Twist:A Dive Bar Novel(7)

By: Kylie Scott


Yep, it would all fade. And I’d be fine.





CHAPTER THREE

Message received six months ago:

Alex,

Saw your profile. Looking at traveling to Seattle for business soon. Would love to take you to dinner if you’re available?—Eric



Message sent:

Hi Eric,

Nice to meet you. What dates are you thinking you’ll be in town? I’d be interested in hearing more about your restaurant. Are you seriously considering working on your own house? I’ve got grand schemes to update my one-bedroom apartment sometime. But a whole house … wow.

Alex

“You’re kidding,” cried Val, her outrage coming through on my mobile as a tinny squawk.

“Nope.” The elevator doors slid back and I stepped out into the hotel lobby. The bright morning sun glaring through the hotel’s windows mocked my crap mood. “Wish I was.”

“Lying fucking asshole.”

“You said it.” I stopped to blow my nose. The sound was anything but pretty. Yes, care of the delightful walk in the rain last night, I’d woken up with a raging head cold. Sore throat, red and runny nose, and pounding head. It basically felt like someone had hung me upside down and filled my nasal passages with quick-dry cement. Just when you thought things couldn’t get better.

“God, you sound horrible,” she said. “To think, he friend-zoned you before you’d ever even met. I’d had such high hopes for him.”

“You and me both.” I sighed.

“And I encouraged you.” A pause. “Shouldn’t you be pointing out that deep down you were right and I was wrong? You should probably also be lecturing me about your uncomplicated-life theory.”

“Meh. You’ve heard it all before and I don’t have the energy.”

“Aw, you poor thing. If you can’t even manage an ‘I told you so,’ then you really are feeling sucky.” She huffed out a breath.

Valerie and I’d had each other’s back since the same group of bullies had targeted us in eighth grade. I’d always been mousy, clutzy, and generally clueless. An easy target for the cool kids wanting to establish their supremacy in the school hallways. Back then, Valerie had been Vincent, and he’d never fitted in either. We’d nursed each other through all manner of insults, broken hearts, and then a sex change. So I guess it fell under her job description to get up in arms on my behalf now. But I, on the other hand, was done. Mostly dead and emotionally spent. Every last fuck I had to give had fled during the night, never to be heard from again.

“I’m coming out there,” she announced, voice firm.

I scrunched up my face. “Why on earth would you come out here? Hopefully, I’ll be on a plane home this afternoon. Tonight at the latest.”

“Doesn’t matter. This Joe-Eric-jerkoff needs his ass kicked. I’m coming.”

“You’re not coming.”

“I’m coming and I’m wearing my fiercest pointy-toed stilettos,” she said. “You haven’t seen these ones, they’re new. Leopard print. That boy’s ass is grass.”

“Oh, that reminds me. The heels got trashed.”

She gasped. “Not the half-price YSL!”

“Yep. I told you I couldn’t be trusted with designer.”

“But those shoes looked so good on you. That settles it. I’m definitely coming out there to hurt him.”

I took a deep breath. Through my mouth, not my nose. My nose just wasn’t an option.

“God, you sound like shit,” said Val.

I grunted and blew my nose. A mucus factory, that was me.

“Yuck. That’s disgusting. Seriously, I’m not sure you should fly in that condition,” she said, voice concerned.

“I’ll be fine.” I shoved my wad of tissues back into my jeans pocket. “I just need coffee.”

Even from behind my sunglasses the early morning light dazzled. I stepped out of the hotel and paused, giving my eyes a chance to adjust. Downtown Coeur d’Alene was quiet first thing in the morning, with the odd car cruising by, and a couple of signs advertising cafés sat out on the sidewalk farther up the street. All of the assorted fancy-clothes and gift-shop-type places were still closed. The cool air tickled dangerously at my nose and throat. Stupid cold.

A heavy sigh from Val. “Are you sure I can’t come out there and commit violence in your name?”

“I appreciate the thought.”

“There’s lots of woods in that area. I promise they’d never find the body.”

“Be rational,” I said. “You know you hate nature.”

“You never let me have any fun.”

“I know, I’m the worst.”

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