Love the One You're With

By: Lauren Layne

Chapter One

In hindsight, she should have taken the subway.

But today was the launch of the new and improved Grace. Or Grace 2.0, as she’d begun thinking of her improved self. And Grace 2.0’s shoe choice really wasn’t suited for the New York subway system. Between the grates and the stairs and the roaches, Grace Brighton’s four-inch Jimmy Choos would be lucky to even make it to the office. And that whole wear-comfy-shoes-now-and-change-later just wasn’t Grace 1.0 or 2.0’s MO.

Then of course, there was the hassle of rush hour to contend with, not to mention …

Oh, who was she kidding?

The Brightons of Scarsdale, New York, didn’t do subways.

In fact, Grace’s mother would probably faint if she knew her only daughter was about to slide her pencil-skirted butt into a cab instead of a sleek black town car.

But her mother wasn’t here.

And neither was her mother’s personal driver.

So. A cab it would be.

As Grace exited the elevator in the high-rise apartment building she’d moved into just a month before, she wondered if she looked different now that 2.0 was all riding her ass with the rah-rah girl-power routine.

For example, anyone might notice that her hair, which once had fallen to the middle of her back, now brushed just below her shoulders in new, swishy layers.

But could those same people tell that the hair appointment hadn’t been about cutting off six inches of hair so much as a futile attempt to cut out the crippling sense of inadequacy that had settled around her like one of those ugly transparent raincoats?

And maybe some fashion-forward soul might note that her skirt was from the just-released Tory Burch line, but did they know that she’d bought it because of the fun, checkered pattern? And did they know she’d picked the checkered pattern because she’d spent the past four years wearing solid colors because Greg told her they were more slimming?

Would anyone notice that her lipstick was a little brighter, her heels a bit higher, and her smile a little wider? All to disguise the fact she felt anything but bright, anything but high, her smile anything but genuine …

Grace 2.0 cleared her throat loudly. Right. Moping was sooo 1.0.

The new Grace was all kick-ass confidence.

Or something. Okay fine, so maybe she was still working on the kick-ass part.

Grace refused to let her smile slip when she saw the long line of people waiting for a cab out in front of her building. Grace 1.0 was taunting here with memories about a former life, in which the doorman would have already had a taxi waiting for her and Greg to share.

Grace 2.0 was reminding 1.0 that that routine had been before her tidy life had gone to hell.

Back in those days, Grace would have made it through the morning without crying or doodling I hate men in the margins of the New York Times. She’d already be well on her way to work, hip to hip with her boyfriend of nine years in the back of a taxi, maybe flipping through emails on her phone as the cab headed to Greg’s office on Wall Street before taking Grace uptown to her office.

More often than not, there’d even have been a text from Greg as she settled in for the day. I miss you. I love you.

If only all of Greg’s “love” had been reason enough for him to keep his dick in his pants.

Grace inhaled deeply through her nose and pushed the thought out of her mind. Do not go there. You’ve moved on, remember?

And she didn’t have time to reminisce about Greg and his wandering prick, because on this particular Monday morning there was no waiting cab, no homemade latte, no lovey-dovey text messages. There weren’t even any of the dozens of familiar tiny dogs that she used to know by name out for their morning constitutional. Instead there were different dogs whose names she didn’t know and whose owners she didn’t recognize, and one of them was doing his business in the middle of the sidewalk. The only thing her Jimmy Choo stilettos liked less than sidewalk grates was dog poo.

If she waited in the cab line, she’d never make it to the weekly staff meeting on time.

But like any good New Yorker, Grace knew when to get crafty.

Grace weaved her way around the tight-butt, yoga-pants-wearing, stroller-pushing moms until she turned up one of the quiet side streets that would have less cab competition.