This is a chapter-by-chapter review of problematic romance novel ‘Walking Disaster’ by Jamie McGuire. Posts in the series will all be linked back to the initial post, here.
‘Walking Disaster’ is a companion novel to ‘Beautiful Disaster’, which is currently being snark-reviewed by the magnificent Jenny Trout. Links to that review and other reviews of Jenny’s can be found here.
- Problem drinking
- Angry controlling behaviour
- Swearing (mine)
Chapter Twelve: Virgin
Well, now, I wonder where that chapter title will go.
So, when we last left our intrepid hero, he was struggling (at least successfully, for once) to control his rage over Abby dating Parker Hayes, although he wasn’t able just to ask Abby out himself because he’d heard her saying some stuff about him that was actually true, or something, and also because plot. On reading Jenny Trout’s recap of the equivalent bit in ‘Beautiful Disaster’, I discovered that McGuire left a bit out of the end of that chapter which was in ‘Beautiful’ (it isn’t on the beginning of this chapter, either), but it’s just Abby and Travis having a brief and pointless conversation, so we haven’t missed anything here. I’m going to guess that the reason McGuire didn’t put that in this book was that it was too boring even for her and she couldn’t face writing it a second time.
Anyway, at the beginning of this chapter, Travis’s coping skills in times of unhappiness are clearly as healthy and appropriate as always, because he’s apparently drunk two bottles of whiskey in less than a week. That is… um… wait, 80 units??? This guy is at serious risk of alcohol poisoning. That’s not hyperbole for dramatic effect; it’s a medical fact. Yikes.
Travis’s crisis levels of drinking are a reaction to
her asking me to release her from the bet so that she could leave
Which there has been no mention of, so I’m going to guess that it happened in ‘Beautiful’ and McGuire can’t be bothered to write that scene here either, despite the fact that this one actually does sound plot-relevant. Maybe it’s one of the scenes that she avoided writing from Travis’s point of view because there was no way to make it sound anything other than horrible (granted, I don’t know for sure that that’s why McGuire left out some of the stuff she left out, but it’s all too likely). I’ll be interested to see what does happen in that scene, but apparently the upshot of it was…
she’d barely spoken to me that evening since I refused to let her out of the bet earlier that day.
Oh, Travis. (Also: Abby, this isn’t a binding contract, and things are obviously pretty unhealthy around here, so just go. You don’t need his permission.)
So, it’s now Thursday evening. The ‘refused to let her out of the bet’ scene apparently happened earlier in the day. Also, Parker has apparently let the cat out of the bag about Abby’s surprise birthday party. Travis responds to this by rushing round to change it to Friday night instead of Sunday, so that he can still spring it on her as a surprise. (We don’t hear how Abby reacted to learning that there was a surprise party in the offing, so apparently Travis doesn’t consider her opinion on the subject to be of any importance. Well, what a surprise.)
Travis tries asking Abby to come out for Mexican food with him, but she’s already arranged to go out with Parker, who turns up right on cue. Just before leaving with him, Abby does a 180o on her attitude to Travis; she throws her arms around him, thanks him warmly for organising the surprise party, and asks to take a rain check on dinner. They agree to get dinner the following night (hang on; wouldn’t that be the Friday for which he’s just reorganised the surprise party?) and Abby heads out, leaving Travis wanting yet another drink and Shepley, understandably, seeming somewhat worried about this. Not, apparently, worried enough to try to talk him out of doing so. As for America, she enthusiastically offers to go with him to the liquor store. What the hell? Who does that with someone who has this kind of an alcohol problem? (Sadly, the answer is probably “Lots of people”.) I’m going to headcanon that this is part of her plot to encourage him to kill himself off with alcohol poisoning and thus do the world a favour.
Shepley recognises Travis isn’t in a fit state to drive and gives America the car keys so that she can drive him, which is the first sensible driving-related decision I can remember anyone making so far in this book. (Actually, no; there was the time Abby made Travis promise to stop driving drunk. Which… hold on… which Travis agreed to, so how was he planning to get to the liquor store if America hadn’t volunteered?) America stops as they’re heading out the door and says he has to promise her he will at least not get into any fights tonight:
“Drowning your sorrows, yes,” she said, grabbing my chin and forcing me to nod my head. “Mean drunk, no.” She pushed my chin back and forth.
Um… good to know she has some limits on what she’ll encourage, I guess. Anyway, she extracts the promise and they head off. Travis looks out the car window at trees blowing in the wind and frets about the prospect of Abby’s short skirt flying up while she’s with Parker, because heaven forfend someone else accidentally see the knickers of the girl Travis wants. They get to the store and Travis buys a bottle of Jim Beam and starts drinking it the second he’s back in the car. America tries to warn him it might not be a good idea to get blasted with the surprise party to set up for tomorrow, but he won’t be dissuaded.
An hour and a half after getting in, he’s drained the last of the bottle. So that’s… another 28 units. Goodbye, Travis’s liver, I’m sure he enjoyed the days when you still worked. More immediately, how the hell is he still conscious? That’s more than double the amount you need to cause severe alcohol poisoning.
Just as he drinks the last of it, he hears Parker’s Porsche outside. Shepley and America try to talk him out of going downstairs to meet them, but no luck. Although he should at this point be incapable of doing anything other than vomiting or dying, McGuire apparently doesn’t realise this, so he makes it down the stairs with no apparent problems, having insisted to America and Shepley that he’s just going to help Abby out of the car. What actually happens is that he gets to the car, sees that the windows have fogged up and it’s rocked once, and loses his shit. America tries to stop him, but, insisting that he just wants to check Abby’s OK, he thumps the window on her side ‘so hard, I was surprised it didn’t break’. Because, really, what better way of checking someone’s OK than by nearly showering them with broken glass?
When the door isn’t opened for him, Travis throws it open. America seems to be trying to persuade Abby away from the scene, telling her to get out of the car because she needs to talk to her. (Something about that little bit really got to me. It’s so clear that she’s trying desperately to get Abby away from a very drunk, angry Travis… yet she can’t just come out and say “Abby, quick, get away from Travis, I’m scared of what will happen”. It’s a horrible, realistic image of someone trying to work around an abusive person they know damn well is a threat, yet feeling unable to put into words that that’s what’s going on. It reminded me of Cliff Pervocracy’s missing stair post.)
Anyway, Abby isn’t having any of that, because she’s furious with Travis and wants to have her say. Travis tells America to go in and, once Abby’s nodded at her to agree with this, she reluctantly does so. So now Abby is alone with a very drunk, very angry man with a history of violence and anger management issues, so clearly no way this could go hideously wrong.
(I can sympathise with America. She’s – what, 19? Thereabouts, anyway – she has no background in how to handle abuse or anger issues, she’s grown up in a society that singularly fails to recognise these sorts of issues, that glosses them over, sweeps them under the rug. I have such a clear picture of how her unease, her gut feelings about this situation, are going to be at war with the rationalisations; this is Travis, this is the guy they hang out with, just her boyfriend’s cousin whom he’s known all his life, yeah, everyone knows Travis has a temper, but surely he wouldn’t really do anything? I can understand why she goes along with leaving them when they both want her to. But still… that’s the sort of decision that can go hideously wrong. I’ll just have to hope she’s actually gone to call Shep to try to calm Travis down.)
Oh; at this point we also get a bit of snark from Travis about the fact that Parker calls her Abs and Travis thinks this is ‘ridiculous’ and doesn’t see how Parker can ‘utter it with a straight face’ unlike, apparently, calling someone ‘Pigeon’. Sorry, just had to mention that.
Anyway, there’s a moment of them standing there glaring at each other, while Travis takes a drag of a cigarette. Wow, toxic rage, alcohol problems and a smoker to boot… verily I am swooning before the desirability of this romantic hero.
Abby asks why Travis did this:
“Why? Because he was mauling you in front of my apartment!”
Abby, run. Get out of Travis’s life. Do not look back. Stay away from him.
While Abby of course doesn’t do that, she does tell him very firmly that what she does and who with is her business, so I mentally have a ‘Go, Abby!’ cheer. Unfortunately, this is a book where the priority is to establish that Our Heroine is a Good Girl and thus Too Good For That Nasty Casual Sex, and this far outweighs such tiny details as boundary-setting or healthy relationships. So, when Travis tells her she’s ‘so much better than that’ and shouldn’t ‘let him fuck you in a car like a cheap prom date’, Abby lets herself be pulled into that argument. Instead of sticking to the point that it is none of his business (or even calling him out on his slut-shaming, which would be a conversation worth reading, although one which Abby might very understandably not find worth having with this jerk), she indignantly tells Travis that she wasn’t going to have sex with Parker.
Travis – having thus implicitly received the message that, whatever Abby might say to the contrary, in practice her sex life does get to be his business – demands to know what she was doing. Abby demands of him in turn whether he’s never just ‘messed around without letting it get that far’. Apparently not:
That was stupidest thing I’d ever heard. “What’s the point in that?” Blue balls and disappointment. Sounded like a ball.
OK, what? Firstly, while his personal preferences on the issue don’t exactly come as a shock, it’s very odd that he’s acting as though the entire concept were new to him. I mean… he lives and interacts in normal US society where it’s well known that people do precisely that. Secondly, I’m wondering how this worked out in high school. If he’s never made out without at least planning to have sex, then either he started having casual sex at a very young age (in fact, given US law, he and his schoolmates would have been legally underage for most/all of high school), or he went through high school never making out with anyone (which is of course true for thousands, but doesn’t seem to fit with the author’s description of Travis as being a total heartthrob who trails doting admirers everywhere he goes), or he spent his high school years expecting every girl he made out with to sleep with him and, knowing Travis, probably getting resentful when they wouldn’t. I have a horrible feeling it’s some sort of mixture of 1 and 3.
Thirdly, let’s remember here that only a week ago Travis was trying it on with Abby when they went out to that bar. That was bad enough at the time but becomes even more so in light of the information that Travis doesn’t believe in messing around with someone unless you’re planning to have sex with them; that means that not only was he trying to see how far he could get with her when he knew she didn’t want anything to happen, but he also must have meant to try to persuade her into sex if he could. (Even though, shortly afterwards on that same evening, he was stunned that she would ever believe he’d do any such thing. Plot consistency isn’t one of McGuire’s strong points.)
“The windows were all fogged up, the car was bouncing . . . how was I supposed to know?”
You weren’t, Travis, BECAUSE IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. You are not meant to know anything about whether Abby is or isn’t having a sex life because she clearly doesn’t wish to tell you and IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Remember how Abby told you thirty seconds ago that it was none of your business and you decided to ignore her? Remember how the none-of-your-business bit is ACTUALLY A TRUE THING EVEN THOUGH YOU WISH TO IGNORE IT?
Abby points out that he shouldn’t spy on her.
Spy on her? She knows we can hear every car that pulls up to the apartment, and she decides that right outside my door was a good place to suck face with a guy I can’t stand?
Given the mention we had earlier of Abby asking to be released from the bet and leave the apartment, I’m guessing that she actually decided that outside her door would be a much better place to suck face with a guy you couldn’t stand, Travis. Unfortunately, you didn’t want her to have that option, so now she’s stuck with outside your door.
Travis says he can’t stand this, he’s going crazy… and we get this:
“If you sleep with him, I don’t wanna know about it. I’ll go to prison for a long time if I find out he . . . just don’t tell me.”
Oh, gods, ABBY, RUN. GET OUT OF THIS SCARY GUY’S LIFE. GET OUT NOW.
Sigh. We’re in this book. Remember what I said above about this book’s priority? Travis has effectively just told Abby that, if he finds out she’s had sex with her new boyfriend – if he finds out that this woman who is supposedly his friend and whose sex life is none of his business anyway has chosen to have sex with her new boyfriend – he’s going to lose his temper to the point of committing major violence. Major enough for a long prison sentence. What point do you think Abby is focusing on in all this?
Why, yes, indeed… what horrifies Abby about that comment is that Travis thinks she might be planning to have sex. How dare Travis assume she would do anything like actually having sex?
“I can’t believe you just said that! That’s a big step for me!”
“That’s what all girls say!”
“I don’t mean the sluts you deal with! I mean me!”
Having thus worked in our regular NotLikeOtherGirls reminder, the dialogue continues with Abby yelling “I haven’t . . . ugh! Never mind” and starting to walk away. Travis grabs her arm to turn her back round again (yup, aggressive violent guy is grabby, sigh, of course he is) and wants to know what she’s talking about. He then realises that, dun-dun-duuunnnnn, she means that she’s a virgin. Which astonishes him; he can’t remember meeting a virgin since the beginning of high school. (How exactly he knows that isn’t made clear; has he been asking everyone he’s met since then about their virginity status, or did they just volunteer the information?)
What I really want, at this point, is for someone to pin Travis down on… actually, literally pinning this scumbag down, preferably on something painfully spiky, is quite an appealing idea, but what I meant was for someone to pin him down metaphorically on his cognitive dissonance regarding his assumptions about Abby’s sexual history. Because, if you recall, back in Chapter Five he was surprised that she knew where condoms could be obtained. And he’s also made it abundantly clear that he thinks that she – as his idealised image of Good Girl and Perfect Pigeon – isn’t doing anything so nasty as having slutty sex like a slutty slut would. So… apparently he was assuming that her past history included some very chaste but unsafe sex?
Anyway, it seems that Abby’s virginity is due to the fact that her previous boyfriend throughout high school was an ‘aspiring Baptist youth minister’ who actually did stick to the ‘celibacy’ part of his religion, and thus, as Abby explains to Travis in one of those you-might-want-to-rethink-that-phrasing moments, ‘It never came up!’ I don’t think I’ll tell you how long I spent laughing over that one, but at least I got one funny moment out of this book, so thanks, McGuire, even though that probably wasn’t quite how you intended that line. Anyway, then Aspiring Minister wanted to get married and stay in Kansas and Abby didn’t, so that was the end of that.
(Also, I note that when Abby tells Travis this there’s an ellipsis before ‘Kansas’, so she paused there for some reason. Does this mean that Abby’s Deep Dark Secret involves coming from somewhere other than Kansas? Is she on the run under a secret identity? Or maybe she was about to say that he wanted to stay in something else, and then went with ‘Kansas’ instead? Did he actually want to stay in a giant vat of custard? Was that the fundamental relationship incompatibility here? We shall find out. Possibly.)
Travis holds the sides of Abby’s face, which I’m sure doesn’t seem skeevy or worrying at all from a big drunk angry violent guy, and tells her he’d never have guessed she was a virgin, given how she danced at the Red. Abby, not amused, stomps up the stairs and Travis follows her but falls over; Abby tries to pull him up, Travis’s vision goes funny for a moment, and next thing he knows they’re in one of his lecture rooms with Abby sitting on the teacher’s desk in a prom dress and Travis wearing boxer shorts, so I assume this is all a dream and he’s either got a concussion or had an alcoholic blackout.
There’s a brief dream sequence with Abby telling him she’s here to stay and she’s his and then starting to give him a handjob, and he tells her he loves her but then wakes up on his own bed. OK, looks like it was an alcoholic blackout, then (either that or the others responded to him being knocked unconscious by simply dumping him on his own bed without medical help, and, while I’d sympathise with this, they do seem to like Travis for some reason, so I don’t think that’s what happened). So, Travis wakes up on his own bed… with no memory of anything that happened the previous evening. All he knows is that he’s got the hangover from hell and he’s miserable that his lovely dream turned out just to be a dream.
He shuffles into the kitchen complaining about how loudly they’re talking and who the hell let him drink that much whiskey anyway (on the one hand, yes, they certainly could have tried harder to talk him out of it, but on the other… own your actions for once, Travis, you were the one drinking the stuff) and realises when he sees how Abby reacts to him that, although he still can’t remember it, he must have actually done something well out of line. America – giggling, because society doesn’t teach us how to take red flags of abuse seriously – tells him how he lost his temper over having found Abby and Parker fogging up the windows.
Oh, and America also describes Travis as having ‘pulled’ Abby out of Parker’s car. I looked back, and the narrative just describes him as having taken her hand as she got out of the car. Does this mean that America got it wrong (understandable in the heat of the moment, when Travis was this angry) or that Travis was in denial about what he was doing? It’ll be interesting to see Abby’s version of this in ‘Beautiful’.
Abby looks pissed off, though this vanishes when Travis takes her back to his room to talk to her so I’m going to guess she’s pissed off with America for talking about it rather than with Travis for acting that way. Oh; and I almost missed this, but I just noticed Travis describes himself as ‘waiting for a high-pitched explosion to infiltrate my already-throbbing head.’ An explosion could potentially do quite a few things to your head, but I don’t think ‘infiltrate’ is one of them. That word, I do not think it means what you think it means, Travis/McGuire (you know, I wrote ‘Meyer’ at first, can’t think what it is about the plot and writing skills here that are making me think of anyone called Meyer….) Also… ‘high-pitched explosion’? Yes, explosions are well known for the high pitch of the sound they typically produce. You might not have thought that phrase all the way through, McGuire.
“[…]Was I mean to you?”
“No you weren’t mean to me! You . . . we . . . ” She covered her eyes with her hands.
To recap here: Travis lost his temper because she was kissing someone else, hit the car window so hard he risked breaking it when that would have showered her with broken glass, possibly dragged her out of the car, acted weirdly controlling about her sex life, and all but said he’d end up losing his temper and doing something seriously violent if he found out she’d slept with Parker. Now, at this point, it isn’t quite clear whether he actually did drag her out of the car or not, and technically the rest is not actually ‘mean’ to her, as his anger was directed at Parker. But it’s frightening. It throws up run-very-fast-in-the-other-direction levels of red flags. And this is going unrecognised by characters and narrative.
Anyway, when she puts her hands over her eyes Travis notices that she’s wearing a new bracelet, which turns out to be her birthday present from Parker.
Rage welled up within me. The I-need-to-punch-something-before-I’ll-feel-better kind.
…otherwise known as the ‘I need anger management therapy yesterday if not sooner’ kind.
My anger was boiling over, but the fact that she wasn’t at all intimidated helped keep it in check.
Meaning that, if you’d seen her be intimidated by your anger, you wouldn’t have been able to keep it in check? That your response to seeing you were scaring someone would have been to lose control over your rage??
At this point, we do get a rare moment; Travis recognises he’s angry enough to say things he’ll regret, so he cuts himself off half-way through whatever it is he’s saying.
“Nothing. I’m just pissed off, and I was going to say something shitty that I didn’t mean.”
“It’s never stopped you before.”
“I know. I’m working on it,” I said, walking to the door.
So… Travis is actually trying to work on something. I have a flicker of hope that this book might improve. Not holding my breath, mind you.
As Travis takes hold of the door handle, he notices his arm is bruised and tender… which brings back the memory of the fall… which brings back the rest of the memories of that evening. And, when I say ‘rest of the memories’, this does, apparently, include the ones that were missing from the narrative before, when it time-jumped directly from ‘fell on stairs’ to ‘scene with Abby that turns out to be a dream’. Which makes that time-jump a rather strange narrative choice. I mean, it would have worked if that actually had been how Travis experienced events (as would have been the case if he’d been knocked out and dreamed that while unconscious), or if it was how he remembered events (as would have been the case if he’d had an alcoholic blackout for the memories after that point but not before), but McGuire’s writing this with him having initially had amnesia for the whole of the evening, then with the whole lot coming back to him in one go. So, whether she’s writing this from Travis’s perspective at the time or from his perspective in memory, there shouldn’t be any point at which his consciousness jumped from ‘fell on stairs’ to ‘dream scene with Abby’.
Anyway, here’s what we’re told happened in the previously undescribed bit:
- Abby helped him undress and get to bed
- He crashed into her while she herself was half-naked… OK, how did that happen? We aren’t told, but I would have thought that someone helping a falling-down-drunk man get ready for bed would get him into bed before starting to get ready for bed herself. Did she just leave him reeling around the room in his boxers while she undressed? Oh, well, maybe that bit will make more sense when we get the ‘Beautiful’ description.
- They almost (but not quite) ended up having sex.
That last bit definitely sounds like something on which we could do with more detail. All we get, however, is that the almost-sex was probably consensual, since, in the ensuing discussion, Travis tells Abby ‘My memory is a little hazy . . . but I don’t recall you saying no’ and Abby doesn’t contradict this. So it at least doesn’t sound as though he tried to rape her. (Hmmm…. the fact that I needed to clarify that really does say something about this book, doesn’t it?) While this, if correct, is good to know, that seems to be all we’re going to get told about the incident. McGuire seems to be assuming that the only people reading this book are people who’ve already read ‘Beautiful Disaster’ and thus know what went on here.
Anyway, Travis’s reaction to the almost-sex is a wave of shame and self-loathing that seems quite at odds with the way he previously tried to justify groping her when she was drunk… let’s see, eight days ago. (Seven and a half, since that was Thursday evening and this is the next Friday morning.) I’m all in favour of Heel Realisations as plot devices, but the strong implication here is that what’s actually bothering Travis is that he now knows she’s A Virgin and thus having sex with her would be significantly morally worse than having sex with someone who isn’t A Virgin.
Travis’s next act, since he is Travis, is to blame Abby.
“You’re turning me into a fucking psycho, Pigeon,” I growled over my shoulder. “I don’t think straight when I’m around you.”
Abby, bless her, comes straight back at him with “So it’s my fault?”, and this is where we get the ‘My memory is a little hazy . . . but I don’t recall you saying no’ line. Which had me confused for a short while, because – silly, silly me – I’d assumed the ‘psycho’ thing was Travis referring to his threats, aggression, control issues and problem drinking, and couldn’t quite put this together with the apparent fact that, when Abby quite appropriately called him out on an attempt to blame her for this, the conversation underwent a sudden sidetrack back to the topic of their almost-sex. No. Of course this was not what McGuire meant; why do I even have these naive moments of expecting her morality to follow any calculus of what actually harms people and what doesn’t? McGuire was talking about the almost-sex in the psycho comment. Travis says that if Abby has sex with someone else it won’t be safe to tell him about it without him committing major criminal violence? Passes without comment. Travis tries to have sex with a virgin? What a psycho!
OK, so I’m back with the programme; Travis just blamed Abby for the fact that he tried to have sex with her. (headdesking) And he’s just told her that he doesn’t recall her saying ‘no’. YOU KNOW WHAT, TRAVIS? YES, YOU ACTUALLY FUCKING WELL DO. You remember her saying it when she got to know you. You remember her saying it after you’d tried it on at the nightclub. YOU REMEMBER THESE THINGS. Maybe your memory of last night is actually correct and she genuinely didn’t say no on that occasion, but you know damn well that she’s said it. So, no, you absolutely should not have made a pass at her; not because she gets special sacred status as a result of being a virgin, but because her normal status as a human being should be someone who gets to say no to sex and have those wishes respected.
(You know what? I’m not even going to believe that whatever did happen was consensual and not Travis getting too handsy until and unless I see it looking that way when we get Abby’s POV. Big drunk frightening guy with a history of consent violations and violence makes a pass at someone he knows doesn’t want him, and McGuire mysteriously finds a way to avoid writing this scene directly from his POV, but everything’s obviously fine consent-wise because Travis, from his post-alcoholic-blackout hazy memory, doesn’t actually recall her saying no? Yeah, I’m going to be looking carefully at how this plays out when we get Jenny’s recap of Abby’s viewpoint.)
Anyway… Travis guesses that Abby was hoping he wouldn’t remember, but, nope, seems she’s actually angry he forgot. When he asks her why, she descends into spluttering incoherence, from which Travis deduces that her anger is because she actually was going to sleep with him and she’s angry that he’s forgotten this. IOW, she wanted him… or wanted sex with him, anyway. That seems to be enough for Travis to decide that they can actually ‘finally get our shit straight’… except that apparently they can’t, because he’s already arranged with Shepley to take Abby out on a pretext of running errands while Travis gets the surprise party set up.
Hold on, isn’t this Friday? Wouldn’t all of them be in classes? Maybe Travis just slept through the entire day in his drunken stupor and missed all the day’s lectures, but, if so, it seems odd that he didn’t have any sort of reaction to this (even if the reaction was just “I couldn’t even bring myself to care that I’d slept through all my lectures”). And… hang on, I just went back through the past couple of pages to look for a clue as to what time of day it is, and, when Abby’s talking about the present from Parker, she says he went shopping for it ‘this morning’ and brought it by, which implies that he’s dropped in on the way back from the morning shopping trip, which would mean that he’s skipping lectures (isn’t he meant to be on a pre-med course, and aren’t those meant to be pretty intensive?) and assuming that Abby’s skipping lectures and is going to be around the apartment. Oh, well; a McGuire timeline that doesn’t make sense is hardly a surprise at this point.
Anyway, Travis ‘rushed towards her, stopping inches away’, which seems a bit of an odd description; I mean, she’s only across the room from him, did he just run a few feet and then stop dead? He asks her ‘”What are we doin’, Pidge?”‘ Miserably failing to deal with the conundrum of ‘I really want sex with you but it’d be a terrible idea’, from the looks of things.
Her face went blank, as if admitting deep feelings for me would make her entire system shut down.
That makes it sound as though it’s emotionally traumatic to be attracted to Travis. Sorry, Abby, McGuire has definitely given you the short end of the stick as far as Romance Heroine characters go.
This is all interrupted by Shepley knocking on the door and saying that America wants him to let her know that she’s going to run some errands ‘in case you needed to go’. That’s rather laid-back phrasing for what I assume is the planned ‘get Abby out of the apartment while Travis gets the party set up’ diversion; what would they do if she said no, thanks, she didn’t need anything? Anyway, yes, she does want to go. The chapter kind of dribbles out into nothingness at this point; she asks Travis if they can talk about this later, he says ‘Sure’, chapter ends.