What’s Next

THE LINEUP

Prologue

JASON

 

It isn’t in my nature to cry over burnt ham, but here I am, tearing up like a jackass, because the meal I’ve been reluctantly slaving over for the past four hours is two shades away from charred dust.

 

I had it all planned out. The timing was right, the recipes perfected, the table decorated with impeccably folded napkins that impersonated angelic swans, and polished silver that I scrubbed for an hour until I could see my balls in the reflection. Nothing says polished silverware like a spoon that gives you a clear upside-down view of your gonads.

 

But even with countless hours of preparing this feast, naked as the day I was born with only an apron to cover my man-loins, I still ended up with a scorched ham doused in fire extinguisher agent because somehow, the damn thing caught on fire.

 

Imagine this, a grown-ass man—no, not just a grown-ass man, but a man at the fresh age of twenty-eight, built like a linebacker with buttocks you can bounce rocks off . . . thanks to squatting for a living—dancing around the kitchen on his twinkle toes, arms flailing with pink and white potholders attached to his hands, screaming like a banshee, as flames light up the Jenn-Air double oven where the brown sugar and pineapple ham resided.

 

Are you seeing it?

 

Add the imagery of said man naked, dick and balls harmoniously bouncing in panic while the apron his “girlfriend” got him that says Eat my food, Lick my dick, unravels in the fit to unleash the fire extinguisher.

 

That was me . . . a minute ago.

 

Frantic, screaming, and all in all losing any last shred of my man card I had left.

 

It’s why I’m currently weeping like a nitwit into the flaps of my apron, wondering where I went wrong.

 

If we’re going to be honest with each other—and I would like to establish honesty with you—I’ll admit, I’ve always leaned toward the sensitive side. You know, the cuddly grizzly bear. Big and intimidating but a fucking gooey butterball heart on the inside.

 

Tell me a love story. I’ll listen the crap out of it.

 

The Bachelor? Why yes, that’s one of my favorite shows.

 

Do I smile when sharing a candlelit dinner with myself, followed by a nice long soak in a bubble bath while Enya—the fucking goddess of all voices—plays in the background? I sure as shit do.

 

But if some ignorant asswipe gets in my face on the ball field, stirring up trouble, I’m the first to lay a fist across his jaw and the first to be thrown out of a game.

 

And I’m not even sorry about it.

 

People are arriving in an hour. I’m vulnerable as fuck with my bare ass resting against the cold white-oak floor of my girl’s apartment, while a lonely tear streams down my freshly shaven cheek. I have no main dish, and the apartment smells like burnt rabbit turd.

 

Why am I in this hopeless predicament?

 

Because of one person.

 

One single person who flipped my life upside down.

 

A bombshell in a suit, a ravenous sex-fiend in the sheets, a classy and sophisticated tight-ass in the boardroom. She’s a knockout who’s always on my mind. She’s the girl you do things for, that you never thought you’d ever do . . .

 

Like cook a fancy-as-fuck four-course meal for her and her business associates while practicing interesting conversational starters to ensure the night flows smoothly.

 

Back in college, I might have been referred to as the mother hen of the boys. I might have cooked at least two meals a week for the guys in the loft, and yeah, I was the ironing wizard, the one everyone turned to, to get out the most stubborn wrinkles. The title has carried on over the years, but my creativity in the kitchen has dwindled with the lack of time, my ironing is now done by my apartment keeper once a week, and the fresh flowers scattered around my place? They’re more dead now than alive.

 

My point—I’m not the lady of the house I used to be. But I’ve been getting back into the swing of it.

 

So when my girl asked me to perform the impossible feat of an intimate dinner for four, I should have ordered in, tossed everything in serving dishes, and called it a night.

 

But nooooooooo, I had to attempt to be a goddamn hero and try to cook everything myself.

 

And all for what?

 

For one girl?

 

No. Not just one girl. The girl who owns my balls, who has a grip so tight on them that if she asked me to bellow out my ABCs in soprano while swirling my finger around my belly button . . . I would.

 

Who is this girl that has brought me to the brink of boo-boo smush bear insanity and caused me to weep like a schoolgirl in the corner of the apartment?

 

There’s only one lady with more than enough ovaries to buckle the knees of the mighty Jason Orson.

 

The one and only Dorothy “Dottie” Domico.

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