"Thompson Square" is an award-winning country music duo that sang the song from which this novel derives its title. The fictional story of Daniel and Casey, however, stands on its own. Through high school and college, this songwriting couple wrestled with their relationship problems, yet were unable to totally deny their underlying compatibility. Years later, when both their lives seem to be caving in, they find first solace and then true love in one another. A soulful fiction worth perusing.
Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?: A Novelby Thompson Square
Daniel and Casey were an unlikely couple back in high school when they came together to write music for a school event. Struggling against their differences, they dated during college, but their relationship never seemed quite right. Yet despite their personal conflict, as songwriters they had undeniable chemistry—and several hit songs. Eventually they went their own ways, both trying to make it in the music world and find true love.
Years later, both Daniel and Casey are at rock bottom, still trying to find success. But when they connect again as old friends, they realize that what they needed was right in front of them all along: each other.
From Thompson Square, a married twosome who knows a little something about what it’s like to overcome years of struggle in the music business and find love, Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not? is a charming and humorous love story about coming of age, knowing where you belong, and finding the perfect person to share life with.
- Howard Books
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- SIMON & SCHUSTER
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 3 MB
Read an Excerpt
Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?
I ENTER THE ROOM to find this uncreative sack in a suit sitting there, and then I find myself thinking of Casey. This isn’t unusual, since I do it all the time, but this is one of those moments I really wish she were here. I wish she were right next to me so we could be laughing about this in about an hour. I sorta know what’s about to happen. I know that in just a few moments, I’m about to be let go as the head songwriter for The Dandee Donuts show.
Yeah, I know. There’s a reason I haven’t really told many people about my stint on Dandee Donuts. Most surely think Daniel has gone into hiding, playing his guitar and trying to finally make an album that would make the Boss smile. But no. Daniel is in isolation in Seattle, where the weather seems to match his mood.
This show makes The Wiggles look genius. No offense to The Wiggles. They really are a great show for kids, but I am not married and don’t have any kids, and after working on Dandee Donuts, I don’t want kids. I don’t want them suckered by smiling corporate zombies like this one.
Daniel, have a seat, the rather soft handshake offers.
This guy’s name is Stan Terma-something. I always think Terminal. Like terminal cancer. I know it’s not Terminal, but I can’t help thinking it. He’s my boss’s boss and only gets involved in meetings like this because my boss, Cynthia, is too weak to let anybody go or make any sort of decision.
“It’s always a rather unfortunate part of my job to have meetings like this,” Stan says to me. “We’re all about ‘rising up’ around here.”
I seriously want to throw up. He’s using part of the marketing and sales copy for kids in this meeting. “Rise up with Dandee Donuts every morning at nine on the Sprout Channel!” Sometimes I hear that commercial in my sleep as I’m paddling down a jelly-filled river on my Long John.
Really, he’s being merciful. This is like the guy coming up to the dying soldier and putting a bullet in his head.
“I spoke with Cynthia and I know she’s informed you about our change of direction.”
“I understand,” I say.
It’s strange, really.
I’ve got a stack of bills on my counter in the kitchen. And when I say stack, I mean a literal stack that can fall and decorate half the floor below. I’m behind in payments for a variety of reasons. I’m still getting paid, but this job hasn’t paid the way I thought it would. My father’s medical bills are really adding up, thanks to his awful insurance. And, well . . . the good old royalty checks haven’t come in lately.
For a second I think of Dad, and what he might have said years ago when his mind was all there and he tried convincing me this music thing wasn’t ever going to work.
Now it’s time to settle down and get a job and act like a grown-up.
In many ways, I wish he could say those very things now. It would mean the man I grew up loving to hate was still around. The figure sitting in that reclining chair in our old house—that’s not my father.
“You really have written some great songs.”
I bet nobody ever said that to Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen in that particular type of tone. Like someone sipping a soda and saying, “This is really amazing soda” in a monotone and lifeless way.
This is strange because I find it refreshing. I want to start singing myself, even though it’s been years since I finally accepted the fact that I’m not a very good singer.
“My kids still know all the lines to ‘Bizarre Love Sprinkle’.”
Trying to acquire the rights to do that song had been a nightmare, but coming up with lyrics for doughnuts arguing over what kind of sprinkles they wanted on top of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” took perhaps fifteen minutes and a bottle of wine.
“I can only take half credit for that one,” I say.
“It’s just that—I know that Cynthia and you haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye lately.”
I smile. “Yeah.”
“She told me about the argument in front of everybody.”
I nod. “Yeah.”
The meeting where I called her an absolute idiot and then proceeded to call her a few more things. This, of course, was after she rejected one of my songs by letting others make up her mind and convince her it didn’t work.
It’s a bit dark, someone said.
It’s kinda sad, someone else said.
Doughnuts aren’t sad, Cynthia said.
No, doughnuts are happy, someone else agreed.
I swear, if I have one more conversation about doughnuts, I’m going to go insane. I don’t ever want to see another doughnut in my life.
“Do you have anything to say?” Stan the Terminal Man asked.
“Do you like what you do?”
The question came out of my mouth before I could stop it.
“No, I’m not asking whether you like being employed, or the fact that you have insurance and you get a check every other week. I’m not talking about how much you get paid and what you do and don’t do and how many days you take off a year. I’m asking, do you like what you do? Did you dream of this when you were a kid?”
Stan’s attitude suddenly seems a bit more serious and stern. Maybe I’ve finally wakened this vampire from his eternal slumber.
“I’m not trying to be a pain in the butt,” I say. “Really. I just want an honest answer.”
“I’ve worked very hard to make this company what it is today, and I’m proud of the work we do. So yes, I love my job and love what it stands for and what we create.”
I think of that news report the other day that said something like half of the population is obese.
That’s what you create from this show. Happy little kids who keep munching, and then one day, they’re fifty years old but the munching hasn’t stopped and they no longer feel so Dandee.
I look him in the eyes, and it appears he’s not lying.
Along with sipping the Kool-Aid, he’s managed to eat the Dandee Donuts as well.
“I think it’s time to just call it a day,” Stan says to me. “Don’t you think?”
He’s talking down to me even though he’s really not that much older than I am.
I nod and stand up and shake that doughy hand again.
I bet he’s got cream filling in his soul.
See, this is the sort of thing that has happened to me. Every thought has a doughnut analogy.
I leave his office and close the door behind me.
I’m thirty-five years old, and the dream is officially over.
★ ★ ★
BRUCE REMINDS ME of what I really wanted to do later that night as I work my way through a six-pack of cheap beer and listen to Born to Run. This album always reminds me of my youth, when I discovered Springsteen and figured out what I wanted to do. I wanted to do that. I wanted to make soulful songs that stirred the heart and told stories. I wanted to be real. I wanted people to hear the sweat coming off those melodies.
Dad wanted me to be like my older brothers and excel in sports. But I couldn’t throw a football like Philip or hit a baseball like Jeff.
I wanted to follow my dreams, and that’s exactly what I did. Yet those dreams brought me here, to stale-doughnut land.
Yeah, I can hear you, you ghost and you demon and you angel all tied into one.
Casey knows about these dreams. We talked a lot about them. We even made a promise about them once.
I need to tell her. I need to finally tell her I can’t hold up my end of our deal.
Not that she wants to hear from me. Like, ever again. She’s moved on with her life and that’s what I should be doing with mine.
But if this is moving on, then, man, I cannot wait to see what my fortieth birthday holds for me, right, Case?
I’m talking to an imaginary Casey in my mind while I’m drinking bad beer and being reminded of real rock and roll.
I never thought I’d be such an awful failure at thirty-five. I want to say it is what it is, but I hate that saying. It was what it was, but right now, this moment, this very second that I’m thinking of Casey, really hurts.
Call Gary tomorrow and see if he has any kind of answer.
This thought is depressing, since Gary Mains is my manager in Nashville. My quasi-manager, to be honest, since I haven’t sold a song in years. I’ve been waiting for a follow-up call or e-mail from him since I sent him a CD of demo songs a few months ago.
When someone doesn’t call or e-mail after a few months, you know what the answer is.
There comes a point when everybody has to grow up and realize the dream isn’t going to happen. When the silence and the dim light of the room aren’t just a snapshot of your evening, but of your life. When the music doesn’t matter anymore and the words are no longer there. When you realize the world isn’t listening and maybe never listened to begin with.
If it’s really over, I need to tell her. I need to let her know that I broke the promise, that I broke our promise.
It’s been two years since I saw her. That doesn’t matter. I don’t know exactly where she is or what she’s doing, but that doesn’t matter either.
I need to tell her the dream is over. I need to give back a portion of my promise.
Maybe she can find something to do with it.
I’ve held it for long enough and it’s only brought me to this sad, sappy point.
I get out a notebook and start writing a letter. I don’t know any other way to get in touch with her. I’d text her if I had her number, but she changed that a long time ago. She’s not a social-network sort of gal, at least judging from the last few hundred times I searched for her on the Internet like a weirdo stalker boy. This is all I can do, this pen-to-paper sort of old-fashioned thing. I know her mother still lives in their house in Asheville, North Carolina. And last I checked, the post office still delivered letters.
After an hour and another Springsteen album and a few more beers, I’ve got a doozy of a letter. I’ve thought about telling her everything, but instead I simply say the following:
Are you gonna kiss me or not?
I fold it up and find an envelope and seal it. I’ll find the address of her mother tomorrow and will send it out.
This letter says everything I need to say. It says more than I ever could.
This is our history and our story, summed up by seven simple words.
Meet the Author
Thompson Square is an American country music duo composed of husband and wife Keifer and Shawna Thompson.
Critically acclaimed author Travis Thrasher has written more than thirty books. He lives with his wife and three daughters in a suburb of Chicago.
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