Authors: Eliza Kennedy
I don’t reply.
“Sex isn’t all one thing,” he continues. “It’s not always meaningless, and it doesn’t always move the earth. Consistency is for little minds, right? There’s nothing wrong with us having something amazing while still feeling these urges to be with other people. I don’t want to stop you from being happy. Our love, our relationship, is about so much more than sex. Because here’s the real truth, Lily. I may want to sleep with a lot of people. But I only want to be intimate with you.”
“So what are you suggesting? An open marriage? Those never work.”
“Sure they do,” he replies. “But I actually think we should give monogamy a try.”
I gape at him. “What are you
“We didn’t start this relationship off right. All the sneaking around, the dishonesty, the deception? And we still haven’t spent a lot of time together. I think we should focus on each other. Keep other people out of it.” He smiles at me. “We’ve got the fairy tale right now. Why not enjoy it while it lasts?”
“But you just said—”
He reaches up and brushes the hair from my forehead. “The freedom to act is also the freedom not to act, right?”
I laugh. “You spent the day spamming me about free love, and now you want to give monogamy a try?”
He pulls me toward him. “What I want is you. Almost losing you made me realize what I’m willing to give up to keep you.”
I think about this for a minute. “You make me sound like a real drag.”
He kisses my shoulder. “The last thing in the world that you are is a drag.”
“What if we can’t do it?”
“As long as we’re honest with each other, and talk it out, and love each other? We’ll be able to deal with whatever happens.” He’s stroking my arm. “Who knows? Monogamy might be hot. Constraints could be interesting …”
I try to move, but he’s holding me. He buries his face in my neck.
“Marry me,” he says.
I need a minute to think. But Will is kissing me, so it’s hard.
It really has been a hell of a week.
For the last few days, I’ve been pretty sure that I was going to lose the job I loved. Today, I’m still employed after blackmailing my blackmailing mother-in-law, as well as committing numerous ethical improprieties in the service of saving a heinous client from certain destruction.
God. When it’s all down in black and white like that, it really doesn’t look good.
Will lifts me onto his lap, and I wrap my arms around his neck. He tugs at my blouse, freeing it, slipping a hand underneath.
What else? I dredged up a lot of unhappy emotions for my oldest friend this week. But Teddy’s okay. He’s fine. I learned that I need to be more honest with myself. That I shouldn’t hide from the past.
Then there’s my family, whose marital advice I ignored and who I unfairly attacked as being the root of all my problems. But my mother figures seem to be doing fine. As for Gran, I got her back in business, didn’t I? Overall, I get a gold star for family relations this week, although I should stop blaming Henry for the bad genes and bad example. And teach him about Will’s two-phone system.
Finally, there’s Will. At the beginning of the week, I had a sweet,
generous, wonderful fiancé who loved me. Now, I have a sweet, generous, wonderful fiancé who loves me
who is also a gifted and uninhibited sex maniac. I thought he only loved me because he didn’t know me. Turns out he loves me
he knows me.
And how do I feel about him, now that I know him?
I love him, of course.
I love him, and I don’t think I can live without him.
The upshot? I’ve done everything wrong, and everything’s going to be fine.
I beat the conspiracy of sexual misery! The slut wins!
But one question remains. Should Will and I really get married?
A breeze off the water is making the curtains billow. The sky is growing light outside. Dawn is coming.
“I almost forgot,” Will says. He reaches over to his nightstand and shows me four little strips of braided grass. “You wanted to know why I was collecting all that sea grass.” He takes my left wrist and kisses it on the inside. He ties one of the grass braids around it. “It’s an ancient Celtic custom. The night before the wedding, the groom makes bracelets of grass for the bride’s wrists and ankles.” He takes a second braid and ties it around my right wrist, kissing that too.
“Is this from
“Nope.” He pulls my ankle toward him and ties a braid around it. “I found it on a website called Weddingzone.com.”
I burst out laughing.
“It’s probably apocryphal,” he adds. “But I like it. Apparently the Celts thought these grass bracelets would keep the bride’s soul from flying out of her body.” He smiles at me so sweetly I can barely stand it.
“My soul’s not going anywhere,” I tell him.
He ties the final bracelet, bending down to kiss the inside of my ankle. “Souls are tricky things. The Stoics thought they had eight parts. There was the
I pull him up and kiss him on the mouth. “Enough with the fucking Stoics, Will.”
“Is that a yes?”
“Do you really think we can be honest with each other?”
“We don’t have much of a track record,” he admits. “But I think we can.”
“Do you think we can be faithful?”
He shrugs. “We’ll never know until we try.”
I laugh out loud and he kisses me. Then I break away and look at him. Suddenly, it
like a scene in a movie. There’s been some minor adjustment to the camera lens, a slight change in perspective, and I see Will for who he really is. He’s not a bad guy or a good guy. He’s smart, and funny, and nerdy, and sexy, and passionate, and kind, and earnest, and dirty, and thoughtful, and loving, and degenerate.
And he’s mine, all mine.
“Will, I love you!” I cry. “I love you so, so much.”
“Then say yes,” he whispers.
“Promise me that we’ll never fight, and always love each other.”
“Promise me that you’ll send me filthy text messages day and night.”
“Promise me that we’ll always tell each other the truth.”
“We will always tell each other the truth,” he says, “and we will always stay together.”
I shake my head. “It’s impossible.”
“Maybe,” he says. “But let’s give it a shot.”
I laugh. “Who
“Marry me,” he says. “Marry me, Lily Wilder, and find out.”
I owe thanks to many people for bringing this book to life. I am very lucky to have such a brilliant and fun agent as Suzanne Gluck. Thank you, Suzanne, for turning to page one and starting to read. Thank you also to Bill Clegg, Laura Bonner, and everyone else at William Morris Endeavor for your help. My editors Lindsay Sagnette and Beth Coates improved this book enormously with their incisive comments and perfectly apportioned doses of love—thank you, both, so much. Thank you also to Julie Barer and Reagan Arthur for all your encouragement and advice.
Thank you to my father, Brendan Kennedy, whose unflagging devotion gave me the confidence to start writing, and whose ceaseless hounding induced the guilt necessary to finish. Thank you to my mother, Cynthia Kennedy, whose constant love and support resulted in a book that any mother would be ashamed of. To my brother, Dave, I need only say: Good times.
Thank you to Daniel Socolow, my wonderful mentor and friend, whose pointed critiques of gender inequality caused me to think about the issue early, often, and more creatively than I might otherwise have done. And thank you to the Honorable Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who set an example for me not only with respect to intelligence and personal integrity, but for what true accomplishment is in the world.
I never would have been able to create a friend like Freddy if I didn’t have the following gifted, loyal, and vivid women in my life: Emily Chiang, Elena Goldstein, Andrea Jedrlinic, Diane Macina (it’s alphabetical, get over it), and Dru Moorhouse. Thanks, ladies!
And of course and above all, thank you to Joshua Ferris, whose enthusiasm, unwavering faith, and gentle yet relentless criticism made this book possible, and to whom I am so very happy and so unbelievably privileged to be able to say “I do” every single day of my life.
attended the University of Iowa and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the
Harvard Law Review.
After graduation she served as a law clerk for a federal judge, then practiced litigation for several years at a prestigious Manhattan law firm. She lives in New York with her husband and their son. This is her first novel.
for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins authors.
I have not laughed this hard or this much at a book since
Bridget Jones s Diary. I Take You
is wickedly smart, hilariously funny, sexy, clever, and stupidly accomplished for a first novel. In short, the most enjoyable read I have had in YEARS. I completely loved it.”
Times-bestselling author of
I Take You
is the funniest book I’ve read all year. I drank four bottles of chardonnay by myself because I couldn’t get to a book club fast enough. Eliza Kennedy makes infidelity sexy again!”
— GARY SHTEYNGART,
Times-bestselling author of
Super Sad True Love Story
is sexy and smart in equal measure—Eliza Kennedy s heroine Lily Wilder is great fun to be around, even if she’s not always sure who she’s taking to bed. Kennedy’s witty and brash voice will win you over by the end of the first page.”
— EMMA STRAUB,
Times-bestselling author of
“This fun, warmhearted novel is the rare great read about love and marriage that doesn’t tacitly promote a set of dated ideas about how women should feel, think, and behave. Instead, it romps along merrily while being subtly revolutionary about sexual politics — no small feat, as anyone who’s tried to romp merrily while revolting can attest.”
— EMILY GOULD, author of
“Lily Wilder is an audaciously animated protagonist who will keep you turning page after page.
I Take You
— KELLY OXFORD, author of the #1 national bestseller
Everything Is Perfect When Youre a Liar
Cover design: Lisa Bettencourt
Cover photo: Daniel Loiselle/Getty Images/Vetta
I Take You
Copyright © 2015 by Eliza Kennedy.
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.
EPUB Edition April 2015 ISBN 9781443434256
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
FIRST CANADIAN EDITION
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
2 Bloor Street East, 20th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication information is available upon request
RRD 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty. Ltd.
Level 13, 201 Elizabeth Street
Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
2 Bloor Street East - 20th Floor
Toronto, ON, M4W, 1A8, Canada
HarperCollins Publishers New Zealand
Unit D, 63 Apollo Drive
Auckland, New Zealand
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
77-85 Fulham Palace Road
London, W6 8JB, UK
HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
New York, NY 10007