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On Friday, my husband and I will be celebrating our thirty-third anniversary. I always kid him that he owes me TWO presents since we renewed our vows on our fifteenth wedding anniversary 😉 The last thirty three years haven’t been easy—we’ve had our share of spats, generally because of outside pressures that make us snap at each other because we can’t say what we’re thinking to the person who really deserves it. But through it all, I’ve always known Gizmo Guy would be there, a sounding board, someone I could turn to in those dark wee hours and unload all my worries.
I noticed that about him from our very first date—that he’d listen to what I say and not fob it off as unimportant or worse, me being overly-emotional or ridiculous. I’d say something, he’d listen and comment in his usual soft thoughtful way. No judgment, just quiet reason. Which he would then often follow it up with a very sly joke. He still does, and I hope that he knows that I’ll always listen to him too. (Actually, he does know that—but it took him about four months to figure that out because I can be rather…passionate…about topics but I’ll always respect someone else’s opinion.) Even before we were lovers, we were friends. He’s still my best friend even after all these years.
It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realized all of my stories are about friends-to-lovers. They weren’t necessarily best friends at the start of the story, but every single one of my couples have known each other for a while before they start dating. There’s already a certain amount of trust established, and often a fair bit of carefully hidden lust.
It’s true with my upcoming release, Deliberate Deceptions too, but this time I switched things up. Chad and Lauren had not only been best friends, they’d been married for several years. Except they lost the trust that is so essential to a good relationship which doomed their marriage—and their friendship.
When I wrote Personal Protection back in 2008, I already had it in the back of my head that Chad was divorced and that he regretted it, that he’d never stopped loving his wife (I’ve cleaned it up a bit and removed some of the F-bombs they dropped during this conversation):
When Sam flipped him off, Chad sighed. “You’re exhausted because you’ve been staying here late every night for the past week. Go home, Sam. Go talk to Rosie. Straighten this mess out before you lose her completely. Before she comes and asks me for a transfer because damn it, Sam, that’s going to happen too fricking soon.”
“This from the man who let his wife slip through his fingers because he was too frickin’ busy feeling sorry for himself to pay any attention to her.”
Chad stiffened. When he spoke his voice was quiet, but he couldn’t disguise the bitterness filling it. “Who better to give advice? Yes, I messed up a good thing with Lauren. I was too blinded by everything that happened to see that I was driving her away. That’s why I hate to see you make the same stupid mistake.”
But when I wrote it I hadn’t a clue why he’d been feeling sorry for himself that he’d let his marriage shatter, I just knew he was still hurting and blaming himself for the break-up. Which meant that I also knew that part of his story was going to be about him healing that self-loathing. There’s a lot of Gizmo Guy in Chad—he’s one of those quietly determined guys who knows what he wants and goes after it without a lot of fanfare. (Although I wish Gizmo Guy were as organized as Chad is, I’m glad he’s not when you discover the reason for Chad’s slight OCD tendencies.)
Writing Chad’s story was a challenge because how do you go about restoring a trust that’s been broken so badly your marriage hasn’t just failed but failed spectacularly, and in Chad and Lauren’s case, failed very publicly? If figuring out what made Chad feel sorry for himself was one key, then the mysterious Lauren was the other.
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