Sneak Peek of Love (Again)




In the Closet

Stylish, upwardly mobile millennials named Zack Reid’s beloved Fourth and Inches, the most exclusive Speed Dating destination in the city. On the fourth Thursday of each month they crowded into the sexy midtown sports bar judging and jockeying for mates. A widower before his 32nd birthday, the Fourth and Inches was more than Zack’s passion project, it was the last thing he and his wife shared. The sports bar fed his love of sports and entertaining, but most importantly, it symbolized his wife Karyn’s belief in him.

Karyn Fordham-Reid drew her final, jagged breaths then died. It happened in Cabbagetown on a May afternoon, and it rained. Zack was Diane Reid’s only son, and she worked hard to provide him a good life. Partially because his father had been a disappointment. Diane and Franklin Lovefield never married and after their breakup, his visits to his son grew fewer and farther between. At Zack’s seventh birthday party, Franklin showed up at the bowling alley late and drunk. He gave the boy a lame excuse about his lack of a gift and left shortly after. Neither Zack nor Diane ever saw or spoke to him again. Growing up an only child with a single working mom gave Zack Reid a strong independent streak, but his Libra traits made him a social creature. After three years as a staff writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Zack bought the bar and left journalism to those who loved it back. The lofty position filled his mother with pride but stifled him. No one outside of Karyn supported his decision to walk away from his writing gig. She trusted his instincts, and hers was the only endorsement he required.

Zack stood watching the animalistic scene while wiping the marble bar top and halfway listening to his mentor drone on.

“What about Vanessa?”

“As in the person who accused you of rape to make her boyfriend jealous, Vanessa?”

Zack chuckled. “She was a kid. We both were.”

“You weren’t dating her,” Theseus argued. “You went out with her to shut your mother up.”

“And your wife,” Zack added.

“I’m merely suggesting you take part in one of these fancy meetups. There are plenty of good-looking women here,” the old man said looking around the masculine sports bar. “It’s time for you to get back out there. Date. Enjoy the scent of a woman. You’re a young man with a lot of life ahead of you.”

“The scent of a woman,” Zack grumbled. “Listen to yourself. I date.”

“You do not. You’re here all the time.”

“Look, I love you like a father, but I respectfully decline. I’m not interested in these kinds of women. This whole scene is a thirst trap.”

“A what trap?”

A shapely flash of white and wheat blonde hair caught Zack’s eye.

“Hold up, Theo. I’ll be right back.”

Theseus watched his young friend disappear behind the vintage swinging bar doors, with curiosity further lining his wise features.

*****

Lacey kicked off her pointy toe stilettos and pushed her glasses up her nose before peeking out the closet door. “Oh my God, what’s that smell? An old mop?” She gagged and choked out a small cough. “This is MJ’s fault,” Lacey mumbled. “I would have never lowered myself to come to a Speed Dating event. This is a goddam thirst trap, and now I have to contend with them.” Lacey checked once more to make sure her eyes weren’t deceiving her. “Shit! ‘There’ll be plenty of high quality, eligible men there’, she said. High quality, my ass. Pure bad luck and soul crushing humiliation—that’s what’s here.” <