He rolled his eyes. “Good. Go to your date and I’ll go to mine.” He turned and stopped when her hand grabbed at his bicep, her nails digging into his shirt.
“You know,” she said softly, and in the look that flashed over her features for the briefest of moments… he saw the girl he once fell for. “I loved you.”
“And then you changed.” He pulled away. “Go back to your date, Nic.” It was amazing. At one point, the thought of her dating someone else would have crushed him. Now, he only wanted her to move on and stay out of his life.
She stood there for a moment, a limp shell, her breasts even more ridiculous without the bravado behind them. Then, like a peacock lifting its feathers, she pulled herself back together and turned away, her hair tossed, stride strong, breasts re-extended.
He waited, watching as she rounded the hostess stand and slid into a chair across from a guy with a gold watch on his wrist and a bolo tie. Maybe this was the infamous douchebag she had cheated on him with. Was he the one who had paid for all of her surgeries? He wasn’t sure whether to wish the guy luck or knock out his teeth.
Letting out a hard breath, he headed back to his table. Go figure, his first date in the six months since they’d broken up, and she was here. What were those odds? Was he just snakebit in attracting crazy women? Thankfully, his table with Margaret was on the other side of the restaurant, though he didn’t see how he’d focus on the rest of the meal, knowing Nicola was in the same room.
Taking a seat across from his date, he picked up his napkin and smoothed it down over his lap. “Sorry about that.”
She raised her eyebrows over the rim of her water glass. “Interesting girl you got there. Is that your normal type?”
The thought of trying to explain Nicola, and her evolution through the last six months of their relationship, was exhausting. He struggled to relax his features into a rueful smile. “Not quite. Though she had been, at one time. When I met Nicola, she had a much more … natural … look.” A sunny smile, slightly crooked nose, a bit of an overbite. She’d had purple dreads when he’d met her, sweaty and slightly drunk, in a crowded concert in Panama City Beach.
She’d been so much fun. Relaxed. Carefree. She hadn’t cared about the balance in his bank account, or worried over what people thought of her, or the condition of her manicure.
The changes had been gradual. Subtle. He’d barely noticed the changes until he woke up one morning, looking at a woman with a white bandage covering half her face. It was funny how it took the first physical transformation of her to really take note of her emotional transformations. Over the three years of their relationship, she had completely changed. The fun, lighthearted hippie was gone, replaced with someone hyper-focused on her social status, Instagram followers, and Declan’s future earning potential.
“My ex always wanted me to have plastic surgery.” Margaret tapped at the end of her nose. “You know. This beak.”
“I think you’re perfect as you are.” He opened the menu and struggled to find a new topic.
Yeah. It was definitely too early to be dating again.
I sat in the middle of my living room, legs spread wide, latex gloves and fuzzy socks on, and picked through Declan Moss’s trash. It was pretty good trash, much better than last week’s. He recycled, which allowed me to skip the gross kitchen stuff and stick with the recycling bin, which yielded his receipts, mail, boxes, and a lot of odds and ends.
I didn’t think you’re supposed to recycle Q-Tips, but he did. And he used A LOT of Q-Tips. Thank God his ears are clean. I’m not sure I could take gunky yellow tips without gagging up my dinner.
I flipped another Q-Tip toward the trash and flipped through his mail. He wasn’t a coupon cutter, which was a win for me, because he missed out on a 40% off Panera coupon. I set it to the side, along with a BOGO deal from a crafts store that carried my scrapbooking paper. Reaching over to scratch Mr. Oinks’ stomach, I scanned over a Home Depot receipt, a cable bill, a letter from his homeowners association (dues are going up) and a credit card offer. Finishing, I leaned back on my hands and stared at the mess before me.
Sometimes, when I watched Declan, or when I thought of him, everything went bonkers in my head. There were times when it was painful and obvious, like when that dump truck was careening toward him. Other times, it was just a faint dizziness and some dots at the edge of my vision. But best I could tell, it’s how my sixth sense alerted me that something was wrong in Declanville.