I unlocked my hotel room and slipped inside, looking around. My temporary home away from home was adorable, decorated in creams and medium blues. In the past, I’ve stayed in hotel rooms that were decked out in ugly patterns, but this was tasteful, almost gentle and calming rather than cringeworthy.

My eyes lit up when I spotted the mini-bar on the other side of the room. I quickly dumped my suitcase and bag on the floor, slipped my sandals off, and made my way over. Tequila, rum, whiskey, and more: there was an array of small alcohol bottles. I selected the small bottle of vodka and screwed off the top.

Taking a swig, the vodka was surprisingly good, especially compared to all that cheap vodka I drank in college. Still, it made me make a face with each sip. I didn’t mind. The bitter liquid matched my mood.

I sipped the small vodka bottle until it was gone, poking around the room like I liked to do when I stayed at a new hotel. It didn’t take long to finish the bottle. It was just enough to take the edge off a little, but not enough to actually make me drunk. That was for later at Greer and John’s party.

Maybe I was still feeling cranky, but it was better to be out of my place where I’d first caught my ex, the source of my bad mood, fucking another woman on my bed. It was hard to escape the ghost of his presence there.

Lying down on the bed, I set an alarm on my phone and closed my eyes. I really was exhausted and a nap would help me get through the party later.

The worst sound in the world, the shriek of an alarm signifying it was time to wake, broke through my thankfully dreamless sleep. Looking at the time, I had about an hour and a half to get ready.

Snatching my toiletry bag, I trudged off to the bathroom. I stared at my reflection for a long moment. In the past, I’ve been told I’m pretty. Between my tall figure, toned figure from karate and cycling, I supposed it was true. Despite all the exercise, I hadn’t lost that little bit of curve in my hips or modest breasts I’d suddenly sprouted at ten. I was tan from all the time I spent in the sun and had naturally pale blonde hair and dark green eyes, a killer combo Sascha told me more than once.

Still, I didn’t feel very pretty right now after what Braxton did. It was a huge hit to my self-confidence, and more than once, I’d wondered what I’d done wrong, what was wrong with me for Braxton to do what he did.

Sure we’d hit a bit of a rough patch in our relationship, but he’d never once given me any indication he was a cheater. And he wouldn’t give me a straight answer whether it was the first time he’d messed around or not, or even if she was the first woman he messed around with.

He’d shown his true colors when he tried to turn it around on me, blaming me for putting my law career before our relationship.

I knew what he’d done wasn’t my fault, I didn’t make him cheat, but that didn’t help that voice in the back of my head telling me I could have done more, done something different. That I could have prevented it in the first place.

It was the inspiration for my strike from men for the next year. No dating, no hookups, no flirting, or flings. I was taking a break. Even Sascha, ever the romantic, thought it was a good idea as I’d moved from one relationship to another since high school. I once thought having a boyfriend helped make me complete, but I’d come to realize that wasn’t the case at all. I was complete on my own. Whole.

This vow to temporarily forget about guys was my way of proving to myself I could be just fine without a guy trying to define me. Weirdly, I was actually a little excited about it. Sure, I’d miss sex and even the companionship a boyfriend could provide, but I knew I didn’t need it to thrive in this next chapter of my life.

After dolling myself up, I met Greer in the lobby to share a car to John’s hotel. By that time, Greer’s other bridesmaid, Hanna, had checked into the hotel and joined us.

If I had to choose, I’d say Hanna was my closest friend after Sascha. I met her in college too, introduced by Greer who’d been her Freshman year roommate. Hanna was a gorgeous African American woman who liked to wear her curly hair natural. Despite her spunky nature, her eyes were big and dark brown and always seemed to be deep in thought about something. Though I was taller than average for a woman, standing next to Hanna always made me feel gigantic from her five feet, one-inch stature. Eight inches taller than her, I supposed I probably was gigantic in her eyes.

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