For #ChickLitLove Valentine week, Tuesday’s topic is to share a romantic excerpt from your work. Here is where I fear I may have the most unromantic romance book of the bunch. Who knows. Like everybody has a different sense of humor, I think everybody has a different sense of what’s romantic too. And like my sense of humor, my sense of romance is a little offbeat.
One of my favorite scenes from Exactly Where They’d Fall is um, Amelia getting a half-drunk almost marriage proposal on the bathroom floor, after her boyfriend has just finished puking his guts out. Right, so, here we go…From “chapter 1.2: things to do before forty.”
Bonus points because the scene happens in a bathroom!
Drew was inside already, upstairs in the master bathroom. She came up to the closed door, not because she wanted to hear him puking, but to make sure he didn’t die. Was that possible? That in his drunkenness, he might stumble and knock himself out, end up choking on his own vomit? She shivered. “Are you okay?” she asked through the closed door.
He opened it a crack, and she let herself in. The faucet was running, and he splashed his face, looking up at himself with disappointment as drops of water hung from his nose and chin. He smelled like toothpaste.
“You feel better?”
“No, not really,” he said. “I bet he got a kick out of seeing me like this.”
“Who, Corbin? He doesn’t care.”
“He’s probably mocking me.”
“Corbin doesn’t mock people.”
“Well, isn’t he a saint?” Drew tried to roll his eyes, which only seemed to make him dizzy, and he slumped slowly to the tile floor, his back pressed against the wall, cornered between the sink and the toilet.
“Corbin is not perfect,” Amelia said.
“I know how your parents like him.”
She sat down with him. The tile was cold on her bare legs. “They like you too,” she said. At least, she figured her dad did.
“I’m sorry, Melie. Never mind. Did I do anything really stupid?”
“Not that I saw,” she said.
But had Amelia done anything stupid? Erasing Jodie’s call? She felt so petty for it. It was worrying how often Jodie’s name came up lately. Amelia worried about how love could be so changeable, that she could be so adored for a time and then just as easily forgotten.
She was sure he hadn’t started the night with two shirt buttons undone, though she remembered he hadn’t worn a tie. Now the collar of his shirt hung open, just a peek of chest hair showing. It made her want to touch him there. But he reached out to her face instead, running a thumb along her cheekbone. “I tuoi occhi sono dolci come il miele,” he said to her.
He rarely spoke Italian—only when he was drunk, or trying to woo her panties off, or both. But when he did, it reminded Amelia of a story his mother told her once after having had a little too much champagne, of the summer of 1978 and a mysterious Italian man with an accent that made every conversation feel like a song. Drew would never meet his real father, but it must have been genetic that he’d become a poet, or why he felt inclined to study three languages in college, or how he pulled off the charm without sounding too pompous or too false. Otherwise Amelia might have suspected that he only remembered the lines he could use to coax her into bed. “I bet that doesn’t sound as good in English.”
“Your eyes are sweet as honey.”
Her heart fluttered a little, against its better judgment. “Well, I guess that’s alright too.”
She didn’t trust charm. His smile melted her heart, and she wanted to believe. She really did. But they were all charming, weren’t they? And she fell for it, again and again and again.
But she shouldn’t have cleared that missed call. Her conscience felt the weight of a million lies, even though there was just this one. Amelia hated lies. “Jodie called for you,” she said, in one solid exhale.
“Oh, what’d she want?”
Amelia shrugged. “It was just a missed call. I pressed the wrong button and it was gone.”
Drew grinned at her. “She wanted to say she’d marry me, you know, since you won’t.”
It was a joke, but she tensed anyway. Amelia took a breath. “She’d eat you alive, you know. You’re too sweet for her.” She took his hand and held it still in her lap.
“I want to marry you, Melie,” he said. His eyes were heavy and half closed.
She wasn’t ignorant. And she wasn’t oblivious. It wasn’t like she didn’t know that this was what he’d been after for as long as he’d known her. It felt different when he said it, like he was actually talking about marrying her, specifically, and not just picking an item off some generic checklist: Things To Do Before Forty. But did he really know what he’d be getting himself into? Once they believed in it, it would fade into something ordinary and taken for granted. He would lose interest and move on. They always did.
But sometimes, it felt so clear and real that she almost started to believe in it herself.
He smiled with his eyes closed. She knew she needed to get them to bed before he fell asleep on the tiled bathroom floor. She sighed. “Why don’t you say that again some time when you’re sober?”
Exactly Where They’d Fall is available in all e-formats and paperback.
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