The Impossible Us

The Impossible Us

by Sarah Lotz

Paperback

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Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on March 22, 2022

Overview

"So funny, so original, so beautifully mad—I am seething with envy that I didn't write it myself. I adore rom coms like this, which push genre and achieve the impossible - leaving the reader not quite knowing how it's all going to end!"—Sophie Cousens, New York Times bestselling author of This Time Next Year

In this funny and poignant novel, two strangers learn that their soul mate might be both as close as breath and as distant as a star, from British Fantasy Award recipient Sarah Lotz.


Bee thinks she has everything: a successful business repurposing wedding dresses, and friends who love and support her. She’s given up on finding love, but that’s fine. There’s always Tinder. Nick thinks he has nothing: his writing career has stalled after early promise and his marriage is on the rocks, but that’s fine. There’s always gin. So when one of Nick’s emails, a viciously funny screed intended for a non-paying client, accidentally pings into Bee's inbox, they decide to keep the conversation going. After all, they never have to meet.  

But the more they get to know each other, the more Bee and Nick realize they want to. They both notice strange pop culture or political references that crop up in their correspondence, but nothing odd enough to stop Bee and Nick for falling hard for each other. But when their efforts to meet in real life fail spectacularly, Bee and Nick discover that they’re actually living in near-identical but parallel worlds. With a universe between them, Bee and Nick will discover how far they’ll go to beat impossible odds.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593436776
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/22/2022
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sarah Lotz is a novelist and screenwriter based on the Welsh borders. Her novels include the bestselling The Three and Day Four, both of which are currently being adapted for television.

Read an Excerpt

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Listen you tight-fisted pea-brained grouse-shooting tweedy twat, you may own half the fucking countryside but you don't own me. You think I like hounding you? You think this is fun for me? But if you think I'm just going to lie back and let you screw me over like you no doubt screw over everyone who comes into your entitled orbit of damp lolling spaniels, vintage Land Rovers and Eton-induced PTSD then you've got another think coming.

 

DO THE RIGHT THING FOR ONCE IN YOUR BADGER-BAITING FOX-SLAUGHTERING LIFE.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Hi.

 

You might want to double-check the recipient address. Far as I know, I've never owned a Land Rover & have definitely never been to Eton (don't have the right equipment). Or is this a fiendishly creative scam & you're using my response to embed malware? If so, you got me. Enjoy!

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Gawd. I'm so bloody sorry. Using a new account and mis-copied the address. Angry fingers. Thanks for replying and letting me know. Sorry you had to read that, whoever you are.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

TBH almost didn't reply, but that was some impressive Malcolm Tucker-grade cursing you did there, & I was intrigued. Did the intended recipient kill your cat or something?

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Worse. Didn't pay me for work owed. That's the toned-down version believe it or not. Took out all the "C" words at the last minute. There were a lot of those.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

What kind of work? You don't have to answer obvs, I'm killing time. Don't usually strike up conversations with complete strangers

I swear!

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

You deserve an answer-I did unintentionally call you a twat. I'm a freelance editor and my tweedy arse of a client commissioned me to edit his novel. Ended up rewriting the thing, pretty much from scratch. Sent it to him 2 months ago. No feedback. No payment. Nada.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Very sorry to hear that. What was the novel about? The Girl in the Grouse Shoot?

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

HA! Close! You really want to know?

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Sure. You'll be saving me from the perils of online shopping. I've already bought a duvet cover with David Bowie's face on it that

I don't need.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

You can never have too much Bowie. I'd sleep under him and I'm as straight as they come. Crime novel. Not a bad plot. The remains of a body are unearthed on a country estate. Turns out to be a violent hunt saboteur who went missing in the 80s. Narrated by a landowner who may or may not have killed him . . .

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Well don't keep me in suspense. DID he kill him?

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Yeah. Accidentally on purpose. Like you do when you have guns to hand and the underclass try to mess with your blood sports. Supposed to be morally ambiguous but not sure I pulled that off. Hard to get a reader to root for a main character whose idea of a good time is killing baby animals.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Is it autobiographical? If so, you might want to tone down that message . . .

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Wouldn't put it past him. Nah. That's not fair. Said he didn't do that kind of thing anymore.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

What kind of thing? Hunting or murder?

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Both (I hope). Thing is, despite the tweedy twatness, I quite liked him when we met. Old bugger, generous with the booze, lives in one of those crumbling stately homes straight out of a period drama about emotionally stunted aristocrats. Said he wanted to write a novel before he died but "didn't have the time." They always say that. Worked my arse off on his manuscript, sent it to him and apart from a "thanks, will read asap" haven't heard a word.

 

But you don't want to hear all this.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

I share your pain. Nonpaying Clients From Hell are the freelancers' curse.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Spoken like a fellow sufferer. What field are you in?

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

If I told you, I'd have to kill you.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

You'd be doing me a favor the way things are going. If you're an assassin I might commission you. Only . . . can I pay you in installments?

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Ha ha. Nothing that exciting. I'm in fashion. Kind of.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Kind of? Tell me more. Just so you know, my idea of fashion is trousers that aren't covered in dog hair.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

I'm more of a glorified seamstress. Have a small business repurposing wedding dresses.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

What do you repurpose them into? Shrouds? Doilies?

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Sorry. That was rude. I'm a dick. It sounds cool. And e-friendly.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Feel free to take the piss! I do it all the time. Hmm. Shrouds. Hadn't thought of that. Could start a new line: "Till death us do part."

 

I repurpose them into whatever the client wants. "Give the most expensive dress you ever bought a new lease of life" kind of thing. Get a lot of divorcees actually.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Aha. A "fuck you ex-husband/wife" dress?

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Exactly. Waiting for a client to pitch for a fitting right now. She's a bit of a pain in the arse TBH, which is why I was self-medicating with Bowie merchandise.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Tell me more. Misery loves company.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

She can't make up her mind. Been back 3 times. "I've been thinking, can it be asymmetrical? With a peplum? With a jacket maybe? Can we do it in black? No, scratch that, peach?"

 

Listen to me, whingeing to a stranger. I sound like a total cow. She's got every right to be fussy. She's the one paying.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

It's easier to whinge to a stranger and you've already listened to me going on about my own shitty client. Hold on. BRB.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Sorry had to let the dog out. When she needs to go she needs

to go.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

What type?

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

A shit I think.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

V funny. What type of dog!!!

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Mongrel. Like her owner. Let me know if you need me to write Ms. Peach a strongly worded e-mail. I'll even throw in a few "C" words for free.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

And I can help you out by badly altering your client's tweedy suits.

 

We could be a low-rent version of Strangers on a Train!

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Strangers on a Train?

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

The novel? You MUST know it! Movie as well. 2 strangers meet & then decide to kill each other's enemies or whatever. Patricia Highsmith.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

AH-I know it as Crossed Lines. Must have read the US version. Sometimes they change the titles.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

You're in the US?

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Nah. Way more glamorous. Leeds.

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

OK the client's just texted & is on her way. Let me know how it goes with Tweedy Twat, stranger. I have to know how it ends. Also, not for me to say but might be best if you did tone down that message. Never show them that they've got to you.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

You're right. You did me a favor by intercepting it. And let me know how it goes with Ms. Peach.

 

Shouldn't we introduce ourselves?

 

From: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

To: NB26@zone.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

I'm Bee. You're N.B.

 

Strangers on the Interwebs. That way if we ever need each other, we'll have plausible deniability

 

She's here! Wish me luck.

 

From: NB26@zone.com

 

To: Bee1984@gmail.com

 

Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

 

Ok Bee. And thank you. You pulled me out of a dark place today. You really did.

 

BEE

 

It's astounding how many red flags there were, right from the start. Strangers on a Train was just the first of many. Would things have been different if we'd been less complacent and picked up on them? Maybe. Maybe that would simply have fast-tracked us into the craziness to come. Maybe one of us would have assumed the other was delusional and walked away. Then there's this: I still don't know what made me check that old Gmail account that day. I hadn't used it for weeks. And who answers random e-mails from strangers? (Idiots, that's who.)

 

N.B. was the one who got back in touch first (), but I was the one who instigated the next step, nudging us from being little more than strangers swapping silly banter into something deeper. It wasn't intentional. At that stage, I wasn't daydreaming about moving to Leeds, reading the Sunday papers in bed, and going for long walks on the moors (or wherever people walk in Leeds). But right from the start, there was no doubt that N.B. and I had a good thing going: an instant ease between us, a lack of judgment that was both fun and freeing, and an unspoken pact to avoid thorny topics or anything too personal-no relationship or sex stuff.

 

Which I suppose makes it ironic that the seeds of the next step were planted while I was on a date with another virtual stranger. I did a fair bit of that back then, rarely going any further than a one-night hookup. My best mate, Leila, said I was addicted to the roulette wheel of the dating app, the thrill of discovering if it would land on Oh Hell No, Maybe, or Shag. "Classic commitment-phobic behavior," she'd say whenever she found out that I'd swiped right again. "Using mindless sex with strangers to fill a hole." (Leila never missed an opportunity for a double entendre. She was also right.)

 

The date ("Matt 36") had suggested we meet in one of those new hedge-funded bistros in White City, a choice of venue that should have set alarm bells ringing the second the text came through. Faux animal heads on the walls, vintage oils customized with spray paint, leather-clad booths designed with Instagram rather than comfort in mind, and staff dripping with ironic tattoos and smugness. We hadn't texted much beforehand-I'd been swamped with work, he said he hated online correspondence-so apart from the fact that he had crap taste in restaurants, I knew little about him. His profile pics had all the hallmarks of being professionally shot, and his three-line bio was as noncommittal as they get: Strong. Silent. Secure in myself. Not that I was anyone to judge. My profile-Funked up. Have soul. Bring snacks.-was both shite and trite, and I only used it because it made Leila crack up.

 

I'd arrived early, hair still damp from the shower, and picked out a booth that gave me a clear view of the entrance. Despite the nervousness I always felt whenever I dipped a toe in Tinder's fetid waters, I was in an upbeat mood that evening. I'd delivered Ms. Peach's dress the day before (yes, in peach, and yes, asymmetrical, a nightmare to seam), and she'd shared pics of her wearing it on a girls' night out (#transformation). She looked happy-triumphant, almost. For her the dress was a symbol that she'd left behind a marriage that had run its course, and it made all the hoops I'd jumped through worth it (and yes, I did feel guilty for whingeing about her). I considered forwarding the link to N.B., but as she'd name-checked me, it would be the work of seconds for him to find out exactly who I was, and I was reluctant to mess with our Strangers on the Internet shtick.

 

Matt 36 was only five minutes late, arriving as I was midway through my second "chocalottini." On first impression, he was a definite Maybe: a faint trace of a Geordie accent; resembled his profile pics to a surprising degree; ordered a JD on the rocks, so wasn't a health freak. It went downhill from there. After a polite laugh when I joked about the grimacing elephant head stuck above the bar, he launched into a monologue about the drop in London's property prices, and kept ricocheting back to the subject. Rationalizing that the babble was a sign that he was as nervous as I was didn't help-that meant two-thirds of his bio was bullshit.

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