“The first thing one notices about this piece is the juxtaposition of the smooth curves of the truncated spheroid with the hard lines of its central Platonic solid.”

Chantel put both hands on the table to interrogate the candle at eye level. Diametrically opposite, her boyfriend was making the same face he made when they watched a documentary about the Antarctic last week, an expression that tried to look like intense intellectual focus but came off more as James Bond catching yet another female love interest in a game of eye-contact chicken across a crowded room.

“An all-encompassing heavenly dome encases a playfully minimalist rendition of a stucco dot on the Tuscan countryside.” Shu snorted at her analysis. “But what it really contrasts is the illusion of stasis with the constancy of change. From the core of the cream-colored figure, a wick gives life to a tuft of flame. Making it like a mother figure, signifying the connection between life and pain, slowly melting as its load burns. Yet the flame only travels upward, ignorant of the harm it causes its source. The sole window between its prison and the outside world is placed in the path of ascendance, signifying hope, escape. It flickers upward, forever yearning, even as it is tethered by its very source of nourishment. But the opening is so small, and the flame’s will for survival so great, it would take an object merely the size of a quarter to suffocate the reacher in the smoke of its own hubris, and with it, extinguishing all light, all hope. In conclusion, given the usage of combustible mixed media in this piece, this is meant to evoke the story of the flame’s destruction on a larger scale: the consequences of global warming.

“Well?” She looked to Shu for approval, who couldn’t answer because he was nearly shoving his napkin into his mouth to muffle his laughter.

“You’re done?”


Given that human flirting is organic and subtle, anytime these guys perform one of their whack-’em-with-a-giant-cartoon-hammer interactions like “Compliment Appearance,” I think of the hours spent poring over the perfect combination of words to capture the viewer’s appreciation of Nicki Minaj’s secondary sexual characteristics

“You’re not going to go on an eight-minute rant about global warming? Because that’s what my dad would do here.”


“Holy crap that was too real.” Chantel beamed at Shu’s praise. “Maybe not the opening. He doesn’t really mix the flowery speech with the technical speech—he’s good at keeping that separate. After that? I think I need to go home because I’m on a date with my actual freaking dad.”

“Nah-no. Tell me what was good about it.”

“Tuscany was spot-on. I think it’s in his contract to mention one random-ass rustic town in literally everything.”

“Yeah! I had to bust that out early so I wouldn’t forget it.”

“And the eight leaps of logic it took to get to global warming. Like, it’s already hot. It’s a fucking candle.”

“True.” Chantel watched Shu scanning the room for the next mundane object to get the Xiyuan treatment; they’d have time for maybe one more before their food arrived. She noticed his jacket tightening around his biceps as he stabilized himself on the chair, the shape of his fully lengthened neck as he twisted himself to pick something in her field of vision. She loved when he stretched out to look at something behind him. If today were the day she thought it would be, she needed to remember every detail in order to consolidate the most romantic and timeless ones in the announcement to their families. Family. This, she wanted to remember for herself. The game they played to pass the time at restaurants, though not intended as mean-spirited, also probably wouldn’t make the cut.

“It smells so good in here,” she said, “it looks like the restaurant scene in Legally Blonde.” Shu turned back around, officially puzzled. “This had better not turn out like the restaurant scene in Legally Blonde.”

Shu, whose knowledge of Legally Blonde barely extended beyond major plot elements and the lead actress’s name, and who knew that if he needed information beyond those two things, like in a trivia contest, he could ask Chantel; she had the storyboards and hundreds of lines of dialogue down cold, referenced them in conversations that flew over his head even, anyway he realized the scene she was referencing was the one where Reese Witherspoon put on a hot pink dress jizzed all over with black silly string, a look he felt wasn’t commensurate to the implied effort put into choosing it, and broke down in a restaurant because she was expecting a proposal and was broken up with instead. At a fancy restaurant. Where her boyfriend took her to break up. He chose to do that.

“No, of course not.” He took both her hands. “I would never leave you. You know I’m here for good.” And if he weren’t, he still avoided doing stupid shit like airing out his personal drama in public.

That wasn’t the part she’d meant.

Shu sensed that another moment of silence would send his girlfriend into a doubt spiral. He pulled out his backup distraction. “You wanna know what happened the last time I was here?”

“Uh, sure?”

“Ok, it’s funny. The last time I was here, I saw Claudia. Ok so first of all she shows up in her normal sweater, realizes this is a fancy restaurant and all, and just like spin-changes. In the hallway.”


“Then, and I shit you not, she sat down with Charlie and Jo and Jasper and, I shit you not, took out a plate of empanadas. And then she started eating that before the food even came out.”

“The heck? What did the restaurant do?”

Behind Chantel and to her right, the waitress descended the steps, balancing on one hand a tray of what could plausibly be their food. Shu gave her a brief nod of acknowledgement before turning back to his girlfriend.

“They had to ask her to clear the table before they could bring out anyone’s food. Not just her’s, anyone’s. Then after the meal was done, and again for the last time I shit you not, she took a second empanada out of her bag and started eating that.”


“No shit she actually did that.*”

Chantel could have gone on for a few more rounds of this—justified, since Shu couldn’t substantiate his claim—but noticed someone else was drawing his attention. It was the waitress, who’d almost managed to put Chantel’s plate directly in front of her before she knew what was happening.

“For the lady, the Savory Bacon Love Petals. What an excellent choice to celebrate this romantic holiday! Paired with a Simsmapolitan. For the gentleman, the Vanilla Sea Shells and Chocolate Caviar, one of our signature molecular gastronomy dishes. We use liquid nitrogen to make the chocolate caviar, and yes, the glitter is edible. Paired with the house white.” She looked over her shoulder. “And Sir, I ask you to please refrain from swearing. There are children present.”

There was one child, ten feet out of earshot and singularly focused on picking her water glass up and putting it down in different places to create rings of condensation on the tablecloth. Shu waved to her. She didn’t look up from twisting the glass. “He’s really good with kids,” Chantel told the waitress, who didn’t ask. “We have names picked out and everything.”

“That’s fantastic,” the waitress said, pulling a word out of the mental bag of adjectives she used to describe information she had no use remembering. “Have a wonderful Love Day dinner.” No sooner had she turned away that her plastered-on work smile broke to reveal the relaxed-facial-muscle frown of Love Day exhaustion.

“Ah, this looks too pretty to eat,” said Chantel, readjusting the napkin on her lap. “I knew when I read the name that I had to get it.”

Either this is half a second before Chantel’s Simsmapolitan splashed all over her face, or gravity isn’t a thing here. Sim physicists are stuck studying at most three fundamental forces and making ray guns, and Sim elementary school students have a slightly harder time coming up with science fair projects.

Taking the first bite at Chez Llama was impossible without first convincing oneself the art on one’s plate was actually food to begin with, then making peace with oneself for having the gall to destroy it. It was a process which, for most Sims, took several minutes. Chantel was the first to break her bacon petals—was the bacon the meat-stick-looking thing, or the petals?—and the object-focused meditation. “So why’d you get dessert for dinner?”

“I don’t fucking know. They only let me order one thing at a time, and it looked good.”

She played with the garnish. “So. Remember the first day we met?” Into her mouth it went. Damned if she was letting any of this meal go to waste. “I’ll never forget it. I was at the park when I heard this gorgeous, transcendent violin music. And I followed it straight to you.”

“Yeah, thank my dad for that. I was really into violin at the time.” Shu was trying to figure out whether it was only the glitter that was edible, or if the beglittered tombstones holding the chocolate caviar in place were also edible. “And how could I forget? You were the first person I’d seen react to my playing like that. You were so passionate, I can see it in your eyes even now.” He wiped some of the glitter on the tablecloth, which would never be the same again. Glitter is eternal.

“And you’d been kind of shy around girls before, right?”

“I couldn’t figure out what to do. You made things easy, that’s for sure.”

“And you asked me to go to the Spice Festival, and I was freaking out. It was so perfect.” Chantel used ‘freaking out’ here to convey her state of euphoria at finally getting her own love story, but her partner interpreted it as describing her reaction, which was shutting down like she was in front of a firing squad and forcing out a multisyllabic “yesssss” after several very stressful seconds. The pillow-grabbing leg-kicking excitement only came out at Marielle’s sleepover party. Marielle pouted through most of the boy talk; she was hoping they would stay up all night playing retro games instead.

“That’s when I asked you to be my girlfriend. Babe, you’re amazing. I love you.”

“I love you too. And after that, I didn’t see you for a couple days. I kept going back to the basketball court, hoping you would be there. Then one day, you were.”

This was new information to Shu, who thought it was a coincidence. “Yeah, and I had to take you out then, didn’t I? That’s when you busted out the promise rings.”

“I knew. By that time, I knew.”

“That’s one of the reasons I love you. You have excellent taste.” And Charlie had been concerned they were moving too fast. If he needed evidence against it being a rash teenage decision, it was in front of his face. Eight years** and they were still together. What then? It was possible he just didn’t like Chantel. He’d called her a stalker. Why? It was plausible for them to run into each other sometimes. She lived in Spice Market, and she only started showing up in Newcrest after they started dating. If someone at the club used the words Charlie did to describe her, words like ‘codependent’ and ‘obsessive’ and ‘Borderline,’ Shu would have punched them in the face with the next beat drop. And let’s not forget that this is Charlie, for whom codependency probably meant talking to your wife more than once every three days. True love is intense. He’d never get it.

“That’s about when you started sleeping with everyone.”

“Yep! And thank you again for the permission.”

“It’s so those other girls know what they’re missing,” she said, cradling her glass in her hand. “I have what everyone wants.”

“Body, mind, and soul.” A spectator had taken Shu’s unfinished plate and was eating it as they watched the conversation. Shu didn’t react. “So I’m skipping ahead to when we moved in together after the stuff with my dads didn’t work out. That’s when you started getting serious about becoming a musician.”

“And you started teaching me. I love the way you teach. You’re so intense when you get into it. Plus, I’m getting good. Do you hear how good I’m getting?”

“You’re doing amazing, babe,” he responded, wondering if Chantel noticed he always stopped working by the time she got home. Unless she was out of the house, she could request lessons at any time of day. She often did. Shu sometimes wondered if she’d love him less if he cut back on his office hours, like if he set a rule that she wasn’t allowed to interrupt him while he was showering, or sleeping, or eating, but then Charlie’s words would echo through his head and he’d think of anything else to push them out. Wouldn’t that ruin Love Day? Hey Chantel, while I was crashing my doctor friend’s Winterfest party, he gave you an informal diagnosis based on practically no information, then said nothing would get better until I left you. Let’s talk about that. Let’s fucking talk about that.

“Well,” Chantel drew out, “are we going to finish what we started when we were teenagers? Are we going to start the next chapter of our lives?”

“Uh.” Ok, so Love Day didn’t need third-party involvement to be ruined.

“Is,” Chantel interrupted herself by briefly poking through her food, her drink, under the tablecloth, checking to see if the waiters had congregated somewhere, “is it here?” This was rhetorical. Not only was ‘here’ ill-defined given the number of places she’d just indicated, she’d already clearly discovered that it wasn’t.

“Again?” If they were in an environment where conflict was acceptable, like at home on the couch or screaming at each other while eating cake with a spoon on an Arts District park bench, his next sentence would be along the lines of ‘we talked about this.’ Instead, he was thanking the stars that Charisma Points existed and that having enough of them meant he could dodge the issue entirely. “You’ve known me for how long, and you thought I would do something that cliché? I mean, you deserve something bigger, more creative. At least we should be able to celebrate the proposal as our own special anniversary, not some catch-all holiday shared by everyone else.”

“That’s true,” she agreed, allowing Shu to relax and stop identifying the nearest exits, some of which may be behind him, “but you could have done it any time in the past couple of weeks.” Shit. “What’s the real reason you’re waiting?”

“You want to do this here?”

“Answer the damn question.”

“Uh.” The man could talk anyone into bed within a matter of hours, but Chantel’s forceful glare was a warning to choose these next few words carefully. “I, uh.” She was unpredictable at the best of times. “Ok, let me start this over.” He made a show of inhaling and exhaling, complete with hand gestures that followed the flow of breath.

“I think you’re so in love with me, you made your whole identity about this relationship. I think if I propose to you now, you’re never really going to get the chance to discover who you are on your own.”

“You’re breaking up with me?” Which would be rude; she specifically told him to not do that.

“No! Please don’t take this the wrong way. I love you, and that means loving you for who you are. But even you don’t know what that fully means yet.”

“That’s ridiculous. Tell me the real reason.”

“That is the real reason.”

“No it isn’t. It’s because I’m not talented enough for you, isn’t it?”

“Chantel, that’s not—“

“You think you’re so much better than me just because you got an early start.”

“You know I think you’re amazing, that’s why I’m with you, that’s why I spend all my time training you—“

“Then what? Is it that my belly sticks out? Is it that I don’t go to the gym as much as your other girlfriends? Is it my eyebrows?” Chantel’s raised voice was the only audible sound in the restaurant, but the kid could have punted her glass directly into their table and neither of them would have noticed. Even the couple in fedoras, i.e. the couple with no situational awareness, picked up on the repetition and was listening in. Shu caught the waitress’s eye and made the ‘check’ gesture.

“I don’t care about any of those things. I have all these options, and I’m choosing to stay with you. Do you know how much you mean to me?”

Background, ginger Minnie Mouse about to get eaten by a green-finned shark

Chantel was sobbing into her napkin. The waitress rushed to drop the check on the table, then vanished without wishing them a happy Love Day or even a good night. Shu was still waiting for Chantel’s response. A couple otherwise silent minutes passed before Chantel removed the napkin from her face, examined it, and dabbed a clean corner under her eyes. She looked up at her boyfriend with eyes slightly less mascara-smudged than before, but more mascara-smudged than the beginning of the date. Somewhere in the middle.

“Just tell me what to fix,” she whispered. “Tell me what to fix and I’ll do it. Please. I’ll do whatever you want.”

“Chantel, please,” he begged back. “This is the wrong reason. You have to be willing to change for yourself.” She started sobbing again. “Do you think I’d be going through all this trouble if I really didn’t want to marry you someday?”

She sighed. “I didn’t tell you this.”


“Every night, I go to bed and I just lie awake wondering what I did wrong, I look over at you and wonder if you really care enough to make me stop suffering like this. I can’t take this much longer. Please just tell me what to fix.”

“I’m still trying to figure that out myself. If I knew how to fix this, it would be done already.”

“Fine. A timeframe, then.”

“How am I supposed to know that?”

“You have to give me something to work with. I can’t go on like this.”

“You know what, Chantel?” He tucked some simoleons into the check. He tipped the waitress double and scribbled ‘Sorry~! <3’ in the signature line. “Your job. Focus on developing your voice as a musician. Really throw yourself into it. Then we’ll talk.”

“So you’d better be planning something pretty spectacular, right?”

“Mid-tour, onstage at the Grammys, whatever. I’m trying to do this right because I care about you. I don’t want to mess it up. Believe me, I’m doing everything I can to make the ‘right time’ as soon as possible.” He stood up and extended his hand toward her. “Now may I escort the lady home?”

They stepped from the artificially cool restaurant into a breeze of warm air in dusk-lit Newcrest. Shu felt a twinge in his gut as he realized the implications of his promise. There was one thing he still hadn’t tried, one sure way to singlehandedly break the cycle of stalling and explaining and placating her after meltdowns. If he wasn’t willing to consider it, he’d be a liar; he wasn’t doing everything he could. But if he went through, it meant Chantel would be miserable and it would be his fault.

Worse, it meant admitting that maybe Charlie was right.

*She actually did. Autonomously.
**(The Sim equivalent of eight years, which is slightly over four weeks)

BONUS: Rejected Chantel glamour shot. Killing it /r/prettygirlsuglyfaces

Love Day, Actually
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20 thoughts on “Love Day, Actually

  • August 10, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Aw, dang. I think he realizes Charlie is right. And how hard it is when denial starts slipping. There’s all that awkwardness of readjusting perspective and identity… and then the consequences. Dang.

    • August 10, 2019 at 3:29 pm

      Double dang is right! Everyone gets a big-oof moment in this installment; Shu’s just the unlucky first.

  • August 10, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Also I was so happy to see this post! I love this story so much. It adds something to my thought-life I don’t get anywhere else.

  • December 2, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    I just needed a thousand of those white dude blinking gifs because CHANTEL, HONEY, WHY? Y?

    Get. It. Together.

    • December 3, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      Ok, well, be prepared to line up a thousand more. And make some popcorn.

  • December 3, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    I KNOW she is going to disappoint me in the best way <3

  • February 21, 2020 at 9:19 am

    This is so good. I really should start from the beginning.

    • February 21, 2020 at 5:34 pm

      Thank you! Glad you’re enjoying it! (The earlier chapters aren’t this good, lol.)

  • April 22, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    Chantel is looking so pretty in this one! So she thinks he about to propose, huh? Hmm… I’ll believe that when I see it.
    Them, there are some sentences in here that run on! Wow. The one that starts with “Shu, whose knowledge…” and ends with “…broken up with instead.” I had to read that sentence about three times before I minimally got it LOL. I’m still not sure I do.
    Wait, so Shu took her here to broke up with her! Or not? I couldn’t really understand that very long sentence so I gotta admit I didn’t really understand the part that came after, either. He says he’s in it for good, I guess, so no break-up.
    I liked that POV of Shu’s as he thinks about Charlie. I do agree with him that Charlie would never get Shu’s definition of true love. Both see these things in such a different way – again, like polar opposites. That makes these two so interesting to follow concurrently.
    Oh, Chantel… she is so… I’ll just choose to use intense here.
    I’m glad Shu didn’t propose to her. I was worried he might, and I think he would’ve gone against himself if he had, and it wouldn’t have been genuine, and it absolutely wouldn’t have been good for Chantel either even though she thinks it will, like Shu states himself. He’s a very smart dude, coming up with all these reasons (read excuses), but, again, as he already seems to realize himself, he’s not gonna be able to keep this up and keep things as they are for much longer before shit starts hitting the fan big-time.

    • April 22, 2020 at 8:40 pm

      Don’t worry about that run-on sentence. It’s just a rant about Legally Blonde. It’s constructed to be long and confusing because it’s unhinged and comes out of nowhere. ‘He’ in that sentence refers to Warren, by the way. At least I think that’s Elle’s ex? That fuckboy don’t need no real estate in my head.

      You sure they’re all excuses?

      The run-on sentences are mostly a phase. Mostly. I hope it’s smoother from here, haha.

  • August 3, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Talk about going from a pleasant evening to total shitshow in a matter of minutes. Anyway, I have several completely disjointed points about this chapter, so hopefully I won’t forget:

    Chantel – interesting, I’m not sure if we actually saw her in dialogue in the first book, certainly don’t recall it, but I was definitely surprised that she is far more intelligent than I expected. I wouldn’t have thought her to be capable of intelligent humour with an added sub-layer. Maybe that’s what Shu sees in her.

    The two of them are in a loop. Shu isn’t doing himself any favours. Saying that he definitely plans on mrrying her at some point is not really different from actually proposing, except that he’s just going to exagerate her angst.

    I do and I don’t understand what Shu is saying. On one hand, I get it, he wants her to discover her own identity, fair. But then if he’s saying her whole identity is based around him, why does he love her, or indeed, can he love her? Wouldn’t that be like being in a relationship with a mirror? And yes, I realise what I say above, so clearly there are positives to *like* about her, but how can you be in love with someone and simultaneously believe they don’t have a fully formed identity? It’s like an oxymoron.

    So I still think that Shu is not only not auite honest with her, but not honest with himself either.

    On a completely separate point, I enjoyed the meta humour in this chapter. Funny that it struck Chantel and Shu as odd, shouldn’t this jut be their reality? I guess they have discovered they live in the matrix.

    And I guess Claudia is continuing to have a (somehwat well hidden) existential crisis.

    • August 4, 2020 at 9:19 pm

      Pfft, yep. About Chantel’s character, that’s one of the problems with starting from scratch and letting the story and characters develop over time: they really don’t come to life until Book II.

      It does seem paradoxical—and we love paradoxes here! The relationship, I mean. Him waiting isn’t paradoxical. He’s just ruining things by dragging it out, for sure. And it’s the thing where he knows he’s ruining it by dragging it out, but he’s so reluctant to do anything about it that it keeps getting worse… yeah.

      • August 5, 2020 at 12:24 am

        I don’t think that I said him waiting but telling her he does inted to marry her in the future is paradoxical, just that there is no real difference – because all an engagement is is declaring you want to get married at some point in the future. I’ve known people who have been engaged for 7 years and still are nowhere near a wedding.

        But yes, he’s not helping his situation for sure, if you tell someone you’ll give them a cookie some time soon, but don’t, of course they’ll only think about the cookie.

      • August 5, 2020 at 1:10 am

        Mm-hmm. So here’s what I was trying to do: I made a claim that referred to one statement you made, but not another. The first sentence did not establish which of the statements you made I was referring to. I then, in the next couple of sentences, clarified that I was referring to claim 1, but not claim 2. Because you did not make any claims about whether or not something was paradoxical, the sentence in question was meant as a riff off of the additional statement I made, not your original comment. It was just an oddball way to disambiguate. I didn’t mean to imply you made a false claim.

        And oh, gosh, I’d never want to argue with anyone here! I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about themselves, especially if they’re putting in the time and effort to read my story (<3<3<3). Sometimes it's possible to interpret what I say in less charitable ways; I promise, 100% promise, that I have never once meant the less-charitable alternate interpretation. Ever. Especially in a community like SimLit where everyone's nice. We cool?

      • August 5, 2020 at 1:46 am

        Don’t worry, your response didn’t come off as trying to argue or anything like that, and sorry if my response to that came across as catty, certainly wasn’t intended to be. I’m just a fairly direct person, but rest assured I took zero offense, I was just trying to clarify what I meant.

        And even if you were saying I made a false claim, that wouldn’t be offensive either – I mean I’m just going off my assumptions based on the limited exposure I’ve had to these characters, of course you know them and their motivations far better than I do, they love in your head! 😊

        So bottom line, of course we’re cool, please don’t worry, or feel like you can’t question what I say – I’m totally open to dialogue (wouldn’t share my thoughts if I wasn’t 😊) and I don’t offend easily anyways! I know it’s hard to read tone to comments like these, but I’m just eating toast here in a bit fluffy dressing gown, all very chill 😆

      • August 5, 2020 at 2:10 am

        Oh, whew, glad I didn’t offend you! You didn’t come off as catty at all! I really do appreciate your take on things—it’s gonna be a fun time when you catch up, that’s for sure.

        My American ass read “dressing gown” as “hoop skirt” and honestly, I’m not going to correct that mental image.

      • August 5, 2020 at 2:34 am

        Hahahaha apparently I go all out with my breakfast attire 😀

  • August 29, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Okay so I read from the start ( ok, book two, as you insist xD)

    Oh boy I want those two to break up 😀 I don’t know who is worse, the stalker girl, or I-chose-you-from-all-the-girls-I-have dude 😀
    is he telling all his girlfriends that one day he’ll marry them?

    I literally laughed here:

    “That’s about when you started sleeping with everyone.”

    “Yep! And thank you again for the permission.”

    I have to say, you really made me go from “aww, weirdo but actually cute couple” to “wtf is wrong with these two” !
    well written!

    • September 9, 2020 at 12:22 am

      Hahahahahaha—that last sentence is PURE SHUTEL. Oddly enough, he’s been promised to her since high school, and that was her doing: it was an autonomous thing. MCCC. You know. So it’s only her so far. Shu is… yeah.

      (There’s a summary if you want to know what happens in Book I, but thanks for skipping the embarrassing parts, LOL)

  • March 7, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    Oh man. Ohhhhh man.

    First of all, Chantel imitating Xiyuan is hilarious. And I couldn’t help but notice the candle analysis sounds very much like an analysis of CT… up until the global warming part. Heh.

    Okay so… Chantel… honey… can we talk about your attachment issues? The thing that really got me was when the waitress tells Shu to watch his language, and Chantel replies, “Oh, he’s really good with kids!” and mentions having names picked out already. GIRL. Always turning the conversation back to very intense topics.

    I think it’s interesting that Shu frames the predicament as

    I think you’re so in love with me, you made your whole identity about this relationship,

    because — and this is a question I had to ask myself while writing two characters with attachment issues — doesn’t that level of dependence somewhat negate the appropriateness of the term “love”? Would it not be infatuation, or obsession, then? It might just be me making up a definition, but I tend to believe “love” implies a level of healthiness and willingness to nurture the relationship. Chantel needs to get to a point where “Shu’s girlfriend” isn’t her sole personality trait.

    Another quote that stood out to me:

    And let’s not forget that this is Charlie, for whom codependency probably meant talking to your wife more than once every three days. True love is intense. He’d never get it.

    Oof. Chantel. Please.

    As for Shu, I don’t think there has to be a “reason” he likes Chantel, or is otherwise drawn to her. But he’s right to take a step back, because the work that’s going into maintaining the relationship seems to be one-sided. You can’t ride on that initial attraction.

    Overall, I’m really impressed with all the tension you’ve been setting up since “Guide Me, North Star.” I am enjoying this reread immensely!


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