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From Ben. [Subject:] Open this message! You’re the one with the most to lose...

From Ben. [Subject:] I know you see this email, Gillian. We belong together.

From Harry Potter. [Subject:] Free trip to Orlando inside!

From Sherlock Holmes. [Subject:] Urgent! Open me!

From Kimberly B. [Subject:] Checking in... [Open me]

From Nancy Drew. [Subject:] Surprise inside! Free unpublished story!

Groaning, I sent Ben’s messages to spam and deleted the other four emails. The numerous bill collectors I owed had grown quite creative in their efforts to reach me, and I knew that the paper versions of their notices were probably awaiting me in my mailbox.

Before I could log off, two emails from Elite Airways popped onto my screen. Their subject lines read, Exciting Elite News! and New Routes & Changes Announced! so I deleted them as well. I was done getting my hopes up about receiving the ever elusive, ‘Urgent: An Update to Your Employee Status” email.

I poured another cup of coffee and a final, loud and resounding “Ohhh my godddd!” tore through the walls. There were a few more knocks afterwards, a few more slaps against bare skin. And then, the sudden sound of shuffling—shoes, belt buckle, keys, confirmed that the tryst was now over.

Seconds later, Meredith and her flavor of the day stepped out of her room.

Jet black-haired and brown-eyed, he looked over at me and winked, and I tried not to stare too hard at the beautiful tattoos that snaked up and down his arms.

“See you soon,” Meredith whispered, opening the door for him.

“I hope so.” He returned the whisper and gave her one last slap on the ass before heading down the steps.

“Well, that was a very fulfilling four star!” She walked over and turned on the stove. “You’re home early. I thought you were going to spend your entire birthday with Ben.”

“I thought so, too.” I felt a lump forming in my throat, but I forced it back down. “Until he decided to tell me that he’s been cheating on me.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I wish I was.” I said. “But he said he only ‘uses’ the other girls for sex. He ‘damn near loves me’ he claims.”

“Ugh.” She rolled her eyes. “Well, you know I’m biased because I’ve always hated him, but if you do choose to go back, I’ll still be willing to be your shoulder to cry on. Although, I will definitely judge the hell out of you.”

I laughed for the first time today. “I’m not going back, and I’m not going to cry anymore. I’m going to treat myself to an art show and try to meet someone new tonight. Somewhat smart, witty, and funny. Someone—”

“You can fuck.” She cut me off, crossing her arms. “Do you not see the issue here? Can you not see the pattern?”

“The pattern of me wanting to find a nice guy?”

“Yes. Your exes all fit into the same boring box. Art show lovers, coffee shop sitters, sweater wearing Wall Street boys. The cookie cutter, All-American, ‘we-don’t-fuck-until-the-tenth-date’ types and they have yet to work out for you.” She pulled out a box of pancake mix. “You need to switch it up and maybe attempt having sex with no strings attached. Get a few notches under your belt to see what you like, what you don’t like, and then you can start looking for love again.”

“So, in other words, I should be more like you.”

“No, you couldn’t be like me if you tried. I don’t even think you could handle a single one-night stand, let alone no-strings attached sex.”

“I can definitely handle a one-night stand,” I said, turning around in my chair. “I’ve just never wanted to have one.”

“Ha!” She suddenly burst into loud, uncontrolled laughter, holding her hands over her stomach. She didn’t stop for several minutes, and when she finally had her laughter under control, there were tears in her eyes.

“Gillian,” she said, letting out a breath, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but having a one-night stand means you can’t expect anything afterwards. I don’t think that lifestyle is for you, no offense.”

“None taken. But since I’m newly single, and never going back to Ben, I think I’d like to prove you wrong.”

“Oh?” She raised her eyebrow. “Really?”


“Okay, then.” She walked over to the refrigerator and plucked a beige card from a magnet, tossing it to me. “How about tonight?”

“On my birthday?”

“Yeah.” She shrugged. “On your effin’ birthday. Worst case scenario, you’ll still be helping me out if you decide not to go through with it. This party conflicts with a runway dress rehearsal I have to go to tonight, and I need to drop something off.”

I flipped the invitation over and realized that the word “party” was nowhere on the card. There was only an address.

“It’s a secret party,” Meredith said as if she’d read my mind. “A lot of high profile people will be there, so the less words on paper, the better. All I need you to do is find the host—Mark Strauss, and hand him this.” She unclipped a USB drive from around her neck and set it on the table. “Tell him it’s on behalf of me, and he’ll know exactly what it is. And while you’re there, because you’ll be in great company of several eligible, sexy-as-hell bachelors, try to find someone to go home with. Say, ‘Hello, my name is Gillian,’ lie about what you do for a living, and then lie about everything else because it never matters, and get some great sex.”