Welcome to your story. Since you are the main character, there are a few things you should know before you begin. I wish I could meet you in person as I am quite smitten with you. That said, in the ensuing pages, I have placed you in some fairly uncomfortable situations. My apologies. Know that I always have your best intentions at heart. Mostly.
To improve your experience on this adventure, resist the urge to read your story straight through as you would a typical novel. Consider each question and then follow your first impulse down the chosen path. In most cases, you will be satisfied by chapter’s end. But not always. All events occur simultaneously, and you can have as many do-overs as you need. Go back in time and change your mind. Or look ahead before you commit. I won’t tell anyone you’re a peeker.
You are about to meet over a dozen women who want to sleep with you. Some of these women are also sleeping with each other. Tread carefully. The following list may help you keep track of names and roles:
Janine–Your Girlfriend (or Soon-To-Be Ex)
Maxine (Max)–Your Best Friend
Mckenzie–Cream Puff Server
Becca–DJ Dee at Rumors (dance club)
Courtney–Dancer at Rumors
Margo–Senior Associate at Your Law Firm
Frankie–Margo’s Friend/Liz’s Partner
Liz–Margo’s Friend/Frankie’s Partner
Good luck and enjoy,
You’ve made a mistake. Not the typographical their-versus-there in an email to a boss sort of mistake, but the life-changing kind of mistake that results in a sixty-dollar Batman costume rental.
One week has passed since you told Janine you thought your relationship needed some breathing room. Things had gotten serious too quickly. Surprisingly, she agreed. But a few days later, you couldn’t help wondering if you’d made a mistake. Maybe you didn’t need any breathing room. Maybe you only needed Janine. When she called to see if you would still meet her at the fancy dress party you’d both been invited to months ago, you immediately said yes. Unfortunately, you misunderstood a fancy dress party to mean a costume party.
Now you stand in the marble entryway of a Victorian mansion in the priciest neighborhood of the city. Everyone is dressed in ball gowns and black ties while you are unmistakably Batman. Costumes have never been your thing, but knowing that this particular party was important to Janine, you splurged. The complete costume includes Batman’s hooded mask that the rental store manager insisted on calling a cowl, a sculpted latex chest piece with upper-arm muscles the Hulk would find impressive, black gloves, a black cape, a yellow utility belt, boot covers, and outer briefs with a molded jock cup. You only had to pick out black Lycra tights that hugged your ass—one attribute that you knew Janine liked—to complete the package.
“May I take your coat?” the doorman asks. His black hair is slicked behind his ears and a faint mustache lines his upper lip. The tux is impeccable, and if you were actually Batman, he could have been your butler. A smile briefly passes his lips as he adds, “I mean, cape?”
“No.” What was Batman without the bulletproof cape? There’d be too much Lycra. Your perfectly shaped butt was not going to save you from this evening. “No, thank you. I’m not staying.”
Janine texted that she was running late. She’ll be pissed if you stand her up, but you’ll save your pride if you leave. You spin on your heel and reach for the brass door handle, but before you can turn the handle, the door swings open.
Alison Greer walks in. Alone. Her dark green gown hugs her ample chest and its hem drapes against the marble floor. She slips off a shawl, revealing bare shoulders, and only then looks up to meet your eyes. You’ve imagined this moment countless times. Well, not exactly this moment, but a chance to catch Alison alone. She always has a date—some hot woman who’s out of everyone’s league except Alison’s—or she’s in the center of a crowd of friends. And not once have you managed to say anything more than a hello when someone else has introduced you. She’s a regular in one of the big theater companies and has snagged leading roles in everything from Shakespeare to Rent. Everyone wants to know her. Or at least be seen with her.
Alison stares at you for a long moment and then, before you can slip past her and out the door, she runs a fingertip up Batman’s corded abs. Her coy smile stops you in your tracks.
“Hello, Batman. You make one fine superhero…whoever you are under that mask.” She pauses. “When did this become a costume party?”
Alison’s hand lingers on your chest. Batman’s chest. Your breath is caught in your throat and words fail you. Dark amber eyes are locked on yours. You wonder if she knows the power she holds over you. Her smooth skin is a shade lighter than her dark brown curls. Her curves could stop traffic, but it’s her dimples that get you. She’s cut her hair short since you last saw her; you blame this, and the jade earrings dangling from perfectly shaped earlobes, for why you can’t look away. You are close enough to kiss her full lips, and you wonder if Batman would do just that. But you aren’t Batman, and that’s unfortunate, because if you were, Alison might actually kiss you back.
“We don’t know each other, do we?” Alison asks.
You sense a nervous edge to her voice, as if she’s worried that she’s flirting with an ex. You shake your head quickly.
“May I take your shawl?” the doorman interjects.
You step aside as Alison hands off the shawl, and then someone calls Alison’s name. You both turn at the sound. The host of the party, Katherine Flaggerty, stands in the hallway with two glasses of white wine. If money were a sign of age, then Katherine would be ancient. But she’s only thirty-seven and youthful at that. No crow’s feet dare to mar her tan complexion. Good genetics, or the time she regularly spends at the day spa for facials and massages, are paying off.
Katherine inherited millions from her late mother and then invested in stocks as if she’d had an insider’s advantage at every deal. Word is that every company she picks becomes the next hot thing a day later. Aside from the stock market, Katherine has two other well-known passions: fitness and women. You both have memberships at the same gym, and you’ve had a chance to appreciate her dedication on both the elliptical and the stair climber. Her body is a testament to the personal attention she’s given it, and on more than one occasion you’ve fantasized about giving her muscles some of your personal attention. The black gown she’s picked for the evening dips low in the back to show off every finely crafted muscle. Her blond hair falls in soft waves to just below the nape of her neck. According to Janine, a stipulation of Katherine’s inheritance was that she be married before she received the money. Although no one ever sees the phantom husband, she wears a square ruby on her fourth finger as proof.
Katherine glances first at you and then at Alison. “Are you two together?” Her eyebrows arch.
Alison turns to you rather than answer. Her lips part, and you stare at each other for one moment too long. You’ve imagined kissing her a thousand times—and much more than kissing. A thrill races down your chest and warms the place between your legs, reminding you of the fantasy. You manage a step back, figuratively and literally, from Alison Greer, hoping that she doesn’t guess any of your thoughts, and you meet Katherine’s gaze.
“I was just leaving,” you say quickly. “Wrong party.”
“Of course you can’t leave,” Katherine says. “Nothing even remotely interesting ever happens at these events, and I’m always wondering why. Clearly I need to change the dress code.”
Before you can argue, the door opens again and Janine walks in. She’s wearing a red dress with a slit clear up to her thigh, showing off the length of her sculpted legs, and she’s been to the salon to add a red streak to her usual light brown locks. Your first thought is whether or not she’s wearing underwear. Janine looks you up and down, and then recognition crosses her face. Her nails are manicured and her lipstick is perfect. She cocks her head, and you feel sick as she says your name punctuated by a question mark.
You raise your hand in a timid wave, melting on the inside. Tonight could not have gone more wrong.
“Why are you dressed like that?” Janine asks. Her brusque German accent is even sharper than usual.
“We’re not sure, but I’ve already told her that she has to stay,” Katherine answers. She turns to Alison and hands her one of the wine glasses. “I wanted to snatch you up before the rest of the crowd has you cornered. There’s someone I want to introduce you to.” Katherine slips her arm through Alison’s. She glances again at you and sweeps an air finger up from your briefs to your cowl. “That costume is really quite perfect. For something. Come find me later and tell me where you found it.” Katherine turns and leads Alison down the tiled marble hallway.
Janine hands her coat to the doorman who now has a wide grin plastered on his face. But he’s not laughing at you. Yet. You start for the door.
“Oh, no, you aren’t leaving,” Janine orders. Her pale skin reddens when she is upset. Or embarrassed. Tonight you’ve probably managed to make her feel both simultaneously. Her cheeks are scarlet.
You straighten your shoulders and face Janine. Chin up, you think silently. This can’t get any worse. Behind Janine, you see Alison. She’s halfway down the hall, but she’s paused to glance over her shoulder and meet your gaze.
A) Face up to Janine and stay because you need a glass of champagne and your night can’t get any worse (read on)
B) Leave the party with a wave of your cape and an ounce of dignity (go to Chapter Nine, page 146)
Face up to Janine and stay
“You said fancy dress. I thought that was some German way of saying this was a costume party—not a formal dinner party.” You hold out your arms in exasperation. The black polyester of your cape swirls and then resettles around your body. “Everyone’s in ball gowns and I’m…”
“Who cares what everyone else is wearing?” Janine touches your cheek. The tenderness in her gesture catches you off guard. “I like what you’re wearing.”
You shrug off her hand. “I’m dressed up as Batman, Janine.” Stating the obvious has never felt so painful.
“Clearly it was a simple misunderstanding. I’ll tell everyone it’s the language barrier.”
“You speak fluent English.”
“I wasn’t talking about me. But everyone can blame the German woman for the little misunderstanding. And since you make a very handsome Batman”—she pauses to adjust the collar of your cape—“no one will mind that you are in costume.”
“I look like an idiot.”
“Not at all. You look ready to save the city from horrible villains.” Janine smiles. “Maybe you could save me first.”
“This really isn’t funny.”
“Maybe Katherine could loan you something else to wear. I’m sure she has a closet full of dresses. Or maybe her husband has a tux lying around.”
“He travels a lot, but maybe he keeps some clothes here. Or you can borrow one of Katherine’s gowns. You two are almost the same size.” Janine glances at the doorman and then down the hallway to the crowded ballroom. She turns back to you and touches your chest. Batman’s chest. Her index finger trails down to your utility belt and a smile edges her lips. “Still, I’d rather you stay dressed like that. Are you hiding anything in these pockets?” Janine unsnaps one of the pockets on your utility belt and fishes out your cell phone. “I wonder who Batman calls.”
Janine is one of Katherine’s financial advisors. She doesn’t talk shop much, but you know that she’s hoping to pick up new clients by rubbing elbows with Katherine’s friends tonight. She hands your phone back without checking to see who you’ve called. Maybe she decided she didn’t want to know. You snap the pocket on your utility belt and clear your throat. “Look, I know this party is important for your work. Networking, connections and all of that. You really want to be seen with me like this?”
“I’ve been thinking about work too much lately. Maybe I should take the night off,” Janine says.
The classical music coming from the ballroom is overtaken by the sound of your heartbeat when Janine suddenly steps forward to kiss you. But she stops a half an inch away from your lips. You can smell her faint perfume. Her eyes meet yours. She presses her fingertip to your lips and then pulls away, sighing softly.
“I told myself I wouldn’t kiss you,” she says. “I thought we were going to break up tonight…and then you do this.” Janine starts to laugh. “What am I supposed to do with you now?”
The breath slips out of your chest. That’s what Janine does to you. You square your shoulders and straighten up only to glimpse your reflection in the mirrored display cabinet behind the doorman. Batman stares back at you. Even your reflection is silently passing judgment. “This is ridiculous. I can’t stay at the party like this.” You hold up the edge of your cape. “No one does capes anymore.”
Janine smiles. “But they should.”
“How about we meet up tomorrow at the café?”
“No. I want you to stay.” Janine catches your gloved hand. She squeezes the foam on your fake arm muscles. “I love that you’re Batman tonight. Otherwise I would take you too seriously.”
The door opens and two straight couples come in. You were silently hoping someone else would show up in costume—humiliation loves company. But the men are in tuxes and the women are in ball gowns. The couples stop to hand off coats to the doorman, pretending not to stare at you.
Janine ignores the audience. “You know what I thought when I first walked in the door? Damn, Batman is so much more sexy than Superman.” She keeps her hold on your arm but shifts her body closer. Her breath is warm against your neck. “I’ve never seen you stand quite like that. Or look more out of reach. So tempting. And the way Alison and Katherine were eyeing you…you didn’t seem to mind the attention.” Her eyebrow arches.
You long to press into her lips, but when you step forward, her hand presses on your chest. She shakes her head. You touch her shoulder and then run your hand down her side, pausing for a moment at her waist before slipping over her hip. You find the edge of the fabric where the slit opens, and your fingertips play against her thigh. Janine glances down at your hand. It would be easy to hike the cloth up past her hips, and you’re wet with the thought of doing exactly that. You know exactly how she likes to be touched, and your body is begging to feel her against you.
Janine doesn’t move away from you. Instead, she leans forward until you feel the rise and fall of her chest. She tilts her face up to yours.
“Just because I think you’re hot doesn’t mean I’m going to let you kiss me,” she says.
“Because you wanted to slow things down.” Janine takes a step back and glances over at the audience. The doorman’s mouth is gaping wide. The two couples are still in the entryway. Staring. Janine looks back at you. “This past week has made me do a lot of thinking. About us.” She pauses. “And whether or not we should be together.”
“You want to break up?”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” Janine argues.
You wait for her to continue, but she doesn’t. “Tell me what you want.” Angry tears press at the corners of your eyes, but you clench your jaw to hold them back. You rub your eyes through the mask, hoping Janine will think it’s only frustration.
“I’ve had a lot of time to think, but it wasn’t until I saw you tonight that I realized what I needed,” Janine says.
You clear your throat and force a smile. “It’s the outfit, isn’t it?”
“No. But maybe it helps.” She touches your lips with her fingertip. “I hate how much I want to kiss you right now. And I’ve been thinking—why’d we get together in the first place? You’re smart. Funny. But not too funny.” She smiles. “We have the best conversations in bed. And you’re hot. I even like the way you smell. That cologne you wear sometimes…But is that enough?”
“I could wear more cologne.”
“I’m serious. When I first met you, I thought it was perfect. We’re practically neighbors. We have some of the same friends. We like the same café. You even have good taste in music…But then I started to worry that maybe we were dating because it was easy. Convenient. Now I don’t know if you really want me or if I’m just easy. When you tell me you love me, do you mean it? You say you love a lot of things.”
“I’m not criticizing. I’m being honest. And maybe this sounds crazy, but don’t you wonder the same thing sometimes?” She doesn’t wait for you to answer. “So, then I thought, what if tonight we aren’t exclusive? We said we’d take a week off, and tonight’s the last night. We’re at Katherine’s party. We both know there will be available women. What would happen if we kissed anyone we wanted to kiss? Dance with anyone, go home with anyone…What if anything goes tonight?”
“Completely. I want you to be sure that I’m the right one. And I want to be sure about you. Think of tonight as a fun little challenge. Flirt with someone right in front of me.” Janine motions to a group of women in the ballroom. Backs are turned to you and they’re too far away to hear their conversation, but you can’t imagine flirting with any of them. Not now. “Try to make me jealous. I’ll let you off the hook because I’ll be doing the same thing. Then tomorrow we meet at the café and decide if we want to be exclusive.”
“What if one of us meets someone tonight and that changes how we feel about us tomorrow?”
“It’s possible,” she agrees. “And it’s also possible that we’ll realize how much we like each other.”
An hour ago, standing in front of your bathroom mirror as you brushed your teeth, you might have had a perfect rebuttal. Some argument to convince Janine that you don’t need her to make you jealous and that you’re ready to do anything to be exclusive. Unfortunately, she has a point. You started dating her because it was easy. Convenient. And maybe that’s why she dated you. But that can’t be the reason that you stay together. Your stomach is balled up tight. If you need to break up, she’s giving you the perfect out. But you want to kiss her more than you want to say good-bye.
“Okay, maybe you’re right,” you say. “Maybe it wouldn’t hurt if we both flirted with someone else tonight. But sex?”
“If it happens, it happens. We’re both single tonight,” Janine replies. “Are you jealous already?”
“Good.” She brushes her hand across your cheek. “I know it won’t take long for you to make me jealous, too.”
“That sounds like a dare.”
“It is.” Janine smiles. “Go find someone to kiss. I’d wish you luck, but I know you won’t need it. I’ll see you at the café tomorrow.”
The other couples step aside as she passes. You watch her hips sway down the hallway and then catch the doorman watching as well. You’re tempted to call him out on ogling your girlfriend, but she isn’t yours tonight.
The doorman grins when you look over at him. “There goes trouble,” he says.
“Tell me about it.” You take a deep breath as Janine disappears into the crowded ballroom. You glance over at the doorman again. He’s an inch or two taller than you but otherwise slim and about your build. “Any chance you have a spare uniform?”
“No, but my manager might. She’s outside running security.” The doorman taps his ear and then speaks into a small microphone under his jacket lapel. He looks up and shakes his head. “Sorry. Out of luck. Anyway, I’d keep the Batman gig up if I were you.”
A) Gather your Batman bravado and walk into the ballroom (read on to Chapter Two)
B) Go find Katherine and beg for a change of clothes (go to Chapter Four, page 52)
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