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When blind date number twenty-eight turns into a barfight with me throwing the first punch, I’m about ready to give up on the idea of love. That’s when a six-foot four wall of muscle scoops me up, takes over my fight and makes sure number twenty-eight gets a lesson in how to treat a lady.
Next thing I know, I’m breaking my number one rule. Nothing more than a kiss on a first date. Only, my knight in shining armor isn’t really a date. He’s the one that saved me from my date, so the rules don’t apply, right?
At least that’s what I’m telling myself as he’s got me pinned against the wall, the scent of a thousand orchids in the air, whispering all the filthy, delicious things he’s about to do to me.
What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, a lot and all my fantasies of happily ever after evaporate when I realize my past is the very thing that will ruin his future.
Author’s Note: These two heat things up from the first page. If you’re looking for a love at the speed of light, growly alpha who takes what’s his in every position possible then dive in. These two shouldn’t work, but they work so well. Always safe, no cheating and a happily ever after that heals them both.
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“It doesn’t matter anymore.”
A gust of wind whips my hair into my face as I look down the street and hold the phone to my ear.
My damp hair sticks across my cheeks and lips and I pinch my skin as I try to right the strands that on my best day barely qualify as unruly. Springtime in Michigan isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“Yes, it does matter.” Heather sounds so hopeful and motherly making me feel more pathetic. “What if this one is the one? You write about it in every one of your books. Finding ‘the one.’ What if this is it?”
The sad thing, this isn’t the first time Heather’s given me this pep talk. She’s my best friend and greatest cheerleader but at times she could stand to rein in her unrealistic optimism when it comes to my unusual number of blind dates.
As the mist in the air makes my hair look like a mop of miniature blonde corkscrews and slicks the sidewalk, I think about the number of blind dates through which I’ve suffered.
It’s sad, but after ten or so, I thought maybe I was going for some sort of record, so I started counting. “This is number twenty-eight! Twenty-eight, Heather. That’s a record for the most blind dates for anyone, ever, in the history of blind dates.” I lean forward, sticking my arm straight out into the street as a flash of yellow turns the corner.
The checkered cab comes to a stop at the curb. I moved to mid-town Detroit about a year ago from the suburbs, thinking a change of scenery would help shock me out of the rut I’d fallen into. My apartment is nice—nothing special, but suitable. My life has been less than suitable before, so suitable works for me.
Heather’s voice only makes me feel more like the last kid picked for dodgeball in gym class. “Maybe twenty-eight is a lucky number? You’re young, blonde, you’ve got great tits, you’re financially stable, low drama, funny and you sure know how to write dirty. A pretty good package in my opinion.” She pauses, and I open the door to the cab tossing my purse on the seat and sliding in listening to her go on. “At least you are trying. Helga’s trying to help to and, hey, I haven’t even had a proper date in almost two years.”
“Heather. First of all, nice that you took note of my tits.” I snap back as I settle into the back of the cab, hold the phone away from my head for a second and give the driver the address that Derek Melrose—a.k.a. number twenty-eight—texted me a half hour ago. When he nods and pulls from the curb, I bring the phone back and finish. “Second of all, you’re married.”
I sigh in exasperation as the cab rolls down the street and I settle back thinking for a moment about her description of me.
It wasn’t so many years ago I was broke, nothing felt funny, and I was lying in a hospital room in a lock down wing. Low drama was certainly not how I would describe that period of my life.
Derek Melrose. Respectable sounding. If there’s potential in a name, he’s got potential.
The bar where we’ll meet is called ‘Lucky Charlie’s.’ It’s downtown, in an area I’m fairly sure isn’t the safest, but in Detroit things are changing all over, so it could be that it’s a little corner that’s on the upswing.
Derek was a set up by none other than Helga Klemkowsky, the owner of the Looney Baker, where I get a donut almost every morning and work part-time since I moved to this part of town.
Helga gave me almost no information on number twenty-eight and in my professional opinion—because truth is, I think I’m a professional at blind dates by now—less information is better. I’ve grown to look forward to the surprise, besides, then there are zero expectations.
Because expectations can be the worst part of dates.
Worst part of life for that matter.
As well, writing can be a lonely endeavor day in and day out, so working at the bakery has saved my sanity more than once. Well, that and my therapist, Barbara—and two prescriptions I take every day to keep the train on the tracks, so to speak.
Helga has to be close to eighty and ever since I told her I didn’t have a boyfriend, she’s made it her mission in life to get me married. Which is ironic since she has never taken the leap herself and about ten times a day extols the horrors of all things male. But she honestly wants the best for me, so enter number twenty-eight, a customer she said is perfect for a girl like me.
Girl like me. Not sure what that means. This is my third set up from Helga and although the other two weren’t horrible, I’m not sure her picker is completely on target.