Laurie’s hard at work on her latest book—and you can follow along with her! Read Laurie’s online work-in-progress (wip) journal to see how she does it! CHAPTER ONE, SCENE ONE:
Okay, let’s say Beth feels unsatisfied in her marriage because Rafe keeps his heart to himself, and writes in her journal that she’s considering leaving him. Before going on vacation with Anne, she puts her wedding ring in the drawer. Why? Why would she do that? It doesn’t sound like her. Come back to this.

On train, there’s a salesman who met Anne last year. He runs into Beth in the bar car and assumes she’s Anne; before she can explain otherwise they crash. After crash he identifies her as Anne and that’s what ambulance driver tells hospital. The emergency crew finds body wearing Beth’s engraved watch (which Beth lent her sister who lost her own watch) and assumes that’s Beth.

Rafe has been minimizing the quarrel they had before Beth left, about him wanting to postpone kids. But when he hears about train wreck, he feels bad that they fought–now there’s no chance to make up. Maybe he even read journal while she was gone. Or maybe she phoned him about possibly leaving and he’s determined to make things right the minute she gets home. I don’t think he can be indifferent to the possibility of her leaving him, even though it’d allow for more return-to-love, because it seems unheroic–ask Stef about that.

This is a story about a couple falling in love again after having almost given up on their marriage.

Which implies that Rafe had almost given up as well. Hmm.

Maybe he’s dreading Beth’s return because he knows they’ll resume their fight. But when the crash happens he still feels bad because the marriage wasn’t exactly over, and he feels guilty about not working harder to preserve it. Why would he go read her journal? I don’t think he would. Maybe Beth phones him from vacation and says she’s taken off her ring. Why WOULD she take off the ring? I really don’t think she would. I can see her having it resized and not feeling too upset when it’s not ready on time. Maybe jeweler calls while she’s gone and Rafe didn’t even know; jeweler says “she told me it was no rush.” That makes him wonder. We could open with that; then he gets call about crash.

So now he’s feeling perturbed (and devastated?) that they’ll never make up. How upset IS he? I dunno.

Stef had a good point about mentioning the grief. We need to see “Anne” actively grieving over the loss of her sister, even without specific memories or identity. I like Rafe sobbing in her arms. Say he bears her up during funeral, then afterwards says Beth was leaving him–shoot, if he’s sad about that, it implies he loved her all along. Or else his pride was hurt. But if he’s not sad, doesn’t it seem unheroic? If he’s not sad, why do we care about them getting back together? So I guess he’d better be sad, which implies he loved her all along but was unable to show it properly. He has to vow to change, to show it, except he’s still not showing it properly. He’s being more active in caretaking but still not sharing his heart.

So when the crash happens he feels bad that they’ll never make up, because he DID love her and thinks he didn’t show it enough.

Things Rafe can do at work: street clinic in South Tucson mainly for kids; word is out among gangs. No weapons drugs or stolen merchandise allowed; he throws ’em out otherwise.


  • landlord locked me out because I didn’t pay rent; my stuff’s in there
  • my boss didn’t pay me because I walked off the job
  • my boss didn’t pay me because he said HE got stiffed
  • where can I go for STD treatment
  • my girlfriend took off with my car
  • if Rafe thinks kid’s good he’ll recommend bondsman who offers discount
  • give information on school/training programs
  • file of lawyers who’ll take pro bono cases for kids R recommends
  • for rotten kids, he says sorry can’t help you (but it breaks his heart)
  • my girlfriend’s pregnant; I want the baby; she wants an abortion
  • kids square off with guns, R knows they won’t shoot him, B aghast
  • I have no hope. The fact you came IN here shows you have hope.
  • regular beats girlfriend, R calls cops, kids scared away, he’s sad

So okay, when we open he’s dealing with a typical day at work. Wish he’d had time for coffee but doesn’t like bringing in cup because it separates him from kids. Some usually waiting, acting nonchalant, when he arrives. He needs an intern from UA law school, who covers while Rafe’s in court, so he can give intern the keys at end.

He came in early to get paperwork done; usually nobody there at five. But Oscar’s there, a kid Rafe’s been trying to reach. Oscar came in worried about his sister, whose boss withheld half her housecleaning pay for a broken dish. Rafe called woman; asked for receipt on replacement dish; woman said “oh a mistake” and paid girl but fired her. Oscar drops by to report that Maria got a new job, Rafe knows Oscar really wants help and advice for himself (he’s high up in gang) but knows it’s not time to offer it yet. Notices gun, says can’t have guns in here but I was gonna go get coffee; wanna walk with me? Start down street in South Tucson; looking at watch; gotta leave by 9 to get Beth.

“I’m picking up my wife; she’s taking the train in from L.A.” “That’s not the one that crashed, is it?” “Huh?” “I heard on the radio, there was some big train wreck in the desert.” Sick, scared, how many trains go through Tucson? Runs for pay phone, no change, Oscar gives him coins and drifts away. Shaking, where to call, train station won’t announce anything over phone, try police buddy who says hold on while I check; holds thinking don’t worry, Beth’s probably fine, but people get ripped away, look at mom, look at maria, but it wasn’t like he’d been depending on beth so she’s fine, she has to be, “Rafe? Look, I’m sorry to have to tell you this. But–wait a minute, was your wife traveling with–” “Her sister. Yeah. They’re twins.” “Ah, hell. The sister’s being transported to emergency right now. But Beth…I’m sorry. She didn’t make it.”

That’s a nice outline for Rafe’s first scene. I still have to finish the prologue, but since I’m in the mood to write this now maybe I should just start it. I hate to get out of his POV and back into Beth’s when his is so clear right now. I just need an opening line.

I think for now I’ll just do it with Oscar waiting when Rafe shows up, but not say how early in the day Rafe shows up–just imply that it’s relatively early and he wants coffee.

So how do I open? Darn it, I really need his opening to come off Beth’s closing. Which means I’d better do that first. But I know I don’t wanna focus on his desire for coffee first thing, because he’ll look unsympathetic since we know his wife is suffering. Maybe instead he should be looking forward to seeing Beth.

Would Beth be smiling?

He hoped so. Not her polite smile, but the one that meant she was truly happy to see him. After a week apart, ____

Should he know they’re having trouble? I kind of think so, but maybe we shouldn’t go there yet. Because if he knows it, you’d think he’d try and do something about it. What’s his plan for dealing with Beth’s unhappiness? No plan at all is unattractive. Oh, maybe he’s brought her flowers, he wants to show her he loves her and reinforce that when he picks her up. Show her that just because he can’t see having a baby yet doesn’t mean she isn’t the center of his heart.

Which was dangerous, he knew, but not with someone like Beth. Beth wasn’t the kind of person who’d disappear the minute you let yourself depend on them.

truly happy to see him. The flowers wouldn’t hurt, Rafe knew, but more than anything he wanted to see Beth smiling


Would Beth be smiling?

Maybe, Rafe decided as he unlocked the scarred wooden door with its Legalismo sign, he ought to have the flowers in plain sight as soon as she got off the train. He’d stopped on the way in this morning for the kind of flowers people gave visiting celebrities, a comparison she’d probably blush at…but he needed to show her how much she mattered.

After the way they’d parted last week, he needed to make sure Beth knew she was still the center of his heart.

Which would be dangerous with any other woman, Rafe admitted as he flicked on the electric fan ____


So flowers would be a good start. And he’d made reservations for dinner tonight, instructing Steve the intern to handle whatever came up. Beth deserved more attention than he’d been able to give her lately, but her week in San Diego had given him time to catch up.

Drat, it’s boring seeing him with Oscar. I mean, I’m interested, but I don’t think the romance reader will be. Blah de blah doesn’t cut it. Neither does Rafe walking with Oscar. He’s gotta be torn between Oscar and Beth, that’d make it interesting. Maybe say he doesn’t have much time.

After Rafe learns she’s dead, what does he do? Thinks maybe it was a mistake, maybe it was her twin sister. Somebody might’ve gotten them mixed up, Beth is– Prettier wouldn’t mean much to a rescue squad, and there might be people who viewed her sister as more attractive. But how could they tell identical twins apart? o Your wife wears a wedding ring, right? o Right. o I’m sorry.

He’s gotta cry; how and where? Runs back to his car, sees flowers, thinks Beth, ____

I oughta BE Rafe and I don’t want to; I don’t want to hurt like that.

And maybe he wouldn’t cry right off the bat; he’ll keep trying to stuff it until he just can’t. That’s when he goes to the car. Or maybe he’s already home. He has to seriously break down and then resolve to go on by stuffing any further emotions and looking out for others instead. So when does that breakdown happen? Before or after we meet Anne in the hospital?

It has to happen before, in L.A. It’s the triggering event of his character. And it’d be a smoother flow if he cries right there in the car. I need to be Rafe, and I don’t want to because it’s gonna hurt.

She can’t be gone. Not Beth. Not my wife. It’s a mistake, that’s all, (and somebody’s gonna pay. Going around telling people someone died in a train wreck, that’s just irresponsible. They’ve got no business doing that, not when it’s a mistake.)

and I’ve gotta straighten it out. I’ve gotta find out what happened, call–there, a pay phone. Change, I’ve gotta–damn! The coffee–ah, thanks. Thanks, Oscar. Where do…who do I call? Somebody’s gotta know. The train station, they’ll tell me it’s fine, Beth’s fine–she IS fine, I’m not losing her. I can’t lose her. She’s gotta know–yeah, hello? The ten o’clock from Los Angeles, my wife is on there. Sir, there’s been a, a, delay and we’ll have all the information– No, I just need to know, is she all right? Sir, please come to the station and– Damn! No good. This isn’t working, they’re not gonna tell me, everything’s gotta be fine. Beth’s gotta be fine. Okay, maybe we’ve got some problems, but I can fix that, I fix things, that’s what I DO. I can fix this, I’ve just gotta find out what–who–Roger. Roger can find out, call–damn, at the clinic.

Running like before, don’t panic, nobody waiting, good, can’t protect anyone else right now, gotta find Beth. Number, here, Roger, yeah, hi, Rafe Montoya, can you find out about a train– What, the derailed–? The one from Los Angeles, my wife’s on there. Oh, God. He sounds sick. No, it’s fine. Beth’s fine. Hold on, let me see what–hold on. She’s fine, she’s fine, sure people disappear, look at mom, berto, maria, but it’s not like I’m depending on Beth, it’s not the same thing, she’s gotta be fine. Rafe?Look, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but–wait a minute, was your wife traveling with– Her sister.Yeah, Anne, they’re twins. Ah, hell.The sister’s being transported to emergency right now.But Beth…I’m sorry.She didn’t make it.

No. Not possible. But it IS, it’s happened before, no, not again, not Beth. No. She didn’t make it. No. No. Same feeling, remember this, heavy, hot, not tears, no, no point, not Beth, no, gotta do something, crazy, nobody here, not gonna cry, not gonna hurt, it hurts, no, it can’t, but now I can’t fix it, the way she left, thinking if we waited for a baby it meant I didn’t love her, but I DO love her, but not enough, not enough, never enough, God, I can’t do this, I can’t fix this, I’ve got to fix this, that’s what I do, I can’t do it, can’t let anyone see but the tears won’t stop, bathroom, lock, sobbing, God, no, not Beth, not this time, no. Can’t do this, can’t keep crying, gotta be strong. Gotta get out. Gotta be strong. Gotta take care of someone, remember? Only way. Right. I can do that. I can do that. Okay. Nobody here yet, gotta take care of somebody–Anne. Gotta be hurting, in emergency, right? Okay. I can do this. I can get through this. Right, okay. Go take care of Anne.

Boy, that’s a good sequence. I can feel what he’s going through. It’s kind of long, but it’s pure Rafe…I think it’s good. Draining, though, which again is good. I feel like I’ve just been through that. Talk about starting off hard! I need a break; I can only do so much.

What’s he doing? He hung up phone, he’s numb, he’s gotta move, stumbles blindly into the lobby, can’t lock door because someone might show up, braces hands against back of cracked plastic sofa….

Well, that’s nice. He’s sort of pathetic right now, but heroic as well–I like how he thinks he’s gonna help Anne. Now where is she?


Anne, would you like to visit with your brother-in-law today? He’s been coming every day to see how you’re doing, and he keeps saying you’re not to worry about a thing– / Okay. / You’re awake! Let me run tell Dr. Sibley, and he’ll pass on the news. Now, you don’t have to see anyone until you’re ready, but I know your brother-in-law would be thrilled if you’re feeling up to it. / Okay. What… Uh, what…. / You’re in the hospital, sweetie. You’ve been here for eight days, and we were starting to get a little worried about you, but now you’re going to be just fine. (nurse leaves, Rafe comes in)

Anne. You’re gonna be okay. / Okay. / I mean, in the long run. I just talked to the doctor, and he says another week here, maybe a month of physical therapy, and you’ll be as good as new. / Okay. Um…are you the doctor? / (shock, then recover) I’m Rafe. (feels blank) Your sister’s husband. / Where’s my sister? / (another spasm) She isn’t here. You…you were pretty badly hurt. / (thought so) I don’t feel right. / You and Beth were in a train wreck. / Beth? (name feels familiar) My sister? / Yeah. Anne, I’m sorry. (right, she must be Anne) I didn’t realize you– Everything’s kind of a blank, huh?

No. (wants to make him feel better) I remember having our tonsils out. And Daddy brought Grandma to see us. Only that was a long time ago. / Yeah, I guess it was. Look, maybe you just need to concentrate on getting some rest. There’s a lot of people praying for you. / Really? (can’t think of anyone except her sister, somehow have the feeling Daddy and Grandma aren’t around anymore. Well, and this man. Rafe. Her sister’s husband.) / Yeah, well, Jake Roth–the guy who pulled you off the train. He and his wife have been calling. And everybody in Chicago. / Is that here? / No, right now you’re in Tucson. That’s where Beth and I lived (falter)…uh, live. You and Beth were on vacation, and– / Is Beth okay? /

She died. (takes her hands) Anne, I’m sorry. / She…my sister? She’s gone? / (nods) / Oh, Rafe. Oh, no. (means his wife is gone, too) Are you okay? / (startled) I’ve had a while to get used to it. But I know Beth would want me to make sure you’re all right. / (must be why she felt the urge to reassure Rafe…because Beth was the kind of person who wanted her loved ones taken care of) / Anything you need–the insurance and all that, I took care of. But anything else…I want to help. / Okay. Thank you. I mostly just need… / You name it. / I need to remember. (her sister, their lives) Can you help me with that? / Anything I can, yeah. I mean it, Anne. Whatever you need, I’m here for you. / (he did mean it, she could tell. And she already knew why, which meant she must know the essence of her sister even without the details) Because being there for the people Beth loved…that’s the way she’d want it.

Nice dialogue, by golly. And there’s scene 2a.

Which now is done. And I’m already a full scene ahead of quota for the weekend. I’d love to think I was getting faster at this — who knows, maybe I am.

Anyway, in 2b, what’s supposed to happen?


He invites her home to recover, and she does it because she wants to help look out for him. Probably a few memory things, but I’d better check the long chart and see if there’s anything else. Oh, yeah, (he invites her home, explaining beth regretted that he didn’t get along with anne and he figures this will help make amends — she says “you need someone to take care of” which he ignores — so they come home where she tries to care for him, saying she owes him, he says no you don’t.)

Except if I introduce that conflict up front so soon, there’s not much left for them to discover. So they’d better not mention it aloud to each other. Maybe work in the funeral. I’ve packed a lot of stuff into 1a and 1b, and I could always fill in more if need be.

Maybe a mention of Rafe at the clinic. I don’t think I need the business about him making amends for not getting along with Anne; I don’t think he’s ever given Anne much thought one way or another. Their relationship was distant but cordial, is probably best. Maybe he resented her taking over the company because he thought it’d keep Beth occupied, but he never would say so. Or he might tell Beth “you know you could run things if you wanted” but she’d say “I don’t want to” so that’d be that.

This is scene-setting, in a way, but I don’t see much coming in the way of surprises. Maybe he’s surprised at how rapidly she’s recovering? How does chapter 2 end, anyway? What’s our great emotional payoff? Something’s gotta change during each scene, remember?

I think I’m too fried to do this tonight. Just edit the stuff you’ve already got and call it a day.

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