“You may be right, beautiful. I’m off to find out.” Winking, he tapped my treadmill with his palm before whistling as he walked away.

CNN played on the tiny screen in front of me but I couldn’t focus as my thoughts drifted back to Mike. The powerhouse that literally rocked my world this morning was a body mutilator. He pierced and punched his way through life while I patched up the damage caused by fists and dirty needles.

I grabbed my phone from the cup holder as it began to chirp.

Lori: Girls night out. Game?

I needed a night with my friends. I needed to laugh and hear the latest gossip. I had two days off and an evening to let loose sounded like heaven and a great way to get my mind off work.

Me: I’m in. When and where?

I didn’t give a shit if I had to drive to Orlando, I’d be there. My restless night would require a nap to keep up with the ladies or I would do a face plant on the table after the first drink.

Lori: Ybor City. Be ready to party your ass off. I’ll pick you up at 9.

Me: I can drive.

Lori: Fuck no, your ass is getting drunk. I got it all worked out.

She knew me so well. Lori and the girls went out all the time. They lived without their work to weigh them down emotionally. Unlike me, they didn’t have to hold someone’s heart in their hand and try to get it to beat again. Their pressures were different but I could never stumble into work nursing a hangover.

Lori was a lawyer, Sarah a receptionist at an advertising agency, and Jamie was a bored housewife.

I wanted to buy a new outfit for tonight. I had a closet full of clothes, but screw it, I deserved something special. I worked my ass off and didn’t feel ashamed to splurge on myself every once in a while. International Plaza called my name.

I straightened my hair; the humidity in Florida wreaked havoc on my long brown locks, before starting my makeup. I didn’t wear much to work; the long hours typically had me questioning their claim that make-up was twenty-four hour wear. It never stayed put and caused my eyes to look more tired than they did naturally.

I took my time, gave my lids a smoky treatment to bring out their color before applying an obscene amount of Barely There mascara. It made my eyes look bright and my eyelashes long and lush. Lori texted me that she was almost at my house as I spritzed my body with Gucci Guilty and stared in the mirror, giving myself a once over.

The short, tight black tube top showed off my stomach and hourglass figure perfectly. My tits didn’t stick out too much but would be noticed without flashing a sign that read ‘lookie’ here. My form-fitting denim capris made my ass look perky. The leopard print stiletto heels caused my calves to tighten and pulled the entire outfit together.

I sat on the front step as I waited for Lori to pick me up. The neighborhood was bustling. People waved as they walked past with their dogs and sat on their front porches enjoying the warmth of the Florida air. Summer would soon be arriving in full force and people would be scarce at this time of day. The summer sun felt like a flame against my skin and even the mornings were stifling from the humidity.

Closing my eyes, Lori’s headlight blinded momentarily, as she pulled in. The car shook from the loud bass of whatever hip-hop song she had blasting inside.

“Oh my god, I’m so excited. Fuck, you look amazing, girl.” She bounced a little in her seat and held the steering wheel with a giant smile on her face as I climbed in.

I leaned over and planted a giant kiss on her cheek. “I’ve missed you.”

“Me too, Mia. Got everything?” She applied a layer of lip-gloss before smacking her lips together and checking her reflection in the rearview mirror.

I nodded at her with butterflies in my stomach. “Yep, let’s hit it.”

Lori and I met in college. I was pre-med and she was pre-law. We became thick as thieves sophomore year. Any free moment we had, which weren’t as many as we wished, we spent together at the beach or clubs. We danced our asses off and loved every minute of it.

When college ended and the real world sucked us in, we didn’t have the time to hang out together and drink Corona’s on the beach. We were lucky to see each other once a month and to get everyone together had become virtually impossible.

We could go without speaking for weeks and pick up right where we left off. She was that kind of friend. I envied her beauty though. Her blond hair had a wave that I couldn’t achieve no matter how hard I tried. Her crystal blue eyes sparkled in the light and her teeth were so white they almost glowed in the dark.

“Did I tell you I started seeing someone?” she asked, as she turned the radio down when Justin Beiber started to sing. His high-pitched girl voice made me cringe.

“No. You’ve been holding out on me.”

When most people were getting married and starting their families, we were still in school, finishing our degrees before starting our careers. Families and marriage were put on the back burner. Now that we hovered around the big three zero, we both felt a pang of jealousy and remorse that we may have missed out on so much for our careers.

“His name is Sal and we work together. We’d been eye fucking for months before things got interesting one night when we both worked late.”

“Dirty girl, doing it at work.” I shook my head and laughed.

“Jesus, I can’t even describe what it’s like being with him. The first time I could barely think. We were going over a case. We argued about how to win and he went all cavemen and threw me on the table. It was fuckin’ hot.”

“Mm, that sounds nice. So are you guys casual or are you officially a couple?” I felt a big jealous. Hospitals weren’t sexy.

“We’re not officially dating. We are seeing other people, but then again who the fuck has the time with our schedule?”

“So, you picked a Guido. Hmm.”

“What’s your issue with Italian men?” She looked at me, wrinkling her nose, before returning her eyes to the road.

“I don’t have a problem with them. They’re typically bossy and believe a woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

“He’s not like that.” Her blond hair swayed as she shook her head.

“Mm hmm, not yet maybe.”

“Bitch, don’t rain on my parade.” She laughed.

I loved Lori. “Never, doll.”

“You seeing anyone?” she asked, just like she did every time we spoke.

My answer was the same. “No.”

I tried the online dating sites and they ended in disaster. I didn’t want to date someone that lived with their parents or enjoyed sitting at home playing video games.

My world consisted of doctors and nurses and I wanted to escape that at the end of the workday, not date someone that would want to talk medicine.

“Haven’t found the right one,” I stared out the side window, watching the palm trees sway in the breeze.

“It’s not easy for girls like us.” She threw the money in the toll box and waited for the green light. We were close to Tampa and Ybor City. Ybor is one of the oldest parts of the city with a unique history. Cigar factories used to line the streets, but were replaced with nightclubs and bars.

“I don’t want to be anyone’s sugar mama. I worked hard for everything I have. I will not have someone leech off me. I want a man, not a child. You know what I mean?”

“Agreed.” She nodded. “Text Sarah and let her know we’re close.”

Lori rambled on about Sal and his amazing cock until we pulled into the parking lot. I smiled and nodded, letting her talk. I applied a little more lipstick as she turned off the car.

“I’m so happy you could come tonight, Mia.”

“Me too, Lori. I need a night of dancing with my girls.”

“Fuck music, let’s get inside and find you some dick.” She giggled.

“I don’t think my Romeo’s inside. I just want to dance and get shit faced.”

“I said dick not your one true love, silly woman. You need a good fuck to remind you what life?


?s all about,” she said, as we approached the long line filled with beautiful girls in skimpy outfits.

Lori pulled me forward, bypassing all the waiting people, straight to the bouncer. “Hey, Pete. This is my friend Mia.” Lori kissed his cheek.

Pete’s face softened with her kiss. His t-shirt looked painted on as it strained against his bulging biceps. His hair was cut in military fashion, flat top and perfect. Pete didn’t look like someone you wanted to mess with.

Pete held out his hand to me. “Hi, Mia. It’s nice to meet you,” he said, bringing my hand to his lips and placing a gentle kiss on it.

There was no sizzle and pop. I wanted the spark like Michael gave me and although Pete had that sexy as fuck look; his lips did nothing for me.

“You too, Pete.” I smiled, pulling my hand back.

“Your friends are inside waiting for you,” Pete said, motioning toward the door.

“You’re the best,” she said, wrapping her arms around his waist.

“Only for you,” he said, kissing her hair. “When are you going to go out with me, beautiful?”

“Pete,” she said flatly.

“I don’t give up easily. Can’t blame a guy for trying.” He shrugged and patted her ass. “Go on in before the line gets restless.”

“Thanks again. Maybe we’ll see you inside,” she said, as he opened the door for us.

The thump of the music made my chest rattle as we stood in the entrance, surveying the bar. People were everywhere and the dance floor moved with the beat and didn’t have a free spot on it.

We spotted Sarah and Jamie at the bar nursing their martinis and checking out the men. Jamie’s red hair bounced as she shrieked and clapped when she saw us. She was typically over dramatic but fun to be around, especially when she had a few too many to drink. She had on a kick ass black dress and red heels showing off her long legs. Her thin frame swayed as she grabbed the bar top.

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