I don’t want Chip to meet Eric.
I put on my clothes and makeup in a rush, hoping to slip out of the apartment before Chip gets home. Unfortunately he’s early. My stomach clenches as I hear him come through the door. He drops his backpack in a careless heap and strides down the hall. There’s nothing I can do to avoid him, so I continue to apply my mascara with a trembling hand.
He pauses outside the bathroom. I don’t look over because I’m concentrating on my eyelashes. Despite my lack of greeting, or perhaps because of it, he enters the tight space and puts his hands on my hips.
“Hey, babe,” he says, kissing my cheek. “Where you going?”
He grunts in disinterest. He’s only been to my brother’s house once. They didn’t hit it off.
I set aside my mascara and fix the smudge he made. Instead of wandering away to play videogames or watch sports, Chip frowns at my reflection in the mirror.
“Why are you all dressed up?”
I’m not wearing anything fancy, just a basic skirt and top. But I took pains with my hair and makeup and it shows. I want to remind Eric what he turned down, rub it in his face a little. Chip notices the extra effort. He’s got an eagle eye and a suspicious nature.
I think about lying just to avoid conflict. I’ve been doing that more and more these days. After a short pause, I push aside the urge and move his hands off my hips. “It’s a special occasion. One of April’s relatives just got out of prison.”
I know that Chip remembers her. He always takes note of pretty women. “I’m going with you.”
This is exactly what I was afraid of, but I don’t argue. I have to pick my battles with Chip. He can be hot-tempered, depending on his mood and the amount of alcohol he’s consumed. I tell myself it’s not his fault. He’s a dedicated athlete, big man on campus, born to a wealthy family. Guys like him expect their girlfriends to fall in line.
And I had. I did.
Chip follows me into the bedroom, where I choose a pair of ballet flats. He grabs a pair of metallic gold high heels instead. “Wear these.”
Saying nothing, I don the flashy shoes. He likes me to look a certain way when we’re together. I think he enjoys having a leggy blonde on his arm. Before we leave, I glance at our reflections in the mirror. He’s tall and handsome, with wavy brown hair. His jeans and polo shirt are sporty and expensive. We make an attractive couple, but there’s something missing between us.
We used to have fun together. When we first met, he was hard to resist. He followed me to my car after class one day, begging for a date. He was bold and brash and full of confidence. I felt flattered. He put a lot of effort into chasing me, and I liked the attention. I liked his persistence. Of all the girls on campus, he chose me.
Our relationship hit the skids as soon as I moved in with him. Then he stopped pursuing me and started trying to control me. It’s almost as if he considers me his property now that I live in his apartment. He seems to want a maid, a cook, and blowjobs on demand. I wouldn’t mind taking care of his needs if he returned the favor.
Maybe I’m expecting too much from him. He is what he is, an MLB-bound superstar athlete who bats .390 and fields like a dream. He’s got money to burn and family connections. I understood what I was getting into when I agreed to go out with him. There are dozens of girls who’d kill to be in my glittering sandals right now.
The problem isn’t Chip. It’s me. I haven’t told him that I’m not happy. I’ve stayed quiet instead of challenging him. We have a superficial relationship, and I’m reluctant to take it deeper. After what happened with Eric, I’m not up for another heartbreak.
I can’t bear to compare the two of them, either. That’s why I don’t want them in the same room together. There’s no contest between my live-in boyfriend and the love of my life.
After all this time, I still have feelings for Eric. I’m worried that seeing him again will bring up bad memories—or good ones. My desire for him might come rushing back. Or maybe the opposite will happen, and I’ll wonder why I ever gave him the power to hurt me.
Then I’ll be free.
Though of course now I *have* to read it, because, Noah and April! But I digress…
I was completely invested in this story from the very first chapter. It was impossible not to root for Eric and Meghan, both in their individual lives and as a couple. Eric’s story was especially heartbreaking–could he ever truly be free of the gang life? What kind of a future is an ex-con going to have, really? Is he strong enough to completely break free from his past?–and right up until the end, I wasn’t sure how he’d manage to pull through. Meghan’s got her own problems as well–graduation is looming, and she’s not completely sure of where to go from there. Her once-perfect relationship is showing more than a few cracks, and she and her best friend are facing threats at the women’s resource center where they volunteer. (That storyline isn’t ever fully resolved–dare we hope that Kelsea will get her own story so we can find out what was going on there?) So, yeah, on their own they’ve got plenty going on. But put them together, and whoa.
This book had me tearing up more than once, and I can’t even tell you how many involuntary utterances the last few chapters wrung from me. Let’s just say the kids are going to ban me from reading in the car while they’re driving in the future 😉 We were all relieved when I finally got to the end.
If you enjoy gritty, realistic romances, then this is definitely one to try.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.