When we last left off, the gang had a great trip in Texas, culminating in the breakup of Henry & Alex before they were even officially together which made me stress-cry the first time I read it, which I didn’t even know was possible.
So here we are, Chapter 10, y’all!
“He’s spent too much of his life talking, talking, talking not to know the signs when someone doesn’t want to hear him anymore.”
HUGE ADHD MOOD
“A Tuesday night, hiding on the roof of the Residence, pacing so many furious laps that the skin on the backs of his heels splits open and blood soaks into his loafers.”
It’s hard for Henry to understand that Alex leading with physicality doesn’t mean his feelings are any less deep–for Alex, all his feelings are physical.
“Clearly, someone has radioed for Shaan.”
No, Zahra just called him in a huge rage.
“Ms. Bankston called ahead to warn me.”
One day I have to write this companion novella.
“Shaan smiles, looking as if he might be genuinely enjoying watching two hapless Americans become slowly waterlogged.”
“Henry, you piece of shit, get your ass down here!”
“Alex’s heart is going to fall out of his ass.”
“I’m really just having a great time here. I can see why all y’all had to marry your fucking cousins.”
They’ll be 15 years into their marriage and Alex will still be making jokes like this.
“I fucking love you, okay?”
Honestly my favorite confessions of love are angry ones.
“My birthright is a country, not happiness.”
This is such a heartbreaking Henry line and he truly believes it for so long.
“Then fucking have me!”
Alex, at this point, really thinks it should be that simple.
“And I want to get the fuck out of this house.”
At this point Alex is still so bad about undercutting every vulnerable thing he says by immediately moving on to a new subject.
“I’m not like you. I can’t afford to be reckless. I don’t have a family who will support me. I don’t go about shoving who I am in everyone’s faces and dreaming about a career in fucking politics, so I can be more scrutinized and picked apart by the entire godforsaken world. I can love you and want you and still not want that life. I’m allowed, all right, and it doesn’t make me a liar; it makes me a man with some infinitesimal shred of self-preservation, unlike you, and you don’t get to come here and call me a coward for it.”
I love this because Henry is making GOOD points that Alex needs to hear, but calling himself a coward unprompted belies what he really wants.
“I know what it’s like for your whole life to be determined by the family you were born into, okay?”
This is something I’m proud of in this book as a royal romance–Alex & Henry are always on equal footing. He’s already spent his formative years years hounded by tabloids. He can handle this.
“And you can live here in your tower and be miserable forever, write a whole book of sad fucking poems about it.”
This is mean and he deserves the “fuck you.”
“The faint taste of blood blooms on his tongue, and he smiles as he opens up to it.”
Alex, who feels everything physically, loves to have physical evidence of what they do to each other, even when it hurts.
“He tells his too-fast brain: Don’t miss it this time. He’s too important.”
Alex knows his intensity and impulses–this is him loving Henry with purpose.
“It’s pitch-black outside when Henry’s body finally subsides, and the room is impossibly quiet, the fire gone out.”
Recurring motif: Alex’s feelings=fire, Henry’s=water
“There’s a violent rain lashing against the picture window, half-revealed by parted curtains.”
Foreshadowing to being spotted through the window at Kensington by the photographer.
“It’s time, he realizes, to start accepting only what Henry can give him.”
This is a HUGE moment for Alex–Henry’s words actually got through to him and he’s expanding his worldview and view of their relationship in kind.
“Plain toast. Have you ever seen someone eat toast without anything on it? Harrowing, truly.”
This was actually inspired by a video of Mark Zuckerberg eating plain toast.
“I think I’m actually beginning to believe that,” Henry says. “And I don’t know how long it would have taken if I didn’t have you to believe for me.”
Such an important layer to their growth & Henry’s–Alex’s idealism doesn’t magically fix Henry’s brain or his situation, but it did show him another option to work toward.
“Alex looks at him, taking in the whole parcel of him, the centuries of royal blood sitting under an antique Kensington chandelier, and he reaches out to touch his face and looks at his fingers and thinks about holding the Bible at his mother’s inauguration with the same hand.”
My favorite paragraph.
“There’s a very long pause over the line before Shaan says, ‘I’ll let her know,’ in a voice like he’d rather do literally anything else.”
I like to think this line has a lot of reread value–it’s a lot funnier when you know he went out and bought a huge diamond after.
“It definitely stays secret until after the election. And I know it’ll be messy. But if we can get ahead of the narrative, wait for the right time, and do it on our own terms, I think it could be okay.”
In another universe they date long distance for a couple years and then come out with a huge piece in Vanity Fair written by Ronan Farrow ♥
“They cross to another street and duck into an alcove between two pillars.”
EXTREME creative liberties here.
“I just, like.” Alex shrugs. “Really love you.”
Alex just loves tall hot nerds!
“I’m taking a picture of a national gay landmark,” Alex tells him. “And also a statue.”
Another thing I wanted to do with this book was portray queerness not as something that you just learn to live with in yourself but as something to love, celebrate, be proud of.”
“Alex takes his hand, and Henry turns to face the chapel like a nervous postulant, his cheeks hollowed out in the low light, before pulling Alex in.”
TENDERNESS. Hard for both of them. Hard for Alex to learn to give. Hard for Henry to learn to accept. This scene is full of it.
“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.”
I think for a lot of Catholics, sex, love, and religion are very entangled.
“At cruising altitude, he takes the chain off his neck and slides the ring on next to the old house key. They clink together gently as he tucks them both under his shirt, two homes side by side.”
SYMBOLISM. Obviously, Henry’s signet ring represents to him, the family legacy and all the constraints that come with it. Alex is happy to carry it for him.
Our boys are back together as the good lord intended, and next week we have a reasonably-sized chapter. You don’t wanna miss it!