But on the inside, they are unforgiving, narcissistic hypocrites. It’s a miracle I didn’t turn out just like them. If it weren’t for July and her family, I’m sure I would’ve. My parents allowed me to play with her at a very young age because they saw how genuinely “perfect” her parents were and they thought it’d boost their appearance by having their daughter associated with the town’s beloved Mayson family. Uncle Asher and Aunt November weren’t fooled, of course, but they didn’t take it out on the kid—me. They welcomed me with open arms, because no matter how my parents were to their so-called friends, I was loyal to July.
One of the first times we played at her house and I got to hang out with her dog Beast, we decided right then and there we would be friends forever. I always joked it was because I always wanted an excuse to play with the huge Great Dane, but really it was the whole package. And when we got a little older and our noble pal passed away, it was then we made the pact to open up our own animal clinic. I was always super squeamish around blood though, so the actual doctoring part would be up to July. With my growing love of organization and natural technologic abilities, it would be up to me to take care of the business side of things. We were the perfect team. And still are.
Thinking of my aversion to blood, it dawns on me that I never even hesitated to help Z after I shot him. I put on the tourniquet and cleaned up his bloody arm without a moment’s pause—well, except to throw him a little sass. My only thought had been to help the giant, beautiful man… even though he had just broken into my place.
Ugh! I need to get him out of my head. I’ve heard his motorcycle pass by my place a few times in the past couple days, but he hasn’t actually approached me. It’s just enough of a reminder of him that it pops him back into my damn mind.
Not that he ever left it.
No, I need a distraction. I need to go out.
Grabbing my phone off the side table next to my couch, I pull up Eric’s messaging thread. He’s an old flame I’ve known since high school. We’re nothing serious; we decided a long, long time ago that we made much better friends than anything more. Every once in a while, when neither of us is in any type of relationship, we go grab dinner or catch a movie.
Me: What’s up, E? Doing anything tonight? I’m starving and bored.
Eric: Hey, darlin’. Where’s your conjoined twin? Not attached at the hip tonight?
Me: Nah, she’s with her hot new biker guy.
The words immediately form images of another hot biker guy in my brain, and I shake away the thought.
Eric: What you feel like eating?
Me: Hmmm… surprise me.
Eric: Okay, come snatch you up in 10.
Me: Sounds good.
I don’t put a lot of effort into getting ready. After all, it’s just Eric. But I do pull my long, black hair down from its messy bun, brush it out, and put it back up in a slightly neater messy bun on top of my head. I trade out my fuzzy purple slippers for some Converse, and then plop down on my couch to wait for Eric.
I’m doing a little FBI work, going through Wes’s friends list on Facebook to see if Z’s image pops up—because obviously, “Z” wasn’t exactly good for search results—when Eric sends me a text.
Me: Coming down now.
I close out all my apps, shaking my head in disgust at myself for obsessing over a man whose real name I don’t even know. I put LeFou in his crate and lock my door behind me, hurrying to Eric’s car. When I slam the car door behind me, I poke him in his soft belly like I always do, making him chuckle.
“Ready to feed that cat dad bod?” I tease. It’s what he calls it, now that he’s turned into some kind of cat lady. Cat dude. Whatever. He basically keeps July and me in business he has so many beloved pets, and he’d much rather hang out at home with his furbabies than go to the gym. I mean, who wouldn’t?
“Always.” He grins, and he pulls out on the main road.
A while later, we pull into our favorite burger joint, and my stomach shows its immediate approval with a growl. After ordering our meals at the counter, we pick the booth we always end up sitting in and chat while we wait for our food.
“So what’s been going on? I haven’t seen you in a couple weeks,” he prompts, taking a drink from his Dr. Pepper.