119,064
07.03.2019

I’ve thought about Dee at random times throughout the day—always with a smile. Her straightforward, wise-ass humor, the way she danced . . . her nipple piercing. But, my phone stays securely in my pocket—because the three-day statute should never be broken.

Saturday night rolls around and it’s business as usual. I meet up with Jack and Drew at the opening of the newest hot spot. It’s a large club, a renovated warehouse in the heart of the meatpacking district. It’s crowded—wall-to-wall bodies with barely any elbow room and a line around the corner. We’re sharing a booth with five gorgeous Dutch cruise ship passengers. Amsterdam is wild—it’s the modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. Women from Amsterdam who’ve been at sea for three weeks could be hard to keep up with—even for us.

I squeeze my way through the throng of people to the bar. I lean forward and try to catch the bartender’s eye. A minute later, I’m shoved deliberately from behind. I glance over my shoulder and see a short, Snooki-sized redhead with heavy lids, swaying in her high-heeled brown boots. She points her finger at me and slurs loudly, “I know you. You’re the guy I slept with two weeks ago, the one with the motorcycle.”

I thought she looked familiar. And her name is trendy, androgynous—Ricki or Remy . . .

Her equally petite but clearly more sober friend puts an arm around her. “Come on, Riley, forget him.”

Riley. So close.

Riley pouts sloppily. “You never called. Prick.”

I’m just gonna put this out there: I’m all for equal opportunity hookups. A woman shouldn’t be thought any less of because she wants to get her freak on as frequently as a guy—no name-calling, no slut-shaming. On the other hand, girls need to stop playing the victim card. If I tell you I’m interested in one night only—why am I suddenly an ass**le when that’s all it turns out to be? Listen to what a guy says. Don’t assume that there’s some hidden meaning behind his actions. Real life is not chick-lit or a romantic comedy; you shouldn’t expect it to be.

Still, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when a girl feels used. “Don’t be like that, babe. We had a good time—neither one of us wanted more. I never said I was going to call.”

My words fall on deaf ears. Riley’s eyes look to my right and she warns, “Watch out for this one, sister—he’s a player.”

“Thanks for the warning.”

And even with the loud, synthesized music at maximum volume, I know that voice. I close my eyes, turn my head, and open them to find Delores Warren standing next to me.

You’re not surprised, are you?

Riley fades from my sight and my thoughts as I check out Dee in her club wear. Her blond hair is painted with streaks of purple and blue, a tight, electric blue crop top barely covers her tits, her skirt is nothing more than strips of blue and purple fabric, and fuzzy, calf-high boots adorn her feet. Every inch of her fabulously exposed, body-glitter-covered skin sparkles like diamonds.

She smiles playfully. “Hello, God. It’s me, Dee.”

I don’t try to hide that I’m happy to see her. “Hey. What’s up? I left you a message this afternoon.”

Today was day three. But Dee seems to be one of those rare women who is immune to the Rule. She turns to face the bar but replies loudly enough for me to hear. “I know.”

“Why didn’t you call me back?”

She bops her head in time to the music and shrugs. “I figured you were just being nice.”

“I don’t do anything just to be nice.” I hook my thumb in the direction Riley was standing. “Obviously.”

I don’t kiss ass—unless a girl asks me to—and the only smoke I blow is from my cigarettes.

A few feet away, a dark-skinned, hair-gelled dude in a white T-shirt and skinny jeans yells in Delores’s direction. “Yo, Dee—hurry up with the drinks!”

There are two kinds of male Brooklynites—liberal, wealthy transplants who want to immerse themselves in urban living while restoring their historic brownstones to their former splendor, and homegrown, heavily accented, wise-guy wannabes who’ve watched Goodfellas one too many times. This dumbass is definitely the latter. I motion with my chin. “Who’s he?”

“That’s Mickey.”

“Did you come here with him?”

“No. I came with a few girls from work. They’re . . . around here somewhere.”

Then I ask the more crucial question. “Are you going to leave with him?”

“Probably.” The single word hits me like a jab to the chin.

Dee leans over the bar to place her drink order. When she’s back on her feet, I move in closer, so I don’t have to yell. “You can do better.”

She looks into my eyes. Wearing the same expression she had on her face when I left her apartment Wednesday night—yearning mixed with sadness. Resignation.

“Maybe I don’t want better.”

“You should. Shoot for the moon and you still end up amongst the stars.” It’s an expression my mother used to say.

Dee lifts one shoulder. “Outer space isn’t for everyone. I’m more of a ground-level kind of girl.”

A woman’s view of herself is like a reflection in a fun house mirror—bent, sometimes warped. The way others see them is always more accurate.

“You’re so wrong.”

“Mickey’s uncomplicated. Easy.”

I smile. “If you’re looking for easy, I’m your guy—they don’t come easier than me.”

She chuckles. And I step to Dee’s side, blocking her view of the worthless wonder. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Smoothly I ask, “When can I see you again?”

The side of Dee’s mouth inches up. “You’re seeing me right now.”

“I want to see you in a predetermined location . . . preferably in less clothing.”

Dee glances down at her outfit. “Less clothing than this? That’d be risking indecent exposure.”

I smirk. “Always a sign of a great time.”

Her drinks arrive. She picks up the tray and tells me, “I think seeing you again would be a bad idea—for both of us.”

“Wrong again.”

She smiles softly. “Bye, Matthew.” And starts to walk away.

I call, “Hey, Dee.” She turns. “Next time, tell him to get his own f**king drinks, okay?”

She holds my gaze for a moment, then nods and disappears into the crowd.

❮❯