Page 29 of Tripping on a Halo

So, no hotel rooftops or swimming for me! Nope, I was taking the much more likely rape-and-be-killed route, walking along the edge of downtown and rummaging in my bag for my phone. I found it and breathed a sigh of relief, pulling up my text to Ansley, now an hour old and still unread. Go figure. I pulled up a car app and scheduled a ride, leaning against a light pole and scanning my surroundings for any potential threats.

God, I knew how to screw things up. If Declan Moss didn’t think I was crazy before, he certainly did now. Between the bar fight, the tears, subsequent kiss, then my dramatic kick-off-my-heels escape… Oh, plus my confession that I’m responsible for his safety. That golden nugget would have been the sparkly cherry on top of my Certifiably Crazy cupcake. I should have just run with his belief that I was following him around for romantic reasons. I could have played like I had a crush. Hung onto his words with big doe eyes. Fawned instead of pushing him away.

It would have been fun to pretend that I was in love with him. Especially since he hadn’t seemed entirely averse to the idea. In fact, if I had to guess, I think he sort of liked the idea of me lusting after him.

I glanced both ways down the street, no lurking strangers (or my ride) in sight. I slid my back down the pole and sat on the curb, taking a moment to examine the bottom of my feet. They were filthy. I had a cut on my left sole and a valet ticket stuck to my right. I peeled off the ticket and apologized to my feet, promising them a long pedicure tomorrow, at that place with the ravenous little fish that would eat away all the dead skin.

Declan had actually been really nice about the whole thing. Distractingly so. I think he’d been drinking also. Alcohol would have explained the way he’d acted around me. I shivered a little at the memory of his hands, which had been very friendly. It had been a long time since I’d been touched like that. Looked at like that. And all that had contributed to the kiss. A woman starved for affection couldn’t be expected to act rationally. Add in three drinks and an unexpected gesture of appreciation and I’m surprised I didn’t strip down in the middle of the street and ask to have his babies. I sighed. He’d make pretty babies.

A minivan with a duct-taped front bumper slowed to a stop next to me, the hot pink logo glowing at me. I heaved to my feet and pulled open the back door. The woman behind the wheel nodded at me. “Just crawl over the carseat.”

I followed her instructions, finding a spot by the window on a cloth backseat that smelled slightly of baby wipes. She pulled away, turning up the volume on the radio. “I’m in the middle of an audiobook,” she called out. “Sorry.”

“That’s fine.” I pulled the seatbelt across my shoulder and settled into the seat. Finding my phone, I confirmed the pickup, then texted Ansley.

Nevermind. Found ride. Thank God I didn’t die.

I added a wide-eyed emoji for emphasis, then a gif of a psychopathic clown with a knife, stabbing the air.

Loud moaning caught my attention and I lifted my head, tuning in to the audiobook, which was diving into what appeared to be a very explicit sex scene between Joel the plumber and Bethany the lonely divorcee. The male voice spoke, deep and rough, his voice cracking as he urged the woman to open her legs wider and take his—I flushed, sinking deeper in my seat and resisted the urge to plug my ears with my finger.

A detailed accounting began, so raw and unfiltered that I felt I was there, in bed with the couple, watching the man’s thick erection myself. I pulled at the neck of my dress and pinned my knees together, willing the woman to drive faster and get me home already.

“Ummm….” I said tentatively. “Could you—”

“Shhh!” the woman said excitedly, her hands gripping the wheel, shoulders hunched forward, as if she was about to crawl into the speakers and join in. “It’s getting to the good part!”

Getting to the good part? Oh no. Talk about sustained erotic torture. I bet this is what Sergey Tuganov’s two women felt like. The twenty-eight-year-old mechanic bet them $4300 that he could have nonstop sex with them for twelve hours. TWELVE HOURS. And he did. Got his $4300 in winnings, which was such a specifically random number, then had a heart attack and died. Doctors deduced his heart attack was due to the entire bottle of Viagra that he popped just before his twelve-hour session.

I can do this, I decided. If they could last twelve hours, I could surely last the ten minutes or so that this painfully sexual ride would entail. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on something other than the sordid description of her pleasure, which really did sound quite enviable. I tried to remember if I ever plugged in and recharged my vibrator. I hoped so. There was nothing worse than approaching the peak only to have it sputter to a stop.