When I finished writing We Three, I knew there would be more to Jess, Elena, and Eric’s story. I just wasn’t sure exactly what that was going to be. Moving in together seemed to be the end of it.
But when I reread it, I realized that Jess would turn down the invitation from the Tanners. WTF? Why? So I had her characterization to still explore for that arc. She would fear commitment, not because she’d lose herself – having a family would be a dream come true for the girl who’d grown up without a permanent one – but because she believes love (professed to her often but always unfulfilled) shifts and when (not if) it ends, she’ll be hurt. Better to not get involved at all. But she is already hurting, so is immobilized with indecision.
The earliest part of my plotting for the sequel (unnamed at the time) was quizzing the other characters to see what their development arcs would be. Elena was devastated by Jess’s rejection. That’s how she saw it, too, and she suffered heartbreak. But, she tried to rationalize that she shouldn’t be feeling heartbreak. Swinging she defined as a casual thing. Somehow though, her relationship with Jess had gone beyond casual without her realizing it. She didn’t just miss Jess in her bed, she missed having her in her life. But she also knew she wanted more than friendship. Immediately I knew she’d try to reestablish contact with text messages and phone calls. But she also would start to be more critical at the club, less satisfied. I knew Jess wouldn’t answer those texts or calls, too.
Eric’s arc starts as Elena’s sounding board. I needed to explore how he knew Jess would react this way. I’d given him some point of view in We Three, but in We Fit, he would need more. I would have to show him in the relationships he had with his flight crew, particularly the layover party partner he had got together with most often. As I wrote scenes of Elena and Eric talking, and Eric and his partners together, I realized that he was always very intentional, and he had no problem separating casual from serious. His line of separation was love. He’d married Elena when he didn’t want her to be out of his life. Which was why he could see when Elena had fallen in love with Jess. He was surprised by his lack of jealousy, but when Elena was miserable, he connected that her happiness had made him happy for her (a situation the polyamorous community calls “compersion”). They’ve always been open about their relationship and lifestyle choices, so when Elena came to Eric asking if he knew why Jess hadn’t made contact with them, he simply shared all his thoughts. When the reasons for Jess’s silence include a surprising one about him, Eric explores how to be a truly supportive partner.
Most of these scenes ended up in the invisible in between and only bits are referenced in the story, because I knew the inciting incident for We Fit (it finally had a name) would be Elena finally seeking out Jess and asking to talk.
Also, once I knew compersion was involved, I focused on how Jess, Elena, and Eric would each take the emotional journey to polyamory. All three characters thoughts are equally shared. I managed to rotate point of view from Jess, to Elena, to Eric, and then back to Jess again pretty regularly.
There’s plenty of sex to be had, but the trio definitely focus more on building their romantic relationships. Next week: the poly conundrum: planning three separate Valentine’s dates for We Fit.