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By´╝ÜJackie Steele

“He’s probably slept with thousands of women,” I added, not least to convince myself that men like Chase came with a big, fat ‘player’ sign scribbled all over their face and private parts.

“Maybe, but experience is sexy in a guy,” Jude said, still grinning.


The guy probably had a little black book containing all the names of his conquests plus pictures so he could remember them all. If we walked into any bar in L.A. he’d probably know half the female clientele. The fact that he drove me to a stranded bar so far out of the city for our initial interview proved that point. The female population he hadn’t fucked was probably diminishing by the day, and I was one of the few remaining closed-legged women he had left to chase.

Come to think of it, my legs hadn’t exactly stayed closed, either.

I slumped against the cushions and rubbed a hand over my hip where his fingers had dug into my skin to bring my core closer to his talented tongue.

After twenty-two years of staying out of a man’s bed, even I hadn’t been able to resist him.

Men like him should come with a warning: danger to your panties.

“Aren’t you going to reply?” Jude asked.

“Sure.” I sighed, focusing my mind on what to write. Eventually, I typed up a message, then showed it to Jude.

I’m an Aries and I’m very much into the whole BDMS thing. In fact, why don’t you send over your ego right now so I can kick its ass before it can fly away on its wings of passion.

Jude laughed. “You’re a lost cause.”

“I try.” I shrugged and took a deep breath, my mood dimming as the stack of opened letters on my desk caught my eye—all reminders of my failure.

“No job yet, huh?” Jude said, following my line of vision.

I shook my head. “Not even the slightest hint of interest. Just one rejection after another. I’m overqualified for most normal jobs and not qualified enough for anything related to my degree.”

It was so frustrating, I felt like hitting a wall.

“You could always start your own business.”

“With what money, Jude? Every business needs investment. Besides, what could I possibly be doing?”

“I don’t know.” She fell silent for a moment and her forehead creased in concentration. “You have a phone, so you could offer a phone service, you know, people call in and ask for your opinion.”

Not bad…if only it were realistic and could actually make money. And then there was another problem.


“What sort of opinion?”

“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “They could call and ask you for the time in Alaska.”

“What a fantastic idea. I’ll be able to pay the rent in no time,” I said, struggling to keep my sarcasm in check. “And then I would never have to be lonely again, because between you and me, it must be heaven to have your phone ringing at the most unfortunate hours, and you get to chat to all the creeps in the world. Really, sometimes I have no idea how you come up with all those crazy plans of yours.”

Jude’s expression darkened instantly. “At least one of us can pay the bills, you know.”

I could tell she was pissed by her rigid stance. “I didn’t mean—”

“If you started blogging like me, and actually invested some time rather than giving up so easily, then your work might actually get you somewhere,” Jude said.


“I’m sorry,” I said, ready to back off, because she was right. Jude was the most inventive person I knew, and probably the most capable. She always persevered, and when one plan didn’t pan out, the next one was already waiting around the corner. She had started almost fifty blogs and worked her ass off trying to hook advertising companies before she found success with one. For that, she deserved more than just my respect.

“I can’t do that,” I whispered. “What you do, blogging…it’s amazing, but I don’t have that gift, Jude. It’s not something you learn.”

She heaved a long sigh. “I was just trying to help you. It doesn’t have to be what I’m doing.”

“I know.” I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close. “Thank you for watching out for me.” My voice broke at the realization that she was the only one who did. She was the only thing I had left in the world. While Chase seemed to be around now, it had been Jude who brought him into my life in the first place. It had been her who made the impossible possible. For a change, I wanted to do something nice for her.

“Let me take you out.” I jumped up and pulled her to her feet.

“No, Laurie.”