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Excerpt: Casanono

Chapter 1

Derek

I don’t know what I thought was going to happen, but it definitely wasn’t this.

In my girlfriend Gabi’s living room, there are women from my past. I do a quick count. Thirteen. A baker’s dozen of ex-lovers.

“What’s going on?” I ask. For a moment, I hope it’s some new social media fad that Gabi wants to do in hopes that this will be the one to go viral and get her millions of followers in the span of a fifteen-second clip.

“It’s an intervention,” Gabi says.

“An . . . intervention? For what exactly?” Call me Pikachu confused. Because I cannot think of any reason why I would need an intervention. No drugs whatsoever. No problems with alcohol. No addictions or vices of any kind. And I’m not an asshole.

“A sex intervention,” Gabi says, as if this should make perfect sense.

Except it doesn’t.

At all.

“A sex intervention.” I feel like a parrot right now. Just call me Paulie and give me a cracker.

“A sex intervention,” she repeats, and then Gabi does this thing where she bites her lower lip because I told her it was adorable when we first started hooking up.

Right now, I don’t think it’s adorable.

I think it’s annoying that Gabi’s trying to be cute and charming when it’s clear that it took a serious amount of planning on her end to get all these women here, and that the reason she invited me back to her place was not to old-school it with Netflix and chill, but . . . this. Whatever this is.

I’m not going to jump to any conclusions, but it’s pretty obvious what the outcome will be. There’s no need for any Hallmark mystery sleuths to unravel this one. “You’re breaking up with me, aren’t you?”

Gabi looks sad for a moment. “I’m sorry, Der-bear.”

I hate Der-bear. “I think you should call me Derek now. No pet names. We’re not together anymore.”

Gabi turns to the other women. “See?”

They nod their heads. Some cluck their tongues. Most look at me as if I kicked a puppy, stepped on a kitten’s tail, hated on goats, and then said that Pride and Prejudice was just Lizzie House Hunting, HGTV-style.

I would question if I was stuck in some awful nightmare, but unfortunately, this is all too real.

“I think you might want to sit.” Gabi gestures to a stool that is placed in the center of the room, directly under a floodlight that creates a spotlight-like effect. Forget a Sex Intervention, this feels more and more like a Sex Inquisition.

“I’ll stand, thanks.”

Once again, Gabi turns her back to me, but I can imagine the look she gives them. Mainly because everyone’s glare turns that much glarier.

“Trust me, you’re going to need to sit,” a woman pipes up.

I head over to the stool but don’t sit. “Why are they here? And how did they get into your place, Gabi?”

“That’s why I was late to the restaurant,” Gabi admits. “I waited until everyone was here.”

“Gabi reached out to me through social media, and we started a private group,” a blonde says. She looks vaguely familiar but for the life of me I can’t recall her name.

I blink, trying to process this. “You started a private group?”

“Yes,” Gabi says. “We all have one thing in common.”

“Let me guess. You’ve had sex with me.”

“Besides that,” she says.

None of them look alike. Three women do have similar names: Sarah with a h, Sara with no h, and Sera spelt S-E-R-A. But other than that? I’m at a complete loss.

“I have no idea,” I say.

“We’ve faked it.”

“Faked it?” I don’t get it. “Like you’ve catfished me somehow?”

“More like sexfished,” someone mutters in a way that is clearly meant to be heard. It’s a passive aggressive mutter.

“Nooooo,” Gabi says, dragging each o out like she’s pulling toffee apart. “Not that kind of faked it. Faked. It. Like FAAAAAAKED IT.”

Oh.

Ohhhhh.

Ohhhhhhhhh.

Oh.

It sinks in, finally. And I really have one response.

I laugh.

Because . . .

No way. There’s no fucking way. This has to be a challenge, a dare, a test, something that girlfriends are told to do to see how their partner reacts and then post about it. There is just no way.

And then I laugh some more and try to excuse it away. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I thought I heard you say that you’ve faked it.”

Gabi gives me a death glare. “You heard correctly.”

“There’s no way . . .” I laugh all over again, wiping tears from my eyes. “I mean, this is a great prank. A plus quality. I know someone’s filming this for you, or do you have a hidden camera stashed somewhere? You got me, Gabi. You got me real good. Because there’s no way, no way any of you faked it. None. I would know. I do know. I’m good. Better than good. I’m the best you’ve ever—”

“OHHHHHHHHHH!”

The loudest, most sexual moan I’ve ever heard causes me to stop mid-sentence, mouth agape. I turn to where the ohhhh is still going on and on and on and—

It’s Sarah with a h.

She stops ohhhhing.

She meets my gaze.

And then she opens her mouth once more. “OHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

I shut my mouth.

Her moaning continues, and she closes her eyes tightly. Like she did back then. I remember that. I remember thatlook.

“So it was one time with one person,” I say, as if I’m trying to shrug off that moaning oh, as if I’m trying to make myself and others believe it.

Sarah with a h just moans louder. And then: “YES! YES! YESSSSSS! Give it to me! Give it to me, Derrrrrrek. You do it so good. You feel so good. Mmmmm. SO GOOD.”

“Like I said—”

“SOOOOO GOOD.” Sara with no h has joined in now. “SOOOOO FUCKING GOOD. Give it to me there! Harder! Faster. Yes! Yes. Yes. There! THERE! AHHHHHHHHHHHH.”

Sera spelt S-E-R-A grips the armrest of the couch. “OHHHHHHH! YOU GIVE IT TO ME SO GOOD!”

“SO GOOD,” a woman chimes in. She looks like Kristen, a woman I dated my freshman year in college.

“THE BEST,” another woman yells, going so far as to throw her head back and forth, shaking her hair side to side. Wait a sec. I recognize that woman . . . and that move. Is that Jen, my ex right before Gabi? “OHHHHH!”

“GIVE IT TO ME,” from the choir. “AHHHH. AHHHH. RIGHT THERE. THERE! THERE. THERE! THERE. YES! YOU’RE DOING IT SO GOOD. OHHHHH! OHHHHH! OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

They all finish, slump back, their expressions utterly satisfied, like they’ve had the best sex of their lives, that they were just fucked to the moon and back.

I sink onto the stool, feeling utterly stupid and . . . hurt. There might not have been love in every single one of those relationships, but I thought there had been some amount of trust and honesty. I thought one thing and now . . .

“It was a lie?” I get out. “All of it? All of you . . . faked it?”

They nod.

“Not even one orgasm?”

They shake their heads no.

I drag a trembling hand through my hair and immediately regret it when my fingers snag on some curls. “Why?”

“Because it was easier,” someone says quietly. “Men like to think they’re the best at everything.”

“Men meaning me,” I say.

Gabi’s nowhere near me. She’s moved to the far end of the couch and holding herself tight. Did she move because she was afraid of how I would react? Is that why she did this intervention? Did she think if she said I sucked at sex that I would blow up and take it out on her? Did they all think that?

I feel like I might throw up. I’m not like that. I’ve never been like that. I will never be like my father. Everything I’ve done in my life has been to be the opposite of him. To even be lumped into the same category as that abusive jerk. For these women to have faked it rather than to tell me the truth. There’s no one who—

No, that’s wrong.

There is one person.

My best friend.

Lily.