Authors: Sara Wylde
By Sara Wylde
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Published in the United States of America by Corvus Corax LLC
© 2014 Corvus Corax LLC
Cover Art by Sara Lunsford
“You’re pretty. For a fat girl.”
For a second, I wasn’t sure it had actually happened. An insult is one thing, but that kind of “compliment” is like getting hit in the face with a baseball. You feel the impact, but then you go numb and you’re never quite sure if something’s broken or not.
But no blood gushed down my face and when my vision cleared from the cloud of disbelief, I could see none running down his face either. He didn’t know it, but today was his lucky day. It was even money whether I would have punched him or not.
I took a deep breath, and smiled. “You’re hot. For a douchebag.”
I decided that since I’d done the time, I might as well do the crime and headed over to the dessert table. Champagne and chocolate truffle cheesecake for my trouble.
“Oh, hey. Come on. I didn’t mean it like that,” he said, as he walked up behind me.
I’ve never understood this about people. What other way could he possibly mean it? It wasn’t that I thought “fat” was an insult. It was an adjective, like any other. No, it was the way he said it that was insulting. The compliment that came with a condition, the kiss before the kick. It seemed to me like fatness had become the last legal and socially acceptable form of discrimination. Like anyone could just say anything to me, because I dared to exist while being fat.
“You know what you look like,” he said.
I didn’t even know this guy’s name and I had to say that I didn’t care to. “Are you talking to me? And if so,
are you still talking to me?” And I
know what I looked like. I was 5’10 and a size twenty-six, with DDD breasts that looked
in my cherry-print pin-up dress, which complemented my victory-rolled hair, my half-sleeve of tattoos and my Kat Von D lipstick in
Oh My Goth
. Yeah, I knew what I looked like. I looked fucking fabulous.
“Because you’re pretty.”
“For a fat girl,” I added. “There, I fixed that for you.”
“Okay, so maybe that didn’t come out the way I meant it.”
“I’m pretty sure it did.” I grabbed a flute of champagne and scanned the crowd for April. It was her birthday and she was the only reason I’d bothered to show up to a party at—I looked around for the name of the restaurant—somewhere I couldn’t pronounce, let alone afford.
“Look, I was just startled. I’ve never been attracted to a woman like you before.”
“I’ve never been attracted to a man like you.” That was a lie. I’d spent my teen years pining over guys like him. Perfect smile, broad shoulders, chiseled jaw… the standard football player-boy-next-door type who only went for size zero, blond, cheerleaders. I had no reason to set myself up for that kind of disappointment.
“Can we start over? I’m Gavin.”
I finally turned to look at him. He seemed sincere. I’d done my own share of tripping over my tongue and I guess the least I could do was agree. That didn’t mean I had to like him, or talk to him, or even go home with him. It was just a conversation. I’d taught myself a long time ago not to let words mean anything to me. Unless they were my own.
“I know.” He looked sheepish. “April and I work together at Bausch.”
Oh sweet Jesus. This was
Gavin she was always talking about wanting to set me up with. “Well, I guess that was a big fail, wasn’t it?”
“What was?” He cocked his head to the side.
Heat climbed my neck and spread up over my face. I was sure I was blushing. She must not have mentioned it to him. Color me embarrassed. “Nothing. I’ve got to go.”
“You just got here.”
“Seems that way, doesn’t it?” I started scanning the crowd for my roommate, Kieran. He’d driven us there, since my car was currently in the garage and would probably be there until shit stuck to the moon, or I paid off my Torrid credit card. Neither would ever happen.
“Can I give you my card?”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“You make it hard on a guy. I’m trying to ask you out.”
I knew his type. He thought since I was fat, I was easy. He’d show me a little attention, I wouldn’t say no because guys like him didn’t like girls like me. What a bunch of crap. Before I could answer, it was as if Kieran had sensed my distress and was at my side. He was a great wingman.
“You ready to go? We’ve got that thing.” He nodded to the door.
“Yeah. Let me find April and say goodbye.”
“She’s coming to the thing.” He grabbed my elbow.
Wait, there was actually a thing? I raised a brow.
He grinned. “It’s her birthday. Did you really think the guys weren’t going to do something for her? Come on. I’ve got to get changed.”
What he meant was he had to get naked. Kieran was an exotic dancer at a ladies club called The Rooster.
“What’s the thing?” Gavin asked, following us.
I stopped and turned to look at him. “Male strippers. Want to come?”
It was my turn to throw the baseball that hit him in the face, but he recovered quickly. “If you’ll give me your number after.”
Kieran grinned. “Sorry, laddie. Not unless you want to clamber up on stage and give it a shot.” His Irish accent was a bit more pronounced.
And that was why I loved Kieran. He was always up for any scheme or adventure.
“Why not?” Gavin shrugged.
Why not, indeed.
Kieran laughed. “Meet us there. It’s The Rooster, over off of 119
“Even money he doesn’t show,” Kieran said after we were in his shiny, black Dodge Challenger.
“I hope he doesn’t. That’s the guy April kept trying to set me up with.”
“Well, is that the only thing that’s wrong with him—that April wanted to set you up?”
“No, that’s not the problem. He said I was pretty. For a fat girl.”
“Did you junk-punch him?”
“No. But he seemed determined to want to hook up for some reason.”
He nodded to my ample cleavage. “Yeah,
“Shut up.” I laughed it off and poked through his iPod and put ZZ Ward on.
“I forgot to delete that from my playlist. Jesus, woman. If you played her anymore, you would
The woman was gorgeous and could wail her heart out. “There are worse things to be.”
“Yeah, like stuck in a car with you while you angst over her lyrics.”
“I am not angsting.”
“Yeah? Prove it.”
“Go out with Brant.”
“Nope.” Brant was another guy who worked at the club. “I just can’t do it.”
“So you wanted Douchie McDickface earlier to see you for more than your body, but you’re guilty of the same thing. Tell me there’s any other reason that you won’t go out with him than he’s 5’6.”
I bit my lip. He was right. “We can’t help who we’re attracted to.” I held up my hand to stop him from pouncing on that. “But, I never told Brant I wouldn’t go out with him because he was 5’6. I didn’t say ‘you’re hot for a midget.’ Because I’m not an asshole.”
“But you thought it and that kind of makes you an asshole, too.”
Ugh. He was right. I slumped in the seat.
“He really likes you.”
“It’s not just that he’s short. I could never date someone who does what you guys do. I’m not wired that way. I have a hard enough time keeping my confidence up without worrying about every pretty girl with a fantasy and a credit card.”
“But you know that’s all it is, right? A fantasy? I’m just Kieran when I’m not at the club.”
I rolled my eyes. “So says you who has a parade of pussy through our house.”
He smirked. “I’d do that even if I didn’t dance.”
“I’m probably the only woman in the city you haven’t banged.”
Kieran looked thoughtful for a moment. “No, I haven’t banged April, but she kind of wanted that for her birthday present.”
I couldn’t tell if he was kidding or not. “You’re such a slut.”
He shrugged. “If the G-string fits.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about the trip to The Rooster?” I changed the subject. I wouldn’t have worn the cherry dress because now it was going to forever smell like man-musk and that glitter oil they used. It wasn’t a bad smell, in fact, I kind of liked it. I just didn’t want my cherry dress to smell that way for now and always.
“Because I knew you’d try to find some way out of it. Now, I’ve got you in the car and there is no escape.”
“Is there ever?” I sighed dramatically. Not that it was actually a chore to go to The Rooster, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t know most of the guys outside the club. They came to our house, they helped me move big furniture, and worked on my car. Sometimes, I’d babysit their kids. It seemed decidedly wrong to objectify a man after I’d taken his daughter to the zoo and she now called me Auntie Claire.
“When was the last time you actually had any fun?”
I bit my lip again. I hated how well he knew me. “I’ve been working pretty hard on the website and the dress designs for
. The launch is in two weeks. If everything isn’t perfect, I don’t know what I’m going to do. My degree will be for nothing and I’ll be out of funding. I’ll worry about having fun after I have a steady paycheck.”
Kieran shook his head. “I can’t imagine living the nine to five like that. Sounds like misery.”
“Not at all. I’m doing exactly what I want to do. And I’m working way more than nine to five.”
“Right, you’re working, but you’re not living.”
“I’ll live when I can afford to live.”
“No one can ever afford to live. I came to the States with barely a hundred euro and the clothes on my back.”
“You’re also slightly insane.” The idea of just flinging myself to the wind like that and rolling with wherever I landed was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine just deciding I was sick of a place, throwing a dart at a map, and moving.
“You love me anyway.”
“Don’t let it go to your head.” I did love him. For all of his craziness, I could always depend on Kieran. In fact, if
failed miserably, Kieran would cover me until I got on my feet. I didn’t want to need that safety net, but it was nice to know it was there.
“Never that, lass.” He winked at me.
“Don’t start being cute.”
“I never stopped.”
I rolled my eyes. That was really the only thing I could do when faced with his Irish charm. Sarcasm was a kind of armor I used to shield myself. Because as much as I did love Kieran, it would be beyond stupid for me to have any feelings for him other than friendship. When he played up that lilting accent, coupled with his genuine grin and handsome face, it was my only defense.
“I still think you should go out with Brant.”
“So noted.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “Why are you suddenly a Brant fanboy?”
He didn’t look at me. Of course, he was driving, but it seemed like he was avoiding meeting my eyes. “I just feel bad for him, and you need to have some fun.”
“Fine. If it’ll make you stop poking me about it, I’ll go.”
He finally looked at me. “If I was poking you, you’d know it.”
I rolled my eyes again. “I have no desire to be number three hundred in a series of a thousand.”
“You give me too much credit.”
I eyed him and then he grinned again.
“Okay, that was a lie. But you know I love you, Claire-Bear.”
He pulled in to the parking lot of The Rooster.
It was a plain, refurbished warehouse without much to recommend it on the outside. A giant chicken had been freshly painted on to the side of the brick building and it made me giggle.
“Yes, that’s a giant cock.” Kieran added helpfully.
“Actually, it’s not.” That made me laugh harder. “It’s a hen.”
“Only you would notice that.” He shook his head. “Remember, you agreed to talk to Brant.”
“As if I could forget.”
April pulled up in the car next to us with Gavin, Hollie and Rosa.
This was going to make for an interesting night. I stole another glance at Kieran and wondered if he was really going to sleep with April.
He got out and went around to her car to open the door for her.
Yeah, he was totally going to hit that.
This wasn’t going to end well. In the beginning, I asked that my friends be off limits. I know that was selfish and totally not my decision, but if he was going to use them like Shake N’ Bake bags, I’d be the one to listen to them cry about it when he didn’t call.
April acted like this was just a hook up, but she’d had a thing for Kieran for years.
Gavin opened the door for me. “You can’t stay in the car, you know.”