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Authors: Miller,Cassie-Ann L.

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BOOK: Dirty Neighbor (The Dirty Suburbs)
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Chapter 2

 

I lie around in bed, tossing and turning and feeling like an idiot for letting Chase use my body yet again. I can’t go on like this. I can’t keep letting him do this to me…but I don’t know how to stop. I hate him but I feel desperate for him at the same time. The way he treats me kills me but each time, right before it turns sour, it makes me feel alive.

 

Ugh! I need to get out of my head, out of this apartment!

 

Although Frankie lives only six blocks away, I call my dad’s driver to drop me off. I look like shit right now. I feel like shit. And I’d die if anyone saw me like this, or worse, if my photo somehow ended up on another gossip blog tomorrow morning next to some bullshit article about Chase breaking my heart with one of his bimbos. And given that I live right across the street from a certain famous action movie star’s ex-wife and young daughter, the paparazzi have been known to wander aimlessly around the Chelsea apartment building that I call home.

 

I hit the doorbell to Frankie’s apartment when I get to the lobby of his building and I’m buzzed in almost immediately. I take the elevator up to the 6
th
floor. Before I even have the chance to knock, the door swings open.

 

Six feet three inches of lean, tanned, athletic,
shirtless
hunk greets me with a dazzling lopsided smile…unfortunately, it’s not the particular hunk that I’m looking for tonight.

 

“Hey Dom,” I say as he moves out of the way to let me into the bachelor pad that he shares with Frankie. I run my hand over my hair to smooth back my now-messy bun then I brush the lint off of my faded black sweatshirt. Although Domenic is nothing but an old friend, I suddenly feel self-conscious about my haphazard appearance.

 

“Maddie, what’s up? It’s almost midnight. What are you doing here?” Domenic asks following me into the living room as he adjusts the waistband of his grey gym shorts. Sports news is on the gigantic wall-mounted television set, replaying the highlights of tonight’s Knicks game.

 

Frankie and Domenic’s apartment is a true bachelor pad – brown and red exposed brick walls, minimalistic furniture in dark shades and dim lighting pouring through modern light fixtures. Of course no bachelor pad is complete without a well-stocked bar, a pool table and a string of eager sexual partners streaming through like a ticker tape in Times Square.

 

“Is Frankie here?” I ask, ignoring Domenic’s questions.

 

His eyes dart down the hallway as he rubs a fluffy towel against his damp hair. “Frankie’s…um…busy…with a
friend
.” There’s a small grimace on his handsome face.

 

It’s only then that I hear the faint but distinct sound of a headboard slapping into the wall again and again.

 

I bring my fingers to my mouth to suppress a small laugh. “Is it that cute one with the lisp?” I ask referring to a guy that Frankie picked up a few weeks ago when we went bar-hopping in the East Village. The two of them had really seemed to hit it off.

 

Domenic shrugs his shoulders as we sink into the couch. “I don’t know – they were already cooped up in there when I got home from my rugby game an hour ago.” He frowns as he runs his large hand across the small foreign-script tattoo inked into his left pectoral.
Seek Truth
it says in Mandarin. “Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had my fair share of randoms roll out of my bed since I moved back here three months ago; but my little brother…next to him, I’m a prude.” He drops the towel onto his knee and grabs the t-shirt that’s draped over the arm of the couch. The sleek contours of his bronzed torso ripple as he pulls the shirt over his head. I’m having a hard time tearing my eyes away from his strong chest.

 

When did he turn into this delicious sex-god incarnate?

 

He’d moved to Boston two years ago, splitting his time between starting his law degree and playing semi-professional rugby. When he came back to New York earlier this spring to start his summer internship at Cartwright Moretti Stevenson, I barely recognized him. I mean – he looked the same, but…
different
. Don’t get me wrong – Domenic has always been attractive in that boy-next-door kind of way, but when he came back, he was…
wow
! His shoulders are now broad and solid, his bronzed arms are strong, his loose curls are golden against his tanned skin…and that smile of his…that wicked smile…it makes a girl tingle.

 

I admit that I
did
have a little crush on him when I was younger – I mean what girl didn’t have a crush on her best friend’s cute older brother. But that was before I met Chase, his best friend. And yes – I lost my virginity in Domenic’s bed…but it was with Chase.

 

I don’t have any feelings for Domenic, obviously – I’m in knots over his best friend.

 

Just then, a loud cry of pleasure rips through the air before the headboard slams into the wall one last time, louder than before. “Well, at least
somebody’s
getting happy in the sack,” I say sarcastically as muffled, post-orgasmic laughter floats down the hall. I stick my hand into the bag of chips sitting on the simple wooden coffee table and come up with crumbs.

 

Domenic scoops up the remote control from the coffee table and casually edges closer to me. The movement is so subtle that no one else would notice. I briefly question whether I imagined it. “What’s that supposed to mean? How’s the love life, Maddie? What did Chase do to piss you off this time?”

 

I sigh in frustration as I lean forward and pull the tabloid out of my purse. I toss it in Domenic’s direction. He winces as he picks it up and reads the headline.
Chase DuBois Seen with Model of the Moment. Madison, Devastated
. There’s a picture of Chase locking lips with Olivia Hunter-Wiley, a freaking bimbo I went to boarding school with. She turned into an absolute witch after she walked the runway during Paris Fashion Week last fall. In the inset, there’s a photo of me looking haggard and pathetic as I was working out a few weeks ago.

 

“Shit, I’m sorry.” He places his large hand over mine and squeezes it gently. I don’t want his sympathy right now. I came here for a distraction – a distraction that Frankie would supply if he weren’t getting some ass in the other room right this minute. Domenic will have to do for now.

 

The sound of his cellphone ringing on the coffee table interrupts the comfortable silence that has settled between us over the past few minutes. I peek discreetly at the face of his smartphone. His caller ID announces that it’s “Nikki”. Domenic’s laidback demeanor evaporates instantly and he quickly hits the ‘End’ button, disconnecting the call.

 

I peer at him curiously. “How’s
your
love life these days?”

 

A pained expression pulls across his face. “Pathetic,” is all he offers.

 

I nudge him with my elbow. “Do tell.”

 

“It’s actually really embarrassing. I can’t…” His face reddens visibly.

 

I pick up the tabloid and wave it in his face. “
Hello
? At least yours isn’t in print and on sale for all of New York to see.”

 

“Touché,” he says before pulling in a sharp breath.

 

From what Frankie’s told me, Domenic has dated tons of
those
girls – you know, cheerleaders, fitness instructors, reality TV stars – girls whose whole identities are intricately woven into looking good on the outside while being downright vapid on the inside. “How’s that burlesque dancer you were seeing?” I ask to get the conversation rolling.

 

“Karen?” he asks as he scrubs his hand across the back of his neck. “That’s over. Karen’s still in love with her ex – she screamed out his name while we were having sex.”

 

I throw my hand over my mouth. “Oh, Dom – I’m so sorry,” I say, stifling a laugh. Though, I don’t want to come across as insensitive, I can’t even imagine that situation without cracking up so I change the subject. “What about Violet? Was that her name? Violet?”

 

“You mean Viola? That girl was into some crazy shit in bed. It was fun at first, but I drew the line when she tried to pour sriracha sauce all over my family jewels.”

 

I can’t control my laughter. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Dom. I shouldn’t laugh.”

 

“No, go ahead. Laugh at my pain.” I catch a glimpse of his solemn expression before he leans forward and drops the remote control on the coffee table.

 

I realize that I’ve struck a nerve in him. “Looks like both me and you are unlucky in love,” I say as a bitter smile tugs at my mouth. I’m all too familiar with the feeling that love is nothing but a cruel joke.

 

“Looks like it,” he says as he casually drapes an arm around the back of my seat, his eyes focused on the weather report now being announced on the TV screen.

 

I ease away from him, suddenly woozy from the clean, masculine scent of his skin. “Y’know what I think? I think you date the wrong type of girl. You just go after these plastic, superficial girls who look like they walked off the cover of a fitness magazine. ”

 

He looks at me earnestly with his piercing blue eyes. “Honestly Maddie, I really just want someone I can have a decent conversation with. Someone I can talk to. I’m sick of the whole ‘fuck ‘em and forget ‘em’ thing. I’m sick of screwing girls I don’t care about. It’s boring.” Our eyes transfix momentarily before his vibrant gaze drops down to my neck. “I’m looking for something with a little more…
depth
.” I feel a strange, unfamiliar buzzing on the surface of my skin. It only lasts for a moment and then it’s gone.

 

What is
wrong
with me tonight?

 

First, I let Chase ravish me when I promised myself that I’d never do that again. Now, here I am lusting over one of my oldest friends.

 

Snap out of it, Madison.

 

A twinge of guilt passes through me and I chastise myself for defiling Domenic in my thoughts. I’m not his type. I never have been. And besides, it was just hours ago that I was intimate with his best friend. I need to put the brakes on these thoughts before they spiral out of control. Domenic needs to be set up with a nice, decent girl. I scan through the Rolodex of my mind wondering which of my acquaintances would make a proper blind date for him…no one pops up immediately. I guess I’ll have to give it some more thought.

 

Domenic and I sit together in silence for long moments.

 

I manage to wrangle my raging hormones and just revel in the comfort and familiarity of hanging out with an old friend. On a night like tonight, when I’m sad and vulnerable, a simple, uncomplicated connection like the one that Domenic and I share is priceless.

 

My mind drifts back to when we were kids, growing up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Our fathers ran in the same circles – up and coming business professionals taking Manhattan by storm. Their father worked as an investment banker and my dad was building his legal practice. Frankie and I bonded over our love for ballet when we were still snotty-nosed tots.

 

At first, Domenic always seemed really annoyed by his little brother and me. We were constantly jumping around on Frankie’s bed, singing into our hairbrushes pretending to be the Spice Girls or giggling at all hours of the night, covered in acne treatment, during our weekly sleepovers.

 

As we grew older, Domenic came to tolerate us. He’s only two years older than me so we ended up having a lot of friends in common. In our late teens, we began hanging out. He never looked at me with interest of any kind – I saw the types of girls he brought home; sculpted bodies, olive skin, exotic features. His taste in females hasn’t evolved that much over the years. And I was always the flat-chested, bookworm/wannabe ballerina who hung out with his annoying little brother. Still, I always knew I could depend on him to protect me when my older brothers weren’t around.

 

I remember one time when I was in 9th grade, Domenic walked in on my group of friends playing spin the bottle. I will never forget the way he pulled me back – by my ponytail – just as my crush, Cohen Thompson, was about to give me my first kiss. I guess Domenic was trying to preserve my innocence or something. It wasn’t funny then. But it makes me chuckle now. Domenic’s always been there for me. He’d drop anything to help me. He is the definition of a true friend.

 

I sigh deeply and look up into his face. “You’re like a brother to me, Dom.”

BOOK: Dirty Neighbor (The Dirty Suburbs)
13.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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