“I’m done with men!”
My announcement was met with doubtful expressions from my friends, Bentley, Mercy, and Harley.
Bentley shook her head while Harley studied me as if trying to decide what to say.
Only Mercy spoke. “Why?” Mercy was Bentley’s sister. Both had green eyes and curvy frames, but Mercy looked more like a pinup girl with a mass of blonde hair while Bentley had curly brown hair and a girl-next-door look.
I frowned. “How can you possibly ask me that? You’ve given up on men. You, of all people, understand the reasons to avoid men.”
“I haven’t given up on men,” she argued.
“You haven’t dated in over a year,” Bentley pointed out. I was confident Mercy hadn’t dated in closer to five years, but I didn’t say anything.
“That’s because dating sucks,” Mercy stated. “It’s not the men so much as the dating part I hate.”
“Mercy has it right,” I told Bentley. “Dating sucks.”
Harley, the bassist for Reckless Release, pushed her long, pink hair back from her face and asked, “What happened this time?” Her green eyes narrowed, and I knew she was already trying to decide if she needed to kick someone’s ass.
“I thought you were happily reunited with Mitch,” Bentley added.
“You didn’t think that would last,” I reminded her. Even I hadn’t thought it would work out. Usually, I told my friends about my break-ups right after they happened, but this time, I felt like an idiot for going against my better judgment.
Bentley moved to sit beside me on the loveseat and draped an arm around my shoulders. “Sorry, Cami. I feel like a total bitch for not being more supportive when you told me about getting back together with Mitch.”
Bentley hadn’t exactly told me it wouldn’t work with Mitch, but she hadn’t looked excited when I’d told her we were dating again.
“You don’t have to support my mistakes,” I assured her. “Giving Mitch another chance was a mistake.”
I’d broken up with Mitch the first time because he wanted me to become a corporate wife. His ideal wife didn’t work long hours; she stayed at home and occasionally did volunteer work. I have no interest in filling that role. I’m a child psychologist, and I love my job. In all honesty, I rarely work long hours, but Mitch hated that I couldn’t just cancel appointments to attend a work event with him. His career was supposed to come first. We broke up the first time because he refused to accept that I wasn’t going to give up my career. Nothing had changed. Mitch still felt his career was more important than mine.
“Was he lying about being okay with your job?” Harley asked. “You said he seemed sincere.”
“He wasn’t lying,” I replied with a humorless bark of laughter. “Apparently, one of my patients is the daughter of Mitch’s rival at work. He wanted me to give him information about her.”
“Doesn’t he work for his father?” Bentley asked.
“Yeah, but his dad’s not big on nepotism,” I explained. “Mitch has to work for promotions, just like everyone else.”
“He’s a real bastard,” Mercy muttered. “I hope you kicked him in the balls.”
I laughed and shook my head. “No, I didn’t injure him. I just told him to go fuck himself.”
“Not all men are like that,” Bentley insisted. “There are good men out there.”
“She’s right,” Harley agreed. “You’re cute, smart, and successful. If I were a guy, I’d be all over that.”
“And if you were a guy, I’d totally date you,” I assured her. “Seriously though, I need some time away from men. As a psychologist, I recognize that my desire to be the perfect girlfriend with each guy I date isn’t healthy.”
“I don’t get why you do that,” Harley remarked. “I wasn’t joking before. You’re great.”
“I completely agree,” Mercy chimed in.
“Enough!” I told them. “I don’t need all of you to tell me how awesome I am. That’s part of the reason I’ve decided to start dating myself.”
Bentley bit back a laugh. “That’s one way to make sure you always get to pick the places you go.”
“The sex will probably be better,” Mercy added. When we all looked at her, she continued. “What? I can’t remember the last time I had good sex with a guy.”
Bentley snorted. “You can’t remember the last time you had sex with a guy period.”
“I can,” Mercy assured her. “It was unforgettably bad. He complained when I didn’t fake an orgasm to stroke his ego. He suggested we watch porn together so I could learn how to fake an orgasm. Not once did the dickhead even offer to give me an orgasm.”
“Mercy officially wins for worst ex,” I announced. While I’d been with a couple of guys who were selfish in bed, none had suggested I fake an orgasm to make them feel better.
“Agreed,” Harley replied with a laugh. “Poor Mercy. As for this dating break, it’s probably a good idea.”
“It could be good for you,” Bentley agreed.
“This time, I’m going to stick with it,” I said mostly to myself. “Besides, it’s not really a dating break. I’m just dating myself. I can’t wait to see what I get myself for my birthday.”
The buzzing of my phone interrupted us. “Give me a minute to make sure it’s not about one of my patients.” I grabbed the phone from my purse and checked the number.
“Is it about work?” Harley asked when I sighed.
“It’s Xander,” I replied.
“It’s waffle day,” Bentley added. “That’s why Piper isn’t here. Austin talked her into going with him.”
Waffle day was a dreaded tradition among the members of Reckless Release. Their lead singer, Xander, loved waffles. It was insane! I’m perfectly qualified to make that diagnosis. Since the band had moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, he had yet to find a new place to get waffles he deemed worthy. The band members and their significant others took turns going with Xander when he tried new places. Even I’d been talked into going a few times. Now that he had my number, Xander called me every waffle day.
“You’d better answer it before he calls me,” Harley advised, so I did.
“I’m not making you waffles.”
“Come on, babe,” he crooned. Xander has an incredible voice. It’s deep with a hint of a rasp—the kind of voice meant for dirty talking, not that I was interested in having Xander talk dirty to me. I definitely wasn’t going there with Xander.
“Why do you do this every time?” I asked. “Why call me, begging for waffles?”
“Because you keep telling me no,” was his simple reply.
“What you’re doing is a form of harassment,” I pointed out.
“Am I really bothering you?” He sounded genuinely worried.
I was taken aback by his concern. “No,” I assured him. “I’m just messing with you. You’d leave me alone if I said you were bothering me?”
He chuckled. “I wouldn’t go that far, but I promise I won’t start stalking you.”