Part 12 in Thurmount Holiday (see the category “Thurmount Holiday” for the other entries).
I’m drawn like a magnet to Thirsty’s and Will’s there sitting hunched at the bar with what looks like a Jim Beam neat in a glass. He knows it’s me without even glancing over. He shakes his head and smirks, but it’s not a happy smirk. It’s more rueful.
I bump his arm with mine. “Thought you could get away, did ya? Forgot I know you like the back of my hand?”
“I think you’re the one who forgot that.”
“Ooo, are we going all deep?”
“I’m not in the mood for you being perky or quirky or whatever.”
“How can you say that? Everyone should be in the mood for a little Kayla quirk,” I say.
He throws back the whiskey and gives every indication that he’s about to stand up and leave. I place my fingers on his arm and he glances from them to me. For the second time that night, just his gaze steals my breath. My tongue darts over my lips and he follows its movement before meeting my eyes.
He asks Darryl for another and asks if I want anything. I say I’ll have what he’s having, which makes Will raise an eyebrow. I don’t do neat bourbons or whiskeys or anything. Not since my 21 birthday when I discovered tequila was not my friend.
“So what do you want to talk about? Have you come to let me down easy?”
“Let you down?” I ask. Then I remember the ring Jasper told me about and my initial reaction to it that Will doesn’t know about. I think. Funny how a couple of weeks can change you, make you realize truths about yourself.
“You’re here to pat me on the hand. Tell me that you don’t want to lose me as a friend or colleague. And that if there were any way you could change how you feel, you would.” He throws back the second bourbon. This time he almost slams the glass down in a very unlike Will gesture. He is never the guy to fly off the handle. “I get it, Kay. I’m like some worn slipper, comfortable, but not something you want to wear when there are people around.”
“You are so maddening,” I say.
“Yep, being right’s a bitch.”
“Can you just stop your personal pity party?”
This is one of those times when I have to believe that actions speak louder than words, because I just don’t have any words that will do this any better. I throw my arms around his neck and press my lips against his. He wasn’t expecting it so our noses initially mash together and, yeah, there was the bang of teeth on teeth action, which is not something you want on your first kiss, but there you have it. It’s a textbook horrible first kiss.
Will grins at me as I plant myself back on the stool, terrified at how horrible it was.
“That was the worst kiss I’ve ever had,” he says.
Darryl nods. “That looked pretty painful from where I’m standing.”
“Maybe you do need that biology lesson,” Will says, but his voice is low and throbs against me.
“Give me another chance,” I say.
“Not sure I can afford the dental work.”
“Maybe I don’t do impulsive.”
“You did earlier on Blake.”
“He’s shorter than you.”
“I’m sitting down.”
“Like I said, you’re maddening. You just get me so . . .”
He pulls me into his arms and kisses me. I melt against him, savoring the kiss that makes my heart do ten lords leaping, and other places a happy, happy dance. I wrap my arms around him and try the biology lesson on osmosis.
Darryl bangs the bell over the bar. “Richter scale warning!”
Will leans back just slightly, our noses touching, me going cross-eyed. “That was a kiss.”
“Hmm. I thought you could do better than that,” I say. “I’m a little disappointed.”
The third one of the evening practically brings me to my knees. I forget where I am until I feel a stream of cold liquid hitting the side of my face and realize that Darryl is spritzing us with the soda water spray.
“Hey, man,” Will says wiping at his face.
“I’d like to say that this is a family establishment, but it’s a bar and it ain’t for families. But, hell, that little scene got me thinking of my ex- and that’s never a good thing. Pay up and carry on somewhere else,” Darryl says. He’s not mad. There’s a grin lurking in his eyes.
Will tosses some bills on the counter and puts his hand up when Darryl asks if he wants change.
“Later,” Will says, sliding his arm around my shoulders as we leave the bar.
“Go back to my place?” he asks, his eyes and voice hopeful.
I stand up on my tiptoes and kiss him. “Not tonight. We’ve got to talk and if I go back to your place, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
He nods. “Our first time should be special. I’ll take you for a nice dinner, maybe some dancing.
“Or maybe let’s just talk tomorrow and then have hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream and strip naked.”
“You’re going to make me think you’re easy,” he says, his lips against my temple.
“I somehow don’t think after all of these years you’ll ever think that. Tomorrow.”
He offers to give me a lift home, but Megan’s car is still outside of the Watsons’. I walk toward the house where the carolers are just beginning to leave. I turn and look back and Will is watching me. I wink and blow him a kiss. He grins, shakes his head, and acts like he catches the kiss.
Tomorrow we’ll talk and maybe other things will be involved. I feel like it’s Christmas Eve and I have a present in the morning. This, this is what is meant by Joy.
The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson
Translated from Swedish by Neil Smith
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Hogarth Books
A world organization, W.R.D., has just sent out invoices charging people for their life experiences. The hero of The Invoice receives his and quickly spins through a plethora of emotions and reactions because it is so very much, so much more than his friend, Roger.
How is this possible? He calls the support line for W.R.D. and waits a very long time to talk to someone, a pleasant woman named Maud.
Our hero begins to review his life. He’s seemingly done so little, has so little, that the amount of the invoice doesn’t seem justified at all.
The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson is a quick reading, optimistic novel about a man who, even if he’s unaware of it, finds joy in small things and extends that joy to those he encounters. It’s about being mindful and delighted, even in the rain, or especially in the rain. It’s thought-provoking and insightful and a pleasure to read. How nice to not be inundated with cynicism! The Invoice is philosophical, but easy philosophy, with a sugary coating.
I doubt The Invoice is everyone’s cup of tea, but if you fancy a novel in which a hero explores his experiences, which will then have you exploring your own and wondering if you achieve the same kind of satisfaction, I think you will find pleasure in devoting a few hours to this book.
I received a copy of The Invoice from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
rating: (5 out of 5 butterflies)