The Devil Wears Black

Page 26

I bet he wrote her love letters and didn’t even mention her rack or ass. Prick.

She glanced at him, then at me, then at him again. What was his name? I remembered it was as generic as the rest of him. Brian? Justin? He looked like a Conrad. Something that was synonymous with douchebag.

“Ethan’s here,” she announced.

Ethan. I’d been close.

“I need to tell him about that stupid dinner. You still have my email, right? Send me the details.” She hopped outside without sparing me a look. I unloaded her suitcases like I was a goddamn bellboy. To save the remainder of my pride, I dumped them by her building without even glancing at her or her dudebro, not offering to help her take them upstairs. Let Dr. Douche do it himself.

I rounded my car and got back inside, watching her ass in that ridiculous A-line dress as she approached Ethan, flung her arms over his shoulders, and kissed his cheek. Cheek. Something not terrible happened in my chest when I realized that probably meant they hadn’t slept together. Yet.

I breathed through my nose, sending a little prayer to the universe that Ethan wouldn’t fuck my fake fiancée tonight, and looked down to retrieve my phone from my pocket.

There was a note stuck to the passenger seat. The same sticky white one with my family name engraved at the top from the Hamptons. She’d put it there when I wasn’t looking. Sneaky.


You saved those jasmines because they are living things, not because I asked you to.

Also: We broke up because you’re a cheating cheater who cheats.

Also 2: What’s up with Julian?


Re: you smelling something unfamiliar. It might be a good time for your bimonthly STD check.




June 3, 1999

Dear Maddie,

Fun fact of the day: The poppy has astonishingly flourished on battlefields, smashed by boots, tanks, and the first industrial war the world had ever seen. It is a token of remembrance in Britain.

Poppies are strong, stubborn, and impossible to break. Be a poppy. Always.


Mom. x


Objectively speaking, as far as mornings went, today’s was a particularly glorious one. The type Cat Stevens wrote songs about. I woke up at eight thirty without the help of my alarm. Layla had let Chase in at dawn, while I’d been fast asleep and she’d been bidding one of her many flings goodbye. I managed to bring my best friend up to speed about my little arrangement with Chase via text messages. Chase took Daisy on a lengthy walk. I was still dead to the world when he brought her back. I woke to him pushing the door open, cursing under his breath, complaining about Daisy not wining and dining his leg before humping it, pouring food into her dish, and scolding her for drinking vigorously from the toilet bowl. (“You’re really not winning any seduction points right now, Daze.”) I smiled as I stretched lazily in my bed, thinking about the inconvenience the journey to my neighborhood had caused him. When I opened my fridge to take some orange juice out, I found a note plastered to the door.


Not everything alive is worth saving. My cousin-brother, Julian, is a prime example of that (don’t ask me what he is to me, it changes from day to day).

Also: Let’s pretend I cheated. You weren’t exactly honest either. You gave me a watered-down personality, leading me to believe you were sane. WHICH YOU ARE NOT.

Also 2: Yes, the capitals were necessary.

Also 3: Addressed the Julian issue above.

PS (technically Also 4—too much counting for you?): attached is a picture of me on a horse, age six, adorable as all fuck.


Noticed Nathan didn’t sleep at your place. I take it he’s still a virgin? 


Something fell from the sticky note. A picture. I picked it up and flipped it over. It was the kid version of Chase smiling to the camera—two front teeth nowhere to be found—sitting on a pony. He had carefully trimmed tar-black bangs and a smile so jarring that the vividness of it jumped out of the picture. Begrudgingly, and only to myself, I could admit that he was right. He did look good on a horse. Not like the Old Spice dude but sufficiently adorable.

And what did he mean—Let’s pretend I cheated? He had cheated. I’d seen him with my own eyes. Kind of. Well, there was little room for interpretation. Anyway, I wasn’t opening that can of worms. I was with Ethan now. Sweet, wonderful, reliable Ethan.

The sensation of something cold and liquid on my toes broke me out of my musing, and I looked down to realize I’d been pouring orange juice into an overflowing glass for a full minute. I jumped back. Recovering, I dabbed at the pulpy stain at my feet with one hand as the other reached to write Chase a note back.


Flowers symbolize life. I would never trust someone who doesn’t take care of their flowers.

Also, I will allow the statement that you were cute on a horse. Once upon a (very long) time.


Please do not touch my things again (pens, sticky notes, SUITCASE, etc.).


It’s Ethan, not Nathan. And actually, we had wild sex all night. He had to leave for an emergency.


So I lied. It wasn’t that much of a big deal. Only in Manhattan was it expected that anyone twenty-two and above should have sex after three dates. In that sense, I missed Pennsylvania.

I was going to do Chase this solid, give him his ring back, and say goodbye.

This time for good.

No more negotiations.

No more bargains.

No more heartache.


I met Ethan at a new Italian restaurant the same evening. He was twenty minutes late. For all Chase’s faults (and there were many; I could write a War and Peace–length book about all of them), he valued people’s time and never left me hanging. He wasn’t late, and on the rare times he was, he always texted with a reasonable explanation.

Chase also isn’t saving children for a living, I scolded myself inwardly. Cut a guy some slack.

I spent the time waiting reading an article about a woman who had made a dress for her upcoming wedding out of toilet paper and recycled material because she didn’t have the money to buy or rent anything fancy. I found her Facebook page, wrote her a message, and asked her for her address and dress size. I had a few dresses lying around my apartment from when I’d been a design student I could get rid of, and my Martyr Maddie instincts kicked in. I also shot Layla a quick message thanking her for letting Chase in this morning and forwarded her a picture of the Italian restaurant I was in, with the caption Maybe the perfect moment will be tonight? along with a winking emoji. It wasn’t necessarily a possibility I was excited about, but I tried to hype myself up for it. Layla’s response came after seconds.

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