Last year I had the extreme pleasure of being a participant in the Summer Scorcher Blog Tour, where one of the fantastic authors blogged about the 12 Stages of Intimacy. For me, the post was more than just informative, it was thought provoking. You see, I know these stages, at least I once did. I learned about them in one of the multitude workshops I’ve attended over the span of many years. Then, as happens far too often, I promptly forgot about them. Or did I?
Let’s take a moment to look at these 12 stages: (as defined by Desmond Morris, a behavioral scientist).
- Eye to Body
- Eye to Eye
- Voice to Voice
- Hand to Hand
- Arm to Shoulder
- Arm to Waist
- Mouth to Mouth
- Hand to Head
- Hand to Body
- Mouth to Breast
- Hand to Genitals
- Sexual Intercourse
The first three are fairly straightforward. You see someone who interests you, make eye contact and strike up a conversation. Basic stuff, right? And this contact doesn’t always lead to something. But number four is when things begin to get interesting. In fact, Hand to Hand is where things get intimate. This is the first step in physical contact. Allowing someone to touch you also means placing yourself in a very vulnerable position.
You may be surprised to see that number eight, Hand to Head, is considered more intimate than number seven, Mouth to Mouth. But let me ask you—how many people do you let touch your face?
Because nine thru twelve are fairly obvious, I’m going to assume we all know what those stages are and why they’re last on the list. For today, I’d like to focus on number eight. Why? Because Noah Clark—the hero of my new contemporary romance, After Midnight—excels at number eight. Call it a lack of boundaries, or having been raised in a family where touch was as commonplace as a bed to sleep in or a roof over his head. Whatever this contact stems from, Noah’s inadvertent crossing of the boundaries of intimacy—specifically, his habit of jumping from stage three to stage eight—is enough to keep Isabeau, a woman not used to even the most casual of touches, on edge.
A breeze stirred, picking up the ends of her hair and blowing them across her mouth. Her knees went weak as he reached out and brushed his fingers over her cheek, scooping up the strands.
Isabeau struggled for balance, but knew she wouldn’t find it. Not with him standing this close to her. Her gaze took in his black T-shirt, stretched appealingly across his broad chest, the play of muscle in his arm as he toyed with the ends of her hair. He didn’t appear to have shaved that morning. Dark stubble covered his jaw, lending him a look more dangerous than normal. It looked good on him, damn good. Her throat tightened and her mouth went dry.
She knew she should step back, away from his heat, away from his touch. Instead, she stood there, staring into his green eyes as she fought the urge to reach for him. Her palms began to itch with the need to test the feel of his stubble, the warmth of his flesh. Deep inside of her, desire pooled.
He shifted, her hair sliding through his fingers as he dropped his hand to his side. She closed her eyes and breathed a sigh.