One of the characters I think I feel most protective over is Jade. I see examples of Jade in so many of my students and it breaks my heart. I am also Jade. Many of us are Jade.
Writing a story that takes place with so many doctors, it was obvious to me I needed nurses. I have written some that show up here and there (Brooke is one) and others I never name. I wrote Jade to be special. I wanted her to interact more with the characters but until the series went on, I didn’t know how. She appears in each and every book in the series. Sometimes as a nurse with Brittany. Sometimes as a babysitter. Sometimes watching and caring for Tramp. She was always there for everyone and it was her pleasure to help. She loved them all and that was truly sincere. She was also deeply lonely.
That’s why I’m so protective of Jade. She is the one who is always there, who everyone relies on, but who never feels comfortable enough to truly join the conversation. She is an observer. She is compassionate. She is giving. She is loyal. And she has a story behind her that would break the strongest person.
I wrote a lot of myself in Jade. Not in her back story, but in her interests. (And her boobs- those are mine).
Her work as a Veterinary Tech came directly from me and “Peeps” was my “Fluff”. I grew up with cockatiels and they are the sweetest birds. I now have an Amazon Parrot, but he hasn’t made an appearance into the series…yet
When I thought about Jade, I struggled finding her story. I wondered why she was so isolated. I wondered what her history was. She wouldn’t tell me. Nothing seemed to fit. It was more than shyness, Jade had been traumatized and I owed it to her to get that out.
One of my favorite moments in learning about Jade came in a small scene that many may have glossed over. She spoke to Brooke in book 11 “No Surrender”
Being told she was old for her age was a common reaction when people met Jade. At only 27, Jade had lived a lifetime of challenges. She lived for her work as a nurse and her specialty of neonatology was everything she had hoped it would be. She tightened her blonde ponytail and sighed. Her scrubs were a little too tight and she knew she needed to eat better and watch her weight. Never having been thin, Jade was curvy, and although told she was cute, had always struggled with her weight and subsequent body image. What happened in her past didn’t help that, and she knew it.
“Jade? I thought you left,” Brooke said.
Jade smiled at her friend and trauma nurse.
“I heard there was a trauma coming in and I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t needed before I left.”
Brooke smiled at her and sat down. “You are allowed to go home. You need to get a life outside of this place.”
Jade hated that. Brooke didn’t know anything about her.
“I’m good, but thanks.”
This small conversation set up a bunch of issues for Jade: her body issues, her past, her self consciousness. There is also nothing worse than having someone point out how they feel you should live. Most who do that have no idea of the struggles we face. Brooke was being nice, but it hit Jade in a place that was already raw.
At the same time the readers were learning more about Jade, Mike was going through the worst moments of his life. Like Jade, I struggled with Mike. I had written him with Rebecca because I wanted him to have someone like Bill had Julie. I wanted his life to be happy and I hoped she would be that person.
But, like Mike, I ignored a lot of the signs. I never felt Rebecca loved Mike. I could never write their scenes well because she just didn’t feel genuine to me. I ignored it for a few books, like Mike did, but suddenly, it all became clear.
I couldn’t write Rebecca and Mike because Jade was waiting for him and he was waiting for her. This is why people call writers “weird or eccentric”. I call it inspiration. When something isn’t working, you can’t force it. You have to listen to the characters and even if they aren’t saying what you want to hear, sometimes it’s important.
I listened to Mike and I listened to Jade.
And another romance was born.
Back to Jade…
From where I sat, Jade was so far from being ready to be in a relationship, that I wasn’t sure how to get her there. I had to uncover her story and I had to make her, somehow, share it with Mike. That was hard, because I could barely get her to share it with me.
Again- I get it. I’m the writer. How do I not know what the character is dealing with…
I do, but I had to listen to what was hard to hear.
Thrusting Jade in the middle of the Mike and Rebecca breakup was key. Obviously, I needed Rebecca to target Jade, but more importantly, I had to show Jade becoming more confident just by talking to Mike. She was different with him than anyone else. Maybe because he was so hurt, both physically and emotionally, that she had nothing to hide. He wasn’t able to see anything through his pain.
As an observer, Jade saw Rebecca’s true colors. Hell, everyone saw them. One of my favorite scenes was when Julie confronted Rebecca, but I digress… I’ll share more with Julie’s story
Rebecca was desperate and scared and those two things became lethal. Mike would have probably stayed in a loveless marriage for a long time because, like Jade, he had a lot of trouble believing his worth. He was also such a traditional believer in the sanctity of the vows he made. He looked at leaving his marriage as a failure. He felt he owed Rebecca everything for all he put her through with being away.
Something needed to change.
Rebecca putting Bill and his family in danger was something Mike would never tolerate. Having Rebecca be the leak in the investigation was integral to opening Mike’s eyes to the horrible person she was. The last dagger was making Jimmy, Nick’s son.
Mike was at the lowest point he had ever been and there was nothing anyone could say to help him. One of my favorite moments that showcased just how bad it was and where Jade fit in was here:
“Can I get you anything?” Jade knocked lightly and Mike jumped.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” Jade apologized and Tramp ran into the room and urfed at Mike.
“I’m fine. I just want to be alone, thanks,” Mike said and turned back to the window.
Jade sighed. She should leave, but she just couldn’t.
“Okay, but I need to make sure you’re eating, so I’ll bring in some snacks and then you can be alone,” she turned and went to grab the tray before he could object. She walked in and placed the food near him and stood back.
“Thanks, but I’m good.”
“Okay,” she repeated and stood for a minute before she turned to leave.
“Do you think I’m a loser?” Mike asked quietly.
Jade turned and met his gaze.
“No, not at all.”
He nodded and turned back to the window.
Jade walked closer to him and hesitated before she spoke.
“If I might be so bold, I would say you are someone of immense strength.”
He turned to face her and his eyes were wet.
“You’re so wrong. You don’t even know me.”
Jade sat down on the chair in the room a little away from him and Tramp jumped on her lap. She smiled at him and then looked at Mike.
“You don’t know me either, so I don’t think you can make judgments about what I know and whether or not I’m wrong,” she shrugged and Mike smiled.
“Will you eat something?”
“I don’t have an appetite.”
Jade got up and Tramp jumped on the bed and watched them.
“It’s when you have no appetite that it’s most important to eat,” she handed him a sandwich.
He took the plate and wiped his eyes.
“What is it?” she sat closer to him.
“I don’t know the last time anyone cared if I ate anything.” He put the plate down and put his face in his hands.
Jade felt her own eyes fill with tears.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“Please leave me alone,” he said, completely embarrassed.
She nodded and left.
This was huge for Jade because what he said hit her hard. She knew that embarrassment. She knew his pain.
Setting up a romance when two people are so completely against it can be a recipe for disaster. I didn’t want to have a moment where they looked at each other and the passion just erupted. So cliché.
That wasn’t Mike. That certainly wasn’t Jade.
Something I rarely do is write a scene out of order, but with Mike and Jade. I did. I knew I wanted him to find her at the campgrounds. I knew she would be in trouble. I knew she would say something that would stick with him. I wrote that scene a long time before they got there in the series, but I was important. I just had to get them there.
I still adore this moment:
“It’s okay. I’m here. I’ve got you,” he said softly.
“You’re such a good man. I always wondered what it would be like to lie in your arms,” she murmured before she blacked out, her head rolling back.
He held her to him and felt his heart breaking. “You just hold on for me, okay? Jade?”
For Mike, this was a shock. Someone liked him? Someone thought about him?
Still, something was missing.
There needed to be a start. I needed a way to bring them together. I needed something for them to share that was not a part of the group.
I have never really brought religion into the series. I have the occasional scene where someone goes to the chapel to pray, but nothing more. Making Jade and Mike Jewish allowed me to create something they could share that was unique and important. Giving Mike the Mezuzah was a way for Jade to try to make his lonely apartment a home. When he found it in the bag she left, it meant the world to him.
I was also able to introduce Elaine as Mike’s mother in a way that honored my own Grandmas.
It’s not that I suddenly wanted to bring religion into the series, but it gave Mike and Jade an opening.
It broke the ice.
I still hadn’t revealed Jade’s back story and I decided the first time we heard it would be when she finally told Mike. I wanted our reaction to be like his. I knew she would never just tell him, and something had to happen for her to do it.
She began to come around and he remembered to breathe. She opened her eyes and looked up into his before she realized she was wearing a towel and nothing else.
“Oh God, I need to cover up,” panic filled her body as she sat up and pulled the towel more around her. She began to shake as the cold air hit her body.
“What? You’re covered,” he looked at her. “Why didn’t you wake me up? How long have you been on the floor?”
“Can you let me get dressed? I’m okay now,” she said as her eyes filled with tears, her face burning with shame.
“Jade, will you let me help you? Please?” he was desperate to break through her walls.
“Mike, please leave and let me get dressed,” she sobbed, desperately trying to cover her body. “Please.”
He sighed and nodded, getting up and walking out, closing the door behind him. He realized his shirt was half open and a look of understanding crossed his face. Feeling sick, he held it closed and sat down.
Jade got up and quickly pulled some clothes on; a long sleeve t-shirt and yoga pants. She felt sick to her stomach and fully expected Mike to be gone when she walked out. She brushed her hair and put the towels over the railing in the bathroom before she walked out.
Mike stood up when she came out and she looked down as she walked to the couch. He sat on the chair and waited, hating that she couldn’t even look at him.
“I owe you an explanation,” she said as she finally met his gaze.
He shook his head and smiled.
“You don’t owe me anything. I pushed my way here and it’s obvious you are really uncomfortable around me. I don’t want to leave you alone, so I’ll call Julie and I’m sure she can come over for tonight,” he stood up and crossed his arms.
“I’m really sorry I put you in this position. I guess I just wanted to help you,” he looked at her and sighed. “Just so you know, I would never make you look at me. I know my injuries were bad, and I know it’s not something you should have to look at, but I didn’t realize my shirt was ripped. I’m truly sorry.”
She was stunned.
“What? What do you mean your injuries?”
“I just figured you were afraid I was going to take my shirt off and you would have to see the scars from what happened. I just wanted you to know that I wasn’t going to do that. I would never do that, you know, force you to look at me.”
This still gets me when I read it because Jade was so caught up in her own fears, it never occurred to her that Mike had similar issues. It also showed her that he looked at her with respect and simply didn’t understand what she was afraid of.
It led to my favorite kiss of the whole series. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. I simply adore Mike’s love for Jade and through her realization that he simply wants her for her, Jade came alive.
Hearing what Jade went through explained a lot about her behaviors. It also helped to know why she felt such a kinship to Brittany.
Jade still struggles with self esteem. Mike’s love has helped her to grow in so many ways, but damage like she went through doesn’t just disappear. We always hear the negatives way louder than the positives. That’s why it’s important to compliment people. It’s nice. It’s unexpected.
I know this is getting long, but there are a few more things I wanted to share, Making Jade’s last name Sorad was important. Sorad means “Survivor” in Hebrew and I wanted that to be something Elaine picked up on. She became such a positive influence in Jade’s life and their connection is something I adore. I laughed when Mike had no idea what that meant. Elaine had her hands full with Mike growing up.
Being an orphan and never being adopted left Jade with a lot of worries. She was never able to make memories with a family and she lacked traditions. Mike’s proposal was another idea I had early on. He gave her those “memories”. He started her traditions.
Mike and Jade’s first love scene was one of the hardest I’ve written. Up until that point, Brittany and Tommy’s first time was the most challenging, but for different reasons.
Jade was scared that when he saw everything, he would be turned off.
Mike was afraid when she saw everything, she would leave.
The two of them make me crazy at times.
There is a lot more to Jade. She is now a wife and mother and her health is a big concern. She is not over her insecurities and she may never be, but she is a work in progress.
I think those characters are the best kind.
Thank you for reading! Who do you want next?