The sneak preview of In Search of Mr. Anonymous continues. Read on for a look at Chapter 2. Links to all prior chapters are at the end of this post.
I shrug out of my coat and kick off my boots, leaving a trail of clothes as I head to my room. I put on a pair of PJs before cleaning up my mess. Getting changed is always the first thing I do when I come home. That and pulling my hair back into a ponytail. Sometimes I feel like the person I present to the world is just for show, but once I’m home I turn back into Cinderella. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I wish I didn’t have to put so much effort into getting dressed up to go out.
I flop down on my couch with a sigh. Another date that’s a bust. And I thought this one held promise. We exchanged messages a handful of times and had a flirty banter going. But it was clear after a few minutes our chemistry didn’t translate past the screen.
I hope Lucy’s having better luck. I check my phone to see if she’s texted me. Nothing yet about her big night: her one-night stand. Lucy Chalmers is my best friend. We met at sleepaway camp when we were ten years old. I had done the Rookie session the summer before, so I knew some of the girls already. I liked them, but there was drama. Who was going to bunk with who, who would sit next to each other during campfire, that sort of thing. One of the reasons I went away to camp was to avoid the drama. There was enough of that back at school. But it felt like I walked right into it.
When I met Lucy I could tell she was different. Quiet but insightful. We latched onto one another and didn’t look back. She’s like a sister to me. While she’s an only child, I actually have two sisters already, both younger. But there’s a big age gap among us. Rachel, the older of the two, is five years younger than me. And there’s a seven-year age gap between me and Riley, the baby of the family. My mom and dad were content with just me for a while. When they finally decided they were ready for another they had trouble getting pregnant. Hence, the age gap. When I was in my last year of elementary school Rachel was just entering Kindergarten. I took on more of a mothering role instead of a confidante. And I was in Junior High when Riley was born. Let’s just say she was a good form of birth control. Anyway, I’m closer with my sisters now. But it’s like we live in totally different worlds.
I’m lucky to have another sister in Lucy. I check my phone again but still no word. I shoot her a text to see what’s up. Lucy doesn’t sleep around, so it’s crazy to me that she agreed to this bet. It’s mind blowing, actually. I’m dying to know what’s happening. Unlike Lucy, I have no problem sleeping with someone I’m not in a relationship with. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with being selective. But I’m thirty-three and not getting any younger. So I like to keep myself active to avoid my lady parts going into hibernation. Seriously. It could happen.
Ever since high school I haven’t had the best of luck with men. Back then I was a bit of a stalker. I think it’s because my crushes sent me mixed messages. Naturally I had to investigate to figure out what was going on. I had a big thing for Chase Emerson. I used to drive by his house on my way home from school, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. I’d call him and hang up just to hear his voice. Those were pre-caller ID days. Anyway, he kind of strung me along. So I may have stalked him a bit. But in my defense he led me to believe there was something between us. I think he liked the attention. He’d do things like invite me over then often cancel at the last minute. He was super apologetic about it and always had a valid excuse. He brought me flowers on my birthday―calla lilies, my favorite. He shoveled our walk when my dad’s back went out. Sweet gestures he’d do in private. It wasn’t so far-fetched that I’d be encouraged or think maybe he returned my feelings. But at school he maintained his distance when his friends were around. Then I got a head nod or a “hey” or “’s up.” Except when he wanted to borrow my notes or “check” his homework against mine. Like an idiot, I let him do those things―take advantage of me. But it didn’t feel that way at the time. I just basked in any attention he was willing to give. Pathetic, I know.
I finally worked up the nerve to ask him to Turnabout. He said maybe―he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go to the dance. When in reality he had me on the backburner in case someone better came along. He eventually said yes. I was ecstatic. I bought the perfect dress, shoes, and booked my hair and nail appointments. The week before he canceled. He said something came up, when in reality he meant someone. He went to the dance with Katie Richmond. Not one to be deterred, I went with my girlfriends. I got to watch him make out with Katie. Let’s just say it made for a memorable night. I felt like the fool he played me for, but I vowed to learn from my mistake. That put an end to my “Chasing Chase” period.
I dated a guy junior year who cheated on me. Of course I was the last to know. But I held out hope for love. I don’t think it would be fair to write off all men for the mistakes of a few. So I looked forward to college and meeting more mature men. I discovered maturity and college boys don’t go hand-in-hand. I went out with lots of frat guys―nothing serious―until Gavin. He changed my outlook. He was a poet, like Lucy, and wrote the most beautiful poems that left me in awe. I think I’ve always been drawn to people who are writers. He was deep and profound and unlike any man I’d met before. I should’ve known. As it turns out I wasn’t the one he was in love with. Once again, I was just a stepping stone. And once again, I ended up with a broken heart.
I’ve dated guys since but it’s been a long time since I’ve fallen in love. Maybe it’s because my guard is up. I’m trying to stay open to the possibility and not let my past mistakes color my outlook. I want to fall―hopelessly and completely. But I won’t be that naïve girl anymore. If that means keeping someone like Brett around so be it. Brett and I have a no-strings attached arrangement and hook up every once in a while. We have zero feelings for one another, so that takes out the complication of emotions getting involved. It’s my turn to have someone waiting on the backburner. Maybe knowing I have him even though it’s only physical makes me feel less alone. Or gives me the security to venture outside of my comfort zone because he’s my fallback. He and Lucy. He meets my physical needs and she meets my emotional ones. Together, they are the perfect combo. Maybe I don’t need more.
But tonight, I do.
I’m restless because the night ended sooner than expected. So I text Brett to see if he’ll come over. He usually responds back right away. But it’s a good twenty minutes before I hear from him. When I do he says he’ll by over by eleven. Great. And my legs are already shaved, so that’s a bonus. I freshen up then change back out of my PJs, which is silly considering my clothes will be coming off again soon. But still, I want to look presentable.
My phone buzzes and it’s my doorman letting me know that Brett’s in the lobby. “Send him up,” I tell him. I open the door and he walks in and plants a scorching kiss on my lips before heading straight for my bedroom. I haven’t seen him in a few months but we have no problem getting reacquainted.
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Did you miss my last post? Be sure to check out the Prologue & Chapter 1 at the links below.