Sigh. Romantic heroes. They’re so bad, they’re good. They’re angry, but nobody else will ever love you the way they do. They’re filthy rich, tragically broken, and only YOU can fix them. What it would be, to live with a romantic hero! Sheer heaven. Sigh.
But what really happens after ‘The End’? When dietary fibre and la vie quotidienne get in the way? What would it really be like to live with a tortured romantic hero? Especially if you’re – well, kind of an ordinary person?
(This is another in the Why You Should Never Live With… series. Unreliable Narrator here. Chick-Lit Heroine here. Cop From A Crime Novel here. Young Adult Protagonist here. Literary Fiction Hero here. But now it’s time to get smoochy, folks.)
It’s late. You’re in your pyjamas, watching an underwritten TV show about a helpless yet defiant 22-year-old woman who’s been hurt before. It’s been a long day at work, where you do something vague in administration or marketing, and you’re looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
The front door opens. There is a deep sigh from the hallway, and the unmistakeable yet improbable sound of someone raking their hands through their hair in mental anguish.
You wait for a moment, and tortured steps make their way through the hall and into the living room.
Romantic Hero is home.
He casts his eyes about the living room wildly until they settle on you, which is frankly a bit odd because it’s not really a very big living room and you’re pretty much the only noticeable thing in it due to the fact that you’re wearing your neon yellow silk moose pyjamas, but still, he spots you eventually, pinning you with his steely gaze.
Romantic Hero: You’re here. I didn’t know if you would be here.
You: Hi, babe. Course I’m here. Why wouldn’t I be?
Romantic Hero: When I came in the door I— I—I didn’t dare hope.
You: Hope what? Hey, are you hungry? I was going to make a grilled cheese sandwich. I probably shouldn’t be eating cheese at this hour, but I’m feeling naughty.
[Romantic Hero comes to the sofa and kneels down in front of you, clasping your hands, which is a bit awkward because you’re holding the TV remote, but hey]
Romantic Hero: I couldn’t concentrate at work today. My similarly rich and good-looking lawyer friend is beginning to suspect something’s wrong.
You: [smiling indulgently] Well, you are impossibly handsome, with your chiselled jaw and freakishly full lower lip and thick dark eyelashes and quick-growing stubble and short hair that is still somehow always described in terms that would suit a longer style. I’m sure he’ll forget about it and everything will be fine tomorrow. Now, about that cheese…
Romantic Hero: [stroking one hand down your cheek and cupping your chin, which, if you’re honest about it, doesn’t feel comfortable, being that close to your windpipe] In my mind’s eye all I could see was the image of you, yesterday, in front of that car – your fragile beauty almost taken from me –
You: Ah, babe, hold on now a second. It was a pedestrian crossing, and the car had already stopped at a red light. You’re going to have to let that go.
Romantic Hero: And I couldn’t breathe. When I think of losing you—I can’t breathe.
You: I don’t know why I bother picking up your inhaler prescriptions for you when you refuse to carry one. You know you have asthma, right?
Romantic Hero: [Standing up abruptly, his hands in the pockets of his expensive well-cut suit, which is unfortunately shiny on the knees from all the kneeling down he does] I can’t do this.
You: Do what? Eat?
Romantic Hero: [pacing the room and throwing his jacket off, unaware that his powerful shoulders have ripped right through the seams of his designer shirt] This. Us. I can’t function when I feel this exposed.
You: You do seem to have a problem with keeping your shirt on, to be fair.
Romantic Hero: I lost a big business deal today.
You: But didn’t you make six hundred million euros last week?
Romantic Hero: [his glittering black eyes boring bleakly into your soul] Yes, but—
You: And you said you closed seven big business deals just this week, each of them incredibly successful albeit vague except for the fact that they seem to have something to do with property in Italy, Greece, and some made-up place in the Middle East.
Romantic Hero: Money doesn’t matter to me. Nothing means anything to me anymore. I’m a broken man, because of you.
You: [frowning] What the hell? Why are you blaming me?
Romantic Hero: You’ve turned my life upside down.
You: I beg your pardon. Who was the person who finally got you sleeping after fourteen years of agonising insomnia? Me! Who did you say was the first person to ever make you feel like you had a stable, happy home? Me! Who murdered the evil father who made you believe you were incapable of love? Me, that’s who!
Romantic Hero: It’s not enough. It doesn’t help me with my hunger.
You: I don’t know how many different ways I can offer you a cheese sandwich, I really don’t. But that’s literally all we have in the kitchen.
Romantic Hero: [stepping closer—growling gutturally] You’re driving me crazy. My hunger is for YOU. Don’t you understand?
You: Look, if you want a frenzied tumble on the rug, you’re kind of going about it the wrong way, given that you sounded like you were breaking up with me a minute ago.
Romantic Hero: [pulling you up from the couch into his arms] I need you. I’ve never needed anything more in my life.
You: That’s nice.
Romantic Hero: [kissing and licking you in mad places all over your face] Say you’ll stay with me forever.
You: Okay, okay! Anything to stop the drama.
Romantic Hero: Will you come to bed with me, my love? Exorcise my demons with your body?
You: Fine. But THEN can I make my sandwich?
Well, that’s it. Camembert calls.