|Released March 3, 2015|
|Released May 5, 2015|
“He’s not looking for a relationship of any sort.”
“Well, neither were you, right?”
“Right,” Ariel said.
“So, no complications?”
The claw digging into her heart ripped a half-sob out of her.
Noelle’s eyes widened. “Oh my God.” She hustled Ariel into the ladies bathroom, which was mercifully empty. “What happened? What did he do to you?”
Ariel blinked back the tears that stung her eyes. “He thought I was rich.”
“He was looking for a sugar mama.”
Ariel said nothing.
Noelle tipped her chin up. “The Ariel I know would have thought it all hilariously funny. You’d have found a way to gently refuse him without damaging his ego— the way you turn down all those marriage proposals from men drinking their heartache away. So what’s different this time?”
“I thought he was different.” Ariel leaned against the sink. “He had big dreams, and he would never let anything get in their way, but he seemed to understand me. He helped me realize that my dreams were different from what I enjoyed doing.” She sniffled. “I wanted to be an actress, but auditions always made me panicky, which is probably why I flubbed every single one of them. I hated acting; I hated the pressure of having to say the right thing and do the right thing under the spotlight. He helped me realize how much I enjoyed the stuff I was already doing, like surprising people with mixed drinks that were just exactly what they wanted, and listening to people talk and learning about the world from them. He said I would probably enjoy bartending, and he was right. I do enjoy bartending. I always did; I just didn’t realize it until he told me.”
“And then you started falling in love with him, didn’t you?” Noelle finished quietly.