Home > Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating(7)

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating(7)
Author: Christina Lauren

I don’t know how to explain it. I was fourteen when he said that to her, and those last four words broke something in me. I saw myself and Mom from the outside in a way I hadn’t before, like Dad represented this mainstream ideal and she and I were these loud, bouncing yellow dots outside of the standard curve.

When I looked up at her, I’d expected her to be shattered by what he’d said. But instead, she looked at him pityingly, like she wanted to console him but knew it would be a wasted effort. Dad missed out on so much by not enjoying every second he had with her, and in the end, she was terribly disappointed that he was so dull. I learned a very important thing that day: my mom would never try to change for a man, and I wouldn’t, either.


She’s waiting for me at Barista when we walk up, but it’s apparent that she’s really been awaiting Winnie, because it’s a full two minutes of puppy voice and ear ruffling before I even get a glance. At least it gives me time to decide what I’m going to order.

Mom looks up just as the waitress delivers a muffin and latte to her. “Hey, Hazie.”

“You already ordered?”

“I was hungry.” With a hand bearing rings on every finger, Mom peels the paper wrapping away from the muffin, staring down at Winnie. “I bet I could drop this entire thing and she wouldn’t notice.”

I order a curry chicken salad and black coffee and look over at my dog. Mom’s right, she’s obsessed with the trio of speckled finches under the table next to us, casually pecking at sandwich crumbs. I can see Winnie’s insanity ratcheting higher with every peck.

A car honks, a couple passes by with Winnie’s favorite thing ever—a baby in a stroller—and nothing.

But then Mom drops a huge chunk of muffin and Winnie pounces on it in a flash as if she sensed some change in the atmospheric pressure. Her movement is so fast and predatory that the birds burst away, escaping into a tree.

Mom drops another piece of muffin.

“Knock it off, you’re ruining her.”

“She’s named Winnie the Poodle,” Mom reminds me. “Already ruined.”

“Because of you I can’t eat a single meal without her watching me like I’m dismantling a bomb. You’re making her fat.”

Mom leans down and kisses Winnie on the nose. “I’m making her happy. She loves me.” This time, Winnie catches the bite of muffin before it even lands on the sidewalk.

“You’re the worst.”

Mom sings to my dog, “Best, best, best.”

“Best,” I agree, thanking the waitress when she delivers my coffee. “By the way, Sassypants, I like your haircut.”

Mom reaches up, touching it like she forgot she had hair, without any self-consciousness whatsoever. She’s always worn it long, mostly because she does forget it’s there, and luckily it’s low maintenance: thick and straight. Now it’s trimmed so it lands just below her shoulders, and for the first time ever, there are some layers at the front.

I reach over, touching the ends. “Call me crazy but it looks like you actually had someone else cut it this time.”

“I couldn’t do layers like this,” she agrees. “Wendy has a girl who does her hair.” Wendy is Mom’s best friend, who moved up to Portland about ten years ago, and was another draw for Mom to relocate here. Wendy is a Republican first, a real estate agent second, and any time left over she devotes to hassling her husband, Tom, about being lazy. I love her because she’s basically family, but honestly I have no idea what she and Mom ever find to talk about. “I went to see her yesterday. I think her name was Bendy. Something like that.”

Delight fills me like sunshine. “Please let it be Bendy. That is fantastic.”

Mom frowns. “Wait. Brandy. I think I combined Brandy and Wendy.”

I laugh into a hot sip. “I think you did.”

“Anyway, I hadn’t cut it in forever, and Glenn seems to like it.”

I pause and then take another long, deliberate sip as Mom looks directly at me, her green eyes shining with mischief.

“Glenn, eh?” I pretend to twirl my mustache.

She hums and spins her rings.

“You’ve been seeing a lot of him lately.” Glenn Ngo is a podiatrist from Sedona, Arizona, and about four inches shorter than Mom. They met when she went in because her feet were killing her, and instead of telling her to stop wearing her cowboy boots, he just gave her some orthopedic inserts for them and then asked her out to dinner.

Who says romance is dead?

I knew they were dating but I didn’t know they were I’ll cut my hair the way you like it since I have zero vanity dating.

“Mom,” I whisper, “have you and Glenn …?” I dunk my spoon in and out of my coffee cup a few times.

Her eyes widen and she grins.

I gasp. “You floozy.”

“He’s a podiatrist!”

“That’s exactly my point!” I drop my voice to a hush, joking, “They’re known fetishists.”

“You shut up,” she says, laughing as she leans back in her chair. “He’s good to me, and he likes to garden. I’m not saying anything for certain, but there’s a chance he might be visiting on a more … permanent basis.”

“Shacking up! I am scandalized!”

She gives me a cheeky smile and takes a sip of her drink.

“Does he mind the singing?” I ask.

Her look of victory is everything. “He does not.”

Our eyes hold, and our smiles turn from playful to something softer. Mom found a good one, someone I can tell really gets her. An ache pokes at my chest. Without having to say it, I know we both question whether those guys really exist. The world seems full of men who are initially infatuated by our eccentricities, but who ultimately expect them to be temporary. These men eventually grow bewildered that we don’t settle down into calm, potential-wifey girlfriends.

“What about you?” she asks. “Anyone … around?”

“What’s with the emphasis? You mean, around inside my pants?” I take a bite of the salad deposited in front of me and Mom gives a little Yeah, that’s not exactly what I meant but go ahead shrug.

“No.” I straighten and push away the mild concern that her question immediately triggered this next thought: “But guess who I did run into? No, never mind, you’ll never guess. Remember my anatomy TA?”

She shakes her head, thinking. “The one with the prosthetic leg on your roller derby team?”

“No, the one I wrote the email to while high on painkillers.”

Mom’s laugh is this breathy little twinkle. “Now, that I remember. The one you liked so much. Josh something.”

“Josh Im. I also threw up on his shoes.” I decide to leave out the roommate sex for now. “So, weirdest thing: he’s Emily’s brother!”

This seems to take a few seconds for Mom to process. “Emily your Emily?”


“I thought Emily’s last name was Goldrich?”

I love that it would never occur to my mother that a woman would take her husband’s name. “She’s married, Mom. That’s her married name.”

She feeds Winnie a handful of muffin crumbs. “So, you and her brother …?”

“No. God no. I’m an established idiot with him, and he’s most likely a Normal Dude.” Our shared code for the kind of man who wouldn’t appreciate our particular brand of nuts. “Besides, he has a girlfriend. Tabitha,” I can’t help but add meaningfully, and Mom makes a yeeesh face. “He calls her Tabby.”

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
Most Popular
» Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating
» Royally Yours (Royally #4)
» I Bet You (The Hook Up #2)
» A Brand New Ending (Stay #2)
» Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)
» Medicine Man
» Dangerous Exes (Liars, Inc. #2)
» Rock Chick Reborn (Rock Chick #9)