Home > Man Card (Man Hands #2)(4)

Man Card (Man Hands #2)(4)
Author: Sarina Bowen


“We got that, hon,” Sadie says. “Clearly you have to fire her before tomorrow morning. Poor Zelda. Such a brief stint in the world of real estate. I had such high hopes for her.”

“Or she could take a leave of absence,” Brynn suggests. “Zelda came down with shingles and needs her rest!”

I groan into my drink. “Nobody will believe that.”

“Shingles really hurt,” Brynn says, trying to convince me.

“It’s not the shingles part I have a problem with. It’s that…dammit…Braht is too smart to fall for my bullshit.”

“Too smart, huh?” Sadie asks, trying to cover a smile. “That’s the first nice thing you’ve ever said about him.”

“Not the first,” I correct her. “He’s good at giving screaming orgasms.” Not that I’m ever having another one with him or anyone else. I’m through with men.

“I need a screaming orgasm,” Sadie sighs.

“Coming right up!” the bartender says as he passes by.

“Wait!” Sadie says, “I meant…”

But he’s already talking to someone else farther down the bar.

“I think you have a kink for fake people,” Brynn says.

“What?” I take another deep drink of the frozen goodness in my glass. It’s freezing my brain in a good way.

“Zelda isn’t your first fake person,” she points out. “There’s also Hunter. The fake boyfriend.”

“That’s different,” I grumble. But it isn’t really. Both Hunter and Zelda came to me in my hour of need, the way real people often don’t. Present company excepted.

“Are your parents still buying it?” Sadie asks. “How long have you and Hunter been a couple?”

“Um…” I do the math. “Over a year now. We’re going to have to break up soon because the holidays are coming. I like the holidays too much to skip them.”

“You mean…” Brynn’s eyes cross a little bit because she’s thinking hard. “If you were having Christmas Eve with Hunter’s folks, you’d have to be absent from your own parents’ place?”

“Exactly. Last year Hunter and I were too new to spend the holidays together. But my parents are going to expect him to turn up. Or worse—if I pretend to go to his folks’ place, I’ll end up sitting home alone. And that’s just wrong. I can’t give up Christmas Eve, not even for Hunter.”

“…Who is fake,” Sadie reminds me.

“Right. Of course,” I blather. “But we’re talking eggnog here, and that is serious shit.” Once in a while I do almost forget that Hunter isn’t real. Last month Hunter sent flowers to my office because I was feeling kind of low, and it’s weird to send yourself flowers.

Ask me how I know.

“But if you have to break up with him,” Sadie muses, “then what was the point?”

“The point was appeasing my parents.” Duh. “It’s been months since they’ve dropped all those terrible hints about what it might be like if I become a cat lady and die alone. Even if I break up with my imaginary boyfriend, at least I can show them I tried.”

“You didn’t, though,” Sadie points out. “You faked trying.”

“Are you going to charge me for this hour?” I snark at Sadie, who is a therapist. Her office has a couch to lie on and everything. It’s the real deal.

“Maybe your parents were right to worry,” she presses. “They think your ability to trust men was irrevocably harmed by Dwi…”

“HEY!” I yell before she can get the word out. “We do not say his name aloud. Especially not tonight.” I’m not even joking about this. There’s a pain in my chest when I think about him. It’s real, and it’s scary.

Sadie rolls her eyes and I feel better suddenly. “Okay. Fine. You’re a perfectly healthy person with two invisible friends. Nothing weird about it.”

“Wait,” Brynn says, a hand on her heart. “I am real, right? Ash didn’t invent me? Is this real life?” She fakes a swoon.

But Sadie grabs her boob and makes the sound of a car horn. Twice. It’s nice to see her being a goofball. “Totally real, sweetie,” she says. “You can’t honk the boob of an imaginary friend.”

“Whew.” Brynn wipes fake sweat off her brow. “For a moment there I was filled with doubt.”

“Here’s your screaming orgasm,” the bartender says, plunking a glass in front of Sadie.

We all burst out laughing. Then we unwrap three straws and each of us has a taste. “Not bad,” Brynn says. “But the real thing is better.”

“You’re the only one having them,” Sadie points out. “The rest of us have to make do.”

Brynn and I exchange a glance. Sadie keeps hinting that things aren’t going well in her marriage, but when we try to pry some details out of her, she always clams up.

Maybe tonight I have a way to ease her into talking about it. “You guys, the Michigan Association of Realtors published their Best and Worst lists today. That’s always good for a chuckle.”

“Did we win Worst Winter Weather again?” Brynn asks.

“Nope.” Although I wouldn’t be surprised. “But get this—our county is the most happily married in the entire nation.”

“Bullshit,” Sadie snorts.

Brynn and I exchange another glance.

“There’s got to be some bias in those figures,” Sadie insists. “I’ll buy that people tend to stay married around here, but that’s just pressure from the church pastor. And look at us. Brynn is very happily unmarried. And both of you are divorced. So if we live in the most happily married place in the land, we are bringing down the average. Hard.” She punctuates this with a slurp of the screaming orgasm.

“What else is this area known for?” Brynn asks. “There has to be something. Best healthcare? Most musical? Awesome Mexican food?”

Not quite. “Cheap parking,” I say with a sigh.

“Cheap. Parking,” Sadie repeats slowly. “That is really not doing it for me tonight.”

I’m just about to agree with her when my phone flashes and trills.

“Sorry,” I say and grab it, struggling to make the thing shut up. I read the text even though I don’t want to. And of course it’s Braht.

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