“Well, this officially goes down as my crappiest birthday ever. Hands down,” Gwen Day moaned. She looked up to meet the sympathetic eyes of her friends, Mia Gentry and Crystal Webber. “I’m finished with men. I mean, what do you even need them for anymore?”
Crystal, who was newly divorced, nodded her head in agreement. “You got that right, girl. I have a vibrator that’s always hard, doesn’t talk back or leave the toilet seat up, or dribble toothpaste in the bathroom sink. I’ve come more in the last six months with my plastic boyfriend than all of my combined years with my ex. If I’d had one of those suckers when I was twenty, I’d have never gotten married.”
Beside Crystal, Mia gave them a sheepish look. “Um . . . well . . . I like my man just fine and trust me . . . he’s always hard whenever I want it.”
“You suck,” Crystal grumbled. “The rest of us don’t have a perfectly wonderful, hottie boyfriend like Seth Jackson. You could at least share him, you know. Have you two considered broadening your horizons with a threesome? Because I’d totally be up for it.” Wiggling her brows, she added, “I seem to remember you mentioning a certain threesome fantasy featuring Suzy Merimon and her hubby, Gray.”
The conversation between her close friends had distracted Gwen momentarily from her pity party but she soon returned to brooding. She had no interest in her vibrator, although she agreed with Crystal that men were completely overrated. She had thought all of that was changing for her when she met McKinley Powers. His company handled the security for Danvers International, where she worked. He was drop-dead handsome with his short military haircut that he still favored even after leaving the Marines, not to mention his rock-hard body that never failed to make her heart race and knees tremble. The fact that he was a genuinely nice guy was an added bonus.
When they had first started dating, Mac had been more than content with her “taking things slow” request, which maybe should have been her first red flag. After they’d been going out for a month, he still hadn’t put any type of pressure on her to move beyond kissing. By the end of the next month, she was horny and frustrated. It had seemed like he was the one now wanting to take it slow when she was ready to rip the clothes from his buff body.
They had engaged in some make-out sessions that never progressed past second base. He always pulled back when he got too close to third base, and dammit . . . crossing home plate had become just a distant dream.
Gwen knew all of the books said never to let a man determine your self-worth, but she had been really struggling with that one after Mac’s silent refusal to have sex with her. Until she finally put all of the pieces together and figured out that it might not be who she was that was the problem, but more important, who she wasn’t—Ava Stone.
Mac was good friends with the Stone siblings, who also worked for Danvers. There was Declan, who had served with Mac in the military; Brant, who was Declan’s older brother; and then there was Ava. She was an attractive blonde Gwen had seen around the office on several different occasions. She had come to understand that there was possibly something more than friendship between Mac and Ava when she witnessed Mac completely losing it because his coworker and good friend, Dominic Brady, had given Ava a ride on his Harley. Mac had been so upset that warning bells had gone off in Gwen’s head.
From that point on, her relationship with Mac was on borrowed time and she knew it. He had become more distant than ever. He forgot to call her, didn’t return her calls, and was just generally unavailable, physically and emotionally.
So, one evening she had gone to his house to talk and just to spend some time with him, and he’d taken off almost immediately after receiving a call concerning Ava. Gwen had decided to wait it out and see if he came back home. When he finally did, hours later, they had ended it. There was no fight, no ugly words, or insults. It was very civilized. Gwen might not be happy with Mac for dating her while he was hung up on Ava, but he had been honest with her in the end and she knew that it had really upset him to hurt her.
Her self-esteem had been limping along since that evening—until Mia had dropped her bombshell this morning. Mia had heard from her friend Suzy that Mac and Ava had gotten married over the weekend in Las Vegas. Gwen definitely hadn’t been expecting that blow. She had figured she would be tortured for a while seeing them as a couple around the office. She had never expected Mac to break up with her and then almost immediately tie the knot. God, was she now the woman men dated right before they found “the one”?
She had been so lost in thought that she almost jumped from her seat when Mia’s hand landed on her arm, shaking it excitedly. “I know—let’s have a girls’ night tonight! Seth’s leaving this afternoon on business for a few days so I’d love to go out. How about you, Crystal?”
Gwen was secretly hoping that the other woman would veto the whole thing because she wasn’t really in the mood to socialize. She just wanted to go home, eat herself into oblivion, and watch some man-hating movies on Lifetime. Of course, she’d probably run right into Dominic at the apartment complex where they both lived. Geez, she needed to move now. Wasn’t it just her luck to live doors away from Mac’s friend? Dominic was already so annoying . . . okay hot—completely, smoking hot—but still annoying.
It was no one’s business if she peeked through her blinds every time she heard his boots in the hallway. Yes, dear Lord, she had to admit to herself that she could distinguish the sound of his tread from the rest of her neighbors. He just looked so good in his cargo pants and those tight shirts. And some evenings she was even lucky enough to catch him in all of his masculine glory after returning from a run. Shirtless . . . and wearing those low hanging shorts he favored. She loved the sight of his hard body with those rippling muscles, glistening sweat, the tattoos, the . . . “Hmmm?” Gwen looked around to see both Mia and Crystal staring at her.