I have many favourite scenes, probably as many favourites as there are scenes in the book, and for many different reasons. To pick just one was hard. I ended up rereading the entire book before I set my mind on this one. It was written around a single sentence: “Well, Maman, you may not be dating the guy, but he’s certainly dating you.” I love that scene. It was challenging and fun to write, and I had the greatest time developing an entire conversation just so it would end with that punchline.
It’s a sweet, a bit awkward, and yet amusing scene during which Julie is trying to tell her teenage son that she met a new man, but she’s worried about his reaction. Most of us I’ve been in a situation in our lives when we needed to have a fretful conversation with someone only to be pleasantly surprised when none of our fears or worries came true. I think my readers will love the way Julie is trying to tactfully handle the conversation, and they will be tickled by her son’s reaction.
Julie walked out of the arrival terminal wheeling her son’s suitcase and headed for the airport parking lot.
Beside her, her only child carried his hockey bag and sticks. He appeared to have grown another inch and gained an extra five pounds since she’d last seen him at the beginning of October for Canadian Thanksgiving.
“I didn’t bring my laptop. I hope you won’t mind if I borrow yours?”
“Of course not.”
As she approached the forest green SUV she’d rented that morning, Julie clicked on the key. The front lights of her new vehicle flashed and the cargo hatch gradually rose.
Thierry slowed down. “When did you trade the minivan for a SUV?”
“It’s a long story.” A story she could have fed him last night when he called after Luke’s departure, but knowing her son was busy getting ready to leave, she hadn’t wanted to bother him any longer than necessary. “I’ll tell you everything once we’re out of the parking lot.”
She lived forty minutes from the airport, which gave her ample time to recount her eventful Sunday.
Her son was the strong, silent type. From the time he was a little boy, he’d excelled at keeping his emotions wrapped in a cool demeanor, an enviable quality to possess as a goaltender, but one that made him difficult to read. As she spoke, Julie observed him from the corner of her eye.
At the mention of the hit and run, her son mumbled something about idiots under his breath. When she described the guests invited for brunch, he shook his head. And as she detailed Luke’s heartfelt attempts at assembling the perfect Christmas tree, she glimpsed the shadow of a smile on his face.
“When you told me over the phone you met Luke at the office, I thought he was a client. I can’t believe the guy invited you for pizza and you recruited him to build Twiggly. That’s not first date material, Maman. You two lack imagination.”
The intersection light turned red. Her gasp of surprise drowned in the squealing of her brakes.
Thierry’s reaction had thrown her for a loop. Though she’d wondered how he’d react to the news she’d invited a man home, this particular scenario never entered her mind.
Stopped at the light, Julie stared at her son, feeling like a teenager caught sneaking in after curfew.
“It’s not...it wasn’t...a date. Not exactly.” Or maybe it was a date. Dates ended with a kiss. Strictly speaking, Luke had kissed her, but she never had the chance to kiss him back before she threw him out.
“Maman, it’s okay if you’re dating someone. Now that he’s gone, Papa wouldn’t want you to spend the rest of your life alone. If Luke treats you right and makes you happy, he’s good in my book.”
To receive Thierry’s approval lifted a weight she had no idea she carried. She loved her son, she loved him more than anyone or anything in this world, but he couldn’t fill the void left by his father’s death. Luke, on the other hand, had--
The car behind her honked, scattering her thoughts. She accelerated through the green light before turning left in the residential area where she lived.
“Will you see him again?”
“Maybe. I told him he was welcome to come back and hang the Christmas lights around the house.”
“Maman, you’re supposed to be nice to the guy.” A tinge of amusement pierced through her son’s feigned indignation. “Not to put him to work every time he shows up.”
Had Luke heard Thierry, Julie was pretty sure he would have been tickled.
“Fine. You can hang them yourself tomorrow afternoon while I’m at work.”
“Moi? But I have a game tomorrow. How did I get drafted for that awful job?”
“You just volunteered. When’s your game?” Last she’d heard, his hockey tournament didn’t start until the twenty-seventh. In Spokane. “Or do you mean you have tickets to go watch the Capitals?”
Deep dimples dug into his cheeks. “I’m waiting to hear for the tickets, but I found a team to play with while I’m here. They’re called the Detonators. Their captain posted an ad on a rent-a-goalie site and I contacted him.”
“An online ad?” She understood he needed to keep practicing, but she didn’t like the uneasy feeling growing in the pit of her stomach. “Are you sure that team exists?”
“No.” His candid answer didn’t appease her worries. “I guess I’ll find out when I show up at the arena tomorrow morning.”
Given the choice, she’d prefer to know her son was safe at home at the top of a ladder than playing goalie for a mysterious online team called the Detonators, but the choice didn’t belong to her. Maybe the careless, reckless driver of the pickup truck had done her a favor after all by sending her minivan to the garage. Thierry was too young to drive the rental SVU. Someone would need to drive him to that arena.
As she veered onto her street, her right foot slipped from the accelerator pedal. This couldn’t be her house. She’d only been absent a couple of hours.
She eased into the driveway, her eyes glued to the colorful, glittering lights framing the roof, the garage door, the windows, and the shrubs.
Laughter erupted from the passenger seat.
“Well, Maman, you may not be dating the guy, but he’s certainly dating you.”
~Thin Ice, available May 1st, 2017~
Julie Lavoie is no stranger to personal tragedy, but as she contemplates giving love a second chance, she must face her fears regarding the occupation of Rubens “Luke” Lucas, a federal agent embroiled in an explosive investigation.
The sudden disappearance of her only son tests Julie’s courage and determination. She welcomes Luke’s help to search for Thierry, but their two investigations intertwine, jeopardizing her chances of ever seeing her son again.