One Hot Australian Night Online
"It's been over three years, woman. Haven't you ever heard 'if you don't use it, you lose it'?"
Zalia eyed off her best friend, irritated that they were having this conversation yet again. "That doesn't even apply to women. Besides, I'm very happy with my life right now."
Kara crossed her arms over her chest, clearly not convinced. "You've got to get over the trust issues you have. Even if it's for one night."
"You know I don't do one-night stands. You never know what trash a stranger has been sleeping with."
She had only ever slept with two men - her high school sweetheart and her ex-fiance. Both of whom cheated on her. The latter had kicked her out of their shared home on Valentine's Day three years ago. She hadn't dated since.
It wasn't that she refused to socialize. Or that she was bitter or still hurting.
She just couldn't be bothered. What was the point of investing time and energy into a relationship that would ultimately end? She had better things to do.
"Sex is just sex. I'll find you someone you can fuck and be done with." She couldn't help but laugh at Kara's terminology. The woman had never been one to hold back. Unlocking the front door of her bookstore, Zalia flipped the sign from Closed to Open and turned back to her friend.
"I'm twenty-eight years old, own my own home, run a very successful bookstore, and have an active life. I'm happy. Why do I need a man in my life?"
"I'm not saying you need a man." Kara leaned against the front counter and regarded her. "I'm saying you need sex. All this pent up energy you have needs to be released. Sex is a great stress reliever." She tried to ignore her friend's steely gaze as she passed her and sat behind the counter. "I'm not having this conversation with you again."
"I've found this dating site." Kara held up a hand to stop her displeased groan.
"I promise it's not dodgy. A friend of my cousin's used it and found her soul mate."
"Oh, well, then it must be legit."
"Honestly, it is. The owner, Madame Evangeline, has a knack for bringing people together. She's recently started taking clients in Australia. She gets your details, organizes a meeting, and you do the rest. Hint, hint." Kara winked and slid a business card across the counter. "If she can't help you, then we'll take it as a sign, and I'll let you grow old and live with a dozen cats. But if she does find you a match, you have to follow through."
Zalia picked up the business card. 1NightStand and Madame Evangeline were printed in bold on the front. On the back was a web address. Nothing more. "This is the business card of a 'legit' dating service?" Kara rolled her eyes and walked toward the front door. "Go to the website and fill out the form. If you don't, I will. I'm going to the bank; I'll be back in half an hour."
Zalia spun the business card between her fingers and bit the inside of her lip hesitantly. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she considered emailing this
"Madame Evangeline". After a few moments of contemplation, she flicked the computer monitor on and opened her email. One email couldn't hurt, could it?
Xavier sat in his stuffy office and looked at the clock hanging on the wall.
Seven-thirty. No wonder he felt tired. He'd been in the office for twelve hours.
Yawning, he loosened his tie and leaned back in his chair. He ran his hands over his weary face and sighed in frustration.
Over the last two years, he'd spent more time here than he had at home. But he couldn't face the cold, empty house. It had once been filled with love, laughter, and warmth. Now it was merely a stale reminder of the life he didn't have. The One Hot Australian Night coming Saturday would be the two-year anniversary of Honoria's death, and it hadn't gotten any easier to deal with.
He still heard the screeching tires and screams in the silence of night. The images of the bloody windscreen and mangled car were permanently etched into his mind. The love of his life - gone - all because some selfish bastard decided to drive his drunken ass home rather than catch a taxi.
Rage burned in his chest, a tight ball twisting. He closed his eyes and blew out a long, slow breath. Eventually, the rage dampened and became the familiar ache of grief. Its nails