Most of the time, I have a good idea of the characters before I begin writing. With Love Me Like You Do, I knew their backstories but the theme of the book came to light when I was writing.
I pasted the scene that changed everything about writing this book below. With good reason, Everly doesn't believe in fairy tales, but Harrison vows to show her they exist.
When I wrote this scene, I wrote this line on a post-it note and circled it, knowing it would be the theme of the book going forward. It's kind of interesting how creativity works sometimes. I love what new things pop up when I'm writing.
“I think we need to keep it simple. No timelines or dates. We’re friends who grew closer, accidentally locked lips, sparks flew, and we realized what was under our noses the whole time.”
“Our soulmate?” I asked jokingly, but a tiny part of me thought her story sounded good.
Everly’s gaze shot to mine. “I don’t know if I believe in that.”
“I know for a fact you don’t.” Everly hated fairy tales of any kind. For her, reality had been harsh. She didn’t hold out hope for something that could disappear or be taken away from her. It sucked because I saw the way Wren was so excited about everything. Life was an adventure. I wanted Everly to feel that way, too. She created beautiful wedding invitations, so a part of her had to believe the ceremony or the vows meant something. But I wasn’t so sure.
“And you know why.” She looked away from me as the crowd moved around us.
I kept one eye on Wren. “Do you ever think someone might come along and show you something different?”
Everly laughed. When she caught my gaze, her face fell. “Oh, you’re serious.”
“That’s a no.”
Everly huffed out a breath, looked away, and then back to me. “I’d like to see someone try.”
I considered her for a minute. She was gorgeous, sweet, and kind. There was no reason why she shouldn’t be able to find a nice guy. One who’d stick around, unlike her asshole of a father. “Challenge accepted.”
Her eyes widened. “What do you mean, ‘challenge accepted’?”
The crowd had gotten thicker due to the long line at the ice cream stand, so Everly moved into my body, her hand resting on my chest. She was so close I could smell her floral shampoo. “You know exactly what I mean.”
Growing up, whenever we issued a challenge, it was accepted. We’d carry through, no matter what.
“You can’t be serious?”
“I can’t think of a better challenge. Convincing your black heart”—I touched my palm to her chest, her heart beating underneath—“that love really does exist.”
“Is that what you and Lola had?” Everly asked, before looking around to make sure Wren wasn’t within hearing distance.
“You know it wasn’t. But I know exactly what you’re doing. You’re deflecting.”
“Are you a therapist now?” Irritation tinged her tone.
I bit back my first instinct that she might be better off speaking to one and instead said, “I want you to be happy.”
“Like you are.”
“Maybe we can both find happiness.” The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea. “I’m going to show you that fairy tales really do exist.”