Kristen Weatherly is surviving. She’s been surviving her whole life. She can’t wait to get her diploma so she can leave town and create a new life, one worth living.
Having been hurt, Kristen doesn’t trust, and with good reason. But when she gets a job at the county library, a fellow co-worker and student, Mila, breaks through Kristen’s walls and befriends her. She shows Kristen that there are good people in the world, sometimes when you least expect it.
After a spontaneous run in with a boy named Chris that Kristen dubs ‘Mystery Eyes,’ Kristen wars with herself about opening up to him because that can lead to more hurt and rejection.
As the two get closer, and secrets are revealed, will they be able to move beyond their pasts together? Or will those pasts come between them when they need each other most?
This is a story with dark themes and subject matter. It is intended for mature audiences only.
I was asked to read Slow Hand Quickens for an honest review. I received the book, saw the cover, and was a little nervous, I must say. The cover made me a little anxious about the storyline; the book does come with a warning about dark themes and it is definitely needed.
Poor Kristen Weatherly… this girl lives a life of pure hell. She is the daughter of Travis and Clara, two young parents that got involved in drugs a few years after Kristen was born. Travis and Clara (Kristen’s terms of endearment for them, as she can’t stomach calling them mom and dad anymore) are much too involved in their own lives to be loving parents to Kristen. As she ages and developes into a cute teenager, Clara actually becomes jealous of her daughter and the attention that she is now getting from their loser friends and berates her for it… what child should have to hear their mom call them a slut? Kristen catches the attention of one of her parent’s friends in particular, John, who is practically a mainstay at the Weatherly home. As if Kristen’s life wasn’t already so sad and torturous, she then has to endure the very unwelcome advances from John for the next 3 years; experiences that no child should have to go through.
“He always collected his dues and his favors. Always. With interest.”
Kristen is finally in her senior year of high school and is just counting the days until she will graduate and she can move away from her current life. She lucks out in getting a job at the library and thankfully finds her one and only friend in Mila. Mila knows that Kristen is hiding something, but she tries to break her out of her shell and help her experience some normal teenage things. Also to fall into Kristen’s life, is Chris Emerson. Chris is super smart, quiet, and reserved in school and is never really seen talking to anyone. Kristen and Chris have more in common than they realize at first, but thankfully they both are able to let some of the past go in order to move towards a future. Will John just let his “Krissie” live a normal teenage life with her new friends? Can Chris come to grips with the horrific past he isn’t ready to share?
Even with the dark subject matter in this book, I loved it! As a parent of 2 daughters, I will admit that reading some of the interactions between Kristen and John made me cringe, but they were needed to make you feel the story the way it needed to be told. I felt so sad and sorry for Kristen almost to the point of tears and was so relieved when she let Mila into her life. I was even happier when she found Chris. This girl deserved to feel love and happiness. I was, however left wondering the answers to some questions at the end of the book. An epilogue was not included, which I think was needed; so I didn’t feel a sense of closure. With that being said, it is definitely worth the read if you can handle some dark subject matter!
EXCLUSIVE EPILOGUE (UNEDITED)!!
“Come on, Kaye.”
I shook my head. This wasn’t happening.
“You’re reading too much into this.”
“Nope,” I said loudly, letting the o go on for a good few seconds while I shook my head.
“Why not?” Chris asked, looking hurt, which in turn made me feel bad.
“There’s still so much going on. I’m moving my stuff in from Mila’s, we’ve got a court hearing for John, Tom is going into summer school. There’s just too much.”
His eyes softened as he looked at me. “I agree.”
“That’s why we’re going.”
“The beach is only a couple hours away. Kaye, we need this. I squared it away with Mila’s parents. I told them I wanted to do something for us and they told me about a time share they have. Kristen,” Chris stepped into my personal space and placed his hands on my shoulders, rested his forehead against mine and looked into my eyes. “We need this. The three of us. Fun times before any more crap can happen. Not that it will,” he said quickly. I sighed. We graduated yesterday. When they’d called my name I could hear Chris, Tom, Mila and her family shouting loudly. We did the same for Chris and Mila. We were an odd assortment for a family, but it worked for us.
As we found each other after the ceremony and walked to our cars, I saw a flash from a camera go off in my periphery. Sure, it could have been us behind a family getting their picture, but in my gut I knew that wasn’t the case. I turned my head to see who it was. I saw Travis’ build walking away from us. He knew today was graduation? He came? I looked around for Clara, but it seemed he was alone.
I began to walk in the direction of his retreating form, not sure what I was going to do if and when I caught up with him, but Chris grabbed my arm, stopping me. I turned around.
“I…I think I saw…” I turned again, searching the sea of bodies for Travis. I scanned the crowd and I saw his head. Don’t ask me how I knew from the back of a head that it was him, but I knew. Because I didn’t want to lose sight of him again I didn’t turn to Chris. I only said, “I’ll meet you at the car.”
I took off, weaving between families, saying hi to other graduates who said something to me in passing. People I honestly didn’t care if I saw again. Why I seemed to care to see Travis again I had no idea, but I propelled myself forward, craning my head up as I slowly moved forward toward the parking lot.
I’d lost him. Cars weren’t going very quickly out of the lot. Everything was bottlenecked and everyone was walking in front of vehicles, not caring about their safety, trusting that the people behind the wheels wouldn’t be stupid and run everyone over. Now that graduation was finished, people couldn’t decide if they wanted to stay and chat and promise to see each other again or get the hell out of there. I knew there were going to be parties, like at Craig’s house, but no way in hell was I going to any of them. Not my style, and it wasn’t Chris’ so I wasn’t worried. Mila, on the other hand, she was a spitfire and who knew where she’d go. If she made me go with her, I would, and I’d make Chris go too. As long as it wasn’t to Craig’s. Mila’s parents said they’d watch Tom if we wanted to go out.
There were two exits on two different sides of the lot. My stomach twisted. I spotted John’s pickup pulling out of a spot and moving toward the exit away from where I was. I took off running, needing to get to that truck. Since there wasn’t much forward movement from people leaving, I was gaining up to it.
“Travis!” I yelled out. I only saw one body in the pickup. “Travis!” I yelled again.
If anything, the truck started to get antsy, if that were possible. The horn was honking, the truck weaving, trying to get past other vehicles. I was two cars behind. The horn blew again. I saw Travis’ eyes cut to mine in the rearview mirror. I ran full out and got to his door. The window was up. I tapped on it.
I watched Travis war with himself on whether to ignore the fact that I spotted him or take it like a man and roll down the window. Slowly, I saw him reach his left hand from the steering wheel to the door and saw his arm work as he cranked the window down. There was no movement in the car lineup. Travis put the truck in park.
We looked at each other for a minute, neither of us saying anything. Now that I was here, I wasn’t sure what I was doing or what I was waiting for. I wasn’t sure if I was waiting on him to say something or for me to say something.
Eventually I couldn’t take the awkward silence. “Hi,” I said quietly.
I scratched my cheek and looked down at the gravel of the parking lot. “You came.”
Without looking up I knew he was scratching his chin because I could hear the scratch his nails made against the stubble growing there.
People behind him honked his horn. I looked toward his exit and saw it had cleared a good bit.
“Proud of you, Kristen.”
I looked up at him, startled. He’d never said anything remotely like that to me before. I couldn’t say anything. He took off, not looking at me. I saw the window moving up. I watched him turn the blinker to go left. I willed him to look over at me as he passed, to wave or something, but he never looked at me again.
I continued to stand there like an idiot until I finally heard the cars honking at me to move so they wouldn’t accidentally hit me. They were probably blaring at me for awhile, but I just then registered the fact that I was standing in the middle of the lot, confused more than I’d been in a good long time.
I walked around aimlessly for a few minutes, my head down so no one would stop to try and talk with me. I needed a moment alone. I couldn’t go back to Chris and Tom right then.
By the time I made it back to the car, Chris was pacing beside it and Tom was nowhere to be seen.
I rushed to Chris and said, “Where’s Tom? Is he okay? What happened? He’s missing? We need to call the police!”
“Kaye, Tom is okay. He went with Mila. You were gone for a long time. I was about to put together a search party for you myself. You okay? You just took off.”
I scrubbed my hand down my face as I walked to get in the front seat of the car. “Yeah. I think I’m fine.”
As soon as Chris got in the car he asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
I took a deep breath and said, “Travis came.”
“That’s why you went running? Were you going toward or away from him?”
I looked into my lap. “I needed to see him.”
“Why?” Chris asked incredulously.
“I don’t know!” I shouted, thankful we were in his car so my yelling wasn’t heard too much.
I watched Chris take a deep breath. “Did you find him?”
I nodded my head.
“He hurt you?”
I shook my head.
“You want to talk about it?”
My eyes welled up with tears.
“Oh, Kaye. Kaye, you’re okay.” He leaned over and hugged me. I clutched at the back of the white dress shirt he’d been wearing under his robes which he must have taken off as he waited for me.
My face was pressed against his right cheek and I whispered, “He said he was proud of me.”
Chris rubbed my back but said nothing. It was soothing. He was so solid and supporting. He pulled back slightly and put his left hand on the back of my head then kissed me softly. He brought his right hand to my face and rubbed away my tears with his thumb.
“So am I, Kaye. You’re so brave. So brave. I love you.”
I kissed him.
“Love you too.”
And now, almost twenty-four hours later, he wanted us to go on vacation. A vacation that was a stupid yet wonderful idea. We had so much going on, and we didn’t have that much money. We couldn’t be frivolous with a beach getaway, as enticing as it seemed.
“It’s only for the weekend, Kaye. We’re both off anyway. It’s set. You can huff if you want, but I know you’ll have a good time. We all will. And you’ll look back to this weekend years from now and realize what a ditz you were being for digging your heels in.”
“Ditz? Do you even know what that means?”
“Right now it means someone who’s being a party-pooper. But we’re gonna turn that frown upside down.”
“You’re being childish,” I said with a laugh as he tapped my chin with his fist
“Told you I was gonna make you smile.”
I folded my arms across my chest. “Chris.”
He mirrored my stance. “Kaye.”
I sighed and turned my face sideways so he wouldn’t see my goofy smile. I leaned into him and kissed him under his ear. I looked up at him and saw his sweet smile.
“I did good then?” he asked, knowing my kissing him in that spot meant I was happy.
“Yeah, Chris, you did good.”
We might have battles still to fight here, but that was for another day. Chris continually reminded me to live in the moment, to find my happiness where I could and to not let anyone or anything bring me down. We’d have our weekend, and from there, who knew what we’d do. But we’d do it together.
Allie loves in North Carolina and works at a University bookstore. She reads and writes in her spare time, including lunch breaks. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s usually watching something on television, whether a good show or movie; or she’s hanging out with friends. She’s always open to book recommendations. Allie listens to music while she cooks, usually throwing in a few dance moves. She’s prone to sarcasm, singing out of tune, and a good rum and coke.