This delightful little romance is written by Alba Marie Pastorek. Yes, THE Alba Marie Pastorek. And I know what you’re thinking. Who the hell is she? Which isn’t surprising, because there is little information to be found about her. Her bibliography, aside from The Difficult Doctor, includes Fashioned For Love and Spanish Serenade and…well, that’s about it. Pastorek is a remarkably obscure author, and the only real information I could find about her comes from her short bio on Amazon, where all three of her books have sales rankings low enough to indicate that they have sold less than five copies during the entirety of their existence on Amazon. Combined.
Alba Marie Pastorek is a native and resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a graduate of Louisiana State University, where she studied romance languages and music. After the adventure of moving to Italy in her teens, and several years later living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she became hooked on world travel for life. She has explored numerous countries across six continents, and enjoys featuring some of her favorite destinations in exciting contemporary love stories.
The back cover, annoyingly, doesn’t include a plot summary or synopsis of any kind, preferring to pimp out other books from Avalon, the publishing company:
In lieu of that, I decided to write my own synopsis of this book
Emery Page, a young, career-driven medical technician, meets Dr. Reed Stafford, an arrogant, narcissistic asshole who treats everyone around him like shit. Emery quickly allows herself to be manipulated into leaving her new job to become a glorified nanny for Dr. Stafford’s adopted children. Back inside the house, Emery quickly falls for Reed’s obnoxious, standoffish behavior. After a few days of being shoved into walls and having kisses forced upon her, Emery finds herself beginning to fall in love. Her passion only mounts as Reed shows his disdain for her career and her intellect. With cold, calculated precision, Reed manipulates Emery into doing exactly what he wants on every page. Alba Marie Pastorek does a marvelous job of taking a textbook case of domestic abuse and presenting it as the beginnings of a positive and healthy relationship. This is a book for every naïve young teenager looking forward to a lifetime of battered woman syndrome.
Unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating. At all.
We’ll begin with the cover, which is awesome:
It looks like they’re in a mad scientist’s greenhouse laboratory. Unsurprisingly, the picture never actually takes place in the book itself.
We open up on Emery, which is a total Sue name. She’s a medical lab technician at the Crescent City Regional Medical Center in New Orleans, none of which is really important to the story. Anyway, an adorable little four-year-old boy comes into her room, which is in the basement, followed by a man who she assumes is his father. The kid, who’s named Jeremy, is rather frightened, but the man standing behind him is lacking in bedside manner and tells the kid to not to act like a baby. Emery is furious and glares at the man in righteous indignation as if she expects that to work.
After she picks Jeremy up and soothes him he immediately calms down and is happy. File that one under ‘obvious foreshadowing’.
Emery finds out that she’s supposed to do some blood tests. I wasn’t aware that medical lab technicians actually drew blood from four-year-olds. I was under the impression that the pediatrician or one of the nurses would draw the blood inside the colorful room filled with teddy bears and then send it down to the cold basement where the tests are actually run. Then again, what do I know?
I should probably mention that Pastorek is a huge fan of adverbs. Nothing is simply said. Her characters snap, say impatiently, coo, snap, inform crisply, say softly, address, say with a sigh, blurt rudely, reply gruffly, sooth, assure, inform, remind suspiciously, tell indignantly, agree, demand in a dismayed whisper, reply grimly, inform matter-of-factly, say surprisedly, say with a sigh, inquire gruffly, protest, inform brusquely, say in a controlled tone, accuse, respond, call, exclaim, ask, inform, declare, and add. In the first chapter alone. And NONE of them are actually needed.
Emery demonstrates her amazing child-rearing abilities by talking Jeremy into playing a game where he’s Superman. She has him close his eyes as she draws the blood. I can’t imagine a four-year-old being willing to keep his eyes shut as a stranger ties his arm with a rubber hose in the basement of a hospital and then stabs him with a needle, but Emery manages it and then draws the blood completely painlessly.
Afterwards, another nurse, Agnes, asks Emery what Reed Stafford is doing outside. Emery realizes that the boy’s father is Dr. Reed Stafford, the chief of cardio-thoracic surgery. Who also happens to be a medical pioneer and is a world-renown authority on all things heart-related. Naturally. It wouldn’t be enough if he was simply good at his job – he’s the best on the planet. Anyway, they’re interrupted by Jeremy, who informs them that Reed isn’t his father, he’s his uncle. Which is another problem with this book. Jeremy is four and only speaks in complete, grammatically accurate sentences. All the kids do, for that matter.
Emery takes Jeremy out to Reed, who continues to act obnoxious and sneers at everything she says, with the help of a number of adverbs. There really isn’t any reason for Reed to act this way, so I am forced to conclude that he hates women. Let’s see if this hypothesis holds up, shall we?
Jeremy asks Reed if Emery can come home with them. File that one under “obvious foreshadowing”. Instead of saying no, Reed merely says not today. I guess you can file that one under obvious foreshadowing as well. Pastorek isn’t really trying to subtle, here.
We get a bit of backstory. Emery’s only been at Crescent City for five weeks after transferring from another hospital, which she left because it was awkward after she broke up with her last boyfriend. And that’s about it for backstory. She talks to Agnes, who shares the gossip: apparently Jeremy’s parents died in a recent airplane crash – everyone knows how frequently airplanes crash, right? – and so he and his two sisters have been pawned off on Reed. They talk some more about what a busy man Reed is – flying all over the world to deliver lectures – and how he doesn’t really have time to take care of three children. Then again, if he’s as filthy rich as this novel states he is, he wouldn’t have the slightest problem engaging a full-time nanny for the children. But if that were the case, we wouldn’t really have a novel.
“Well, you have to admit he is terribly handsome,” Agnes added.
Emery’s frigid gaze froze the older woman’s grin in place. “Unfortunately, good looks don’t compensate for arrogance, bad manners, and child abuse.”
“So you admit he is attractive, Em?” Agnes’s gray eyes twinkled speculatively (page 16).
Something that really bothers me is when authors don’t bother for consistency throughout their book. This bothers me even more when authors don’t bother with consistency from one sentence to the next. It’s like a giant flashing neon green sign that they really don’t give a flying fuck about the book and are just writing whatever sentences pop into their heads so they can pick up their paycheck.
In this example, Emery’s frigid gaze freezes the smile on Agnes’s face. Clearly, Emery isn’t amused, and this effects Agnes. And yet a second later Agnes is joking and teasing. No. You can’t have both. One or the other. Either Agnes is affected by Emery’s glare or she isn’t.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that being grumpy or serious is not even remotely child abuse.
Emery gets home and we get a few pages about her cat, her house, and her neighbor. It’s not interesting and reveals nothing about her as a character. She spends some time bitching to her friend Susan about Reed. Susan points out that she needs to be a little more reasonable. After all, Reed used to be an extremely busy bachelor and suddenly he has three young children thrust upon him, on top of all his normal hospital responsibilities. It makes sense that he might be a little grouchy and irritable, from the lack of sleep if nothing else. And it also would make sense that he doesn’t have a lot of patience with children, considering that he has no experience with them. All of these are valid points but Emery blows them off and continues to think of Reed as an asshole – which of course he is, but for totally different reasons.
Eventually Emery goes to bed but is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call. It’s Reed. He asks her to come immediately over to his house. Because Jeremy is crying and says that he won’t go to sleep until he sees Emery again. Emery, understandably, is flabbergasted. She asks Reed if he understands that it’s the middle of the night, that she has to work at eight the next morning, and if he’s seriously asking her to get up and drive across town because a little boy that she happened to draw blood from that day is crying and wants to see her. Why she’s saying all this, I have no idea. A better course of action would be to simply hang up, and then call the police to get a restraining order. Reed comes back and says that he has to be up at SIX the next morning for an operation. Also, Jeremy has a fever. This instantly convinces Emery that she needs to come over, which I’m not buying. So a kid is sick. Guess what? He’s living with a real live doctor. This is patently ridiculous, and it’s pretty clear that Pastorek is grasping desperately for a reason to get Emery into Reed’s house, logic be damned.
So Emery gets directions and heads over. And we get one of the first truly damning quotes of this book:
“Thanks for coming over,” Reed blurted hastily, grabbing Emery’s arm and pulling her into the dimly lighted foyer (page 34).
Exactly what kind of person just grabs someone’s arm and drags them around? Someone who has no respect for others as human beings, it seems.
Emery heads in to where Jeremy is lying in Reed’s bed. She hugs him and he asks her for a story and she tells him a story and he immediately calms down and stops crying and they both fall asleep. The next morning she wakes up and is horrified that she spent the entire night in Reed’s house. If you’re willing to drive across town to comfort a stranger’s kid, spending the night there seems like the logical next step.
The house is deserted except for Jeremy and his two sisters, Aimee and Ashlie, who also speak in complete, grammatically perfect sentences. Emery heads downstairs looking for the housekeeper, and instead finds a note:
My apologies for leaving you like this, but Mrs. Mumphrey is stranded in Slidell with car trouble. Verna isn’t coming until one today, I think. I’m taking the liberty of calling the lab to say you won’t be in (page 42).
The note goes on to talk about Aimee’s insulin, thank her, and say that he’ll make it up to her. Emery is furious. I’m really not sure who to be more disgusted with: Reed for his manipulative behavior, Emery for being an easily manipulated idiot, or the author for assuming her readers are idiots. Hasn’t Reed ever heard of daycare? It’s this awesome place that takes care of kids for you. Most hospitals have one right inside the building. It’s very affordable, too!
There’s really only one sensible thing to do here, and that’s pick up a phone and call child protective services, because anyone who would leave three children under the age of six with a random stranger he had only met a DAY before is guilty of criminal negligence and child endangerment. That might just be my opinion, though.
Emery doesn’t do this, instead she resigns herself to taking care of the kids. Go figure. The day passes, it’s closing in on lunchtime, and the phone rings. It’s Reed. Emery immediately feels nervous. Inexplicably. Probably the fact that she’s already going moist for Reed’s cold, pretentious sneer that he gets whenever she opens her mouth. They talk for a bit and then:
Remembering that she was furious with him for putting her in the position of baby-sitter, Emery changed her tone. “Listen, Doctor, I didn’t mind hightailing it across town last night. After all, it was rather an emergency” (page 45).
BULL-SHIT. A kid crying at night is not an emergency. A kid with a mild fever is not an emergency, and even if it was, A) Emery wouldn’t be able to help with that, as it’s not her field, B) Reed is more qualified to take care of something like that, and C) there are these awesome things called hospitals that have entire wings called – wait for it – emergency rooms.
Reed broke in smoothly. “Yes, I understand, Miss Page. And I want to talk to you about that, but unfortunately I have to run. I’ll call you back this afternoon, or we’ll talk tonight.” (page 45).
Smooth. Very smooth.
Eventually Verna shows up two hours later and Pastorek tells us the children adore her. Which makes me wonder why Jeremy didn’t demand that Verna come over and tuck him in the previous night instead of someone he met once who stabbed a needle into his arm. But the kids are all sad to see her go, and as Emery drives away she finds herself missing them already.
Oh look, her mothering instinct has already kicked in!
That night a Jaguar pulls in at Emery’s apartment and it’s Reed. Emery runs around trying to pick stuff up and fix her hair at the same time. I’m thinking she’s smitten. Finally she opens the door. Reed strolls in and sits down without being asked. Hmm. Lack of respect for her privacy or belongings. Check. They talk for a bit about the kids and his situation, and Emery doesn’t read him the riot act for leaving her in his house to take care of his kids. Eventually, Reed gets down to business: he’s leaving for a symposium in Japan on Monday. It’s called a conference, you pretentious jackass. Reed wants her to take care of the kids while he’s gone. Emery protests, pointing out that she has a job, and she doesn’t want to be a glorified baby-sitter. Reed says he’ll pay her double her current salary and twist the hospital’s arm into making sure she’ll be reinstated into her old position when she’s done. Plus, this is only a temporary thing until he finds a permanent nanny. Emery says no.
“The children need you,” he said, impaling her with his darkly critical gaze (page 56).
Probably not the only thing he wants to impale her with. Ba-dum-tsh. Still, Reed is working the manipulation from every angle. They argue for a bit and then his beeper goes off and he says it’s the kids and asks to borrow her phone and calls him and talks to Jeremy and finally hands the phone to Emery. Jeremy immediately starts begging her to take care of them all while Uncle Reed is away. Ah, Reed. You sneaky bastard. Emery promises that’s she’ll stop by tomorrow, hangs up, and tells Reed there will be certain conditions if she accepts his offer. Reed says they can be whatever she wants them to be. Do they go over the conditions? No, not really. The only one that Emery even mentions is that the children’s rooms need to be redecorated.
Emery packs her stuff up and moves in. There’s a few pages of boring dialogue and some backstory on Reed. He used to be engaged to this rich socialite and has a reputation as a bit of a ladies’ man. And that’s it.
The man was a potent force of male magnetism, Emery had to reluctantly admit that night when he bounded down the long, carpeted staircase in a splendid tuxedo (page 63).
Yes, for woman who are attracted to handsome, emotionally abusive douchebags.
Reed is having trouble tying his tie. Of course. So Emery offers to tie it for him. Of course. Her hands shake a little bit while she’s doing it because she’s very near him. Of course. That retching sound you just heard was me puking all over my keyboard.
Emery turned to walk back to the couch, coming to a halt as Reed’s warm fingers closed around her arm (page 65).
Reed clearly hasn’t learned of the concept of personal space. Or about respect for other people as autonomous beings. I wonder if this is because most of the people that he works with are either his subordinates or unconscious on a gurney?
It’s truly uncanny.
Time passes. Emery redecorates the kids’ rooms, which leads to some more idiocy:
Rather than bother with movers, Reed had arranged to have the house and its contents auctioned off.
“No need to bring anything down here that might remind the kids of their loss,” he had told Emery just before he left for Japan.
That had surprised and pleased her. It was another rare sign that he wasn’t totally ignored of how to deal with the children (page 69).
I have to disagree. Maybe if you’d brought a few comfort objects from their old home so they weren’t living in an enormous bachelor’s pad, they wouldn’t cry themselves to sleep at night.
Reed leaves. More nothing happens. Then Emery gets a call from her old college friend Wes that she had a crush on, back in the day, but now they’re just good friends. She invites him over later that week and they all hang out with the kids and have a grand old time. Eventually she puts the kids to bed and she and Wes talk for a bit until Reed walks in. Emery immediately starts blushing. Reed glares at Wes. They icily introduce themselves to each other and Wes says he needs to get going and leaves.
Reed is furious, and asks exactly how many ‘old friends’ she’s been having over. Surprisingly, I can see both sides of the argument. On the one hand, Reed is perfectly justified in not wanting his children’s nanny to invite strange men over to his house while the children are sleeping upstairs. On the other hand, Reed pretty much gave her free rein to do whatever she feels like. So this sounds suspiciously like a man trying to keep a woman from seeing her friends, which is yet another sign of domestic abuse.
Emery tells him that she’s not going to stand around and be insulted, which, considering she’s been doing exactly that for the previous seventy-eight pages, shows a surprising amount of backbone. Reed, of course, is having none of it:
She gasped when his hands shot out and tightly gripped her arms.
“You’re not going anywhere until you tell me what that guy was doing here,” Reed informed her through clenched teeth.
“Let me go! I don’t have to tell you a blasted thing!” she cried, wincing when his fingers dug even deeper into the soft flesh of her arms.
“What’s the matter, angel?” Reed grated in a tone that sent a chill of fright shooting up Emery’s spine. “You weren’t getting enough male attention away from the clinic?” He yanked her hard against the steel wall of his chest. “That’s easily remedied, you know.” (page 79).
Holy assault, Batman! But I bet you can’t guess what comes next, can you?
Emery snapped her knee upwards. There was a satisfying crunch as she connected solidly, driving Reed’s testicles up into the vicinity of his kidneys. His face went pale and his knees buckled. Emery grabbed his ears and head-butted him. His nose broke against her forehead, and he collapsed to the ground, blood squirting from his nose as he grabbed his crotch in agony. Emery stepped over him and picked up her purse, withdrawing a can of Mace, a pair of pliers, and her trusty switchblade. “Playtime’s over, bitch,” she muttered. “Time to say hello to my ‘little friends’.” (page 80).
Whoops. Sorry. Got a little carried away into fantasy-land there. This is a romance. Violence is a only used as foreplay in romance novels. But because this is a PG-rated novel, we’re just going to have a mouth-rape scene. No, not like that.
Then he captured her lips in a searing kiss that left her absolutely breathless. She wanted him to stop instantly, and she wanted him to go on forever.
“Let go of me!” Emery finally said, freeing her lips for a moment, trying to make him loosen his powerful grip.
“Isn’t this what you were asking for?” he mocked her softly, kissing her again, tormenting her with his nearness.
“You…you don’t know what you’re doing!” Emery gasped.
“You’re wrong, you know, Miss Page,” he said, laughing loudly. “I know exactly what I’m doing.” (page 80)
Yeah. It’s called sexual assault, you prick.
Emery tried to turn away. “Please! Don’t,” she begged.
But she could no longer fight the incredible magnetism and excitement of him, and she found herself returning his kisses with ardor (page 80).
That’s right, kids. ‘Don’t’ is actually women-speak for ‘Please ignore my protests and keep going, because deep down inside I really want it’.
This novel is sickening. I’m really glad young men would never be caught dead reading shitty romance novels like this one, because they might buy into it. Nice job promoting rape culture, Pastorek.
Anyway, eventually Emery gets her sense back and asks him to let her go. He does so and she walks upstairs on shaking legs.
Next morning she wakes up and is trying to decide how she’s going to tell the children that she’s going to be leaving. She hears some noises downstairs and goes down to find Reed making the children breakfast, in his gruff, irritable, non-mothering way. The kids are begging him to take them to one of the Mardi Gras parades. Reed says he’s only going to if Emery is there to help him out. Chalk down another one for Mr. Manipulation. Emery says that she needs to talk to ‘Uncle Reed’ first.
Emery tells Reed, in his study, that she’s leaving. He asks why. She says he knows. He says he doesn’t. She says it was about last night. Reed says he’s already forgotten about what happened. Ah, you loveable rogue, you.
“If I insulted you, I apologize, all right?” He sat down on the edge of the desk, his crossed legs only inches from her knees.
“No, it isn’t all right,” Emery retorted. “You insinuated that I had neglected the children the entire time you were away. It’s quite impossible for me to work for someone who thinks I’m capable of – ” (page 91).
Yes. That’s right. She’s not actually going to bring up the fact that he assaulted and mouth-raped her. She’s just mad that he insulted her.
Reed tells her to calm down and then asks her about Wes. She explains who he is and how she knows him.
“I certainly didn’t intend for this job to interfere with your social life,” Reed said suavely when she had finished.
“That’s hardly the impression you gave last night,” Emery replied.
“I said I was sorry.” Reed stood, grasped Emery’s arm, and pulled her to her feet. “You know you can’t leave now,” he went on as he escorted her to the door, giving her the distinct feeling she was being royally dismissed.
“Really?” Her blue eyes openly challenged his much darker ones.
“The kids need you” (page 92).
Using the children to keep a woman in an abusive relationship. Yeah, that’s never been done before.
Reed pushes her out the door, says he’ll see her at lunch, and closes it behind her. And that is pretty much that. She heads out, the kids start asking about the Mardi Gras parade, and…
Of course, she didn’t have the heart to disappoint them.
Dr. Reed Stafford certainly had her pegged for the sucker she was, she thought was vexation, deciding she had no choice but to stay through the weekend (page 93).
I’m sure the kids gets will get over the disappointment, you idiot. Get out now!
Wes calls her later and asks her to go out to a Mardi Gras ball Saturday night, and Emery agrees. Hello, love triangle?
Nothing happens for awhile and on Saturday Reed and Emery and Jeremy and Aimee go out to see the parade. It’s not that interesting. Reed doesn’t act like an asshole, which doesn’t mean a lot, because abusive assholes are often very charming when they’re out in public. And then it’s time for a totally unrealistic scene of DANGER. The floats are going by and coins are being chucked out into the crowd and Jeremy wriggles out of Emery’s arms and runs out, through the packed crowds. I wonder if Pastorek has ever actually seen a Mardi Gras crowd. People are packed in there like sardines. Four-year-olds can’t run through them. Then Jeremy gets through the barrier, also in a manner of seconds. For your information, this is what a parade barrier looks like:
Four year olds don’t just get ‘through’ that.
So Reed leaps into action, vaulting over the barrier and racing over and scooping up Jeremy seconds before he’s crushed by an enormous float. It’s very dramatic.
They head back to the hospital afterwards because Jeremy got a deep scratch and people mistake Emery for Reed’s wife twice, which we could file under obvious foreshadowing. Although some people mistook my sister and I for a married couple several times. So maybe not. This, on the other hand, totally is:
“I wish Uncle Reed would marry you ‘cause I really like you.” The angelic, smiling child would never have understood the disturbance her words generated in Emery (page 108).
For that matter, so is this:
To the casual observer, they might easily have been just an attractive young married couple who had just learned that their little boy had narrowly escaped serious injury, especially when Reed rather possessively took hold of Emery’s arm and led his “family” out to the parking lot (page 110).
I wonder if Pastorek has any idea exactly what kind of novel she’s writing. If the ending of this novel was different, one could even believe that she is deliberately trying to write a story about someone who is too stupid/weak/gullible/easily manipulated to realize that she’s with someone who’s abusive.
Later that evening Emery gets ready for her date with Wes. Reed is off at the hospital doing another surgery. She admires herself in the mirror and finds herself wishing that Reed would show up to see how beautiful she looks. Can you guess what is going to happen later at the ball?
She and Wes head out. He’s kind’ve a chunky guy, and Pastorek spends some time detailing how much he eats and drinks. I’m not really sure why, unless it’s to make Reed look even better by comparison. Because Reed isn’t fat, you see.
Emery and Wes dance for a bit and Reed shows up and asks if he can cut in. Wes agrees and sits down. Emery is very nervous as Reed puts his hand in the small of her back and presses her against his chest. They dance and talk. Emery asks if she’s angry with him. Already displaying signs of battered woman syndrome. Finally they shut up and let their romance blossom.
For several sweet, heavenly minutes she was floating within the magic intensity of his embrace, all thoughts of Wes, Kevin, and any man she had ever known erased from her mind.
Emery could have cried out her profound regret when the music abruptly died, so intoxicated with pleasure she had become in Reed’s arms (page 121).
Despite her protests, Reed introduces her to his date, which is classy. Eventually Emery heads back to hang out with Wes. He takes her home afterwards (to Reed’s house) and gives her a sloppy drunken good-night kiss, and she heads inside. Well. Reed pulls her inside. Of course. He demands to know if Wes kissed her. She says he did. Then they make out for a bit. No, seriously.
Later that night, Aimee wakes up with a scary dream and they comfort her together. Reed tells her that will always take care of her.
Emery’s throat constricted, making speech momentarily impossible. Tears coated her eyes, but she blinked frantically, horrified that Reed might see her break down in a moment of foolish sentimentality. For he must never know how much she loved him and the children (page 134).
You have known this man for just over two weeks, and for over half of it you thought he was an asshole. He treats you like shit, randomly grabs your arm and drags you around, forcibly kisses you, and displays no redeeming qualities whatsoever. And now you’re in love with him. What the fuck is wrong with you?
Later, they go out to another parade and Reed doesn’t do anything particularly bad, so Emery starts to feel like they’re a Real Family and it’s wonderful and broken up by the news that Reed is leaving for New York and will be gone for about a week.
More time passes. Nothing happens. One day she meets up with Wes and they talk and he asks her if she’s in love with Reed. She says she thinks she is. But she knows he doesn’t love her in response. He has the hots for the rich socialite that he dumped at a very public ball so he could dance with HER. God, this woman is stupid.
More nothing happens. Reed comes home and is asleep one night and Ashlie loses her toy. Then she remembers that it’s in Reed’s room. Hoo boy. This is where you would tell Ashlie to shut up and stop whining and that she’ll get her toy later, but Pastorek needs an excuse to write this next scene. Emery goes up to fetch it and creeps inside his room. She sees it under the bed and reaches for it and Reed grabs her hand. Again. Then pulls her upright and puts his arms around her waist. She tries to pull away and tells him to let her go, but he refuses.
Reed squeezed her so hard that she winced with pain. Then he released her.
“I’m sorry, angel,” Reed whispered. “I didn’t mean to hurt you…I missed you, that’s all. If only I could hold you forever” (page 155).
Add another tick to the ‘Reed is abusive’ checklist.
Anyway, Emery still believes that he’s getting hitched to the rich socialite. Why? No real reason.
Later, Emery makes up her mind to leave. She writes Reed a note about how she’s taking a job in her hometown, blah blah, leaves it on his desk in his study. It’s not really true but she knows a doctor there who said she could work there whenever she wanted, so it’s not really a lie, either. Frankly, I’m a little disturbed that she feels the need to lie about her reasons for leaving. How about ‘I’m leaving because you’re an asshole’? Or ‘I’m leaving because I have better things to do than babysit your kids’ or ‘I’m leaving’, because you don’t owe him a reason?
She takes off and then randomly bumps into him in a drugstore. Well, what are the odds of that? On second thought, it’s equally likely that Reed has been stalking her, so maybe it’s not just a coincidence.
Reed explains that he got the note and respects her wishes, but he still needs her help one last time. He explains that he’s leaving for London the next day. Emery says she’s forgotten all about it.
“Yes, well, it’s a three-week symposium, and I can’t possibly get out of going. It has taken over a year to set this up, and I’m one of the key lecturers. You know how slow the Europeans are to accept our technology. We’re just beginning to get through to them…” (page 162).
I have nothing to say about this.
Reed continues that he’d like Emery to stay with the children until he gets back. He’s found a real live English nanny for the kids. Yes, that’s exactly what he says. Direct quote. Real live English nanny. Anyway, as soon as he’s back, Emery’s off the hook.
Emery is sad. Because ‘her babies’ are going to handed off to a foreigner. Do people really think of the British as ‘foreigners’ anymore? I mean, they’re not from America, obviously, but the word foreigner is usually trotted out with great disgust and people usually don’t feel that way about Brits.
Reed says he doesn’t have any choice, as Emery has made it clear that she no longer wants the job. And that is pretty much that.
Emery goes back to Reed’s house. Reed says goodbye to Jeremy in an odd moment that is pretty unrealistic, like most of the moments in this book when children speak. I’m pretty sure Pastorek has never actually had children. Emery heads out of the room and Jeremy pipes up and tells Reed not to forget to kiss Emery goodbye as well.
Reed’s lips located hers unerringly, covering them with incredible tenderness. Tears sprang to her tightly shut eyes, but she swallowed the sob that accompanied them.
Why must Reed continue to torment her? she asked silently even as she savored what were sure to be her last moments in his arms, treasured moments to remembered always (page 166).
Really, Emery? Really? You truly believe, deep down inside, that he’s getting engaged to that rich socialite, and yet you are willing to let him use your for your firm yet supple…tight embrace…and not only that, but you’re going to treasure these hollow, insincere moments forever? Are you truly that shallow?
Afterwards, she goes into her room and is certain that she’s never going to see him again. So she cries.
Reed leaves. Time passes. Emery isn’t feeling well, she has a cold and a sore throat. It gets progressively worse. Finally she goes in for them to run some tests. She feels worse and worse, sleeping all day without strength to get out of bed. Finally Mrs. Mumphrey sees some tiny red spots on her hand. She thinks it’s measles. When Wes shows up, though, he decides that Emery is deathly ill and carries her out to the car to take her to the hospital. On the way outside, Emery faints. Oh no!
Emery hallucinates. She says that she doesn’t want anyone except Reed. Then she hears Reed’s voice saying that he’s there. Awkward. He asks her if she had rheumatic fever as a child. Emery says she doesn’t remember but her mother would, and fades out again.
Days later, she’s conscious again. Nothing happens. Susan tells her that Reed rushed back from London after hearing she was sick. And immediately figured out what was wrong with her, even when none of the other doctors could. He’s just that hardcore, you know. And no, it’s never revealed what Emery was actually sick with, although I think it’s rheumatic fever. Or bacterial endocarditis. Not sure why the other doctors were too stupid to pick up on this. Seems rather obvious.
Afterwards, Reed comes in. They make out for a bit and then Emery asks why he keeps doing this to her.
“Would you rather I beat you for being such a dense little girl?” (page 182).
Yeah. That question is a little…loaded.
“Dense?” she repeated.
“What do I have to do to convince you that I’m crazy in love with you, my angel?” (page 182).
I’m pretty sure that in all of the world’s literature, that is the only confession of love that was directly preceded by asking if they wanted to be beaten for being dense.
Anyway. More loving dialogue, she says she loves him, Reed asks if she loves him enough to marry him.
“Of course, I’ll marry you. That is, if you’ll adopt Caesar, too. My cat, you know.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way, darling,” he said, kissing her once more (page 184).
And that’s it. End of the novel. I think the idea here is that they go on to have a glorious marriage and live happily ever after, but personally, I have this ominous feeling that their relationship has some dark times ahead.
No idea why.