Calendar Girl (Chapter 4): July
The chapter opens with a flashback to Aaron assaulting Mia, then comes back to the present with Anton trying to calm Mia, assuring her that he isn’t going to hurt her. He also does so while “holding me tight, arms locked around my body, preventing any movement”, which seems like a sorta shitty way to try to comfort someone you suspect might have some PTSD.
I used every ounce of strength [and] screamed. He release me [and] I ran to the trash can near the edge of the space and threw up. […] His eyes were dark and filled with sorrow, maybe even pity.
“Don’t look at me like that!” I growled
Anton seems like he’s trying to be a legit helpful person for Mia. Mia starts a truly baffling fight.
“You can talk to me.” His tone was compassionate, filled with worry.
Frustration and anger hit me with a wallop. “You gonna talk to me?” I smacked my own chest. “What’s up with you and food, Anton?”
Wow, I have no idea how we got from A to B here.
Rather, the problem is more so that I do. Obviously they both have some trauma, but there’s such a big gap between what their separate, unaddressed traumas are that leapfrogging from one to the other like this is a little less “structured, flowing dialogue” and a little more “how you structure a ‘your mom’ comeback”.
Nevertheless, Anton goes into his backstory since Mia put him on the spot to just talk about his trauma right now. Nicely done, Mia. Anton tells us his backstory that’s so cliche you already knew it last week. On top of that, it does that thing that every multilingual character in Calendar Girl does and no one in real life does: interject random words from their first language into the conversation they’re having in English.
“But mi papa died when we were very young. Mi mama did the best she could, but there were too many nights I went to bed hungry. Years’ worth of a rumbling belly. […] No more. Mi mama now gets plenty of money from me and lives a quiet, happy life, not wishing for anything. Same with my hermanos. My siblings,” he clarified in English.
Oh good thing he clarified in English. Otherwise it would have been weird.
Mia opens up to Anton about what happened to her with her last client’s son. Anton is shocked to hear it happened that recently. Mia explains that she didn’t press charges either.
“There was no good option. If I’d taken him through the system, more than the two of us would have been hurt, and a lot of people would see harm beyond what putting away one sick fuck would do.”
Anton nodded. “Sometimes the decisions we have to make are harder on us than anyone can ever comprehend.” He said the words with absolutely no judgment. […] “I do not live your life. I cannot possibly understand how a decision one way or the other could be better or worse, for it is not mine to make. Only you have to live with your choices. I can see that this one is weighing very heavily on you.”
Lest you think that Anton sounds like he might be an understanding, alright kind of dude, this immediately segues into a conversation about whether they’re gonna get their junk all up in each other. Using more cringe-worthy language than “get their junk all up in each other”, somehow.
“So can we be friends without the other possibilities?” I asked […]
“Are you attracted to me, Lucita?” […]
“Yes,” I said without reservation.
“Yet you will deny yourself the pleasures of mating with me?”
I smiled wide. The pleasures of mating? Where did he come up with this stuff?
I’m making an assumption here as a straight cis dude, but I’m like 4000% certain that a dude who refers to it as “mating” has no business describing the experience with the word “pleasures”.
“Pity. I was looking forward to bedding you.”
I feel like this is a pretty safe assumption.
They agree to just be friends and we move onto the next scene where we met Maria De La Torre, the new choreographer. She’s described as having “curves that wouldn’t quit”, which means that two of the three female characters in this novel have been described in terms of their curves and their propensity for not quitting.
Maria tests the backup dancers and fires half of them on the spot. When she gets to Mia, she immediately knows she’s not a dancer.
“You are not a dancer,” she said directly without even asking me to repeat the steps the others had gone through. […]
“No, hired escort.” I shrugged and placed my hands on my hips.
I’m glad that Mia’s proud and confident in her position and all, but it’s weird how the rules change in every single book whether Mia wants to keep being an escort a secret to protect her client’s image or whether that’s not a problem.
Maria sees this as not remotely a problem, because she can easily reframe the choreography so that the star not dancing isn’t an issue. Anton gushes over how great Maria is, which is the first interesting thing that’s happened in Calendar Girl in a while, because I genuinely can’t tell if this is going to be a “Mia plays matchmaker” with Maria or with Heather, or if her own relationship with Anton will progress unexpectedly. It’s nice to read a Calendar Girl book that I don’t already know the ending to!
Mia can tell that Heather’s not happy about something, and Heather opens up that she’s worried that Maria being here means that all of her ideas for the video are out the window now. She explains that it’s not really about the video – she just wants the video to be good – but she got another job offer and is questioning how much of a future she even has working for Anton. Both in terms of developing her career and on a personal level. But not that kind of personal level.
“Are you in love with Anton?” The question left my lips before I could sugarcoat it or lead into it with more subtlety.
Heather’s eyes widened and she leaned over, hands braced on her knees as her entire body shook. Then the roar of laughter ripped from her lungs as she stood back up. Her eyes were teary
Maybe Heather is a more relatable character than I thought, since this is also my reaction to how desirable any of the characters in Calendar Girl are.
“I’m at the point in my career, Mia, where I need to move forward or move on. [But] it’s hard. I’ve been with Anton for four years. [He’s] the closest thing to family I have. […]” Her shoulders slumped. “He’s my best friend, my only friend.” […]
“He can’t know how you feel if you don’t tell him. And he’s definitely not going to change anything unless he’s aware of your needs and the fact that you’ve got other opportunities to consider.”
What’s crazy is that Mia’s advice is perfect for her own issues with Wes. I wonder if the story’s going to be aware of that or if we’re going to go back to square one after this entry in the series ends. Again.