The Kick-ass Badass Love of Her Life

When I first thought about writing about something one of my characters held near and dear to their heart, I panicked. Oh my gosh! My characters don't ever do that!

And then I remembered Holly in Holly's Big, Bad Santa, one of my Christmas stories last year. Jared had been her high school sweetheart, the boy she'd hoped to marry after graduation. But he'd left town fifteen years ago, two days before Christmas, and hurt his parents and crushed her dreams. He'd left a note for her in a small box with a sprig of holly. "I have to go. I love you, but I've got to go." She still had that crumpled, tear-stained note after all these years. Now he'd returned. Now he wanted her back, but forgiving the town's bad boy wasn't all that easy. Even if the "bad boy" had returned as the sexiest, hottest badass with a wounded heart that was hard to resist.

Reading further into the story, I realized what a keeper of mementos Holly was, a heroine so much like myself. While searching for socks in a dresser drawer, she found the necklace Jared had given her their senior year in high school. A delicate gold chain with a small green, holly-shaped charm. He'd been so excited when he'd found the necklace in a catalogue and ordered it especially for her. She remembered how she'd sobbed in happiness as he'd ever so carefully put it around her neck. In truth, she hadn't gotten rid of anything he'd ever given her. It was all packed away in boxes in the attic, except the necklace. She'd always needed it closer to her than the attic.

Next I remembered another touching (at least to me) scene in Bah Humbug, Cowboy, a Christmas story published a couple of years ago. Lacey and Devlin had been married for a number of years. Like so many couples, they were both busy and went in different directions much of the time. She often traveled to give private barrel racing lessons and had been gone longer than expected this last trip. Devlin had missed her and looked forward to her return, but her best friend had shown up to wait with him for Lacey's return. Somehow they'd ended up hugging one another in comfort, and then she was kissing him right when Lacey walked into the kitchen and caught them. He'd been maneuvered into a compromising position by the "friend" who'd gotten too interested in him. His guilt was crushing, especially when Lacey looked so angry and so hurt. His precious wife wasn't ready to listen to his flimsy excuses and drove away. He knew they needed some time and space to get past this blow to their marriage. But darkness surrounded him, tore through him as the light that was his life drove away from him. Somehow he'd have to mend fences and get her back.

Christmas had always been a special time for them, with Lacey going all out in decorating. She'd decided to go back to him on Christmas day, determined to make things right. Going home was hard now and she wasn't positive she could get him to forgive her for being so stubborn about what had happened that awful day. Her friend had confessed she wanted Devlin and trapped him when she'd seen Lacey driving up. Her former friend. But that hadn't been all of their problems. Hopefully, they could work through issues within their marriage they'd both been ignoring. She just didn't know what to expect today and she was anxious about it.

Until she walked into the disaster that was her kitchen. Flour and goo covered nearly every counter space. Dozens of cookies sat cooling and there were two big pans of gingerbread cake. Her Christmas recipes! He'd tried his hand at making the foods she usually made for the holiday. How sweet. And what a mess! She grabbed a sugar cookie and followed the sound of Devlin singing in his rich baritone to "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," his favorite song.

Then she stopped to stare at the living room. She'd forgotten all about decorating her home with all of their problems. She'd thought of that on the drive here and felt awful. Devlin hadn't had a happy childhood and hadn't celebrated Christmas until she'd met him. Now he loved that time of year. She'd worked hard every year to make the season special for him, going all out with decorations and baking. Evidently he'd taken over for her this year. All of her large Santa collection was displayed on the mantle, on the bookshelves, and on the end tables. Most surprising, though, was the eight-foot plus tree standing beside the fireplace, fully decorated with the ornaments they had bought together over the years. Devlin had just placed the angel on the top. He looked at her from where he stood on a stepstool and grinned like a young boy seeking approval for something special he'd done. She burst into tears.


Nina Sipes said...

Ahw, Starla, I cried. That's too....

Nina Sipes said...

...much like teaching my husband to play. He's 16 years younger than his only brother, raised 15 miles from town, so he wasn't used to silly playing with others. The first time I tagged him, said,'you're it!', ran, and he chased me was a proud and teary moment. (I'd tagged him before and he hadn't ever responded without an explanation. The first time it was instinctual was...) We teach our husbands so much and they teach us. He still remembers, and laughs, about the look on my face when he offered me hard liquor in my Coke in a movie theater. I was utterly scandalized.

Starla Kaye said...

I agree...we teach our husbands so much. After 39 years of marriage, mine has finally mastered turning on the dishwasher and picking up his clothes. Makes me tear up just thinking abut the progress he's made. (Good thing I've always been perfect. lol)

Nina Sipes said...

Wow! I didn't think sarcasm worked well in print. You've mastered it. I laughed myself to tears.
There was a song that took off in the 1930's called I'll String Along With You. I recommend a listen. I'm learning the words. Most of the current work available is too stylized, but the sentiment is a winner.

Joan Vincent said...

It is interesting that most of us didn't think our characters had any objects they cherished, yet upon contemplation found they did. Do you think it's because we were concentrating on other details or elements of the story? This topic prodded my awareness to the utility of giving characters objects. I already have something in mind for my next book. Has the discussion changed or enhanced anyone else's ideas?

Anonymous said...

I think they enhance a story. I've been working my poor brain to think of one for my present story. I had her wanting a fancy dress from the skin out including shoes. She got it. Then I make sure it was inoperable/torn to pieces. I took it away from her. There wasn't anything left.
Yikes! What does that say about the inner workings of my mind?
However, by the time I was finished with it, she didn't want it anymore anyway. The shoes gave her blisters.

Starla Kaye said...

Yes, this discussion has made me more aware of my characters. I really hadn't thought about special memories or mementoes they kept until now. But they do add an extra depth and help make the characters even more "real."

I'm trying to figure out something for my medieval characters to keep as precious. Think he should keep the arrow she shot into his leg on their first meeting? Just kidding. He's now a bit touchy when she thinks about picking up a bow and arrow. Oh, I just remembered...she also shot an arrow into the wing of his hunting hawk by accident. So now he's reeeallly annoyed when she goes near a bow and arrow.

Penny Rader said...

You guys crack me up. :D