Chapter Fifteen: Expectations in Low Places
To be honest, with the “cliffhanger” at the end of chapter fourteen, I kind of expected chapter fifteen to open like chapter 12 (post 15), when instead of getting Ryan bursting in on his fiancé and teammate having sex we instead went back several hours to find Ryan having a drink with a different teammate. Instead, the novel plays it straight and this chapter ends precisely where the last one ended, with an “instantly rekindled” connection that “Jenna had so tirelessly and desperately tried to repress” (97). Yes. Tirelessly. For a few days. That must have been exhausting. How could their connection not have been severed after a whole couple of days of not wanting it?
This scene is less about sex and more about should-they-or-shouldn’t-they, oh well, they’ve done it once before once more won’t hurt, but Nick is risking his heeaarrrt. I suspect you may have guessed that by this point, as the reader, I’ve lost any sense of caring about these two. Yeah, they’re better together than Ryan and Jenna, but that is saying incredibly little. And this book just repeats itself over and over and over again. I practically expect Jenna to put her hand to her head and swoon as she declares “Woe is me, I just doesn’t know what to dooooo”. Except, she does know what to do and I don’t think that’s just me projecting. She knows she shouldn’t cheat on her fiancé, and at least her subconscious knows that she shouldn’t be with Ryan. So it’s a pretty easy fix. Emotionally (and probably financially) messy, of course, but straightforward at least.
But no, the text doesn’t go that route. Instead it’s all Oh-poor-Nick is risking his heart and Jenna’s-not-really-a-cheater and then sex. And frankly, once it’s sex, it’s just regular romance novel sex, and not particularly interesting.
Then the perspective flips back to Ryan who has, indeed, not had sex, since Jenna left him nearly mid-coitus. Ryan has apparently been lying in bed since then wondering what the hell just happened, why Jenna would initiate sex and then flip out instead of just asking him to take Nick home. And as much as I hate to admit it, Ryan is actually right on this one.
He’s less right, in my opinion, when he ponders how, after being together eight years he should know her so well that he ought to know precisely what’s going on in her head at any given moment. I’m sorry, did someone fail to mention to me that mental telepathy gets bestowed upon people in long-term relationships? I feel like somehow I would have learned about that somewhere by now.
Since he doesn’t know what’s bothering Jenna, he does chores. Judging from the text’s earlier assertion that Ryan just never thinks about doing anything around the house, I’m fairly certain this is the first time in eight years that Ryan has unpacked his luggage, sorted laundry, or done the dishes.
Then Ryan sits around some more, pondering what the hell is wrong with his relationship. He runs through the list of people he could talk to about this, but it’s a short list. He’s afraid of his mother (the text declares this unambiguously) so decides against her, Alex can’t keep his mouth shut, so that leaves Nick. So he grabs his phone and calls Nick to ask him for advice about Jenna.
I don’t see that going particularly well… But I don’t have my hopes up for an exciting and tense conversation, either, since I was hoping for a confrontation when Ryan came home while Nick and Jenna were having sex and was denied. Given that this is merely a phone call, while admittedly happening either during or after Nick and Jenna have sex, I don’t expect much.