Chapter 12: “I’m in love!!” Realization Tropes
Good grief. 20 posts already? This book only has 165 pages total. I did not think I’d write this much about it. Some of the books I have lined up for future critiquing have four times as many pages. Well, at least I won’t run out of material? Although I suppose if/when I find a really good hockey romance (or dozens) where I don’t have anything to critique, I’ll have nothing to say, no matter the page count.
Anyway, we are 2 chapters and an epilogue from the end (all of which happens in 25 pages from this point.) So mach schnell we have game-throwers to apprehend! Bribery to punish! Liars who set out to ruin Brody to catch! And oh yeah, a romance to repair. We have to surmount the insurmountable obstacle!
But first Hayden has to get home from Brody’s house. She takes a cab to the arena to get her rental car, then heads back to the hotel. Evidently, this cabride “was probably the most mortifying experience” of her life because she burst into tears (139). I totally get that not everyone is as emotional as me, for example, and some people rarely cry and find doing so in public to be truly horrifying. But even so, for crying in a cab, where only one person sees you (and he kindly offered her tissues!) to be the “most mortifying” experience of one’s life? That’s a rather un-mortified experience Hayden’s been living. And seeing her picture in the Chicago sports paper with Brody grabbing her ass wasn’t mortifying, apparently. And as an instructor of any kind to not have a mortifying experience in the classroom? I’m impressed.
While in the cab, Hayden also recognizes that she’s “brokenhearted.” That sounds like Hayden has recognized her feelings for Brody, that they’re very strong and might even be considered love. But no, this is only page 139 so it’s too early for that. That realization is later.
When she finally gets to the hotel (since she had to detour to the arena) a clerk in the lobby tells her that there’s a man waiting for her in the bar. (It’s like 9am, but maybe he’s having a mimosa?) Hayden hopes it’s Brody, hopes he’s realized that that ending things because of the article in the paper was a bad idea. But this is page 139 so it’s too early for that.
Which means that really the only people it could be are Presley or Doug, right? I suppose it could also be someone from the team (maybe Craig come to explain something about Sheila?) But we only have 25 pages left so it has to be something that needs clearing up.
And it is, in fact, Doug. Hayden is not happy to see him, first because he’s not Brody and second because all she wanted was to hide under the covers.
If there was ever any question about which man Hayden would end up with (there wasn’t), her first view of the man who teaches “a renaissance course” answers it. She finds that his “conservative attire kind of irked her” (140). They go up to the penthouse to talk and when he steps forward, she steps back. He touches her cheek and “[d]iscomfort crept up her spine” (140). This is not the man for Hayden.
And you know what? I really like this scene and this realization. I wish poor Doug hadn’t had to fly to Chicago for it to happen, but besides that part. Personally, I’ve dated people in the past where I feel like I should like them more than I do, should love them and settle down or whatever. And even had people from the outside looking in telling me that this person is perfect for me, but I just didn’t feel it. Granted, I didn’t have a hot hockey player come along and want a relationship with me instead, but that’s not my point. Much. Heh.
Doug doesn’t read the signs quickly enough, and declares, “I decided we’ve waited long enough. I want to cross that bridge. I want us to make love” (141). Which nearly sends Hayden into a fit of giggles. Regardless of Doug’s ridiculous insistence on bridge terminology (I suppose it could be worse… could be tunnels or something), I’m a lot less keen on Doug’s behavior in this scene. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t do anything physically wrong and he accepts Hayden’s decision that this isn’t the right time for her and that she wants more than just a “comfortable” life (141), even though Doug doesn’t understand. But his “I’ve decided” is problematic on his part, ‘nice guy’ or not. Yes, Hayden’s telling him the previous day that she’s seeing someone else (And holy carp, how did he get to Chicago so quickly?! Perfectly timed red eye flight, evidently) gave him the impetus to realize how much he wants to be with her. Which, I get that. But his “I’ve decided” is a unilateral. True, Hayden had made it clear in the past that she would have liked things to have already gone further as far as physical intimacy, but since they’d been on a break ever since she left Berkeley, he doesn’t get to decide “Okay, sex now.”
Hayden’s realization that she no longer just wants a comfortable relationship, that she wants passion, comes at the same time she realizes she’s fallen in love with Brody. As I said before, I have a difficult time accepting that Hayden knew she was heartbroken (in the cab) but didn’t realize that’s because she’s in love, but it is definitely a romance novel trope to have a Big Realization and another to realize one’s feelings based on a comparison with another suitor. We get both here.