God, I loved nights like this.
"It doesn’t surprise me at all that you have hottie totties messaging you all the time. You know, I always speckled—" I paused, scrunching my nose as I tried to force my foggy brain to conjure the right word. "Damn it. I meant that I've always speculated . . . that your dick was enormous."
Ryan arched a quizzical brow at me as he chuckled under his breath. "Is that so?"
"Uh huh," I muttered. "You're freakishly tall and you have massive ass hands. You know what they say?"
"I know a lot of things, Loca, but never what is about to come out of your mouth."
Ignoring his sass, I trudged on: "Well, they say that the hot dog fits in the bun. If you know what I mean."
Rolling his eyes, he took the glass of rum and coke from my hands and downed the rest of it in one gulp. I gasped dramatically. It felt like someone had sapped all of my vigor right out of me.
"I think you're done for the night," he said
"You stole my drink!" I fussed poutily.
"You've officially turned into drunk, perverted Leah. So I'm doing everyone in this bar a favor." He put on a falsely charming grin. "Come on, my drunk little skunk. Time to get your ass home."
I continued to scowl as he slid off his bar stool. We hadn't been out on the town that long. Certainly now as long as I would have preferred. Yet as my dearest best friend stood there, holding out his hand for me to take, I remembered rather morosely that misery needs company. After the shit show of my break up, I didn't want a stranger from the bar to give me the company I needed.
"Fine," I grumbled.
Ryan helped me off the stool, seeing that my feet were never even close to reaching, and then I grabbed my purse from the hook under the bar top. I dug around in it until I fished out my wallet and the twenty dollar bill I'd been saving for this very moment. A few other customers glanced our way as I slammed it indelicately onto the bar.
"I already paid, Loca" Ryan told me.
Turning to him, I frowned. "Why? This was not your therapy session. Therapists don't pay for their patients, good sir."
He tried to stifle a smile but I saw it and giggled.
"I'm not your therapist," he reminded me, "although sometimes I do wish I got paid for this."
I playfully punched his arm. "Whatever. I'm leaving that for the bartender. She deserves it after putting up with me."
She must have heard me because she laughed from behind the bar. I flashed her my best drink smile.
"Have a good night, you two," she said.
Ryan diligently took my hand and led me out of the bar like I was his little kid. Surprisingly, I didn't even throw a tantrum about it.
"I wish Isabelle could've come," I mumbled as we stepped outside.
A chilly wind whipped over us, nipping at my exposed skin. I started rubbing my arms before Ryan handed me my coat from where he'd folded it over his arm. Smiling gratefully, I slipped my arms into the thick sleeves and shivered.
"Isabelle wanted to come," he assured me. "She just had that thing with that mongrel's parents."
I shook my head and tried not to laugh. Ryan still couldn't bring himself to like Isabelle's boyfriend, even though they'd been dating for ages. Like, a year. Or maybe longer? I wasn't so sure of anything in this state.
"He's not a mongrel," I lamely protested. "And his name is actually—" I belched, laughed, and then tripped over my stilettos.
Ryan grabbed my elbow and kept me from face-planting into the asphalt. "Loca," he gently scolded me. "You are going to kill yourself in those things." He then guided me across the parking lot to his silver BMW sedan.
"I love my psycho high heels, thank you very much. And anyway, like I was saying, his name is Simon."
"Oh, whatever. Shut up, you know-it-all."
Ryan indulged me with a laugh before stuffing me into the passenger seat. He tucked my ungodly heels into the car and buckled me in. Closing the door, I watched him round the hood to reach the driver side. My eyes flit over his dark jeans and the navy sweater that hugged his trim figure. He was a little scrawny for my personal taste, but he was also my best friend and also exclusively into men. That didn't mean I didn't think he was hot shit. And, seriously, I knew he had a monster dong. He'd never admit it but I just knew.
"I can practically feel your lust, Loca," Ryan said once he was seated behind the wheel.
"My what?" I asked. "Oh, you mean my lust for your sporty little BMW? I have a thing for back seats, you know."
"Sadly, yes. I know way more about your sexual experiences than I care to."
I stuck my tongue out at him. "Listen, I can't stop Isabelle from telling you the stories I explicitly tell her to keep to herself. She's a blabber mouth."
"Which we both know. Apparently only one of us is wise enough to keep secrets from her."
"That's no fun!" I insisted.
"If you say so, Loca. Why don't you sit back and take a breath for second? You've hardly let yourself relax all night."
Folding my arms over my chest, I sunk back into the seat and glared out the windshield. Headlights flew passed at a dizzying rate. I couldn't seem to make myself stop looking at the lights, even though I was starting to feel car sick. Oh god. I pressed a hand to my mouth and tried to pretend like I was barely keeping the vomit inside.
Ryan fiddled with the radio until his weird metal rock station came on. I enjoyed rock but his style was a little too much for me.
"Are you trying not to throw up?" he asked.
I looked away from the window and caught him glancing between me and the road. His brows were bent in irritation. Lowering my hand slowly, I shook my head.
He narrows his eyes. "Are you lying to me? I swear to god, Leah, if you throw up in my car—"
"I'm not!" I cried. As if it heard my doubts, stinging, hot bile filled my mouth. I pressed the window button and hung myself half way out of the car.
"Ah, fuck! Leah!"
Ryan went on yelling as I spewed my guts out. I stayed just like that, hanging out of the window from the waist up, until we reached my house.
"Jesus Christ, Loca," muttered Ryan.
I could hear his car door and then he was suddenly right in front of me. My stomach felt like a bag of marbles stranded in the trunk of a race car. I was ninety-percent sure I would vomit again.
Ryan pushed on my head. "Sit down so I can open the door.
I garbled up some inhuman noise in protest but I obeyed anyway. It seemed like I only blinked and suddenly Ryan was carrying me through my living room. Blinking, I tried to focus on the familiar objects of my house as we made our way do the bedroom.
When he carried my through the bedroom, passed my beloved four-poster bed, I whimpered. "Where are we going?"
"You need to shower," he told me. "I think you have throw up on you and it's making me nauseous." He deposited me on the cold tile floor, laying my back against the claw foot I never used. "Are you okay? Can I get you anything before I leave?"
I sighed. "No. Thank you, though."
He crouched down in front of me. "Anytime, Loca. I mean it. I'm sorry you're so sad . . . but I think you should look at this situation as a good thing. You're better off without him."
Him. My heart clenched. After hours of drinking away my sorrows and trying to make myself be interested in other men at the bars, Danny fucking Mercer was still haunting me. I could imagine his thick, chocolate brown hair all gelled back. My fingers curled into my palms as if trying to stroke out his soft strands.
A few tears slipped down my cheeks. "I don't know if I can believe that, Ryan."
"Oh, honey." He grabbed a washcloth and wiped my tears and mouth with it. "Believe me, please. You can do better than Danny. I know there is a man—probably many men, actually—who are ready to love you exactly as you are."
"I don't know," I whispered. I pulled my knees to my chest, not caring in the slightest that Ryan could probably see right up my dress.
"I do." He patted my head and then stood up. "Now, I have to take myself home and go to bed. Are you okay? Can you make it to the shower or should I run the bath?"
My thoughts were elsewhere but I managed to say, "I'll be fine to shower."
He squeezed my shoulder before heading for the door.
"Bye, bitch," I mumbled. "Thank you for taking me out tonight."
"Mhmm. Bye, Loca."
Then he was gone and I was all alone. The tears returned with more force now. I cried until my dress was soaked and I felt hollow through and through. It just mystified me that one day I was with this guy who I thought maybe I'd marry some day, but then the next day he's told me I'm not it for him. In truth, Danny had given me clues all along that he didn't want me. He would always make subtle comments about my figure or the things I liked to wear. He'd all but beg me to go running with him even though he knew I was slow as hell and hated it. He never liked the way I seasoned food.
God, what had I been thinking?
Then a more horrific thought struck me. If Danny had been with me for a year and still couldn't find enough to like about me to stay, how was I ever going to find another person? Who else would take a chance on the short, chunky banker who likes to drink too much?
A low meow in the doorway chased off my grim thoughts. Lowering my legs, I turned my body towards Foxy. She meowed again as she entered the bathroom and ran herself alongside me. I rubbed a hand through her silky fur, patting her little fuzzy head. She had to be one of the creepiest cats ever with pitch black eyes and matching fur, but she was still my cat. Most of the time we hated each other. Times like this, though, made me happy I remembered to feed her and keep her alive.
"A bad thing has happened to me, Fox," I told her. "Remember that hot jackass I used to bring over? Well, never again. He's gone. He dumped me."
She just leaned into my hand and purred. Oh, to be a cat.
After spending a few more minutes stroking her, I summoned the strength to stand up. My head spun right away. I grabbed onto the rim of the claw foot and started peeling my dress of, followed by my bra and undies. Avoiding the mirror, I hobbled over to the shower and turned it on. I grabbed a fresh towel, set it on the hook where I could reach it, and forced myself into the inferno water. Steam plumed around me, fogging up the whole shower. I breathed it in hoping it would detox whatever poison was still in my system. The steam had other ideas, though. As soon as it hit my brain, a wave of heat scorched up my body and I remembered reaching for the shower door just as I slipped on the wet tile and whacked my head on the wall.