Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Untitled WIP

Lex and I are barreling toward our deadline on Some Assembly Required, but we've gotten into some of the heavy stuff and I needed a bit of a break between chapters. A literary palate cleanser, if you will. So I dove into a project I've had  hanging around for quite awhile, an untitled novella about an established relationship where communication has broken down and while the love is there, the mutual understanding and respect isn't.

I'd titled this Better than Okay, but then A Fault in Our Stars happened. If you've read that, you know the importance of the characters telling each other "okay" and why I now have to find a new catchphrase for poor Jake and Connor. Any ideas? They've been a couple since college and they're early thirties now, so they're settled into their relationship and have their own verbal shorthand. 

The book is a look into their life as they are floundering a bit, as people in a longterm relationship tend to do. I love exploring what happens when a couple has passed the newlywed stage. How do they stay committed? What do they do once that first blush of love is past? Writing about lust and overwhelming initial attraction is fun, but writing about an established couple gets you to the meat of their relationship. How to they keep that happiness that came so easily early on? Or do they?

Untitled WIP

Jake ran a hand through his hair and sighed. He was overdue for a cut, but he'd been waiting for Connor to say something. Jake almost never kept track of things like that; Connor was the one who hounded him to go in for a cut when it started to get shaggy. If left to his own devices, Jake would only get it cut when it started to get so unruly that it made his baseball caps fit too tightly.
But Connor hadn't said anything. There had been no hastily scribbled Post-it note on the bathroom mirror or coupons tucked into Jake's wallet for his favorite salon chain. Hell, Jake hadn't been able to wear the Mariners hat he almost never took off for over a week now because it had gotten uncomfortable, and Connor hadn't noticed that, either.
Jake added that to his mental tally of everything that had been going wrong with Connor lately, resisting the urge to tug at his floppy locks in frustration. He needed to be doing something, but it wasn't like he could confront Connor when he didn't even know where he was. Jake knew he could text him—even at his most distracted and unavailable, Connor always responded to texts. But could he trust anything Connor said? He didn't know Jake had caught him lying about where he was. Wouldn't he just claim to be with his brother Chris and make Jake even angrier?
It was the middle of February and absolutely freezing outside, but Jake decided that if he didn’t get out and do something, he might well lose his mind. So he flicked off the television and made his way back to his bedroom, moving aside Elaine’s suitcase and rifling through the chest of drawers. He pushed through boxers and T-shirts until he found what he was looking for, a pair of threadbare sweatpants with a badly frayed draw string. Years ago they'd been navy blue, but now they were nearly gray from repeated washings. The reflective Rice University logo down the side hadn't faded, though, which was what he needed for a dark nighttime run. He’d had them since college, when he and Connor used to go for runs together around Houston after dark because it was the coolest part of the day. He shucked his jeans, pulling on the familiar pants and tying the waistband tightly, smoothing the thermal T-shirt he was already wearing over it and adding a sweatshirt for good measure. He had gloves and a thick woolen hat in his jacket pocket in the closet, but he didn’t want to risk ruining them or the coat when he worked up a sweat once he got going. Jake looked at himself in the mirror, glaring at his reflection. He hated that he'd been reduced to such a miserable, jealous state. How had he and Connor let things get so bad?
A change of scenery was definitely called for, so Jake pulled himself together, pocketed his keys and braced himself for the cold as he headed out to try to outrun his problems for a little bit.
Jake’s thoughts were of hot summer evenings and warm, blue-skied fall days as he jogged down the sidewalk, eyes focused on his sneakers so as to avoid the worst of the icy puddles. He hated winter. He’d never had a huge tolerance for cold weather, but most of his favorite memories of Connor were tied up with memories of warmth. The day they’d met at college as freshmen moving into a new dorm had been one of the hottest days of the year. Both of them were from cooler climates, and they'd been ill-prepared for the harsh heat of August in Texas. They'd adapted, though, and even after they'd moved to Seattle after graduation, they'd gravitated toward hot places on their rare vacations.
Summer in Seattle was nice, but it couldn't hold a candle in Jake's mind to his memories of sweat-soaked late summers in Texas with Connor by his side. They'd been roommates freshman year, thrown together by chance. It hadn't taken long for them to become friends, two non-Texans adjusting to not only college life but culture shock and a climate far hotter than any place either of them had lived in before.
It has also been blisteringly hot the August of their junior year when Connor had kissed him and their relationship had taken on a completely new aspect, changing from friends to lovers. The newness and excitement of his first few months of dating Connor were forever tied to memories of warm, lush weather, and heat waves never failed to make Jake remember them.
Not that he wouldn't happily live in perpetual winter if he and Connor could just get those feelings back. They'd been together so long that Jake couldn't even imagine life without Connor. They'd become adults together. They'd provided moral support for each other during their first few nerve-wracking job interviews; they'd been side-by-side as they shopped for apartments, filled out their first W-2s and puzzled over insurance options. Jake didn't know how to be a grown up without Connor there with him. The friends they'd shared an apartment with their last year at Rice had teasingly called them “Jon,” since, as one of them put it, “We never see Jake and Con apart, so it's like we have one roommate instead of two living in that room.” It had been a long time since anyone had called them that, and Jake let the word echo through his head in time with his footfalls, focusing on that instead of the ache in his chest that wasn’t entirely from the icy air.

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