Romantic Turmoil Results in Fixation on an Outdated Buddy in Excerpt of Andrea Bartz’s “The Spare Room”

In Andrea Bartz’s “The Spare Room,” pandemic boredom and upheaval sends Kelly fleeing from her cramped condominium in Philadelphia as her fiancé pumps the breaks on their deliberate nuptials, and proper into the arms of her childhood buddy — and that girl’s husband. Reeling from her postponed marriage ceremony, Kelly takes the glamorous Sabrina up on a proposal to remain in her and her husband Nathan’s visitor bed room fairly than cohabitate together with her estranged companion.

Issues rapidly transfer away from platonic when a threesome between Kelly, Sabrina, and Nathan leads the trio right into a polyamorous relationship. Sadly, Kelly learns that she’s not the primary girl to search out herself in such a scenario together with her new lovers — and that their former paramour has disappeared. Bartz — whose suspense novel “We Had been By no means Right here” was a Reese’s Guide Membership decide — injects her signature shiver-inducing pacing in “The Spare Room,” publishing on June 20. Learn an unique POPSUGAR excerpt of the novel beneath.

Crying in a masks is disgusting. Even the thud-thud-thud of the practice over the tracks cannot cloak my shuddery breath. The material pulls as tight as a gag with each gasp, and tears and snot soak the within. Extra individuals flip and glare. I hear my mom’s voice: Get it collectively, Kelly. Get a grip.

I ship Sabrina an replace: “Passing Baltimore!” I must be texting her and Nathan each, however I am nonetheless intimidated by him.

It is onerous to consider that three weeks in the past, I did not even have Sabrina’s quantity. We would adopted one another on Instagram for years, however for no matter purpose, her images not often confirmed up on my feed. After which — tired of the pandemic that simply would not stop, blissfully unaware {that a} grenade was about to explode my life, I discovered myself scrolling via that roll of completely satisfied individuals. And the algorithm threw in a wild card: an replace from Sabrina Lamont.

She’s excellent. I knew her as Sabrina Balzer in highschool, a tangential buddy in the identical nerd-adjacent clique, although we by no means frolicked one-on-one. I remembered her as mousy and quiet; she hadn’t crossed my thoughts in a long time. However jeez, I assumed, take a look at her now.

Thick brown waves spilled like rapids over her shoulders. She had a Frank Lloyd Wright face, sharp cheekbones and a sq. jaw, with sculpted brows and leprechaun-green eyes. It was a selfie from an out of doors lounge chair, and behind her stretched a glowing pool the colour of sapphires.

That evening, I let the world darken as I tapped my means round her on-line presence, feeling that grubby rush of indiscipline, the identical waterfall of need that has you ending the pint of ice cream or wrenching off a scab, exposing the ink-red beneath. I discovered previous weblog posts by her and information articles about her and skim them hungrily. I unearthed pictures of her at a gala and clicked via all eighteen red-carpet images.

All of us have Instagram associates we’re obsessive about, proper?

All of us have Instagram associates we’re obsessive about, proper? I could not get sufficient of her glory: her mansion an hour outdoors D.C.; hikes via the Blue Ridge Mountains; #ThrowbackThursdays to glitzy occasions together with her husband, Nathan, who was tall and broad and extra cute than good-looking along with his thick red-blond beard and aquiline nostril. An influence couple. And positive, he had some high-ranking authorities job she referenced in captions, however she was no trophy spouse; she’s a goddamn New York Instances bestselling creator, which, Christ. What? How.

I ordered her award-winning romance sequence on the spot. It charted the heated affair between Arianna Rune, an intrepid enterprise journalist, and Perry Creighton, her mysterious and highly effective (and conveniently attractive) informant. Hours later, I completed the primary guide — The Insider — and, cheeks pink, tore into the second. I virtually launched myself onto Mike that evening. He rolled away and pleaded exhaustion.

The minute I completed the most recent installment, I messaged Sabrina to inform her how a lot I cherished her books. And she or he wrote again and was beautiful and requested how I used to be doing and concerning the “lovable fiancé” in my engagement images and oh, we began messaging all through the day, chatty threads that stood in stunning distinction to WhatsApps with my associates again residence in Chicago, who might solely commiserate about being trapped inside with sticky kids.

Sabrina recounted her makes an attempt to make sourdough from a starter named Otis (“So cliché, proper?”); I up to date her on the bizarre issues I noticed on my walks round Philadelphia (bike parades, sidewalk foam events). We cracked one another up.

She admitted she, too, was having bother maintaining together with her associates with youngsters, whose issues felt so totally different from hers (no, ours): their fixed hubbub and never a second alone with their ideas versus our loneliness, empty schedules, and stretchy quiet moments, ones when our interior monologues began to shout.

So I let her distract me. Perhaps it meant I devoted much less consideration to Mike’s moodiness. Desirous about it now, my abdomen puckers. It isn’t like me to be egocentric.

When Mike refused to reschedule our marriage ceremony a number of days in the past, I instructed Sabrina throughout the hour: OMG, Mike simply instructed me he desires to “pump the brakes.” It popped out of me like a sneeze as a result of she wasn’t actual in my thoughts, not precisely. I hadn’t seen her in additional than fifteen years.

She’s the one individual I’ve instructed, in actual fact. And Mike is not about to inform anybody; he is displeased that I even let Sabrina into our non-public drama. My finest buddy, Amy, my mother, all of the individuals who love Mike virtually as a lot as I do—they do not know we’re on the rocks. That for the final three nights we slept coldly on reverse ends of the mattress. That the shared future we envisioned could be gone, snuffed out like a candle.

I take it as a hopeful signal that Mike desires to maintain quiet about our points. Individuals might interpret it flawed, in spite of everything — they could assume we’re breaking apart, which hasn’t occurred. Will not occur. Perhaps some house can be a very good factor, he stated yesterday. I must get my head on straight.

I really like him a lot it hurts generally, a sandpapery squeeze on my coronary heart. I did not notice it till now, after I would possibly lose all of it.

The practice’s whistle shrieks outdoors the home windows. Virgo shifts in her provider, peering at me via the mesh. I look down at my telephone once more. My lock display screen is an image of Mike and me at Amy’s marriage ceremony, him in a tux along with his ramen-noodle curls combed again, me in a robe with hair spilling over my shoulders, my head becoming completely within the bow of his neck. I really like him a lot it hurts generally, a sandpapery squeeze on my coronary heart. I did not notice it till now, after I would possibly lose all of it.

Some house. A little bit of distance to save lots of our relationship. To salvage the factor that issues most. I can do it for him. For him, I would do something.

Picture Supply: Creator headshot credit score: Savannah Lauren


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