I Saw, I Conquered, I Came: The Q Collection, book two

Working late at the office, my fat ass.

And apparently it was my fat ass that made my boyfriend think he had every right to cheat on me. Because fat chicks aren’t human, didn’t ya know? We don’t have feelings, or if we do, they’re so buried under layer upon layer of fat that we’re naturally insulated from the realities of dating a cheating asshole.

My teeth gnash together as tonight’s revelations replay in my head. The excuses, the pathetic justifications of his actions that bordered on the ridiculous. The insults he threw at me as I called him on his bullshit.

Stupid, fat bitch.

Yep. That's me. Stupid for expecting I'd ever be anything but his dirty little secret, and unapologetically fat, which obviously makes me a complete bitch.

So here I am, alone again, at ten minutes before closing on a Friday night, standing in front of the ice-cream cabinet in my local deli trying to decide between Chubby Hubby, Coffee Toffee Crunch, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Chocolate Fudge Brownie wins, mostly because hello, brownies, but also because it's the last one standing. A stalwart of chocolaty goodness all alone amidst a sea of salted peanut butter caramels and boysenberry swirls.

Rich and sweet and chunky and completely out of place.

I reach in to grab that sad-looking pint at the same time as the man standing beside me. His hand brushes against mine as he makes a play for the ice-cream, the warmth of his skin shocking to my senses in the cool, refrigerated air, but I'm quicker. My fingers wrap around the container, yank it free from its isolation and drop it into my shopping basket.

Felicity: one.

Random Stranger: nil.

It's a small victory, and possibly a petty one, but one I desperately need right now.

Flashing a mildly apologetic smile at my hapless rival, I move to squeeze past him down the narrow aisle. He doesn't budge, so I try a more demure approach and drop my gaze from his chest to the floor.

"Excuse me."

But instead of stepping aside and avoiding confrontation, as most people would, he crosses his arms over his chest and continues to stand there, blocking my escape.

What is this guy's problem?

I take a deep breath to cool my resurging anger and lift my chin, a stern lecture about his lack of manners on the tip of my tongue, but when my gaze meets his… wow! Using my tongue to scold him is the last thing on my mind. Even with that scowl plastered across his brow the man could stop traffic. Looking like he just rolled out of bed with his sandy-coloured hair all sexy and mussed, and the hint of a five o'clock shadow dusting a chiselled jaw, his startling blue eyes freeze me in place with their directness, yet burn me with their intensity.

My girl parts pulse with awareness and my panties grow wet. I press my thighs together and resist the urge to squirm. Wait, is my mouth hanging open? Oh dear Lord, it is. Snapping it shut, I swallow hard and suppress a whimper of desire. At least I hope I did. At this distance, he's bound to hear every little sound I make, and the last thing I need is to appear foolish in front of yet another man.

I've already hit my daily quota in that particular department.

Pretending to be more confident than I feel, I pull my shoulders back and play it cool. "Can I help you?"

"You have my ice-cream."

Deep and melodic, his voice slides over me like a warm caress and my insides quiver with arousal. Oh great. But he's obviously a crazy person if he thinks I'm handing over my ice-cream without a fight.

"Your ice-cream, huh? So which one are you, Ben or Jerry?"

Wait, what?

Am I fighting or flirting? My voice has dropped and taken on a slightly sultry tone, my senses are heightened, my pulse racing—yep, I'm flirting. I just broke up with someone and I'm already flirting with someone else. Whoa! Does that make me a slut? Wait, did I just slut-shame myself? Fuck it. I'm obviously not killing myself over the douchecanoe. And anyway, what's that old saying about getting back on the horse?

He looks confused. "What?"

Here goes nothing. "The only other name on here is Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and you don't really look like a Chocolate Fudge Brownie, so…."

He cocks one perfect eyebrow. "What do I look like, then, in your expert opinion?"

"Expert? Riiight. Because all fat chicks are ice-cream experts." So much for flirting. I tilt my head and consider him for a moment, letting my gaze drift from his stupidly handsome face, over his ink-blue suit and white shirt and down his long legs all the way to his tanned leather shoes. "You strike me as more of a Chubby Hubby."

His eyes widen and his brow shoots up to his hairline. "Chubby Hubby?"

I mirror his expression and cue the sarcasm. "Oh, you're not a fan of chubby? What a surprise."

"Actually"—he moves toward me, angling me back against the freezer door—"I have a great deal of respect for chubby. But I want what I want. And what I want is Chocolate Fudge Brownie."

The door at my back is so cold it makes me shiver, and the sudden chill causes my nipples to harden and stretch the thin fabric of my little black dress. The slinky little number leaves nothing to the imagination, clinging to every curve God gave me and then some. I'd worn it especially for my boyfriend and paired it with my favourite hot-pink stilettos. Staring at myself in the mirror, I'd felt sexy, confident, powerful. Seeing my reflection in the mirrored doors of the elevators as I'd walked away from him and the swizzle-stick he'd been banging behind my back was less empowering, even if I did walk away with my head held high. My confidence was dented, my power turned to anger, and sexy?

Yeah right.

But as those elevator doors slid shut and I watched the lights counting down my journey to the lobby, as my hands curled into fists at my sides and the urge to ram my stiletto heels through Douchecanoe's ball-sack screamed inside my head, I had a moment of complete clarity.


Fuck 'em!

I deserve better.

Mind the gap