“I’m happy to help you get the boutique ready, but can we cut the talk about ex-boyfriends? It’s kind of a buzzkill.”
Abby shook her head. “Oh, no. Not when he just became an ex-boyfriend a week ago. After two years together, you better believe you are not getting off that easy.”
“What?” Melanie cried. “Chet and I were together for a year. A year and a half, tops.”
“I was talking about you and me, bonehead. We’ve been friends for two years.” She waved her fingers at Melanie. “You wouldn’t let me get away with that crap. So spill.”
Melanie leaned back against the counter and stared out the plate-glass window that looked onto the parking lot. “It wasn’t a big deal. He just got too serious.”
“Serious? How serious? Did he propose?”
Melanie could hear the excitement in Abby’s voice. Why did females always get batshit crazy when you mentioned marriage?
“Holy crap. He proposed and you dumped him?”
Why did it sound so much worse when Abby said it? It didn’t matter. Once she got past this conversation, she never had to talk about it—or think about it—again. “I told him from the beginning I didn’t plan to get married. I don’t want kids, I don’t want any of it. I was honest.”
“I know, but c’mon,” Abby said. “I didn’t think I wanted those things either, but then I met the right guy, we started spending time together, and nature took its course.”
Melanie blinked hard, stopping the eye roll that ached to be rolled. “Maybe for you,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for you. If Derek makes you happy and you want that ‘till death do you part’ thing, great. It’s just not for me. There are too many places I want to go, and too many things I want to do. Tying myself down to one person for the rest of my life just isn’t one of them.”
Abby cocked her head. “This is because of Belly Dance Divas, isn’t it? Was he trying to talk you out of auditioning?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Melanie wiped imaginary dust off the counter. “The important thing is now I’ll have more time to rehearse. After work, before work—if Deffner isn’t watching, maybe during work, too.”
“As if you need it,” Abby said. “I don’t know anyone who puts in more hours on the dance floor than you.”
Melanie forced a smile. “If only that were enough.”
“What do you mean?”
“Never mind,” she said.
“So does that mean the geisha girl tattoo is off?”
“Yeah, that’s history,” Melanie said.
Actually, that was the hardest part of the breakup. Losing a boyfriend was one thing, but losing out on free ink from one of the best tattoo artists in Orange County was another. She rubbed at the mehndi-style lotus he’d given her on her last birthday. A tribal-inspired match for the rose and hibiscus flowers she’d gotten as a high school graduation present to herself.
He’d promised a geisha girl on her back to tie into the cherry blossoms on her thigh for her birthday, but that was still months away. Even if she offered to pay, that deal was more than likely off the table.
A blur of motion in the parking lot caught her eye. She watched a blazing yellow Porsche coupe screech to a halt.
“Uh-oh,” she said. “Here comes trouble.”
The excerpt will continue tomorrow…
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