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“That’s such a cliché.”

“It’s an amazing cliché.” She smiled. “I have a five star picking me up for a rendezvous two hours before my runway assignment, but if you bail on the party early, walk down to the Waldorf Astoria. We can ride home together.”

“Meredith...” I set the invitation down. “I thought we agreed that you were going to stop rating every guy you sleep with.”

“I never agreed to that, and I’m not ‘rating’ them. I’m categorizing them so I know exactly who to call when I’m in the mood for a certain type of repeat.”

I gave her a blank stare.

“Like, sometimes,” she said, stirring a bowl. “I’m in the mood for a 3.5 star cock. Something good, but nothing too taxing that’ll keep me up late at night.”

“You know what? Forget I ever said anything.”

“Sometimes, I’m in the mood for a 4-star cock. Something that will hit all the right spots, get me there without a serious hangover, but something that will leave me thinking about it for at least half a day.”

“Please stop talking.” I threw a straw at her.

“And then, of course, sometimes I desperately need that undeniable, unforgettable 5-star cock that will rock my world, leave me breathless, and render me completely confused about what the hell my name is all at once.” She bit her lip at the thought. “There are a few 6-star and 7-star cocks in my contact list, but I can’t call them too often. Or else I’ll get addicted and I can’t have that. Not my style.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you might be a sex addict?”

“No, but I’ll take it as a compliment. I can’t accept being broke as hell and miserable. We both need to have something in life that makes us feel alive, you know?”

“Right...” I tossed another straw at her.

I completely understood her logic in regards to sex, but even though our apartment left us feeling miserable from time to time and I was “broke as hell,” Meredith Alexis Thatchwood was far from that.

Born drop dead gorgeous with deep brown eyes and wavy auburn hair, Meredith was an heiress in a long line of Thatchwoods—a historic staple of New York real estate tycoon royalty who owned some of the most exclusive properties in the state. Her father, Leonardo Alex Thatchwood, was constantly being mentioned as one of the most philanthropic men in the city, but to Meredith, he was simply a wealthier version of a dead beat dad. She didn’t want anything to do with him or his money.

“A few last things.” She slid my gift box toward me. “Wear everything in this box tonight and you’ll stand out. The party starts at eight, but if I were you, I wouldn’t get there until ten. No one is ever on time to these things, so it’ll look strange if you are. And I must say, I’m really looking forward to winning this bet. One hundred dollars says you’ll be meeting me at the Waldorf Astoria later tonight and telling me how chicken shit you were.”

“Well, as a non-heiress with not that much money to bet, twenty dollars and breakfast in bed says I’ll be texting you my rating of the sex.”

“I’ll draft my menu later today.” She laughed and leaned against the counter. “Okay, in all seriousness, let’s get you prepared for your first potential one-night stand.”


Later that night, I stood outside an abandoned black building on 7th Avenue, shivering as the winds whipped against my exposed legs. I was wondering if I’d somehow misread the party’s address. There was no one around, all of the windows were covered in plywood boards, and there was a FOR LEASE sign tacked to the front door.

I pulled my phone out of my clutch to call Meredith, but she’d already sent me a text message.

Meredith: Ignore the front entrance of the building when you get there. Go down the alley. Blue door. Knock six times. Mark Strauss will be dressed in gray. (I’ll have French toast, eggs benedict, and hand squeezed orange juice in the morning when you end up going home alone tonight. Thank you in advance.)

I laughed and walked down the alley, wincing as my feet adjusted to the height of my new heels. When I made it to the blue door, I knocked six times as Meredith instructed and a man in a beige suit opened the door.

“Elevator is down the hall,” he said. “Rooftop level. The host asks that you don’t take pictures or record any videos while you’re here. If caught doing so, you’ll be escorted out. Clear?”

“Clear.” I stepped past him and boarded the elevator, taking it straight to the roof. When it came to a complete stop, I found myself thrust into a sea of expensive black and grey suits, and colorful designer dresses.

Twinkling lights shone brightly against the roof’s railing, white leather couches cornered glass coffee tables that were lined with Cuban cigars, and waitresses in black V-neck dresses weaved in between guests to serve drinks.

Out of nowhere, a hostess walked up to me and handed me a glass of dark, red wine.

I took a quick sip and coughed as it burned its way down my throat.

Remembering the first thing I needed to accomplish while I was here, I walked around the roof in search of Mark Strauss. It didn’t take me long to find him at all. Dressed in all grey with a black hat, he was alone and leaning against the railing, staring at the captivating night view of the city.

“Excuse me.” I cleared my throat as I approached him. “Are you Mr. Strauss?”

“Depends.” He turned to look at me. “What are you offering?”