About BookThe Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer
Publication date: October 17th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
New Adult novel: recommended for 17+ due to mature themes and sexual content
SynopsisWhere does friendship stop and love begin?
At just 19, Kendall Bettencourt is Hollywood’s hottest young starlet with the world at her feet – but behind the glamour and designer dresses is a girl who longs for normal.
Payton Taylor is Kendall’s best friend since childhood, and the one person who reminds her of who she really is – her refuge from the craziness of celebrity life.
With her career taking off, Kendall moves Payton to LA to help keep her sane. But Payton is hiding a secret that could make everything ten times worse. Because to her, Kendall is more than a best friend – she is the only girl that she has ever loved.
Just as they need each other more than ever, they’ll have to answer the question of where friendship stops and love begins? And find out whether the feelings they have can survive the mounting pressure of fame…
The Gravity Between Us is a daring, romantic, emotional story about friendship, love, and finding the courage to be yourself in a crazy world.
The Met is much larger than I remember. It’s teeming with tourists, which turns out to work in our favor. We walk the halls of the museum in silent anonymity, drifting through a sea of strangers. Not once does anyone stop to ask Kendall for a picture or autograph. I can tell she is relieved. Truthfully, I am too.
We reach the photography section and stop to sit on the floor. And that’s when my senses are tossed into cataclysmic upheaval. Mounted on the wall in front of us is a print called “Lesbian Couple at the Monocle.” Instantaneously, I’m anxious. It’s like a sign from the universe telling me that I need to gather my guts, forget the past, and finally stop being afraid.
I’ve never said it out loud to anyone. I’m not sure I should start now. Will saying it give it some kind of molecular structure that permanently and visibly imprints itself on me? I doubt it. But saying it means that there is a very real chance I might lose friends and alienate people. Worst of all, I have no idea how Kendall is going to handle it. It’s not exactly a topic we’ve discussed much or, like, at all. Will she still see me the same way she did this morning, last week, last year? At least if I tell her here, in public, she won’t make a scene. She is notoriously too good an actor for that. Hell, that’s what she gets paid to do.
I’m about to drop the bomb when Kendall’s eyes wander up to the photo. “Lesbian Couple at The Monocle. What?” She stands up to get a closer look. “That’s weird. I thought it was a picture of a man and a woman. Look at it.” She bends down, offers her hand to help me to my feet. For an instant I think about refusing it for fear that my palms are sweaty. I decide I’m being ridiculous, but wipe my hands on my jeans just in case.
I clear my throat before speaking and immediately notice how annoyingly hollow and gruff that sounds. “I would think it was a man and a woman too, at first glance.”
“It’s interesting how old this picture is and how much society has changed since it was taken.”
“What?” I’m so close to full-blown panic, I’m willing to bet it’s written all over my face. “What do you mean?”
“Like, back in the day,” she starts lightly. “I mean, she is clearly a woman,” she points at the print, “but sheis dressed like a man. I suppose there had to be that, I don’t know that… dynamic back then. If it were a picture of two girls…” She’s getting flustered, blushing a bit, but she presses on. “Okay, say it were a picture of me and you. That caption, ‘Lesbian Couple at the Monocle,’ would have sent people’s heads spinning more than I’m sure it already did. Do you see what I’m saying? It’s like there had to be one feminine woman and one more masculine woman for it to have been understood that they were a couple.”
“Oh.” I want to say ‘what?’ again, but know I shouldn’t. “You’re talking about stereotypes?”
“Yes! That’s it! Like today, just because a woman has short hair or wears racer back tanks doesn’t mean she’s a lesbian.”
“And on the flipside, just because a woman has long hair or wears skirts doesn’t mean she’s straight,” I add.
“Right! Those notions don’t apply to the world anymore is what I was trying to say.”
“I get it. You can’t go by what a person looks like.”
Then it hits me. This is it. It’s now or never, put up or shut up. I’ve gotta go for it. “So, if I were to tell you that I’m gay, it wouldn’t be all that surprising—purely based on the fact that I have a feminine appearance.”
“No, not based on your appearance. Based on the fact that I know you, maybe…”
I’m staring at her now. Blatantly staring. Was that too indirect? Should I be more forward?
“Wait,” she says, her eyes narrowing in on me. “Are you trying to tell me that you…”
I motion yes with my head. “I’m gay, Kendall.”
And then there is silence—a very deep, impenetrable stillness. I want to curl into the fetal position and die right here in the middle of this world class museum.
“Um, how about we do that lunch thing I’m letting you pay for? I need a beverage,” Shesays finally.
It’s not at all what I was expecting to hear. “Sure.”
We walk down to the Rock ‘n Roll Deli, neither of us uttering a word to the other. When we arrive, I order her favorite, tuna salad on a whole wheat wrap, and my tried-and-true staple, grilled cheese and tomato on rye, while she finds a booth in the back.
I haul ass over to her with our food atop a bright red, plastic tray. She snatches her wrap from the tray, but doesn’t eat it right away. Instead, she is hell-bent on gawping at me for I don’t know how long. I can’t tell what she’s thinking, but it’s as if she is somewhere between eyeing up a piece of meat and staring down a rabid dog. “So, you’re like, gaygay?” she asks after taking a few bites of her wrap.
“Uh,” I pause to think over her question. “Is there some kind of non-gay gay?”
She laughs—the kind of good, hearty laugh that always gets me laughing, too.
“What I mean is that you’re gay, as in, exclusively. Not like bisexual?”
“Yes, exclusively. I’m an exclusive lesbian. Though, syntactically, that would indicate that I’m difficult to get into or something, like one of your hot LA nightclubs.”
“It’s impressive that you’re able to maintain your hilariousness even when talking about serious, life-altering things.”
“Well, it’s not like some crazy Body Snatcher thing happened, but yeah, it is pretty life-altering.”
“How long have you known?”
“For a long time, but I didn’t start to think of it as a fact until I was sixteen.”
At that, I see her expression change. She’s offended, or hurt, or something. Maybe a little bit of both. “Seriously, Payton? You’ve known for ‘a fact’ for nearly three years,and you’re only telling me now? Jesus, are you that scared of me?”
“No, not at all!” I shake my head fervently. Terrific, I have to tell her the story. This is one memory I was hoping to never relive. It might be old news, but it sucked enough to damage me irreparably. Every time I think about it, I start trembling like a dead leaf in the wind. “Do you remember Amanda Garrison? She was a year ahead of us in school.”
“Amanda Garrison.” She taps the table top as though trying to place a face to the name. “Yeah, I remember her. She was the captain of the soccer team the year before you were, right?”
“Uh huh. What about her?”
Here we go. “I kind of had a thing with her. It wasn’t, like, love at first sight or anything. I just knew that I liked her and that she liked me, too. We started talking a lot after practice, went out on a couple of dates. Eventually her parents found out about it; I’m still not sure how. They went through her text messages or something. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. The point is, her mom totally flipped out. She dragged Amanda to my house and demanded to talk to my mom. Mom wasn’t home—thank God—but when I told Mrs. Garrison that, she started screaming at me. She kept telling me that her daughter wasn’t gay, and I had better stay away from her. She forbid Amanda from seeing me; she even went as far as making her quit the team. From that day on, Amanda wouldn’t even look at me. It was so brutal.
After that, the thought of coming out to anyone was paralyzing. I pretty much dined on an unhealthy diet of self-loathing and terror. It took me a long time to get comfortable in my own skin—I’m still working on it. But at this point, I’m just too exhausted from keeping it a secret to even bother trying anymore.”
Her revolted expression speaks volumes. It’s enough for me to know what she’s going to do next. She reaches across the booth and takes my hand in her own. “Wow, Payton. That’s monumentally messed up. I’m sorry that happened to you. Some people are just so closed-minded.”
“Some people are, and that’s also part of the reason I’ve been hesitant to tell you. You’re a celebrity now. Your face is already plastered all over the tabloids, and you’re just doing normal teenage crap. What if it got out that some girl you’re always flying cross-country to visit is a big old homo? I’m sure that would start some delightful rumors. Rumors create rifts between people. So you see, I wasn’t scared of you. I was scared I might lose you.”
“The tabloids are going to write what they’re going to write regardless of what the truth is, Payton. I can’t let it bother me. Plus, hello? I live in Hollywood. It would be insane to think that I don’t have any gay friends! And lose me? That will never happen. I’m like a bad case of herpes—just ‘cuz you can’t see me doesn’t mean I’m not there.”
“Herpes! Eww,” I roll my eyes. “That is a horrible analogy.”
“Yeah, but it’s kind of funny and also very true.”
“So, we’re okay then? We’re cool?”
“Are we cool?” She drags out the “cool,” leans back in her seat, and crosses her arms. “Yeah, dude, everything’s cool. Everything’s smooth.” She’s making fun of me, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
“Sweet, dude. Finish your wrap.”
She brings the last bite to her lips and abruptly stops. “Hold the phone. If you’re into girls, what the hell was with you and Scott Strafford the end of junior year?”
“Let’s chalk it up to a last ditch effort at heterosexuality.”
She stuffs the bread into her mouth. “Yeah, you should’ve picked someone else. If I had to choose between that asshole and lesbianism, I’d go gay all the way. Seriously, I considered asking your mom to have you committed. Only a mental patient could’ve fallen for that jerk.”
“I’m going to write The Inquirer and let them know that one of Hollywood’s It Girls talks with her mouth full.”
“See food.” She sticks out her tuna-covered tongue. “It’s all the rage.”
“Charming,” I lark. “No wonder all the guys find you irresistible.”
“Harhar,” she says and grabs the tray from the table. “Let’s get out of here.”
Available on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
If I Could Have Dinner with Three Characters from Books…I love books. And by love, I mean I have an unhealthy obsession with them. One time, I started reading a book very late in the evening and became so enamored with the story—or more accurately, the characters—that I called in sick to work the next morning just so I could finish reading in one sitting. Falling so deeply in love with the characters in that book got me thinking: If I could have dinner with three fictional book characters, who would I choose and why? (Side note: I decided to limit myself to three characters, or else I’d be hosting a fictional rager party, rather than a nice sit-down meal.)
by Kristen Zimmer
My first dinner guest would be my favorite Dickens character of all time, Oliver Twist. I think my reasoning behind this choice will be fairly obvious to anyone who has read the book. Oliver is so lovably naive, and so in need of someone to listen to and care about him throughout nearly the entire novel (ending not withstanding), that I would relish the opportunity. Of course, having him as a dinner guest would undoubtedly result in me saying, “Please, let me adopt you, because the world you live in just plain sucks. I’ll love you and feed you and you can always, always have some more!” So, ultimately, lil’ Olly would end up being the forever-kind of guest, rather than just a visitor.For my second guest, I’d have to go with Ellie Linton of John Marsden’s Tomorrow series. Through seven books, poor Ellie and the rest of her teenage friends are busy fighting a guerilla-style war (and also trying to keep themselves from getting killed) when their homeland of Australia is invaded by foreign forces. I’d love to transport all eight of the characters in this book out of their war-torn world and into the safety of my kitchen, if not for an extended period of time, then at least for one evening sans constant bombing. Unfortunately, I can only choose one character. I figured I’d go with Ellie, since she is the narrator and hands-down leader of the small insurgency.
My third choice would be Amber Gray from Malinda Lo’s Adaptation series. This pick is vastly different from the rest; firstly, because she is the only secondary character on the guest list. Secondly, I’d invite her not because she’s in need of some TLC, but because she is one of the coolest female characters I’ve seen in a YA novel in a long time. Confident, intelligent and alluring, I think I’d be able to have an awesome, if flirty, conversation with her. Of course, that isn’t to say that Amber doesn’t have her own issues. She’s got a bit of a problem with dishonesty (at least in Adaptation…Inheritance is a different story entirely). But there is a very interesting explanation for her half-truths.So, those are the three book characters I’d invite to dinner. Who would you choose?
GiveawayPrize: (1) eCopy of The Gravity Between Us
a Rafflecopter giveaway