That’s 15K more words until Kara and Joey’s story is done and I can do the necessary stuff to get it ready to go to my editor. I’ve been a writing machine the past week, getting up every morning to get at least a thousand words in with a great group of sprinters led by Bryn Donovan, writer, editor, and all around, great person. I’m at the dark moment–which in my books is rarely dark-dark, mostly just a little on the gray side, and frequently, it’s not a conflict between the two MCs, as much as it is an issue for one of them that he/she must solve in order for them to move on together.
Honestly, I’m so not a drama person, so it’s hard for me to write it in my books. We know that the they will end up together, the fun is in the journey, right? And I truly prefer writing scenes that are fun and maybe a little sensual. I hate conflict to play out for a long time.
In Christmas in River’s Edge, Jenny has a heated exchange with her ex-husband and then turns on Gabe, who’s only there to help. Instead of letting them both brood for a days or even hours, I made them deal with things right away, so the story could move forward because that’s what grownups do. Or at least what we try to do. We may argue or fuss and fight, but then we fix it. I think aging has given me less tolerance for long dramatic silences between two people who love each other. Just talk!
Here’s a snippet from Christmas in River’s Edge with Jenny and Gabe doing the grownup thing and communicating:
“I don’t want to be the reason you and he are always butting heads.”
Suddenly, she stepped back, eyes narrowing. “Look, if this is going to be too hard for you, we can just forget it. Go back to . . . to what we were before . . . old classmates? Friends? Whatever.” She stalked to the sink, running water and talking so low and fast, he almost couldn’t hear her. “I’m not asking anything from you. You have a perfectly fine life out there in Virginia. You don’t really need the burden of a single mom and a kid and all the baggage that comes along with that.” She twisted the water out of the dishrag she was rinsing with more force than necessary.
He blinked, completely taken aback by the fierceness in her tone. What the hell? “Jenny—”
She tossed the dishrag in the sink and spun around, then crossed her arms over her chest, her expression a weird combination of defiant and . . . sad? “I can’t do this again. I won’t do this again. Do you understand me?”
Confused and, frankly, scared, he released a little frustrated breath. “No, I don’t. Do what again? What is it you think I want?”
“You tell me, Gabe, because I don’t know where we’re headed and I just can’t . . . lose myself in another man again. I need me and, as crazy as I am about you, right now, I want me more than anything . . . even more than you.”
Gabe’s stomach tightened, and his hands curled into fists at his sides. What exactly was she saying? Was she sending him away? Confusion and questions tumbled through his mind like rocks in a rushing river. “I-I . . .” What were the right words to say to bring her back into his arms?
“Look, never mind. Just . . . just go, okay?” She turned her back on him, and his heart sank to his socks.
When she didn’t say anything more or face him again, he didn’t know what else to do except retreat. So that’s what he did. He stepped over the doggie gate and walked away, trembling. He stroked his fingers through Luke’s silky tousled hair as he passed the sofa, but the boy had set down the game controller in favor of his Gameboy and was completely absorbed. Gabe grabbed his coat and scarf from the rack in the foyer and quietly closed the door behind him, even though what he really wanted to do was slam it.
Thanks to Tuff, there’d been enough door slamming for one night, though. Wrapping his wool scarf around his neck, he got as far as the gate before he stopped with his hand on the latch, his mind whirling. He stared at the frost on the windshield of the old Rover—it was going to be another cold night. Even colder if he couldn’t figure out what to do. He shook his head and chewed his lower lip. No. No way. He wasn’t leaving like this, not when he had no idea what he’d done to piss her off. Like a lightning bolt, it hit him that it wasn’t him she was angry with—it was Tuff, and he was getting the blowback from her encounter in the kitchen with her ex. He turned around and hurried back up the sidewalk and then climbed the steps, his tread heavy on the wooden porch. Just as he raised his hand to knock, the door opened and there she was—his Jenny, her expression open and vulnerable, her eyes soft and shimmering with tears.
“I’m sorry.” Her voice was ragged. “I-I took my anger at him out on you . . .” She sighed.
He reached for her, tugging her out onto the porch and into his arms, into his jacket, surrounding her with his heat. “It’s okay. It’s okay,” he murmured against her hair.
She slid her arms around his waist and clung. “No, it’s not okay. You aren’t him and you could never be him, thank God.” She tipped her head back. “I meant what I said, though. I can’t lose me again. I won’t lose me. Not even for whatever we may turn out to be.”
He touched his forehead to hers. “I hope to hell not, Jenny Weaver. You are a remarkable woman. I would never ask you to change for me or expect that. It’s you and me in this”—he struggled for a word to describe what was growing between the two of them, but gave up for fear of frightening her with the intensity of his emotions—“we’re us, and whatever happens in the future, I’ll always respect you, what you need, what you want, and I’ll expect you to do the same for me, okay?”
“Okay.” With a smile that told him she believed him, but would probably remain wary, she touched his cheek.
So, a rambly post, but you did get a snippet today, which was a surprise to me. Hope you enjoyed!
Gratitude for this week: Got to watch Son onstage at a fun venue; in addition, got to spend time with the lake girls; got some good writing in; couple of great walks through the leaves at the lake–the colors are just as lovely on the ground; had a good and helpful writing chat with my friend Min; and sprints are going well.
Stay well, stay safe out there (we got our Covid boosters, did you?), be kind, and most of all, mes amis, stay grateful!