By: Tiffany Reisz

Henry nodded.

“Yeah, I don’t blame you for that.”

“You do know why Katie dumped me, right?” Ben asked and Henry gave him a guilty look.

“Does it start with a B?”

“She caught me reading Beatriz’s blog.”

“Reading it or, you know, reading it?”

“What do you think? When I told her who she was…” Ben winced at the memory of his final fight with Katie. The relationship would never have worked anyway. Katie wanted marriage and kids and as soon as possible. He needed more time to focus on his career and figure out what he wanted from life before going down that path of no return. And then she’d caught him masturbating to a blog column written by the one woman he’d never gotten over….

“Don’t kill me or anything, dude,” Henry said. “But speaking of people whose names start with B…”

“What?” Ben asked the question slowly, emphasizing every single letter in the word.

“You’re going to need to get back in drinking shape by tomorrow.”

Ben narrowed his eyes at Henry.

“Why?” He drew the “why” out as long as possible to maximize the threatening tone in his voice.

“Because…well, Bea’s coming.”

“What? I thought she was in Spain.”

“She was. But she moved back to the States two months ago. Just in time to come to the wedding.”

“You have got to be shitting me.” Ben’s stomach dropped. Then it jumped back up again at the thought of seeing Beatriz again for the first time since college. Would she look the same? Leggy, brown-haired, dark-eyed and beautiful? Talk the same? Sexy Spanish accent and nine kinds of attitude? Smell the same? Vanilla and strawberry shampoo?

“Ben, she’s Claudia’s foster sister. She’s in the wedding. You both are in the wedding. So, you know, take that.”

Ben took it. He took it hard. Beatriz…He’d loved that girl in college. He could own that now. Back then he’d pretended Beatriz was just another girl he wanted to sleep with, and when he didn’t, he told himself it was no big loss. But here he was, five years later, still thinking about her.

“Is she here yet?” Ben asked.

Henry raised an eyebrow at him and Ben’s stomach dropped once more. It went down and stayed down this time. Ben watched as Henry spun around in his bar stool and pointed across the lobby. Ben followed Henry’s gaze to where it stopped on a woman, tall with long straight black hair and deep copper skin. She had on jeans, a camisole that did nothing to disguise the fullness of her breasts, and a wide grin on her face as she chatted with the man at the registration desk. She was, in fact, the most beautiful woman in the entire world. Ben recognized her immediately.

“She’s here now,” Henry said.

Ben stared at Beatriz across the lobby. She didn’t see him, thank God, so he knew he could stare all he wanted.

“Orange,” Ben said, noting the color of Beatriz’s shirt. “She’s wearing an orange shirt and orange high heels.”


“She’s the only woman I’ve ever known who wears orange. She looks like a tropical flower, doesn’t she? God, she looks good in orange.”

“Man, I thought I was the drunk one.”

Ben looked down at the empty shot glass and back up at the bartender. She waited for his order. Five minutes ago she’d been a gorgeous girl he’d had fun flirting with. Now she was only the bartender. Good thing. What he needed right now was a bartender and nothing else. He pointed at the shot glass. She refilled it and started to walk off.

“Wait,” he said to her. She turned around with that same seductive smile. A smile that disappeared after his next three words. “Leave the bottle.”

Chapter Three

Beatriz checked into the hotel at nine that evening, THE MANUAL still burning a hole in her bag. While the man at the desk processed her credit card and paperwork, Beatriz scanned the lobby looking for any suitable candidates to help her with her review. Maybe she’d get lucky and an “Attractive Men Looking For No Strings Attached Sexual Intercourse” conference would be happening at the Hotel Essex this week. She saw a few teenage boys loitering by the fountain. Too young. Three older couples talked in the vestibule. Too couple-y. A pretty girl about her age strode through the lobby pulling a wheeled suitcase behind her. Too female. Most days she wouldn’t have any problem with a few nights in bed with another woman, but the sex position manual was for heterosexual couples. Plus women tended to get clingy. She had no time for clingy.

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