119,301
07.03.2019

I run a hand through my hair and turn to face my heartbreaker. She looks at me kindly, sympathetically, the way a nurse would behold a patient who’s recovering from a life-threatening sickness. “Hello, Matthew.”

I’m determined to show her that my recuperation is complete. “Rosaline.”

“You look wonderful.”

“Thank you,” I reply coolly. “And you . . . haven’t changed a bit.”

It’s weird talking to her again, even after all these years—especially after all these years. There’s no attraction, no hatred, no strong emotion at all. There’s some regret—a part of me wishes I could reach back in time and beat the shit out of my younger self for being so stupid. And blind. But that’s more about me. As for Rosaline? She’s just someone who I used to know . . . that I never really knew at all. Even though I’m intimately acquainted with every swell and crevice of her body, she’s still a stranger.

I clear my throat. “So . . . you have a son?”

Did I forget to mention that? Yeah—Rosaline didn’t only screw around on me, she got knocked up. I’m fairly certain that was her plan all along. Like with the royal family, the heir and the spare? I was the spare, just in case things didn’t work out with Julian. Luckily for me, his dart hit the bull’s-eye first.

She smiles. “Yes, Conrad.” Poor kid. “He’s at boarding school in Switzerland.”

I do the math in my head. “Boarding school? Isn’t he, like, six years old?”

“He’ll be six next month.” I must look dumbfounded, because she adds, “It’s crucial that he have the right start in life. His school will provide that for him.”

I nod. Pointing out the extreme f**ked-upness of this philosophy really isn’t worth my time. “Right. Of course it will.”

And I’m just about to extract myself from the conversation when Julian Wolfe comes striding on over. He’s decent looking for a guy, tall but thin, with white-blond hair and a pale complexion. Kind of reminds me of a high-ranking Nazi officer.

“Rosaline, there are some important individuals I need you to meet.” Then he notices me. “Hello, Fisher.” He doesn’t extend his hand, and I sure as hell don’t offer mine.

I just nod my head. “Julian.”

Rosaline and Julian are prime examples of why people need a hobby. If money is your only passion, you’re going to be a miserable human being. And eventually, your hobby will be spreading that misery and being a general douche to everyone you meet.

“Sorry to steal her away. Again.” He chuckles, because that’s his idea of a joke.

And although it’s more of a woman’s game, if he wants to play with words, I’m up for the challenge. “No, take her off my hands, please. You’re doing me a favor.”

Julian sobers. And Rosaline touches my arm. “It was good to see you, Matthew.”

“Take care,” I tell them both.

Once they walk away, Drew comes up next to me. “Bet you’re glad you dodged that bullet.”

“You have no idea.”

He nudges me with his elbow. “You okay?”

Take a good look—this is as close to “a moment” as guys like Drew and I will ever get. We could hang out all day and not utter a single word about anything important going on in our lives. Words aren’t necessary—’cause when the chips are down, we’ll be in each other’s corner.

I assure him, “Yeah, man, I’m top-notch. Like you said, dodged a bullet.”

We return to Alexandra’s side, and I can tell by his expression that he’s going to ask to be excused again. But then, Drew seems to decide on a different strategy. He smiles deviously. “Hey look—Squeaky’s here.”

“Who?” Alexandra inquires.

Drew gestures with his wineglass. “Curly haired brunette, in the blue dress near the bar.”

Lexi’s head bobs until she spots the lady in question. “That’s . . . Alyson Bradford.”

Drew shrugs. “She’ll always be Squeaky to me.”

“Why do you call her Squeaky?”

Mentally I shake my head. Because Alexandra should’ve known better.

“She squeaks when she comes.”

“What?”

Casually, Drew explains, “Like a dog’s chew toy.” He holds up his hand, opening and closing it. “Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeeeeeak. At least she did when we were seventeen, but I don’t think that’s a condition she’d outgrow.”

“How do you know that?” Alexandra asks, expectedly grossed out. “When did you have sex with Alyson Bradford?”

Drew looks to the ceiling, recalling the event. “Um . . . junior year. It was in the dark days following our loss to St. Bartholomew’s in the playoffs. I wouldn’t say she was my rock bottom, but she was close.”

Lexi turns away. “Eck . . . forget it, I don’t want to know.”

If it’s one thing The Bitch can’t stomach, it’s detailed stories of her brother’s sex-capades.

Which is precisely why Drew says, “She also does this nasty thing with her tongue . . .”

Alexandra clasps her eyes shut. “All right! You know what? Fine—if you want to go that badly, then go. If you want to leave me in my hour of need . . .”

She never should have given him an out.

Drew smiles brightly, puts his glass on the tray of a passing waiter, and kisses her cheek. “You’re the best sister ever. Bye.” Then he asks me, “Are you coming or what?”

I’ve never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth, or in this case, an escape route. “Super party, Lex. See ya.” Then I follow Drew to the door. And if you look to the far side of the ballroom, you’ll see Rosaline—following me with her eyes.

Chapter 6

After leaving the fund-raiser, Drew and I head out to a bar. He ends up going home with a leggy, black-haired lawyer looking for some sexual healing to ease the pain of a courtroom defeat. I nurse a beer and spot a few prospects, but none that motivate me to make an effort. On the walk home, I’m tempted to break the Three-Day Rule and call Delores.

What’s that? You don’t know what the Three-Day Rule is? Listen and learn. Three days is the perfect amount of time to wait before calling a woman after you’ve seen her. I don’t care what category she’s in. Whether you’ve banged her or not, you don’t dial her number until the third day. It’s not about head games or having the upper hand—it’s about keeping her interest. Getting her to think about you. Day one, she’s probably reminiscing about the last time she saw you. Day two she’s hoping you’re going to call and wondering if you had as good a time as she did. On day three—the magic day—she’s just about given up hope that her phone is going to ring. She’s questioning what went wrong, did she misread your signals, then—bam—your call swoops in and makes her day.

❮❯