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The Good Guy Challenge
Author: Lauren Blakely

 

MONDAY

 

 

A Day for Big Things Ahead

 

 

1

 

 

BETTER THAN A SCREAMING ORGASM

 

 

Ellie

 

I can see the sign for my Venice Beach exit up ahead, past all the cars at a dead stop. LA traffic…we’ll move eventually. I’d be copacetic if I didn’t have to pee so freaking badly.

Too bad I can’t cross my legs as I drive.

I mean, as I wait.

I wiggle my rear, then I squeeze my thighs.

I can do this.

“We’re almost there,” I say to my girl in the back seat.

Gigi side-eyes me from her dog bed, a look that says I don’t buy that bullshit and you don’t either.

“I swear. We’ll be there in no time.”

Lies. Sweet little lies.

“Look, girlie girl. The GPS says we’ll be there in”—I glance at the app mocking my hopes from the dashboard of the cherry-red convertible—“in thirty minutes.”

I slump. Thirty minutes for one stinking mile.

She turns around, flipping her tail at me.

I get her. I so do.

“It’ll be worth it, I promise. Once we’re settled into our new home, it’s going to be amazing. There’s no snow in Los Angeles, and I’m pretty sure there won’t be street rats,” I say. God, I hope not. I’m so over rats, and subways, and piss on the street.

Dammit. Why did I have to think about pee again?

I stare longingly at the console between the seats, where my empty travel mug invites me to relieve the pressure.

Last resort, Ellie.

“Any minute. We’ll be there any minute,” I say, fighting off the temptation with cheer. “As long as I don’t pee all over the seat. And don’t you do that either,” I warn my six-pound pup.

From the back seat, Gigi barks once, a declarative arf that loosely translates to as if.

“Fine, fine. It’s my fault. I should not have had that last caramel iced latte in Santa Barbara, but TJ said it was a delish coffee shop and—oh!”

I turn forward to see that traffic has miraculously parted like the Red Sea. This is better than a screaming orgasm!

I grip the wheel and press the gas in my tricked-out electric, which I picked up in San Francisco over the weekend.

“We need a final song,” I tell Gigi. Because life’s big moments demand anthems, and I have just the tune. I open a playlist, then put “Runnin’ Down a Dream” on repeat. Now there’s no chance of another song playing when I roll up to my new home.

The sun is dropping toward the horizon, Tom Petty is my companion, and soon I’m cruising the streets of my Venice neighborhood, bursting—literally almost bursting—with excitement.

“One more minute till we can whiz,” I sing. My phone trills an accompaniment.

Of course. I swear my mom has a sixth sense for my every move. I click accept. “Hi, Mom. How are you?”

“Much better now,” she says with obvious relief.

That’s odd. I talked to her this morning, and she seemed fine then. “Were you sick earlier? Everything okay?” I ask, concerned for her as I scan for street signs in my new neighborhood.

“No, just worried. About you.”

Ah. Got it. “Nothing to worry about anymore. I’m almost there. Only four-tenths of a mile to go.” And my bladder is counting every fraction of that mile.

“I know,” Mom says serenely.

I laugh. That is so her. It’s sweet but scary how well she knows me. “I’m sure you timed exactly how many rest stops I’d take, how many coffees I’d down, and how many dog walks I’d stop for, and you guesstimated my average speed,” I say as I slow to a stop at the intersection.

One more block. I can see my new street up ahead. Freedom is nigh!

“Two coffees, three dog bathroom breaks, and sixty-five to seventy miles per hour. Am I right?”

“Whoa. Did you put a chip in me?” I joke because that’s impressive.

I tap the gas one more time.

She laughs like that’s a loony thought. “Of course not. That’s just mother’s intuition,” she says as I turn onto my new block. “I knew you got in okay because I’ve been tracking your location on Waze.”

“Mom!” I shriek. That explains so much. “I told you not to stalk me anymore!”

“What? Everyone does it,” she says as I scan the block of cottages for number 583.

“Everyone does not do it. Only helicopter moms do it.”

“That’s not true. Joanie tracks Mariana, Suzi tracks Taylor, and—”

“Helicopter moms,” I repeat as I hit the blinker, the cute metal numbers for 583 calling me home.

“Ellie, sweetheart. You shared your location with me on Waze. I saved it. So sue me.”

“I did that…years ago,” I sputter. I was home from college for the summer, and it was the only way she’d let me borrow her car to go out with that sexy, tatted guy I met at a club.

“And imagine how hard it was for me to track your whereabouts when you were in New York for the past five years, walking everywhere, never using Waze. Thank god I can do it again. You should be grateful,” she says, half teasing, half serious.

Wait. Make that all serious.

“I’m twenty-six, Mom.” I pull into the driveway and cut the engine. “You can turn off the propellers.”

“Ooh,” she says brightly. “I see you officially reached your destination.”

Are you kidding me? I stab the end drive button on my app, then turn it off. “Mom, that’s me turning off the Waze.”

“Don’t turn off the sharing,” she chides.

“Mom,” I warn as I swing open the driver’s side door. In record time, I unbuckle Gigi and grab her from the back seat, focused on getting the key from the lockbox and beelining to the little girls’ room.

“Enough about me, though,” Mom says as I wrestle with the lockbox where Maddox left the key. “Have you heard the news?”

That’s not foreboding at all. “What news?”

“It’s about Fabio’s List.”

I groan in frustration, forgetting completely about my need to pee.

As I start this new chapter of my life, the last thing I want is a reminder of all my romantic failures.

 

 

2

 

 

UNSPANKED

 

 

Gabe

 

Five minutes, then I’m leaving, even if it is my home.

With her hands parked on her hips, and her gray eyes shooting death rays of shame, shame, shame at me, my ex’s pissy big sister is building up a new head of steam. “Do you know how distraught my sister was by your freakish suggestion?” Jessica rants, pointing at the box of Brittany’s stuff on the coffee table.

Of course I know. Everyone in my condo building knows, thanks to Brittany’s ear-splitting outrage at my suggestion. Hell no, I don’t want you to spank me, you freak!

But I’m not going to engage now because I want my ex’s sister to get the hell out of my pad. At this rip-me-to-shreds rate, I’m going to be late for poker and my buds will bust my balls.

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