Book & Author Details:
Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino
Publication date: 14th August 2018
From the national bestselling author of Before We Were Strangers, Swear on this Life, and Wish You Were Here comes a powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.
Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio—and she was a dancer on the rise. Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably-decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.
The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.
For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.
WE SAT AT the bar of the pub as I continued to stare at him, a mixture of curiosity and fear boiling in my gut. He ordered a beer, and I ordered Chardonnay with beer-cheese pretzels.
“That’s different for you.”
I usually stuck to salads, an old habit from my dancing days, but I had lost a lot of weight in the past few weeks. “Don’t think you can distract me so easily. Tell me what’s going on. Did you break up with Briel?”
He took a long pull from his beer and stared straight ahead. “Don’t be mad, okay?”
I stared at him, wordlessly, the fear fully boiling over. And then he dropped the bomb on me.
The next few minutes were hazy as Gavin, the bar, and my glass of Chardonnay swam together before my eyes. I tried to reach for the glass but found it suddenly empty. That’s weird. It was full a minute ago. I motioned to the bartender for another, then poured it down my throat in a steady stream.
I was breathing fast when I slammed the glass on the bar, shattering my fugue state—and bringing Gavin into sharp relief. I was reeling.
“Shit, Penny! Be careful. You almost shattered your glass!” He practically yelled.
“You’re moving to fucking France?!” I yelled back.
The bartender jerked his head toward the door, and within minutes Gavin was forcibly dragging me out of the bar by the arm. I slipped out of his grip and stood in the middle of the parking lot, seething, very much drunk, and fully freaking out. “So, do you love her?”
“Briel? What kind of question is that?”
“Just answer me.”
“Fuck, Penny. That’s not what this is about. I don’t really have a choice here, though, do I?”
“You always have a choice.”
He glared at me. “That’s fucking rich, coming from you.”
I shook my head vigorously. “Totally different situation.”
“Like hell it was.”
“When do you leave?”
“In two days.”
He ran up and shook me by the shoulders. “Jesus, if I knew you were gonna take it like this, I wouldn’t have told you in public. Pull yourself together.”
I screamed at the top of my lungs and then made a guttural sound as I hunched over and held my stomach.
“First Milo, now you?”
“Don’t you put that on me. I’m not the reason why you’re about to be alone and unhappy.”
“Fuck you, Gavin!”
“Fuck you, Penny!”
He didn’t turn around—he just stormed off in typical Gavin fashion: petulant, recalcitrant, and a total shithead. People in the parking lot were gawking, appalled, covering their children’s ears. But no one made a move to leave. When Gavin and I got like this, we were like a car wreck by the side of the road, impossible to look away from.
Gavin slid into his ’67 Chevelle and fired up the engine. I hated that car because he loved it so much. It had a black leather interior, a flawless paint job, and tinted windows, like it belonged to some kind of celebrity—which Gavin definitely wasn’t. It was his only possession worth a dime, besides his garage, a few guitars, and a Zippo lighter he swore River Phoenix had given to him at the Viper Room the night of his death.
I ran to the exit and stood in the middle of the lane, daring him to run me over as he ripped out of his parking spot and raced around the corner toward the exit. “We’re not done talking, you coward!”
He slowed but let the car idle while he revved the engine. “I dare you!” I yelled.
He stuck his head out the window, leaned his tattooed arm against the door, and actually grinned at me.
So smug. What a dick.
Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com