Jingle Bell Romance: Chapter 3, Part 2
And btw, is there a more generic title than “Jingle Bell Romance”? It tells us NOTHING.
So the jingle bell romance continues apace as Julia begins her plan to meddle in others’ affairs.
While she suspected what [might be bothering him], she thought it might help him to voice it out loud–with a little nudging from her along the way.
Yes, I’m sure Julia knows what is best for everyone at all times.
And yet, her bravery extinguishes itself even as it is sparked, and she backs away immediately, getting out of Nick only that he feels like he’s missed a lot, what with not coming home for seven years.
Oh, and not for nothing, but I’ve been watching Dickensian (highly recommended, it’s on Amazon Prime!) and seven years is how long Jacob Marley was dead before the events of A Christmas Carol. Significance, or coincidence?
So Julia kinda forgets that she’s there to reconcile father and son, and instead they talk about sledding and the events of the previous book. This allows Nick to drop in a few humblebrags about his “awards for bold journalism” (yeah, I bet), and how “designing layouts and keeping up with invoices aren’t nearly as much fun as writing.”
Wait, so you OWN this online magazine, and it’s making you so much money that normal life seems “humble” to you and you only date models and dancers…but you’re still doing all the technical crapwork yourself?
Talk then turns back to winter sports, and Julia mentions that she skis and snowboards, which opens the door for Nick to provide a nice backhanded insult:
“Didn’t peg you as a snow bunny.”
She oddly responds that “the media only sees what I want them to see,” and it’s not the first time this book has implied that the life of an ambassador’s daughter is so fascinating that she is under constant scrutiny by media and public alike, and that this is why the simple townsfolk haven’t warmed to her.
This all leads Nick to ask what a rich celebrity like…the daughter of an ambassador (!) is doing selling toys in a small tourist town in Maine. Though, of course, he manages to phrase it as insultingly as he can: “hiding out in a backwoods place like this.”
Julia simply responds that she was looking for a fresh start, and Nick, as is his custom, doubles down on the asshattery:
He smirked. “Nice try, cupcake, but I’m not buying it.”
Wow. What’s not to hate, right?
Julia responds with awesomeness:
“This may come as a surprise to you, but I don’t really care what you believe.”
And, saved by a text from the store, she peaces out.
You go, girl.
Nick sits there and wallows in the sting of “her blatant rejection,” which had turned her into “the Ice Queen.”
Maybe being called a snow bunny annoyed her, he thought…
Maybe being called a liar to her face annoyed her, Mr. Genius Journalist.
Nick slinks into the living room to help with the decorations, and is instead treated to a Christian lecture from his sister, as she accuses him of “doing everything the hardest way possible” by not going to church. Nick is actually nonconfrontational for once, and deliberately doesn’t engage. Guess he got it out of his system when he insulted Julia repeatedly.
Anyway, that night, Julia calls Nick and concedes to his request to do a story on her for his online magazine. This conversation takes place off-screen, so we get the in-person negotiations of the Monday morning after Thanksgiving, as the two chill at the toy store:
Julia grants Nick an “exclusive,” which just strikes me as hilarious because are there really that many publications so eager to chronicle the life of an ambassador’s grown daughter? Guess so, or at least Julia thinks so, because she opines that “some reporter or another will track me down eventually.” Girl, it’s not like you changed your name or anything. You’ve been living here for half a year—I think if you were such a huge story, you would have been tracked down by now.
Nick then repeats himself from just a few pages earlier in this very chapter, saying that “in case you haven’t figured it out already, I’m not used to taking orders. What makes you think I’ll play along?”
Wow, a lot to unpack here. First of all, “play along“? This was your idea in the first place, Nick. Second, you are really obsessed with this whole “not taking orders” thing. Please just chill the eff out, and let go of your controlling impulses for just a fraction of a second while you make a deal with someone who wants to help you. And also, could he BE any more rude and asshattish? It is just constant with this jerk.
But Nick does indeed play along, because he “didn’t doubt for a second that if he didn’t grab this opportunity, another journalist would. Julia’s story had flash and grit, two things people loved to read about.”
Forgive me if I find this all just a bit hard to swallow. Especially when Nick starts to fantasize about how he’ll tease the first installment of this epic tale for free, then offer limited subscriptions so people could read the rest, then hopefully they’ll buy full subscriptions!
No, seriously, Nick imagines the “pure profit.”
Am I way off base? Does anyone think this will be the phenomenon Julia and Nick think it will be?