I know, it’s very exciting to be back reading a story about romance where the question is “will they or won’t they?” and not “but when does fried chicken come in?”
Calendar Girl (July): Chapter 2
Anton takes Mia and Heather back to his penthouse, where Heather takes Mia to the kitchen and makes martinis to talk business. Sorta.
“So what does Anton have planned for me?” I asked […]
Heather smirked and smiled. “You mean aside from fucking you?” The statement was more an accusation than a question. I balked, unable to believe the audacity of what she’d just said. “Don’t act all coy. I saw the way the two of you were eye-fucking each other in the studio earlier. I give it until evening before he has you laid out underneath him.”
The most significant part of this exchange for me isn’t what we learn about Heather’s tactlessness and assumptions about Mia, but instead that they’re going to refer to him as “Anton” and not “Latin Lov-ah”. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that I’m not gonna have to write that like a hundred times for this summary.
Mia gets a rare moment where she stands up for herself and actually kicks ass.
“You really don’t think that highly of me, do you?” The words came out as venomous as a rattlesnake’s bite.
Her eyebrows scrunched together. “Don’t you fuck all your clients? You are an escort.”
That one word carried an enormous amount of scorn. On that note, I smacked the glass down, red liquid sloshing all over the counter. “I fuck who I want, when I want to. It’s not part of my contract. I’m an escort not a whore. […] Now I know why you don’t have any friends. You’re judgmental, pissy, and downright rude!”
Heather backed up a few steps […] “I’m sorry, Mia. That was rude of me.”
“Damn right it was rude!” […]
“Again, please, I’m sorry. I didn’t hire you to be his bedmate. He has plenty of those. You’re going to be the main woman in the new video.”
Okay, I’m definitely overthinking this, but Ariel had a similar question yesterday so it’s not just me: there seem to be a ton of people in Calendar Girl hiring escorts without knowing what an escort does. Sure, we can assume a lot of people are hiring an escort for the first time since they’re apparently seeking Mia out after seeing her in ads and art and stuff, so maybe they don’t know, but that kinda makes it worse because that just raises the question of how they’re even finding Mia’s management in the first place. Isn’t her aunt’s escort business supposed to be kinda on the DL?
Anyway, at this point, Calendar Girl realizes it’s written itself into a bit of a corner and needs a natural segue for these two into friendship.
“A woman he wants, a seductress that he can’t have.”
A seductress. Now there was something I hadn’t been. It sounded so ridiculous, especially in light of the heated conversation we’d just had, that I tipped my head back and laughed. […]
“Um, okay… well, no more ’tinis for you!” She winked, effectively lightening the situation.
There’s another significant moment during Mia’s reaction to Heather’s assumptions that does make sense though:
I say who, and I say when. Period.
Thoughts of the man who’d wanted to push the physical who and the when onto m, crept their sinister way into my subconscious. [sic]
Okay, aside from the typo in the book that’s actually bad enough that I don’t know what specifically it was trying to say (it’s seriously just the letter ‘m’, what does this mean), the rest of this does make sense in response to the events of the last book. Take note of this, it’ll come up again.
Anyway, Mia and Heather call a truce over Heather’s misunderstanding, and Anton comes in the room to continue the Calendar Girl tradition of men who 1) are vaguely misogynist at all times, and 2) in ways that don’t even make a lot of sense.
“Two ladies shaking hands over a couple of alcoholic beverages can be cause to make a man nervous. What are you two conspiring?” Anton entered
Nothing like a man suspecting that this weirdly specific set of normal circumstances is grounds for female agenda conspiracy! Is your reaction to Anton already SWOON? Because Mia’s sure is!
Damn, even his feet were lickable. That right there said more than it should about the insanely beautiful specimen standing before me.
Nah, I’m pretty sure this actually says more about Mia.
Things get more serious as it becomes more apparent that Calendar Girl finally wants an event in this story to have lasting consequences that affect the main character.
the way his words seemed to roll off his tongue like sex incarnate… did something to me. Something I did not want to feel after what I’d just gone through in June with Aaron.
Anton tells Mia that she’s “damn fine” and asks is she’s “got moves”, and tries to playfully/seductively dance with her a little bit. It doesn’t go as expected.
With the lightest touch of the tips of two fingers […] a gnarled pair of claws worked their way up from where he held my wrist up my arm, over my chest to coil around my heart and squeeze. […] every nerve prickling with the desire to run, cower… escape.
“You ready to get pounded?” he growls, his breath hitting my face with little flecks of spittle. […]
“No!” I screamed and pushed the hard body standing too close and then jumped back until I hit the edge of a couch. A couch? Huh? Moving my head back and forth I shook off the web of memories clouding my judgment.
Holy fucking shit! What. The. Hell. Was. That?
Two pairs of horrified eyes watched as I came to. “Mia…” Heather gasped, her hand over her mouth.
“Lucita, I… perdóname. I’m sorry. Did I hurt you somehow?” Anton’s voice was tinged with distaste and something that I could only name as fear.
Ok, so we’re gonna have to pop back into our No Jokes Zone for a second.
I think at this time, I have two feelings for and against this arc. I’m on board with this development so far because:
- For a serialized story, there’s been pretty much nothing in terms of character growth and lasting consequences from book to book. This is a problem because you could have read the February through May entries in basically any order and Mia would have been the same person with the same problems. Which is bad. People should develop over the course of the story or actually take something with them along the way, and there hasn’t really been any of that.
- Sexual assault was always a real threat in this story, given Mia’s new line of work. It doesn’t feel gimmicky; it always felt like a looming threat in her new world.
But I have reservations about this because:
- At the same time, sexual assault in books and other stories has become sorta… passe? Which is a problem insofar as we see a lot of stories nowadays use it as a gritty shortcut to realism, and that it runs the risk of conflating character development with characters that exist for the sake of suffering. (Further reading that fleshes out these criticisms here and here)
- Calendar Girl‘s track record isn’t… great. The worst case scenario here is, bluntly, that Anton “fixes” Mia’s sexual assault trauma. With his dick. It’s cynical of me to worry about that, but we’ve seen this exact thing happen before in Crossfire. When these books fuck up survivor stories, they fuck up.
Mia tries to brush off what happened with a lie (both to her clients and to herself) about being tired from traveling, not having eaten, and just having had a martini. Anton immediately suggests taking them to his favorite restaurant to address that.
Thankfully, Calendar Girl quickly returns to being a mess we know and love when it develops Anton by pretty much ripping off a notable part of Christian Grey’s backstory, and does so with all the subtlety of… well… anything Christian Grey ever did, really.
Anton ordered a shrimp and pasta dish and ate his food with speed and efficiency, as though it would jump off his plate back into the ocean. When I questioned his feverish eating, he frowned, wiped his mouth, and looked out over the Atlantic. Heather studiously changed the subject before he could answer. Apparently she knew something about this particular hot button item that I didn’t.
I’m sure the starving backstory is a coincidence, but I’m watching you, Calendar Girl, if Anton ever expresses his desires being unconventional.
Mia admits that she has no dance skills, which surprises Anton, but he’s chill about it since he cast her more so because she looked perfect for the role. Calling this one right now: over the course of this book, Audrey Carlan is going to write a mindnumbingly large number of jokes about how Mia’s white and can’t dance.
He and Heather discuss calling up one of a contemporary dancer/choreographer contact of theirs to help Mia prepare for the role, and realize that might also help out with the issues they’re having with the backup dancers.
Apparently noticing that Mia’s not actively solving anyone’s problems right now, Calendar Girl decides to give Mia more to do. At one point, Heather leaves and Mia asks Anton why he’s so harsh with her and that she had mentioned wanting to be a manager someday. Anton inadvertently reveals that she’s basically already his manager, which Mia points out to him. The book does not tell us what his reaction is, because what’s the point in that? This is Mia’s story about everyone else’s character growth.
The chapter also ends with Mia realizing how much she misses home, because, sure, that too.