Wow, I picked an interesting time to take a five-chapter break from Calendar Girl, huh.
Calendar Girl (September): Chapter 6
The last chapter ended with Blaine
finally remembering he’s supposed to be the antagonist making Mia an offer in exchange for letting Gin go and leaving her father and the rest of her family alone: the rest of the money upfront, or she spend one night with him.
I could end it easily by just letting him fuck me. I’d done it before. He was great in bed, always had been. […] I could down a couple bottles of wine and let him have his wicked way with me, and all of this would be over. Done. Finito.
If only Mia had a kajillionaire step-brother who could easily pay off the reamining debt before she had to serioously consider prostituting herself to solve the problem. Or a kajillionaire boyfriend. Or a kajillionaire former client who had previously offered his financial support to her if anything was needed and was also French. Damn the cruel hand of fate! If only she had some options!
So it’s definitely an improvement that the story’s villian is finally 1) around, and 2) doing villain things – the villain feels threatening! IMAGINE THAT. – but it’s not escaped my attention that the villain’s sexy talk sounds… identical the the good guys’ sexy talk. And not in a good way:
“I cannot wait to taste your cunt, hear you cry out when I use my teeth and tongue on that sweet button.”
There’s nothing I could possibly write about that sentence that’s funnier than that sentence already is.
His filthy words used to turn me on. Used to, but not now.
I mean, I’m not trying to kink shame here. Everyone’s got their thing and it’s important to find what works for you and not feel like it shouldn’t. But it’s still a little weird how both the good and bad characters in these books use the same demeaning, dominating language to flirt with Mia. The villain throws words like “cunt” at Mia and that’s the sexy part.
Strangely, it takes until this before Mia thinks about how one reason why sleeping with Blaine isn’t her most desireable option is because, ya know, we spent the last eight books reading about how much she loves Wes.
Only he was the wrong man, the wrong voice. […] I shook my head [and had] visions of Wes and me rolling around his bed, laughing […] There would be no way I could violate that trust.
Even with Ginelle’s life on the line, I couldn’t betray Wes like that. There had to be another way.
If only Mia, who just became set to inheret half of an international oil company, had another option to resolve her debt!
Mia manages to haggle with Blaine and makes a deal of her own: she gets a week to think about what she wants to do, and in return Blaine gets a kiss, right here, right now. Anyway, you remember how way back in chapter 1 (WE WERE SO YOUNG AND NAIVE) I criticized how the prose in this book got cranked up way past “trying too hard”?
His eyes lit like the ball dropping in Times Square in New York City signaling a brand new year.
As opposed to the ball that drops in Times Square in Effingham, Illinois, signaling a sale at Frank’s BBQ.
He leaned back and rubbed at his chin before wiping his bottom lip with his thumb – a gesture that used to soak my panties instantly. Now I was dry as the Sahara desert.
Blaine agrees to the deal, they finish dinner, and then he takes her back to her hotel. He demands the room key from her, but she refuses, saying their deal is a single kiss.
“Oh, pretty, pretty Mia, I always remember the details of every negotiation.”
Ah, such depths of villainy: a thrifty attention to detail. Mia and Blaine’s makeout sesh is described in what feels like 400 pages, as Mia gets lost in it, thinking of Wes, before eventually coming to her senses.
I couldn’t help it. I moaned. It had been over a month since I’d had any kind of sexual relief
OH BOO FUCKING HOO, NOT A WHOLE MONTH
My eyes were shut tight as I dry humped my man. Missing his touch, his body.
“Mia, you’re going to make me come.”
Ok, nevermind, the new winner for dialogue that’s supposed to be sexy but is actually hilarious is definitely this moment where Blaine confidently asserts that he’s about to ejaculate prematurely.
Mia comes to her senses about where she is, but not before asking, “Wes?”, setting Blaine off as he asks “Who the fuck is Wes?” Suddenly, Max appears absolutely out of nowhere, sees what’s happening, and pushes Blaine into the wall. Mia goes into panic mode about how her hyperprotective step-brother beating up the mob boss threatening the well-being of her friends and family could possibly go awry.
“Are you Wes?” Blaine sneered.
Max’s head snapped back. “Who’s this joker?” His hard gaze hit mine.
“Um, my ex, uh, Blaine Pintero.”
Blaine adjusted his suit jacket, flapping it and then buttoning one button at the center. “Mia and I have a history.”
“I’ll say. You’re about to be history.” Max rushed him
“You the cocksucker who’s been threatening her?”
“Threatening? Is that what we were doing, Mia? I seem to remember you enjoying our little tete-a-tete a moment ago.” […]
Before I could stop Max or anything to protect Blaine, Max’s tree-trunk-sized arm flung back and his fist connected with Blaine’s jaw. “Listen to me, you little piece of shit. That’s my sister you’re talking about.” […]
This was going to be so bad for me. Fuck!
“You have a brother?” [Blaine’s] eyes opened wide […]
“If I ever see you touch my sister again, I will hunt you down and skin you alive with a blunt knife!” He raked him up against the wall. Blaine’s head smacked the surface a few times, making a dull thud noise.
Ok, this is probably gonna sound weird, but… I’m kind of digging this chapter? Calendar Girl has actually come a long way from its fuck-of-the-month roots, and risking the formula with plot developments that challenge the motives driving the story in the first place is starting to… we’re not quite all the way at “starting to pay off”, but the story is finally interesting. Blaine is finally truly threatening. The debt finally feels like a crisis (at least because the story is playing with the deadline… the fact that Mia is conveniently ignoring her new resources for paying it off still makes this all more than a little stupid). And FUCKING MAX, YOU GUYS. His obsessiveness over Mia came off as unhinged and unfounded in the last book, and… well, it still does here. It’s still very unclear why Mia is suddenly everything to this scarily violent man, but, damn, at least he commits to the bit. It’s simultaneously touching and terrifying that Max is so willing to get caught up in this thing he doesn’t understand. There’s a fascinating tension in how his actions both protect and endanger Mia, although it sucks that so much of the “love” in this book is gendered and toxic (this isn’t the first time a man has punched another man out of love for Mia; it’s tropey, and it does the book no favors to unquestionably frame this violence as love). But this grey-area complexity is finally all contributing towards making the story something it’s never been before: compelling.
Blaine pulled out a handkerchief and wiped at the blood around his mouth. “No worries, big guy. Mia and I have come to an agreement, if you will. Mia, I’ll leave you with your, uh, brother.”
Blaine leaves, and Mia and Max need to have a talk about a few things. For instance, plot convenience.
“What are you doing here anyway?”
“That’s a damn good question, darlin’.”
PRO WRITING TIP: Acknowledgement of plot contrivance doesn’t automatically make the plot less contrived.
Mia brings Max up to speed on Blaine, Gin’s kidnapping, and, most importantly, the missed payment and the new conditions of her debt.
“What do you owe?”
I blinked, letting more tears fall. “Right now, two hundred large.”
His eyebrows narrowed. “That’s all?”
PRO WRITING TIP: ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF PLOT CONTRIVANCE DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MAKE THE PLOT LESS CONTRIVED
“Darlin’, how much do you owe period?” His voice was now soft, tinged with worry. […]
“Either I can pay him the four hundred or…” I swallowed repeatedly, trying to push that giant ball of ugly down my throat so I could speak, admit the truth of what I’d considered doing but know I couldn’t. […] “A night in his bed.”
Max leaned forward and pressed his forehead to mine. “Darlin’, that’s going to happen over my dead body.” […]
What Max didn’t know was that Blaine was the exact type of man who would make that happen without so much as a fleck of remorse.
See? THIS tension is great! The tension that Max and Mia have the financial resources to have resolved this problem yesterday and the entire plot depends on them not remembering that is… let’s go with less great. But, still, Max vs Blaine is a fun new dynamic.
The chapter ends with Gin calling Mia to let her know that she’s
still ostensibly a character in this story back home safe.