Chapter One

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[You can read the first few chapters of "Last-Minute Love" here, and if you like it/want to know more about the mysterious Erik ;-), you can buy the full book for just a few dollars at any e-book retailer! The print version is also available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble online].

A woman in a studded collar, leather bikini, and fishnet stockings stared at me from behind the glass.

Luckily she was only a mannequin, dressed in the finest gear this Toronto sex shop had to offer.

I turned my attention back to the puddles I was avoiding, as I hurried my way up Yonge Street. This seemingly never-ending street began at Lake Ontario and ended a few towns later, but the twenty-minute patch between the touristy Dundas Square and swanky Bloor Street was something you’d describe as...eclectic. At least that’s what a tourist magazine might call it. I’d call it borderline insane.

It’s not that I was too uptight to be seen around a sex shop (yeah right...I’ll go with sweet tender “lovemaking” with the lights OFF, thank you very much), it’s that it wasn’t consistently-themed as a “sex neighbourhood.” It was an “everything neighbourhood.”

Intimidating Scientology center.

Tattoo parlour.

Hole-in-the-wall nail salon.

Jewellery store.

Sex shop.

Dollar Bonanza.

Pretentious book store that only carries leather-bound titles.

McDonald’s.

It was Toronto with multiple-personality disorder, and it definitely made our city...unique. The people were a perfect match, as even now at eleven a.m., there was a little bit of everything here. From precious old ladies in cute wool hats, to sullen teenage girls who’d traded high school for the cautionary life (short denim skirts and last night’s eyeliner were the dead giveaways). As for me, the casually-dressed Indian girl with long hair hanging freely, I didn’t really belong to this late-morning crowd. With jeans, tall boots, a flowing scarf and layered tops, you would instantly mistake me for a wannabe writer. As a matter of fact that’s exactly what I was, but on a full-time basis I belonged to the cubicle tribe, where all its members were hard at work making millions for “the man.” I’d be back to that soon enough, but today was my chance to escape.

Today was my twenty-ninth birthday.

A grey April morning wasn’t really helping me celebrate, but at least the rain had stopped, leaving a cool damp air in its wake.

And puddles.

I skipped over this latest one and continued on, as the normalized world of over-priced shopping and expensive eateries slowly came into view. I was a mere two blocks from Bloor Street now, with Toronto’s trendy Yorkville up ahead. There was something about being around rich people who didn’t have jobs that inspired my writing. I never even ended up writing about them in detail, but somehow they were word-count triggers. Maybe the expensive perfume was a hallucinogen.

Before I could start envisioning a steaming latte and the perfect window seat, I realized I’d let my guard down for a moment too long. The attractive young man with the clipboard now had me in his sights, and idiot that I was, I hadn’t even bothered to grab my phone to pretend I was busy.

“Nice boots,” he said, with the slightest air of seduction. It was just enough to make me blush thereby acknowledging his existence. Dammit.

I nodded and hurried past him. But of course it wasn’t over.

He quickened his pace and caught up in seconds. “I’ve got a question for you: do you think panda bears are cute?”

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