Striking (Forged in Fire) Online - Lila Felix

Chapter One


“So I said to him, ‘Sure, Dane, just as soon as you figure out how to turn that into billable hours.’” The guy across from me, I suppose you could call him my date, laughed at his own joke while I barely lifted my eyes from my empty Cosmo glass to shoot him a pained smile.

He took that as encouragement and launched into another story about Dane. As in the comedian? A friend? A dog? I still didn’t know.

And honestly, I didn’t care.

But I did know I had been stuck on this god-awful date for the last three hours with no end in sight. I was sufficiently drunk but still tragically bored.

I glanced around at the trendy LA restaurant we were supposed to be enjoying and wrinkled my nose. It was as boring as Bryce, the Ivy League investment banker douche my sister set me up with. Everything was white, the chairs, the tables, the booths, the walls, the floor, the light fixtures, the waitresses’ outfits, the hostesses’ tacky short skirts, the bartenders’ shirts, Bryce’s pants. Oh god, I was on a date with a guy who wore white pants.

It was like a living mural of heaven gone terribly wrong- with weak drinks and pretentious assholes.

Speaking of pretentious assholes….

“Do you want another drink?” Bryce looked over the rim of his fusion cocktail something or other, and raised an eyebrow.

Oh yeah, like he had a right to judge me.

Granted, I was maybe a little bit sloshed. But it was his fault for being so boring.

No, I take that back.

It was my sister’s fault for setting me up with him. Just because Katelyn was living an f-ing fairy tale, with her perfect fiancé, her perfect art history degree and her perfect dream job as an assistant curator at The Getty, did not mean we shared a taste in men.

Damn her. It was like it was her mission in life to make me miserable.

I should have known better than to agree to, “Hey, Cami, I have the greatest guy for you!” But I was bored and mom and dad had been riding my ass about getting my life together and it was brunch. One does not f with my sister at brunch.

“Sure, why not?” I slid him a slinky smile that I could feel looked forced. He rewarded me with a twisted smirk and a finger in the air to flag down our waitress.

He probably thought he was well on his way to getting lucky. Good for him.

And even though he was painfully mistaken- in fact, if I had to listen to one more of his pointless tales of his rich friends, richer father or stupid car I might choose alcohol poisoning over life- who was I to judge? He was just living the American dream: life, liberty and the pursuit of getting laid.

Or something like that….

Ok, maybe I wasn’t being fair.

It wasn’t Bryce’s fault I found him utterly awful. It was my sister’s and more specifically my parents’.

If I were a better person I could probably see the need to grow up a little bit, to settle down as my father always begged me, to have some goddamn drive in life as my mother preferred to lecture. But I was not a better person, nor did I have any aspirations to be one.

All I really wanted in life was the new Jimmy Choo silver pumps my mom just got in her store. That was it.

Oh and the white Balenciaga bag.

I looked around the restaurant, took in all the white and changed my mind.

Ok, not white.

But mostly I wanted to be left alone, to not be on the receiving end of another brunch-version of Intervention. I just wanted to figure out life in my own way. Even if my way meant sucking down cocktails like every night was happy hour below Sunset and the casual use of recreational drugs. There was nothing to worry about. I had my life together. I had a life plan, kind of. And most importantly, I knew what I was doing.

Except for what I was doing on this date? That even I was still trying to figure out.

What my family saw as a cry for help, I saw as a cry to leave me the f alone. I didn’t want Katie’s life. I didn’t have my mother’s ambition. And I sure as hell didn’t want to just give in and “let daddy set me up with something more suited for a girl like me.”

Which meant a receptionist job