Cue part two.
“What the fuck is fucking wrong with that fucker?” Zoe screamed as I used her dress as a tissue and sobbed uncontrollably.
My last name was going to be Dupont. We were going to be Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Dupont. Our kids were going to have curly hair and long eyelashes. He was going to give me the ring I picked out online.
I was going to be happy. That was all I wanted.
He wasn’t going to cure my depression or social anxiety, but I was going to be happy, at least most of the time. That’s how the future works. You meet a guy your senior year of college, you fall in love, and then you get jobs, pop out a couple kids, and become happy.
That was the plan.
I wanted that plan.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Zoe shrieked. Again. The repetition was a bit much, but I get it. That’s what best friends do. They drive the fucking point home when your boyfriend cheats on you.
“Jake?” I whimpered, raising my head to search for the person she was shouting at.
Her target wasn’t Jake.
It was his hockey opponent, and she was bawling nearly as noisily as I was.
“I’m so sorry,” she wailed, throwing her arms around my shoulders. “He said he was single, and...” She hiccupped.
I gently patted her back until her sobs turned to sniffles. “It’s not your fault,” I consoled her.
She wiped the mascara that gathered beneath her raccoon-eque, beautiful brown eyes, smearing makeup across her face. “I’m Courtney.” She stuck out a snotty hand. “Let me make it up—” Hiccup “—to you.”
Entirely unsure what to say, I just stood there until Zoe made an executive decision and said, “Yeah. You owe us.”
Us. As if we were sister-wives or something.
Courtney’s friend Layla cleaned our faces with makeup wipes from her purse before we went into Smash, another shitty club downtown. It would have been more fitting if all the glasses broke there, but whatever. That was the least of last night’s problems.
“Lemme buy you a drink,” Courtney insisted, pulling on my arm.
“Fuck it” were the last coherent words I said.
Several rounds of vodka crans later, the four of us were absolutely obliterated. Courtney and I danced together, screaming at every man who came within our vicinity. Zoe and Layla each took one of our rejects. I lifted my plastic cup—Smash is clearly smarter than Del Mar in the drinkware department—above my head and swung my hips, forcing thoughts of Jake and our future dog Bentley out of my mind.
“Hey, ladies.” A male voice interrupted the questionable dance Courtney and I were wrapped up in.
“No, thank you. No men,” I informed him.
The guy wasn’t deterred. “Hey, Court!”
Courtney lifted her head from my shoulder. “Logan?”
“Hell yeah,” he said with a laugh, taking a huge sip of beer before wrapping Courtney into a bro hug.
“This,” Courtney announced, “is Rae. She hates men.”
I crossed my arms and nodded to show him who was boss.
“All of us?” Logan raised his eyebrows.
“Every last one.” I downed the rest of my drink and sighed. “The only man for me is Tito.”
“She means the vodka,” Courtney clarified. “I made out with her boyfriend.”
I raised my hand to report that I had a correction. “Ex!”
“Court!” Logan gasped. “You made out with someone’s boyfriend?”
“Ex,” I repeated. Then, annoyed at his accusations, considering Courtney wasn’t a member of the enemy gender, I added, “It wasn’t her fault. He lied.”
“Good. Courtney’s like my little sister. I would have had to ground her.”
“You’re laughing at my joke? I thought you hated men,” Logan chuckled.
I was stumped. He had me there. “Fine. You and my dad are okay. You’re on the exceptions list.”
Dad liked Jake. Mom did too. I’m going to have to break the news to my parents, I realized.
“I’m getting another drink,” I informed Courtney and Logan.
“Let me buy it,” Logan said quickly. “Consider it a payment from the men in your debt.”
I bit my lip. Fuck it. “I’ll accept.”
I followed Logan to the bar, and he handed me a vodka cran after telling the bartender to keep the change.
“Thank you,” I said between sips. “So, what brings you here?” Stupid question, but he was on my exceptions list, so I had to make polite conversation.
“Long week at the office,” he sighed. "I was supposed to meet some buddies, but they bailed at the last minute. I figured I’d stop by anyway.”
Jake bailed on my heart at the last minute.
“Are they men?” I asked.
He smirked. “As a matter of fact, yes.”
“I tell you what.” I poked his chest. Ooh. Very muscular. “They are not—” I poked again to emphasize my point “—on the exceptions list.”
“I’ll let them know.” He winked. “Should I feel special for being on this list?”
I turned around to find Courtney lip-locked with a guy who was definitely a long-lost Hemsworth. Alright. Back to Logan, then.
“So,” I said to my second choice, “what do you do?”
He groaned. “I’ll buy you another drink if we don’t have to talk about work.”
We shook on it.
“So, what do you do for fun?” he asked.
“I like photography.” Okay, so photography is my career as well as my hobby, but Logan didn’t need to know that I don’t get out much. “What about you?” I added.
His eyes lit up. “You’re a photographer?” I nodded, about to say that I sure am, when he (thank God) continued, “I’m actually going to the art fair at Pioneer Park tomorrow to pick up something for my mom’s birthday. I was thinking of getting a painting, but maybe I’ll go with some photography instead.” He grinned. “You inspired me, Rae.”
I blushed. A couple tingles burst through my chest like they were trying to impersonate that scene from Alien. “You should,” I finally replied. “So, uh, what do you like to do?”
A flash of purple cut in front of my eyes. I stepped back, blinking, and saw a thin, leggy brunette in a violet romper squeeze between Logan and me. Rude.
“Hey, Logan.” She planted a kiss on his cheek. “Fancy seeing you here.”
Logan squeezed his eyes shut for a second. “Hi, Taylor. I’m in the middle of a conversation with the person you just stepped in front of.”
She turned her head and quirked an eyebrow. “Oh. Didn’t notice. See you Monday.”
Logan rolled his eyes when she strutted away. I smiled, pretending not to hate Purple Bitch. He was being nice enough to talk to me, a dramatic crazy person. He didn’t have to pretend to be uninterested in his fuck-buddy—that kiss was very suggestive—or whatever she was.
Logan’s smiled looked a little forced when he picked up where we left off. “Besides working out, I don’t have much time away from the office. I like hiking. I try to go every couple of weekends.”
“We live in the perfect place for that,” I told him instead of confessing that I’m the clumsiest person in the world and that none of my hobbies involve even the slightest bit of physical activity.
“Yeah, for sure. Are you into—”
A guy with massive shoulders and perfect cheekbones interrupted his question by shouting, “Logan!” into his ear.
Logan jumped and, noticing the godlike figure behind him, rolled his eyes. “About damn time. Michael, this is Rae. Rae, Michael.”
Michael kissed the back of my hand. “It’s a pleasure, Rae.”
I ignored him. “Is he on the list?” I asked Logan.
Logan cracked up. “Nope. He didn’t make the cut.” Turning to Michael, he explained, “Rae hates men. Her dad and I are the only exceptions.”
Michael frowned. “Why?”
“My ex-boyfriend, who wasn’t my ex until tonight, cheated on me.” I felt tears well up in my eyes. “But I don’t want to talk about it. I’m going to get another drink.”
Michael followed me to the bar, and before I could open my mouth to speak to the bartender, he was already handing her his credit card and insisting I buy whatever I want. “Vodka cranberry, please!” I called.
“I’m sorry I made you upset,” he murmured. “For the record, he’s an idiot. That’s the last I’ll say.” The pad of his thumbs brushed my cheeks gently, pushing away the tears.
I quivered. “Thank you.”
He handed me the cup—another plastic, thank you, Smash—and nodded. “Want to dance? Platonically, of course.”
I turned to see where Logan was. Honestly, I’d rather have chatted with him than danced with Michael, but he was wrapped up in an animated discussion with Purple Bitch, which he was probably enjoying more than stumbling through conversation with the awkward girl.
I looked up at Michael. Damn. Definitely a nine out of ten in the looks department. I hated that Jake’s lips were the last ones on mine, that he was the last person to touch me. Fuck it. I let my drunk self seize control. “Yes, but not platonically.”
Michael raised a sexy eyebrow and squeezed my hand. “I’ll never say no to a woman as beautiful and charming as you, Rae.”
Not once in my twenty-three years have I ever—I repeat, ever—been referred to as charming. Not even sarcastically. That’s how un-charming I am.
I decided that Michael didn’t need to know that.
I squeezed his hand back and followed.