The heroes in my series tend to get a lot of attention. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but I’m not complaining. I’ll admit the heroes come easier for me than the heroines. Again, I’m not sure why, but they seem to chatter at me until I give them a book. Maybe they’re just pushy alpha males. Particularly Vic Andrews (hero in Man Law). Those of you familiar with the series won’t be shocked to know he never shuts up.
With Opposing Forces though, the hero challenged me not so much in that he wouldn’t shut up, but that he wouldn’t talk. About anything. Jillian, the book’s heroine, was the one who did most of the talking. She wanted to be heard, but not in an obnoxious way. She simply wanted her story told. She wanted people to know that growing up the daughter of an alcoholic taught her many lessons, both good and bad, and that she’d learned something from all of them.
As talkative as she was, she proved to be a complicated character. While plotting, I had trouble defining her, getting to the core of what made her who she was. Then an editor friend suggested I make a list of Jillian’s traits and show both the positive and negative side of each. That, for me, was an “aha” moment. Once I’d taken the time to create this list, Jillian nearly sighed with relief. Finally, someone understood her. Some of the things I came up with for her are that she is suspicious (negative) of newcomers, but that she isn’t easily fooled (positive). She’s also miserly, but the positive side of that is she’s responsible with money and knows how to maximize her budget. She’s lonely, but her loneliness makes her self-sufficient. She’s also extremely independent and doesn’t need anyone to entertain her or take care of her.
From these traits, I was able to build a sketch of Jillian’s emotional conflicts. Then, of course, I shoved each of those conflicts at her and watched her do battle. That’s the fun of being a writer. We get to emotionally torture our characters and watch them grow from the experience.
Readers, who are some of your favorite tortured characters?
Here’s an excerpt from chapter three of Opposing Forces that will reveal some of Jillian’s character traits:
Jillian’s house was silent when she and Jack came through the front door. The last time she’d invited a man to her home it had been the oven repairman. What that said about her social life was downright disturbing.
Jack’s cell phone rang. She wrapped her hand around one of the dining table chairs and pulled it out for him.
“Have a seat.”
He slid into the chair and, after talking briefly—a conversation that didn’t sound like she’d be getting a security system—dropped his phone to the table.
With one finger, he spun the phone around and around and around on the polished wood.
“Mike can’t raise anyone. He talked to a couple of guys, but they’re out with their families. Someone will be here first thing tomorrow.”
With time slipping into late afternoon, this wasn’t a surprise. Still, it meant facing a night alone in her home minus a security system. The police who’d responded to her call had told her the thief had either picked the lock on her back door or had a key. Her mother was the only other person with a key, so she assumed the lock had been picked. For her own safety, she wouldn’t stay there.
Jack continued to play with his phone, his gaze on it as it spun. All day he’d been lapsing into these brief silences. The man was a thinker. A strategizer.
“It’s okay,” she said. “I knew it was a long shot. Thank you for trying. I’m sorry I’ve wasted your entire day. I’ll stay somewhere else tonight.”
“You didn’t waste my day. I didn’t have plans. I was hoping to get this system installed for you. It sucks that you’re being put out of your own house.”
“It’s only one night. Tomorrow, thanks to you, I’ll be back in and will feel safer.”
The phone spinning continued, but he jerked his head toward the cordless on the breakfast bar. “Call whoever you’re gonna call. I’m not leaving until I know you have a place to go.”
She patted his hand and held it to stop the mindless spinning. “I’ll be fine.”
His gaze remained on their stacked hands and the welcoming silence from just minutes ago became charged, a live wire snapping. At least until his fingers twitched. Then twitched again. He slid his hand from beneath hers. Somehow, her simple, meaningless touch sent them beyond the line of comfort.
She didn’t understand. Particularly since she’d spotted him staring at her on numerous occasions. She couldn’t say she minded. Not with his baby face and haunting blue eyes. There couldn’t be a woman alive who would mind this man staring at her.
Just once she’d like to see his eyes twinkle. Jack Lynx was always way too serious. At least in the minimal time she’d spent with him.
She dragged her hand back. “Sorry.”
“No. I…uh…” He scratched his cheek. “I don’t know.”
“My fault. I don’t want you to think I’m manipulating the situation. That I’m hitting on you when you’re vulnerable.”
Seriously? Where did this guy come from? “I didn’t think that. Thank you, though.” She smiled. “For not hitting on me. I think.”
Finally, he laughed and it transformed his oh so serious face into a tantalizing array of soft angles and bright blue eyes. So handsome when he smiled.
“You’re welcome. What about family?”
“That you can stay with tonight. Family?”
“My folks live in Evanston, but my dad and I are in a rough spot. I’d just as soon go to a hotel.”
Things were bad enough today, she didn’t need to step into the hot-ass mess of her father having fallen off the wagon. Again. Going there would surely suck her into childhood memories of him tucked into his favorite drunk chair with a bottle of scotch clutched in his greedy hands.
In front of her friends.
She’d had enough of that and even now, as an adult, knew to stay away from her parents during her father’s drunk phases. Hot, flashing stabs settled in her shoulders. The never-ending guilt that came with estrangement. Still, by now she understood piling on her own drama regarding her father’s disease did none of them any good.
And yet, she still loved the man. Complicated.
“Isn’t there someone else you can call?”
How pathetic was this? She’d spent all these years slapping on her happy face, letting people think she was a well-adjusted, outgoing and friendly person when the reality was she’d worked hard to isolate herself. To keep the number of friends to a choice few. This was the life she’d built for herself.
Maybe she didn’t love being alone, but loneliness brought the security that came with not risking people disappointing her. “Maybe my friend Mallory.”
“Good. Get on it.”
She pointed at him and circled her finger. “So pushy you are. Who knew?”
He grinned again. Twice so far. How about that?
“Just getting squared away here.”
She had to admit, it was nice having someone worry about her. Growing up as the makeshift adult in a house lacking maturity, she’d spent her time worrying about everyone else. She couldn’t blame her mother, who simply wanted to survive and immersed herself into her alcoholic spouse’s world. Years of therapy taught Jillian to stay away. Until her father accepted responsibility for his behavior, she couldn’t be around him.
Harsh, maybe, but she refused to be unhappy because her father couldn’t face his problems.
She grabbed her cell, called Mallory and was informed she could stay there, but the kids had the stomach flu. Thanks but no thanks.
“That didn’t sound good,” Jack said when she hung up.
“Kids have the flu. I’ll go to a hotel.”
Which, of course, would come out of her spending money for the week. There went the budget. It would be a week of lunches from home. No biggie.
“Are you sure you’re okay with that?”
She leaned forward and rested her chin in her hand. “Sure. I’ve been on my own a long time. It’s only one night.”
“Yeah, but after what you went through last night, will you sleep at all?”
Probably not. “You’re a worry wart.”
“I like to think of myself as a fixer. Sometimes that falls into the worrying category.”
“Well, Mr. Fixer, thank you. But go home. I’ll pack a bag and find a hotel. I’m a big girl.”
He drummed his fingers on the table and stared at her for a long minute. That same snapping energy roared back and her head pounded.
“If you wanted, you could stay at my place.”
Would you like the latest information on Adrienne’s books? Get the Adrienne Giordano app and keep up with the action. Download the app before June 30 and be entered into a drawing to win a Private Protectors gift bag containing a print copy of Man Law, a set of bullet earrings, a bullet bracelet and a Keeper Kase. Instructions on how to enter the contest can be found on the app’s announcements page.
Bio: Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. For more information on Adrienne’s books please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com or download the Adrienne Giordano app. Adrienne can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AdrienneGiordanoAuthor and Twitter at http://twitter.com/AdriennGiordano. For information on Adrienne’s street team, Dangerous Darlings, go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/dangerousdarlings.
Opposing Forces available at:
Barnes & Noble