much about dates in general.

I reach for a gray shirt and toss it over my head. The sleeves are weirdly long, so I roll them up and pull my briefs over my legs.

My hair is getting long in the front; it curls down slightly on my forehead, but I can’t decide if I want to cut it. I put some of Tessa’s spray stuff in my hair and try to comb the unruly whiskers on my face. I like the scruffy look but really wish I didn’t have the patches of skin at the bottom of my cheeks that refuse to grow hair.

By the time I’m dressed and my hair is somewhat tamed, I have a text from Nora.

The only thing written is the address with a heart emoji.

Which makes me excited . . . and a little more nervous.

And which is also when I realize what time it is and that I need to hurry the hell up or I’ll be late. I push my feet into my brown boots while I put the address into Maps on my phone, relieved that I can walk there in around thirty minutes.

I use the walk to quiet my mind and try to think of interesting talking points to keep Nora and her friends somewhat entertained. God, I hope they’re not into politics: discussions about that never end well.

I’m so preoccupied that I don’t even notice that Dakota hasn’t texted me back.


Chapter Thirteen

WHEN I GET TO THE club, it’s smaller than I expected a nightclub to be. I’ve been to a club once in downtown Detroit that was twice the size of the brick building we are waiting in front of now. The setup of this club isn’t like in the movies, where there’s always an overmuscled, bossy man controlling the door, a guy whose little clipboard and earpiece hold the power to make or break the self-esteem of women who would never otherwise give him the time of day. A simple nod from him while he unhooks the velvet rope validates the two hours they have spent getting ready. If you’re made to wait very long, you are nothing. That’s what he wants you to feel like anyway, and it’s pretty messed up.

It’s all a charade, though; he still probably sleeps alone at night and he doesn’t feel any better about himself the next morning. His power trip has a twelve-hour expiration date. After that, he still hates himself and he’s still mad that he didn’t get that one big shot he deserved with the lady he pined for or the phone number of that one hot woman who he didn’t make an effort to treat with any sort of respect. It makes me a little sad to know that in 2016, people still care about getting into nightclubs based on their looks. I try my hardest not to buy into that stuff, but I know it’s what happens.

That said, I’m extremely relieved that this place isn’t like all that. The small redbrick building is on the corner of the street, right next to a row of food trucks parked on a vacant lot. The street isn’t as busy as the sidewalk; only a few green cabs and a Tesla drive by.

While I’m watching the Tesla’s black paint shine under the lights, a hand touches my arm. I look around to see Nora; her eyes are made up, smoky gray makeup shadows them. She’s wearing black pants that look as if someone painted them on her thick thighs. Her hips are hidden behind a black shirt with an Adidas symbol printed on it. It looks like she took scissors to the top of it, cutting a V neckline into the soft cotton. She’s wearing a black blazer over it and white tennis shoes. She looks casual and so put together and so out of my league.

She’s way too pretty.

Too hot.

Too everything.

After Nora lets go of my arm, she just stands silently in front of me, seeming to be waiting on me. I don’t know what to do, so I stare back at her. More than a few people join us on the sidewalk as we wait to go inside.

Finally, she glances toward the door of the bar.

“Shall we?” I nervously ask.

Her shiny lips turn into a smile and she nods. I watch her eyes take in my outfit and I can’t help but feel a little self-conscious about my choice of clothing.

Should I have worn looser pants? Are the rolled-up sleeves too much?

Nora’s eyes finally leave my body and she looks over toward the plate-glass window of the bar. “Yep. We shall.” Then, pointing inside, she adds, “They already have a table.”

I feel like I look out of place. I text Tessa while I follow Nora to tell her I’m here. I feel a little bad that I pestered her into coming out with us via text. I know she would rather be in her bed, reading the highlighted pages of her favorite book. She would much rather be buried under her blanket, crying over the mistakes and regrets of these characters, wishing her relationship had ended like one of her novels.

But lying in bed being miserable isn’t good for her. Besides, I could use another familiar face in this unfamiliar territory.

When the door of the club opens, smooth electric music tumbles out onto the sidewalk. The beat is nice, slow yet fast, soft but complicated. I speed up and take an extra step to get closer to Nora to try to make conversation.

“So do you dance here much?” I ask as we enter.

She turns and runs her index finger down the center of my lips.

“No one dances here.” She smiles at me the way a mother smiles at her child when she has to explain the simplest logic to them.

When I look around, I realize it’s not a club at all. Why the hell did I not just google the name of the joint? The place is a typical hip hangout, and it’s crowded. Small wooden tables, dark lighting, industrial theme. Groups of people congregating at the bar, laughing and downing handcrafted cocktails. A man with white hair shakes a tumbler of neon-colored liquid and

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