by Lexi Ryan
Reflecting on Meredith: The Character We Love to Hate
If you’ve read the first two books of the Here and Now series, you probably have some opinions about Meredith. You might have some choice words for her as well. I know I do. When I first started writing about her, I said, “Some people are just horrible.” But even horrible people have their reasons—valid or not.
When I first “met” Meredith while writing Wish I May (William and Cally’s book), I didn’t like her. At. All. When I realized what roll she played in Hanna’s books, I liked her even less. You see, in my mind, Meredith is very much like this girl I grew up with, let’s call her…Emily* (*name changed to protect the not-so-innocent). “Emily” was horrible to me, and I never understood why. She was wealthy and “popular” (a misnomer, in my opinion, as the “popular” group was always a rather small percentage of my school). I was from a struggling middle-class family and a bank geek. She was blonde and thin and wore the nicest clothes. I was mousy and overweight and wore my big sisters’ hand-me-downs. I never understood why she seemed to hate me so much.
I went to school with Emily from grade school through high school graduation, though we were in very few classes together since I was in the advanced or “academically talented” classes. But she was around just enough to make a mark on me. If I already had issues about my changing body, Emily made them worse by mocking me when we changed in the gym locker room. If I felt awkward and unwelcome in social settings, Emily made it worse by tripping me in the bleachers at the Homecoming game and laughing with her friends as I scrambled to my feet. Emily was a total bitch.
As a writer, of course, I look back and want to know what her motivation was. Was I just an easy target? She could be Queen Bee of her little group and show her power by making me feel small? Maybe. But I like to think people are more complex than that.
I’ll never forget the day we were meeting with advisors from a small private college. Emily desperately wanted to go to this college. I’d already been admitted and knew I’d be going under and academic scholarship. Emily hadn’t been admitted and she raised her hand to ask the advisors if they would be willing to take a writing sample instead of basing her entry on SAT scores and grades. I remember it so well. She said, “I can’t take tests, but I’m not stupid.” And then she turned and glared at me, and there was so much hatred in her eyes I’ve never been able to forget it. You see, I had no idea that she struggled with her grades or with taking tests. All I saw was a pretty, rich girl who was mean to me. But I guess it was common knowledge that I was quite smart. I was in all the advanced classes, praised for my work, and I’ve never had the problem with testing that some students have. I liked reading and writing and studying—something that may get you mocked in middle school but gets you money when college rolls around. Never would I have imagined that my success as a student had anything to do with how Emily treated me, but in that moment, I knew it did. She resented me for being able to do what she could not.
As I wrote All for This, I realized the same was true for Meredith. She isn’t “just a bitch.” She had her reasons. Does that make what she’s done right? Absolutely not. But it does remind me of Emily and that look in her eyes when she said, “I’m not stupid.” I don’t hate “Emily” anymore. I hope she’s doing well and that she is secure enough in herself these days that she doesn’t have to humiliate others to feel okay about her own weaknesses.
On a final note, I want to say this blog post is probably the most personal one I’ve ever written. I don’t like to write this much about myself—I prefer fiction, TVYM. But since this is for the final book in Hanna’s series, it seems fitting. I’ve gotten so many letters from readers who relate to Hanna and her self-esteem issues, and I’ll admit, I do too. Luckily for me, I know all about finding the guy (or guys in Hanna’s case), that teach you to feel comfortable in your own skin. My wish for you is that, if you see yourself in Hanna, you can learn for her mistakes. You are more beautiful than you know, and the people who bring you down aren’t “right” about you. They’re fighting their own demons. Smile and carry on. (Unless they trip you in the bleachers in front of your whole high school. Then you have my permission to start swinging…)
Lexi Ryan’s Web Tracks:
Lexi Ryan on All The Things Inbetween:
Makin’ The Love Monday – All For This by Lexi Ryan
Book It – In News Today: Here and Now, Lexi Ryan Gives Sneak Peak of All For This
Makin’ The Love Monday – Fall To You by Lexi Ryan
Weekend Pick Me Up – Lost In Me by Lexi Ryan
Book It – In News Today: Lexi Ryan Brings You Here and Now Cover Reveal
Book It – In News Today: Lexi Ryan’s Lost In Me Sneak Peek!
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Lost In Me Synopsis:
The last thing I remember is having drinks at Brady’s and trying to avoid eye-contact with my life-long crush—the gorgeous, unattainable Maximilian Hallowell. They tell me that was a year ago, but I have no memories of anything since then. What I do have is this ring on my finger that Max says he gave me, and this much-thinner body I’ve dreamed of most of my life. Aside from a case of retrograde amnesia, everything seems almost…perfect.
But the deeper I immerse myself into this new world of mine—planning a wedding to a man I don’t remember dating, attempting to run a business I don’t remember starting—the clearer it becomes that nothing is as it seems. Do I have the life I’ve always wanted or is it a facade propped up by secrets I don’t even know I have?
I need answers before I marry Max, and the only person who seems to have them is the angry, tatted, sexy-as-sin rocker Nate Crane. And Nate wants me for himself.
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Fall To You Synopsis:
Torn between two men…
When I woke up after the accident, I couldn’t remember anything from the last year—including my relationship with Max Hallowell or anything about Nate Crane. Now my memories are returning, but instead of answering my questions, they’re leaving me with more.
The man who broke my heart and wants to be my future…
Max is all I ever wanted, and now he wants to marry me. He’ll do everything he can to fill my life with love, family, and security. I need those things now more than ever. But can I trust him?
The man who stole my heart and wants to let me go…
Nate never made me promises, and I never asked him to. I’d been on the rebound, looking for a distraction, and he made me feel beautiful and wanted when I needed to feel those things most. He says he has to let me go, but what if I can’t let go of him?
With every revelation and every passing day, I feel more like Alice down the rabbit hole. I’m falling. Who will catch me?
Fall to You is the second book in the Here and Now series. It is not a stand-alone and is intended to be read following Lost in Me. Hanna’s story concludes in book three, All for This.
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Fall To You Excerpt:
He pushes one dress strap off my shoulder and tugs on the fabric until one lace-covered breast is exposed.
He groans softly. “Your bra matches your panties.”
“What happened to those?”
With a boyish grin, he produces them from the pocket of his jeans. I take them and hold them up. They’re ruined. Torn at both hips. And I’m not the slightest bit upset about it.
I prop my hands on my hips in a pretend pout. “Now what am I going to put on after our shower?”
“If I have my way? Not a damn thing.”
Dropping his head, he puts his mouth to my breast and sucks me through the lace. The sensation is too much—the wet heat of his tongue, the rough texture of the lace, the painful pleasure of his rough mouth. I cry out, and the sound echoes against the walls.
Before I realize what he’s doing with his hands, my dress falls away, puddling at my ankles and leaving me standing there in nothing but my bra and my strappy heels. He slowly drags his mouth from my breast, and my nipple puckers harder in the cool air as Nate steps back to take me in.
This is the part I hate. Men’s assessing eyes on all my imperfections—the stretch marks at my breasts, the extra fat around my stomach, the cellulite on my ass and at the tops of my thighs. There’s nothing sexy about any of these parts of me. And there’s nothing that turns me off more than the disappointment in men’s eyes when they get me naked. It wasn’t like that with Max. But then again, I’ve never let him see me naked—not entirely. And by the time he saw me semi-nude, he was already in love with me.
Or you thought he was.
I focus on Nate and will myself to stop thinking about Max. I won’t let my broken heart ruin this night. This isn’t about love or men who make you feel whole. This is about sex and pleasure and—
Nate lifts his eyes back to mine, and what I see there brings my overactive brain to a screeching halt. Not disappointment. No. The heat in his eyes is undeniable. And it’s for me.
“You couldn’t be more perfect, Hanna.”
I look down, confused. Has someone else’s body magically replaced mine, because…? It’s true that I’ve toned up a bit in these last months while working out with Max, lost maybe ten pounds, but I still don’t have anything near the bodies my sisters have. I’m still the size-sixteen embarrassment I’ve been since adolescence.
Nate tilts my chin up with his thumb. He cocks his head as he studies me. “You really don’t know, do you? Our conversation earlier wasn’t just an act. You have no idea how gorgeous you are.”
I want to shrug it off, but he’s looking at me so intently, I know he expects an answer. “I’ve never been with a guy who was…into big girls.”
He grunts. “Is that what you think this is? Some sort of fetish?”
I shrug and drop my gaze to his throat.
“Hanna, I’m not ‘into big girls,’ as you put it. I like women. Beautiful women. Women who have curves.” He steps forward and twists the front clasp on my bra until it releases. The straps slide off my shoulders, and the bra falls to the floor. “I like breasts,” he murmurs, cupping mine in his hands and brushing his thumbs over my nipples.
I shudder at his touch, that knot of pleasure tightening between my legs.
He steps closer, and my breasts press against his chest. He slides his hands around my back and down until they’re cupping my butt. “And I’m not ashamed to say, I’m a bit of an ass man.” He squeezes. “Fabulous to look at and something to fill my hands when I’m fucking you from behind.”
My breath catches at the image. Fucking me from behind. No doubt he wouldn’t be talking to me like that if he had any idea how inexperienced I am.
The sight of him dropping to his knees cuts me off. “And this.” He presses his mouth against the curve of my belly. “I’ve been with women who have flat stomachs and women who are soft here. Beauty comes in different shapes, colors, and sizes. There’s no cookie cutter for sexy.”
At the gentle pressure on the inside of my thighs, I widen my stance instinctively, bracing myself on the counter as the most intimate part of me is exposed to him. I shudder as he takes two fingers and traces some invisible line from just below my pubic bone to my center.
“This,” he murmurs. He lifts his gaze to mine and touches his fingers to his lips for a moment. “How turned on you get when I touch you? When I talk to you? It’s is the sexiest fucking thing in world.”
What if you would never remember the day you made the most important decision of your life?
That’s what they’re telling me about the day of my accident—the day I put on Max’s ring and chose him over Nate. I’m counting on the wisdom behind a decision I don’t remember making.
Max is amazing—sexy, sweet, and kind. I was starting to believe happily-ever-after might be in my future after all. Then the unthinkable happened and my world imploded. If I’m going to make this work with Max, I need my missing memories, or at least answers from about those five days before my accident.
But what does my future hold if those answers aren’t anything like I imagined?
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