Calendar Girl (August) Chapter 5:
So last chapter ended with Max beginning to cry at the reveal of “another sister”, which is the most obvious giveaway on planet earth that he is Mia’s brother. I get why Mia’s mind is not actively coming to this conclusion, but I do not understand why she does not aggressively question this man about the words coming out of his mouth or the tears coming out of his eyes over her mention of Maddy.
Mia gives Max and out and says he must just be upset about his father.
His eyes were absolutely tortured when his brows narrowed, and he shook his head. Tension radiated off his form like a physical wall of magnetic energy. Before I knew it, I was pulled into his arms, my face planted in the center of his chest.
Instead of growing increasingly alarmed by this erratic behaviour, Mia hugs this man back and comforts him! About his father being dead! Even though he’s very clearly not upset about this right now.
“I’m sorry, Mia. I uh, didn’t realize I had that locked under the plate of armor.” He battered a fist against his chest. “It would be kind of you not to mention it to anyone.” He glanced down and away.
I’m 99.9% sure I know what the answer is, but still, what is up with this guy? Not only is he unpleasant to read about because his behaviour is so unsettling, but it also somehow manages to give me second-hand embarrassment at the same time. It’s deeply unenjoyable.
Max takes Mia around his office to meet everyone in his company. It’s not clear to me what they all have to do with this will, but sure, whatever. Finally, Mia meets his cousin, Sofia, who also works there. It does not go well.
The moment we entered the office, a haze of distrust swirled in the air around her. I knew instantly that she was going to pose a problem to our little game of hide-the-real-sister.
Pretending for a hot second that it’s not abundantly clear that Mia is the real sister, they can’t exactly hide someone whose whereabouts they don’t actually know.
“Interesting how all of a sudden my uncle dies and leaves you half of what we’ve all worked our asses off for over the past decade.”
Max finds out in his father’s will that he has a sister…he’s incredibly rich and uses his resources to track down said sister…this is actually the part of the story that makes sense.
Right in front of Mia, Max gives a long-winded speech about how Mia is their family now, and her credentials are “iron-clad, cuz”, and that he knows Sofia is hoping she’ll inherit the money that’s supposed to go to Mia. There’s no mention of this being in the will, so how exactly would she stand to inherit all this money?
Mia realizes she’s enjoying spending time with Max (huh? Why?). This triggers a two-day old flashback to Mia and Wes saying goodbye at the airport (huh? Why?). They hug and he says he’s going to miss her for the three weeks she’s going away. We…knew this. No new information was revealed.
“You’re so easy to be around, Sis.” Max broke through my two-day-old memory.
I guess Mia’s dumb flashbacks serve the purpose of making her good company somehow.
Mia vaguely wonders why he’s still referring to her as “sis” when they’re all alone, but figures he’s just trying to stay in-character. The rest of this chapter is chock full of Mia completely missing every available clue.
Although I realized, rather belatedly, that I enjoyed hearing it far more than was healthy, and if he kept it up, I would lose sight of the fact that I wasn’t really his sister, but someone playing a role. An actress for hire.
The fuck? I don’t care that he is almost certainly her brother, this is weird. She’s been with him for like a day, and he’s acted super creepy for most of that time, and Mia’s reaction is like, “I could get used to him calling me sis! I might even forget it’s not true!” Come now!
They go to eat lunch, and the chapter digresses for awhile to have Max give yet another talk about capitalism. He gives his workers free lunch and other benefits because of the long hours they work, and he explains to Mia how they’re doing what’s best for the consumer. I honestly can’t believe this was included in the story, but I guess the book is working overtime like Max’s employees to convince us that he’s a really good dude.
“…There’s an onsite daycare, gym, and game room for folks to let off some steam when the pressure gets too much. Heck, there’s even a Zen garden for people to walk through to feel in touch with nature.”
This is just a portion of the whole discussion and I felt like I was watching an unconvincing recruitment video about why I should go work for Generic Oil Company Number 4.
The conversation shifts back to Mia’s life and family, and even though Mia finds his questions suspicious, she continues to make increasingly dumb excuses for them.
Max put his elbow on the table and rested his head in his hand. “Tell me about her.”
If I’d been thinking normally, not swayed by the coolness factor of the environment and the ease with which I found myself talking to Max, I would have found his interest odd. Who cared about someone’s random aunt?
Excuse number one centers around how cool the restaurant is that they’re eating in. Let that sink in.
“Um, I guess for starters, I’d say I got my looks from her and Mom.”
“That’s true,” he said, and I narrowed my eyes. How would he know if that statement were true?
But Mia is distracted by the waitress coming over to take their order! So Mia forgets to find this weird. Max then asks her to continue her story and explain why she’s gotten into the escort business.
“…At the very least, when you go home, you’ll have another person you can count on. I’d like to be that person.”
DUDE, get it together. This is such a weird thing to say to someone while you are withholding the truth from them about your familial ties. But Mia is just like, “I’ve learned on my journey not to be cynical, and it’s clear Max is protective of women in a nice way not a bad way.” Like what? You have also met some pretty horrible people along the way (AARON), so why would you not be even somewhat suspicious of this man?
Mia explains how her father was never the same after her mother left and how she’s basically raised her sister:
“Yeah, as close as two people can be. We pretty much only had each other after Mom left and Pops went on a bender. He never really recovered from losing her.” Max scowled and grumbled something I would have sworn was, “I know the feeling,” but I dismissed it instantly. He didn’t know our mother, but then again, he’d said he didn’t know his own, so maybe that’s what he meant.
Witness how Mia’s reasons for glossing over Max’s weird/obvious comments are growing increasingly silly at this point.
“Will you tell me about Madison?” His voice came out soft, almost needy.
Despite the creepiness levels being off the charts here, Mia is like, “SURE THING! I am so proud of my sister and will describe her as weirdly as possible to you now!”
“…she’s beautiful. Long blond hair, super tall and slim with eyes like mine. Though she’s turning more womanly every day.”
What a normal way to describe your sister.
“She’s not a brunette?” He scoffed, which I thought was strange, but I didn’t mention it.
Of course you didn’t mention it, Mia, we still have five chapters left to go.
“You know”— I laughed—“ she looks more like you than she does me! You should have had her pretend to be your sister!” I giggled and his jaw clenched.
Do you think there was anyone out there reading this book who hadn’t figured the plot out at this point?
Anyway, you probably can all see this coming a million miles away, but as soon as Mia explains how she’s trying to earn a million dollars to pay off her father’s debts, Max offers to pay the remaining money off for her, and of course Mia declines.
Licking my lips, I pulled my hand away and looked him straight in the eye. I’d never understand why men like Max thought they could solve all the world’s problems with money.
I get why Mia has declined his offer since she’s known him for two days, but to his credit this is exactly the scenario in which money would 100% solve the problem.