Since today is Father’s Day, I thought I’d share with you a father-daughter scene featuring Mads and his youngest daughter, Freya, from Maybe Forever.
Once Anton and I rang off, I took Freya into the bathroom and cooled off her skin with a cold compress. The aloe vera gel came next. Freya whimpered at first but as the gel soothed away the heat she settled down and a tiny smile emerged again. I hated seeing her like this. How did Laney deal with this all the time? All I knew was I wanted to make everything better for my little girl.
She was growing so fast–just yesterday she’d managed to pull herself up on her own and balance for a few moments. Laney and I had watched, mesmerized, as our youngest daughter planted her hands onto the sofa cushion to brace herself and try to stand. In a few days she would be eight months old. Would she be an early bloomer and begin walking before she was even ten months old? Or would she be more like Liv, who’d taken her time about walking and explored every inch of the apartment crawling or scooting, only to take us by surprise on her first birthday by standing and taking off almost immediately in a wobbly run.
After a sleepless night thanks to her sunburn, Freya was more subdued than usual, which was understandable. Hell, I was pretty exhausted too. If anything I wanted to take a nap and I’d barely been out of bed for more two or three hours. Picking up Freya again, I asked her, “What do you think, lille ven? Shall we take a nap?”
My daughter yawned, her sleepy green eyes struggling to remain open. We retraced the path to the bedroom Laney and I had been sharing. The bedroom faced the back garden and was shaded by most of the morning sun thanks to the lush canopy of a marbleberry tree. It cast swaying shadows on the wall as a breeze caught its branches. Freya and I watched the shadows dance. She giggled and pointed at the tree. I kept my arm protectively around her as I began to drift off. It wasn’t long until even Freya settled down and her tiny sighs let me know she’d fallen asleep.
The air conditioner’s hum formed a cloud of white noise that lulled me even deeper into sleep. Freya planted her thumb in her mouth. I wondered if she was dreaming of penguins. Don’t grow up too quickly, I thought as my eyelids grew heavy. Stay my baby girl for just a little while longer.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Laney. Now let’s have a sit-down with Benny, the saucy intern who seems to have a thing for Mads. She’s been pretty forthright about her interest in him. Let’s see what she has to say for herself.
Me: So tell it to me straight, Benny. Why did you start making moves on Mads? You knew he was married–
Benny: (laughs) You’ve seen him. You know how gorgeous he is. And I liked what I saw, so I went for it.
Me: It can’t be so shallow as that.
Benny: Look, I don’t know what you expect me to say. I’m not really into relationships. I suppose I’m like a guy in that way… I like to hit it and quit it. I know it sounds vulgar, but I don’t have any hang-ups when it comes to sex. If I want it, I want it. And Mads…well, he’s insanely hot.
Me: But is that a reason to go after a man you know is married?
Benny: You know what I wanted? I just wanted to see if I could do it. Turn his head. Get him interested. See where it went. I knew it was a long shot. And, no, I was not interested in being the next Mrs. Rasmussen or being the mother of his children. I just wanted a taste of him.
Me: You’ve been interning at the collective. How did you end up there?
Benny: I heard about it through the grapevine. Morten and Mads came to my design seminar at Designhøjskole and I really liked how mellow they were. They didn’t act like they were too good to be there, they didn’t blather on like they were saying oh-so-very important words that didn’t really mean anything. They seemed real, you know? And I had total respect for that. I’m a designer too. I wanted to be a part of this–work together with some guys who seemed really cool and whose work was well and truly kick-ass. And then I heard Willem talking about how he’d applied, but I’d missed the application deadline. So I just went there and pretended I’d applied. Mads wasn’t there that day. It was Jonas and Morten who ended up interviewing me. I guess they liked my portfolio.
Me: What are you plans now? Are you going to continue trying to get Mads?
Benny: (shrugging) If he shows an interest, then why should I turn him down?
Me: And has he shown an interest?
Benny: Not yet…but it’s only a matter of time. And his wife isn’t around, so I’m guessing he might be more interested now.
Me: What about your position at the collective? Shouldn’t you be more focused on your career and getting work experience?
Benny: I know I’m good already. I’m the best intern there. And I do a damned good job, so nobody can complain. I go in, I work…I finish my projects on time. Yes, I flirt. I think any woman in my position would do the same.
Me: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Benny (laughs again): I don’t know…but wherever I am, I’ll be enjoying myself. Maybe I’ll have my own collective. Maybe they’ll take me on full-time. I guess we’ll just to wait and see.
Get your copy of Maybe Forever – available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo. Coming soon in trade paperback.
So last week we had a chance to catch up with Mads. This week let’s sit down with Laney. We’ve caught up with her on a rare moment when the kids are napping and her aunt’s house in Juno Beach is quiet. We’re in her aunt’s garden, sitting in the shade of the marbleberry tree and sipping iced tea. What’s going on in Laney’s head…? Let’s find out.
Me: I think the question on everyone’s mind is if this is the end of the road for you and Mads.
Laney: I don’t know. I don’t want it to be…but things between us aren’t the way they were. And I need more from him. I don’t want a part-time husband.
Me: How are the girls taking the separation?
Laney: They don’t really understand it. Freya’s too young–she’s only seven months old, so for her this is more of a Where’s Papa? thing. I can tell she misses him. She’s always looking for him. And for Liv…she’s confused. I can’t really tell my four-year-old daughter that I’ve left her father. That I’ve done it because I need a break from what our life was becoming. All she knows is that her daddy isn’t here… she asks about him every day–when is he coming, does he miss her, will she see him soon? I make sure she has FaceTime chats with him…it’s not the same as seeing him every day but at least they can see each other and talk.
Me: Are you talking to him as well?
Laney: (pausing) Sometimes. It’s not easy. Seeing him, being reminded every time I look at him that maybe this is karma for how we even met and the hurt we caused. And then… I see him and my resolve to be away from him slips. I love him. I guess I love him too much. Maybe that’s my problem.
Me: You’ve had a case of the Baby Blues…do you feel like being away is helping you get back to the old you?
Laney: I really hate that term, “Baby Blues”. It makes it sound so cutesy. I feel better…I’m beginning to feel normal again. My aunt Cecily has been a huge help. I needed support, I needed someone to help me focus and find my footing again and she’s done that. It’s the second time she saved me. The first time was when my mom died… Cecily didn’t have to take me in. She could have left me in foster care. But that’s not the sort of person she is. And even now, she could have said no when I asked if we could come. She tried to talk me out of leaving Denmark with the kids. But she also understood I needed to be away.
Me: You didn’t initially want to try the yoga and meditation she suggested. What made you change your mind?
Laney: I couldn’t really see how it was going to help me… I didn’t understand how it could make me feel any differently. But then I went, and it was all about focusing on you and your baby and forming this connection. When everything is calm, when you can feel all the tension ebbing away and you realize how much you love your child, how you’ve been in this fog because of anxiety and lack of sleep and everything else. And suddenly you see your little one in a different light, one that isn’t dimmed by all the confusion, and it’s such a relief. I’m so glad Cecily talked me into trying it. It helped me find my way again.
Me: Do you have any regrets about leaving the way that you did?
Laney: I should have told him I was going to leave. I knew it even as I was booking the tickets while he slept. I knew this was going to break his heart. But my heart already felt broken. I felt like I’d already lost him.
Me: He says he doesn’t want this to be the end of you. What would it take for the two of you to come back together again?
Laney: I need more than words. I need proof. As much as I love him, I need to see that things will really change. That’s the hard part though…because if he suddenly showed up and said all the right words, I’d melt. I always melt for him. I can’t help it. There’s no one else in this world I want. For me, there’s only Mads.
The last time we interviewed Mads, he was waiting for Laney to figure out if she was going to take the plunge–give up the comfortable though sterile life she had with Niklas in Stockholm for Mads. Now it’s four years later. They’re married, and they’ve got two beautiful daughters. But all is not well. So let’s imagine it’s one of those hot, humid summer days in Copenhagen and we’ve caught up with Mads at Mikkeller and Friends on Stefansgade. And we’re sitting outside since it’s too sticky to be indoors. Mads doesn’t seem like he’s in the best of moods. Let’s see what he’s got to say…
Me: Let’s just jump right into this…what the heck did you do to make her leave?
Mads: (clasps his hands, leans forward and stares down at his feet) I screwed up. I was stupid… I just… I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought if I could be more successful, if I could give her everything–the money, the lifestyle she used to have…that we’d never have to worry. And… I wanted to be successful for me too. I didn’t want to feel like I was some kind of failure.
Me: But how could you feel like a failure when things seem to be going so well for you and your partners? You’re making bespoke pieces for a major hotel project, you’ve got a steady flow of orders coming in and write-ups in design magazines. Surely by now you know you’ve made it.
Mads: I don’t know. You know… sometimes when you’re looking at the stacks of invoices that need to be paid and you’re having to remind pretty flush customers that they really do need to pay for the furniture you’ve designed for them, and you’re paying rent on workspace and making sure everyone else gets paid first…you don’t really feel that successful. We had some pretty lean years in the beginning.
Me: But surely you know Laney doesn’t miss her life with Niklas…
Mads: I know she doesn’t want to be with Niklas again. Realistically, I know this. But when I’m standing there watching this distance grow between us…and I know he’s calling her sometimes, asking for advice and acting like the only thing that was ever between them was friendship… It’s like he thinks she still is a part of him. I know she doesn’t think that way, but he does. I know it.
Me: Did you ever tell Laney that his calls bothered you?
Mads: I can’t forbid her from talking to him. And why should I? I trust her. I don’t trust him, but I trust my wife.
Me: There’s a part of you though that is envious of Niklas’s wealth…
Mads: Yeah, of course I am. He could give things to Laney that I couldn’t…I’ll probably never be that well-off. Laney never complains, but I know there are times when she misses what she had. She never had to think about how much something cost, she never had to question if there was enough money to go on holiday. And then she moved here to be with me and that privilege of never having to worry… it disappeared. Those first few years, we sometimes had to scramble to make ends meet with our salaries. I’d stopped working at the clinic, so there was no more extra money coming in unless I managed to get a few evening classes in woodworking from the local design school and community college. And then when Liv came…I pretty much stopped working so I could be at the hospital all the time… I still remember how we had to dig into our savings to pay bills. And Laney’s had just a broken background as me… I knew she needed that security and it was disappearing because we didn’t have enough money…
Me: What about your family? How did it feel–having that family you wanted?
Mads: Everything that’s good in my life is because of them. Before I met Laney, I never pictured myself as the guy who couldn’t wait to go home to be with his wife. I’d stopped believing that I would ever meet someone else I’d want to be married to…and then she came along…I love her… I can’t even imagine my life without her. I don’t want to. And my daughters–do you know how brilliant it feels to be their dad? I come home to them and it feels like whatever was missing–they fill that hole as soon as I see them. Or if I just think about them…Liv is like my little shadow–she follows me everywhere and she’s always full of questions. And Freya…she is my littlest angel and she’s growing up so quickly… Fanden, I miss my girls.
Me: Is this the end of you and Laney?
Mads: No, it can’t be. When you love each other as much we do…it can’t just disappear like that. I want to grow old with her. I’m not giving up on my marriage.
Me: Anton and the gang are worried that if you don’t act soon, Laney may ask you for a divorce.
Mads: I don’t want a divorce. I want my wife. I want my family…that’s all I want–Laney and my girls.
There’s a reason I no longer play sports and concentrate on writing: I have *zero* coordination. Today, while walking, I managed to sprain my ankle. I stepped on what looked like a pretty solid piece of pavement with a bit of gravel on it–turned out to be a pile of gravel–and my foot went in one direction, my body in the other. Yes, it hurts. A lot. And the outer side of my left ankle is swollen and tender as is part of the top of my foot.
I’d take a picture, but I don’t think you want to see my battle-weary foot. I’ve propped up my foot and making sure I do a good job of feeling sorry for myself. 😉
Earlier today I worked on formatting Maybe Forever so that I can get the e-ARCs ready to send out. I still have a bit to do, but I think I should be done in 2-3 days. I hope everyone who loved Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight will enjoy the continuation of Laney and Mads’s story.
I’m still working on Maybe Tomorrow. Not sure why it’s taking me so long, but that’s the deal at the moment. I’ve set a deadline for myself since I plan on publishing it in July. And I am working on a story board/plot outline for a new idea featuring a companion robot who falls in love. I’ve also got another story idea I am working on that’s a little more down to earth. 😉
Not much else to tell you today, but I hope the rest of you are having a great Sunday.
I wasn’t sure how long I sat on the sofa, waiting…my face stripped of all the makeup, my dress draped across a chair in the bedroom. I would never wear it again. Now it felt jinxed. I’d changed into a pair of shorts and a tank top. My stomach grumbled, reminding me that I’d not had dinner. I should have been hungry…but the roiling sensation in my belly didn’t make me want to eat. It was too hot. My skin felt clammy, sticky. I hadn’t smoked in over a year but now I wished I could have a cigarette. I longed for the illicit pull of the tobacco. I longed to forget.
How could he forget? How could I be so easy to forget? He used to remember everything. Every little detail of my life, memorizing it like it held some hidden meaning. He used to tell me he wanted to know everything about me. He’d remember things I’d forgotten. Now it felt like he’d forgotten all the important bits. Maybe he didn’t want to remember.
The anticipated sequel to MAYBE BABY and MAYBE TONIGHT
Is the honeymoon over…?
Now married with two children, Laney and Mads are finding their life together isn’t as simple as it used to be. While Laney struggles with motherhood, Mads is so focused on chasing success that he loses sight of promises he’s made.
When frustration gets the better of her, Laney takes the kids and goes to the US, hoping to find solace with her aunt Cecily, a former school teacher who now teaches yoga and meditation in Florida.
Will Laney and Mads find a way back to one another…or is it too late?
Launching on May 15 for Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo.