Beautiful Sacrifice: Chapter 4
Well, it’s another Maddox Bro book, I guess it’s time for another standard Maddox Bro first date. Step one: Main character isn’t expecting the date because she already told him no.
“You’d better skedaddle, kiddo,” Phaedra said. “You’ve got to get ready, don’t you?”
I looked down at my clothes. “For what?”
“Are you going out with that boy in your apron?”
“No. I’m not going anywhere with that boy.”
Step two: But obviously he shows up anyway.
“I came to take you to dinner.”
“I canceled,” I said, stuffing my remaining tips in the pocket of my apron.
Which brings us to not exactly a step so much as eternal element of their dynamic from now until the end of the earth: fucking always bickering with each other.
“I’m not oblivious to the fact that you sort of hate my guts. Inherently bitchy women don’t appeal to me.”
There can only be room for one bitchy person in this relationship and it’s already got a Maddox brother in it.
“Right. You prefer the easy ones who pretend to be progressive by going Dutch, and then they are all too eager to fall in line with the hotshot-groupie stereotype by the end of the night in hopes that they’ll somehow hook you with their impressive blow jobs.”
Taylor choked, stopping just short of where I sat, and he leaned his back against the bar. “You’ve got me all figured out, don’t you, Ivy League? […] Were you a psych student? Are you trying to maybe shake me up a bit by analyzing my violent temper and then throwing in a few Freud quotes for good measure?”
Ok, y’all. The wild rumpus has begun. This chapter is long and dense as fuck with dialogue exactly like this. There’s no way in hell I’m gonna be able to get through absolutely every batshit insane thing that somehow counts as flirting between these two. Now that we’re finally getting some lines of dialogue out of Taylor, we can say with certainty that he’s indistinguishable from Travis and Trenton, and he’s inevitably gonna sweep her off her feet by being demanding and insulting for the next 200 or so pages.
Not to say that Falyn doesn’t seem like a piece of shit too. For a character whose entire shtick is “I don’t agree with my family’s stuffy and elitist values so I had to leave!”, get a load of this horseshit:
“I went to college. You don’t scare me.”
“Dartmouth. And community college doesn’t count.”
Cool not-classist-at-all character, Beautiful Sacrifice!
For some inscrutable reason, Taylor lies about having “a bachelor’s in business and a master’s in women’s studies”, which Falyn immediately calls bullshit on before he admits he’s just “taken a couple of courses geared toward women’s studies” and adds that “I’ve found the reading material is on the right side of history”. Guys, I didn’t think we’d wind up reading a fucking Maddox Bro book and joking that he’s the kind of shitty dude who’d slap “I’M A FEMINIST” on his online dating profile like a badge of performative woke-ness, but here we fucking are.
(Except, of course, it’s dumber, because no one in this book actually knows shit about what feminism means, so they gotta dance around it with circuitous and vague statements about how the syllabus in his women’s studies class in college was “on the right side of history”. Jesus Christ, if I wanted to talk about triangles, I wouldn’t talk about shapes with three points and three sides as defined by standard Euclidean definitions. That’s a lot of words to dance around saying something’s a fucking triangle.)
Anyway. Moving on. It gets dumber again when Falyn learns that Taylor’s from Eakins, Illinois, and after pressing him to ensure he isn’t lying (including asking to see his driver’s license, leading to her quipping that his photo is terrible, leading to him quipping that she’s “either a liar or a lesbian” hahahahaha what charming jokers), we get this odd detail:
All the cash in my shoebox upstairs was to pay for a plane ticket to Chicago, a rental car, and a hotel room in Eakins, Illinois. It couldn’t just be a coincidence that this guy had breezed into my café and taken an interest in me.
Why, what is this? A mysterious and oddly withheld character motivation? Oh my, what if her ex is in Eakins? What if she knew that he was Taylor’s brother the whole time? Yeah, that sounds fucking bananas, but that was the actual ending of Beautiful Oblivion. Who the fuck knows what’s waiting for us in Eakins. It could seriously be anything.
Falyn considers going on the date, reasoning with herself that, what the hell, he is really attractive. She tries to criticize his tattoos, starting with one that’s just a woman’s name, to which he says that it’s his mother’s name.
“I prefer shit to sorry.”
“I don’t apologize… anymore.”
“One time I apologized… in Eakins, Illinois. And it will be… the last time…” You know, if you’re going to have a character trait this dumb, maybe just commit to it. Maybe Falyn delivers the wrong order to someone in the diner but she just tells him she doesn’t apologize… anymore…
Which brings us to step three of the standard Maddox Bro first date: she still doesn’t wanna go, but he won’t take no for an answer. Literally. Romaaaaance!
His face fell, and he walked away, but then he came back, frustrated and flustered. “Goddamn, lady, quit busting my balls!”
I raised an eyebrow. “Why do you want me to go out with you so badly? Did you make a bet or something?”
“Because you keep telling me no!”
Unrelated, did you guys see these two headlines from earlier this year?
Which regrettably brings us to step 4 of the standard Maddox Bros date: after constant pressure, she finally gives up and they go on a date. A really boring date. They go to a bar, where Falyn tells him she doesn’t drink. He asks her to dance, and she tells him she doesn’t dance. Of course he makes her dance anyway and tells her he’ll teach her and she gets into it, but you know what sounds like a date that didn’t go very well? One where the person who asked you out only asked you to do things you didn’t want to do. And also told you that he banged the waitress for some reason.
“Shea,” he said.
“I know her.”
“You asked me for the name of the last girl I bagged. It was Shea.”
DUDE WHY WOULD YOU SAY THIS
“It was my first weekend here. She’s a sweetheart… and wild”
SUPER WHY WOULD YOU SAY THIS
Falyn has the same question we’ve had since day one.
“Bagged her? What does that even mean?”
Taylor goes on such a rant that I genuinely wonder if Jamie McGuire’s actually come across some criticism that no one is sure if this is real slang or not.
“Intimate relations. Intercourse. Coitus. Doing the deed. Nookie. Fornicating. Laying pipe. Screwing. Sex. Tapping that ass. Fucking. Need I go on?”
“Please don’t.” I sipped my water.
“I’m a vagrant, as your dad put it.” He lifted his bottle and took a swig.
Guys, I don’t think this date is going well.
Some of Taylor’s friends walk up to them and hand him money, and Falyn figures out that Taylor really did have a bet that he’d go on a date with her. I reiterate, guys, I don’t think this date is going well. The characters in this book don’t seem to think so. Sort of. I don’t fucking know, y’all. It’s a Maddox Bros book. You tell me what this is.
“Yep. I’ve ruined you for all other first dates. Admit it.”
I missed a step as I looked down and then back up. “This isn’t a date.”
“Okay, I’ll buy you dinner. What’s open?”
I stopped dancing. “This isn’t a date. If anything, we’re friends.”
Taylor leaned in, his nose caressing the edge of my ear. “That never works out for me.”
I stepped back. The feeling coming over me was more than just a tad alarming.
YEAH, NO SHIT. Girl, get out of there! The call is coming from inside the house!
Falyn leaves the bar but even she knows how formulaic this book is.
I escaped through the door and walked into the warm summer night air, taking a big breath.
He is going to appear in three, two—
She decides she “had to toss him a bone” (why?) and goes to kiss him on the cheek. Their eyes meet, and she realizes that “I couldn’t pinpoint it, but something had changed”. Yeah, I wonder when that could have happened.
Before the chapter ends, there’s a weird bit where Taylor’s friend Dalton runs up to Falyn because Taylor “promised he wouldn’t walk you home. But he didn’t promise he wouldn’t make me walk you home.” The scene has exactly as much substance as you think it does. I don’t know why I wrote this paragraph.
The chapter ends with Falyn reflecting on Eakins and “being hopeful for the first time since I’d lost hope”. I guess somehow her plan to get back to Eakins involves rejecting Taylor? Or she knows that he’s not giving up yet? I mean, she’s not wrong, but still.