Sadie Hunt isn’t perfect—but her husband is. Nathan Hunt has her coffee waiting every morning. He holds her hand until the last second. He worships the Manhattan sidewalk she walks on. Until one day, he just…stops. And Sadie finds herself in the last place she ever expected to be. Lonely in her marriage.
When rugged and sexy Finn Cohen moves into the apartment across the hall, he and Sadie share an immediate spark. Finn reveals dreams for a different life. Sadie wants to save her marriage. Their secrets should keep them apart, not ignite a blistering affair. But while Sadie’s marriage runs colder by the day, she and Finn burn hotter.
Her husband doesn’t want her anymore. The man next door would give up everything to have her.
In his dimly-lit kitchen, Finn lays a comforting hand on my shoulder. “I have to tell you something.”
My hairline prickles. I can sense whatever he says will be heavy, and I’m not sure I want to hear it. I force a crooked smile that probably looks as awkward as I feel. Since I just fed Ginger, I joke, “What? I smell like dog food?”
“I want to kiss you,” he says without missing a beat. “I won’t, but I just thought you should know.”
My stomach drops as if I’m in free fall. I bite my lip involuntarily, then release it, afraid it’ll look like an invitation. Can he really come out and say that? Without prompting, without wavering? You can want to kiss someone and not say it. Should I be angry he confessed that? I’m not. I’m curious. Stirred, even. And because we’re being honest, I ask what I want to ask. “Why?”
“Why do I want to kiss you? Or why did I tell you?”
My heart rate picks up. I lose my nerve. “The second one. That’s not the kind of thing you just come out and say to a stranger. A married stranger.”
“I like you.” He absentmindedly caresses the nape of my neck with his fingertip. “So I want to be honest.”
I put my hand over his wrist, and he stops. Now, and for the last hour, it’s as if we’re the only two people on the planet. The Bad Wife and the Stranger. If I let him kiss me, nobody would ever know. After all, Nathan might be kissing someone else too. Why else would he have lipstick on his tie? Finn doesn’t wear lipstick. Neither do I. It would be our secret.
“You’re leaving, aren’t you?” he asks.
Am I? I have to. I don’t trust myself to stay, and I don’t trust myself to speak, so I nod. I don’t have to pull his hand away. He takes it back willingly. And he walks me to his door.
“I laugh, and God, does it feel good. My dry cheeks crack like they’re made of concrete and I’ve hit them with a hammer.”
“Honey, he’s too handsome to be a good husband. You can’t have both.”
“My throat is raw. I realize it has been since I left the bathroom this morning. It’s thick with unshed tears and bottled accusations.”
“Nathan’s getting further away. But he’s still in the next room – and somehow, that makes it worse.”
“You are not just anyone to me. You’re the one who got away.”
“In so little time, you’ve lit up my world like the sun. And you’ve warmed me just the same.”
“I never had a favorite color until I met this girl in a coffee shot with eyes so blue, they’re almost purple, like the absolute final moments before sunrise. This girl stayed on my mind. When I saw things like a cluster of irises or a peacock at the zoo, I would think of her and say to myself, that is my favorite color.”
“This isn’t a beginning or ending. It’s just where we are.”
For several years now, I have occasionally noticed mentions of author Jessica Hawkins, but had never had a chance or opportunity to read her work; I am kicking myself for that now. She has seriously mad skills! I. Am. In. Awe. Slip of the Tongue was penned with exceptionally deft and agile writing that not only gripped me from page one, it held me captive with fishhooks in my heart until the final sentence. The main character is struggling, her “perfect” marriage is in trouble and she does not know why. The emotion remained right at the surface throughout, and I felt somewhat anxious and taut with tension while reading. I could not decide who to be the most upset with, so I vacillated in my frustration and finger-pointing between the various characters while trying to determine who was more at fault, when they all were to some degree… but isn’t that usually the case when it comes to crumbling relationships?
Being my first Jessica Hawkins read, the experience surpassed all expectations I could have possibly had when I flicked on my kindle. The quality was readily apparent and I was mesmerized, enthralled, fearful, transfixed, stunned, wrecked… but I could not stop reading. The characters were complicated, intelligent, frustrating, lovable, and in deep kimchi. I was fascinated with this nuanced and enthralling story but was also afraid of where it would lead me and how it would end for the characters. I was greatly relieved and satisfied with the conclusion, although I am feeling a bit worse for wear and in need of a glass of wine, or ten…
Jessica Hawkins grew up between the purple mountains and under the endless sun of Palm Springs, California. She studied international business at Arizona State University and has also lived in Costa Rica and New York City. To her, the most intriguing fiction is forbidden, and that’s what you’ll find in her stories. Currently, she resides wherever her head lands, which is often the unexpected (but warm) keyboard of her trusty MacBook.
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