It’s just another day at Generic Cafe. Falyn tells us about another minor character, a high-schooler named Hannah who works part-time. Hannah is travelling with her mother this summer! She thinks it’s cool that Falyn’s mom is a surgeon! I tried to muster enthusiasm about this.
We also get some details about today’s customers:
John used to be the girls’ lacrosse coach, but he was now a salesman at a Ford dealership. He was distracted by his children, and I tried my best not to look too long in their direction.
When I first read this, it was hard to distinguish it from the usual filler we’ve been getting in this story – see Hannah above- but I actually think this John guy might be part of the big mystery.
Exhibit A: Someone Falyn knew from high school starts bothering her about why she dropped out of Dartmouth. It isn’t entirely clear why he’s being so nosy, but John interrupts and tells him to back off.
“Or nuts,” Hannah said. “Didn’t they almost get a divorce a few years ago, right before he quit coaching?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t pay attention to the gossip.”
Hannah, I don’t know if you’re actually important to this story, and I certainly don’t care about your summer plans with your mom despite Jamie McGuire dedicated multiple pages to this, but thank you for this exposition. I bet Falyn had something to do with this almost-divorce.
Exhibit C: Before John leaves, he says this to Falyn:
“I’m so sorry,” he said. “She asked why we never come in here anymore. I’ll try not to come back.”
I shook my head. “It’s fine. I understand.”
“I’m truly sorry, Falyn.
I’m actually a little intrigued!
Anyway, the cafe staff start talking about whether Falyn will go out with Taylor again. In case you forgot the importance of Eakins, Illinois and the mystery behind it, the book has a dramatic reminder for you:
“He’s from Eakins, Illinois.”
Phaedra blinked. “What did you say?”
“Taylor. He’s from Eakins.”
Phaedra paled. “Did you tell him?”
My nose wrinkled. “Of course not.”
“Tell him what?” Kirby asked.
“It’s personal,” Phaedra snapped. “She’ll tell you if she wants to, but don’t bug her about it.”
Well then why the hell are you two openly talking around this in front of Kirby? Also why are you snapping at her when that seems like a pretty reasonable question to ask.
Anyway, Taylor and two of his buddies show up, and…wait just a minute. TREX IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND?
“Did Trex quit?” I asked, making sure not to make too much eye contact with Taylor.
Dalton, Zeke, and Taylor all traded looks.
Then Taylor addressed me, “Trex isn’t on our crew. We met him at our hotel.”
The mystery of Trex is really the only mystery I care about in this whole story. I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this man of mystery.
Taylor tries to convince Falyn to hang out with him again. She says no.
Taylor sat back and sighed. “I know what I said, but that was when I thought you were just playing hard to get. I didn’t actually know you were impossible.”
But apparently this is all part of some long-con because Taylor is from Eakins…Is this all an elaborate ploy for Falyn to get a ride somewhere? It seems like she could just be pretty straightforward about wanting to go there and not have to go to such weird lengths.
“If you don’t like him, why do you look like you’re dying to giggle like a schoolgirl?” Chuck wiped his sweaty brow with his forearm.
“He’s from Eakins,” I said simply.
“Eakins? Like Eakins, Illinois, Eakins?”
“Yes.” I bit my lip.
“Does he know?”
“No, he doesn’t know. Phaedra asked the same thing. Why would I suddenly start telling everyone?”
Matthew is right, this would be so much easier to accept if it was in third-person. This weird secret-keeping from the reader/talking around the secrets that we’ve seen this whole series is really strange in first-person.
My best guess right now is that John and Falyn had an affair, she got pregnant, gave the baby up for adoption, the kid is now in Eakins, and Falyn wants to go make sure they’re okay. I would also guess that this was the titular beautiful sacrifice.
Chuck and Falyn argue. He wants to lend her money to go to Eakins, and she wants to do it on her own. I have no idea how Taylor fits into this plan and why she’d rather trick him than just accept a small loan from a friend (she’s saved up most of the money already anyway.) But she has to do it on her own.
“Or at least, mostly on my own.”
Chuck busied himself again with the soup. “That is going to be one pissed off young man when he figures out what you’re doing.”
“YOU TRICKED ME INTO GIVING YOU A RIDE TO MY HOMETOWN?? I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME BUT IT WAS ALL FOR EAKINS??” – Taylor, later. Probably.
Taylor shows up at the end of the day asking if he can do laundry at Falyn’s. The staff without Netflix watch with baited breath. Finally, she lets him in and agrees he can do laundry at her place. Ah. No one does romance quite like a Maddox.