Kate stands up and rips her purse off the back of the chair. “I’m going home. Good night, Matthew. Dee, I’ll call you.”

As Kate walks out the door, Warren stands up to follow her, but Dee grabs his arm.

“Billy! Don’t . . . don’t say things you can’t take back . . . things you and I both know you don’t mean.”

All he does is nod. Then he’s out the door too.

Dee takes a long drink of her martini. “Well, that just happened.”

“Think they’ll be okay?” I ask.

“No. I’m sure they’ll make up, stay together—do the long-distance thing. But they haven’t been okay in a long time. Their relationship is like a morgue . . . lifeless. And Billy’s right. I can’t remember the last time they argued before tonight.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” I wonder, finishing off my beer.

“Not for them. They don’t not argue because they’re happy—they don’t fight because, I think, deep down where neither of them wants to admit, there’s nothing worth fighting for.”

The most successful marriages and relationships are between best friends—who want to f**k each other. Trusted confidants who can’t keep their hands off each other. When you’ve been with the same person for years, it’s supposed to get comfortable. Broken in. Like a well-worn favorite pair of sweatpants.

But there has to be heat—desperate attraction. A craving need. Sometimes, like Steven and Alexandra, it comes in waves. They indulge it, when the demands of life let them. But if the passion is gone and you can’t be bothered to even try and rekindle the flame—all you have is friendship. Companionship.

At eighty years old, that may very well be enough. But at frigging twenty-five? You’re just settling for the status quo.

“You ready to head out?” Delores asks.

“Yep. Looks like it’s just you and me tonight.”

She pumps her fist. “Weekend warriors . . . on a Wednesday. Let’s do it.”

Delores and I spend the next few hours bar-hopping. We play darts and pool. She takes me for fifty bucks on our last game because I didn’t realize I was dealing with a practiced hustler.

I should have known.

Ultimately we end up at a club—pressing and grinding together on the crowded dance floor. But the whole time, Dee’s more subdued than usual. She seems weighed down. Disquieted. Not the unpredictable and jovial girl I’ve come to know the last few weeks.

I call it a night—much earlier than past years—and we go back to her place. Once there, we crash on the couch and talk about nothing . . . and everything. Eventually, the subject of pets comes up, and I tell her all about King, the massive black Great Dane I grew up with. I genuinely loved that big hairy bastard, so I’m kind of horrified when Delores tells me, “I never had a dog.”

“Really? Never? Not even like . . . a Chihuahua?”

She shakes her head. “I had a hamster—they’re pretty self-sufficient. My mother never wanted the responsibility of a dog. Plus, there was the drool phobia.”

I grin, ’cause I can already tell this is gonna be a good one.

“The what?”

“Drool phobia. I have a long-standing aversion to any man or animal with over-productive saliva glands.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“I can handle wet kisses—you already know that. They’re hot when I’m caught up in the moment. But too much saliva is nasty. And spitting, drooling—those are deal breakers. Makes me nauseous.”

Delores isn’t bothered by dirt or sweat or sloppiness. She’s not afraid of rodents—even the cat-size rats that scour the city and are pretty f**king frightening if you ask me. She’s in love with my motorcycle and actually likes snakes. So, I can’t help but find this quirk—this chink in her otherwise “doesn’t give a shit” armor—cute. Funny.

And I want to f**k with her about it.

The nine-year-old boy inside me—the one who was amused by dangling a long-legged spider in Alexandra’s face, despite the consequences that always followed—takes over my body. It’s the only explanation for what I do next.

“So . . . it would bother you if I did this?” I scrape my nasal passage loudly then hawk the thick ball of phlegm up to the back of my throat.

Delores leans back, closes her eyes disgustedly, and holds up her hands. “Do not do that.”

I swallow my spit and taunt, “And I guess you really wouldn’t want me to do a John Bender in front of you.”

John Bender—The Breakfast Club. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch and learn.

She actually looks a little panicked. “Don’t you f**king dare!”

I smile wide. Then I tilt my head back, open my mouth and launch an impressive loogie wad up into the air. It gets some distance, hangs for a moment, then falls back into my waiting mouth. Before I can say “tasty,” Dee is up on her feet screaming.

“Ah! That’s sooo gross!” She dances around like there’s ants crawling under her dress and points at me as she shrieks, “You are no longer Clit-Boy or God! You’re Loogie-Man and you disgust me! I’m never kissing you again!”

“Is that a challenge?”

She laughs nervously and backs away. “No . . . no, you and your foul tongue stay away!”

In a flash, I’m off the sofa with my arms around her waist. Dee struggles to get away and we both fall to the floor in a screeching, rolling, laughing heap. I’m able to get on top; I straddle her stomach and pin her wrists above her head. There’s no chance for her to buck me off, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.

And maybe it’s the friction from her writhing body underneath me. Maybe it’s because I’m having so much fun. Or maybe it’s the fantastic sexual escapades we had in this particular position—but whatever the reason, I’m instantly and totally turned on.

Still, I ignore the boner. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and I’ve got some torturing to do. Like a tentacle in a sci-fi horror film, my outstretched tongue slowly lowers toward Dee’s face. Her head thrashes and her screams turn ear piercing.

Then she tries to bite me.

So I go in for the kill. I lick her cheek and her forehead—making sure to leave a heavy slime trail, like a slug that’s been mutated from a radiation leak. I get her closed eyes next, and I’m about to move to her neck when there’s a loud knock at the door.

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