Some of the best surprises I’ve found in this series come from the conversations between characters that never knew each other before the series began. Tommy and Stephanie are such fun to write. I adore their friendship and the mutual respect and understanding they have for each other.
I was once asked once after “Nothing Matters” came out if I was going to have Stephanie and Tommy cheat behind Jack’s back. I remember thinking that Tommy was Jack’s brother, he would simply never do that. Besides, Stephanie adored Jack and they were completely in love.
I also knew I had someone for Tommy…and she was made for him.
In hindsight, I see how it’s a normal conclusion people draw in romance. Man and woman get together and an affair breaks them apart. The one thing I have always said in this series is that I will never write a story where one of my characters cheats on the other. I find enough drama without that, plus, I want the home to be where they are safe and valued. I realize Rebecca cheated, but the true love story was between Mike and Jade, so I made an exception. 🙂
This is one of the random conversations I wrote between Stephanie and Tommy. What are some of your favorite unexpected relationships that came from the books?
Stephanie sat on the roof and wiped her eyes. She shivered in the cold air and looked out across the empty space. So much had happened to her since she first stepped onto that roof so many years ago. Suddenly, she found herself feeling much of the isolation she hoped was long gone. This wasn’t about Jack, but about her own fears. She needed to get a handle of this.
“Stephanie?” a voice called out.
She wiped her eyes and smiled. “Tommy! I didn’t see you.”
“I see that. What’s wrong?” he walked over and sat down next to her. “You okay?”
She shrugged and her tears came again. “Sorry. I’m just struggling a little.”
“Do you want me to go beat up Jack?” he smiled.
Stephanie chuckled. “No, he didn’t do anything wrong. I’m having some trouble with my MS and I’m not handling it the best.”
“I don’t mean to overstep, but what kind of trouble? Maybe I can help?”
“About a week, ago, I lost the feeling in my leg from the hip down. My foot has come back a bit, but earlier today I started feeling spacey while I was driving and I got scared. I came in to get checked out and then I had a little meltdown so I came up here,” she shrugged. “I don’t like to think about my issues when so many people I know have it much worse. I’m very lucky to be as healthy as I am.”
Tommy smiled. “Are you through explaining why you shouldn’t feel the way you do?”
She blushed. “I guess so.”
“Well, from what I can tell, you are allowed to feel as angry as you want. My guess is that Jack is scared to push you on this because you are always so quiet about your struggles. You make it easy to forget what you deal with. Sometimes it’s okay to let those who love you help you.”
“I know, but I worry that one day I might really need the help, and I don’t want it to be now.”
He shook his head. “Stephanie, it isn’t like you have a certain amount of help available and once you use it up it’s gone. You can need some help now and if later on you need more, then I’m fairly certain there will be more to give. You have to learn to lean on us.”
“I’m working on that. I guess I just had such a hard time with Josh and how he made me feel about this disease that I struggle with letting that go. I’ve been feeling so good for so long that I think this just caught me off guard and I didn’t handle it really well,” she looked at him. “I never asked why you were up here? Is everything okay with you?”
He sighed. “I just had a really tough case and I needed some air to kind of let it go.”
“I was called in for a six year old head trauma. It was a car accident and the parents were DOA at the scene. There was a fifteen year old who was uninjured.”
Stephanie knew how hard that must have been for him. “Tommy, I’m so sorry. How was the six year old?”
“She will be okay, at least physically. I spoke with the brother and tried to tell him it would be okay, but to be honest, I don’t know that I believe that,” he looked at his hands. “I guess it brought back a lot of memories.”
“Wow. I can imagine it brought a ton of memories back for you. My guess is that you helped the boy more than you know. If anyone can be an inspiration in a terrible situation like that, it would be you.” Stephanie stood up and hugged him. “Thank you for making me see what I couldn’t.”
He hugged her back and was surprised. “What did I help you see?”
“Let’s just say you gave me a little perspective,” she smiled.
“If you say so,” he smiled.