“I don’t know. I was drunk, and we were arguing. I just wanted to make her as mad as I was. Now, she won’t even talk to me.”
“Well, I wouldn’t talk to your dumb ass either,” Gigi said. “After ten years, and you’re bugging because the girl wants a relationship? That’s madness. I thought Marcus and I were fucked up.”
Clay laughed. “You and Small Dick were fucked up.”
Gigi finished off her double shot of Grey Goose and leaned forward toward him. She poked him in the chest twice. Hard. “You know you love her, right?”
“You love her. That’s why you’re totally insane right now.”
“Yeah,” he said softly. Then, he called for another round of drinks. “Course I love her. Doesn’t mean a damn thing to her right now.”
SNOWBALLS & AVALANCHES
There was always a moment.
That one moment that changed everything.
Clay’s moment was named Candace.
It had been a month of radio silence. Andrea hadn’t called or texted. She hadn’t been on any social media accounts. Her life associated with him had essentially been blocked since the inauguration.
Silence was deafening.
It was needy and greedy.
It ate him up from the inside out.
It cracked him around the edges, broke down his walls, and left room for the Candaces of the world to crawl in and wreak havoc.
He had promised himself that he wasn’t going to give in. All he’d been thinking about for a fucking month straight was Andrea. He swore, he was going to wait to hear from her. He was going to convince her to come back and make all those promises she wanted to hear…that he feared he would break.
Other women weren’t the answer.
It made perfect sense to him. Fucking a dumb brunette over the sink of the bar restroom wasn’t going to make him suddenly feel better. But there was always the difference between knowing and knowing.
One head didn’t exactly talk to the other.
And he’d fucking tried to stay away. He knew what he wanted. But what he wanted didn’t even want to talk to him, let alone fuck him. She wanted to leave him in that long deafening silence without even a sliver of hope. Not even a note on the goddamn table. Not even a single fucking text message proclaiming him a douche bag.
He’d wanted a chance to explain himself, to fix the shit he’d said. But she wouldn’t give it to him. She didn’t want an explanation. She wanted to get the fuck out of his life and leave him high and dry. That was her right—to be a strong woman and tell him, for all intents and purposes, to go fuck himself. He still hated it—the silence, the absence, the pain.
So, he’d given in.
He’d held off all night. All fucking night.
Ethan and Cash had found it hysterical. Having never really liked Andrea or gotten to know the new incredible woman she’d grown into—another thing that Clay knew was his fault. The guys were stoked that he and Andrea had broken up. Both egged Clay on not to just continue the life he’d been living, but to also embrace the new freedom to fuck whomever he wanted, whenever he wanted, however he wanted.
But he hadn’t.
Until Candace. Until she weaseled her way onto his fucking lap, teased him with filthy fucking words, dragged him hand over fist to the restroom, and begged him to take her like the dirty slut she was.
It was like an avalanche. It all started with one tiny snowball. Then, as it picked up speed, it cascaded down the mountain, clearing out everything in its path.
Candace was his snowball. Just one tipped him straight over the edge, like a reformed junkie doing his first line of coke after rehab.
Like an idiot, he was back at the bar every night, running through women as fast as he could go through them, trying to find an ounce of what he was looking for in any of them. He never found it. It wasn’t there anymore. It was pure unadulterated sex. No feelings, no emotions. Just lust and desire and fucking.
It was fine for a while since it kept him occupied. Blew off steam from the long workdays. Kept his friends from needling him. Kept him from thinking. Period.
There was already a girl for tonight. He’d picked her out when he walked into the place. Ethan and Cash hit on her friends, but she’d been eyeing him all night. He hated putting in effort now. It used to be fun—the chase, the game. There was no game now. That, Andrea had completely abolished.
“Are you going to go talk to her?” Cash asked, nudging him in the direction of the girl.
Ethan gave him a sympathetic look. Clay was sure he hadn’t been as sympathetic when Ethan’s wife, Terri, had left him in law school. Or maybe he was mistaking the look.
Fuck, this wasn’t even what he wanted.
He glanced over at the chick. She caught his gaze and nodded her head to the side. She raised her eyebrows and then started walking toward the side entrance. Subtle.
“I have to make a phone call,” Clay said, standing.
“Are you kidding me?” Cash asked. “That girl just invited you to go fuck her.”
Clay shrugged. “I’ve had better. Why don’t you go get her off?”
He dropped two twenties on the bar and then walked in the opposite direction of the girl. Silence was getting to him tonight. He’d told Brady that he wouldn’t call. She wanted space. He’d give her space. But, tonight…he just didn’t care about that promise. He wanted to talk to her.
He dialed Andrea’s number before he lost the nerve.
He didn’t think she’d answer. He thought she might have even changed her phone number. The locks had changed. What other damage could she inflict?
But, to his surprise, the line clicked over.
She didn’t say anything at first, as if she were debating with herself as to why she had picked up the phone. He didn’t have the answer to that, but he’d sure like to.
“Andrea?” he said.
Then, after a slow deep breath for courage, she said softly, “Hey.”
“Why are you calling me?”
He heard in her voice how she was clinging to that hardened exterior she’d built up for years. The snotty bitch who didn’t let anything touch her. He’d broken through to her before. He could do it again.