Tangled Page 23

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She covers her face and giggles. I’m pretty sure it’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. She takes her hands off her face and blows out a breath. “Moving on. My ten. I’ve been with Billy for over ten years.”

I choke on my beer. “Ten years?”

She nods. “Almost eleven.”

“So you started dating when you were…”

“Fifteen. Yeah.”

So, if I’m hearing her correctly, what she’s most likely saying is no man has ever gone down on her? Don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but I just can’t wrap my mind around this. That’s what she’s saying, right?

I could cry. What a f**king sin. Spare the karaoke guy—save the bullet for Kate’s boyfriend.

“How long have you been engaged?”

“About seven years. He asked me the week before I left for college.”

Those two sentences tell me exactly what kind of man shithead Billy happens to be. Insecure, jealous, clingy. He knew his girl was out of his league, that she was going places and would most likely leave him in the dust. So what does he do? He asks her to marry him, pretty much trapping her before she knew any better.

“That’s why the ring is so…you know…small. But it doesn’t matter to me. Billy worked for six months to get me this ring. Bussing tables, mowing lawns, killing himself. This tiny stone means more to me than the biggest rock at Tiffany’s.”

And those few sentences tell me exactly what kind of woman Kate Brooks is too. A lot of Manhattan women are all about flash—the brand of the car, the name on the bag, the size of the ring. Superficial. Empty. I should know; I’ve slept with most of them. But Kate is the real deal. Genuine. She’s all about quality, not quantity.

She reminds me of my sister, actually. Even with all the money we grew up with, Alexandra doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about labels or what other people think. That’s how she ended up with a guy like Steven. He and Alexandra started dating in high school, when he was a sophomore and she was a senior. That maneuver made him a legend at St. Mary’s Prep. To this day, his name is invoked in her hallowed halls with reverence.

What’s that? Yes, I went to Catholic school. You’re surprised? You shouldn’t be. My profanity has a certain religious flavor that can only be learned through a lifetime of Catholic education. Jesus H. Christ…Goddamn it…Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…fucking Christ Almighty…holy f**king shit—and that’s just what we heard from the priests. Don’t get me started on the nuns.

Anyway—where was I? That’s right, Steven and Alexandra.

Steven is not the most handsome guy, nor the most suave. He’s not a player; he never was. Then how did he manage to bag a prize like my sister, you ask?

Confidence.

Steven never doubted himself. Never thought for a second that he wasn’t good enough for The Bitch. He refused to be intimidated. He always exuded that quiet self-assurance that women are attracted to. Because he knew that no one could ever love my sister the way he did. So when Alexandra left for college years before Steven could join her, did he worry? Hell no. He wasn’t afraid to let her go. Because he knew with absolute certainty that one day she would come back. To him.

Obviously Billy Dickhead Warren wasn’t so sure.

Two hours later, Kate and I are certifiably drunk. See us there? Staring at the stage, sipping our beers with those glazed looks on our faces. You can learn a lot about a person when they’re drunk, and I have learned a boatload about Kate. When she drinks—she’s a talker.

Think she’s a screamer too? Never mind; that part comes later.

Kate’s hometown is Greenville, Ohio. Mom still lives there, running the western-themed diner her family owns. It sounds like a real middle-America type of place. The kind where the locals eat breakfast before work and teenagers congregate after a football game. Kate waitressed there during her high school years. She didn’t mention a dad, though, and I didn’t ask. And despite being Valedictorian, Kate used to be quite the wild child. That explains why she holds her liquor so well. Apparently, she and the shithead spent their youth breaking into roller-skating rinks after hours, shoplifting, and singing in a band together.

Oh yeah, that’s what the donkey dick still does for a living. He’s a musician. You know what that means, right?

Yep—unemployed.

Why is Kate still with this loser? That’s the million-dollar question, kids. I’m not a snob. I don’t care if you pump gas or run the register at Mickey-fucking-D’s. If you’re a man, you work—you don’t leech off your girlfriend.

“Karaoke sucks,” I grunt as the blond transvestite at the microphone finishes the song “I Will Survive.”

Kate tilts her head to the side. “She’s…he’s…not so bad.”

“I think my ears are bleeding.” I motion to the other comatose faces around the bar. “And they’re dying a slow death.”

Kate sips her beer. “It’s just the wrong song for this kind of place. The right one would wake them up.”

“You’re nuts.”

She slurs just a little, “Betcha’ I could do it.”

“No way. Not unless you plan on doing a singing striptease.”

And that, boys and girls, is a show I would give my left nut to see.

She takes my cell phone off the table and wags her finger at me. “No pictures. Can’t have any evidence.” Then she gets up and walks on stage. Hear the groans of pain from my bar-mates as the music begins?

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