Twist:A Dive Bar Novel(4)

By: Kylie Scott


“I did set up the account,” said Eric, distinctly unimpressed. “For fuck’s sake, Nell. Stop acting like my half of the baby is going to be dumber than your half. It’s not.”

“Do not call my baby ‘it,’” warned Nell, poking him in the chest with a finger.

And suddenly it was all clear to me. It was all horribly, perfectly clear.

“That’s your baby?” I asked the sleazoid male standing in front of me. “It is any wonder you’re pretending you don’t know me? God. You asshole. All of those things you said to me and meanwhile, you’re playing house with her.”

“What?” Eric’s “you’re crazy” look tripled. “No. I … shit. Joe helped me set up that stupid dating account and then I pretty much forgot about it. Didn’t need it. So I told Joe…”

Silence.

“Joe,” Eric repeated. Then he blinked and turned to his brother.

Nell too turned to face the big blond guy.

Joe squirmed under their gaze. He had that look about him as if he wanted an emergency trapdoor beneath him to disappear into.

“You email her, bro?” asked Eric.

“Yeah.” And the blond Bigfoot did not look happy about it. “Yeah, I … we’ve been talking for a while. We know each other.”

“No, we don’t.” I frowned at the man who was most definitely not my type. His brother? Yes. But him? Nuh-uh. “I know Eric, not you.”

Bigfoot sighed.

I pointed an accusing finger at the beautiful dark-haired man of my dreams. “That’s the guy who was in the profile photo. The one I basically bared my heart to. Not you. I don’t know who you are.”

“Let me explain.” Joe/Bigfoot’s gaze intensified, focused wholly on me. His dark brown eyes were so earnest, as if he could will me to understand this shit storm. “I read your message and … I don’t know. You seemed like someone—”

“You could lie to?”

“No.” He dragged a hand across his face. “Fuck. You were so funny and real and—”

“Real?” I could only shake my head, taking another step back.

“Yes. Real. At first I was just helping out my brother. Trying to get him interested in someone nice for a change. Someone who had more to recommend them than the size of their breasts.” His gaze dipped to my uplifted, yet still extremely modest, chest and panic flashed across his face. “Not that you’re not—”

“Don’t even bother.”

“But then I started to get to know you better and you were someone I could really talk to.” The side-eyes he gave the assembled crowd were purely sheepish. “I guess I was lonely. I don’t know.”

Aw, was the poor asshole embarrassed? My heart bled for him.

“But it was Eric you’d reached out to, so…”

“So?”

The man said nothing.

“Are you actually trying to tell me that your motives were pure? Seriously?” All I could do was shake my head. In wonder or horror, I don’t even know. “I believed in you and you were nothing but a lie. All along, just lies.”

His lips firmed. “That’s not true. I’m your friend.”

“Bullshit. A friend would never do this.”

Murmurs circled from the people gathered round. And seriously, whatever this was, fuck it. Fuck Eric, Joe, all of mankind, the Internet, and all of my hopes and dreams. I was running straight back to my apartment and staying put. I retreated another step, my butt bumping the back of a chair. It made the most awesome crashing noise as it toppled over, hitting the floor. “Shit. Sorry. I, um…”

The faces surrounding me blurred and a rushing noise filled my head. Christ. All those personal, deeply private things I’d told him. How honest I’d been. But I was just one more stupid girl dreaming of love and a life that was somehow larger. There was nothing for me here.

Time to go.

I turned and made straight for my suitcase. Grabbing the plastic handle, I ran back out the door, the cold night air like a well-earned slap in the face. Out on the sidewalk I tripped in the stupid shoes. Then I continued. I walked faster and faster, putting as much distance as possible between me and the whole debacle.

My case rattled and rolled over the asphalt. From top to toe I felt numb. Nonexistent. The first few drops of rain should have passed right through me instead of soaking into the cotton of my borrowed dress.

“Alex,” a voice yelled from behind me. A male voice. Him.

It only spurred me onward. No cars or signs of life ahead. The whole world seemed to have emptied out. There was just me, that voice, and the storm.

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