“Have you ever been with a black guy?” Chelsea popped the question at normal volume, then stuffed a piece of bread in her mouth. Bread that most certainly contained gluten, despite the interrogation she just put the menu through.

I eyed the bread and considered my own avoidance of carbs, one that was on a twelve-day streak. “Uh—no.”

“They’re gooood,” she mused through a mouthful of bread, the word stretched out and savored, her head turning to watch as our waiter eased by and to an adjacent table, a pitcher of ice water in hand. “Very athletic.”

I tore the teeniest corner off the top of a roll and dug it through the mound of butter, biting back my opinions on the comment. Chelsea had once had political aspirations—a short-term career she abandoned around the time that the first #metoo accusations started to fly. We had sat her down over margaritas and tacos and explained very gently that she was a walking and talking offense and sexual harassment machine. She’d listened to our points with rapt attention, then ordered a round of tequila shots and toasted to promiscuity and world peace.

“Speaking of good…” she held up a finger and swallowed the piece of bread, then continued. “How is that delicious husband of yours?”

“He’s fine.” I set down the cold glass. “Please don’t compare him to any black men you’ve screwed. I’d like to pretend, at least until I get something to eat, that you haven’t slept with my husband.”

It was an ill-timed comment, my airy retort landing square in the face of the elderly man who paused at our table. He hesitated, his gaze darting from me to Chelsea, then smoothed a hand down his tie and began to speak.

“Miss Pedicant?”

Chelsea straightened up in her seat. “Mr. Bronson. How wonderful to see you. Are you with your wife?”

“Sadly, no.” He gave me a polite smile and I half rose in my seat, offering my hand and introducing myself. Turning his attention back to Chelsea, he started to ease past. “Please tell your father that I said hello. We have big plans for next year and will need his station’s full support.”

“I’ll certainly tell him. Please give my best to your wife.”

He nodded at Chelsea, then me, then continued his slow and methodical journey out of the restaurant.

Chelsea waited until he was out of earshot, then spoke. “If you ever want to leave Easton for a billionaire, that’s your man right there. Frank Bronson. His wife’s our age and has breasts as big as your head.”

“Really?” I craned my head to get a final look at the older gentleman. “He didn’t seem like that type.”

She let out a snort as she reached into her bag. “Every man is that type, it’s just a question of if they have the money and the balls to pull it off.” She pulled out her phone. “Let me text my dad real quick. He’s going to want to know that I saw him.”

“It wasn’t exactly the best moment for him to enter our conversation,” I said dryly.

She smiled as her fingers darted over the screen. “I know, right? Did you see his face?”

The absence of concern was one of the reasons I loved her. It was also, in my stressful moments, one of the more annoying aspects of our friendship. Everything in Chelsea’s life seemed to be fixed by money or sex. She worked for her father’s media conglomerate and enjoyed unchallenged job security, her own hours, a never-ending bank account, and enough one-night stands to impress even the most voracious sluts.

The tuna appetizer was delivered and I pulled my chair closer to the table, eagerly diving into the tartare mountain.

“Before I forget.” Chelsea looked up from her phone. “I’ve got a client for E.”

“An athlete?”

“Yep. Nicole Fagnani—heard of her?”

I hadn’t, but that didn’t mean anything. When it came to professional athletes and sports, my Rolodex of knowledge was pretty slim. “What sport does she play?”

Chelsea gave me an exasperated look. “Tennis, Elle. I swear to God, do you pay any attention to anything? Nicole is the one who tied Agassi in that charity match back in December. Agassi, Elle.”

I’d heard of Agassi. I struggled to remember why. “He’s married to someone famous, right?”

“Oh my God, stop it.” She dipped a crisp cracker into the tuna. “Anyway, Nike just signed her to some ridiculous contract and she’s doing ad shoots next week. I thought you could come with E, and I could make the introduction.”

“Who is her current FA?” I turned over the idea in my head. After Easton was dropped by the Marlin’s, he decided to use his finance degree to stay in Miami and advise professional athletes. At least, that was the plan. I swear to God, his entire career plan was hatched after three beers and a single episode of Ballers. Only, unlike Dwayne Johnson and his big house and bevy of exotic cars, we were staring at mounting credit card debt and a house that seemed to be on the verge of collapse.

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