PLAIN AND SIMPLE, this night sucked.
Sadly, it was my honeymoon.
I sighed heavily and gazed around Masquerade, an intimately lit London nightclub where everyone wore black domino masks, some elaborate and some plain, to hide their identity. A few die-hards even sported medieval-type clothing and long, loose cloaks.
Not me though. I’d gone modern with a slinky little number and three-inch heels, putting my height at nearly six feet. Yep, I’m the masked giant in the blue dress, towering over every girl and some of the guys at the bar.
My teeth dug into my bottom lip as I gazed around the smoky club, my eyes bouncing off random faces. I felt terribly alone—not surprising since my groom was MIA.
I’d been dumped.
That’s right. Hartford Wilcox, aka Mr. Nice Guy Douchebag of Whitman University in North Carolina, had jilted me two weeks before the big wedding day as we had dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, Mario’s.
We were over. Like pay phones and mom jeans.
He’d been everything I wanted on my Perfect Man List—except for his fast-paced intercourse and overly hairy chest, but I’d overlooked those things because slow, passionate, mind-blowing sex isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I’d had that—a long time ago.
That kind of passion can cut you open and rip your heart out with a spoon.
I never wanted that kind of love lust again.
My bestie Lulu, who’d come with me to London at the last minute, poked me with her finger as we sat in front of the heavy wooden bar of the club. “Hey, Earth to Remi, get that glazed look out of your eyes and order a drink already. I’m thirsty.”
Alcohol. I nodded. Time to get wasted.
“Dang, the men in here are hotter than a billy goat with a blowtorch,” she added in her southern drawl. She fluffed her pixie-cut pink hair and straightened her black tutu.
Clearly, she was on a manhunt—as I should be.
I half-heartedly agreed, more intent on scanning the bottles behind the bar. “I want tequila,” I said.
Her face snapped back to me. “What? I know what happens when you drink that crap. You either eat a ton of tacos and puke, or you wrap yourself around some cocky bastard with a well-developed backside.”
I grimaced. Hairy Hartford had a great ass—which was probably plowing some sorority girl right now.
A short laugh burst out of me—one of those I’m-miserable-but-pretending-to-be-okay laughs I’d been doing a lot of lately. For the past two weeks, I’d vacillated between a sobbing mess and an angry woman who periodically became so incensed that “fuck” was the only word that seemed appropriate in any given situation. Going to the post office to mail he dumped me but thank you anyway cards. Fuck. Going to the wedding venue and not getting the ten-thousand-dollar deposit back. Double fuck. Realizing I was homeless fall semester—which was in two weeks—holy fuck.
Of course my mom said it was all my fault.
Looking down, I realized I’d resorted to my nervous habit—twisting my diamond tennis bracelet around my wrist like rosary beads.
You have to move on, Remi.
The bartender swaggered over to us, a tall, lean guy with a beard and a sleeve of rose tattoos down his arms. He introduced himself as Mike and asked what we wanted. Lulu stuck with her usual, an apple martini.
I ordered an entire bottle of Silver Patrón. Oblivion, thy name is Remi.
“Your funeral,” Lulu muttered as I tossed back the first shot and sucked on the lime Mike had left. I shivered as it went down, my face scrunching up from the bite.
“What does it taste like?” she asked, eyeing me.
“Like bad decisions,” I said, wiping my mouth with the napkin. “But it gets me where I want. Give me fifteen minutes and I might even attempt to dance.”
She half snorted, half laughed. “Liar.”
Yeah. Me dancing resembled a goldfish flopping on the floor.
I sucked down another drink as two guys came over and struck up a conversation with Lulu. I barely looked at them. She practically swooned when they asked us to dance.
“Let’s go have fun, Remi,” she implored as she gazed longingly at the dance floor and then back at me. The guys were already out there, motioning for us to join them.
“I’ll join in a sec.” I probably wouldn’t.
She pouted. “You’re lying.”
“Yes. But don’t worry about me.” I shoved down my no-good horrible mood and indicated the bottle of tequila. “Besides, this guy and I have a date.”
She gave me a rueful smile. “Okay, but if you see someone you want to get cozy with, go for it. Don’t sit on that stool all night and think about Hairy Hartford. You know what they say—‘Sometimes you have to get under someone to get over someone.’”
After she left, I fiddled with my bracelet and mulled. I grumbled under my breath, remembering how Hartford had sworn he’d love me forever—only to break up with me over a plate of lasagna. My mind drifted to better memories. I thought about his kindness and sweet nature, his penchant for anticipating my every need, his all-American good looks—
Oh, for heaven’s sake, stop the sentimental crap, I yelled at myself.
Lulu was right. I needed a man, someone so spectacularly different from Hartford that—
My mouth plopped open at the beautiful male who strode past me, and by beautiful I mean drop-dead sexy with a body like a brick house.
I snapped my lips shut and adjusted my velvet half-mask—the annoying feathery plumes on the sides kept sticking to my red lipstick—and turned ever so slightly to check him out. He slid into the seat next to me, tall and broad with rippling shoulders and a massive frame.
“Whatta Man” from Salt-N-Pepa came to mind.
I checked my appearance in a mirror behind the bar, mentally analyzing the odds of an overgrown, average girl like me snagging a hottie like him.
Although no one had ever called me beautiful, I did have two—okay, maybe three—things going for me in the looks department. My golden-brown hair that hung down to my shoulders, my fluffy “pillow lips” as Lulu described them, and, lastly, I had an itsy bitsy space between my two front teeth which were otherwise white and perfect. Lulu claimed the gap lent me an exotic look, like Madonna or Sookie Stackhouse. Whatever. I was a True Blood fan. I went with it.
The guy turned his head in my direction.