Only With You(7)

By: Lauren Layne

“Dalton,” she responded with a faint smile. “Sophie Dalton.”

“Are you a guest here? If there’s anything we can do…”

Ten minutes later, Sophie had a handful of complimentary drink vouchers in her clutch, but her pride was hanging on by a thread. As she numbly wandered toward the bar, she had the oddest sense that something extraordinary had just happened. Something beyond getting stuck in an elevator.

Sophie was no stranger to embarrassing herself. Hell, for that matter, she was no stranger to embarrassing others. Just ask her family.

But Sophie had always been in charge of those perceptions. Always decided the when and the where of her impropriety.

Until now.

After years of carefully selected choices on the path of mediocrity, a stranger had just succeeded where her friends and family had failed.

Sophie had just been introduced to rock bottom.

And this time, she hadn’t even been looking for it.


Two weeks later, Sophie was in an entirely different sort of hell. One commonly known as “dinner with the parents.”

“William, stop eating all the shrimp. They’re for the salad,” Sophie’s mom said, slapping at the hand of her favorite dinner guest.

Sophie raised an eyebrow at the uncharacteristic behavior. Not that Marnie Dalton wasn’t the type to slap hands. She totally was. Sophie’s career-focused, take-no-prisoners, cloth-napkins-only mother ran her home with the rigid precision of Fort Knox.

But Marnie usually made an exception for Will. Hell, all women made exceptions for William Thatcher III. It was sort of nauseating, but Sophie had gotten tired of dry-heaving over her best friend’s manipulation of the female population somewhere around college. After all, it really wasn’t his fault that all women turned to simpering puddles of swoon around him.

All women except for Sophie.

Sophie’s mother scurried out of the kitchen, muttering something about crass fingerprints on the napkin rings.

“What’s up with your mom? She’s high-strung tonight,” Will said, busying himself once again with the shrimp.

“Just tonight?” Sophie asked with a snort.

“You know what I mean. More than usual,” he corrected, snagging another shrimp.

Sophie shrugged. She’d stopped trying to figure out what made her mother tick. Other than lecturing her daughters and spying on the neighbors, of course.

“Have you told your parents you quit your job yet?” Will asked as he tossed a shrimp tail in the garbage disposal.

Sophie winced. “Eh…not exactly.”

Will shook his head and reached for the croutons. “Well, warn me before you do so I can clear out. Having an unemployed daughter in the house is going to go over about as well as a zit before prom.”

Sophie made a grab for the wine bottle and topped off her glass. “Best friends are supposed to be encouraging.”

“They’re also supposed to be honest,” Will replied. “But if you need a little ‘bright side,’ how about this: your parents are going to be thrilled that you’re not serving up Irish car bombs at Stump’s anymore. Once they get over the whole lack of health insurance and 401(k), that is. Oh wait, you never had either of those in the first place.”

Sophie groaned. “They’re going to kill me.”

“Pretty much,” Will agreed. “I know you’re all for spontaneity and shit, but quitting a job without having another lined up? Ballsy. What brought it on?”

Oh, now, let me see, what’s changed?…I got mistaken for a freaking streetwalker, that’s what.

But Sophie hadn’t even told Will about the Las Vegas incident. Not that he’d judge her for it, but the whole episode still felt too fresh. Talking about it would be like rubbing lemon juice in the wound and then adding a little salt for good measure.

“Just needed a fresh start,” she replied. One that doesn’t involve stinging humiliation and pleather boots.

It wouldn’t make sense if she tried to explain it, but after the sting of Las Vegas, Sophie needed this change. It was as though that uptight asshole in the elevator had held up a mirror and forced Sophie to face her life.

She wasn’t twenty-two anymore. Being a cocktail waitress and every-night party girl wasn’t just a rebellious phase. It had become a career.

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