Twenty minutes later, I sat at the bar scanning my prospects with my friend Sarah beside me. Wide gray eyes dominated her face, and with her kittenish mouth and auburn locks, she looked like a kid’s cartoon. I guess you could call this mess her fault.
“Come on vacation, Gem!”
Sarah had pleaded with me over the phone, after dropping the bomb that the marriage to her high-school sweetheart had crashed and burned. I told her it would in high school almost ten years ago. Some might have called me cynical when it came to the whole concept of love and relationships.
“I haven’t seen you in a year, and I miss hanging out with you!”
She had guilted me. There was a reason for us not spending time together often. Once I graduated university, I got the first job I could find in New York, and she went back home to work for a tiny ad agency in Cleveland. I shouldn’t call McAlly and Grant tiny; they were beginning to compete with the big ones in New York and L.A., but they lacked brand recognition.
“I can’t get used to you blonde,” she commented, idly sipping her daiquiri.
Threading my fingers back through my beachy bottle-blonde locks, I smirked. Truth be told, with the new hair color I didn’t feel like myself. My natural color was pitch black, but usually, I dyed it a bright copper red. Without the help of cosmetics, I had black hair, dark brown eyes, and a warm, naturally golden complexion. I, unlike the fairytale princess come to life beside me, did not need to lay out on the beach and bake my skin sun-kissed. Thanks to Mediterranean roots, I only had to know it was sunny outside to tan.
“This is vacation Gemma. I’m blonde, consume only blended drinks, and unlike normal Gemma, I am duty bound to listen to all of your divorce woes without adding snarky comments.”
“I thought you were here to get laid?”
“Well, I can do both.”
“There’s nothing Vacation Gemma can’t do.”
“Except for stay with the same guy for more than six days.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you’ve never had anything even vaguely resembling a relationship.” She sipped her daiquiri.
“With good reason.”
“No, not with good reason. You’ve never given anything anywhere near a real explanation. It’s always ‘I don’t do dating’ or ‘commitment is a waste of time,’ but you’ve never, and I do mean never told me why. Most little girls dream of Prince Charming.”
“See! A non-answer! You owe, me! Just this one time.”
“I don’t really have a good reason, I guess.” I shrugged. “It’s how I operate, and so far, it’s worked out for me.”
“Fine. Then I dare you to date someone for the remainder our trip.”
“But we leave in eleven days,” I whined.
“Yes, eleven days. Oh no! The same dick for a week and a half. Could you?”
“You’re drunk, Sarah. I don’t listen to drunk people,” I teased, sticking out my tongue.
“Fuck you, I’m not drunk.” She looked around. “Where is the bartender?”
“Shift change.” I motioned to the sign on the counter. The bar was unmanned for about five more minutes.
“Still, I bet you can’t stay with the same guy for the rest of our trip.”
“What, am I supposed to hook up with someone in the next hour?”
“Or day. I’ll give you a day.”
“What’s in it for me?” I glanced around. The room was full of plenty of attractive guys who were my type, but after the beginning of my evening, I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it.
“The ability to experience genuine human emotion.”
I shot her a blank stare, fighting the sour expression which so desperately wanted to show itself.
“I’m supposed to find someone in the next day and have enough of a connection with them to start dating them. We’ve been friends since we were six. When have I ever been into a guy as anything more than a dildo with legs?”
With a snicker, she flashed me a grin. “Which is why I’m betting against you.”
“I haven’t agreed to anything. Nothing’s left your mouth that’s convinced me this’ll be worth it.”
“Okay, how about this… I give you two thousand dollars.”
“Two thousand dollars? To date a guy for a week?”
“A week and a half, and you have to put effort into it. Really put effort into it. If he dumps you, your sole purpose in life better be to get back into his good graces.”
“You want me to be the exact opposite of who I am?”
“No. I want you to learn a new part of yourself. The part that wakes up next to a guy and doesn’t panic while looking for the exits.”
“You’re going to be out two grand.”
It couldn’t be that hard to get to know a man. Easiest two grand ever made.