“You invited your screen crush to the event?” He leaned closer to me. “Hmm. Whatta girl. Clumsy, smart and kinky. Letting your freak flag fly.”
I stiffened and the words came out before I could stop them. “What’s your problem? You’re probably a failed actor, just jealous of Clive.”
Kyle took off his glasses and put them in his pocket. Jet black brows knotted over a steely gaze fixed on me. It was so intense, my belly clenched with longing. My heartbeat was as loud as marbles falling down a metal staircase. Did every girl he meet get the same level of scrutiny? He looked more disappointed than injured—as if I had fallen lower in his estimation.
Who cares what he thinks?
I was sure Kyle was as arrogant as he was handsome. In my limited experience, men this good-looking were natural-born devious jerks. He was probably married with a girlfriend and a side chick. And women doubtless made a single file to him, happy to be spiced, tossed and ground up in the meat factory that is today’s dating scene. I was usually not so pejorative, but Kyle pushed all my cheesed-off buttons, without saying a word. He didn’t have to. It was not him, it was me.
See, I was raised to hate men.
My mother didn't raise me to believe in fairytales. Only unfairy tales.
The dark Grimm kind, where princesses’ hands could be chopped off and mermaids danced till they bled. Stories where stepmothers planned infanticide and little boys were buried in gardens and their blood and flesh turned into roots and sprouted juniper trees. My bedtime stories were never about Prince Charming, but about Norman Bates and serial killers who crushed little girls by tormenting them and locking them in basements. I was a terrified little girl. Safe—yes. Normal—nope.
When I grew older, I realized my terrors and insecurities were far from normal. They were the upshot of the bunch of lies my mom told me. But by now it was too late. The damage was permanent. At the advanced age of twenty-six, I had never been in a relationship with a man. I don't know who had fried my mom's brains, but if I ever met that bastard, I’d sucker punch him.