Today I am kicking off the blog tour for The Faithful Couple by A.D. Miller and I have an extract to share with you. Don't forget to stop by all the other great blogs for some other great content posts.
HE WANTED to concentrate on the girl, but he found
himself glancing at the young man in the corner of the yard.
She was telling him about her course at USC, and the
details, when he caught them, were reasonably interesting,
but there was something about the man that was distracting.
Perhaps they had met before, Neil thought, though he
couldn’t place him.
‘ . . . and after that I’m hoping for an internship in the
Valley. Anyways, what do you do, Neil?’
The baseball cap. It was the baseball cap.
‘Soap,’ Neil said. ‘Soap and shampoo.’
Not just the cap: it was the cap and the shoes together.
The guy was wearing suede Timberland boots, notionally
designed for walking but not looking as if they had done
much. The cap was from San Diego Wild Animal Park and
featured several animal silhouettes roaming around the zoo’s
logo. The boots belonged to a fashionable adult, well-off and
image-conscious; the hat suggested a goofy adolescent.
‘I mean, I used to be in soap. I worked for a pharmaceutical
company before I came out here. In London. Or, you
‘You’re in research?’
The man appeared to nod at him.
‘Salesman. I mean, it was a graduate scheme,’ Neil lied,
realising that he should try to impress her. His heart had
gone out of it. ‘I’m going to look for something else when I
get back to London. Or I might, you know, start my own
‘Okay, so you’re an entrepreneur?’
The hat, the boots and the eavesdropping. The man was
sitting at a table in the shade. As well as the cap he was
wearing green swimming shorts and a beige T-shirt. Sand
matted the blondish hairs on his legs, darkening and thickening
them. He was pretending to read Time, but Neil
could tell that he was listening and observing from behind
‘Yup. Entrepreneur. Well, you know, that’s the idea. That’s
‘What kind of business?’
‘You know, I’m not sure yet. I haven’t really thought it
through, to be honest.’
Neil laughed self-deprecatingly, aiming for a raffish nonchalance,
but he could tell she wasn’t charmed. He couldn’t
see the guy’s eyes but he was definitely watching them.
Ordinarily, in Neil’s experience, when two young, unacquainted
males appraised each other like this, there was
something gladiatorial and menacing in the gaze, and they
quickly looked away. On this occasion neither of them did.
The man smiled. Neil smiled back.
‘That’s too bad.’
He had seen this girl on the beach the night before, had
wanted to try his luck, had tried and failed to engage her
around the illicit bonfire some surfers had lit after dark. She
wasn’t interested, he had concluded, probably she hadn’t
even noticed him. He was pleased to have manoeuvred her
into this almost-private conversation, after the barbecue that
the hostel had laid on for lunch. She was from Phoenix, but
studying in LA, a Masters in Business Development, Neil
thought she said; she had come down to San Diego for the
beaches, went to Italy last summer, wanted to see more of
Europe. She mentioned something about Scotch-Irish
ancestry. She was staying elsewhere but had a friend who
was working at the hostel (Cary, or possibly Cory, he hadn’t
taken in the name). She had an arresting sharp manner and
oddly unkempt eyebrows, which contrasted appealingly
with her otherwise disciplined appearance. Those ideal
Now Neil had screwed it up. He and the man in the baseball
cap between them.
‘Well,’ the girl said, sensing his distraction and rising,
‘good luck with it all.’
She re-tied her sarong, tilted her sunglasses from the
crown of her head to her eyes and walked to the gate that
led from the yard to the beach. She moved at a relaxed pace
that, Neil figured, was meant to dispel any suggestion of
retreat or defeat. The man in the cap watched her go, too.
There was no one else in the yard; the two of them followed
the girl’s departing curves in what felt to Neil like collusive
‘Know what I think?’
He was English, too.
‘Do I want to?’
‘It’s your socks. Definitely the socks.’
Neil instinctively processed the man’s accent for class and
geography, as the true-born English must. Received Pro -
nuncia tion, southern but not London. Posh (those giveaway
vowels): not so posh as to be alien, but unmistakably a few
rungs above Neil, at the upper, genteel end of the expansive
and nuanced middle. They hadn’t met before: that wasn’t
what the connection had been.
‘They’re my best pair.’
‘No socks.’ The man removed his sunglasses and put
down his magazine. He was handsome in a straightforward,
symmetrical way, and slim, with a medium-rare English tan.
He was roughly the same age as Neil. ‘Uncool. Not even
with your trainers. Trust me, really. They make you look like
Neil glanced down at his off-white, tennis-style socks, and
at the man’s boots, into which his slender legs slid naked,
then felt gulled and foolish for looking.
‘Thanks for the advice,’ he said. ‘Who should I make the
cheque out to?’
‘Don’t mention it,’ the man said. ‘This one’s on the
house.’ He laughed, loud and confidently, rocking his head
Neither of them found a way to graduate from oneupmanship
to conversation. The man picked up his
magazine, smiled and followed the girl out through the gate,