Authors: Dakota Madison
The California Dreamers Series
Copyright © 2016 by Dakota Madison
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.
This is a work of FICTION.
Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author's offbeat imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual persons living, dead or previously dated by the author, is entirely coincidental.
A SHORT ON TIME BOOK
Fast-paced and fun novels for readers on the go!
For more information, visit the website:
Special thanks to retired Detective Larry Kincaid and Sergeant Brian Taylor for providing me with information about police life and procedure. Your help was invaluable.
There’s a knock on the door of my apartment. I don’t want to see anyone in my current state so I ignore it. Maybe if I’m lucky whoever it is will go away.
Apparently I’m not that lucky.
There’s more knocking.
I’ve lived in my tiny studio apartment for the last five years. I realize it’s not much, but it’s what I can afford on a public servant’s salary in very expensive Southern California. I prefer to think of my closet-sized dwelling as
. I work crazy hours so it’s not like I’m home that much anyway. I basically just need a place to crash and shower.
I’ve been crying for the last five hours and twenty-eight minutes. I’ve gone through six boxes of heavy two-ply tissues that are now scattered all over my living room floor.
The person at the door isn’t going to give up without a fight. He or she has decided to start pounding.
“Who…is…it?” I manage to chirp between heavy sobs.
“It’s your sister from another mister,” a female voice replies.
I don’t have to open the door to know it’s my best friend, Zoe. Her heavy Brooklyn accent definitely stands out on the West coast.
I grab a tissue and blow my nose. Then I toss it on the floor to join the rest of its former box mates, used then so recklessly discarded.
At that moment I realize those tissues are a metaphor for how I’m feeling…cast aside like unwanted trash.
I somehow manage to pick myself up from my daybed and stagger towards the door. I feel as lifeless as a zombie and I don’t think I look much better.
I know I shouldn’t glance at myself in the mirror. Seeing the horror show I’ve become will only make me feel worse. I’ve had a complete and total emotional breakdown.
It’s hard not to sneak a peek at myself when the mirror is hanging right next to the front door.
. I look a lot worse than I imagined. My long dark hair is askew. It looks like I’ve just walked through a wind tunnel. And my normally large dark eyes are red and swollen from crying.
“If you run away screaming I won’t be offended,” I warn Zoe as I open the door.
She looks me up and down. “I’m not going to lie. You’re a wreck.”
She pushes past me into my apartment. Unlike the disaster otherwise known as my hair, Zoe’s hair always looks perfect.
“What’s going on?” she asks. “You’re normally so uptight and guarded. It takes a lot for you to even crack a smile. You’ve obviously been crying. That’s not like you, tough girl.”
“I’m having an emotional crisis.”
“Clearly.” She plops down on my daybed. “Let me guess. Guy trouble.”
I sniffle. “Noah broke up with me. He told me he was
tired of having his balls in my purse
. I don’t even own a purse.”
She dismisses my concerns with a wave of her hand. “What does he know about balls? If anything he needs to grow a pair. You’re better off without him.”
“I thought he was the one.” I start sobbing again.
Zoe grabs a tissue from the nearly empty box and hands it to me. If I don’t implement some tissue conservation measures immediately I’ll soon be wiping my nose on a dishtowel.
“In the grand scheme of things you were with Noah for like a minute. Another minute and you’ll get over him. A minute after that and you’ll be with someone else.”
“We were together almost three months. I thought he loved me.”
“He just wanted a garage to park that long black limousine of his in every night.”
“He’s already found another garage to park in,” I snivel. “I guess she stays open all night. He never has to wait for his space.”
“I hope her garage door closes on him and whacks his limo in half. What a dick.”
“I’ve become a serial dumpee.”
“What does that mean?”
“Guys seem to be excited to go out with me at first, but after a month or two they split. I don’t think they can handle my job.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because that’s exactly what they tell me. They can’t handle dating a police officer.”
Zoe hops up from my daybed and puts her hands on my shoulders. She’s one of the few people I’ve ever met who is actually shorter than I am.
My dad was of Mexican descent and my mom’s family is Italian. I didn’t score any height in the genetic lottery. I’m only five foot three inches tall.
Zoe is even shorter. She wasn’t completely kidding when she called me her sister from another mister. She’s half Puerto Rican and half Italian. We look a lot alike. People are always mistaking us for sisters.
“You know what they say. The best way to get over a guy is to get under another one.”
“And what would you know about getting under a guy?”
“Just because I prefer traveling the Golden Valley doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the occasional ride on the bone rollercoaster.”
All the years I’ve known Zoe she’s dated women. The only exception was our senior prom. She went with Hans Wagner, an exchange student from Germany. Was he her lone bone rollercoaster ride?
“In case you haven’t noticed men aren’t exactly lining up to go out with me,” I remind her.
“And you don’t exactly make yourself open to men either. It takes a lot for a guy to get past the emotional armor you wear.”
“I don’t have the opportunity to meet men. I don’t have time to go to the gym. I don’t like the bar scene. Where am I supposed to meet someone?”
“You work with hundreds of guys…”
I put a hand in the air to stop her. “You know I don’t date cops.”
“You are a cop.”
“Which is exactly why I don’t date them. I don’t mix work and pleasure.
. I’ve worked too hard to develop a solid reputation with my fellow officers. After seven years they are finally starting to respect me and treat me like a peer. I don’t want to do anything to screw that up.”
“Let’s take a drive out of town then,” she suggests. “We can go to some country bar in the sticks and you can have your pipes cleaned by some hunky cowboy. A night of red hot anonymous sex and you won’t even remember the name Noah.”
“You know I’m not that kind of a girl. I’ve never had a casual fling in my life.”
“Maybe that’s the problem. You’re taking sex way too seriously. You have to start thinking like a guy in the bedroom. One and done. Then you’re on to the next one. Just because you taste the sausage doesn’t mean you have to buy the cow.”
“You’ve got your metaphor a little mixed up. Sausage is usually from a pig, not a cow, but I get your point.”
“That’s what you get when a vegan tries to make a meat reference.”
“I appreciate your concern, I really do, but I think I just want to stay home and wallow in self-pity.”
“There’s a problem with that plan. You’re almost out of tissues.”
“So that settles it. We’re going to find a cowboy bar somewhere and you’re going to get yourself a one-eyed corn husker for the night.”
The bar we finally settle on is pretty far inland. It took us forty-nine minutes to get here, but it felt more like forty-nine hours.
The sign outside the rundown place guarantees the
Best Country Music in the US of A
. Considering I know nothing of the genre they could play anything and I wouldn’t know the difference.
I somehow managed to make myself look presentable in jeans and a white blouse. At least my hair no longer looks like a fright wig.
Zoe’s Prius looks extremely out of place parked next to all of the massive pickup trucks that line the parking lot.
“Are you sure about this?” I ask as we exit her car.
The closer we get to the place the shabbier it looks. If the exterior is any indication of what the clientele looks like, I’m in trouble.
“You need this, Maya. You need to find a wild stallion you can ride all night long. And you’re going to find one in this bar.”
“I think I’ll be lucky to find an old mule in this place.”
“Funny.” She grabs my arm and pulls me into the bar with her.
The place is dingy and smells like sweat and stale beer. Memories of parties in fraternity house basements come racing back. Even in college I was a good girl who wasn’t into hookups like a lot of my classmates.
It makes me wonder what I’m doing here trolling for men.
“It’s not that bad,” Zoe whispers as she glances around the grungy looking place.
“Not that bad?” I stammer. “It’s worse than awful in here. Thank goodness for the Clean Air Act or I think we’d be walking through a cloud of cigarette smoke on top of everything else.”
“Let’s get you a beer. You’re much less uptight after you’ve gotten a few cold ones down your throat.”
I follow her to one of the few empty tables in the place and we both sit down.
She was right about one thing. The place is filled with cowboys, or at least guys who look like they’ve been ridden hard and put away wet.
A server dressed in a tight cowgirl outfit with pink cowboy boots parks in front of us. “What can I get you ladies?”
“A beer for my friend,” Zoe tells her. “And I’ll have a mineral water.”
The server looks at her like she’s lost her mind. “We don’t have mineral water.”
“Do you have any sparkling water?” she asks.
“We have tap water from the sink.”
Zoe scrunches up her nose. I would feel bad for her, but it was her idea to come here. She’s just going to have to suck it up. She’s the designated driver.
“Tap water it is,” Zoe tells her. “With ice.”
The server’s cloudy blue eyes land on me. “What kind of beer do you want?”
“Whatever’s on tap.”
“Bud? Bud Light?”
“Bud Light I guess.” I’ve never been much of a drinker, and I doubt this place serves any wine I’d be interested in tasting. I just want to get buzzed. Then I’ll talk Zoe into taking me home so I can pass out amongst the piles of tissues lining my daybed.
As I glance around the bar I notice nearly everyone else in the place is drinking beer, so I feel like I made the right choice.
I also notice that there aren’t many women besides us in the bar. There’s a small group on the dance floor and two playing pool with two guys. Everyone else in the place is male.
If I did want to pick someone up, which I definitely don’t, it probably wouldn’t be that difficult given the odds.
“Look at that table of hot young studs.” She points to a group of guys seated near the restrooms at the other end of the bar. “I’m sure one of them would be willing to give you a nine-inch nail.”
There are five guys at the table. They seem to be around our age, late twenties. I have to admit they look kind of bland.
Or that could be because I’m comparing them to my ex.
Noah, the guy who broke my heart, was an extremely attractive Afro-Asian man. He was model quality. One of the best looking guys I’ve ever dated. The problem was he knew it. He was too good looking. He could have any girl he wanted at the snap of a finger and he took advantage of it. Why settle for one apple when you can have the whole bushel?
I wonder if his new squeeze realizes she won’t be the only piece of fruit in his barrel.
If I’m serious about picking someone up tonight for a quick fling he’s going to be white. No, I’m not turning into a racist. It’s just that white seems to be the only race on offer here. Maybe this time I need to go for a more average looking guy, or at least someone who isn’t drop dead gorgeous.
The five guys Zoe and I were checking out fit the bill. Good looking, but not too good looking. Kind of like Goldilocks and her porridge. The guys are not too hot, and not too cold. They’re just right.
As soon as the server places my beer on the table Zoe orders me another one.
“Are you sure?” The server eyes me like she doesn’t believe I could handle another one so quickly.
“Get her another one. She needs the liquid courage.”
The server doesn’t bother to respond. She just turns on her little pink cowgirl heels and waltzes away.
“Drink up.” Zoe indicates my beer.
I take a small sip.
She shakes her head. “Down it. That’s the only way I’m going to get you laid.”
“About that.” I point a finger in the air. “I’m not sure it’s such a good idea.”
She glares at me. “We drove all the way out here so you could get some bow-chick-a-wow-wow and you’re going to get some.”
I can tell by the look of utter determination on Zoe’s face that she’s not going to take no for an answer.
A one-night stand might not be that bad. If they were dangerous, they wouldn’t be so popular. Maybe Zoe is right. Maybe it will help me to get over Noah. I need to do something. He’s still invading my thoughts like a virus.
There’s an old saying:
if you do what you did, you’ll get what you got.
All I’ve gotten so far in my love life is heartache and pain. Maybe if I do try something different I’ll get a different result.