A quick note before I start the recap proper: I notice that a lot of people in the comments will say stuff about how terrible it is that I’m enduring this book. Please, don’t worry about that. Nobody has a gun to my head forcing me to write these recaps (although sometimes I’d get them done faster if that were the case). The Fifty Shades of Grey series really did take a toll on my mental health, culminating in me noping the fuck out of Grey. But there were a lot of factors at play at that moment in my life, in my industry, and in pop culture overall that contributed to that. When I blogged Fifty, it was inescapable. So, I’d put in eight hours on a recap, go get on social media and everyone was discussing it, try to watch TV and there were ads for it, interviews with the “author”, eventually there were movie trailers, and if I opened my inbox there would usually be forty to fifty emails about whatever piece of breaking news had developed about it. Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t just in the zeitgeist, it was the zeitgeist, and it was the inescapability coupled with the mindless proselytizing about how it was going to fix women’s sexuality forever that drove me into the ground.
Beautiful Disaster was never, and will never be, as relentlessly famous as Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s steeped in misogyny, the plot is unbelievable, the writing is atrocious and the characters are intolerable, but that’s all this experience really has in common with Fifty Shades.
Plus, this isn’t a four-year undertaking. I’m sure as hell not going to read all the other Beautiful books.
So, chins up, everyone, don’t worry about this taking any kind of mental toll on me. I’m actually really having fun on this one, just because it’s riding the line of hilariously bad/infuriatingly stupid that makes it easy to mock.
That said, this “fun” recap has all sorts of rape discussion in it. Heads up.
We open the chapter with Finch and Abby sitting outside the dorm, talking about his weekend conquest, whom he’s just using for free drinks. Finch being the only gay character in the book, I can’t quite tell if I should be offended at the stereotype of the gay man who dates shallowly or grudgingly admit that I’ve had exactly the same conversation with my friends, both gay, queer, straight, or otherwise. This actually makes me like Finch a lot. He seems like the most real character in the book, for who among us hasn’t let a person we’re not super interested in take us out for a night of partying we can’t afford?
Not just me and my vapid, horrible friends, right?
Travis walks up and asks America if she needs a ride.
“I was just going in,” I said, grinning up at him through my sunglasses.
Your sunglasses go on your eyes, Abby.
Travis asks if Abby is staying with him that night. And she says yes, but she has to grab her razor and Travis says he’s glad because her scratchy legs have been bothering him.
Finch’s eyes bulged as he gave me a quick once-over, and I made a face at Travis. “That’s how rumors get started!” I looked at Finch and shook my head. “I’m sleeping in his bed…just sleeping.”
How long has this whole thing been happening? I’m having difficulty with the timeline. First of all, if Finch is talking about the weekend, is that a signal that a weekend has passed? What about the party that Parker said was that weekend? Did Abby go to that?
Second, it sounds like Abby has spent more than one night with Travis. How long have the boilers been broken? And, as everyone pointed out in the comments last week, why the hell can’t Abby stay home and shower in the gym or another dorm? This college presumably charges for residency. That’s pretty standard across the entire country. There would be some very angry students and parents making phone calls that could heat the water themselves if the boilers were broken for a week and no other accommodations had been made.
But Abby has to stay with Travis.
She has to.
Let’s point out that yet again, Travis is crossing a major boundary. He knows that Abby doesn’t like people to think they’re together. Yet there he is, making a comment to someone else that implies that they are. He tells her not to be mad because he’s just kidding. I think I’ve made my stance on “just kidding” pretty clear before: it’s not “just kidding” if what you’re saying is hurtful or intentionally manipulative in a way that you know crosses boundaries. See also, that horrible friend I had who’d mock people to their faces about being fat, then tack on, “Just kidding!” so they felt as though they couldn’t stick up for themselves. That’s exactly what Travis is doing. He’s crossed a boundary with Abby, he’s done something he knows she doesn’t want him to do, then he tries to make her out to be humorless and terrible for sticking up for herself. Case in point:
“Everyone already assumes we’re having sex. You’re making it worse.”
“Who cares what they think?”
“I do, Travis! I do!”
The only thing we can really conclude from this is that while Abby doesn’t want people to think they’re having sex, Travis clearly does. Why? Because we’ve already seen how dismissive and disdainful he is of women. He doesn’t want anyone to think he treats them like people. If he’s friends with Abby and not fucking her, he considers her a human being. That damages his reputation.
Of course, this entire conversation takes place as Abby brings Travis to her dorm room, packs an overnight bag, and leaves with him carrying it for her. So like, can we discuss your careful avoidance of the rumor mill, Abbeline?
“It’s not funny. Do you want the whole school to think I’m one of your sluts?”
Interesting. Abby doesn’t want people to think of her the way she thinks of literally every other woman in the story. I mean, maybe she doesn’t think that about America, but we’re only in chapter three. I’m sure there’s gonna be something that makes America a cheap tramp before the end of the book.
Travis frowned. “No one thinks that. And if they do, they better hope I don’t hear about it.”
You literally. Just. Implied. That the two of you. Were having. Sex. You wanted Abby’s friend to think you were sleeping together.
And let’s just point out yet again the way that Travis and Abby discuss the women Travis sleeps with. Abby has so much open derision for them, but not for Travis, who is engaging in the same consensual sexual activity that they are. And Travis does, as well. Moreso, even. He apparently hates the women he sleeps with. So…why is he sleeping with them?
You wanna know who isn’t going to become clingy, Travis? You wanna know who isn’t going to try to leave a number or tame you? A Fleshlight, that’s who.
Travis holds the door for Abby, but she stops suddenly and he walks into her.
I flipped around.
This is just a fucking bizarre way to imply turning, whirling, or facing someone. Flipped is what you do end-over-end in gymnastics. Flip is what you do to a card or to your buddy who’s the President of The United States and you gotta get your ass out of some jail time. Flip is just not the word to use when you mean “turn around.”
“Oh my God! People probably think we’re together and you’re shamelessly continuing your…lifestyle. I must look pathetic!” I said, coming to the realization as I spoke. “I don’t think I should stay with you anymore. We should just stay away from each other in general for a while.”
Again…how long has she been staying at this place?!
I took my bag from him, and he snatched it back.
“No one thinks we’re together, Pidge. You don’t have to quit talking to me to prove a point.”
We engaged in a tug-of-war with the tote, and when he refused to let go, I growled loudly in frustration.
Let me consult my red flag checklist here…oh, there it is! Controlling someone’s money/possessions in order to control them. I even highlighted it. Whaddayaknow?
He walked to the parking lot, holding my effects hostage.
So, once again, we’re reading a book in which the heroine is describing a behavior with negative words that indicate an abusive situation or action, but doesn’t apparently feel the behavior is abusive? I learned from Fifty Shades of Grey that this is an indication that the author doesn’t consider it abusive, either. Just frustrating, in a sexy banter kind of way, like when Christian refused to let Ana decide when and what to eat. The heroine finds it annoying, but ultimately not so annoying that she would label it as toxic. Which, you know. It is. The litmus test for these authors as to what is and is not abuse seems to be whether or not the heroine ultimately gives up.
“I’ll fix this, okay? I don’t want anyone thinking less of you because of me,” he said with a troubled expression.
Those other sluts, I don’t care about. But you, Abby “Abracadabra” Abernathy…you’re magical.
This is an interesting line, though. It suggests that Travis feels he’s the one causing the women he sleeps with to lose value, while Abby continues to insist that they had no value, to begin with.
Travis’s idea for “fixing” any misconception that Abby is sleeping with him is to go out to a bar with her.
“Think about it. Me, drunk, in a room full of scantily clad women? It won’t take long for people to figure out we’re not a couple.”
Except for the part where what she expressed worry over was people thinking you were a couple and you’re openly running around on her.
I rolled my eyes and climbed onto the seat, wrapping my arms around his middle. “Some random girl is going to follow us home from the bar? That’s how you’re going to make it up to me?”
“You’re not jealous, are you, Pigeon?”
“Jealous of what? The STD-infested imbecile you’re going to piss off in the morning?”
First of all, there is nothing dirty or shameful about having a fucking disease, no matter how you got it. A disease is a disease, not an indication of morality. This is something our culture has a really difficult time grasping because we spend so much time in death denial. But if Abby is so convinced that any woman who has casual, consensual sex is riddled with Whore Pox…why doesn’t her derision extend to Travis? His sexual policy seems to be “as much as possible, with as many partners as possible, no repeats.” She knows this about him. She has no idea how much sex the women are having. Just that they’ve had sex with Travis.
I can’t get my head around it. Having sex with Travis is an indicator of low morals and bad health, but Travis himself is moral and healthy?
Travis laughed, then started his Harley. He flew toward his apartment at twice the speed limit, and I closed my eyes to block out the trees and cars we left behind.
That’s it. I asked my pseudo-brother if I can share pictures of the injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident he had while driving at a safe and responsible speed, wearing personal protection equipment, and he’s going to send some of his favorites for a later recap. There has yet to be any mention of helmets in this book, let alone gloves or any leather gear. We’re supposed to find this cool and sexy, but there is nothing sexy about what happens when you hit that pavement, even at a “safe” speed.
Thank god the author finally lets a character remark on how seriously irresponsible this behavior is:
After climbing off his bike, I smacked his shoulder. “Did you forget I was with you? Are you trying to get me killed?”
…in order to set up a clumsy sex joke:
“It’s hard to forget you’re behind me when your thighs are squeezing the life out of me.” A smirk came with his next thought. “I couldn’t think of a better way to die, actually.”
It’s funny because they both could have actually been killed. Oh, no, wait, I mean, it’s funny because he swore that he’s only interested in her as a friend and he wasn’t ever going to pressure her to have sex, but now he’s making it clear that sex is still very much on the table whether she’s comfortable with that or not.
At the apartment, America and Shepley’s plans kind of merge with Abby and Travis’s plans, so they’re all going to go out together.
I was the last one in the shower, so Shepley, America, and Travis were impatiently standing by the door when I stepped out of the bathroom in a black dress and hot pink heels.
Yes. You read that correctly. Three people stood outside the bathroom door and waited for this big reveal.
America whistled. “Hot damn, Mama!”
And then the whole bus clapped.
I smiled in appreciation, and Travis held out his hand. “Nice legs.”
He said, like how a male friend would say to a female friend he’s not interested in having sex with ever. You know. That way. The way that respects the boundaries of the female friend who has said she doesn’t appreciate those comments.
We were far too loud and obnoxious in the sushi bar, and had already had a night’s worth to drink before we stepped foot in the Red Door. Shepley pulled into the parking lot, taking time to find a space.
And now we’re driving super drunk! That’s awesome!
I want to take a minute here to address a comment someone made on a previous recap about it being believable that a restaurant would serve alcohol to underage people because I can see where it would seem like something that happens often. So, obviously, I can’t speak to every single bar or restaurant in the country, but I did go to high school in a city that had three colleges. Alcohol was on extreme lockdown. No business wanted to risk losing their liquor license or incurring fines that could potentially force their closure. Establishments that were noted for their popularity among the college crowd were scrutinized especially closely. As I said, I can’t vouch for everywhere, but I find it unbelievable that a restaurant in a college town would take that big a risk.
But it doesn’t matter because Abby “Cashmere and Goodness” Abernathy has a fake ID. Travis compliments her and America on how great the fakes are, and Abby makes a weird comment:
“Yeah, we’ve had them for a while. It was necessary…in Wichita,” I said.
What’s with that suspicious pause?
America then makes a comment about having connections and Abby having old friends, which Abby quickly shuts down. So, we’re suffering from first person POV “big secret” syndrome, just like in Apolonia. Abby can have a “big secret” and that big secret can absolutely be kept from the reader. But it doesn’t make sense for her not to immediately think of why she doesn’t want America to continue going on about her connections. If you want a character to keep a big secret, write them in third-person; if we’re riding around in the character’s head, we know what the characters know. Abby isn’t going to vaguely shut the whole conversation down without having a reason and thinking about that reason.
Plus, in a story as convoluted as this, knowing Abby’s motivation would probably make her slightly more likable. She’s completely unlikable, don’t get me wrong. But if there’s past trauma or something and she’s had to remake her life in the image of a judgmental little brat, can we at least know why?
Then again, it didn’t work for Apolonia.
Inside the club, they do more drinking and then America and Abby dance before even more drinking. Remember, they’re already drunk from dinner when they show up to the club and start doing shots.
An excessively voluptuous platinum blonde was already at Travis’s side, and America’s face screwed into revulsion.
“It’s going to be like this all night, Mare. Just ignore them,” Shepley said, nodding to a small group of girls standing a few feet away. They eyed the blonde, waiting for their turn.
“It looks like Vegas threw up on a flock of vultures,” America sneered.
Jesus Herbert Walker Kristofferson. Why is America so pissed off about the presence of other women in the story, now? It’s bad enough we’ve got Abby playing the body police about the “overly voluptuous” woman, but America has to throw her two cents in? No wonder she and Abby get along so well. They both hate every other woman on the planet.
Travis lit a cigarette as he ordered two more beers, and the blonde bit her puffy, glossed lip and smiled. The bartender popped the tops open and slid the bottles to Travis. The blonde picked up one of the beers, but Travis pulled it from her hand.
“Uh…not yours,” he said to her, handing it to me.
Is this really the fantasy? Watching a man treat other women like shit to emphasize how special you are? This is so fucked up. “My worth can only be measured in how much another man will shun other, less worthy females.” The Evangelical Christianity growing on this like mold is just…my god.
Of course, Maguire has been caught favoriting rightwing tweets–including one about not believing Dr. Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings–so I’m so fucking shocked about all of this bullshit.
My initial thought was to toss the bottle in the trash, but the woman looked so offended, I smiled and took a drink. She walked off in a huff, and I chuckled that Travis didn’t seem to notice.
She almost threw a perfectly good beer in the trash because a woman touched the bottle. That is level of misogyny we’re at. Women can’t touch the packaging of a beverage she’s going to consume.
“Like I would buy a beer for some chick at a bar,” he said, shaking his head. I held up my beer, and he pulled up one side of his mouth into a half smile. “You’re different.”
Yeah. You’re Not Like Other Girls™, Abby. We know this because it’s pointed out at least once on every page.
Abby raises a toast to “being the only girl a guy with no standards” wouldn’t sleep with. Remember, she doesn’t want to sleep with him and she doesn’t want him to think of her as anything other than a friend, but she does desperately want him to want to fuck her and his constant sexual comments and open invitations just aren’t enough to satisfy her ego.
This heroine isn’t infuriating at all.
Luckily, Travis sets the record straight.
“First of all…I have standards. I’ve never been with an ugly woman. Ever.
Not according to Abby. Every single one of the she-demons who has seduced you into the ravenous maw of her plague-ridden vagina has been “too” something instead of the beautifully “cashmered” Pentecostal ideal.
Second of all, I wanted to sleep with you. I thought about throwing you over my couch fifty different ways, but I haven’t because I don’t see you that way anymore. It’s not that I’m not attracted to you, I just think you’re better than that.”
I’m imagining him literally throwing her over the couch, into the crack between the back and the wall.
Stay there, Abby.
This entire book so far has been one giant parade of Travis constantly telling Abby that she’s better than every other person, while Abby has offered up like two lukewarm defenses of him to people who don’t seem to really matter to her in the narrative. It’s almost hilarious how one-sided the worship here is. We’re supposed to believe that Abby is slowly falling for Travis (as slowly as she can in three chapters) because she sees that he’s really a wonderful person underneath his shitty behavior. Instead, we’re reading about Abby slowly falling for Travis because he uses that shitty behavior to make her feel superior to other women in a way that soothes her aching lack of self-esteem. This is going to be the most co-dependent, toxic, fucked up relationship in history: one partner needs to be reassured that she’s the best, the other wants to bask in the glow of a person he’s sure he doesn’t deserve.
Travis gets Abby onto the dance floor and they start grinding on each other in a totally platonic way.
Travis had me in a near panic with the way he pressed against me. If he used any of those moves on the couch, I could see why so many girls chanced humiliation in the morning.
He cinched his hands around my hips, and I noticed that his expression was different, almost serious. I ran my hands over his flawless chest and six-pack as they stretched and tensed under his tight shirt to the music. I turned my back to him, smiling when he wrapped his arms around my waist. Coupled with the alcohol in my system, when he pulled my body against his, things came to mind that were anything but friendly.
It was such a good idea to go out to the club to prove to everyone that you have no sexual interest in each other. You’re pulling this off, for sure.
So, while they’re dancing and doing more groping, Travis does this:
When I felt his lips and then his tongue against my neck, I pulled away from him.
Abby storms off and gets another beer. Remember, she showed up to the club already super wasted, did shots, now this is beer number two within two songs of each other. That’s the time period specified: One beer, two songs, another beer. That she slams half of before the following conversation, by the way. We’re reaching Anastasia Rose Steele levels of alcohol tolerance.
“You think that this is going to change anyone’s mind about us?” I said, pulling my hair to the side, covering the spot he kissed.
He laughed once. “I don’t give a damn what they think about us.”
Okay, but she does. You’ve already had this conversation numerous times, and the entire point of going out was supposed to be to prove to the world that you’re just friends. Right now, it seems pretty clear that Travis went out with Abby in the hopes that she’d get drunk and give in.
I pulled away from him. “Don’t. I could never get drunk enough to let you get me on that couch.”
Guess you don’t have to worry about being friends anymore. Damn. It is so hard to recap a book when you hate both the main characters. Like, Fifty Shades Of Grey made me at least feel kind of protective of Ana sometimes? Like, I would read it and go, okay, she’s obnoxious but at least she’s not as bad as him. These people are equally bad. They hate women exactly the same amount, they’re deceptive about their intentions toward other people, and neither of them can figure out if they want to fuck the other one or just be friends. That’s it. They’re the same damn character, expressing their awfulness in different ways.
You know what hasn’t happened in a while? Misogyny. Were you afraid it wouldn’t show up again? Worry not!
His face twisted in anger, but before he could say anything, a dark-haired stunner with pouty lips, enormous blue eyes, and far too much cleavage approached him.
Cashmere Magoo whipped out a ruler and measured, damn. Ma’am, I’m sorry, that’s far too much cleavage. It’s not up to code. I’ll have the fire marshall breathing down my neck if you’re walking around like that.
This book has a minimum of two slutty slut slutskis per chapter for Abby to sneer at. The most present fantasy element in this book is pleasure derived from devaluing other women.
This won a Goodreads reader poll for best YA of the year when it was published.
“Well, if it isn’t Travis Maddox,” she said, bouncing in all the right places.
He took a drink, and then his eyes locked on mine. “Hey, Megan.”
No, her name is Abby.
“Introduce me to your girlfriend,” she smiled.
You can’t smile a sentence.
Travis tipped his head back to finish his beer, and then slid his empty bottle down the bar. Everyone waiting to order watched it until it fell into the trash can at the end.
And then the whole bar clapped. Honestly, I do hope they make this into a movie, so we can see this scene, specifically. I cannot wait to hear the unintended laughs at how cliche and stupid it is.
“She’s not my girlfriend.”
He grabbed Megan’s hand, and she happily traipsed behind him to the dance floor. He all but mauled her for one song, then another, and another. They were causing a scene with the way she let him grope her, and when he bent her over I turned my back to them.
There isn’t just a lack of self-awareness on the part of the character here, there’s a lack of authorial awareness of the narrative. Just paragraphs ago we had Abby and Travis on the dancefloor doing the exact same thing, but Abby never acknowledges this. It’s okay for characters to have thoughts and actions that are a little hypocritical. You just have to examine them, and Maguire never does. We don’t get any of Abby’s thoughts regarding the fact that she knows what it’s like to get caught up dancing with him or wondering if that’s how she was acting, herself. And yeah, those lines of thinking can (and in this book, would almost certainly) veer into piles of internalized misogyny, but the fact that there’s no comparison of the two situations at all is just lazy writing. It’s almost as though the author and the character both expect us to be on Abby’s side by default and no further effort was required.
Both have really overestimated their skill.
A man comes up and talks to Abby, asking if she’s watching her boyfriend grinding up on this other chick. Which, remember, was the exact opposite of what Abby wanted to happen. It was, in fact, the specific thing she was trying to avoid. She’s finishing off another beer:
I barely tasted the last two I had put away, and my teeth were numb.
It’s been a few songs, so are those an additional two? Are we up to shots and four beers after arriving at the club already drunk?
But the guy, Ethan, offers to buy Abby another one, and she says yes. They talk about the fact that Ethan just graduated from “State,” which is an hour away, but his sister goes to Eastern.
I pulled the gloss out of my pocket and smeared it across my lips, using the mirror lining the wall behind the bar.
Now, let’s discuss the fact that lip gloss has already been coded slutty in this chapter. But again, Abby does it, it’s okay. Because even though she’s doing the same things the other girls are doing, she’s Not Like Other Girls™.
“That’s a nice shade,” he said, watching me press my lips together.
I smiled, feeling the anger at Travis and the heaviness of the alcohol. “Maybe you can try it on later.”
Right then, Travis shows up and steps between them, asking Abby if she’s ready to go. When she pushes him away and says no because she’s talking to someone he asks if she knows the guy. She introduces them.
“Travis Maddox,” he said, staring at Ethan’s hand as if he wanted to rip it off.
Ethan’s eyes grew wide, and he awkwardly pulled back his hand. “Travis Maddox? Eastern’s Travis Maddox?”
Travis isn’t just the star of Eastern, but his legend has passed to another college an hour away?
“I saw you fight Shawn Smith last year, man. I thought I was about to witness someone’s death!”
IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE A SECRET FIGHT CLUB! SECRET! WE’VE HEARD ABOUT HOW SECRET IT IS! HOW ONLY THE FRATS KNOW ABOUT IT AND THEY KEEP EVERYTHING SO SUPER DUPER MOTHER FUCKING CHOCOLATE COATED DONKEY STABBING SECRET! BUT THIS DUDE FROM A COLLEGE AN HOUR AWAY HAS NOT ONLY HEARD OF TRAVIS, BUT HE’S ACTUALLY BEEN TO ONE OF THESE SUPER EXCLUSIVE FIGHTS NOGODDAMNBODY KNOWS AGODDAMNBOUT?
Travis glowered down at him. “You wanna see it again?”
And then Ethan gets scared and leaves.
We followed America and Shepley to the car,
For more drunk driving, presumably.
and when Travis tried to grab my hand to lead me across the parking lot, I yanked it away. He wheeled around and I jerked to a stop, leaning back when he came within a few inches of my face.
“I should just kiss you and get it over with!” he yelled. “You’re being ridiculous! I kissed your neck, so what?”
Yeah, Pidge! He only badgered you into going out to a club, got you drunk, kissed you without permission, got humpy with a girl to make you jealous when you rejected him, threatened to murder a guy for talking to you, then grabbed at you and shouted in your face that he should kiss you without your permission again. Get over it.
Abby reminds him that she’s not his fuck buddy and he says:
“I never said you were! You’re around me 24-7, you sleep in my bed, but half the time you act like you don’t want to be seen with me!”
“I came here with you!”
“I have never treated you with anything but respect, Pidge.”
Brace yourself, guys.
*taking another deep breath, I center my being and link to the vastness of the cosmos, mysterious fount of the universal consciousness that binds us all. I am one with all of being. I am eternal. I am prepared.*
This fucking guy.
Just like with that last fucking guy, Travis’s behavior isn’t about his male ego taking a hit. No, obviously not that. It’s about Abby’s safety.
“Do you know who Ethan is?” he asked. When I shook my head, he leaned in closer. “I do. He was arrested last year for sexual battery, but the charges were dropped.”
So, are you in the bar, letting the bartender know? There were a lot of other women in there, assuming they haven’t mindlessly followed you into the parking lot like the cousins on Katamari Damacy when you hold down the square button.
I crossed my arms. “Oh, so you have something in common?”
There’s a clean shot, right there.
Travis’s eyes narrowed, and the muscles in his jaws twitched under his skin. “Are you calling me a rapist?” he said in a cold, low tone.
I pressed my lips together, even angrier that he was right. I had taken it too far.
He kissed you and licked your neck without permission, then grabbed you and yelled in your face that he intended to do it again. Now, he’s displaying signs of barely controlled violence at the suggestion that his actions violated consent.
You didn’t take it too far. Travis Maddox has 100% raped someone before.
“I’ve been drinking, all right? Your skin was three inches from my face, and you’re beautiful, and you smell fucking awesome when you sweat. I kissed you! I’m sorry! Get over yourself!”
That’s a lot of extraneous words to say, “You were asking for it.”
You may have fallen off a ladder, hit your head, and come back to this recap with no memory of what you just read, so if you’re thinking that Abby is going to continue being mad at Travis, let me just warn you.
She does not.
His excuse made the corners of my mouth turn up. “You think I’m beautiful?”
So, she laughs while he yells and glares at her and calls her a pain in the ass and says she’s making him crazy. But they laugh about it together, so it’s sexy. You know. How it’s sexy when a guy yells at you after doing all that other shit but he makes it okay because he thinks you’re pretty. It’s sexy in that way.
They drive drunk to the apartment (all of them are described as “stumbling” by the time they get back), and Abby showers for the second time that day. This book should be called THE SHOWERING. Then she wears Travis’s shirt and boxers to bed.
I crashed into the bed and sighed, still smiling at what he’d said in the parking lot.
The part about how you should get over non-consensual touching, or the part he shouted in your face about how he should do it again because you asked for it?
Travis stared at me for a moment, and I felt a twinge in my chest. I had an almost ravenous urge to grab his face and plant my mouth on his, but I fought against the alcohol and hormones raging through my bloodstream.
Wow. How can you resist him? When he’s so hot. And sexy. And treats you with such respect.
“I know I’m drunk, and we just got into a ginormous fight over this, but…”
“I’m not having sex with you, so quit asking,” he said, his back still turned to me.
But that’s not what she’s asking for, and she’s horrified at the suggestion. She just wants to snuggle with him.
He relaxed one hand against my back, and the other on my wet hair, and then pressed his lips to my forehead. “You are the most confusing woman I’ve ever met.”
It just dawned on me how often “you’re confusing” is used in romance novels. I’d bet money I’ve used it before. But reading it here, my reaction was, “She’s not confusing. You just don’t listen.” And really, that’s probably the case in every single romance novel that has used that line as a compliment. Including mine, if I’ve done it.
So, Travis tells her that she should be thankful to him that he saved her from a potential rapist and that she needs to be more careful so she doesn’t get raped in the future. Because the guy who just rationalized why it was okay for him to violate her physical boundaries is definitely the dude who should be running an impromptu class on sexual violence awareness. Abby asks him to hold her until she falls asleep.
“I should say no to prove a point,” he said, his eyebrows pulling together. “But I would hate myself later if I said no and you never asked me again.”
I absolutely hate that this good line is in this shitty book.
There’s a section break and Abby wakes up to find Travis clinging to her. Much in the way Bella woke up to Edward holding her in Master Of The Universe, but again, I have no proof this was inspired by that.
The lines were becoming blurred, and it was my fault.
Shepley is the only other person up, and he decides to have a heart-to-heart with Abby about Travis:
“I don’t know what’s going on with you and Travis, but I know that he’s going to do something stupid to piss you off.
He said, after an entire chapter of Travis doing stupid shit that pisses Abby off. Detective Shepley is on the case.
It’s a tic he has. He doesn’t get close with anyone very often, and for whatever reason he’s let you in. But you have to overlook his demons. It’s the only way he’ll know.”
“Know what?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at his melodramatic speech.
“If you’ll climb over the wall,” he answered simply.
What wall? This metaphor only makes sense if you start out with it. Like, if you said he puts up walls. You’ve jumped from “demons” to “wall” so fast, this could be a conservative political rally.
Travis gets up and mentions to Abby that he knows her birthday is coming up and it’s the “last stand” of being a teenager. Oh my god. We might get an actual age.
Just not in this chapter.
Travis reveals that his birthday is on April Fool’s Day, which makes sense because he’s a fucking joke, then they work out who’s driving Abby to campus and the chapter is over.
So, the end of this chapter is fully not necessary, but I think what’s happened is that Maguire has taken the classic, “Don’t end a chapter with people going to bed” advice and run too far with it. It’s perfectly okay to end a chapter with people going to sleep or starting one with characters just waking up. You just can’t do it with every single chapter. In this case, the ending of the chapter would have actually been stronger if it had been with Travis agreeing to hold Abby while she slept. The waking up and talking about mundane shit like birthdays undercuts the tone the author was trying for. And Shepley’s little speech about Travis’s demon wall? That could have come at another point.
Not that it would have made the book any better, but still. Any improvement. At this point, I’ll take anything.