Beautiful Redemption: Chapter 17
Thomas notices his dad talking to Liis and abruptly stops hugging his ex-girlfriend to see what all the fuss is about.
“Did you interrogate her sufficiently while I was gone, Dad?” Thomas asked.
“Not as well as you would have, I’m sure.” Jim turned to me. “Thomas should have been a detective.”
Despite the uncomfortable proximity to the truth, I held a smile.
This is definitely just supposed to be a light joke, but given that Liis’s actual job is being a secret agent, I kind of feel like her ability to do this shouldn’t be in question.
For some reason, Thomas and Liis have to have a whole conversation about how Liis feels about Thomas getting a hug from his ex who broke up with him. I mean, sure, exes aren’t the easiest aspect of anyone’s life, but read this conversation and let me know if it doesn’t seem like the story’s really straining something:
“I didn’t know she was going to do that. I’m sorry.”
For clarification, “that” was a hug. Continue.
I felt my expression crumble. “I wish you could have seen that through my eyes and then hear you say she’s in the past with my ears.”
“She was apologizing, Liis. What was I supposed to do?”
“I don’t know… not look heartbroken?”
Even Thomas Fucking Maddox understands that this is some really wonky logic for the narrative to pin a whole Fight on.
“I am, Liis. I am heartbroken. What happened is fucking sad.”
“Great! Let’s go!” I said, my words dripping with false excitement and sarcasm.
What is happening in this scene?
You know that a Jamie McGuire novel is getting weird when a Maddox is making some actual good points.
“I loved Camille— but not like this, not like you.” I glanced around.
“Stop it, Thomas. No one can hear you.”
“Can you?” he asked.
Actually, nevermind. I take it back. Some of this fight is great.
“What? What can I say to convince you?”
“Keep telling me how sad you are to lose Camille. I’m sure that will eventually work.”
This ends with the someone shouts something right as the room goes quiet” cliche.
“I want you not to love her anymore!”
The music was in between songs, and everyone turned toward the corner where Thomas and I stood. Camille and Trenton were talking to another couple, and Camille looked just as humiliated as I was.
This would be a convenient way for there to finally be some kind of Camille confrontation, which surely anyone following the series who read a whole book from her perspective would find fascinating. So, of course, the book totally ignores the opportunity and just has Liis narrate her feelings for a few pages. Because we haven’t already read a lot of that or anything.
Being with Jackson, I could control my feelings. Yelling at him during a party would never have crossed my mind. He would have been shocked to see me lashing out.
When it came to Thomas, I was all over the place.
Much like this plot.
“The lines are beginning to blur, Liis. Was that just for show?”
“I’m working. Aren’t you?” A lump formed in my throat. It was the best lie I’d ever told.
“Wow,” he said before releasing me and then walking away.
If the other person is openly convinced you’re lying, does that really make it the best lie you ever told?
At this point, Travis shows up at his surprise bachelor party, where the Maddoxes continue to be bizarrely unsavory all across the board.
Taylor and his twin threw penis confetti into Travis’s face, and everyone cheered.
It’s pretty obvious that I am not someone who has a lot in common with men like the Maddox brothers-
-but there’s just so much about these characters that’s so weird. Two Maddoxes are throwing confetti shaped like penises at their brother while calling him a cock-tip and a pussy, in what is somehow a congratulatory manner. Also their dad is there. Like, right there. I mean, pause and really think about these men. The ones who, out of love for their brother to mark the occasion of his marriage, can only articulate this by shouting “Pussy!” at him. How the fuck are we going to read a whole book about a woman falling in love with someone who’s so barely a stock character that “stock penis” would be a more appropriate description. Which I am coining right now.
Speaking of the various stock penises we’ve had to read entire novels about women falling in love with:
A still scantily clad and shiny Trenton popped and locked, bumped and grinded to the music. Thomas and Jim shook their heads at the sight.
Who are these people.
Anyway, remember when we read a whole fucking book about Thomas and Cami falling in love? Let’s pretend that we liked that book. (Take as long as you need to get into character.) Isn’t it exciting that, in this book, we get to see them finally get engaged?
Well, this book doesn’t seem to think so.
Someone turned down the music, and Trenton walked over to Camille. He took both of her hands, pulling her to the center of the room. He knelt onto one knee and held up a small box.
[Thomas] leaned down to whisper in my ear, “I’m sorry.” He took a few steps backward and then quietly walked along the back wall, creeping behind the crowd, until he reached the exit.
After one last glance at Camille as she covered her mouth and nodded her head
And that’s it! Sure, this book isn’t Trenton and Cami’s story, but given that we did read (maybe I haven’t stressed this enough) a whole book that was about their story, would it really be too much to ask for, I don’t know, one line of dialogue when they get ENGAGED? How is that not what happens here?
Cami leaves the party. A local drunk tries to hit on her, she says not to touch her, he does, she bends back his fingers and yells at him. Props! On a less positive note, almost every Maddox brother suddenly shows up right at this moment to help take care of the guy, who they know.
Seriously, this is very unfortunate.
Tyler’s eyebrows shot up, and he laughed once. “Tommy’s Asian beauty knows ca-rah-tay!”
Boy oh boy, I can’t wait to read a whole book about the woman who falls in love with this man.
They eventually make it back to the family house. The twins go to sleep, and things get awkward between Liis and Thomas.
“Thomas, we need to talk,” I began.
“I’m going to take a shower. You want to go first?”
Liis tries to open up while he’s in the shower, but he ignores her.
“I didn’t enjoy being with Jackson. Almost from the beginning, I knew this was different. I can see it and feel it, but it still doesn’t seem right to me to jump back into something when I’ve been looking forward to being alone for so long.”
“But if I do, I need you to be totally over her. I don’t think that’s entirely unreasonable. Do you?” I waited. “Can you hear me?”
So she opts for Plan B. Plan B is tits.
He wiped the soap away and glanced at me, and then he quickly rinsed his face and looked again, his eyebrows pushing toward his hairline.
I shut the door behind me. “Are you listening?”
They get ooooone more weird argument in before they start banging.
“But will you stay?” He looked down at me.
I frowned. “Thomas…”
“Will you stay?” he asked again, emphasizing the last word.
“Define stay.” He took a step back, the spell gone.
…was that an unreasonable request? There was no context explaining what “stay” meant. He could have fucking said “But will you juggle?” and it would have made been roughly as clear what exactly he was asking.
They have a talk about “Why [they] can’t just try” and to “Stop overthinking it”, Liis points out she can’t keep a promise to stay in San Diego forever, Thomas responds that he doesn’t expect her to and would move wherever she does if that happens. And then Liis realizes that, actually, that works.
“Oh. Then… I could… probably do that,” I said
The reader might realize they could have had that conversation way earlier in the book if this was seriously their only problem, but shhhhh we’re not overthinking things right now.
But he didn’t move. He was waiting for something.
I touched my lips to his ear, biting my lip at the anticipation of what I was about to say and what it would lead to. “We can stop pretending, sir.”
And then they fuck.
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