The Dark Fairy contest continues. See Monday’s blog for details—then post a comment today for another chance to win!
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.
I often watch people in the malls (it’s all in the name of research—honest!) and wonder what attracts that particular man to that woman, or that girl to that other guy. It’s no different when I write my characters. So I asked myself what type of woman Chad would be attracted to and why would she walk away from him or him from her? Given that they were both FBI agents and dealt with secrets as part of their jobs, there would be things they can’t tell each other for national security reasons but I wanted something more than just the obvious “I’m working on the west coast, you’re on the east, and we’re never together” type of conflict. And that’s where things started to bubble for their story. What if the line blurs between your professional life and your marriage when you start keeping secrets? And what event would be the tipping point?
For them? The tipping point was the loss of their daughter. Locked in their own pain, they forgot to talk to each other. They drifted apart because of lies others told them, and lies they told themselves.
GG and I are lucky—we’ve not experienced the loss of a child, but we have had some other fairly major problems we’ve had to deal with, including one that was darned close to breaking us apart. If we hadn’t both felt like we could talk to the other openly and honestly about it, that we could deal with the situation as a united front, it is possible that I might have been counting the years since our divorce instead of our impending anniversary.
So how could I get my characters who had been geographically apart for years together again to talk everything out? It wasn’t easy. Lauren discovered one of the lies someone else has told her—and Chad—and realizes she still loves Chad enough that she wants to set the record straight. As the truth slowly comes out, one question Chad and Lauren must ask themselves is if good intentions are a good enough excuse for deliberate deceptions?
“It doesn’t matter anymore. Our marriage is over. You got what you wanted. You don’t get what you want this time.” He released her and opened the door between their rooms. He stopped on the threshold and spoke over his shoulder. “I’ll make sure you’re protected from this Harris a**hole. But once he’s neutralized? I don’t want to see you again.”
Once the door closed behind him, Lauren walked up to it, pressed her forehead against the cool panel and whispered, “I’m not going let you walk away until you’ve listened to me. Until you believe I left you because I loved you. Not because I didn’t.”
More than once I found myself asking both myself and Gizmo Guy what we’d do in that situation. Is there ever time when a lie even one of omission is justified?
And thanks to Delilah for inviting me to be her guest today.
You can visit Leah at her website, follow her on Twitter or on Facebook. If you want to read more about Deliberate Deceptions, you can read an excerpt at Leah’s website. Deliberate Deceptions is available for pre-order from Samhain Publishing, Amazon or Barnes and Noble.