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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: The First Date
By Catrina Bradley


Ellie peered into the mirror and made a face. “I wish Dad would let me at least wear rouge. I’m sixteen, for crying out loud.” She smoothed her wavy auburn locks again, pinched her cheeks to bring up some color, and decided it was the best she could do. When the clock in the hall began chiming, she rose from her vanity. A deep breath settled her nerves. This was her first real date with Harvey. Actually, it was her first real date. She checked one last time in the hall mirror and brushed non-existent lint from her emerald dress. It was her favorite; the color made her green eyes brighter. When the clock completed six bells, she stood at the top of the stairs, a picture of grace and poise.

Harvey rose from his perch on the sofa’s edge. From his look of relief, she guessed her dad had been giving him the third degree. Ellie smiled at him, and began to descend the staircase. Her steps faltered when she saw another boy stand up beside Harvey.

Ellie glanced at her dad as she crossed the living room and saw his usual scowl.

“Hi, Ellie, you look beautiful.” Harvey shook the hand Ellie offered. “This is my brother, Neil.”

“Pleased to meet you, Neil.” When her dainty hand met Neil’s warm, strong grasp, she almost fell into his deep, brown eyes. It was a struggle to look away, but when she did, she turned to Harvey for an explanation as to Neil’s presence on their date.

A blush tinged Harvey’s cheeks as he muttered, “My father said he’d feel better if we had a chaperone.”

“And I couldn’t agree more,” Ellie’s dad interjected. “I think it’s a grand idea.”

Ellie wanted to sink into the wood floor. When her mother chimed in her concurrence, Ellie prayed for the boards to open up and swallow her.

Her dad boomed, “Son, remember my daughter has a strict curfew. 11:00. Sharp.”

“Yes, Mr. Beasley.” Harvey shifted from one foot to the other as Ellie looked at him expectantly, her eyes moving back and forth between his face and the corsage he held. “Oh! I got you this.” Her parents’ scrutiny made him fumble with the pin as he gingerly fastened the flowers to Ellie’s dress. Ellie heard Neil snicker. She shot him a look, but couldn’t suppress a grin.

“Well, Mom and Dad, I guess we’re off. We don’t want to be late.” Harvey had made reservations at Ricci’s, and then they were going to a dance at the Elk’s Lodge. Ellie had been dying to go to a dance, and had been secretly practicing in her room.


“Sorry about my dad. He can be quite the monster.”

“No worries, Ellie. I’ve survived worse. You haven’t met our dad yet.”

“Yah,” Neil added, “he’s like a cross between an ogre and bear. Mean, scary-looking, and he roars.”

Ellie giggled and took another bite of lamb.

“Are you enjoying your meal?” Harvey asked.


Neil snorted. “I take it that means no?”

“No, it’s just that I’ve never had it. I wanted to try something new.” As she looked from Harvey to Neil, she could help comparing them. They had the same almost-black hair, and the same brown eyes, but there was something about Neil. She didn’t know why just meeting his eyes made her quiver.


“Did you save me a dance?” Neil stood before her, hands in the pockets of his suit pants and a cocky grin on his face.

Ellie shot to her feet, momentarily forgetting decorum, then sheepishly turned to Harvey. “Do you mind?”

“No, it’s fine.” His downcast tone belied his words. “Neil, behave with my girl.”

Ellie was torn, but the thought of being in Neil’s arms made the decision for her.

Neil’s hand felt like fire on her arm as he led her to the dance floor. When he rested a hand on her hip and clutched her right hand, she thought she would swoon. The noise and the other dancers melted away as they waltzed around the dance floor. He drew her closer, and she closed her eyes in ecstasy.


“I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride.” Neil wrapped his arms around his new wife and kissed her soundly. When Ellie finally opened her eyes, she looked over Neil’s shoulder at his best man. Harvey winked, and mouthed, “Congratulations.”

Harvey had conceded the night of the dance that their first date was going to be their last.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Cheri Hardaway 04/26/07
How sweet! Though I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for Harvey. I loved the foreshadowing you did with Ellie's response to Neil. It let me know what was most likely coming, but I still felt the emotional impact when I realized she had indeed married Harvey's brother. Nice job! Blessings, Cheri
Julie Arduini04/27/07
You definitely captured chemistry between Ellie and Neil. I loved the descriptions you gave with Ellie getting ready, oh how I relate to those days!
Sheri Gordon04/28/07
Very nicely written story -- perfect romance genre.

Small typo -- should have been "couldn't" rather than "could" in the paragraph about comparing the brothers.

I do feel sorry for Harvey, though -- what an understanding brother.

Great job.
Patty Wysong04/29/07
Good job! You captured Ellie's feelings so well. I really like this! :-)
Rita Garcia04/29/07
Your characterization of these "young adults" is so authentic. A delightful story of young love that left me with a smile!
Mo 04/29/07
Funny last line & nice story!
Betty Castleberry04/30/07
Very entertaining and well written. I was a little bit confused as to the time period, though. At first, I thought it was long ago, but then decided it probably wasn't. Maybe just a little clarification with that?
Love the twist at the end. I also like the fact that you've pointed out what it means to truly love your brother.
Cassie Memmer05/02/07
Nice story! All the better because it's based on a true event. Poor Harvey! But love wins out. I'm sure he found his true love also. Delightful! I enjoyed it.
Joanne Sher 05/02/07
I also felt sorry for poor Harvey - and I love that this was a true story! Great detail and description.
Jacquelyn Horne05/02/07
When love bites..... I'm glad Harvey was not hurt here. Love will out. Of course, if you had more space, a little conflict between Harvey and Neil might have been fun.
Loren T. Lowery05/02/07
Brought back some fond memories of my daughter's first date - good job showing the emotions and the quick, unecpected turns that love can bring.
Sara Harricharan 05/02/07
Neil was the perfect fit! I like how you captured the few awkward moments between the parent's scrutiny and the older brother 'chaperone'. Very well done! ^_^
Myrna Noyes05/02/07
I really enjoyed reading this! I did figure at the beginning that she was going to fall for Neil! It is so intriguing to me how one man can melt your heart while other equally nice, attractive men just don't have the right "spark"! Good job! :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/02/07
Nothing better than a "real" romance. You did a great job with this.
william price05/02/07
You keep getting better each time I check in on you. Super job, kiddo. You had me feeling sorry for the boy and I used to do the same thing. God bless.
Sara Harricharan 05/03/07
***Congratulations on your Highly Commended!***
Leigh MacKelvey05/03/07
Woo, Woo, Cat! great job and great to see in the placings once again!
Cheri Hardaway 05/03/07
Congratulations on being highly commended! Great job! Cheri
Lizzy Ainsworth11/10/09
I like how scrutinising the father was watching his daughter with Harvey. Very true, my Dad watches me like a hawk with my boyfriend.
Harvey's congratulations at the end when Neil kissed her was the best ending and showed there were no left over feelings in him for her.
The writing style flowed great even though there were a few scene changes something I find hard in my own writing.