And finally—there’s the last gash. The motherfucker who hit her.

Delores said it only happened once, but once is way too many times for me. She wouldn’t give me his name, but I swear on everything that is holy if I ever learn it? I’ll track the f**ker down, go to his place, and break every bone in the hand that touched her.


Then I’ll break the other one, just to be sure he won’t forget.

Oh—and then there’s the story of her parents. Delores said her mother and father hooked up hot and heavy, swearing it was instant but lasting love. Until her mom got pregnant. Then her father turned into a ghost and disappeared . . . never to be heard from again.

Now that I know the details about Dee’s losing streak, everything makes so much more sense. Why she was so nervous in the beginning, even though she liked me—because she liked me.

It’s a wonder she even trusts me now. After her history, I wouldn’t have been shocked if she threw in the towel and went full-out lesbian.

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But—as cool as that would be—I’m really glad she didn’t.

The night before Thanksgiving is officially the biggest bar night on the calendar. Every year after the Day-Before-Thanksgiving Office Party, Drew, Jack, and I hit the clubs and party until the sun comes up. It’s a great time. As traditional as turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

Although, can I just say, I never got the cranberry sauce thing. Even homemade, it’s f**king nasty.

Anyway, this year I invite Dee along for the ride—the office party and the after-festivities. I haven’t hung out with the guys in more than two weeks. It happens that way sometimes. When a kid gets a new shiny toy for Christmas, the last thing he wants to do is let his friends play with it. He hordes it, hibernates with it, keeps it to himself, maybe even sleeps with it under his pillow. Then, after a week or two—he’ll let someone else have a turn.

Not that Jack or Drew are going to have a frigging “turn” with Dee the way they’d probably like—but it’s time to bring her around. Let her get to know the boys so they can see she’s a cool kind of girlfriend. The kind that plays darts and shoots pool and doesn’t put a damper on the good times.

I call Dee’s cell from outside her apartment building so I don’t have to search for a parking spot for my bike. Then I smoke a cigarette while I wait for her to come down. When she exits the building, I smile appreciatively at her outfit. Black satin pants hug her legs so tightly, they look like they’re painted on. Hot-pink stilettos match her halter top, and she carries a short black jacket in her hand. Her hair is pinned up and curled, drawing attention to the diamond necklace that falls just above her cle**age.

“Nice necklace,” I tell her as I hand her a helmet.

She shrugs. “Junk jewelry from QVC.”

I make a mental note to get her a real one. And the image of Delores dripping in diamonds—and nothing else—brings a leer to my face and a boner to my pants.

She puts on the helmet but doesn’t climb on the Ducati right away. She stands on the sidewalk, hands on her hips, looking thoughtfully at it.

“What would you say if I said I wanted to drive your motorcycle to the party?”

“I’d say you’re shit out of luck. I don’t ride bitch.”

She knocks me upside the head—but my helmet softens the blow.

“Then let me take it for a ride myself. Just around the block.”

“I . . . don’t think so.”

She pouts.

I sigh. “Have you ever driven a motorcycle before?”

“No, but I’ve always wanted to.”

“Well, I’ve always wanted to fly, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna strap on a squirrel suit and skydive from the goddamn Empire State Building.”

She steps closer and rubs her placating hands up my chest. “Come on, please? I’ll be really careful and grateful. Really grateful. Like . . . deviantly, let you handcuff me to the bed kind of grateful.”

Forget the national broadcast system—this is the test.

Am I going to stick to my man-guns, keep my pride, and protect my cherished vehicle from almost certain carnage? Or, am I going to be ruled by my dick and swayed by the promise of kinky, have-Dee-at-my-mercy-all-night-long sex?

No contest.

“Riding bitch it is.”

I slide back in the seat so she has room to climb on in front of me. Then I show her the clutch, the gas, and—most importantly—the brake.

You know that saying about your life flashing in front of your eyes before you die?

By the time we make it to the office building, I can say—without a shred of doubt—it’s totally f**king real.

I saw my whole life laid out before me. Three times.

Once for the bus Dee veered in front of. Once for the garbage cans she took out like bowling pins, and once for the cab that almost knocked us sideways.

Although, that last one wasn’t totally Delores’s fault. New York cabbies are f**king crazy—they’ll take you out without blinking an eye and won’t even check the rearview mirror to make sure you’re dead.

Leaving my bike safely in the parking deck, Dee and I walk hand in hand into the large, festively decorated conference room. Classic, upbeat music emanates from the DJ’s speakers stationed in one corner, mouthwatering aromas waft from the buffet table along one wall, and the sounds of chatter and laughter fill the room.

John Evans is good at many things—but throwing a great party is at the top of that list.

I make the rounds with Dee, introducing her to my coworkers, my executive assistant. We get some drinks from the bar and hang out with Jack O’Shay, who gives us the toned-down version of his latest weekend exploits. I spot my parents across the room—as we head in their direction, Jack catches my eye, points to Dee, and gives me a thumbs-up.

My mother’s petite—more than a foot shorter than my father who, even now in his later years, stands at six foot two. She’s getting on in years, her poofy light brown hair is a bit grayer since the last time I saw her. But her eyes—the same hazel color as my own—still sparkle with the lively sweetness they’ve always had.

She was a true debutante, raised to be elegant, poised . . . and silent.

Legend has it, she met my father when he crashed her coming-out party, and there was an instant infatuation. He was rowdy in those days—a partier—but he was captivated by her calm serenity. She was helplessly attracted to his passion. And despite my grandfather’s threat to disown her, they eloped four weeks to the day after they met.

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