The Ex Games
Author:J.S.Cooper & Helen Cooper

The Ex Games By J.S.Cooper & Helen Cooper



The Ex Games


(Part I)



Chapter 1




“It’s one weekend, Katie. You’ll survive.” Meg giggled at the expression on my face. “I mean, it can’t be that bad…can it?”


“It’s going to be worse than bad.” I groaned and flopped down on her bed. “I may die. I mean it. I may literally die of embarrassment.”


“You won’t die. You may be embarrassed, though.” She gave me a sympathetic smile.


“I can’t believe this is happening to me.” I buried my head into her pillow. “Of all the jobs in all of the world, I had to get this one.”


“You were happy about it a few weeks ago.”


“That’s before I heard about this weekend training.” I groaned and stared up at her. “I had no idea he worked for Marathon Corp.”


“Well, he more than works for them now.” She laughed, and I shuddered.


“I should quit. I’m going to quit!” I cried out melodramatically. “You’ll have to take care of the rent for the next few months while I look for a job. I’ll cook and clean and be your housewoman.”


“Yeah, right. You can’t cook or clean for shit.” Meg collapsed onto the bed next to me and rubbed my shoulder. “And you know I’m saving up for my trip.”


“You’re not really going to travel around the world and leave me, are you?”


“You can always come with me.”


“But I have a job.” I whined and saw her grinning at me. “Fine, I’m not quitting. This is the job I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I’m not quitting just because he owns the company.”


“Here ye, here ye.”


“Don’t go being a lawyer on me,” I moaned at her, and she laughed.


“I didn’t go through three years of law school to just stop.” She jumped up off of the bed and grabbed my hands. “Come on, lazy bones. Let’s go shopping. You may as well look hot when you see him.”


“I don’t want to see him. Maybe he’ll have forgotten me.” The thought sent a ripple of hurt through me.


“There’s no way he would have forgotten you.”


“He’s going to hate me.” I gave her a pained expression. “Or he’s going to fire me.”


“He dumped you. He’s not going to hate you.” Meg brushed her long blonde hair as she waited for me to get up. “And we’re going to make him regret it.”


“Why oh why did Brandon Hastings have to buy Marathon Corp?” I slowly dragged myself off of the bed and looked into the vanity mirror. I wasn’t altogether displeased with my appearance, but wished I didn’t look quite so washed out. My long brown hair looked messy, but that was nothing a brush couldn’t fix. I examined my face and was pleased that my brown eyes looked bright and cheerful even though I was filled with inner turmoil.


“You look gorgeous, Katie.”


“I look like a little kid.” I groaned. “I don’t look like a manager.”


“Hey, it’s not your fault you’re super smart. So what if you’re 25 and an executive manager already? Anyone who cares about that is just jealous.”


“Brandon will care.” I sighed and I bit my lower lip as I grew serious and put my face in my hands. “Oh my God, Meg, what am I going to do?”


“It’s all in the past, Katie. You made a mistake. He can’t be holding a grudge for all these years.”


“It was a pretty big mistake.” I made a face. “Some may even say it was a lie.”


“Well, it was a lie.” Meg made an apologetic face as she spoke honestly. “But it was seven years ago.”


“Yeah.” I straightened my shirt and pushed my shoulders back like my mother had taught me. “I’m sure he’s not thinking about some silly girl he dated seven years ago.”


“You were 18, new to love! These things happen.”


“Yeah.” I nodded in agreement. “If he had half a brain he would have figured it out.”


“Exactly.” Meg linked her arm through mine and we walked to the living room. “He’s the one that broke your heart.”


“Exactly.” My heart beat slowly as I remembered the tears I had cried late at night. I had been devastated when Brandon had dumped me right before Christmas, in the first semester of my college year. Absolutely devastated. I hadn’t been able to sleep or eat for weeks. He had made my second semester of college absolutely awful. It wasn’t until the summer and a trip to London with my parents that I was finally able to accept that what we had was forever gone. He had been my first lover and my first love, but to him, I was just a little girl playing around in fairytale land.






Flying in first class was a perk of my job that I loved, even though this was the only time I had actually travelled first class. I sat back in the wide leather seat and looked out the window, trying to lose my thoughts in the clouds. I felt worried as I tried to relax and thought about what was going to happen this weekend. I had only been working for Marathon Corp for about a month. It was the first job that made me feel like a real professional, and I felt like I was going to be fired already. I was in charge of the whole New England area, and I knew that most, if not all, of the lower managers below me felt that I wasn’t qualified for the job. I myself had been amazed when I had been hired as an executive manager. I knew I had the degrees for the job: marketing BA from Columbia and a business management master’s degree from NYU. But I didn’t have that much experience – only the summer internships I’d done while getting my master’s. But I had brains and verve and a lot of initiative. And I knew that I was good at my job. However, I knew that there was no way in hell Brandon would allow me to stay if he realized who I was. I mean, there was a chance he wouldn’t recognize me. It had been seven years, and we had only dated for five months. It had been the best five months of my life, but for him, I bet it was nothing. I also knew that I looked more mature now and definitely dressed like a woman who knew the world. My usually wavy brown hair was flat ironed straight and I had on mascara and eye shadow. I looked nothing like the girl I was when I started college. Then I had been bright eyed, with minimal makeup and no hair products taming my normally wild hair. Thinking back, it should have been obvious to Brandon that I had been lying, but I knew that it was hardly his fault that I had deceived him. I hadn’t meant to, it had just been one white lie. I hadn’t expected him to ask me out. I hadn’t expected to fall in love with him.


I sighed as I remembered the first time I had seen Brandon Hastings outside the bar. That night had been one of the best in my life. Meg and some other girls had convinced me to join them at a bar in the Lower East Side that they knew didn’t card minors if they wore short enough skirts and red enough lipstick. I remembered the day clearly, it was a beautiful warm August day, not too hot, and we were all excited to be starting college. None of us had lived in New York before, and we were all pretty na?ve and green. I don’t think that any of us had really had a boyfriend in high school because we’d all been too busy studying, trying to earn our way into an Ivy League school. And it had paid off for all us – we were incoming freshmen at Columbia University, and I think the giddiness that had taken over our lives came to fruition that night.


It had been a Friday, the weekend before orientation classes were going to start, so one of the girls had the bright idea of christening our first week before classes started. I had never had any alcohol before, and was as eager as the rest to go out and party. We were in New York, why shouldn’t we party it up? We’d all dressed up in the shortest skirts we owned and the tightest tops. I’d borrowed high heels from Meg and a bunch of makeup, and we took the 1 train to 42nd Street and then caught a cab to Doug’s.


Doug’s was everything I had imagined it was going to be: dark and musty, with bright lights and lots of cool-looking people. I was amazed that we had been able to walk right in without even a second glance from the bouncer. Our plan had worked. None of us had been carded, and we walked quickly to the bar to get some drinks. Felicity, who was the one who had told us about the bar, ordered us our first round of drinks. Scotch on the rocks. It had tasted awful, and I thought my stomach was on fire as it burned slightly. “That’s just to get us buzzed faster,” she’d grinned before ordering a round of Sex on the Beach. “These will taste better, girls.” And she had been right. I guzzled two cups down within half an hour, not thinking anything of it, as they hadn’t tasted alcoholic at all. We were all just standing around when the DJ started playing some old Madonna songs, and Meg grabbed my hand and we ran to the dance floor, giggling. The other girls followed quickly and we had danced around as if we thought we were on Dancing With The Stars.


We danced all night and even though different guys came up to us, we turned them down. That wasn’t a night for us to look for guys, but a night for us to bond with each other. It was the first of many memories we were going to make together. We stumbled out of the bar at about 1 a.m. I remember that Meg and Felicity went to go and look for a cab while the other girls went to the bathroom. I stood there waiting outside the club and leaned against the wall, feeling dizzy and sick. The evening air had been cool, and I shivered in my lack of clothing.



“Are you okay?” The voice was deep and husky, and I remembered feeling comforted even though I hadn’t been able to look up.


“Do you need me to take you somewhere?” The voice was closer this time and I felt warm hands on my shoulders as he forced me to look up at him.


“I’m fine.” I giggled and looked up at him through my fake eyelashes. “Just waiting on my friends.”


“You’re drunk.” He frowned and looked around. “It looks like your friends have left you.”


“No, they’re in the toilet.” I pointed towards Doug’s. “I’m just waiting on them to come out.


“I see.” He stared down at me and there was concern in his blue eyes. “I’ll wait with you.”


“Thank you.” I smiled at him and then started laughing.


“What’s so funny?” He frowned as he looked at me and I pointed at his face. “My face is funny?” He gave me a wry smile and I shook my head.


“You look like Clark Gable.”


“You think so?”


“Yes.” I grinned at him. “You’re handsome.”


“Why, thank you.” He looked at his watch, then back at me. “We will give your friends a few minutes then see about getting you home.”


“Are you trying to seduce me?” I wiggled my eyebrows at him and giggled. He was handsome and I was enjoying flirting with him. His blue eyes were bright and had a wise look; his hair was jet-black and it contrasted well with his olive skin. He was tall and muscular and smelled like some expensive cologne I didn’t know the name of. It certainly wasn’t the same cologne my dad used, or any of my high school boyfriends.


“No, dear.” He shook his head. “I don’t take advantage of young women.”


“You wouldn’t be taking advantage of me.” I licked my lips slowly. I’d read an article in Cosmopolitan that said the way to seduce a guy was to show him your tongue. “I’m 22, I make my own decisions,” I lied easily.


“Well, maybe we can go out when you’re sober and if you still want me to seduce you then, I’ll see what I can do.” He put his arm around me and his fingers felt like heaven against my skin. “You’re cold. Why don’t you have a coat?”


“I didn’t realize how cold it would get.”


“You girls these days don’t know how to take care of yourself.” He looked at me disapprovingly, and I wondered how old he was. He definitely wasn’t a college student like me, there was no boyish look to him. He was all man, and 100% hunk at that.


“I don’t feel good.” All of a sudden my head felt like it was going to explode and my stomach was swirling like a hurricane.


“My apartment is just a couple of blocks down if you want to come.”


“I don’t know.” I mumbled as I grabbed onto his arm. I didn’t want to think about anything. I just wanted to lie down on something cool and rest my head so that the world would stop spinning.


“Come, I won’t hurt you.” He took my hand and I followed him to his apartment. I know, I know, I was a dumbass. If I hadn’t been drunk I would have told him where to get off, but I wasn’t in my right mind. I always think about that night. If only I hadn’t been drunk, everything may have been different.


I don’t really remember much of what happened later that night, it’s all a blur in my mind. The next think I remember after leaving with him was waking up in a king-sized bed, feeling like someone was banging nails into my head.


“Good morning, sunshine.” A deep warm voice greeted me, and I looked up to see him staring down at me with a cup of tea in his hand. “Drink this. I’m cooking breakfast for you right now. Lots of bacon and eggs.”


“Ugh, don’t talk about food.” I groaned and lay back down, with my brain racing a million miles a minute. Who was the gorgeous man next to me, and what was I doing in his bed?


“I’m Brandon, by the way.” He smiled at me gently. “We didn’t exchange names last night.”


“Oh.” I peeked up at him and swallowed hard. He was gorgeous and even though I felt like death warmed up, I was still attracted to him.


“And your name is?”


“Oh, sorry. I’m Katie.”


“Nice name.” He smiled at me again. “Rest a little and I’ll be back.”


“Okay, thanks.” I gave him a quick smile and lay back and closed my eyes. Oh my God, oh my God, have I been kidnapped? I peeked under the sheets and groaned as I saw myself wearing only my bra and panties. He’d taken off my clothes. Then panic hit me – had we had sex? Oh, God, did I have sex for the first time and not even know it?


“Scrambled eggs, bacon, and lots of buttered white toast.” He walked back into the room. “Nothing healthy, but it will help your hangover.”


“I feel like shit.” I blurted out and blushed when I realized what I’d said.


“Not surprising.” He laughed. “First hangover?”


“Yeah.” I nodded and first my face going red. Did he know it was the first time I’d ever had a drink as well?


“I don’t know many people who’ve reached the age of 22 and never had a drink.”


“Oh?” I looked down at the plate and swallowed hard. Should I tell him the truth?


“Were you and your friends celebrating something?”


“Yes, yes we were.”


“Oh?” He looked at me expectantly, waiting for an answer. I knew there was no way in hell that I could tell him that we were celebrating starting college. Then the questions would start, the ‘why were you drinking?’ and ‘why are you so irresponsible?’. I stared at him guiltily. I felt bad and disappointed in myself. I knew that my parents back home in Florida would be upset if they knew that I was already making bad choices.


“Sorry, I feel a little sick.” I turned my face away from him as I felt myself becoming hypnotized by his blue eyes.


“Do you need to go to the bathroom?”




“To throw up?”


“Oh, no, no.” I shook my head and groaned. “I just need to lie down again.”


“Sure. Feel free.” He sat next to me on the bed. “Do you mind if I lie down next to you?”


“No.” I whispered. My heart was beating fast again and little men were jumping around in my stomach.


“Are you new to the city?”


“Yeah, I moved here from Florida a few weeks ago, for, uh, a job.” Technically I wasn’t lying, I was going to college to get a job.


“Oh nice. Where are you working?”


“Ooh, my head.” I groaned and rolled over, trying to control my panicked breathing. I hated lying and was already regretting my comments. I felt his hand rubbing my back and I froze. What was he doing?


“You’re very trusting to be here with me, Katie. I’m not sure where in Florida you’re from, but there are a lot of wolves in New York, and they are looking to prey on young girls in their twenties like you.”


“I can take care of myself.” I mumbled and turned over.


“You’re lucky I’m a nice guy.” He chuckled and I looked up at him, not sure if he was joking or being serious. He looked even more handsome close up – his blue eyes were shrewd, and I felt like he could see right through me.


“Yes, thank you.”


“I could kiss you right now.” His voice sounded like a growl and my eyes widened. “Don’t worry, sweet thing, I’ll let you get better first.”


“First?” I swallowed.


“That’s if you don’t have anything against men in their thirties?”


“No, no, of course not.” I squeaked out. Thirty wasn’t that old. I mean, he wasn’t old enough to be my dad.


“Good. I don’t normally go for girls in their twenties, but you seem different.” His eyes crinkled and he laughed. “That is, if you let me take you on a date.”


“You want to take me on a date?” I stammered in shock. Was I dreaming? This seriously good-looking man wanted to take me out?


“I think you’re someone I want to get to know better, Katie.” He nodded as he looked at me seriously.


“Thank you.” I mumbled, with a wide smile. I didn’t bother to hide my excitement from him. I didn’t know then that you weren’t supposed to let a guy know that you had feelings for him.


“You’re welcome, my dear. You’re very welcome.” He jumped off of the bed then and grabbed the plate. “Try and get some more sleep, and we’ll see how you feel when you wake up.”


“Okay.” I nodded sleepily and closed my eyes again. Sleep found me easily and I stretched in the luxurious bed imagining Brandon’s lips kissing me softly.






“Ma’am, would you like anything else to drink?” The airhostess tapped me on the arm and I broke out of my reverie.


“No, thanks.” I smiled at her and rubbed my forehead. I was starting to get a headache and a small heartache as well. I hated remembering the first days I had met Brandon because he had been so sweet and wonderful. He had been a man I thought only existed in romance novels. The beginning of our relationship had been magical. It was only the end that was the stuff that nightmares were made of.



“Okay, just let me know if you change your mind.”


“Thanks.” I smiled. “Do you know how many more hours until we land in San Francisco?”


“It’ll be about two more hours, Ms. Raymond.”


“Thanks.” I looked back out of the window and thought about Brandon again. Maybe I wouldn’t even see him. I’m sure he would be busy with the board of directors. What time would he have for a manager? It was just my luck that he had bought the company that I worked for. Out of all the companies in the world, he had to pick mine. What sort of bad luck was that? He was going to fire me, I just knew it. He would take one look at me, laugh in my face, and fire me. Maybe after calling me a liar. And what could I say? What would I tell HR? I knew the answer to that, and I would just leave with my tail between my legs. Because it would be true. I had lied to him. At first, I had a reason, but then I had built up the lie, made everything more complicated. And then it all exploded in my face. I closed my eyes again and thought of Brandon, my sexy, hunky Brandon.


“How was your day today?” His voice was warm and I smiled into the phone.


“Good, what about yours?”


“Long.” He groaned. “I don’t want to talk about it. I’d rather talk about our dinner tomorrow night. Are you excited?”


“Yes!” I exclaimed in excitement.


“I love that you don’t hide your true emotions. I’ve dated way too many women in New York who act like they can’t stand me.”


“That’s silly.” I said honestly. Thinking back, he should have realized the truth from our phone calls. Brandon had taken my number before putting me in a cab home the afternoon after he had taken me home. He had wanted me to spend the weekend with him, but I knew that I had to get back to the dorms or my friends would be mad. He had called me every night since then, and I delighted in his phone calls. He made me laugh and he made me feel special. He seemed to really want to know how I was spending my days, and he told me little things about himself as well. He was the only son of a billionaire banker and worked at his father’s hedge fund. He hated his job, but knew that it was his duty. He owned his apartment in Chelsea, he had a house in the Hamptons and an apartment in San Francisco, He preferred the West Coast but had to stay on the East Coast due to work. He loved dogs, but traveled so much that he thought it was unfair to have one. He loved Mexican food and jazz and collecting first edition books. He was also 35. When he first told me that, I felt my heart stop beating. 35 sounded so much older than me. 35 was old enough to be my dad, if he had had sex at a young age. 35 made me feel guilty for having him think I was 22, about to turn 23. 35 made me keep my real age a secret. I didn’t want to stop talking to him. I didn’t want his calls to end, and I very much wanted to go on that dinner date with him. 35 made me realize that I couldn’t let him know that I was 18, even though I very much wanted to be honest about my age.


“I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.” He whispered into the phone. “I’m going to take you to dinner and then we can go dancing if you want.”


“That would be nice. Do you know what club you’re thinking of?” I grabbed my laptop so I could check yelp to see if they let in people under 21.


“Oh, not a club.” He smiled. “I was thinking we could go to some salsa classes.”




“Yes, you know, the Spanish dance.”


“Oh, yeah. I just never heard of a date where people went to classes.”


“What are you used to, Katie? Burgers and movies?”


“Something like that.” I laughed.


“Then that just means you’ve been dating boys, and not men like me.”


“Yeah, that could be right.” If he only knew just how true his words were.


“Men in their twenties are still chasing the almighty dollar and trying to get laid. Men in their thirties know that money and sex are not important.”


“It’s not?” I’d had neither and still hoped for both.


“I mean, we need it to live, of course. But it’s not worth losing your life for either.”


“I suppose that’s true.”


“So tomorrow, shall I pick you up from your apartment?”


“My apartment?” My body burned as I stared at my roommate’s empty bed. “Uh, no. I’ve got a late day at work tomorrow. I can meet you at the restaurant.” I couldn’t believe how easily the lies slid from my mouth.


“Okay, that makes sense.” He yawned. “Tomorrow will be our first date.”


“I know.”


“I can’t wait to see you again.” He chuckled. “And if anyone I knew heard me say that, they’d think someone had stolen my body.”




“This isn’t me, Katie. I’m not a romantic guy. I don’t do relationships.”


“Oh, I didn’t know.” I felt disappointed and confused. “Why are you talking to me, then?”


“I don’t know. I guess there was something about you that touched me as I walked by.”


“You mean my puke?” I joked and he laughed.


“Thank God, no.” He cleared his throat. “I’m not really sure why I stopped and took you home though. I’ve asked myself several times what I was thinking. You could have been a psycho.”


“I could have been a psycho? You could have been a psycho.”


“I’m glad neither of us are psychos.”


“Me too. Sweet dreams, Brandon.”


“Sweet dreams, Katie.”


“Have a good day at work.”


“You too.”


“Thanks.” I’ll be doing the assignment I didn’t do tonight because I was waiting for your call.


“I’ll see you tomorrow.”


“See you then.” And then we hung up and I lay in my bed and hugged my pillow tightly. I was so excited. This was going to be my first proper date and it was with a man that knew the world, and he was interested in me. I couldn’t believe it. I was worried about what we would talk about. What if I sounded like an idiot?


“You up?” The door creaked and Meg walked in with a handful of books.


“Yeah,” I sat up and looked at her with a guilty pang. I hadn’t studied all week. It was only the first week, but I knew I had to keep up or I was going to fail out. Everyone in my class at Columbia was smart, and they all seemed to know more than I did. There was no way I was going to be able to sail through my classes without studying like I did in high school.


“How was Mr. Wonderful?” She giggled as she sat her books down on the desk and then pulled out her pajamas.


“He wants to take me salsa dancing.”


“But you don’t know how to salsa.” She frowned as she pulled off her t-shirt and pulled on her nightgown.


“I know, but he’s taking us to classes.”


“Wow.” She looked impressed and the fell on top of her bed. “I’m so tired.”


“Aww.” I gave her a sympathetic look. “You don’t have to go hardcore right away.”


“I do, I need to get a 4.0 GPA if I want to get into Harvard or Yale law.”


“We just started undergrad, Meg.” I giggled.


“I know that, you know that, but does Mr. Hastings know that as yet?”


“No,” I groaned and lay at the ceiling. “I can’t tell him, Meg. Not yet. He won’t want to see me if he knows I’m 18.”


“You never know.”


“Trust me, I know. He’s working on Wall Street, living in a swanky apartment and I’ve just started college living in the dorms, with a roommate in single beds.” My stomach tightened in knots. “He wouldn’t give me the time of day if he knew.”


“You’re still you. He’ll still like you.”


“No, he won’t. He’ll think I’m a kid.”


“I don’t know, Katie. I just have a bad feeling he’s going to figure out you’re not 22.”


“I’ll tell him eventually.” I sighed. “Once we get to know each other better. I’ll tell him then.”


“Okay.” She yawned. “Shit, I’m tired. I’m falling asleep already.”


“Sweet dreams, Meg.”


And in response, she started snoring.


The next day was crazy, Meg lent me one of her dresses and another pair of heels, and I walked to the station on 116th with a huge grin on my face. I knew I looked good because I had caught several guys eyeing me as I walked down Broadway. I was so excited I thought I was going to throw up. I was going on a date with a hot man, a very hot man, and all I wanted to do was sing and smile. I changed trains in Herald Square and then looked on my phone for the best directions to get to the restaurant. I got a little lost and ended up arriving about ten minutes late. I saw Brandon waiting outside for me and his eyes lit up as I ran over to him quickly.


“Sorry,” I gasped, slightly out-of-breath. “I can’t walk fast in these heels.”


“You should have caught a cab.”


“I, uh, prefer the train, it’s more environmentally friendly.” I lied. I only had a thousand dollars to last me a few months and I certainly wasn’t going to waste it on cabs.


“I do like a girl that thinks of the environment.”



“That’s me.”


“I thought you were going to stand me up.” His blue eyes sparkled as he surveyed my appearance. I looked him over hungrily: he looked even more handsome than I had remembered, with a crisp light blue shirt that illuminated his eyes and a pair of grey slacks. He had on flat black leather shoes that looked expensive and shiny.


“Oh, sorry. I got a little lost.” I made a face and he laughed before reaching over and kissing me lightly. I stood there looking at him stupidly, and he laughed and ran his hands through his hair.


“Sorry, I’ve been waiting to kiss you for a week.”


“No need to apologize, I liked it.”


“You’re always so honest. I love it.”


“I try.” I smiled back weakly, thinking about the big lie I was keeping from him.


“We can skip dinner if you want.” He leaned in towards me and I could feel the warmth of his skin even though he wasn’t touching me.


“Oh? You want to go straight to the salsa classes?” I asked stupidly.


“No, I was thinking we could go back to my place.”


“Your place?” I stared at him for a moment, before it clicked. “Oh. Oh.” I blushed and bit my lower lip as I wondered what to say. “I don’t have sex on the first date.” I blurted out finally. “I’m not a prude or anything, but I’ve always thought that...”


“No need to explain.” He grabbed my hand. “I respect your want to wait. It will make it more special.”


“Exactly.” I nodded in agreement and walked with him into the restaurant.


“How was work today, Katie?”


“Uh, pretty good. You?”


“It was the same. Only it wasn’t as bad, as I knew I was going to see you this evening.”


“That’s sweet.” I blushed. “I thought about you today as well.”


“I guess that’s a sign.”


“Sign of what?”


“That we’re meant to be.” He winked at me and I felt my heart explode in happiness. This was a man who knew how to worm his way into a woman’s heart.


“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re approaching San Francisco International Airport. We should be landing in about 30 minutes. Please put your seats in the upright position.” The Captain speaking diverted me from my memories again. I made sure my seat was upright and my seat belt tightened, and smiled at the memories of that first weekend. I had stayed the whole weekend at Brandon’s apartment and we had stayed up all of Friday night watching French movies on Netflix, and then on Saturday he had taken me into Brooklyn and we had brunch at a cute little place in Park Slope. It had been perfect. He hadn’t even tried to touch me. Just two long, intense kisses before bed and then he fell asleep. He fell asleep while I lay there staring at his back, wanting to touch him and feel his skin next to mine. Only I was too scared and pathetic. I was still a girl, pretending to be a woman.