pia and Dragos don't get divorced after a few months. Instead, they commit to an eternity together (which for practically immortal beings is a BIG freaking deal). But because this blog is called Truth in Fantasy, let's see where we might find some reality amongst the rainbows and unicorns. 

It's true that stressful or critical conditions can create a crucible in which artificially intense emotions may brew. It's why so many workplace romances develop. When people work together meeting deadlines for demanding bosses, sparks ignite and things can smolder pretty quickly. Sadly, such short-term intensity can mask underlying fissures in compatibility, values, and the ability to communicate in ways both can understand. Then, sex distorts everything further, rendering vision and common sense collateral damage. We've all seen it happen to our colleagues. Hell, we may have seen it happen to ourselves.  It's rarely pretty. 

Except when it works.

Early in my relationship with my now husband, we had a crisis. Long story short, my ex-fiancé, the Green Beret, figured out that I was seeing someone else and he was angry. He had no standing, mind you, as we were definitively broken up, but that wasn't his perspective. To add insult to injury, my new boyfriend was driving my old boyfriend's car, which I still had. Needless to say, we didn't want the Special Forces officer to find out his replacement was driving his car. It’s bad enough to be supplanted – but the car was the dangerous cherry on top. It was not a good scene. I was terrified of my ex's anger. My then-new boyfriend also had a healthy respect for the damage his predecessor could do. We were co-conspirators in a made-for-TV movie, trying to figure out how to hide my new boyfriend's identity from the old boyfriend (we considered removing the name plate from the newbie’s office door as a good first step), and get out of Dodge ahead of the shooter. The whole ordeal culminated in my new boyfriend and me going away for our first weekend together -- taking the relationship to the next level.

Almost twenty-three years later, we're still playing kissy face – this time in our own car though – so it all worked out. Perhaps not like in Dragon Bound, but better than it did for Christie Brinkley. Sometimes truth and fantasy are more of a journey than a destination, which sometimes works out just fine.