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Times Square

By:Jana Aston


Chapter One


Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.

I saw that quote about fairy tales stamped on a decorative canvas at a home decorating store. I didn't buy it because I don't have a home to put it in. Also because I don't believe in fairy tales. Honestly, it pisses me off. Retail propaganda aims to promote love. Don't believe me? I couldn't find a single decorative sign that said, Once in a while, right after you move in with your fiancé, you realize he's sleeping with someone else.

Nope. Not a one. Granted, that's sorta specific, but it's not like I could find one that said You Don't Need Him or Keep Your Pants On, Asshole either. And seeing how the Home Stop had four aisles dedicated to wedding crap and zero to alcohol, I think their agenda was clear.

That's fine. Because my agenda is clear too.

Get promoted.

Get my own apartment, or at least my own bedroom.

Do not get distracted by a pretty face with a big dick.

These are all more difficult than you'd expect and I'll give you three reasons why.

New.

York.

City.

I grew up on Sex and the City too. I get it. New York seems romantic and full of promise. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. The place that dreams are made of. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

It's the only city in the world where you can buy a cupcake from a vending machine, get Pad Thai delivered at three AM and do your laundry in a twenty-four-hour laundromat with organic detergent and free wifi.

The wardrobes are to kill for and shoes that cost more than the average American's monthly mortgage payment are regularly paraded down the same sidewalks dogs piss on.

What you don't anticipate is paying seven hundred dollars a month to share a one-bedroom apartment with three other girls. Bunk beds, in case you're wondering.

Or a job in marketing that is so entry-level that my duties don't amount to much more than data entry.

Or the knowledge that you can't afford the amazing middle-of-the-night food delivery and even those vending machine cupcakes need to be budgeted into your monthly food expenses.

That's why I came to New York in the first place, because the possibilities are endless here. Actually, that's a lie. I came to New York because my fiancé was here. My ex, Brad. He's still here, he's just no longer my fiancé. He graduated a year before I did and got a job in New York City. The plan was that I'd follow him when I graduated, which I did.

I didn't realize the plan included him sleeping with other women while he waited.

In our apartment, no less. An apartment I'd helped him move into while he'd talked about how great the space would be for both of us. It was a great apartment. I really enjoyed it for the few weeks I lived there. For the few weeks I still thought we had a future together.

Looking back, I'm not sure how I didn't see it sooner.

Looking back, it should have been so clear, but clearly my hunches are shit. He'd been so eager for me to move to New York. Talking about the things we'd do once I got here, saving me closet space so he wouldn't get used to using it before I moved in. Just six months before I moved—when he'd been home for Christmas—he'd mentioned how the following year he'd be taking me to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

We didn't make it to the following year. We didn't even make it through the summer before I realized I should have listened to my gut. Before I realized that the pair of panties I found in his apartment were not a mistake made by his laundry service. Before I realized there was no need for him to excuse himself for incoming calls from numbers labeled 'Brady' or 'Chip,' unless they were really 'Brandys' or 'Christines.'

My bad.

When I packed two suitcases and got on a direct flight to LaGuardia a year ago I thought I knew where my life was headed. The fact that I was moving with two suitcases by myself after helping Brad drive his stuff across four states should have been my first clue that I thought wrong. But it's okay because New York is also a place of fresh starts, of renewal and rebirth, and my story isn't over yet. Not even close.

Also, I know two suitcases sounds meager, but I mentioned the roommate situation, right? Top-bunk girls share a dresser, bottom-bunk girls get the space under the beds. Packing light turned out to be an accurate forecast of my future.

I really, really need to move.

Don't get me wrong, it's a nice place. A West Village-address elevator building. It's not bad, just crowded. Though to be fair, one of the girls is a flight attendant and sometimes we don't see her for a couple of days at a time, which is a huge bonus on bathroom time.

But still.

I've got goals. I graduated from Iowa. University of, not State. Go Hawkeyes. I know I have to work my way up the corporate ladder and I can. I will. I have to. Mainly because student loans are no joke and I don't want to go back to Iowa. Because New York City, for all its flaws, really is kind of magical. Limitless. The energy is a tangible vibe that you feel every day, a jolt more effective than any caffeine.

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