A Los Angeles Love Story – Excerpt

BROOKE. I want to vom when Dominic or Pablo or Pedro or whatever the fuck the Uber driver’s called rolls to a stop at a red light on Santa Monica alongside a wall plastered in posters of Joel Manning and Alissa Carmichael—AKA Joelissa, Teen Vogue’s Cutest Couple of 2016—sucking face and holding hands at the Santa Monica Pier, the Observatory, a Mulholland overlook. The posters are for A Los Angeles Love Story, Joelissa’s first movie as co-stars. Before the puke reaches my mouth, a hobo staggers up to the wall, unzips his fly, and pisses all over Joelissa’s faces. I down the last mouthful of absinthe from a Voss bottle and Ashley One looks up from her phone long enough to see what I’m seeing and say, “Gross.”

“I know, right?” I agree. “Alissa’s skin is dry as fuck and Joel’s so scrawny.”

The light turns green, the Uber rolls forward, and the driver asks us what our plans are for the night.

I’m already checking my Insta notifications when I tell him, “It’s rude to ask too many questions.”

He apologizes and turns the radio up. A newscaster is talking about a missing girl. Apparently she’s the forty-ninth waitress, hostess, or bartender to be reported missing in Los Angeles County since April. Her friends and loved ones are worried. He says she worked at Mastro’s Ocean Club in Malibu.

“OMG, I love Mastro’s!” I say, spinning around to face Ashley One. “That’s where that Silicon Beach douchebag took me on Valentine’s Day. God. Remember him?”

“The one who’d just sold the app?”

“Yeah, the ‘Tinder for groceries’ guy.”

“What does that even mean?”

“I don’t even know, girl. I forgot to ask. All I know is I ordered the lobster shiitake salad with spicy lemon dressing and it was to die for.” That’s not a lie. It was. But it’s not why I ordered it. I wanted to see if he’d flinch if I had the most expensive thing on the menu and even though he totally did, I still let him fuck me in the back seat of his Camaro.

“I didn’t know Mastro’s do a lobster shiitake salad.”

I think about what Ashley One just said and an uneasy silence falls over us. It’s filled by the newscaster on the radio, his voice a flatline. “Earlier this morning, Dallas Everett’s parents made an impassioned plea for anyone with information on their daughter’s whereabouts to step forward.”

“You know, girl, you’re right,” I realize while using my phone camera to touch up my lip gloss. “We went to Nobu. I don’t know why I always get those two confused. They’re, like, totally different.”

“So different,” Ashley One agrees.

“I should go back to Nobu. The monkfish with caviar is supposed to be bomb.”

Another guy on the radio speaks. Probably missing girl’s dad. “Please, if you know anything at all, if you think you’ve seen our little girl—”

“This is super depressing,” I groan, throwing my head back before turning to Ashley One. “Ash, isn’t this super depressing? I’m, like, so depressed right now, you have no idea. I don’t think anyone in the history of the universe has ever been as depressed as I am right now.”

She shakes her head, “It’s a total bummer, B.”

“Such a bummer!” I slouch my shoulders and sigh. “Xanax?”

Ashley One checks her Chanel clutch. “I’m all out.”


She pulls out a pill bottle. “Ativan?”

“Me me me me me!” I throw my hands out, palms open. She gives me a pill and without any absinthe to hand, I swallow it the hard way. Missing girl’s dad is still mid-monologue—it sounds like he’s crying—and I lean forward, resting against the back of the driver’s seat. “Can you, like, play some music or something? This is so depressing.”

“Yes, miss,” he says, already scanning the radio, landing on the opening chords of “Get Lucky.”

“This is my favorite song ever. It’s, like, so totally retro and I don’t even care. Turn it—”

He’s already scanned past it, finding some country music bullshit.

“Go back! Go back!”

He does as he’s told and Ashley One and I jump up and down in the back seat, filming ourselves screaming the lyrics for Snapchat reasons. “Get Lucky” is followed by “I Can’t Feel My Face” and when that ends, the driver’s struggling to find a place to pull up outside Doheny Room.

“I could drop you over there?” he suggests, pointing to a street corner on Santa Monica.

Ashley One pouts. “But how will we get from there to Doheny Room?”

“You just have to cross the street.”

“Have you seen these heels?” she asks.

“That’s not a viable option,” I add.

“So not viable.”

In the time it takes the driver to do a U-turn on Santa Monica and find a spot outside Doheny Room, we’ve made a snap of ourselves rocking out to “Trap Queen.” Exiting the Uber, I rate the driver three stars and we walk straight by the fuckboys and basic bitches who’ve almost definitely been lining up for an hour or longer and straight up to the door guy who bites his knuckles, says, “You ladies look fine,” and lifts the velvet rope. With Ashley One by my side, I walk into da club like I own the place.


CHASE. “Get Lucky” plays through the Sonos sound system around my apartment as I step out of the shower, towel off, unplug my Philips Norelco stubble trimmer from the charger, spread my ass cheeks, and trim the hair around my hole. This has been my Friday night ritual ever since I returned from shooting All That Glitters in Vancouver and a server from 41 Ocean surprised me with a finger in the ass. The next day, I tried Nair and the week after that I tried waxing, but ingrown hair’s a bitch, so I ended up buying a second stubble trimmer and haven’t looked back. Granted, no one’s stuck anything—much less a finger—up there since, but of all the risks I’m willing to take, reading about my ass hair on TMZ isn’t one of them.

When I finish, I unscrew the attachment, screw in the nose hair trimmer, and get to work in my nostrils, using the mirror over the sink to make sure all’s good in the hood. I then trim my stubble, splash some Clive Christian No. 1 for Men on my neck, tweeze a few hairs from between my eyebrows, and get dressed—a fitted Hugo Boss shirt, slim-fit jeans from Guess, and Kurt Geiger high tops. Inspecting myself in the mirror confirms I’m battle-ready. Now I just need to make sure everything else is. I tidy the apartment, pull the bedsheets tight, open a few windows, and grab a handful of Magnums and a switchblade from the bedside drawer. I put the Magnums in my wallet and tap the business end of the blade with my finger. It’s blunt so I sharpen it, and when I’m done, I fold the blade away and slip it into my right shoe in time to hear a knock on the door.

Jay, wearing a pleather jacket over a scoop neck tee, stands on the other side of the door with a shit-eating grin. “Ready to kill it, killa?”

“Fo’ sho’, bro,” I reply, pulling him in for a bro hug.


BROOKE. It takes less than ten minutes for us to find Ashley One’s boyfriend, Jared, sitting at a table. He’s with two guys—each in denim jackets, ripped jeans, and Yeezys—and five blondes in low-cut dresses. He kisses Ashley One for what feels like forever before greeting me with a hug and a kiss on each cheek. “Brooke, it’s so good to see you,” he says.

“Oh my God, you, too!” I tell him. “How was New York?”

“Fuck that scene. I just got back from London.”

“Same diff.”

“What about you?”

“I was in Cannes last month.”

“Cool. Did you hit up VIP Room?”

“Shit! I, like, totally forgot. I never even left the InterContinental.”

“I love that place.”

“It’s amaze!” Ashley One is now kissing Jared’s neck and I look beyond them to the other guys at the table. “Who are your friends, Jared?”

“This is Jensen and Jonny.” I smile and shake their hands. He turns to the five blondes, “And this is Ashley, Ashley, Ashley, Ashley, and Ashley.”

While Jared and Ashley One catch up, Jensen and Jonny resume their conversation with the other Ashleys. Unable to tell if I’m thirsty, bored, or having withdrawals, I interrupt, a flirtatious twinkle in my eye, “So, Jensen and Jonny, what are we drinking?”

Either Jensen or Jonny pours the table vodka into a glass, mixes it with cranberry juice, and hands it to me. I pass it straight to Ashley One and shake my head. “What are we actually drinking?”

Jared turns to Jensen and Jonny. “B’s all about that absinthe.”

“My kinda girl,” says the one who didn’t try to give me vodka cranberry. “I’ll hook you up.”

“Ooh, I like this one,” I tell Ashley One and Jared as I follow him to the bar, my arm around his. I do shot after shot of absinthe while he downs a few tequilas and, with a hand strategically placed on my waist, tells me about the movie he’s producing and the actors already attached, casually name-dropping Taylor Lautner and Andrew Garfield. “Oh my God, this must be the role Taylor was telling me about. That’s so cool,” I say, my face less than an inch from his so he can hear me over the pulse of a Kevin Gates track.

“Yeah, yeah, must be,” he replies.

We go back to the table where Ashley One is laughing and smiling and whispering God knows what in Jared’s ear, and I let Jensen or Jonny rest his hand on my thigh while he tells me about his Ivy League education, the countries he’s visited, and the cars he owns. I encourage each revelation with a hand on his forearm and an “Oh, wow, that’s amaze,” and every time he enters the next phase of his spiel I down a shot of whatever alcohol’s within reach: absinthe, tequila, even—God forbid—table vodka. When he’s drunk enough we kinda make out a little and then we’re dancing. A Drake versus Kanye remix fills the club and Jensen or Jonny half-heartedly shifts from foot to foot, biting his lower lip as I grind against him. My back to him, I fold my body into his, grab the back of his head until he’s close enough to breathe me in, and guide his hands below my waist until he’s stroking my thighs and lifting my dress. Ashley One and Jared are dancing, too—still laughing, still smiling—while Jensen or Jonny’s penis, hard, presses against my ass and I wonder how many people have viewed my Snapchat story. Eventually we’re kissing, his tongue swirling around my mouth and with a hand under his shirt, I claw at his back as he grabs my ass and holds me tight against his body. It’s clumsy, uncoordinated. He doesn’t seem to notice. If he does, he doesn’t care. I don’t think he can handle his tequila.


CHASE. The door guy, Bryan, doesn’t make eye contact as he raises the velvet rope for Jay and me to enter. A few Fridays ago, Bryan recognized me and went for a fist bump as he raised the rope. I’d been pre-gaming so I don’t know if it was his fault or mine but, like ships passing in the night, our fists missed each other, and neither of us have been able to look the other in the eye since.

Doheny Room is hopping and a bottle girl shows us to our table and pours us each a vodka cranberry. “If there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask,” she says.

“Much appreciated,” I reply. “Thank you.”

“Thank you,” Jay echoes, his voice terse, his eyeline never once rising above breast level. He’s sitting back, glass in hand, overtly scanning the club, his attention belonging to whichever pair of legs are walking by at the time.

I turn to him and ask, “How’s your week been?”

“It a’ight,” he replies without once looking away from the girls passing by. “Same old. Yours?”

“Got a callback for the Apatow flick next week. It’s only a scene and it would mean flying to Atlanta but whatever.”

“Oh, yeah?” he says, hypnotized by a couple on the dance floor—a blonde in a tight dress grinding against a preppy try-hard in a denim jacket and Yeezys, his hands creeping up the back of her dress. “Atlanta’s pretty hot.”

“Yeah,” I reply and three minutes later I stand up and tell him, “I’ma do a circuit.”

“Make me proud, killa.”

I walk through the club with purpose, occasionally meeting the gaze of the girls I pass, offering them a boyish smirk and a tip of the head, until I arrive at the bar where a brunette in a low-cut white top and miniskirt is waiting to give a drink order. She’s petite, as attractive as any girl here. But she looks a little out of place, walking the line between bored and lost, like there’s a million places she wants to be and this isn’t one of them. She also looks very familiar.

I sidle up to her, hitting my mark, my posture relaxed but assertive, strong yet approachable. I’m walking a line of my own—pretending I’m waiting to give a drink order, but not so convincingly that a bartender will actually serve me before I have a chance to introduce myself to the girl. Pretending to look around, I catch her attention for a fleeting second and dazzle her with my smile. She blushes a little and I ask, “How’s it going?”

Suddenly she looks less bored, less lost, exaggerating a pout as she says, “My friends abandoned me!” her voice barely audible over a remix of Rihanna’s “Work.”

“Sounds like you need better friends.”

She twirls a strand of her hair around a finger. “Are you auditioning?”

I laugh and offer her my hand, accepting the challenge. “Chase.”

“Melissa,” she replies.

“What brings you out tonight, Melissa?”

“It’s my first Friday off in forever.”

“It’s your what?” I ask, pretending not to hear her.

“It’s my first—” I mime that I’m deaf, an excuse to get closer, and place a hand on the small of her back. Melissa’s breath is warm against my ear when she repeats, “It’s my first Friday off in a month.”

“I feel that,” I say, hoping this means what I think it means. “Where do you work?”


I knew I recognized her! My heart palpitates, my palms sweat. I’ve never fucked a girl who works on Abbot Kinney before. This is a big moment for me. Attempts to curb my elation fail and I feel my face light up. “Hostess?”



“That’s a cool spot.”

“What about you? What do you do?”

“I pretend to be people I’m not, professionally.”

“You know there’s a word for that, right?”

“I do. I just try not to use it.”


“I feel myself turning into a douchebag every time I do.”

“Say it!”

“I’d rather not.”

“I won’t judge.”


“Please,” Melissa says, batting her eyelids. She’s cute.

“I’m an ac—” I stop myself. “I’m an ac—” I bow my head in failure. “I can’t do it.”

“This makes me worry for your career,” she jokes and then takes a moment to really look at me, searching my eyes, holding my gaze. “Wait! I know you!”

“You do?” I ask, feigning surprise while scared shitless she recognizes me from Gjelina.

“I do! You were in that show with Joel Manning. All That Glitters, right?”

Relieved, I match her enthusiasm. “I was!”

“Oh my God! You’re Troy! I love Troy!”

“And I love Gjelina! What are the odds and what are you drinking?”

“Vodka cranberry.”

“Keeping it simple.”


“It just so happens I have a table here. And that table just so happens to have vodka and cranberry…”

I gesture her to follow me and she does. For two steps. “Wait,” she says.

“What’s up?”

“If you have drinks at your table, why were you waiting at the bar?”

A lesser man would be caught off guard by the question. But I’ve done my homework, I’ve learned my lines. “I was shamelessly looking for an excuse to say hi to you.”

Small talk carries us from the bar to my table. Soon we’re dancing and the bass of a Weeknd track rumbles through our bodies and I feel the heat trapped between us and the beat of her heart against my chest. I’m drowning in the emerald pools of her eyes, losing myself in the moment. I’ve never wanted to kiss anyone as much as I want to kiss Melissa right now and the next thing I’m aware of is our lips touching. Between kisses, she looks up at me, enamored but vulnerable, and says, “You’re trouble.”


BROOKE. A stranger wearing my face stares back at me. I squint, she squints. She leans forward, I lean forward. I fix my hair, she fixes her hair. Her bright blue eyes are vibrant, makeup perfect, blonde hair luscious, skin flawless, breasts perky. She’s young, her whole life ahead of her. She could be anything she wants to be: A Teen Vogue cover girl, the love interest in a Bieber video, an Instamodel. Her eyes sparkle and the room lights up. She looks like she’s having the time of her life in the prime of her life, happily oblivious, pleasantly vacant. Everything she is, everything she has, is all I want.

The restroom door flies open and Ashley One tumbles in. “Fuck me,” I mutter so quietly she won’t hear over the Bryson Tiller remix that’s playing. I raise my voice a few octaves and say, “Hey, Ash! What up, girl?” as she joins me in refreshing her lip gloss at the mirrors above the sinks.

“Oh my God! Did you see Ashley with that guy?” she asks through the reflection in the mirror.

“Which Ashley?”

“The blonde one.”

“In the blue dress?”

“No. The one in the purple dress.”

“Oh, that Ashley.” I search my Jimmy Choo clutch for lip gloss. “I did.”

“That was nasty.”

“So nasty.” I start touching my lips up and a silence follows. It unnerves me. “Her shoes are so ratchet.”

“I overheard her telling one of the other Ashleys that she got them from a new boutique on Melrose.”

I don’t know what to do with this information so I screw my face up and say, “Ew.”

“I heard they’re paying her to endorse them on Insta.”

“Double ew.” I lower the lip gloss and turn to Ashley One. “What store is this?”

“I don’t know. Milano’s or something.”

I turn back to the mirror. “Never heard of it. Bet it’s east of Fairfax.”

“Try east of La Brea.”

“That’s so tragic.”

I feel Ashley One looking at me through the mirror. “Your lips look amaze.”

“Really? Thanks, girl!” I put the lip gloss away and pull out a snuff bullet.

“The guy you’re dancing with is hella hot.”

“Oh my God, are you, like, reading my mind or something? I was just about to say the same thing.” I take a hit from the bullet. “Is he Jensen or Jonny?”

“Girl, you’re so bad!” she says, not answering my question. “He seems pretty chill.”

“Like Netflix-and-chill-chill?”

I hand her the snuff bullet and she takes a hit. “Totally.” She gives the bullet back and puts her gloss away, fluffs her hair, and brushes a strand from her forehead.

“What do you see when you look at me?” I ask her.

She turns to me for a split second, barely looking, and without much thought says, “A total smoke show.” I look back to the mirror, considering her answer, and she asks, “Ready to get back out there, girl?”

I hook my arm around Ashley One’s and reply, “You know it, girl.”


CHASE. I tell Alexa to play X Ambassadors’ “Gorgeous” and the song fills my apartment as I ask Melissa if she likes wine. I’m already pouring two glasses of chilled Pinot grigio when she replies, “I love wine.” Hovering by the wall on the opposite side of the kitchen, she clasps her left arm with her right hand, watching with uncertainty as I circle the kitchen island and hand her a glass. “Thank you,” Melissa says.

She’s sobering up, having second thoughts, more self-conscious than she was in Doheny Room. The Uber from there to here was only ten minutes. Three minutes quicker than the app predicted but long enough to dampen the momentum. I offer her the same charming smile I flashed when I first approached her and she blushes a little as I raise my glass in a toast. “Cheers.”

“Cheers,” she says, clinking glasses.

Our eyes don’t part as we take a sip and when we lower our glasses, I walk towards her, rest my free hand against the side of her face, and lean in to kiss her. Her doubts melt away as she opens herself up to my kiss, sets her glass down, and lets me lift her atop the counter. She wraps her legs around my body, keeping me close, and the kissing intensifies, our hearts racing, curious hands exploring bodies. She pulls away with a lingering look that leaves me craving her touch. It’s a look girls only have when they’re smitten, consumed by the moment. It’s a look that tells me she wants me as much as I want her.


BROOKE. I think I’m in Santa Monica or Brentwood. Possibly Westwood. I don’t know and I don’t stop kissing Jensen or Jonny long enough for him to see what he’s doing as he fumbles to unlock the front door to his apartment. He finally manages to turn the key and I take everything I can get from him as the door flies open and we tumble inside. He tries to turn the light on but I don’t let him, telling him between pants, “I really wanna fuck.”

He doesn’t have to be told twice, leading me through his darkened apartment into a bedroom. I throw him down on the bed and straddle him, captivating him with kisses, my fingers already unbuttoning his shirt. He’s as annoyed as I am that the struggle to free his arms from his sleeves is keeping his hands away from me, so I use the time to loosen my dress and let it fall to my waist. When he’s free of his shirt, the first thing he sees through the darkness is my breasts staring back at him. He responds by burrowing his head between them, kissing them all over until his mouth finds a nipple and he sucks on it while running his tongue over the tip.

Moaning, I draw deeper breaths, letting him feel the rise and fall of my chest against his face. I feel his cock beneath me, straining against his pants, so I take the cue and undo his belt, freeing his dick. “Relax,” I purr, pushing him down hard on the mattress, my body slithering down his, stroking his cock with my hand as my hair tickles his chest, and I do what is wanted of me, what is expected of me: I take him in my mouth. I don’t even react when he grabs the back of my head and drives himself deeper down my throat.


CHASE. My tongue brings Melissa to the brink of ecstasy and she tenses, claws at the sheets, her back arching as she comes and just as quickly relaxes. She’s soft to the touch as I crawl up her naked body and when our faces are level, she kisses me and I enter her, slowly thrusting in and out, my movements responding to hers, our eyes locked, two lost souls feeling a little less lost.


BROOKE. Jensen or Jonny thrusts into me, the sound of his waist slamming into my ass cheeks drowning out his grunting and groaning. My moans make him even more enthused and I help him spin me around so he can climb on top of me, missionary. He buries his head between my neck and the pillow and thrusts harder and faster. Rolling my eyes, I scream, “Oh, yeah!” Climaxing, he collapses, crushing me under the weight of his body. He stays there longer than I’d like and when he eventually rolls over, he tells me I’m amazing and I tell him I know.


CHASE. Climaxing as one, we punctuate the experience with a long, loving kiss before I roll off Melissa and she rests her head on my chest. Her hair smells good, like passion fruit. I let myself enjoy it until she angles her head up to look at me, her voice as soft and supple as her skin as she says, “You’re different.”

“Than what?”

She shrugs her shoulders a little. “The usual douchebag fuckboys who hit on me.”

“That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

“Jerk,” she says, playfully hitting my shoulder. “I mean it, though. You seem like a cool guy. Especially for, y’know, an actor…”

“Now who’s the jerk?”

She laughs a little before breaking eye contact, shy. “I just—”

“What? What’s up?”

“My dad…” Melissa takes a moment, choosing her words carefully. “He passed away two months ago. Tonight is the first time I’ve gone more than ten seconds without thinking about him.”

Her eyes, now watery, blink and a tear falls down her cheek. I wipe it away with a thumb and hold her tighter. I don’t want her to feel like she has to be someone else around me. “I’m sorry,” I tell her.

“Don’t be sorry,” she says. “It was literally every moment of every day. It was getting exhausting.” With a sweet smile, she adds, “I needed this. Thank you.”

I kiss her forehead. “Melissa…”


“I really like you.”

“I really like you, too.”

“Is this gonna be one of those things where we wake up in the morning, say our goodbyes, and never see each other again?”

“I hope not.”

“Can I tell you something?” I ask, butterflies fluttering around my stomach.

“Sure,” she says. “Anything.”


“Yeah. Anything.”

“I think we might have something and I don’t want to start whatever it is with a lie…”

“Oh God, you have an STD, don’t you?”

“No, I don’t have an STD.”

“Then what is it?”

I smile, steeling myself. “You know the missing waitresses around town?”

“Yeah…” she says.

“They’re not missing.”

“They’re not?”

“No,” I sigh.

“Where are they?”

“They’re dead.”

This seems to worry her. “How do you—”

“I killed them.”

Melissa processes this, laughs, playfully nudges my shoulder. “You’re funny.”

I may be funny but I’m not laughing. “I’m serious.”

She nudges me again, a little less jovial this time. “Stop it, you.”

“Melissa, I’m telling you the truth. Amy McIntyre, the waitress from Ysabel? She was in my yoga class. The server from 41 Ocean, Sarah Stevens… We matched on Bumble. I met Dallas Everett by the bar in The Nice Guy. It was a bit like how we met… She was ordering a drink and I—” And then I see it: the glaze in the eyes, the shallowing of her breath, the lack of expression. “I didn’t want to kill any of them. You have to understand I never wanted to—”

Melissa pushes me away, scrambles to leave, my worst fear coming to pass. “I have to go,” she tells me.

“Where?” I ask, sitting up.

“Thank you for tonight, I—”

“Don’t go,” I plead, snatching her wrist and pulling her back into bed, fighting to control the tears already welling in my eyes. “Please don’t go.”

She tries to free her hand but I don’t let her. I yank her back down to the mattress and scramble to climb on top of her, pinning her down with my weight as she thrashes and struggles while I reach for my switchblade.

“Please, not again. Not again,” I ramble, the words tumbling out of my mouth. I’m too distraught to really hear them, let alone vet them, crying, “Why does this always happen to me?”

Her eyes widen in fear when I release the blade. I gag her with my free hand before she can scream and drive the blade into her stomach with the other.

Tears stream down my face and I bawl, “Why does this always happen to me? What’s the point in opening up to people when no one understands?” I plunge the blade into her again, yelling, “Why does no one get me?” When she doesn’t answer, I stab her again. Blood spurts everywhere, spraying my face, my body, my two thousand-dollar silk sheets, but I can’t stop stabbing her, my emotions erupting like a volcano that refuses to be contained. “Oh, Melissa, I’m so sorry. I thought you were different. I thought you’d understand. I thought we were having a moment! ‘Just be yourself,’ they tell me. ‘But what if one likes the real me?’ I ask. ‘Then it’s not meant to be,’ they say. Well, what if it’s never meant to fucking be, Melissa? Then what?” I stab her for the last time, her blood warm and wet as it runs down my naked body, soaking the bed, forming a pool in the middle of the mattress cover. I think she’s too dead to answer my questions so I roll off her with a splash and stare at the ceiling, holding her body tight against mine, as I ask—this time not expecting an answer, “Why doesn’t anyone like me for me?”


BROOKE. “You’re cute when you sleep,” is the first thing I hear when I wake up to the sight of Jensen or Jonny staring at me. Before I can reply, he reaches to cup my face and I recoil, pulling myself out of bed. “You’re welcome to stay for breakfast,” he adds as I search the room for my clothes.

“That’s okay,” I say, finding my panties.

“Or there’s a cool breakfast spot a block over,” he suggests, desperation seeping into his voice.

I turn a light on, walking around his room in nothing but a thong until I find my dress hanging over his computer. “I need to let the housekeeper in at nine…”

“Well, I’d love to see you again sometime.”

“Yeah, that’d be awesome,” I lie, stepping into my dress.

“I tell you what,” he says, reaching for his iPhone on the bedside, “I’ma follow you on the ’gram.”

“Sure, yeah, sounds good.”

I take a hit from my snuff bullet, make sure everything’s in my clutch, and am already standing in the doorway, my back to him, when he asks, “What’s your username?”

I exhale deeply before turning to glare at him. “It’s rude to ask too many questions.” I’ve already forgotten the sight of his heart breaking in the time it takes to turn around, walk out of his apartment, and out of his life.