"When are you going to stop being such a chick over this girl? You look fine." Zubin said as he cracked open another beer.

Thursday had arrived too quickly for Gabe. Hell, if it were up to him he'd have put off this dinner with Claire and the money dorks indefinitely. He'd been so nervous about it all week that he'd asked Zubin to swing by his place and prep him on what he was in store for.

"I'll remember how much of a smug little fuck you've been the next time you ask for my help." Gabe said to Zubin, only half joking. "Now are you sure about the get-up?" Gabe said motioning to his blazer and jeans. "What if they're all in suits?"

"Some of them might be. But dude, if you wear a full suit they'll all think you're one of them. What are you going to do if they start talking about a recent IPO or financial scandal?"

"Come on, it's a dinner. Do you really think they're going to talk about all that crap?"

"I'd put money on it. I bet you it's all they talk about... When they're not busy bragging about their careers that is." Zubin took a swig of his beer, then continued on. "Look man, this thing isn't going to be pretty. They're going to spend the night showing off to each other and comparing jobs."

Gabe plopped down on his couch next to Zubin. "I'm so screwed."

"No you're not. You just have to have a game plan."

"Which is?" Gabe asked, grasping to the tread of hope his friend was dangling in front of him.

"Rule one – Don't try to fake it. If you have no idea what they're talking about, you can deflect, but don't pretend." Zubin said.

"Easy enough."

"Rule two – Find an ally. Do your best to sit beside one of the other people's dates who will also likely be bored to tears."

"I can do that. Her friends, Miriam and Iris, the ones you met at the club will be there. The one you made out with will be bringing a date." Gabe said, feeling encouraged.

"Perfect. Now for the third and most important rule." Zubin paused for emphasis. "Pretend you're having a great time. The uncomfortable person at the party is sad and pathetic. Don't. Be. That. Guy."


"Gabe don't be nervous! This thing is really no big deal." Claire said.

"I'm not nervous." Gabe lied.

"Bullshit. You haven't said a word since picking me up at the office."

"Fine. I might be a little nervous." Gabe conceded. "But it's just because I want your friends to think I'm worthy of being on your arm."

"Most of them aren't my friends, just acquaintances. At best they'll be eventually become helpful business contacts." Claire said in an attempt to comfort him. "And have I told you that you being so worried about making a good impression is totally adorable?"

Gabe wasn't sure how he felt about being called adorable. It made him feel like a puppy Claire was praising.

Claire abruptly stopped walking, reached up and pressed her lips against his. Gabe kissed her back, but it didn't halt the steady stream of ways he could screw up from running though his head.

"Not good enough." Claire said pulling away.

Crap. She'd realized how distracted he was. Now he was a crappy date and a crappy kisser.

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