Spoiler alert! Ned and Abbot fall in love.
Ok, but for real: this blog post includes a DVD style commentary on a passage from The Place Between. This is your warning that if you scroll down, you'll see the end of Chapter Thirteen.
Writing commentary on well loved passages is a long-time favorite of mine. So much goes on behind the actions, thoughts, and dialogue of each moment that it's a thrilling opportunity to peel back the curtain and peek at what's really going on. Below, join me in taking a look at a moment shared between Ned and Abbot, with additional narration that reveals a bit more than is simply what's on the page.
And here's the deal: anyone on my mailing list can submit parts of any book for this type of commentary. From a single line up to a handful of pages, just point me to the part you're most interested in and I'll let you know what I was thinking as I wrote it, what was going on for the characters, and all the little details in my mind as I wrote.
I hope you enjoy!
Last chance to avoid spoilers!
“It was a seventy-one percent.” Oh Abbot, you just happen to remember? Just casual chance that it stuck with you all these years? No memory of the gut wrenching look on Ned's face and the sinking hollowness that you were the one to put it there? Yeah, sure, ok, my dude. The mattress shifts. Abbot must be standing up, though Ned doesn’t move his arm to find out. Pros to looking: Abbot's naked. Cons: whAt DId wE JuST dO?! “It’s lucky you didn’t fail the exam.”
“Are you kidding?” Ned mumbles. His skin is still buzzing. “You’d have gotten another semester of me in your class. You should be so lucky.”
“The thought did occur to me.” Look, Abbot liked Ned. Not maybe the head over heels, stomach jumping, nervous flutter thing going on now, but Ned's hot. And charming. And even squirming in the back row of seats and clearly over his head with the class material, he was a funny, charismatic, easy going guy, the type of which Abbot is inexorably drawn to. The moment Ned showed up at Callahan, let alone took Abbot's class, Abbot was fully and entirely drawn to him. An extra semester of Ned? Maddening in having to be around him in a look-but-don't-touch and Ned-wouldn't-like-me-anyway-stop-daydreaming sort of way but also: 14 more weeks of how Ned's shirt fits his shoulders and the fact he's always biting at that lower lip of his whenever he gets confused which is pretty much always? Torturous and yet delightful and Abbot wouldn't have minded at all.
In the bathroom, the sink runs. Ned’s getting up in a second. In a minute. Another one. Relaxed, are we? What a delightful 180 from normal. His jaw hinges in a yawn and he flexes his feet. He feels so damn good. A hell of a weekend, this was. And queue the irony that this weekend was anything but awful, and yet in this moment, Ned wouldn't change the way it turned out for the entire world.
When he blinks his eyes open, it’s fully dark outside the window, none of the lingering gray of evening. Yes, Abbot came back and Ned was sound asleep. The sight of which did funny things to Abbot's chest. Which is probably best to ignore because this fake dating thing between them is such a complicated mess and tonight was a one-off bad (read: good) idea that's going to be a nice memory and absolutely nothing else. And Abbot's good at ignoring things he doesn't want to think about, so he probably goes downstairs and assumes Ned will be down shortly. The bed’s empty beside him, though that can’t be right because he blinks again and the sheet’s pulled to his waist Abbot, please, your feelings are showing and Abbot’s there next to him, his mouth parted in sleep and his face lax. Because sometimes the hot former-student you just fucked doesn't wake up when he's supposed to and what are you going to do? Sleep on your own couch? Take the guest room because there's a handsome, fit, lovely man you've had a crush on for years naked in your bed? Please imagine Abbot standing there for entirely too long, debating what to do before he oh-so-carefully slips between the covers and then lays awake for a good while trying to ignore how perfect this feels
He really does look younger like that, without his glasses. Ned rubs at his eyes. He’s getting up, though instead, he turns into the pillow and doesn’t quite manage to move before he drifts off again. The two of them?? Slept better than they had in ages??? What????!?!? Shocking, I am shocked, simply shocked, I tell you.
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