“I feel underdressed,” I mumbled.

“You are underdressed,” Kelvin responded.

“No shit.”

“I offered you a dress.”

“Your current floozy’s dress? I would not have fit in it.”

“Yeah, but it would have fit in here. It’s couture. It probably cost as much as you make in a month.”

“Even worse. I’m not sure if I’d be more worried about spilling on it or spilling out of it.”

Kelvin had always been into tall, thin girls for as long as he’d been into girls period. Tall and thin didn’t run in our family, though, and while I wasn’t so short I couldn’t have made it work I was blessed (or cursed) with a bit more on top, and on bottom, than the girls Kelvin tended to go for.

“Anita if you’d spilled on that dress Lisette would have killed me.”

“How the world would suffer.”

“Be nice, I’m the reason you’re even invited to this party.”

Which was true. Expensive fancy charity dinner parties weren’t the kind of thing that twenty-seven year old middle-class insurance agents got invited to, even if they had been voted “Agent of the Year” last year. My boss blamed “good work ethic” and “ability to relate to the client.” I blamed “not sleeping,” “being friendly,” and “leaving the top buttons undone.” It did earn me a cool blue nametag with “Agent Wang” on it, though, so there were some perks. Occasionally I got to imagine I was FBI.

But yeah, Kelvin was right: I never would have been invited to a Charity Sider party if he hadn’t dragged me along. I give him crap for his supermodel girlfriends because that is what big sisters do, but he wouldn’t have gotten invited either if it wasn’t for those same girlfriends. Supermodels get invited as unpaying guests to expensive charity dinners that rent out entire restaurants on the thirtieth floor; hair stylists do not. Supermodel’s boyfriends who are hair stylists do, though, as do sisters of hairstylist boyfriends who are visiting for the week when said supermodel get a last minute gig and there’s an extra invitation. That explanation might have gotten away from me.

“You did a nice job with my hair though,” I admitted. Peace offering. This is also what big sisters do.

“You like it?”

“Yeah. Blue isn’t really my color but it goes well with the clothes.”

“If you can even call those clothes.”

“It was short notice,” I responded. That and I hadn’t been willing to spend more than twenty bucks for something I was going to wear once so I’d raided an outlet store. I’d repurposed a black skirt and teamed it up with a blue wrap top I’d found off the rack. Add a pair of heels and the ensemble almost worked, but Kelvin really tied it together when he’d given my black hair a bit of blue, dying it brighter as it got near the ends. When I pulled my hair back in a ponytail my head was black, the ponytail blue. When I let it hang to my shoulders it looked fashionable enough that I almost looked like I belonged at this party. Almost. Maybe. If you don’t look too hard.

Kelvin, on the other hand, definitely looked like he belonged at this party which is why he took point on getting in. Kelvin always looked impeccably dressed, even when he wasn’t, and he was always impeccably styled. Always. This was the type of party where a man in a suit stands sentry at the door to send away the riffraff so Kelvin took point and thanks to him, and a waved invitation, we were not classified as riffraff.

“Say thank you big sister,” Kelvin mumbled as we walked through the shiny brass doorway.

“Thank you little brother,” I responded with complete sincerity. Kelvin’s a good brother, and I try to be a good big sister. Part of being a good big sister is giving him shit, but another part is knowing when to stop.

“You off to the bar?”

“These are your people, not mine. I can mingle, but I need a little social lubricant first.”

“Can I abandon you?”

“Yeah, have fun. Mingle. Make some contacts. Maybe meet your next floozy.”

Kelvin was already a few steps ahead of me but turned back slightly to smile. “You know me!”

Yeah, I do. I enjoy crowds and parties, but Kelvin takes to them like a fish to water. Mingling is his favorite activity and his best skill. I’m great with people I know, I can schmooze with a client, but handling strangers outside a professional context goes much better with a drink or two on board so as Kelvin disappeared into the crowd I looked for the bar.

The restaurant was big. Standard height ceilings but those were mirrored and made it look even larger. The entryway wasn’t overly large but wide doorways opened to at least three other rooms, one of which looked cleared of chairs and tables and which exited out to a balcony through wall-high windows. The others had tables but very few chairs meaning most of the crowd was standing. There were statues. There was a fountain. Music was thumping from somewhere further back, far enough and deep enough that I felt more than heard it. There were people everywhere, well dressed, beautiful people except where they were rich enough to not care. As I gawked around the room, a tall guy in an out of place leather duster walked by me. With a hooded hawk on his arm. Because it was a Charity Sider party and shit like that happens when you’re the third wife of a man who owns fifteen percent of the malls in the country. You get hawks. And probably tigers too.

I’d come here to see some interesting, crazy, upper class shit and it looked like this evening was not going to disappoint. If I was going to properly enjoy it, though, I really needed to get properly intoxicated first. Not enough to be drunk, just enough to loosen up.

The bar was, fortunately, easy to find and, fortunately, a little more private than the other rooms. There were temporary bars set up, at least one in each of the main rooms, but they were each surrounded by jolly partygoers and no chairs. The restaurant bar was located near the middle of the whole arrangement, with entrances to two of the dining rooms, was staffed, had chairs, and was a lot less packed. So I found a barstool and hopped up.

“What’ll it be?”

“Hairy navel. Wait, what kind of orange juice you got?”

“Fresh,” he replied, pointing at an artistically displayed pile of citrus fruits and almost sounding insulted.

“…yeah that’ll do.” Seriously? I just didn’t want him using Tropicana.

I got my drink a couple of minutes later and the bartender went off to help someone else. I socially lubricated and watched the crowd. A guy in a wheelchair cruised by with LED spinners on his wheels, a lady in a dress that looked taped on holding his hand. Someone I think I recognized from a movie was loudly discussing something, hands waving, just outside the bar. A waiter came by with tiny little appetizers, tiny little mushroom appetizers with something red and pink inside; she had glitter on her eyelashes and her uniform fit like it was tailored. It probably cost more than anything I’d ever owned. After ten minutes of watching the rich and famous and feeling very, very out of place I’d finished my drink and decided another jolt was called for.


“Another one?”

“Yeah, what do I owe you?”

He looked confused. “It’s an open bar.”

Yeah that makes sense.

“In that case I’ll have one of those, too,” said a voice as a man sat down next to me.

The bartender shrugged. “Two, coming up.”

I turned to look at the new arrival. He was about as well dressed as I was: button up shirt, khakis, both of which looked off the rack. He had a great haircut, although his wasn’t blue, and a short groomed beard. Nothing screamed money except his watch, which looked expensive although it could have been a knockoff. My purse was a knockoff Prada, I called it the Frauda. Knockoffs were how us poor people feel rich.

My guest was probably about my age, maybe a few years older because there was a little grey around his ears and chin. I looked at him and he looked back, eyes flicking around before settling on my eyes in a friendly “hi how are you doing, I’m sitting in the stool next to you at a bar” kind of way rather than an “I’m making direct eye contact to assert my dominance” kind of way. So we were off to a good start.

“You don’t even know what I’m drinking,” I said by way of introduction.

He shrugged. “Worth trying something new and I feel like I could use a drink before braving the mob.”

“You too, huh?” I decided I liked him, at least so far. I held out my hand.

“My name’s Anita,” I continued.

He took it. “Dixon.”

“Nice to meet you.”


The bartender brought our drinks and we both took a sip. It was as good as the first, and I’m pretty sure a little bit stronger too. I think I’ve been to one open bar party in my life and they watered things down pretty hard; not here, though, not at a four figure a plate (unless you know somebody who knows somebody who got invited) Charity Sider charity dinner. Nope, here there’s open bars, the drinks aren’t watered down, the food is all tiny and people carry hawks.

As if he was reading my thoughts, Dixon spoke up. “What brings you to this exercise in excess?”

“Visiting my brother. He’s in fashion and knows the right people. Figured it would be fun to tag along. You?”

He shrugged again. “Similar. Visiting family coming to the party and figured I might as well too. Seemed better than sitting on the couch watching late night TV.”

I snorted. “Family, huh?”

“Yeah. What?” He must have seen my expression. Whoops.

“Nothing, I… no, nothing.” Now I felt embarrassed and I hadn’t even said it. It had seemed funny in my head. Really. Now that he asked, though, it just sounded juvenile. And less funny. Except I’d smirked. And he’d noticed. And now there was an awkward silence, soooo…

“It’s just,” I started, “you said it and I was thinking about this charity party we’re all at and thinking… you know, the Charity Charity and and seriously why would you name it that? Yeah that’s funny for about three seconds but why would you ever make that joke and run with it? And then I thought huh, wouldn’t it be funny if he was Charity’s brother, because she’s Charity Sider, well Charity Sider-Hews on paper probably but no one says the Hews and anyway that would make you, well…” I waved my hand, encouraging him to fill in the rest for himself because I was way too embarrassed to at this point.

“I’d be what?” he asked.

Well shit. “You know. Dixon. Sider. Dixon Sider.”

“Huh,” Dixon responded in a neutral tone.

“Dixon Sider, as in dick’s in… no, never mind, it’s not that funny. Immature, sorry, just… be funny if you were her brother is all.” I trailed off, finally getting my mouth to stop rambling. Shut up, Anita, shut up shut up shut up you did not need to explain the joke! Maybe I needed more lubricant. Or less.

“Yeah,” he responded in that same flat tone, “if I were her brother.”

Great, cutest and least not-my-people guy I’ve seen so far and I had to start running at the mouth again with a stupid… whatever. Maybe I should have stayed home and saved eighteen seventy-three and an evening…



Shit shit shit.

Shit, Anita.

Shiiiiiiiit whyyyyyy?

He wasn’t watching me, he was just sitting on his barstool, taking a sip of the drink he’d ordered because I ordered one which is barspeak for “I’m interested” but now he’s looking at something behind the bar, waiting for it, waiting for me to say it and I really didn’t want to but now I had to because great, great going Anita. Shit.

I took a deep breath and said it. “You’re her brother aren’t you?”

He nodded. “Yup.”


“Sorry,” I finally said and took a long hit from my drink.

“I don’t mind. Believe me I’ve heard it before. Novel having someone come at it from that direction though.”

I wouldn’t have minded him coming at me from a few directions. Too bad I’d shot that one in the foot. I mean, it’s not like anything would come of it, we’d chatter and flirt a little and maybe have a fun night together and make out, or something, but… but you know maybe something can be salvaged. Maybe. If I play it right.

“Never thought about changing it? I did.” Hook: baited.

“It didn’t seem worth the effort, honestly. People stopped making quite as big a deal to my face as I got older. And it was my name, even if it does make teens and cute girls in bars snicker behind their hands.” Ouch. Wait, cute? That sounded like flirting.

“You were thinking of changing yours?” he continued, interrupting my train of thought.

“Yeah,” I replied, trying to get a new handle on where this conversation was going.

“Why? Anita’s a pretty name. I like it.”

Hook: sunk… wait that was flirting. That was definitely flirting. Did cute guy with the dignified flecks of grey in his beard just flirt with me? He did. I sat up a little straighter in my chair, shifted in my seat, felt the cringe sliding off my face and a smile sauntering in to replace it. Maybe I had salvaged this; I just had to embarrass myself first.

“My last name is Wang. I’m Anita Wang.”

“As in…”

“I need a wang. Yes.”

He nodded. “Ouch. I thought I had it bad.”

“Yeah. School was a bit rough. I had to get good at making friends or cracking heads.”

“Which did you choose?”

“A bit of both.”

“I heard that. Had its advantages sometimes. Good stories. A few good laughs.”

“Like when someone comes at it from a new direction?”

“Yeah, especially when that someone is attractive when flummoxed.”


His body language had changed at some point; he’d slid his drink over, his body turned towards me, and I’d followed suit. Now we were both leaning in, talking quieter because we didn’t have to be quite so loud over the chatter and the band. The evening was definitely recovering but even so I couldn’t resist ribbing him for that one because, really?

“Really?” I asked, smiling to try to take the sting off. “Not your best line.”

He grinned back and took a drink. “Talking to pretty girls always gets me a little tongue-tied.”

I grinned. “Better, you could still use a little practice though.”

“Can I practice on you?”

I laughed. “Even better. Want to try again?”

“Give me an opening and I will.”

“I’ve got a few openings you could fill,” I said before my brain caught up with my mouth and I snapped it closed.

Dixon stared at me. I stared back at him, feeling the blush crawl up my neck. Then he grinned, I grinned, and we both started laughing. It was more than a chuckle but not all the way to cracking up, and the evening was saved again by a cute guy with a sense of humor. Who I was flirting with, and wouldn’t have minded hanging out with and enjoying the rich people shenanigans with. Or making out with. Or filling holes with, if I’m being perfectly honest and you know what? Crazy party. Crazy stories. Crazy… me. Maybe.

Maybe I would see where this evening went.

“Tell me about your hair,” he said.

So I did. Then we moved on to what my brother did, what I did, other things. Around us the party kept going, but at the bar it was just Dixon, me, and the guy at the far end of the bar who only had eyes for his growing grow of empty glasses. Other people came and went but almost none of them stayed for any longer than the time it took to get their drink. The bartender came by a couple of times to check on us but mostly left us alone to chat and sip. He knew his job. Outside the bar the music changed, the thumping bass of it halting for a bit before being replaced by what sounded like strings, and live ones at that. Of course there’d be a live band, whatever did I imagine? By then, Dixon and I had turned ourselves almost straight towards one another, each leaning one arm on the bar, faces only a couple of feet apart. I liked the way his eyes looked. I liked the way he smelled. I liked the little patch of chest hair at the neck of his shirt. Chest hair is hot. Shut up.

Eventually the conversation came back to names.

“Worst story,” I asked him, smiling and trying to get him to laugh again. “You first. What’s your worst story about your name?”

He thought for a second.

“I was dating this girl in high school,” he began, “and her dad called me. He asked me if I knew where his daughter was. We were dating, me and his daughter. She was late for curfew though and I said no, I hadn’t seen her. So he replied: You’re Dixon Sider, right?”

“Like, your or you are?”

“That was what I thought too. You are. Nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“So was it?” I asked.

He turned towards the bar to lift his drink, breaking eye contact. “Not at that exact moment, no.”

I laughed, feeling my heart speed up, feeling things tingling between my legs as my mind started to race with images of a younger Dixon and some girl… some girl who looked an awful lot like a younger me. The bartender had kept bringing I don’t know how many drinks so I asked the next question that popped into my head because sometimes, when I am drunk, I am not smart; or maybe because I’m way smarter than I give myself credit for. “Had it been?”

He grinned into the glass. “When?”

Yes holy fuck yes he’s playing along but shit how do I answer that question? “That day?”

His grin grew wider. “Does her mouth count?”

I giggled, feeling butterflies in my stomach as I pictured… well, I won’t say it, you know what I pictured.

We’d been flirting for the last I don’t know how long but we hadn’t quite gotten back to “I’ve got an opening you could fill.” We’d gotten through “getting to know you,” or at least I had. I’ll admit I’d done most of the talking and while he probably had a thorough understanding of being an insurance agent and the hassle that was my landlord I knew less about him. He worked for a tech company whose name I recognized and he owned a house in the city that he’d recently redone the wiring on; he’d gone into some detail but he’d lost me while talking about J boxes.

Now though, now we were firmly back in sex talk land and now that we’d gotten there I kind of wanted to stay for a while. I’d planned on coming to this party and getting buzzed, meeting famous people, meeting weird people, seeing some crazy upper class shit and waking up with a hangover and a few good stories tomorrow. I had not planned on coming to this party and getting buzzed, hitting it off with Charity’s super hot brother, dragging him back to a hotel room, fucking his brains out and waking up with a hangover, some really good memories, and hopefully a naked guy in bed next to me. I’d never done anything like this before, hooked up with a guy, but I’d also never been to a rich people party before and, well, I was quite a few drinks in and booze makes me horny. And brave. Horny and brave. And Dixon was making me horny and brave too.

But mostly horny.

I put my hand on his arm.

“Seriously? When?”

“After school in the back of my car. We’d actually been going to, um, hang out,” it was very clear from the way he said it what Dixon meant by hang out, “that night but her friend Tanya had called about sneaking out to some movie so Erika said she’d um, make it up to me.”

I laughed as much at his choice of metaphors as his story. “Sounds like Tanya did you a favor.”

“More than one, if we’d been hanging out Erika may very well have been at my place when her dad called and who knows what I would have blurted out then.”

He’d finished his drink and turned back towards me; not at my face, though. His eyes had strayed more than once tonight which hadn’t been entirely his fault. Like I said I’m not tall, and Dixon was, which meant he had to look down to meet my gaze. Like I also said I’m blessed with a bit more on top than the girls my brother goes for, and like I further also said I hadn’t packed for a fancy dinner so I was wearing a fashionable, almost sleeveless wrap top that I’d purchased that afternoon for eighteen seventy-three at an outlet store which… well I knew what I was getting into but the top had defied even those expectations. To anyone who’s never had a bit more on top a wrap is kind of like wearing a name tag that says “Hi my name is Anita and these are my boobs” so between the top, his height, and some strategic adjustments I’d made over the last hour there were an awful lot of curves and cleavage on display and I’m imagining they were even more fun to look at when I laughed. Which I was doing right now.