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07.03.2019

Kate turns stern eyes on her friend. “Thank you, Dee. Please don’t.”

Cum Stain smiles, puts his arm around Kate’s waist, and rests his lips on the top of her head.

I need a drink. Or a punching bag. Now.

Words fly out of my mouth like well-aimed bullets: “That’s right. You were quite the little delinquent back in the day, weren’t you Kate? Dad, did you know she used to sing in a band? That’s how you supported yourself through business school, right? Guess it beats pole dancing.”

She chokes on her drink. Gentleman that I am, I hand her a napkin.

“And Billy here, that’s what he still does. You’re a musician, right?”

He looks at me like I’m a pile of dog crap that he just stepped in. “That’s right.”

“So, tell us Billy, are you like a Bret Michaels kind of rocker? Or more of a Vanilla Ice?” See how his jaw clenches? How his eyes narrow? Bring it, Monkey Boy. Please.

“Neither.”

“Why don’t you grab your accordion, or whatever you play, and pop up on stage? There’s a lot of money floating around this room. Maybe you could book a wedding. Or a bar mitzvah.”

Almost there.

“I don’t play those types of venues.”

This should do it.

“Wow. In this economy, I didn’t think the poor and jobless could be so picky.”

“Listen, you piece of—”

“Billy, honey, could you get me another drink from the bar? I’m almost done with this one.” Kate pulls on his arm, cutting off what I’m sure would have been a brilliant retort.

Are you feeling the sarcasm?

And then she turns toward me, and she doesn’t sound nearly as friendly. “Drew, I just remembered I have some documents to give you about the Genesis account. They’re in my office. Let’s go.”

I don’t move. I don’t answer her. My eyes are still locked in a staring contest with Shit For Brains.

“It’s a party, Kate,” my father says, clueless. “You should save the work for Monday.”

“It’ll just take a minute,” she tells him with a smile—before grabbing my arm and dragging me away.

Once we’re in her office, Kate slams the door behind us. I straighten my sleeves, then smile benevolently. “If you wanted to be alone with me that badly, all you had to do was ask.”

She doesn’t appreciate my humor. “What are you doing, Drew?”

“Doing?”

“Why are you insulting Billy? Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to come here tonight?”

Poor Billy. Stuck in a room with the big bad successful bankers.

“Then why did you frigging bring him?”

“He’s my fiancé.”

“He’s an a**hole.”

She looks up sharply. “Billy and I have been through a lot together. You don’t know him.”

“I know he’s not good enough for you. Not by a long shot.”

“Please stop trying to embarrass him.”

“I was just pointing out the facts. If the truth embarrasses your boyfriend, then that’s his problem, not mine.”

“Is this a jealously thing?”

For the record? I have never been jealous a day in my life. Just because when I see them together I can’t decide if I want to puke or punch his f**king lights out—she calls that jealousy?

“Don’t flatter yourself.”

“I know you have this thing for me, but—”

Wait one goddamn minute. Let’s back the f**k up, shall we?

“I have a thing for you? I’m sorry, was it my hand grabbing your crotch in my office a couple months back? Because I remember it the other way around.”

And now she’s pissed. “You’re such a bastard sometimes.”

“Well, then we’re a perfect fit, ’cause you’re a first-class bitch most of the time.”

Fire dances in her eyes as she raises her half-filled glass.

“Don’t you f**king dare. You throw that drink at me, I’m not responsible for what I do after.”

I’ll give you a minute to guess what she does…

Yep. She threw the drink at me.

“Goddamnit!” I grab the tissues from her desk and wipe my dripping face.

“I’m not one of your random sluts! Don’t you ever talk to me like that again.”

My face is dry, but my shirt and jacket are still soaked. I throw the tissues down. “Doesn’t matter. I’m leaving anyway. I have a date to get to.”

She scoffs, “A date? Wouldn’t a date involve actual conversation? Don’t you mean you have a quick f**k to get to?”

I close my hands around her waist and pull her in. In a low voice I tell her, “My f**ks are never quick—they’re long and thorough. And you should be careful, Kate. Now you’re the one who sounds jealous.”

Her palms are flat against my chest, and my face is just inches from hers.

“I can’t stand you.”

“Feeling’s mutual,” I tell her quickly.

And then we’re at it again—my mouth, her lips—joined hot and heavy. My hands are buried in her hair, cradling her head. Her hands grip the front of my shirt, holding me close.

I know what you’re thinking. And, yes, apparently arguing for Kate and me is akin to foreplay. It seems to get us both all charged up. I just hope we get to come before we kill each other.

Just when things are starting to get good, there’s a pounding on the door. Kate either doesn’t hear it or she, like me, doesn’t give a damn.

“Kate? Kate, you in there?”

The cocksucker’s voice cuts through the lust that has us stuck together like glue. Kate pulls away. She stares at me a minute, her eyes guilty, her fingers resting on the lips I just tasted.

You know what? Screw this. Do I look like a goddamn yoyo to you? I don’t play games with people—I don’t appreciate being played with. If Kate can’t decide what she wants, I’ll decide for her. Stick a fork in me; I’m f**king done.

I step up to the door and open it wide, giving Shithead plenty of room as he walks in.

Then I smile. “You can have her now. I’m finished.”

And I don’t even think about looking back as I walk out.

Chapter 11

THANKSGIVING IS HELD AT MY PARENTS’ COUNTRY HOUSE upstate every year. It’s always a small family affair. There’s my parents, of course. You’ve met my father. My mother is an older, shorter version of Alexandra. For all her strong feminist beliefs—she’d been a top-notch attorney before motherhood lured her away—she loves playing the happy homemaker. After she and my father hit the big-time financially, she also dedicated herself to various charitable organizations. It’s what she still does with most of her time now that Alexandra and I have flown the nest.

Then there’s Steven’s father, George Reinhart. Picture Steven thirty years from now with thinning hair and a serious case of crow’s feet. Mrs. Reinhart passed away when we were teenagers. To my knowledge, George hasn’t been out on a single date since. He spends a lot of time at work, quietly crunching numbers in his office. He’s a great guy.

And that brings us to the Fishers, Matthew’s parents. Can’t wait for you to see them. They’re a f**king riot. Frank and Estelle Fisher are the most mellow people I’ve ever met.

They’re almost catatonic.

Imagine Ward and June Cleaver after they’ve smoked a giant bong of marijuana. That’s Frank and Estelle. You’d think Matthew’s parents would be a little more high-strung, wouldn’t you? I have a theory. They had Matthew later in life, and I think he sucked out any energy they had left—like a parasite.

Topping off the mix is Matthew, Steven, Alexandra, and myself.

Oh—and of course the other woman in my life. I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned her before. She is the only female to ever truly hold my heart in her hand. I am her slave. She asks, and I do.

Gladly.

Her name is Mackenzie. She’s got long blond hair and the biggest blue eyes you’ll ever see. She’s almost four. See her there? On the other end of the seesaw I’m currently riding.

“So, Mackenzie, have you decided what you want to be when you grow up?”

“Yep. I wanna be a princess. And I wanna marry a prince and live in a castle.”

I need to talk to my sister. Disney is dangerous. Corrosive brainwashing bullshit, if you ask me.

“Or, you could go into real estate. Then you could buy the castle yourself and you won’t need the prince.”

She thinks I’m funny. She laughs.

“Uncle Drew. How’s I gonna have a baby wit no prince?”

Oh, boy.

“You’ve got plenty of time for babies. After you get your masters in business or your medical degree. Oh, or you can be a CEO and start a daycare at your office. Then you can bring your babies to work with you every day.”

“Momma don’t go to a office.”

“Momma sold herself short, sweetie.”

My sister was a brilliant trial attorney. She could have gone all the way to the Supreme Court. Seriously. She was that good.

Alexandra worked throughout her entire pregnancy and had a nanny all lined up. Then she held Mackenzie in her arms for the first time. She told the nanny the same day her services wouldn’t be needed. Not that I blame her. I couldn’t imagine a more important job than making sure my perfect niece grows up happy and healthy.

“Uncle Drew?”

“Yes?”

“Is you gonna die alone?”

I smirk. “I don’t plan on dying for a long time, honey.”

“Momma says you gonna die alone. She tol’ Daddy that you gonna die and it be days till a cleanin’ lady find your rottin’ corpse.”

Lovely. Thank you, Alexandra.

“Wha’s a corpse, Uncle Drew?”

Wow.

I’m saved from having to answer when I see Matthew walking down the back steps into the yard.

“Hey, sweetie, look who’s here!” She hops off the seesaw and flings herself into Matthew’s open arms.

Before you ask, the answer is no—when she is older, my little darling will never hook up with a guy like me. She’ll be too smart for that. I’ll make sure of it. Guess that makes me a hypocrite, huh? That’s okay. I can live with that.

Matthew puts Mackenzie down and walks over. “Hey, man.”

“What’s up?”

“You go out early last night?” he asks me. “You never came back to the party.”

I shrug. “My head wasn’t in it. I hit the gym and went to bed.”

The truth is I spent three hours pounding the hell out of the punching bag, imagining all the while that it was Billy Warren’s face.

“You hung out with that Delores chick?”

He nods. “Her, Kate, and Billy.”

I shake my head. “That guy licks ass.”

Mackenzie walks over to us and holds up a glass jar half-filled with dollar bills. I slide a dollar into it.

“He’s not so bad.”

“Idiots annoy me.”

❮❯