What’s in a Name?
Readers have written to me about the unusual middle names two of the Jones siblings have (Liam and Shane). That really wasn’t planned. In fact, it didn’t even show up until almost the end of book three (Liam’s Witness Protection) of the five-book family saga. I needed a name Liam’s mom could use when she was taking him to task in the hospital, after he’d been shot. (You always know your mom is miffed when she uses your full name, right?) Here’s the scene with hero Liam, heroine Cate, and Liam’s mom.
…his mother squeezed through the people blocking the doorway and headed straight for him.
“My baby,” she said, cupping his cheeks in her hands and raining kisses over his face. “My baby’s okay.”
“I’m not your baby, Mom,” he protested, embarrassed but laughing. “That’s Keira.”
“You’re my baby boy,” she insisted, taking a step back to look him over. “And don’t you forget it, Liam Thermopolis Jones,” she added with a militant gleam in her eyes.
Cate glanced down at him, her eyes brimming over with sudden amusement. She raised her eyebrows. “Thermopolis?”
Liam flushed. “Yeah,” he growled. “But don’t even think about calling me by that name.” He wasn’t about to explain how his mother—a romantic at heart—had named him that because he’d been conceived at the mineral hot springs located in Thermopolis, Wyoming. He’d had a hard enough time living down the name when he was a kid. Liam was unusual enough, but Thermopolis…
LIAM’S WITNESS PROTECTION, Copyright © 2015 by Amelia Autin Lam
I thought it was a one-and-done at that point. But I’m a pantser (as opposed to a plotter). So things never quite turn out the way I envision them. Shane became my next victim of this naming convention when I needed a name for the security system on Niall’s apartment in Killer Countdown.
…He keyed in the code his brother had given him, then waited.
After a few seconds a green light flashed. “Code confirmed,” said a computerized voice. “Thumbprint, please.”
Shane pressed his thumb against the touch screen.
After a few seconds a second green light flashed on beside the first. “Thumbprint confirmed. Name please.”
“Shane Thermopolis Jones.” Thermopolis wasn’t his middle name. It actually belonged to his youngest brother, Liam. Shane’s real middle name was Breckenridge, because his mother had named him for the place he’d been conceived—which she’d done for all her children, to their secret and not-so-secret embarrassment.
But Niall had used Liam’s middle name deliberately, in case someone had forced Shane this far at gunpoint. All Shane had to do was use his real middle name, and the silent alarm would go off, notifying the alarm company, the police and Niall’s agency.
After a few seconds a third green light flashed on, making three in a row.
“Name confirmed,” the computerized voice said. “Welcome, Senator. Please make yourself at home.”
KILLER COUNTDOWN, Copyright © 2016 by Amelia Autin Lam
You’d think by now I’d know I was on to something, but no. And besides, nowhere had I mentioned Keira’s and Alec’s middle names in Cody Walker’s Woman and Alec’s Royal Assignment. So it couldn’t be a thing. Could it?
Ahem…famous last words.
I was writing The Bodyguard’s Bride-To-Be by now, in which the hero and heroine of Alec’s Royal Assignment were secondary characters. I needed something funny in a scene with hero Marek, Alec, Angelina, and their baby, Drew, to trigger a memory for Tahra, the amnesiac heroine of that book.
…Alec was leading them into the living room as he spoke. “Have a seat. Angelina will be here in a minute.” Just as he said this, the tall blonde woman Tahra recognized from her attendance on the queen in the chapel the other night came into the room carrying a baby dressed in a Denver Broncos orange-and-blue football jersey and baby jeans. And Tahra was drawn forward as if the baby was a magnet and she was a little pile of metal shavings.
“Oh, what’s his name? May I hold him? Please?”
The woman relinquished the baby into Tahra’s arms with a little smile. “Of course. You do not remember, I know, but I am Angelina. Our son’s full name is Andrew Drago Jones, but we call him Drew.”
Tahra was already cooing over little Drew in a way that made Marek’s heart ache with sudden yearning to see her with their baby, but she looked up abruptly at Angelina’s last sentence. “That’s an unusual middle name,” she said. “I know Drago is the capital of Zakhar, but—”
Alec broke in. “Don’t blame me. Angelina picked both names. Andrew after the king—although I insisted on the American Andrew instead of Andre. And Drago because that’s where he was…” He cleared his throat self-consciously.
Angelina’s lips twitched into a tiny smile. “Alec’s mother gave all her children middle names of the cities where they were conceived. I wanted to honor her in some way when Drew was born, so I continued the tradition.”
Tahra turned her gaze on Alec and raised her eyebrows. “Oh?” she asked delicately.
“It’s on my birth certificate and my passport,” Alec growled, “but I’m not volunteering anything.”
Tahra gurgled with laughter, then returned her attention to the baby, tickling him until he laughed with her. “Your daddy’s funny, isn’t he?” she cooed. “And you’re a sweetheart. You are. Yes, you are.” Her voice was soft, warm and oh-so-sweet to the man who loved her, very different from her icy tone earlier.
She glanced up, her blue eyes bright. “Oh, Angelina, he’s wearing the little outfit I gave you at his baby shower. It’s so darling on him.” Marek froze, and so did everyone else in the room, something that was obviously not lost on Tahra. “What?” she asked, the smile fading from her face. “What did I say?”
Marek struggled for words, but Angelina forestalled him. “You remembered,” she said softly, and there was a note of gladness in her voice.
THE BODYGUARD’S BRIDE-TO-BE, Copyright © 2016 by Amelia Autin Lam
So now it was a thing, even though I hadn’t actually stated Alec’s middle name. All I knew was it had to be embarrassing for the alpha male he was.
Which brings me to this scene from Black Ops Warrior. Niall was the last of the Jones siblings to have his story told. And since it was the last in the Jones family saga, I felt obligated to my readers to wrap everything up nicely and neatly where this naming thing was concerned. I pulled up Google Maps and searched the states around Colorado for unusual and/or embarrassing cities with which to afflict…er…I mean gift Niall, Alec, and Keira as middle names. And I found…
…It was very late when Niall walked into his mini-fortress apartment in DC eight days later, mission accomplished. He turned off the alarm automatically—keying in the code, submitting his thumbprint for identification and announcing his name for the computer.
Not his real one, of course. He’d deliberately used his brother Alec’s middle name when setting up the security alarm. So if someone tried to force him at gunpoint to disable the security system all he had to do was use his real middle name, Aspen, and the silent alarm would be triggered.
Aspen wasn’t too bad as middle names went, he’d always thought, especially compared to his brothers. Their mother had tried to make up for the ordinariness of Jones by giving all her children unusual first names. But she’d taken things a step further, giving them middle names of the places where she’d thought they’d been conceived. Which was why his brothers were named Shane Breckenridge, Alec Loveland and Liam Thermopolis Jones. Even his sister, Keira, wasn’t exempt from this convention, although she’d gotten lucky. Sedona was a pretty middle name for a girl, and a lovely place to be named after.
BLACK OPS WARRIOR, Copyright © 2017 by Amelia Autin Lam
And there you have it. Aspen and Sedona are unusual, but not embarrassing. Loveland, on the other hand, for a man who regretted the necessity of killing but not the killing itself? I think it definitely qualifies as embarrassing. Don’t you?
There are five books starring the Jones siblings (one heroine and four heroes). In publication order, they are:
Cody Walker’s Woman, 10/2014 (Keira Sedona Jones, youngest child)
Alec’s Royal Assignment, 08/2015 (Alec Loveland Jones, middle child)
Liam’s Witness Protection, 10/2015 (Liam Thermopolis Jones, fourth child)
Killer Countdown, 08/2016 (Shane Breckenridge Jones, oldest child)
Black Ops Warrior, 12/2017 (Niall Aspen Jones, second child—like me!)