Previously, Taylor and Falyn went on another not-date and then ran into her parents. Falyn goaded her parents by telling them that Taylor’s from Eakins, but was surprised when Taylor also got freaked out that she was making a big deal about Eakins. Almost like he, too, has secrets. He asks her what she knows about the fire, and she’s like “What fire? I’m talking about my secret backstory. Pay attention.”
Beautiful Sacrifice: Chapter 8
The story picks up again six days later, during which time the cafe hasn’t been visited by Taylor, anyone from his crew, nor “the now mysterious Trex”. Just in case you forgot Trex was mysterious now, which kinda makes me feel like he’s definitely secretly someone we already know. Although the fact that his name starts with a “T” probably should have made me suspicious in the first place, in retrospect.
Falyn finally breaks and googles the fire in Eakins, Illinois, and learns about the campus fire that killed dozens of college kids at the end of the first book in this series, as well as how Taylor’s brother Travis is one of the only two people facing charges. I still feel like “fire that claims lives of dozens of nameless college students” is a weird choice for integral lore of a series of interweaving romance novels, but by book four I’m honestly impressed by how well it works as a focal point holding together all the different brothers’ stories. About their love lives. Somehow.
She discusses the mystery with Phadrea.
“No. Not really. Kind of. We ran into my parents. Eakins was brought up. There was a misunderstanding.”
A knowing smile lit up Phaedra’s face. “He figured out you were using him?”
“What? No. I’m not using him,” I said, guilt washing over me.
“You’re not, huh?”
“I’m… renting him. He doesn’t have to take me if he doesn’t want to. I’m not being fake. I’m being pretty damn mean actually.”
I like how even Falyn isn’t sure why Taylor’s still bothering with her. Actually, no one in this scene is hiding the fact that the story they’re in is getting a little far-fetched:
“I think he thinks I’m somehow involved in an investigation of his little brother.”
“What in the Sam Hades? Where did that come from?”
We get an obligatory scene of Falyn working her shift, where she spends a lot of time talking with her favorite regular customer, Don, who just showed up totally out of the blue, talking about how he’s the sweetest old man ever and kissing him on the cheek, so, uh, guess he’s gonna be important in about five pages. Taylor, Zeke, and Dalton show up. Then Jamie McGuire realizes we’re a third of the way into this book and the plot needs to pick it up a little bit, so apparently it’s time for some bitches to die.
“Don?” I said.
He fell over, hitting the tiled floor hard with his shoulder and head. His glasses slid off his face, flying a few feet across the floor.
“Don!” I yelled, running over to him. […] “He’s not breathing.” The reality of what that meant made my heart sink. “He’s not breathing! Someone, help him!” I screamed.
Taylor and Dalton try to administer CPR while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, but Don’s super dead. Falyn is shaken, Taylor takes her upstairs to her room, and I search through the book to see if we seriously just met Don just so Beautiful Sacrifice could kill someone off. (Apparently he did get mentioned as her favorite customer on, like, page two. He had a “trademark fedora” and “didn’t need a menu”. Can’t believe he’s gone.)
Because, yeah, apparently we needed Don to die so that Falyn and Taylor had an excuse to touch each other.
Nestled in Taylor’s arms, feeling a myriad of emotions was more than I could stand. […] Once he was convinced I wasn’t going into shock, he relaxed back against the sofa. “I’m really pretty comfortable. No expectations.”
He held me close, letting me cry.
His arms were safe and strong, and even though there was no space between us, I needed him to be closer. I gripped his T-shirt in my fist and pulled him tighter against me. He obliged without hesitation. […]
“I wasn’t prepared for how good this feels,” Taylor said. “Every muscle in my body is relaxed.”
“Like you’ve never sat and held a girl before.”
He was quiet, so I looked up at him.
“You’re full of it,” I said.
“I don’t really…” He trailed off, shrugging. “It’s not my thing. But this is kind of awesome.”
Don’t worry, Don. Your brave sacrifice wasn’t for nothing. Now these two kids can touch each other and feel like it’s kind of awesome.
They start talking about their feelings, which admittedly is more nuanced than I would have anticipated (that’s good!), but I’m still mostly thinking about how we had to kill off a character whose name appears in the novel all of 34 times in order to get the story here (that’s super weird).
“Why did you stay away?” I asked.
“Because of this. You make me feel weird.”
“Weird?” I asked.
“I don’t know how else to describe it. Any other girl, I could bag and not think twice about it. Not you.”
I mean the nuance that their feelings aren’t exactly insta-True Love, or even especially romantic, is good. I still hate basically everything about this dipshit.
“Fuck, I thought I wanted to know, but now, I don’t think I do.”
“Ask me,” I said, readying myself to dodge the truth.
“Just tell me one thing.” He paused, unsure if he wanted the answer. “Does your connection with Eakins have to do with my brother?”
I sighed, relieved. “No. I just looked up the fire today.”
Unexpectedly, Falyn decides to actually just be upfront with Taylor that she wants to go to Eakins and she’s hoping he could just take her with him next time he’s going home. Which Ariel and I have been saying this whole time makes perfect sense. I guess all Falyn needed to realize this was… Jamie McGuire killing off her regular customers?
She starts showing Taylor the contents of the shoebox, which immediately freaks him out when the first item is an envelope addressed to literally his dad’s next-door neighbor, and the second is a photograph of some children in his neighborhood.
He looked at the return address, frowning. “This is next door to my dad’s house. How do you know the Olliviers?” […]
I pulled out a photograph and offered it to him. He looked it over—a four-by-six picture of a young girl standing on a sidewalk, leaning against her brother, Austin.
OH MY FUCK, DOES FALYN’S SECRET BACKSTORY INVOLVE OLIVE? THE SMALL CHILD THAT TAYLOR’S BROTHER TRENTON HANGS OUT WITH IN BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION? WHO HAD A CONFOUNDING SPEECH IMPEDIMENT AND SAID THINGS LIKE “DON’T PATWONIZE ME” AND “I’M JUST SO BWESSED”? THAT CHARACTER IS COMING BACK?
“Those are Shane and Liza’s kids. How do you know them? […] Shane and Liza are neighbors and family friends. They’ve been through a lot. […] What do you plan to do?”
“I…” I took a deep breath. “I’m not really sure. I don’t want to cause their family any more pain.”
what the fuck did Falyn DO?
“I just know I want to start over, and I can’t do that unless my story with that family ends.”
Taylor blanched and then looked away. “You don’t have to say anymore. It’s all starting to make sense now—why you don’t drive, why you’ve started all over here, away from your family.”
“Whatever you think you know, you’re wrong,” I said, shaking my head.
Look, I’m not gonna pretend I remember Olive “I’m so bwessed!” Ollivier’s (??? and/or !!!) backstory at all. She added pretty much nothing to the story except as a plot device to prove that Trenton was a good person, and was one of the most irritating characters we’ve read on this blog, and we’ve read fucking five House of Night novels. But fuck me running if I’m not totally engrossed in this baffling secret link that apparently exists between Falyn and Olive, of all characters. Fucking proceed, Beautiful Sacrifice.
“You’d be doing me a huge favor, and I’m willing to do almost anything to get to Eakins.”
He sighed, unable to hide his disappointment. “You have priorities. I can appreciate that. God knows I’ve left plenty of girls behind because of what I wanted.”
“Which was what?”
His mouth pulled to one side. “To be the hero.”
…although if you could possibly proceed in a way that makes sense, that would… ugh, who am I kidding? Fucking Olive is probably coming back. This is Yoda and Chewbacca were friends in the Star Wars prequels-level makes no sense. I’m asking for too much.
Taylor tells Falyn that after his tour, he’ll take her back to Eakins with him, but makes her promise to “be careful” because “we can’t show up and interrupt their lives”. Falyn assures him that’s not what she means to do (although idk what that doesn’t leave out) and apologizes for not being upfront with him about this in the first place. Taylor says he’ll do it if she takes him on the hike she talked about up Pikes Peak. Which is almost cute of him to- the person reading this blog skips ahead to the pull quote because I described Taylor as “cute” so obviously I’m setting up a joke about something ridonkulous he says next
“You don’t know how much hell my brothers are going to give me for bringing a girl home—especially a girl I’m not fucking.”
Never mind, then.
“We’ll just tell them that we’re friends. No big deal.” […]
“Yeah,” he said with a sigh, “I’m going to end up punching one of my brothers over this.”
To be fair, what haven’t these brothers punched each other over?