My best friend slammed her glass onto the table and crossed her arms over her chest. She kept her eyebrows up in a threatening manner.

“You talk big,” noted Sabrina, putting her hands on her hips and flipping her hair again. “But you’re all talk.”

“Try me,” offered Vicky, bobbing her head and waving a finger at them. “All three of you. Girls’ bathroom. Just like old times, if you want.”

Sabrina laughed, amused. Her two followers quickly joined in.

“Some people just never grow up,” she chuckled, gesturing for her entourage to follow. “We have more important things to do that play with you nerds. Better get back to your men before they leave you two for each other.”

Vicky took a step forward, but I caught her before anything could go further. I think she genuinely wanted to beat the crap out of Sabrina, but I held her back with my hand and shook my head.

As the mean girls walked away, I started to think that Sabrina was right and began to tear up. I would never have a man or a family of my own. I was just kidding myself.

“Oh, honey, don’t let that bitch get to you,” my friend cooed.

“I wasn’t that,” I said, dropping back down into my chair. “I just… I can’t… You and Jim are so happy. I just want that happiness and I don’t have it. Why can’t I have it?”

Vicky stepped back a little, her face blank.

“What are you talking about? You have Leo,” she said. “Are you not happy with him? Talk to me.”

She tried to kneel next to my chair, but her balance was off, and she wobbled until I held her by the shoulders.

“Let me go to the bathroom first,” I said, putting her off and directing her back towards her own chair. “I just need to pull myself together.”

Rushing to the bathroom down the hall, I blissfully found it empty. I splashed water onto my face and looked in the graffiti covered mirror.

Is this what my life had become? Hiring escorts to pretend to be my boyfriend? God! What was I thinking?

All I ever wanted was a serious relationship and now look at the lengths I’m going to just to pretend to have one. Why is this so hard? Why can’t I find the right guy?

And even when I hired a guy to like me, he ended up ignoring me at the very event I needed him at!

Nothing has changed in my life. Nothing will ever change. Sabrina and girls like her continue to win, while I continue to lose. I should just go back to my room at Vicky’s and forget this stupid reunion.

Leaning against the sink, I stared into my own tear stained eyes.

All that money and time wasted! Why did I fly out here? I could’ve come out here at any time to visit Vicky, but no, I got my hopes all up for this reunion. I was going to prove to everyone how cool I was. What a joke. So stupid!

The moment I walked into this building it was like turning right back into that same scared high schooler.

I should just stay in New York. People there think I’m smart, at least. Spending my life teaching other people’s children isn’t so bad. At least I’m doing something nice for people. At least I’ll be remembered by my students.

I composed myself and fixed my makeup. I decided on a plan to just to ditch Leo and head back to Vicky’s alone.

I’d text Leo from the car. He’d get his money and disappear from my life and I could go back to New York without much of a fuss.

The reality was, I had romanticized this trip just like I romanticized everything about relationships. Love wasn’t real. It was just a word used to sell greeting cards.

Pretty girls get the guys and that’s that. People like me, with muffin tops and junk in my trunk, just subsist in the shadows. Maybe if I was lucky, some guy someday would throw himself at me out of pity.

If that didn’t happen, I could do what Sabrina said.

I could get myself some cats to keep me company.

Why not be a cat lady?

So many women do it; it must be at least mildly satisfying.

Chapter Four

Carina

Walking out of the bathroom, I nearly plowed into Vicky coming in to check on me. She immediately sensed that I was getting ready to bail. Looking over my face, she grabbed my hand.

“You’re leaving, aren’t you?” she surmised, as we stood in the school’s hallway together. A frown pulled at her lips. “Don’t leave, Carina. Those girls are in your past. Let’s just have a good time. We haven’t even gotten on the dance floor yet.”

“I can’t,” I said, looking away and fighting my tears again. “This whole trip was a bad idea. I should’ve just come out here last summer and visited you and the family. I almost did that. I’m so stupid. Instead I come home, expecting the reunion to be different somehow. To show that I’m different.”


Tags: Jamie Knight Romance
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