The Place Between - Reader Questions
Don't we all turn the last page of a book and wonder: what the heck happens next? A Place to Go answers some of the questions lingering after The Place Between but let's be honest - there's never enough Ned and Abbot in our lives. Since I published The Place Between, I've gotten so many emails from readers wondering how the rest of their story turns out, so I'm going to take a closer look at some of the more common inquiries. Have even more questions that you're dying to have answered? Shoot me an email and I'll keep adding to the list!
Q: Do they end up living in Boston together?
A: Absolutely. Does it take them a while? Yes. Ned stays at his parents for a bit after moving from Maine, but he's also very ready to get his own place. Mom and Dad are great and all, but he's got a brand new boyfriend and, well, yeah. So Ned quickly dives into the joy that is the greater Boston area housing market, desperate to find anything that's close enough to Peggy's school, has two bedrooms so he has space for her, that allows dogs, and is affordable.
Luckily, Ned lives in fictional!Boston, not actual!Boston, so he's able to get a place with minimal difficulty, and so begins the post-Callahan part of Ned and Abbot's relationship, in which they juggle academic responsibilities, Ned's custody schedule, and, the two hour drive from Boston to Portland. Which means a lot of weekend trips to see each other when Ned doesn't have Peggy and Ned heads up to Portland for Saturdays and Sundays at Abbot's place, full of grading and working on papers (ah, the life of the tenure seeking), going for runs together, hanging out with Pat, and slowly accumulating the domesticity of a phone charger he keeps there, a toothbrush, changes of clothes, beer in Abbot's fridge, and a coffee maker. From there, they shift towards spending time together when Ned does have Peggy. Abbot comes down to Boston and there's the delightful banality of watching her soccer games and trips to the science museum and mornings making pancakes in Ned's tiny kitchen... and Abbot being really, really ready for the day when he doesn't have to drive back to Maine on Sunday afternoons.
We know Abbot is already interested in making the move to Massachusetts and looking into a change of jobs, but: moving to Boston when he's single is one thing. Moving to Boston because his boyfriend is there is a Commitment capital C to the relationship, so tumbling into dating Ned changes the timing, significance, and meaning of leaving Callahan. And it's not that they're not both viewing this relationship as solid, long lasting, and definitely having a future, but they're also both coming off the healing process of the previous disasters in their love lives and there's a difference between being ready for a new commitment and seeking that out, versus ending up in a suddenly serious relationship to your absolute surprise.
So. There are in depth conversations about 'what are we doing' and 'where are we going' and 'what are we ready for', but at the end of the day it all boils down to: a big freaking yes to everything. Which means a puzzle piece shuffle of juggling boring, stressful life stuff that is the fabric of adulthood, involving Abbot looking for a job that he's interested in and actually wants, finally getting an offer and making the decision to take it, followed by the question of: where the heck do we live? Because the place Ned found is small for him and Baxter and Peggy and to add Abbot to the mix full-time would be a tough arrangement long term.
So they look for a new place. And find one because again, I get to make the rules here and I'd subject Ned and Abbot to the hilarious mire of fake dating, but never the Boston real estate reality. So they get their house within reasonable commuting distance, with a park not too far away, and they might have had to give up on the goal of having a yard for Baxter and Peggy, but the place they find happens to have not just two bedrooms, but three :)
Q: Do they get married?
A: Heck yeah they do! Ned's got half formed ideas about proposing and is debating (overthinking) the best (perfect) way to ask Abbot, when Abbot absolutely floors him and beats Ned to the punch. Mostly because he wants to marry the shit out of Ned, but also he can just tell Ned's going to take it upon himself to be the one to ask and Abbot realizes he has the chance to completely surprise and delight Ned by doing it himself.
So Abbot goes for it, and goes for it thoroughly, because he's Abbot. Asks Ned's parents ahead of time (his dad cries and nobody's surprised about it), floats the idea by Peggy (who actually manages to keep the secret), and gets Ned a very nice Swiss watch, because of course he does.
But then, he has to decide: pop the question in front of Ned's family or do it when it's just the two of them? Pros and cons to both, of course. Abbot's not worried Ned's going to say no, so that's a non-issue, but celebrating with the family around is fun and exciting and Ned's so close to his parents but it impinges upon the, ahem, celebration. That, plus the fact that Abbot's a pretty private person, and baring his feelings to Ned is one thing, but having an audience for that? No thanks.
So, best of both worlds: Abbot chooses a time during a family trip, but takes the opportunity for a bit of privacy while he's got the chance. Because, you see, Ned and the family live in/near Boston. And what do they do each summer? Go down the Cape, of course. His parents rent a friends' house on one of Cape Cod's many beaches, Ned takes Peggy for the whole week of vacation, and ever since they started dating, Abbot's been coming too. Lately, he's flown Liesl over for the weekend, since Ned is very serious about teaching her all things football and baseball, and what better than long days in the sand and evenings grilling on the deck to have the whole family there?
This year, Ned's parents are happy to watch the girls for a night while Ned and Abbott go out to dinner, just the two of them. And Abbot's not nervous, not really, but he is... overly aware of the watch he tucked into his pocket, not to mention the bottle of champagne tucked into the back of the fridge, carefully hidden from Ned reaching for a beer. And Ned's parents are slightly too effusive with the 'have a good time' they keep telling them as they head out, coupled with the 'take your time' and 'no need to hurry back' and 'enjoy your evening, really' that would be all together to obvious if Ned seemed to have even the slightest clue,
Which he doesn't, because he suggests just grabbing something quick to eat near the beach, instead of bothering with the summer crowds at a nicer restaurant. That and he's completely oblivious to how Abbot is specifically keeping Ned on his left side, because the watch is in his right pocket, and what if Ned notices it's there as they wander along the sand? Plus, Ned at least doesn't seem to even begin to notice that Abbot's quieter than normal and keeps almost starting to talk, as Ned keeps chatting on and on about the latest gossip in his department, and this story Pat just told him about, and hey what if tomorrow we take the girls for some mini golf? Or even batting cages, that could be fun, has Liesl ever been?
Abbot finally stops him. Because the sun is setting and they've reached a quiet stretch of beach with fewer people around than usual. And he prepared this, but he thought he'd have appetizers and entrees and desserts to work up to it, but no, he's apparently doing this now, right now, right here and oh, he should probably kneel? And get the watch out, that's right, and remember how he was going to start, something about the surprise of their lives together, how much Ned means to him, the future waiting for them-
Ned is truly speechless. Just like fully shocked. Mouth: open. Eyes: wide. Heart: racing. And then he's smiling and he's laughing and he's tearing up and he can't even begin to wait for Abbot to finish because yes, fucking hell, yes absolutely yes.
They get married in Ned's parent's backyard. Ned's already done the huge wedding thing and no thanks to ever doing it again. Abbott never wanted a giant party to begin with, so it works for both of them to have a handful of friends, their closest family, and of course Baxter, ring bearer extraordinaire. Pat officiates. Ned's dad cries again and so does Ned. Liesl's delighted when Ned calls her his 'official sister in law', and Peggy's delighted by the sparkles on her dress, the cake, and the flute of ginger ale she gets to drink not one of, but two.
Q: Do they have kids?
A: Well, what other perfect use for their extra bedroom could there possibly be? Yes, they have kids. Two of them that they adopt, and they round out their family with a puppy when Baxter starts to go gray, and a tiny kitten from the local rescue. Which means a full, busy, messy house for these two. Three kids in the place when it's Peggy's days/nights with Ned, and four when Liesl is there too. Animals underfoot, dishes piling up, shoes strewn around, backpacks dumped on the couches, and someone put an empty milk carton back in the refrigerator instead of throwing it out.
Abbot holds it for a long time, standing in something sticky on the kitchen floor. Then, he smiles, sets the carton on top of the sports section of the morning paper, since he has a good idea who would have been distracted enough to do such a thing, and goes to find a washcloth to wipe up the latest spill.