What’s Next

PUT ME IN DETENTION

PROLOGUE

 

CORA

 

“Sweet nectar of life, please don’t ever leave me,” I groan while rubbing my cheek against a stone of chilled bliss.

 

 

Pound.

 

 

Pound.

 

 

Pound.

 

 

Gurgle.

 

 

And . . . repeat.

 

 

The bad-decision-driven rhythm of my body. Three pounds, vibrating through my head, followed by a very unsettling gurgle.

 

 

The only thing keeping me alive is the cool touch of the firm surface beneath me.

 

 

“Cora? Cora, where are you?” I hear Stella call out from far away. “Cora, did you order breakfast?”

 

 

Gurgle.

 

 

Nope. No, I did not.

 

 

Definitely did not order breakfast.

 

 

“Has anyone seen Cora?” Stella asks.

 

 

“Is she not in her room?” Greer asks, her voice rather upbeat, a stark contrast to how I’m feeling.

 

 

“Do you associate Stella with idiocy?” The snap of Keiko’s voice comes in sharp. “She’s an intelligent female, smart enough to deduct from the obvious places as to where our comrade would be reposing. Why treat her with such—”

 

 

“I didn’t check her room,” Stella says.

 

 

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Keiko huffs. “Analyze her place of slumber before you query individuals of her location. Have you learned nothing as an educator?”

 

 

Lucky for us, and I mean that sarcastically, Keiko has been a bit . . . snappy lately. Greer, Stella, and I think we know why, though Keiko, on the other hand, seems clueless.

 

 

Ahem.

 

 

Bun in the oven.

 

 

“I’m . . . here,” I mumble as I start to wiggle my fingers. Yup, those are working. I then check my toes.

 

 

Hurray, still intact.

 

 

Limbs are accounted for. What about torso? Everything good there?

 

 

My stomach is pressed against the floor, and I smooth it along the cold tile—yup, still there, but . . . why is the chilliness of the surface beneath me so strong? Why does it feel as if I’m not wearing any articles of clothing?

 

 

“Did you hear that?” Greer asks. “I think it came from the entryway.”

 

 

Footsteps parade down the hall to the entryway of the ornately expansive hotel suite I booked for my divorce-cation—a well-thought-out, meticulously planned, and obnoxious ceremony that celebrated the end of my nuptials to Keenan—the one who shall not be named.

 

 

The devil himself.

 

 

An immoral human with a loose zipper in his pants and a penchant for sleeping with women who weren’t his wife.

 

 

My ex-husband.

 

 

Cue the Maury Show-style boos.

 

 

“Maybe she ordered us breakfast,” Stella says, drawing closer.

 

 

“I could use some bacon,” Greer adds. From the proximity of her voice, I think she’s now in the same room as me. Crap. “And some—whoa—uh, Cora . . . you’re, uh, you’re naked.”

 

 

Yup, that’s what I thought.

 

 

Naked as the day I was born.

 

 

The front of my body is pressed against the floor, my legs are squeezed together, and my ass is feeling the cool breeze of the air conditioner blowing from the vent above.

 

 

“Wow,” Stella says, “you have a really nice ass.”

 

 

“I’m clenching,” I say, for Lord knows what reason.

 

 

“She does have a nice ass,” Greer says. “Even if she’s clenching, it’s still all round and bubbly.”

 

 

“From a quick analysis of her posterior chain I can rapidly deduce that she spends more time in the gym than she announces,” Keiko chimes in. I do spend a good portion of time in the gym, especially ever since I left . . . thou who shall not be named, or TWSNBN.

 

 

“Are you putting in squat time?” Stella asks.

 

 

“Uh, could someone grab me a blanket or towel?” I whisper.

 

 

I lift my head and turn it so I’m now facing my friends. Stella and Greer are both wearing oversized shirts from their men. Stella is drowning in Romeo’s Bobbies shirt, while Greer is wearing one of Arlo’s Forest Heights tees. And Keeks, well, she’s wearing an ankle-length floral nightgown that I’m pretty sure she purchased at Talbots.

 

 

“If you must know, I’ve been squatting with bands lately.”

 

 

“Well, it’s showing.” Greer claps. “It’s a great ass.”

 

 

“Structurally sound,” Keiko adds.

 

 

“Jealous of those glutes,” Stella says.

 

 

“Well, thank you, but towel, please. Something is poking my boob and I’d rather you not see everything I have to offer.”

 

Greer grabs my robe from the couch and chucks it at me. I do my best to maneuver on the floor and cover myself up before lifting, only to notice . . .

 

 

“Oh hell,” I mutter.

 

 

“What?” Greer asks.

 

 

With the robe securely around my waist, I turn toward them, part the lapels, and flash them my boobs.

 

 

Well, my tassel-covered boobs.

 

 

A boisterous laugh falls out of Stella’s mouth and Greer leans forward for a better look. Keiko dramatically shields her eyes, but then peeks through her fingers.

 

 

When she notices the tassels, her hand drops and she says, “I’ve heard of wearing such devices on your breasts before, but never quite considered it for Kelvin.” She takes a step forward. “How do they feel? May I examine them?”

 

 

“No.” I whip my robe shut and then grip my head from the pounding pain.

 

 

“How am I supposed to make an accurate assessment of fringe pasties for your bosom if you deny me an experimental observation?” Keiko asks. Keiko is a dear friend, quirky, a tad nerdy, and incredibly socially awkward. Has zero boundaries, but we love her for it. Even if she does get on our nerves sometimes.

 

 

“Buy some, try them on, and reach your own conclusions.” I move to the living room, where I take a seat on the couch, cross one leg over the other, and then lean back against the cushions. “Honest to God, I can’t remember why I put tassels on my boobs. Or why I’m naked, for that matter. Or why I was on the entryway floor.” I smirk. “But I guess it was a good night, right, ladies?”

 

 

Stella and Greer exchange glances, while Keiko sits next to me, a little too closely, as if—

 

 

“Keiko.” I swat away her hand as she attempts to sneak it into my robe. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

 

 

“It’s not my fault you’ve stimulated my genius with inquisitiveness.”

 

 

“For the love of God.” I reach into my robe, pull off one tassel—oh my God, I think I ripped my nipple off—and I hand it to her. “There, go ham with it.”

 

 

Keiko examines it closely as she stands up. “I shall retreat to my quarters. Please inform me when our morning meal has arrived.”

 

 

And then she’s gone, leaving me with Greer and Stella and their concerned faces.

 

 

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

 

 

My phone beeps with a text message, the sound echoing in the vast space of the living room. I glance around, spotting my phone on the end table.

 

 

“Do you not remember who we ran into last night?” Stella asks.

 

 

“Elvis?” I ask. “Uh, doesn’t everyone run into him? I kind of wish ours hadn’t smelled like onions though, because, woof. That was rough.”

 

 

“Not Elvis,” Greer says as I pick up my phone. “Who we ran into at the bar.”

 

 

I think back to last night, trying to recall what we did.

 

 

We got ready. I put on a killer emerald-green dress that was far too slutty for me; my ex would’ve had a heart attack if I wore it out with him—which was the reason why I wore it. Got to take advantage of the whole rebellious ex-wife thing. We pre-gamed in the suite with some Keiko-mixed cocktails, saw Elvis in the elevator, and went to dinner . . .

 

 

“You know, I think I ended up wearing tassels because I wasn’t wearing a bra last night. I remember saying my nipples were cold. Do you remember that?”

 

 

Stella shakes her head. “No, because you left us at the bar.”

 

 

“What?” My brow crinkles. “I didn’t leave you. That would mean I was alone last night, and . . .” A flash of a square jaw passes through my mind. “I . . . definitely . . . wasn’t . . .” Dark, piercing eyes penetrate my thoughts—oh God. “Alone.”

 

 

A deliciously dirty voice sharpens in the back of my mind.

 

 

The press of a large hand to my bare back.

 

 

The smell of a deeply masculine scent, which is engrained in my brain.

 

 

In the blink of an eye, I snap my phone off the end table and glance at the screen.

 

 

GULP.

 

 

A message.

 

 

From . . .

 

 

**Husband**

 

 

My eyes flash up to Greer and Stella as the entire night unfolds right in front of me.

 

 

Shots.

 

 

A British accent.

 

 

Bad decisions.

 

 

More bad decisions.

 

 

And then . . .

 

 

“Oh fuck,” I say quietly.

 

 

“I don’t think that was a good ‘oh fuck,’” Stella says from the corner of her mouth as both my friends stare at me.

 

 

“No, that sounded like an ‘oh fuck,’ oh fuck,” Greer says.

 

 

Stella slowly nods. “As if she did something really stupid, like get married.”

 

 

Greer chuckles. “Could you imagine? Getting married on your divorce-cation.” She shakes her head. “No, that sounded like an ‘I stripped in front of strange men’ oh fuck.”

 

 

“That would explain the tassels.” Leaning in, Stella asks, “Did you strip in front of a crowd?”

 

 

Unable to answer, I look at my phone again, and this time, I unlock the screen and read the text.

 

 

Husband: Good morning, wife. About to board my plane back to Chicago. After I arrive, I’m going to pack some things and then head to our place. See you at home . . . snookums.

 

 

Wife?

 

 

Packing things?

 

 

Our place?

 

 

SNOOKUMS??

 

 

Oh . . . fuuuuuck.

 

 

I swallow hard, nerves bristling through me as I look at my friends. Fear and anxiety creep up the back of my neck as I say, “I think I made a huge mistake last night.”

 

 

“What kind of mistake?” Greer asks. “Worse than stripping in front of a crowd?”

 

 

I nod. “Way worse.”

 

 

“What could be worse than that?” Stella asks.

 

 

Stunned, I stare off into the suite and say, “I married Pike Greyson last night.”

SUBSCRIBE FOR UPDATES