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Chapter 15: Tomorrow
Travis only has two more weeks of a contrived situation in which the girl he’s crazy about is living in his apartment but she just thinks of him as a friend! What’s a boy to do?
I put on the charm; pulled out all the stops; spared no expense. We went bowling, on dinner dates, lunch dates, and to the movies.
Everything, of course, except for actually telling her how he feels.
Abby laughed a lot, but she never opened up. […] Still in that bubble. Still oblivious. That my efforts were being ignored was at times infuriating […] “I’ve tried everything. I can’t get through to her.”
Everything EXCEPT FOR TELLING HER.
I get that this is a legitimate problem people have, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with a story about people who just won’t talk to each other about their feelings. In fact, there are “good” stories about this very thing, ranging from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to the first season and a half of FRIENDS. But the difference here is that it’s being drawn out artificially. Remember that time they almost had sex and then just never talked about it for two weeks while they platonically shared a bed, which is an actual scenario I have to take seriously to consider how things managed to get even more implausible beyond that? These two aren’t just not talking to each other. This novel is only happening because they don’t seem to even know that’s an option, making this novel roughly the same experience as watching a horror movie where you’re constantly wondering why nobody’s used their cell phones yet. [Ariel says: Unless there’s no cell reception because it’s The Hills Have Eyes and life is scary as fuck.]
I’m taking the time to reiterate this criticism because this becomes very important in these next two chapters. If you thought this book was stupid and pointless before, your mind is about to get blown.
On the last night, Travis is distraught, talking about how:
- Abby’s going to move out and she’ll be with Parker (Is she? In the two weeks since that whole Parker walking in on Travis and Abby sharing a bed and him telling apparently the entire campus about it thing, we’re supposed to assume that’s also something people have not talked about and sort of just forgotten? As we learned in yesterday’s post over in Beautiful Disaster-land, Parker and Abby agreed to sort of just “pause” until the bet is over, which is a) stupid because the bet is equally arbitrary as them dating anyway and has no reason to take precedence, and b) probably the sort of information we also need in this novel, lest someone reading it be as confused as I am if they’re still dating and, more importantly, why.)
- He hasn’t felt this way since his mom died (which is… hyperbolic…). [Ariel says: Maybe Travis will reveal that his mother died tragically after a contrived bet came to an end.] [Matthew says: That might be the only way everything could logically come together at the end of this book. As opposed to the more likely just Travis and Abby coming together at the end of this book.]
Shepley suggests he cook her a romantic meal. Of course, no one in this book uses the word “romantic”, because that would suggest someone says words to someone instead of relying exclusively on gestures [Ariel says: Like romantically or aggressively throwing food on someone else’s plate]. This is a totally different book.
Travis does just that, but the novel continues to do the exact same thing again and again. Travis does a romantic gesture without telling Abby how he really feels. Abby acts/is oblivious to the whole thing. Food gets thrown onto plates. [Ariel says: See? What’d we tell ya.]
I tossed a slice of garlic bread onto her plate, and she smiled. “You’ve thought of everything.”
Which is also, humorously, very similar to dialogue from The Room.
They have dinner, talking about how they’re going to miss each other, how things aren’t going to change, how they will change, how nuh uh they totes will change, and so on and so forth.
Abby closed her eyes and leaned down. I knew she meant to kiss the corner of my mouth [Ariel says: Can someone explain kissing the corner of someone’s mouth to me? I’ve never understood that], but I turned so that our lips met. It was my last chance. I had to kiss her goodbye.
She froze for a moment, but then her body relaxed, and she let her lips linger on mine.
Abby finally pulled away, playing it off with a smile. “I have a big day tomorrow. I’m going to clean up the kitchen, and then I’m going to bed.”
They clean the kitchen, cuddle up between the sheets, Travis is all “I’ve never been less okay in my life”, and Abby tells him to not be silly because they’ll still see each other. Travis insists that’s not true [Ariel says: I guess he already forgot about poor plot puppy], and that is literally everything we have to try to make sense out of this:
Without warning, Abby puckered her lips and touched them to my neck. […] Unsure of how it happened, I’d finally gotten through to her. (Same.) Abby finally realized my feelings for her, and the light had suddenly come on. […]
I leaned down, pressing my lips against hers, soft and slow. […] Abby pulled me closer to her. Each movement she made was further affirmation of her answer. (Her entirely non-verbal answer) She felt the same. She cared about me. (Nobody has said any words yet)
Detective Travis deduces that Abby wants him.
She wanted me. […]
“I want you,” she said.
Things heat up, and even though Travis is hesitant to have sex with Abby (because, to his genuine credit, he thinks they’re on the same page now and there’s no need to rush), Abby puts up a compelling argument, which basically means “increasingly becomes an absurd parody of herself”:
“Wait a sec,” I whispered, breathing hard. “You don’t have to do this, Pidge.” […]
She looked up at me, serious and resolute. “Don’t make me beg,” she whispered against my mouth. […]
“Pigeon,” I said, panting, “it doesn’t have to be tonight. I’ll wait until you’re ready.”
Abby reached for the top drawer of the nightstand, pulling it open. Plastic crackled in her hand, and then she ripped the square package open with her teeth.
And, lo, they have sex.
Man, I wonder if Travis is going to say something incredibly weird.
“That was some first kiss,” she said with a tired, contented expression.
I scanned her face and smiled. “Your last first kiss.”
Hahaha YEP! [Ariel says: Oh yeah, that happened in my book too. It would have been romantic if he had prefaced it with like, “I hope it’s your last first kiss,” or if it had been said in retrospect when they were an established couple. It just seems really presumptuous and kind of psychotic knowing what we know about Travis. Like Abby hasn’t even verbally confirmed that she wants a relationship with him, and he’s like, “This is gonna lead to 4ever.”]
Chapter 16: Space and Time
Travis wakes up to find that Abby has left the apartment. Even though the chapter title would strongly suggest this, no, she was not suddenly picked up to go on adventures with The Doctor.
“You took her home? To Morgan? In the middle of the fucking night? Why?”
“Because she asked me to!” [Shep said.]
America continues to play her role of “character who interjects statements that don’t actually explain things as well as everyone acts like they do”.
America took another step. “She just hates goodbyes, Travis!”
Now, to be fair, this is a very difficult situation for Travis. Something finally happened with a girl he’s been crazy about who was previously rebuffing his efforts, and in the process he took her virginity against his better judgment after she explicitly stated multiple times it was what she wanted, except now she’s disappeared. Travis is worried he’s hurt his best friend and caused irreparable harm to his relationship.
Naturally, he decides to destroy his apartment.
I picked [a stool] up by the legs and smashed it against the refrigerator until it broke. The refrigerator door popped open, and I kicked it. The force caused it to spring open again, so I kicked it again, and again […] I stomped to my room. The messy sheets on the bed mocked me. My arms flung in every direction as I ripped them off the mattress
His rampage takes us to what might be the goofiest symbolism I’ve ever seen in a book ever.
The hinges squeaked when I opened [the nightstand], revealing the fishbowl of condoms. (Incidentally, how deep is this nightstand drawer?) […] The glass was cold in my hand as I picked it up and launched it across the room. It made contact with the wall beside the door and shattered, spraying small foil packages in every direction.
NOT THE CONDOM BOWL! [Ariel says: I can feel all of Travis’ dreams being smashed along with it! Too real, Travis!]
Shepley and America eventually get Travis to calm down when they try to get Abby on the phone.
Fucking of course I am.
“I bagged her. I mean, I didn’t bag her, we…”
OH MY GOD WHAT CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Now, to her credit, Jamie McGuire is doing that showing not telling thing I’m always criticizing these books for not doing, but the effect is a little underwhelming since – ultimately – this still reeks of misogyny and a word that has always sounded really dumb. And he still fucks it up because he uses the word anyway. This is hardly a personal epiphany like, say, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. While I’m sure the implication of this line is supposed to be:
He puzzled and puzzled til his puzzler was sore
Then Travis thought of something he hadn’t before
“Maybe bagging,” he thought. “Doesn’t come from a whore.
“Maybe bagging, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
…it’s actually a little more like:
No, seriously, is “bagging” a real term for having sex?
Now, remember how Abby seemed to just sort of decide to have sex with Travis out of nowhere? Nobody said anything explicitly about romantic feelings (or at least said anything new implying romantic feelings), and they just sort of started making out and had sex? Which is not, of course, saying that people don’t just suddenly kiss in a romantic moment, but rather that Abby doesn’t have any motivation for suddenly wanting to have sex with Travis that the reader is aware of (which is also the case, strangely, when reading this scene in Beautiful Disaster from Abby’s perspective, where you’d think that sort of thing would come up).
Travis gets Abby on the phone:
“What the fuck happened to you last night? I wake up this morning, and you’re gone and you… you just leave […]”
“I’m sorry. I-“
“You’re sorry? I’ve been going crazy! […] I thought we finally had everything figured out!” (I don’t know why)
“I just needed some time to think. […]”
“You regret it.”
“It’s not… that’s not what it is. We’re friends. That’s not going to change.”
“Friends? Then what the fuck was last night?”
I could hear her breath catch. “I know what you want. I just can’t do that right now.”
“So you just need some time? You could have told me that. (Oh, now he’s all about talking about feelings.) You didn’t have to run out on me.”
“It just seemed like the easiest way.”
“Easier for who?” (Whom.)
So it still makes no sense why Abby suddenly decided to sleep with Travis, since the thoughts “This is my friend” and “I’m going to have sex with him right now” don’t really go hand in hand. Now, sure, it is understandable that she would be confused and need time to think after this, but it doesn’t explain why she did it in the first place.
Furthermore, it is also not understandable why she would go on a date with Parker after this has happened.
“You guys going out?”
“With who?” It only took me a few seconds to figure it out. “Parker.”
The chapter ends with Travis surprising Abby by showing up at her door immediately after her date with Parker and taking her out, which she does happily, just in case you still aren’t completely convinced that there is no proper given reason why the leads of this romance novel had sex all of a sudden. [Ariel says: Think about it this way: it made sense when Ana and Christian had sex, and it made sense when Gideon and Eva had sex. We didn’t like it, it was gross, and the stories were terrible, but I was never like, “Well, this came out of left field.”] [Matthew adds: Ha. Came. Wow, that’s the second time I jumped onto one of your comments in this post just to make a joke about cum.]
She smiled and shook her head. “It’s only been two days, Trav.”
“I miss you. Get your ass on the seat and let’s go.”
She contemplated my offer, and then zipped up her jacket and climbed on the seat behind me.
You had one job, Jamie McGuire.