By: Lola Taylor

True to the promise on the can’s label, the paint really was water-resistant. And sweat- and soap-resistant, apparently.

Becca looked as though she could use a distraction to take her mind off her brother. She was constantly worrying about him, and Amy was used to being her sounding board.

With a deep breath, Amy explained everything about the encounter with Mr. Sexy, right up to her cleaning the entire flipping stairwell.

The story had the desired effect—Becca was nearly in tears by the end, she laughed so hard.

Hey, at least she was laughing. That made Amy smile and a warm glow fill her chest.

“Oh. My. God. I have to meet this guy.” Becca dabbed at her eyes with the towel she’d brought.

Her own eyes stung from sweat, too, but Amy dotted her face with the sleeve of her shirt.


Black splotches marred her shirt afterward. Oh, that’s right. She’d actually worn mascara today.

Today, she had given a damn because she was rebooting her life.

So much for that.

On second thought, she smiled at her shirt. The fact she even wore mascara at all was a small victory. For the longest time, she’d forgone makeup, cute clothes, and doing her hair. Nothing mattered after what she’d gone through. It all seemed so...petty.

But now, it seemed normal. Though she had a long way to go, some small part of her had healed in those two years, and it craved normalcy.

Maybe I really am starting over. Maybe things are finally getting better.

She firmly squashed down her hope, afraid it was too good to be true.

Just as her therapist had encouraged, she had to resist the urge not to care because it was familiar and “taking the easy way out.”

Happy people didn’t understand it, and good for them. After going through hell, there was a certain numbness that could take over. A survival mode. Because it was easier to feel nothing than to feel all that damned pain. She’d hurt for too long, to the point it had almost destroyed her.

When you’d gone to the edge of the abyss and nearly fallen in, seeing the light, any light, was like an addiction.

“Amy? Did you hear me?”

“What?” Amy’s head snapped around; a nerve in her neck caught. She winced and reached up to rub it out.

A mischievous sparkle shone in Becca’s eyes as she slowly smiled. “Oh my God. I was right.”

Amy blinked. “Right about what?”

“You’re hot for him, aren’t you?”

“I’m sorry, I’m hot for who?”

“Mr. Sexy, your building manager.”

“I...I did not call him that.”

“Oh, you most certainly did. Throughout your whole story.”

Holy shit. Amy’s face heated. She stopped her treadmill and stood there, panting. Even just thinking about him made her blood boil, and she’d be a fool if she thought the slickness in her freshly changed panties was due entirely to her very light workout.

Her gut wrenched. It was happening again. She was dangerously attracted to a male, and last time, that had so not ended well.

“I...I need to get home.” Amy’s voice shook as she got ready to leave.

Becca stopped her treadmill and caught hold of her arm. Her voice was gentle, understanding. “Don’t be afraid to fall in love again.”

Amy swallowed hard. It felt as though she’d swallowed a rock. “I...I can’t go through that again,” she whispered.

“You also can’t be alone for the rest of your life.”

Amy took a deep, resolved breath. “Sometimes alone is the safest place to be.” She smiled at her friend, knowing the motion was halfhearted. She was exhausted. “Thanks for working out with me. Guess I needed to relieve some stress after all.”

Becca beamed. “Anytime. I’ll always be here if you need me.”

Amy squeezed her hand. “Thanks, girl. You’re the best.”

After bidding her best friend good-bye in the parking lot, Amy got in her car and drove home.

The parking garage gave her the creeps, so she parked along the curb. It wasn’t exactly safe either, but hey, her car could get jacked anywhere. And this block, though old, was reputed as being safe.

That fact comforted her as she walked inside—and nearly slammed into the chest of a very tall, and very drunk, man.

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