Chapter 3 : Strangers and Benefits [MATURE]

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"My home, of course."

"Why not mine?"

"If it's all the same to you, I would much rather have sex in my own bed."

"Ouch, you really know how to set a romantic mood, Liz."

Lizzy sighed. "Sorry, Collin," she said, glancing at the phone mounted on her car dashboard. She had called his number immediately after she left Lucy's place. "I'm not really in the best mood right now. This week was the worst."


"Yes. And some concerns with my sister."

She didn't know why she was talking to him about this. Their relationship wasn't exactly ... well, it wasn't a relationship at all.

"Look," Collin said, "seeing as it's pretty late--"

"Fine, forget I called." She moved to hit the end call button.

"No, don't hang up."

She stopped, and put her hand back on the steering wheel. "What?" She knew she sounded curt, but he'd already turned her down twice earlier this week. Her pride could only take so much rejection before she had to start getting defensive.

"I was going to say that seeing as it's late, maybe I could just come by tomorrow night and make you dinner."

"I guess ..."

"And after that, you may have your nasty way with me all night. In your own bed, of course."

"Fine. But you don't have to make me dinner."

"You have to eat, Liz."

"I can grab a bite on my way home."

"I refuse to kiss you and be stuck with the taste of cheap greasy pizza in my mouth. I'm coming over at six and I'm making Vietnamese noodles and that fish soup you like."

She smiled despite herself. "Okay. But let's make it seven p.m." Asher Darcy was going to be at the office tomorrow for a long editorial meeting, so she may not be able to leave work early.

"Seven p.m. Great, I'll see you then."

Lizzy sighed as she pulled up to her apartment. It was a shame Collin couldn't be convinced to come over tonight. Though she would be the last to admit it, she could really use a good lay right about now. Her former assistant and current fuck buddy was hardly stimulating company, but he was young and attractive -- he was a model after all -- and had the stamina befitting a man of twenty-two.

She sighed. I guess I'm reading a book tonight.

It wasn't fair. She was a young, fairly attractive woman. She had a career and her own apartment. This was L.A. It shouldn't be this hard for her to get laid.

Her cellphone rang as she was about to get out of the car. She took it off the car dock before answering.

"Hey Shar," she said, picking up her laptop and purse from the front passenger seat.

"I'm not disturbing you, am I?" Sharlene said.

Lizzy locked the car and started toward the elevators. "Oh, no. Just got home from dinner with Mom and my sister. What are you up to?"

"The usual. Netflix and — well, wine and popcorn. I thought you might be with Collin tonight."

"Nah, I thought I'd turn in early." The lie left a faint taste of bitterness as it rolled off her tongue. "We're meeting our brand new publisher tomorrow, after all."

"Right. I'm kind of nervous about that."

"He's not coming to fire us, Shar. He just wants us to get him up to speed with where we are and what we're doing." She got in the elevator and punched in her apartment floor number.

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