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Stripped Bare(2)
Emma Hart

My friends all thought I was crazy for wearing those things for a minimum of five days a week, but I called it love. And made the shoes promise to never, ever break on me, because it had taken me forever and a day to break them in.

“If Darren is in charge, they’ll strip-club hop until five in the morning,” I reminded her.

“You said his name without spitting. I’m impressed.” Allie skipped right over the club thing. Maybe that drink was hitting her already...

“I’m a mature adult.” I slammed both of my shoes down on the table. “I can speak about my ex-boyfriend without wanting to scoop his balls out with a potato masher.” Just.

“You sure about that? ‘Cause, now, I’m more worried about taking you to a strip club than getting her out the door,” Jaz said, one scarlet-red heel hanging off her finger while she pointed between me and Allie.

“Look.” I gripped my glass a little too tightly, feeling the familiar buzz of frustration that zinged to life whenever my cheating son-of-a-bitch ex was mentioned. “This is one wedding where the maid of honor isn’t gonna get it on with the best man, because she’s already been there, done it, and got the ‘fuck you, heart’ T-shirt. So let me have tonight, will ya? I’m not getting it on the wedding night because I’m gonna be sitting by my phone, waiting for somebody to call me.”

Allie’s cheeks flushed bright red. “I’m not going to call you right after I lose my virginity to my husband!”

“Uh... Yeah... You will. You’re gonna call me and ask me why the hell you waited so long. You know...once you’ve forgotten that it kinda hurts.”

“Mia!” Jaz gasped. “You can’t tell her that!”

“Sure I can! It’s practically in the Best Friend Code of Ethics. It’s my responsibility to make sure she’s prepared for that night, and if that means telling her that her taco might get a crack, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

“My taco might get a crack?” Allie half screeched. “The hell kinda explanation is that?”

“Oh, Allie.” I turned to her and sighed heavily, gently waving my glass. “It’s a polite way to tell you that’s it gonna hurt like a motherfucking bitch.”

“There we go. Break it to her gently, why don’t you?” Lucie rolled her eyes and took a new, full glass of Long Island Iced Tea to Allie. “Drink this. With any luck, you’ll forget her crap by tomorrow morning.”

“My crap? I take offense at that. You can’t tell me it didn’t hurt when you lost your V-card.”

“No idea,” she replied as she perched on the edge of the bed, her light-brown eyes lifting to meet mine. “I was crammed into the back seat of a Corolla and uncomfortable enough without thinking about the pain my vagina might have been experiencing.”

“A Corolla? Really?” Allie asked, her nose wrinkled.

Lucie shrugged a shoulder. “Junior prom. Where else was I gonna lose it?”

“In a bed. Like normal people,” Jaz fired at her, buckling one of her heels at her ankle before sitting up straight.

“You lost it on your dad’s sofa.” Allie frowned delicately. “And I know for a fact Mia lost it in a tent when we went camping the summer before senior year.”

I groaned and covered my face with my hand. Why’d she have to go and bring that up? She knew how I felt about that awful night.

“How did we go from convincing Allie to go to strip club to the worst two and a half minutes of my entire life?”

“Two and a half minutes?” Jaz snorted. “You lucky duck.”

“Lucky? How is it lucky? He screwed me like he was a drill and I was a solid-brick wall. Then I hit my head on a rock I didn’t know was in the tent. I still have freaking nightmares about it.”

“I had ten minutes of relentless pounding that felt like he was trying to break into Fort Knox via my cervix,” she said dryly, grabbing her glass. “I was thirty seconds away from calling the FBI to report an attempted break-in when I clenched, yelled, and he finally came.”

“You’re all insane.” Allie sighed and ran her hand through her sleek, blond hair, messing it up.

Yep. She was getting drunk.

“If she’s messing up her hair already, does that mean she’s tipsy enough that we can go?” Lucie asked hopefully. “Because I’ve got a clutch full of ones ready and waiting.”

“No!” Jaz exclaimed. “Wait!” She grabbed her case and pulled out a hot-pink sash from the top. Then she shoved it in Allie’s direction, a big grin on her face. “You’ve gotta look the part.”

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