Published By: Ellora's Cave Publishing Inc.
Published: Jun 09, 2010
ISBN # 9781419927430
Available in: Epub, HTML, Microsoft Reader, Adobe Acrobat, Mobipocket (.prc), Rocket
More attached to Robin than the idea of her being faithful, Jay gives her the green light to go after Patrick in the hopes that it will demystify the man and get him out of Robin’s system. It begs the question—if you’ve got permission, is it still cheating? And which will ultimately sway the heart—reason or attraction?
Reader Advisory: Robin makes some decisions that might seem to stray into the realm of infidelity…but with a temptation like Patrick, who could blame her?
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An Excerpt From: RUIN ME
Copyright © CARA MCKENNA, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
When Jay proposed, I immediately began to cry.
And these weren´t tears of joy, mind you. These were frustrated tears because I really, really wanted to toss my arms around his neck and say yes, but I couldn´t.
I bet Jay wasn´t surprised. I bet if I had tossed my arms joyously around his neck and screamed my affirmations the euphoria would´ve lasted a day or a week, but soon enough the giant asterisk that hovers above our relationship would´ve popped the happy bubble.
I´ll say right off that the problem isn´t Jay. Jay is awesome. He´s my age-thirty-three-and he´s funny and smart and patient and I´m definitely attracted to him. My name is Robin. Jay and Robin. I mean, that´s so obnoxious it just has to be right.
Jay´s the only guy I´ve ever suspected I might want a child with, which is huge, since I´d always assumed I´d take a pass on that. He´d be a great dad. A stay-at-home dad, since he works out of our little house, writing reviews and articles about techie stuff. I like that he gets free smart phones and gaming systems before they´re released and he plays with them for a few days and types up his verdict in his hilarious, trademark style. I like it even more that as soon as the clock hits five thirty he tosses aside whatever toy he´s playing with and starts dinner. I like that he runs or swims every morning and that there´s one of those Bowflex contraptions in his office, and he actually uses it, three days a week. He doesn´t look quite like one of the guys from the ads, but he´s not far off. For a guy you might run into at the drugstore in our little town in Vermont, he´s a total babe.
What I´m saying is, I love Jay. The trouble isn´t him, so process of elimination points a big fat finger at me. I´m not afraid of commitment and I sowed my wild oats enough to know if I´m missing out on anything, and I´m not. Jay´s even better at sex than he is at fixing things, and that´s saying a lot.
When Jay proposed, he didn´t get down on one knee. We were sitting on the couch watching Dumb and Dumber, which is what we watched on our very first date four years ago. We watch it every six months or so because Jay can´t get enough of how I start convulsing when Jeff Daniels whacks Jim Carrey in the back of the knees with a walking stick. This time when I caught my breath again and opened my streaming eyes, I found Jay turned toward me, holding a little polished wood box. I stared at it for a while and when he opened it, I started crying for real. Eventually he closed it and I´m pretty sure I ruined that movie for us forever.
The way Jay puts it, our problem is "that asshole".
Personally, I don´t think the guy´s an asshole. I can´t, because he may have saved my life. I call our problem "the Patrick issue". Patrick is the name you´d see typed in fine print next to that hovering asterisk I mentioned earlier.
Yesterday, the day after Jay proposed, he made us breakfast as usual before I left to go to work. We´ve always been good at keeping our disagreements out in the open and not stewing over things, but we hadn´t talked about the proposal since it happened. Twelve hours is about our limit, elephant-in-the-room-wise, and Jay cracked first.
"You want to talk about what happened?" he asked, buttering toast.
He put the knife down and made an exasperated noise. "You showed me which ring to get."
"Is this ever going to go away?" he asked. "I mean, are you ever going to be able to say yes to me?"
I pushed my chair out from the dining room table and walked over and squeezed him. He smelled nice, like always. I wondered what was wrong with me that this wonderful man wasn´t enough.
"I want to say yes," I mumbled into his shoulder.
"We´ve got to figure this out soon."
"It´s my problem," I said.
I felt him stroke my hair, heard him swallow. "Maybe we should move," he said. "So we just don´t run into him anymore."
I pulled away. "I don´t want to move. I love this town. And my store and our neighbors. We´ll never find another neighborhood in this country and this century where people still drop by to borrow things. I like lending things to people."
Jay shook his head. "I can´t keep going like this." He looked older in an instant, his hazel eyes framed by fine lines, those half dozen gray sideburn hairs stark against their brown cohorts. "If you won´t move," he said, "then I don´t know what else there is we can do. Except, maybe..."
I gave him a puzzled look because I sure as hell had no clue what else we could do.
"Maybe you should... Maybe," he said again through a huge sigh, "you should just go ahead and sleep with him."
I felt my face go numb and I snaked my arms across my chest, as if I were naked and trying to hide my breasts. "No way."
"We both know you want to."
I shook my head. "I don´t want to want to though."
It´s no secret I´m attracted to Patrick Whelan. It goes beyond a lack of girl-friendly diplomacy to what I can only describe as an allergic sexual reaction. I can´t control or conceal it. When I see him, I start sweating, my whole body starts buzzing and I can´t not look at him.
For the first few years I thought I was having flashbacks-fearful physical reactions to the memory of the guy who held a knife to my throat in the parking lot of Dereham, Vermont´s only bar, before Patrick Whelan spotted us and kicked the living shit out of him. That was the only time I´ve ever touched Patrick. I´d been shaking uncontrollably and before anyone even called the police about the man still lying on the asphalt, twitching and bleeding from his mouth and scalp, Patrick held me. He pulled me down to sit beside him on the hood of my old Saab, and he wrapped his big arms around me and rocked me until I could breathe properly again. Then he told to me to go inside and phone the cops. Twenty minutes later Patrick and I got taken to the station to file a report, and the man who attacked me was taken to the emergency room. He spent a couple nights in the hospital and was released without charges in time to get back to Dartmouth for Monday classes. Seven months after that, Patrick got released from prison, where he served an aggravated assault sentence for having the misfortune of beating the holy hell out of the sheriff´s step-nephew.
This happened more than a year before I met Jay, but despite Patrick and me both being single and becoming friends when I drove up and visited him at prison once a week, we never got together. After he was released, when we´d run into each other at the diner or the bar or a store, we´d just wave politely. I´d work hard to hide the somersaults my stomach was doing, the ones I thought for ages were some kind of PTSD from the attack... It took me a long time to admit I just plain wanted to fuck Patrick´s brains out.
"I can´t sleep with him," I said to Jay, then bit my lip. "I love you. Plus I really like the idea of monogamy."
"We´ll never move forward if this doesn´t get resolved. I can live through you sleeping with another man, Robin."
I blinked a few times, feeling slapped. "Can you?"
"Well, I´m pretty fucking sure it´ll suck worse than anything I´ve ever gone through, but...I know you´d never do it behind my back. You don´t want to hurt me."
I shook my head vigorously.
"I want to be with you and that might just be a price I´m willing pay to get us there," Jay said.
I was crying again and the sobs blended into tiny laughs. "Sometimes I can´t figure out if you´re the most rational person I´ve ever met or a complete sociopath."
He smiled and hugged me and sent me back to the table with some toast and scrambled eggs. "Well, I´m your sociopath. Think about it for a few days. I don´t want to go anywhere, but you need to figure out a way to move forward. So we can move forward."
He said that yesterday, and when I kissed him goodbye to head out to open my shop, I thought it was the worst idea ever. Now...
Now I´m not so sure.