Not that I’m going to let that stand anymore—I am hiring a divorce attorney even if I need to sell all my plasma, and most of my blood, to do it. God knows, with the rates divorce attorneys charge per hour, one meeting would cost me nearly every drop of red blood cells I have.

“Yeah, well, you have to start somewhere, right?” This time, he is a lot less subtle when he reaches out and takes my hand in his, turning it palm-up so he can run a finger over the inside of my wrist.

I shudder involuntarily, and he winks at me. “See, that part of you is definitely not dead.”

I don’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t a good shudder or that I reacted that way because it’s the same spot Karl used to touch me to signal he was horny. Some things dates don’t need to know, especially not earnest dates who are doing their best to be nice.

So instead, I just shrug and murmur, “Maybe not.”

The waitress comes to take our order before he can say any more. I order a milkshake and a cheeseburger. Mikey one-ups me by getting an order of fries to go with his burger and shake.

After the waitress leaves, he leans back on his side of the booth and teases, “You know, you’re not the only one who had a history before we met.”

“Oh yeah?” I lean forward, propping my forearms on the table. “Do tell.”

“I’ve actually taken two women here for a first date. The first was Mary Katherine. She was my seventh-grade crush, and I was completely gaga over her curly blond hair and bright green eyes.”

“I bet. Mary Katherine sounds like a looker.”

“Oh, she was,” he says, voice rich with amusement. “Absolutely.”

“So how’d it go?”

He shakes his head, a mock frown on his face. “The first time, I crashed and burned. She broke my thirteen-year-old heart into a million pieces.”

“That sucks,” I say, trying not to giggle. “And the second time?”

“I’ll tell you tomorrow.” He gives me a cocky grin. “But it’s looking good so far.”

And that’s it. I crack up. I just absolutely, positively crack up. Because— “Did you just Top Gun me?”

His grin grows wider, and the gleam in his eyes gets a little bit more wicked. “Maybe I did. Did it work?”

“I don’t know.” I sit back as the waitress delivers our food. “But so far, it’s not looking terrible.”

“I’ll take that,” he says, dipping one of his fries in ketchup.

I pick up my burger and dig in. Mikey is way too nice of a guy for his own good. Which is probably why I say yes to a second date—dinner this time—when he drives me back to my house and insists on walking me to my garage door.

This is the right move. I don’t want to like assholes anymore. Been there, done that, and do not want the T-shirt or anything else, for that matter. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that not-an-asshole Mikey is hot and built and younger than me.

Even if he does make me crack up all over again when he climbs back in his truck after dropping me off, then starts singing “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” to me through his open window—except he changes the words so that it’s more like, “You’ve Found that Lovin’ Feelin’.”

A couple of guys walking their dogs nearby join in—just like in Top Gun—and I am blushing and grinning like my teenage self by the time I finally walk inside.

My vaginal exorcism is off to an amazing start.

Chapter Eighteen

   Am I still grinning a few hours later as the sun starts to set? I am, and I kinda like it, even if my cheeks are gonna be sore tomorrow.

No doubt my back is going to be aching, too, I figure, as I grab another one of the copious trash bags I have to haul to the curb, since tomorrow is trash day. While there is a part of me that’s tempted to wait for the dumpster, I can still hear Nick’s voice telling me it might be a whole month before I get approval. I am not okay with leaving them around the house or backyard until then—not when I still have so many more rooms and closets and trunks and boxes to clean out.

Fuck my life.

Sometime around trip twelve or thirteen—when I’m hot, sweaty, and red-faced—Nick pulls into his driveway again, except this time he actually parks in the garage. Home for the night, apparently, with a life about as exciting as mine.

I head up the driveway at as fast of a clip as my exhausted body can manage—no one needs to see me like this, least of all one of the most attractive (even if he is one of the grumpiest) men I’ve ever met. I know appearances aren’t everything, but right now I look like I’ve been ridden hard and put away wet. Very wet, and not in a good way.


I freeze right there on the biggest crack in the driveway as Nick yells my name a second time. Then reality hits that he wants to talk to me—looking like this—and I take off up the driveway at twice the speed. Almost to the door, almost to the door, almost—

“Mallory! I know you hear me!” Nick’s voice rings with exasperation at the same time as his hand brushes my elbow. “What’s going on?”

A zing works its way up my arm from where he touched me. “Oh, Nick!” I press a hand to my heart and lie my ass off. “You scared me! I didn’t know you were there.”

Also, how in the fuck did he move so fast? Is his mom a vampire?

The look he gives me says bullshit, and I brace myself for him to call me out on my lie. He doesn’t, though. Instead, he takes a step back, and I realize two things. One, he looks really, really good in his black pinstripe suit—like, supermodel good. He must have changed into a different hot-guy suit after I saw him this afternoon. And for the first time in a very long time, I’m tempted to reach up and brush an errant lock of hair off a man’s forehead.

I resist, partly because I don’t want to explain to Nick why I’m petting back his hair and partly because there is no way I am going to let myself touch him in any manner. Not Nick, with his growly ways, surly attitude, and ass that defies description but makes me weak in the damn knees.

The second thing I realize, once I shake off whatever bizarre attack of formerly suppressed hormones almost crippled me just then, is that he’s carrying a folder with my name on it.

“What’s that?” I jerk my chin toward the folder with the same wariness I reserve for snakes and ex-husbands, which are basically the same thing.

“It’s just a folder with the forms you need to fill out for the dumpster.” He shrugs off my concern as if it doesn’t matter, as if something with my name on it isn’t my business. “Why?”