Excerpt for You Can't Make This Sh*t Up by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Smashwords Edition

Copyright © G.A. Hauser, 2018


Copyright © G.A. Hauser, 2018

ISBN Trade paperback: 978-1985-2414-9-7

© The G.A. Hauser Collection LLC

This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or business establishments, events or locales is coincidental.

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First The G.A. Hauser Collection LLC publication:

April 2018


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Chapter 1

Albert Lane loosened the knot in his necktie. Seated at his desk in a high-rise office building, Albert took a break from his work for the finance company. He rubbed his eyes, since they felt like sandpaper from the blowing air vents near his desk.

Standing, Albert leaned against the plate glass windows, staring at the skyline of Los Angeles’ smoggy horizon. The surface was cool to the touch. His gaze sweeping over the panoramic view, Albert was glad it was Friday.

While he thought about it, he picked up his phone to send a text, ‘We’re still on for tonight, right?

He knew Maria was connected to her phone. Most of the twenty-something’s he’d met were.

Can I let you know?’ she sent back.

“What?” He thought they had a confirmed date. He’d made dinner reservations with Maria days ago. ‘What’s up?’

I’ll get back to you.’

The reservations are for seven.’


Albert had a feeling he knew why she was waffling.

Douglas Jeffries, that’s why.

He wanted to tell her to fuck off. But…He was a sore loser, and letting his woman leave him for a man like Douglas Jeffries was a blow to his ego.

“Whatever.” He sat back down at his desk and continued his work.

By five o’clock, Albert shut down his computer and scooted back from his desk. He still hadn’t heard from Maria, and was the kind of conscientious man to either make it to the restaurant, or cancel his reservations. Simply being a no-show wasn’t his style.

He sent Maria yet another text. ‘Am I picking you up?’


“Was that so fucking hard to do?” He stuffed his phone into his pocket and buttoned his suit jacket. Now in a foul mood, Albert left the office and headed to the parking garage. Car engines starting echoed under the low ceiling. The mass exodus had occurred, employees set free for a weekend.

He stood by his white Nissan GT-R and removed his suit jacket, folding it and taking a seat in the powerful car.

The music blasting, vibrating the speakers, Albert backed up and headed to his Holmby Hills residence on West Sunset Boulevard.

As he thought about his date tonight, he battled negative thoughts.

When he had met Maria Seymour, he had become enamored with her. Who didn’t? She was a lingerie model whose father was worth a mint.

Every dog in LA was sniffing at her high stiletto heels.

Albert became impatient with the heavy traffic, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel and shifting gears, working the clutch.

He glanced into the rearview mirror at his green eyes and ran his fingers over his brown hair.

Stop, go, stop, go.

He huffed in frustration and cut into the HOV lane even though he did not qualify. He flew down the open gap until it too, became a congested mess. Before he got a hefty citation, he forced his way back into the snarl and then merged to an exit ramp.

Finally making it home, Albert shifted into first gear as he waited for his garage to roll up, then parked his car. He exited it, taking his jacket, and before he went inside, he removed his mail out of the box. It was a pile of fliers, requests for charity donations, and real estate agents who promised him ‘top dollar’ for the sale of his home. In other words, complete crap.

He tossed the pile on his kitchen counter and loosened his necktie.

The traffic had been so heavy, it took him nearly an hour to get home.

Albert didn’t have time to do more than shower, shave, and change clothing before he headed out to pick Maria up.

Albert pulled his car in front of a mansion in Beverly Hills. He shut off the engine and climbed out, walking to the grand, columned front entrance of the home. A gold Rolls Royce and a silver BMW were parked out front, gleaming in the spotlights.

Albert straightened his sports-coat and ran his hand over his conservatively cropped brown hair. He rang the bell and cleared his throat.

A servant answered.

“I’m here to see Maria.”

“Yes. She’s expecting you.”

Albert stepped into the foyer, one with a sixteen foot ceiling and polished marble floor.

He heard laughter coming from down the hall, and followed the servant.

Maria was there, her raven hair flowing down her bare shoulders, as she wore a strapless red dress and spiked heels.

Seeing her beauty made him smile. Before he greeted her, he found two men in the room, drinking martinis, enjoying themselves.

Maria’s father, Tucker Seymour, and…

Douglas Jeffries.

Albert’s smile fell.

“Albert,” Maria said, holding a martini glass while she laughed, “Doug has just told Daddy and I about his latest adventure.”

Those devilish blue eyes found him in the room. Douglas was ridiculously handsome. So handsome, he made Albert uncomfortable.

“Hello, Albert,” as he spoke, Tucker reached out his hand.

“Mr Seymour.” Albert received the firm clasp.

“Would you care for a cocktail?” Tucker asked.

Seeing Douglas staring at him, Albert lost his train of thought. “Uh. Maria and I have dinner reservations.” He should reach out to greet Douglas to be civil, he just couldn’t force himself to do it. This rapscallion was after his gal.

“We have time,” Maria said, scolding, which embarrassed him.

No. They did not have time. Not if they wanted to get to the restaurant by seven.

Maria floated over to Douglas on her strappy-red high-heels. “Tell Albert about the Sherpa in Nepal that you met. It’s a hoot.”

“He was remarkable. He was the only survivor left of an avalanche that claimed ten climbers.”

“Yeah,” Albert said sarcastically, “That’s a hoot.” He turned to Maria. “Can we go?”

Maria sipped her cocktail down to the bottom.

Albert checked his watch. When he looked up, Douglas had his arm around Maria and was kissing her neck while she giggled.

Tucker appeared oblivious to the drama, filling his cocktail glass with more of the martini mixture and two olives.

Maria gave Douglas a playful whack and was released from his clutches. “Let me get my purse.” She left the room.

Albert glared at Douglas. He wanted to slap him.

“Where are you two going?” Tucker sipped his martini.

“Uh…” Albert battled to keep focused. He was hungry, tired, and frustrated with having to deal with Douglas making the ‘moves’ on Maria constantly.

“Uh?” Douglas mocked him. “Is that a new hot spot? Uh-Sushi?”

Fuck you! Albert clenched his jaw. “The…uh…the…” God! Think! What’s the name of the restaurant, you moron!

Douglas snickered at his ‘brain-fart’ and drew Tucker into a conversation about buying property at an auction.

“Albert?” Maria called from the hallway, wearing her coat and holding her purse.

“Nice seeing you again, Mr Seymour.” Albert felt as if he were interrupting, but didn’t want to leave without being civil.

Douglas made sure Tucker was too distracted to reply.

Albert walked towards Maria. Right before he left with her he remembered. He said into the room, “Il Pastaio.”

Both men looked at him as if he were crazy, and didn’t regard him.

“Albert?” Maria called to him curiously.

He opened the front door for her and escorted her to his car, also opening that door for her as well. Her fabulous long legs distracted him for a moment as he waited to shut the door. He walked around his car and sat down, unbuttoning the sports-coat and starting the car.

Maria took her phone out of a small gold clutch purse and read a message she’d missed.

“What’s he doing here?” Albert asked, tolerating her connection to her phone, since she was glued to it on a regular basis.

“He’s discussing some real estate purchases with my father.” She sent a text and then looked up as they drove to the restaurant.

“I don’t like it.” Albert rested his hand on the gear shift.

“Don’t be possessive. It’s unappealing.”

“Are you sleeping with him?” Albert slowed for a red traffic signal lined with cars on this busy Friday night.

She made a noise in her throat and read her phone.

He almost added, because you’re not sleeping with me.

She may be a lingerie model, she may be gorgeous, but, she wasn’t easy.

With her attention on her phone, Albert shut up. They’d been on four dates. He was struggling to keep her interested and not happy she was hanging around with a man like Douglas Jeffries.

Douglas was the ultimate playboy; never seemed to work, had a ton of cash, and enjoyed the jet-setting scene.

He was the kind of celebrity that was photographed in trashy magazines, always on the arm of a starlet or model, yet, for the life of him, Albert had no clue what the rogue did for a living.

Rumor was, he was an heir to a fortune.

He didn’t give a shit about the guy, he just wasn’t keen on the competition.

Albert pulled up to the valet in front of the restaurant. He exited his car, leaving it running, and waited as the valet opened the car door for Maria.

She looked like she was strutting the catwalk or a beauty pageant, her thick black hair flowing over her gold mid-length coat.

His insecurity of not actually being in a committed relationship with her, gnawed at him. Albert hooked her elbow and walked to the entrance, avoiding the chaos of the patio dining. He took charge, making his way to the hostess. “We’ve a reservation, Albert Lane.”

“Yes.” She found his name. “Would you like indoor or outdoor seating?”

“Indoor.” He glanced at Maria but her face was in her phone, as usual.

“Right this way.”

The aroma of roasted garlic and meat was in the air, making his mouth water. He gestured for Maria to go first, and as he followed her he noticed every man in the area spot her, and drool.

Albert pulled a chair out for her, and she sat down, placing her purse on a chair beside her with her coat.

They were given menus. “Someone will be by for your drink order.”

“Thanks.” He took a seat across from her, seeing her phone right beside her place setting. He cleared his throat and picked up the wine menu. “What are you in the mood for?”

Her phone chimed again. She leaned over it to read and chuckled.


“Yes?” Her eyes were large, doe-eyes, with pitch-black lashes.

“Can you put that away?” He gestured to her phone.

She turned it face down and didn’t read it.

“Do you want wine?”

“I’d prefer a cocktail.”

A server placed bread on the table. “Can I offer you a drink or a bottle of wine?”

“A martini, please.” Maria peeked at her phone.

“And you, sir?”

“Uh.” He became distracted by her. “Just water.”

“Sparkling or still?”


The server rattled off the specials and left.

“Who are you texting?” Albert kept his voice calm but was about to blow a wad of cash on this meal. He wouldn’t mind her attention.

“Doug is sending me jokes. He’s insane.” She smiled, her white teeth glowing between red ruby lips.

“Doug?” His back tensed. “Doug is texting you?”

“Don’t be jealous.” She laughed.

“Are you seeing him as well as me?”

“Huh?” She became distracted by the phone and sent another text.


The waiter brought a cocktail and a bottle of water to the table. “May I get you a starter while you decide?”

Albert read the menu. “Maria, do you want to share the appetizers?”

She was reading her phone again.


“Anything you want, Albert.”

He exhaled in exasperation and said, “The Parma ham and the grilled vegetables.”

“Good choice.” The server left.


“What?” She narrowed her eyes at him and then put her phone down, picking up her martini. “Mm, that’s good.

He inspected her red manicured nails and gold jewelry. “So. How was your day?” He was desperate to change the topic and his lousy mood.

“Good. Oh. My cousin is getting married on Sunday.”

He nodded, listening, reading the dinner selections.

“Would you like to come with me? It’s fancy. It’s at the Waldorf.”

“Really?” Albert pulled apart a roll and buttered it. He was so hungry he was getting a headache.

“I was going to go on my own, but, it’ll be fun to go with you.” She ate an olive off the toothpick from her martini.

“I’d love to go.” The last thing he wanted was for her to invite someone else.

“Do you have a tux?” She finished the drink.

“I do.” He chewed the soft roll.

“Good.” She smiled at him.

His bad mood melted away at her pretty face. “Good.”

Finally full, sated, and less angry, Albert wiped his mouth on his cloth napkin and then took another morsel from Maria’s plate. She had ordered risotto but didn’t eat much of it. It was fantastic. If he wasn’t so full from his chicken dish, he’d eat it as well.

“Can I get you anything for dessert?” The server began clearing plates.

“Nothing for me,” Maria replied, smiling.

“I’m fine. Everything was great.”

“Very good. I’ll bring you the bill.”

Albert gave Maria his attention. “What are your plans for tomorrow?”

She took a compact out of her purse and checked her face. “I’ve got a photo-shoot for the lingerie company.”

He waited for her to tuck her compact away and then tried to hold her hand over the table.

She gave it to him with a smile.

He kissed her fingers. “And after that?”

“I don’t know.” She leaned closer, sexy as hell.

“How are we working the transportation to the wedding?” He caressed her delicate fingers.

“I’ll find out. We’re taking a limousine. I’m sure we can pick you up.”

“Just let me know.”

The waiter brought the bill, so he released her hand and took it, reading it, and giving it back with his credit card.

“We’re expected at the hotel at eleven. They’re not having a church wedding. It’s all going to take place at the hotel.”

“Okay. Am I getting a gift?” He wanted her hand again but it seemed awkward this time to reach for it.

“No. We have it all taken care of.” She shifted in her chair. “Let me just go to the powder room.”

“Of course.” He stood politely until she walked off.

Once more, every man in the room watched her go. Some so blatantly, their wives smacked them on the arm.

He relaxed in the chair, content, and signed the credit card slip when it showed up, taking his card and the receipt.

He wanted to get laid.

He waited.

And waited.

What the fuck?

Since her coat was here, he didn’t panic. When he spotted her again, she was laughing with a young man, who had obviously engaged her in a conversation.

Snarling, Albert stood up and was about to assert his dominance, when she returned to the table.

Albert helped her with her coat and walked with her to the door. Because she was obviously with him, his expression softened as he possessed her.

Once outside, beyond the patio dining, he gave the valet stub to a young man and put his arm around Maria while they waited for his car.

The spring had begun to warm the days, and make the evenings less chilly, but there was still a little cold bite to the wind. The palm trees swayed, their heavy tops bending to the will the Pacific Ocean’s wind.

His car arriving quickly, Albert helped her climb into the low-slung seat and then handed the valet a tip. He sat down behind the wheel and drove to Beverly Hills. He placed his hand on her leg. “Do you want to come to my place?”

“I can’t. I have that photo shoot tomorrow.” She flipped the visor down and touched her lips, which she had applied lipstick to in the ladies’ room.

“I can get you home early.” He squeezed her knee.

She laughed, as if he were being silly.

He shifted gear and didn’t put his hand back on her leg, since the vibe he was getting wasn’t warm and fuzzy.

He drove her to her mansion and parked out front. “Can I come in for a nightcap?” He unfastened his seatbelt.

“I think I’ll just relax this evening. Thank you for a lovely dinner.”

Knowing she barely touched her food, Albert bit his tongue on a comment. “Okay.” He leaned in for a kiss.

She kissed him, closed lipped.

The urge to pin her to the seat and kiss her like he wanted to kiss her had to be battled once more. He sat back and tried to calm down.

“I’ll let you know the plan for Sunday.”

“Fine.” He climbed out and walked around the car, opening the door for her and helping her out. As he held her hand, he pulled her into his arms. She smelled of honeysuckle and vanilla. He chewed on her neck, hoping to entice.


He reluctantly released her. “Goodnight.”

She walked to the front door and waved at him, then vanished.

Albert sat in his car and drove home, seriously in need of a fuck.

Chapter 2

Saturday morning, after a lousy night’s rest, Albert made sure his tuxedo was clean and ready for tomorrow’s wedding.

Once he had, he changed into shorts and a T-shirt and headed to the gym to work out.

After being left in blue-ball hell last night, Albert decided to get his frustration out at the gym. He started with a trainer, doing a military fitness routine, then ran on the treadmill for forty minutes, lastly doing hot yoga, and sweating bullets.

By the time he was done, he felt invigorated enough to shower, change, and do errands.

The car gassed up, grocery shopping complete, a trip to the cleaners and even a haircut taken care of, Albert finally made it home by late afternoon. He’d received a message from Maria; since she was family and in the wedding party, she had to go to the hotel early for a brief rehearsal.

He opted to go later, not interested in hanging around.

He sent her a text, ‘I’ll meet you there.’

Okay. Looking forward to seeing you in a tux!

“Yeah. I look good in one of those.” He resumed his Saturday chores, did a load of laundry, and caught up on his bill paying.

By six, he prepared himself a light salad and grilled salmon, and then relaxed in his den.

An hour later, he was dozing on the couch.

Since it was absurd to sleep at seven in the evening, Albert forced himself to snap out of it, and instead of vegetating on the couch, he sent a buddy and work colleague, Vijay Kumar, a text to see what he was up to.

Ya there?’

Yo. wassup?’

It’s Saturday night and I’m alone.’

awww. where’s your bra model?’

Going to a wedding with her tomorrow.’

Ouch! wedding? dawg!’

I don’t mind. Maybe I’ll get laid.’ He chuckled. ‘What are you up to?’

Nuthin’. wanna do somethin’?’



Albert smiled at his buddy’s use of slang. ‘meet?’


KEWL!’ Albert chuckled and stood from the sofa.

Wearing a pair of good jeans, a cotton shirt, and a leather jacket, Albert entered a dimly lit restaurant/bar on Santa Monica Boulevard. Via text message Vijay had said he was already here.

Albert read the directions Vijay had sent and found him in a booth, texting. He sat across from him.

“Yo!” Vijay laughed and put his phone down. He offered a fist-bump. “Wassup!”

“I’m bored or I wouldn’t be here with you.” He shrugged off his jacket.

“I’ve invited a Nyles and Newt to join us.” Vijay was drinking something that looked like it had ice and soda in it. “Hungry?”

“I could nibble but I already had a light dinner.” Albert picked up a bar menu from a stand on the table.

“Yo!” Vijay addressed someone else in the loud room.

“V!” The young man gave Vijay a tight hand clasp and a man-hug, with one arm. “Hey, bro.” Newt clasped Albert’s hand.

“Hey, Newt.” Newt, Vijay, and Nyles all worked for the same company, with him. Albert was in the finance office, while these guys worked in IT.

A waitress approached their booth and tossed two more coasters on the table. “Drinks, gentlemen?”

“I’ll have a vodka cran.” Newt took off his jacket and immediately held his phone in front of his face.

Albert scratched his coarse jaw. “Uh…beer. Just the dark porter on tap. And how about a plate of nachos.”

“Got it.”

Vijay said, “There’s going to be one more.” He pointed to the space beside Albert.

“Okay.” She tossed a fourth coaster on the table. “You need a refill?” she asked Vijay.

“Sure. Scotch and soda.”

“Got it.”

Albert relaxed on the seat and stared at the two young men. He was older than they were, but since they all worked for the same company, he liked socializing with them. Particularly, Vijay. He was fun, and smart, easy to get along with. Not to mention, they were all into gaming and going to comic conventions together.

“V!” someone yelled like a jock calling men into a huddle.

“Yo!” Vijay reached out his fist. “Nyles, my man!” Vijay gave him a bro-hug as well, and then relaxed.

Nyles greeted them all. “Albert! Hey, bro, lookin’ good.”

“Yo.” Newt gave cute, mocha-skinned Nyles a fist-bump.

Nyles sat beside Albert. “How’s life in the finance department.”


“Slummin’ with the computer geeks?”

“I prefer you guys.”

“Dude. He’s seeing that lingerie model, Maria Seymour.” Vijay thumbed to him as if it were an honor badge.

“No! That one with the big…” Nyles gestured to his chest.

Albert chuckled. “Yup.”

“Dude!” Nyles went for a high-five.

“She’s hot.” Newt shifted on the seat.

“What’s she like?” Nyles asked, holding a menu.

“Nice.” Albert smiled.

The waitress brought their drink order. Once she placed them on the table, she asked, “And for you?” to Nyles.

“Yo. What’d you get?”

“Scotch and soda.”

“No.” He pointed to Newt.

“Vodka cran.”

“That.” Nyles gestured.

“Anything with the nachos?” she asked.

The other three studied the menu.

Albert drank from his beer glass, and licked his lips.

“Jalapeño poppers,” Nyles said.

“Artichoke dip.” Newt stuck the menu back into the holder.

“Got it. Be right back with the nachos.”

“No rush.” Albert smiled at her.

She smiled back, slightly flirty.

When she left, the other three had noticed, and made a sound of teasing. “Oooh, look out! The man has the touch.”

“He’s a model magnet.” Vijay sipped his drink.

Albert chuckled and tried not to gloat.

“Whose wedding is it?” Vijay asked.

“What wedding?” Newt peeled his cardboard coaster in half.

“Maria’s cousin.” Albert glanced at the crowded room. It was packed with young millennials either boozing or texting. “It’s at the Waldorf.”

“Sweet!” Nyles approved.

“She’s in the wedding party. She just sprung it on me.” Albert checked his phone but no one sent him anything. Since Maria was texting constantly, it was odd she never sent him unsolicited text messages.

“Careful, Albert,” Vijay said, “Women at weddings. She’s going to expect you to propose.”

The other two made noises of terror.

Albert shrugged. “Maybe.”

“Dude!” Newt was making a mess with the coaster, rolling up pieces in tiny spitball sized bits.

“How old are you?” Nyles asked.


Vijay shrugged. “That’s a good age to get married.”

The waitress brought out a tray. On it were the drinks they had ordered and the nachos. She placed everything down on the table which included; a stack of small plates with forks, paper napkins and hot sauce. “Be back with the rest of your order.”

“Thanks.” Albert took a napkin for himself.

“You’re welcome!” She blushed and rushed off.

“Dawg!” Vijay sang loudly.

Albert smiled to himself and took a small helping of the nachos while the other men talked about how hot Maria was in her bra and panties, since she was in television commercials as well as lingerie catalogues.

After eating a few loaded tortilla chips, Albert let the other men at the table enjoy it, since he had his dinner already. He relaxed, looking around the crowded restaurant.

Two women standing near the bar, holding cocktails, had spotted him. When he noticed them staring, he smiled to himself, flattered.

One, a very young woman with a low, scooped neckline, licked her top lip teasingly at him.

It made him chuckle.

Vijay noticed and leaned across the table. “Someone flirting with you?”

Both Newt and Nyles stopped talking to pay attention. “Who?”

All three of them gawked at the two pretty women.

“Guys?” Albert shook his head. “Don’t stare.”

“Why not? They are.” Newt wiped his hands on his napkin.

“All the secretaries have a crush on him.” Vijay finished his second drink.

The waitress brought the rest of their food order and then stood by Albert’s side of the booth. “How is everything?”

“Good,” they all nodded in agreement.

She paused and stared at Albert.

He tried not to blush.

“You have the prettiest eyes.” She gave him a dreamy smile.

“Thanks.” His cheeks grew warm.

She lingered a second longer and then moved away.

Albert peeked up and noticed the two women trying to get him to come over to where they were standing. He cleared his throat and focused on his beer. Then, he realized how quiet it was at his booth. He met his young friends’ gazes. “What?”

“Must be nice.” Vijay shook his head.

“I’m so jealous, dude.” Nyles took food to his plate.

“You must get laid, a lot.” Newt licked salsa off his finger.

He didn’t, but wasn’t about to blow his image. “Don’t tell me you guys don’t have it easy. I thought geeks were in.”

They appeared uncomfortable.

“No?” He finished his beer.

“I’m too scared to ask a girl out.” Nyles used his fork on the nachos, since the cheese had cooled and it was like plastic.

“Me too.” Chubby Newt frowned.

“Vijay?” Albert asked the shy man.

“It’s hard.”

“You have to ask, guys. You can’t sit around and—”

“Hi.” One of the two girls from the bar had approached him.

They all shut up and sat higher on the bench seat.

Albert looked at his friends, but, she was obviously addressing him. “Hi.”

“I’m Candy and that’s Danika. What’s your name?”

“Uh…I’m Albert and that’s…” He was about to introduce his young companions.

“You have the prettiest green eyes.” Candy touched his arm.

Albert glanced at his friends. They were ogling the two women, gaping jaws and drooling overtly.

“Uh…” He shifted away from her touch. “That’s Newt, Nyles and Vijay.”

Danika sidled closer to him. “We were thinking of going dancing. Wanna come?” She bit her lower lip as if she were faking an orgasm.

“Uh…” Albert didn’t expect this kind of reaction. It wasn’t as if he was a celebrity. “No. But, thanks.” He nudged Vijay to stop gawking. “Why don’t you guys go?”

“Huh?” Vijay blinked.

Albert gestured to him. “Go dancing. Go. Do twenty-something shit.”

Candy took her phone out of her purse. “What’s your phone number?”

Albert sat back waiting for Vijay to respond when Albert realized she was asking him. “I…I’m with…I’m seeing someone.”

“Are you married?” Danika asked.

“No, but.” Albert kept prodding Vijay. “Dude?” He whispered, “Give the woman your number.”

“Here’s my business card.” Danika handed it to Albert. “Call me.” She used a cliché gesture of a phone to her ear.

The two women walked away, looking back at him.

After they left, Albert gave the others a look of exasperation. “What’s wrong with you guys? Two single women came right up to the table, and you didn’t even say hello?”

Vijay leaned closer, across the table. “You could have had a three-way with them.”

“Did you see how they looked at him?” Newt asked.

Albert frowned. “You need to be more aggressive. If you can’t even talk to them when they come right over, you’ll never get a date.” He finished his beer.

The waitress approached him. “Would you like another?”

“No. I’m good.”

She took his empty glass. “I get off at one.” She smiled and walked away.

Albert gestured to the other men at the table. “What about these guys?” he asked, but she had already left.

He sighed deeply and checked his watch. When he looked up, the other three were eating and drinking quietly, as if they were introspective.

“Hey.” He tried to get their attention. “It’s an age thing. Some women are hot for men in their thirties. They seem to think we’re ripe for the taking and have disposable income.”

Vijay snapped out of his reflective stupor. “So, who wants to play videogames?”

Albert took his wallet out of his pocket and tossed cash on the table. “I’m beat.”

“Hey, we’re glad you came out with us.” Vijay sat higher in the seat.

Albert put his jacket on and stood beside the table. “There are a ton of single women in here. Just mingle.” He got anxious nods and figured they wouldn’t budge. “See ya Monday.” He moved the woman’s business card closer to Vijay. “Send her a text. You never know.”

Vijay didn’t touch the card, but appeared to read it. “Have fun at the wedding.”

“Thanks.” Albert wove through the crowd to the exit. He left the noisy restaurant and stuffed his hands into his pockets, tired, and ready for bed.

Once home, he double-checked his tuxedo and polished his good black shoes. Winding down with late night TV, Albert thought about his sex appeal.

He wasn’t always a hottie. In high-school he’d had an awkward adolescence; braces, acne, and big hands and feet. In college, he didn’t date, focusing on his studies. Mostly living on his own, Albert had hit the gym regularly and seemed to grow into his large appendages. He stopped getting pimples and of course, the braces were long gone.

When he became successful in his work, making enough to afford a nice home and car, women started to notice him.

His confidence grew.

With his battle to be self-assured, and an expensive designer wardrobe, came women.

He had met Maria by chance, in line at a café buying espresso. When they first met, he had no idea she was a lingerie model, but was knocked out by how pretty she was.

The fact that she had gone out with him at all, was fantastic and a huge boost to his ego.

Now…now that he was dating a supermodel, maybe he was standing taller, feeling more confident. Whatever it was, he was getting noticed.

And, that was just fine with him.

But, while he was trying to establish a committed relationship with Maria, he wasn’t going to date anyone else.

It’s just who he was. Loyal.

He’d never been a womanizer, juggling schedules to get off on a hookup.

He had no idea how men did that.

Albert shut off the TV and readied for bed. He checked his phone once more and no one had sent him any messages.

Crawling into bed, Albert relaxed and tried to rest, knowing tomorrow he would be once more ‘on stage’ as he joined Maria Seymour and her family at a posh wedding celebration.

Chapter 3

Sunday morning, Albert managed to get in a workout at the gym before he dressed in his tuxedo.

As he tied the bowtie in the mirror’s reflection, he regretted accepting the invitation. Weddings were a big deal.

He wasn’t sure why he’d been invited at all. Last minute? After only four dates?

Then again, maybe he knew why he had accepted. Numerous reasons; one of the lamest was wanting to claim Maria in public, or at least in a formal setting with her family and close friends.

That, and hoping she would do something more than peck him on the lips.

Weddings were romantic. Weddings gave women ideas of nesting and coupling.

Weddings meant booze.

He inspected his appearance and looked as good as he was going to get. Once he put his dress overcoat on, he stood near his nightstand, dropping his phone in his outer pocket. He double-checked his cufflinks were in properly and took a box of breath mints with him, in case, he got a kiss or two. He put the mints into his tux’s jacket pocket.

His phone chimed. Wondering if he was going to be cut out at the last second, Albert read the text.

Vijay had sent, ‘got a date!

Smiling, Albert sent back, ‘Atta boy! Time to go to the wedding.’

Have fun!’

You too!’

Albert chuckled and slipped his shoes on at the door, cupping his car key and locking up the house behind him.

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