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Monday Puzzler > April 28 What a real hero does

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message 1: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2093 comments Mod
I read a review recently where Amanda Quick said something like the role of genre is to tell us what we value in our culture. Well, for me this scene does that—it shows what a real romantic hero does and how he communicates. (The fight was over whether Heroine should have told Best Friend that she and Hero are involved, months after Best Friend dumped Hero as her fiancé. )

Hero swore to himself as he strode into the kitchen. Bloody best friend. Why the woman couldn’t have held off on making her announcement for thirty minutes longer… Heroine had been on the verge of ringing and purging herself of her guilt once and for all, and now they were back to square one.

Or maybe he was kidding himself on that score. After all, she’d managed to find four months worth of excuses so far. Maybe she would have found another excuse even if Best Friend hadn’t announced her engagement.

He grabbed the frypan and banged it onto the stove, then raided the pantry for onions and garlic. He was slicing the top off the second onion when Heroine appeared in the doorway. She’d dressed and pulled her hair into a tight ponytail. Because he was still pissed with her, he didn’t say anything immediately, simply kept chopping away at the onion.

“The taxi will be here in ten minutes. I need you to get my suitcase off the top shelf so I can pack.”
Her voice was so quiet that for a moment he thought he’d misheard her.

He lay the knife down on the board. ”What?”

“I need you to get my suitcase down so I can pack.”

He stared at her. She wanted to pack her things? Because they’d had a fight? Because he’d pushed her to tell Best friend, no matter what the circumstances?
For a moment he was reeling, completely off balance. Then he registered that she was trembling and pale, her whole body vibrating with the intensity of her emotions, and he was hit with a blinding, painful flash of insight.

If it was any other woman, he’d interpret Heroine’s announcement as a gambit to get her own way. An extreme and childish gambit, but a gambit nonetheless. Agree with me or I walk.

But this was Heroine, who’d been treated as a shameful miscreant when she’d been exploited as a child and ultimately ejected from her home for being too much trouble, too hard, too disruptive.

In Heroine’s experience, fights with loved ones weren't avenues to compromise—they were fast tracks to estrangement. They meant recriminations and judgement and ultimately being sent out into the world on her own.

Or, in this case, back to her apartment, hobbling on crutches.

Faced with what she believed was imminent rejection, Heroine had opted to make a pre-emptive strike.
If his heart wasn’t breaking for her, he could almost find it in himself to applaud her chutzpah.

“Heroine”… He went to her without hesitation, wrapping his arms around her, drawing her body against his, crutches and all. “I don’t want you to go anywhere, ok? Just because we disagree on something doesn’t mean that I don’t still love you. I will always love you, no matter what.”

She was very still and unresponsive in his arms, but he knew in his gut and his heart that he was on the right track. He knew, because he knew her.

He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Sweetheart…You think I’m going to let you go now that I have you in my clutches? You think I want to go back to living in black and white now that I know what Technicolor looks like?”

She shuddered, then she pressed her face into his neck and flung her arms around him. Her grip was fierce, almost painful in its intensity.
“I’m sorry I’m so messed up. I’m sorry I don’t know how to do this. Please believe that I love you, Hero, please believe that this thing with Best Friend has nothing to do with how much you mean to me…”

He cupped the back of her head and held her as she sobbed, his chest aching.

He should have broken Heroine’s father’s nose that night at the Savage club. He should have knocked the man clear into the middle of next week for the damage he’d done to a vulnerable young girl who’d needed love and protection and comfort and instead received nothing but condemnation. To her everlasting credit, Heroine had sucked up the treatment she’d been dealt and held her head high and survived, but there’d been a price for that survival and she was paying it now
They both were.

“I believe you, sweetheart. It’s ok. We’re ok, heroine.”

She drew back from his embrace so she could look into his eyes, her own swimming with tears. The uncertainty in her face nearly killed him.

She had no idea how lovable she was. How precious and special and brave.

She must have seen something in his eyes to reassure her though, because some of the tension left her body. He dragged out a chair and sat, pulling her on to his lap

“I’m not going anywhere and neither are you,” he said quietly.

The remaining tension leached out of her body. She lay her head on his shoulder, as simple and trusting as a child.

He closed his eyes and breathed in the smell of her perfume and made a decision.

He would let heroine find her own way and time to tell best friend. In the interim, he would listen and hold her hand and offer his counsel, but he would not push. He understood now how deep her wounds ran, how hard it was for her to trust that she could make mistakes and still deserve love.

One day, she would know it in her bones, because it would be his lifetime mission to make it so. But for now…

He would wait, and he would trust that heroine would work it out for herself.

message 2: by Daniellegn (new)

Daniellegn | 235 comments Wow, lovely. Will need to add this to my TBR pile.

message 3: by Susan (last edited Apr 28, 2014 12:36PM) (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 1018 comments Wow, that must have been some exploitation from Parents in order for Heroine to exhibit such uncertainty. Can't wait to read this one!

message 4: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1917 comments Mod
Loved this one, and this author.

message 5: by Irisheyes (new)

Irisheyes | 896 comments Absolutely loved this book and the author is an autobuy for me. I haven't read anything by her I haven't liked! Good choice, Deb.

message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan (shaydock) | 707 comments Boy I am getting old. It sounds familiar but it sure sounds good. Poor heroine, poor hero what a bummer but he is patient. Got to love that kind of hero.

message 7: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2093 comments Mod
One of the many subtle things about this book is that heroine while deeply hurt by how her parents treated her has also bought their assessment of her behavior. And hero who I initially is presented as super conservative puts her behavior in context and is appalled by the parents.

message 8: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2093 comments Mod
The book is Her Best Worse Mistake by Sarah Mayberry

message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 1018 comments I have it but haven't read it yet. Whew, what an excerpt!

message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan (shaydock) | 707 comments Geez never read her, need to add her to my mile high list

message 11: by Charlene (new)

Charlene (charlenethestickler) | 320 comments Ditto to all, Susan!

message 12: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2093 comments Mod
You guys have a huge treat coming. She is an autobuy for many in this group.

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