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The angst of Just Tell Her

Way back when I first wrote Charlie and Hailey in THE BEST LINES, I had no intention of writing a whole series of books. THE BEST LINES was going to be a stand-alone, with mentions of Alyssa and Hannah from FRESH START, but as I started to bring them more into the plot and got to know Ember’s friends a bit, I knew I wanted to write a book where Charlie and Hailey fall in love.

Now, for the plot. This was interesting because there’s a friend (Charlie) who’s been in love with her friend (Hailey) for about a decade, so the challenge was that I had to give a reason why Charlie would tell Hailey now. It couldn’t just be because Ember was getting married. That would’ve been too easy. So, I gave Hailey an ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend that every other girlfriend gets compared to. So, even if Charlie felt like maybe with Ember getting married, it was about time she told Hailey how she felt, there was still the specter of Emma lurking around every corner.

Emma reappears, is single, and now, we have conflict. Charlie decides she needs to finally move on right around the time Hailey is realizing Emma isn’t the same Emma she was when they were together. Charlie finally tells Hailey how she feels and starts dating someone new. On and on it goes, and I know many people thought this book had A LOT of angst.

Not one for a ton of that stuff myself as a reader, I usually don’t write much angst in my books unless there’s a crime element or something where it’s needed. But here, I wanted it. I wanted them to earn being together in the end, because it’s not easy, going from being best friends for a decade to falling in love, to then being together and making it work in reality.

Charlie worries about Emma and being compared to her. Hailey worries that she’ll never live up to the fantasy Charlie has built up in her head all these years. There are ups and downs. They both make mistakes and flee, but they come back to each other when they realize they’ve always loved each other in spite of their flaws and for them, and that they were always meant to be more; they just had to get there and work for it.

It’s more real this way. Best friends don’t just say, “Hey, I feel a thing. Do you feel a thing?” and start dating. They contemplate. They fear. They think twice. They might even run. I wanted the book to rip your heart out when you worry Charlie and Hailey might not end up together because that meant yo