Shopping for an Heir

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Authors: Julia Kent
protest, then shut it. Kari wasn’t wrong.
    Letting out a shaky sigh, she closed her eyes. “Seeing him was brutal.” Her throat tightened. Suzanne wasn’t a crier. When she got emotional, she became angry.
    Sadness washed over her, making her hungry.
    “Want to go on an ice cream run?” She asked Kari on impulse.
    Kari’s eyebrow arched. “Run? As in, running? Because the last time you broke your low carb diet, you ran three miles to justify the sugar. Last time I ran three miles was, um, never. Does never work?”
    Suzanne gave her a pitying pout. “C’mon! I’ll run, you Uber. Let’s go out for a big, fat sundae.”
    “Only if you promise to tell me exactly what happened tonight. And listen to how I got asked for my phone number by a hot proctologist.”
    “Kari, ‘hot’ and ‘proctologist’ don’t go together.”
    “Neither do running and ice cream.” Kari gave her a hard stare.
    Laughing, Suzanne went to her bedroom, quickly threw on running clothes, and began stretching at the front door. “Toscanini’s?” Suzanne lived in Charlestown. The Cambridge ice cream-slash-coffee shop was exactly 2.9 miles away. Yes, she’d clocked it.
    More than a few times.
    “Fine. I think you’re insane, but I’m not turning down ice cream and your story.”
    “If you won’t turn down a proctologist, why would you turn down anything?”
    “Hey. If you had seen this guy...” Kari began fanning herself.
    “He looks up people’s buttholes for a living.”
    Kari shrugged. “I don’t judge.” She got a dreamy look on her face. “Maybe he knows his way around that part of the body better than—”
    “STOP!” Suzanne gently led Smoochy to her little crate. The dog was so obedient. So passive. Suzanne had never heard her bark. Not once. She settled into her bed and resumed her nap, chin on paws.
    With an evil laugh, Kari tapped on her phone screen, clearly requesting an Uber as Suzanne ran out into the dark night, needing to pound away the racing thoughts about Gerald.
    Please , he’d begged at the arts center.
    Please what?
    The words became a chant inside her as she ran, please what please what please what taking over until she was nothing but feet, knees, hips, arms, lungs, a body in motion staying in motion, running to make the mind less important than tendon and bone. If she could just get her emotions to step back, step down, and let her body assume center stage, then the temporary relief of setting down the burden of the past might give her a break.
    Pushing herself, she found a comfortable six-minute-mile pace, and in under eighteen minutes was done, panting and covered in sweat, but ready to feast.
    Kari was inside, flirting with a bearded counter guy with a man bun, her spoon already deep into a sundae.
    This man bun fashion had to end soon, right?
    Right?
    “Hey! Here’s my crazy friend I was telling you about,” Kari said to Man Bun, who looked at her with a grin. Bright green eyes, thick brown beard. He was what—twenty?
    Why did all the guys in Cambridge look like fetuses?
    On second look, she realized what appeared to be a man bun from outside was actually a nest of snakes.
    The guy had long dreads curled up into a festering pile of hair.
    Give Suzanne a freshly shaved recruit any day of the week.
    “Hi. Salted caramel and pumpkin two scoops in a cup with hot fudge,” she ordered.
    The guy snapped back and saluted. “Yes, ma’am!”
    Kari snickered.
    Suzanne frowned.
    “What was that about?”
    “You pulled out your commanding tone, Suzanne. You sounded like a drill sergeant.”
    “No, I didn’t! I just asked for ice cream.”
    “You have no idea how you come across sometimes. Especially when you’re pissed.”
    “I am not pissed! I just want some damn ice cream!” The glare she shot Kari should have melted the store’s inventory.
    “Right. Totally not pissed,” Kari murmured, rolling her eyes. She flashed a sweet grin at Snake Head, who winked at her.
    “He’s too young

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