The Happy Ever After Playlist - Abby Jimenez

Chapter 1


Playlist: ♪ In the Mourning | Paramore

Do you want me to meet you at the cemetery, Sloan?”

Kristen was worried about me.

I shook my head at my car’s center console, where my phone sat on speaker. “I’m fine. I’m going to the farmers’ market afterward,” I said, hoping that would placate her.

My car idled at the red light next to a sidewalk lined with worn-out businesses and thirsty, drought-resistant oaks that looked like the lack of rain had finally broken their spirit. I baked in the blazing sun. My open sunroof had broken over Easter weekend a few weeks ago and I’d never fixed it, part of my time-honored tradition of not repairing things in my crappy car.

“The farmers’ market? Are you going to cook?” Kristen’s voice lit up with hope.

“No. A salad maybe,” I said as the light turned green. I didn’t cook anymore. Everyone knew that.

I didn’t do a lot of things anymore.

“Oh. Well, do you want me to come over later?” she asked. “I’ll bring cookie dough and liquor.”

“No. I’ll be— Oh my God!” A furry, copper-colored blur darted into the road, and I slammed on the brakes. My phone became a projectile into the dash and my purse dumped over the passenger seat, spilling tampons and single-serve flavored creamers.

“Sloan! What happened?”

I clutched the wheel, my heart pounding. “Kristen, I gotta go. I…I think I just killed a dog.” I hit the End Call button and unbuckled myself, threw the car in park, and put a trembling hand on the door to wait for a break in traffic to get out.

Please let it have been quick and painless. Please.

This would destroy me. This was just what it would take. The limp body of somebody’s poor pet under the tires of my shitty car on this particular cursed day, and what little joy I had left would just pop out and float off.

I hate my life.

My throat tightened. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry today. I promised…


A floppy-eared dog head popped up over my bumper, sniffing the air. I barely had time to process that this animal was still alive before it leapt up onto the hood. He yapped at me through the glass and then grabbed my windshield wiper and started tugging on it.

“What the…” I tilted my head, actually laughing a little. The muscles involved felt weak from disuse, and for a heartbeat, just a flicker of a moment, I forgot what today was.

I forgot I was on my way to visit a grave.

My cell phone pinged with a quick succession of texts. Probably Kristen, losing her shit.

This was why I never got up this early. Nothing but mayhem. Was this what went on in Canoga Park at 9:00 a.m. on a Friday? Dogs running all willy-nilly in the streets?

A horn blared and a middle finger shot up from a passing convertible. My car sat parked in the road with a dog on the hood.

I leapt into action to stage a mid-street rescue. I didn’t want him to bolt and get hit in the road. I waited again for a pause in the cars while the dog crouched on his haunches and barked at me through the glass. I was shaking my head at him when he backed up, gave me one more smiling head cock, scaled my windshield, and dove through my sunroof.

He landed on top of me in a wallop of flying fur and legs. The air was pushed from my lungs in an oomph as a foot slid right down my tank top into my cleavage, sticking the landing and scratching me from collarbone to belly button. Then he was on me, paws on my shoulders, licking my face and whining like we’d grown up together and I’d just gotten home from college.

I screamed like I was being eaten alive.

I wrestled him off me into the passenger seat, gasping and disheveled, dog drool on my face, and when my cell phone rang I grabbed for it reflexively.

“Sloan, are you okay?” Kristen asked before I even got the phone to my ear.

“A dog just jumped through my sunroof!”


“Yeah.” I wiped my cheek with the bottom of my tank top. “It’s…it’s in my front seat.”

The dog smiled at me. He actually grinned as his tail whacked back and forth. Then he lowered his head and made a single cacking noise. I watched in horror as he hacked up a slimy ball of grass right into my drink holder over my untouched latte.

Aaaaand police lights fired up