For every Bad Boy hero there seems to be a Good Girl heroine, doesn’t there?
I love that dynamic and it was my initial draw to Paolo and Lauren. The first time they meet, he’s waiting in a bar for his best friend, a fellow adrenaline junkie. In walks Lauren, dragged there by her sophisticated cousin.
Lauren is underage, a virgin, and raised by a repressed mother in the Canadian prairies. Do you get any more innocent than that? At the time, she had recently moved in with her ailing grandmother near Montreal. She’s overwhelmed by her first visit to New York City and has no idea how to handle a sexy Italian who buys her a drink.
Here’s where the dynamic started to shift on me and I was thrilled because if there’s anything more delicious than a Bad Boy, it’s a Bad Boy struggling to be good. Paolo has a wild streak, but he keeps his promises. He’s engaged. He can’t hit on Lauren. He watches her fall for his friend, the military flyboy who seems to Lauren like a ‘safe’ choice.
Shortly after that first meet, Paolo’s impulsive life choices catch up to him. He picks up the pieces and molds himself into the staid head of his family’s international bank. There’s no longer room for scandal in his life.
Is there room for Lauren?
She chose to care for her grandmother, but it forced her to put off becoming independent and living her own life. She married to make her mother happy and it made her miserable. Then, when her husband’s death might have set her free, she accidentally had a teensy bit of unprotected sex with his best friend.
What I love about Lauren is her determination to find happiness this time. Her pregnancy is a gift, she knows she’ll have to settle down and put her baby’s needs first very soon, but she has this window of opportunity to discover herself and intends to embrace it. She’s not a Bad Girl, but she refuses to continue as a mousey little Good Girl failing to stand up for herself.
This is highly inconvenient for the man who really can’t afford for the world to know he backslid into his old to-hell-with-the-consequences nature for an all-nighter with the one woman he never should have touched.
Here’s a snippet of the new Lauren and Paolo dynamic:
“Be a good girl and go back to Quebec,” he cajoled, adding a smile of condescension for good measure.
Her nostrils flared as she drew in a breath like a cloud gathering volume. Her fists closed into angry knots of white against her bare, upper chest as she kept her dress pinned to her front.
“Don’t you dare,” she said from between clenched teeth, “tell me to rattle around that empty mansion again. That’s all I’ve done for months and I’m sick of it!”
Her quiet ferocity should have warned him off, but it stoked his inward excitement, priming him for a badly needed contest of wills.
“I’ll do what I please,” he stated with quiet brutality.
“So will I! Ryan was supposed to send for me after Mamie died and instead—” She stopped herself. Her gaze averted as her face crumpled into anguished struggle to overcome unvoiced, but very intense pain.
Ryan had disappeared.
Paolo’s desire to punish her evaporated in a wrench of grief and self-disgust. Her pain hurt him. If she broke down, he didn’t know what he’d do. He couldn’t hold her, couldn’t touch her. He knew that way led to madness.
“Lauren,” was all he could say. He leaned forward, unable to help that her name came out like an entreaty. Don’t fall apart. Don’t make me bed you again.
She took his murmur of her name as an attempt to persuade.
“No,” she refused truculently. “I won’t do it, Paolo. I spent all those years with Mamie because I wanted to and I don’t feel like I gave up my youth the way everyone said I would, but I do recognize that I have only this tiny window between now and when the baby will tie me down. This is my time and I’m taking it. Don’t try to stop me by having me questioned at the airport. You won’t like what I tell them.”
Women tend to be moms and caregivers and often struggle to put our needs ahead of anyone else’s. Do you find yourself last on your own list? Have you ever wanted something enough to put yourself first?
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