Even though there's some snow and rain falling outside right now (I'm writing this a day in advance of its posting), the family can't get enough wintry weather. As you read this, I'm driving to the mountains for the last ski vacation of the year.
What makes this especially interesting is that, next month Avalon Books will release the first of my Nobody trilogy: Nobody's Darling. The idea for Nobody's Darling came about after just such a spring ski trip. Allow me to explain. When my family goes on vacation, we don't stay in hotels. We rent condos so that we have plenty of room and a well equipped kitchen. The upside: I'm never without coffee. The downside: I'm still in charge of laundry, cooking, and cleaning...even on vacation! This probably explains why RWA's National Conference is my true vacation every year.
Anyway, a few years ago, after one such family vacation, we came home to a beautiful spring day in our neighborhood. While Dad took the kids on a long bike ride for ice cream, I unpacked the car, started the laundry, picked up the dog at the kennel and bathed her, and the thought suddenly struck me.
***I need a wife.***
An idea was born. In Nobody's Darling, April Raine runs a parenting services organization. Her employees stay home with sick kids, schlep children from one sports practice to another, help with homework, pick up dry cleaning, bake cupcakes for bake sales, and handle lots of other tasks that pile up for working parents. Television's famous "Dr. Jeff," believes businesses like April's actually do more harm to families than good. To the delight of a daytime talk show's audience, April and Dr. Jeff will spend a month in an isolated cabin full of recording equipment in the Adirondacks in an updated battle of the sexes. When the dust settles, who'll come out on top? The mom? The doc? Or will love prevail?
Here's one of my favorite scenes, based on an actual episode in my own wacky home life:
He paced the kitchen behind her until the constant back and forth sent an army of annoyance marching down her spine. When the pacing continued for nearly thirty minutes, she considered tying him to a chair.
Just when she decided to retrieve the excess clothesline, he popped his head across her writing pad. “I think I’ll make tuna salad for lunch.”
“I’m very happy for you.”
“Would you like some?”
“No, thank you.”
“Okay then.” He straightened and walked to the pantry.
Relieved at having him occupied with some task, however lame, April returned her attention to her letter. “…I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the television footage (unless Dad or Lori taped it for you) because you should be in school, but so far, I’m holding my own against--”
“Oh, for God’s sake, where is the blasted tuna?” Jeff’s noisy fumbling in the pantry broke her concentration. “You’d think with a cabinet this deep, someone would have thought to mount a light inside.”
Slamming her palm on the counter, she rose from her stool, abandoning her letter for a quieter time and place--maybe a foxhole in Afghanistan.
“Move,” she ordered, emphasizing her demand with a quick nudge of her elbow to his chest. A split second later, she held the can before his face. “Right here in the front, Jeff.”
“Well, I probably moved it into the line of sight while I was digging in the back,” he mumbled.
Men. She’d never come across one who could find an item in a pantry, closet, or garage unless it sprouted arms and waved with wild abandon.
While she watched him, impatience growing, he spun around the kitchen, that same puzzled look never leaving his face. “Where’s the can opener?”
Exhaling on a sigh, she opened the utensil drawer and pulled out the necessary item.
“What’s that?” he asked, turning the can opener over in his hands as if it were an ancient relic from an archaeological dig.
“A can opener, silly!”
“Don’t we have an electric one?”
She shook her head. “‘Fraid not.”
“Well, then, how do you use one of these things?”
Lips twisted in a smirk, she took the opener and can from him. “Here.” She clamped the jaws of the opener around the can’s rim and cranked the handle a few times. “Just like this. You think you can take it from here, Doctor?”
“No need to get snotty,” he replied. “I’ve just never seen one of these before.” He took the can from her. “Thank you. I’m sure I’ll be fine now. Go on back to your letter.”
April knew better than to even try. Returning to her seat, she waited patiently and counted to herself.
One… two… three… four… five--
“Oh, for God’s sake!”
She’d reached five before the next catastrophe struck. Not bad.
“What do you need now?”
“I spilled tuna juice all over myself trying to take the lid off.”
He not only got the fishy liquid on himself, he spilled smelly droplets all over the floor. The floor she’d scrubbed clean yesterday.
“Okay, Jeff, you win.” With another exasperated head shake, she grabbed a roll of paper towels and knelt to wipe up the mess. “Go change your clothes before you have every cat for miles howling outside our door. Then you can start a fire for us while I make your lunch.”
“Oh, no, you don’t. You just want to make me look inept in the kitchen.”
“You’re doing a fairly good job of that on your own,” she replied. “Now go.”