By: Sara Wylde

And let’s face it: Brant was 5’6. But that wasn’t any kind of failing on his part. I knew that. It was a failing on my part that I wasn’t confident enough to be seen with a man that much smaller than me and not feel like Moby freaking Dick.

That was the part I couldn’t confess to Kieran. I had him fooled, I had most of them fooled. There were days I even had myself fooled and I believed everything I said about thinking I was beautiful and sexy at any size.

When I’d first gotten to the party, I’d felt great about myself.

Until Gavin.

I’d really like it if some day, some guy would just tell me I’m beautiful. I’m not beautiful for my size, beautiful for a fat girl, or that I have a “beautiful face” implying that the rest of it wasn’t worth anyone’s time.

I’d really just like to be beautiful.

And Kieran telling me didn’t count. He was my friend. He was supposed to say that. Not to mention he was the Manwhore of LaMancha. He could find something beautiful about any woman.

I wanted to be special.

I kind of thought Brant’s interest was more to just be able to say he’d climbed the mountain. Either that or because the first time he asked, I’d said no. I’d taken enough marketing classes to know that people always wanted what they couldn’t have.

Gavin brought me the vodka and cranberry, but Kieran barely let him set it down on our table before he pounced.

“I wasn’t kidding, boy-o. You wanted to come in, you’ve got to dance. You’re going up first since you’re the newb.”

Gavin grinned. “Whatever, man. How do you think I paid for my MB?”

Really? I wondered if April knew this.

“Stage name is Adonis.” Gavin winked at me and allowed Kieran to lead him backstage.

April was immediately in the chair next to me. “So? Do you like him?”

I was in hell. “We’re not a good fit.”

April flopped back in her chair. “You say that about everyone.”

“Because it’s true about everyone.” I took a drink of my vodka and cranberry. “But why are you even worried about me tonight? It’s your birthday.” I debated mentioning anything about Kieran, but as usual, my tongue did what it wanted before my brain could say yea or nay. “I hear you’re getting a special present from Kieran.”

April pursed her lips and blushed. “I know you don’t approve, but—”

Approve? When had I become everyone’s mom? Ugh. “It’s not that I don’t approve, I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

“It’s just a little sex, right? He’s the fantasy.” April shrugged. “I’m going to have a night with Finn McCool, not Kieran. I do know there’s a difference.”

There was so much I wanted to say to her, but I realized it all sounded judgmental which would accomplish exactly nothing. She’d made up her mind. “Okay.”

“Okay? That’s it?”

“What else am I going to say? Have fun and don’t be that chick who won’t go home.”

“Bitch.” She elbowed me lightly.

We made fun of those women that Kieran brought home and who wouldn’t leave, or who kept calling long after he was done with them. Especially the ones who were jealous of me. That was especially funny. They were the ones who didn’t understand that Finn was a character and Kieran was real.

The seat on the other side of me was suddenly occupied.

“Hey, gorgeous.” Brant smiled. “You want another drink?”

“No, I’m good. Thanks.”

April leaned around my shoulder. “She’s here with Gavin.”

Brant snorted. “That guy? Not a chance.”

I couldn’t help the grin that bloomed on my face. “He said I was pretty for a fat girl.”

“He what?” April’s face darkened to a thundercloud.

“It’s not a big deal. I told him he was hot for a douchebag. We’re all good.” Except there was still this strange hollow feeling in my chest.

“With a stage name like Adonis? He’s got douchebag written all over him.” Brant smiled at me. It was a nice smile. “I’ll put Icy Hot on his G-string.”

Laughing, I said, “No. There’s no need for that. Frankly, when Kieran told him he had to dance if he wanted to come with us, I thought that was punishment enough.”

“Are you here with him?” Brant asked quietly.


“So maybe you’ll leave with me? We’ll grab breakfast.”

I remembered my promise to Kieran and maybe he was right. Brant had never told me I was pretty for a fat girl. He told me I was gorgeous—without any caveats—all the time. He’d asked me out a dozen times, I’d always said no, but he always kept asking.