Authors: Joanne Schwehm
Copyright © 2013 Joanne Schwehm
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and
incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. This e-book is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other
people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please
purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and
did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please
return to Amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the
hard work of this author.
Cover Design: © Meredith Blair, Author’s Angels
Cover Photo: Pressmaster (Dmitriy Shironosov)
Editor: Theresa Wegand
When I was little and watched the Olympics on my
family’s television in our humble, middle-class living room, I’d get lost in my
thoughts and would dream that I’d be the next great figure skater like Tara
Lipinski or a great gymnast like Shannon Miller. Then I would go outside and
attempt to ice skate on the pond behind our house and fall flat on my ass with
my ankles going in opposite directions. I couldn’t even do a cartwheel in our
backyard and was far from graceful; I was lucky I could manage a somersault.
My parents always said, “You can be whatever you want to be,
Aubrey. You just need to apply yourself.” Yeah, that’s the story of my life. Since
I was a twenty-five-year-old college graduate with my Master’s Degree in
Journalism and Creative Writing, I should have been able to handle whatever
came my way. At least that’s what my mom said when my parents sold my modest childhood
home and moved to their ritzy chateau in Paris. To say my mom had changed was
an understatement. Apparently, my grandparents had invested wisely, and when
they passed away, they left my mom everything. Now that my parents were well
off, Mom decided she wanted to live the life of the rich and glamorous. I
couldn’t fault her really. My parents worked their asses off and deserved a
great life. I just didn’t expect them to move to Paris.
Oh well, I’ll
survive on my own.
At my age, I knew I should be applying the education I earned by
joining the workforce. I should also be partying with my girlfriends, meeting
guys, and just having fun. Was I doing that? No. Instead, I sat in the small apartment
that my parents rented for me in the city and I read. Life was going on right
outside my window, but my nose was stuck in a book. My life came down to romance
and mystery novels—some good, some just cheesy, some that just got me hot and
bothered. Who was I kidding? It was all just fiction. That stuff couldn’t
possibly happen. That was how I thought of my life sometimes—full of fiction. I
didn’t have an ounce of romance in my life and had no clue how to remedy that.
I looked around my small bedroom at the pictures: my parents and
me at Jones Beach, my best friend Julie and me just goofing around, but none of
me with a man. I realized I hadn’t had a true boyfriend . . . well . . . ever. At
one point, I thought I did. His name was Garrett Reed. We were good friends,
and I thought we had something special. He told me I was special, and I
believed him, but once I slept with him that was the end of the relationship.
Maybe that was all he really wanted, or maybe I just didn’t get his rocks off.
I don’t know. Honestly, he didn’t do much for my rocks either. I snickered at
the thought; although, it still made my heart ache a little. I really liked
him, or I wouldn’t have slept with him. I wasn’t that kind of girl, and he knew
that. Maybe that’s what hurt me the most. The feeling of being used is a
horrible feeling, and that was how I felt. I had Garrett to thank for being
After graduation, I hoped to be an editor for the Times, but my
secret aspiration was to write a romance novel. I had a problem though; I
didn’t know a thing about romance. That wasn’t a slight problem; it was a huge
My friend, Julie, knew about it, though. She was confident, beautiful,
and she turned heads everywhere we went. I was known as the pretty girl’s
friend, which was fine with me. I didn’t exude the confidence that she did. I had
been in school, so inundated with classes and homework and wanting to be the
best in my class that I never took the time to apply makeup or spend a lot of
time on my hair. Sure, I had great clothes because Mom sent them or the money
to buy them to me and I loved to shop, but that was about it. I was going to
have to confide in Julie to get her to help me with this. I trusted her with my
life. We had been best friends since the sixth grade, and I knew she could help
me. I just had to find the courage to tell her without sounding like a complete
I looked in my bathroom mirror at the person staring back at me:
long dark hair, empty light blue eyes, and skin that desperately needed some
makeup or a spray tan. Exhaling, I picked up the phone to call Julie. She
answered on the second ring.
“Hey, I need to talk to you about something. Are you busy or can
you stop over?”
“I’m not busy. I can come over in a few. Is everything okay? Are
you okay? You sound weird.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I knew I didn’t sound convincing. “I just need
your help with something.” I felt like Sandy in the movie
Frenchy for a makeover. I guess in a way I was.
“Say no more. I’m on my way.”
Julie really was the best. She showed up less than an hour later.
We sat on the couch, had a soda, and I tried to muster up the courage that was
needed to tell her why I needed her help. I ran my fingers on my microfiber
couch, creating a figure eight pattern, around and around and back again.
Julie stared at the shapes I was nervously making. “So are you going
to tell me what’s going on, or are you trying to hypnotize me?”
Julie was tall with perfectly highlighted blond hair and big, gorgeous
green eyes with sweeping lashes. She was taller than I was, probably about five
foot seven, and had a gorgeous figure. Her personality was even more beautiful.
She had the entire package. It was no wonder men loved her.
I took a deep breath and cleared my throat. “Well, I’ve been
thinking about writing a book—a romance novel to be exact.” I looked up at her
through my thick eyelashes to gauge some sort of reaction. I didn’t know why,
but I felt embarrassed and a little shy. This was my best friend. I should have
been able to say anything and know there wasn’t going to be any snarky
She grinned ear to ear. “I think it’s an awesome idea! You
majored in this stuff, right? From what you’ve told me, you’ve read hundreds of
those books, so, yeah, right on!” Then Julie’s brows furrowed and she looked
confused. “Why do you need me? I practically failed English, so writing a story
is totally out of my realm of expertise.”
Okay, here comes the hard part
. “I know my studies
prepared me, and I aced my writing classes, and, yes, I’ve read a ton of books,
but when it comes to actual heart-melting, making-me-want-someone-so-bad-I-can-feel-it-in-my-legs
romance, I’m clueless.”
I looked down at my hands, which were now twisting in my lap. “I
haven’t had a boyfriend in years, and the last one was crappy at best. I want
to feel romance, the swept-off-my-feet-I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-me
type of romance.”
Realization dawned in Julie’s eyes, and they grew bigger. She bounced
up and down on the couch cushion and clapped her hands as if they were on fire
and she needed to extinguish them. “Oh my God, we are so going to do this! I’m
so excited! We need to find you a muse and get you a sexy outfit! Then we need
to make sure that you’re trimmed everywhere if you know what I mean!” She winked
I wanted to smile at her enthusiasm, but instead I felt a little nauseated.
Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. “Okay, so the outfit seems easily attainable,
and, uh, I don’t need a trim anywhere, except maybe the ends of my hair, but
finding a muse will not be as easy.” I made sure to use finger quotes when I
“That’s where you’re wrong, Aubrey. We can totally do this. As a
matter of fact, I’m working at a Speed Dating event tomorrow night at a hot club
called The White Orchid. Walker-Stone is in charge of its marketing and advertising.
It’s a sold-out event, but I can get you a ticket. I’ll be there with my boss, Brian,
to make sure everything goes as planned, so you’ll have a wing man, well, wing
Julie laughed; apparently, she found humor in my despair. I
suddenly felt as if we were no longer Sandy and Frenchy, but now Maverick and
Goose from the movie
“What the hell is speed dating and why doesn’t that
flashed in my head again. “I feel the need, the need for speed.”
I almost laughed out loud. What was next? Going to a bar and singing “You’ve
Lost That Loving Feeling”?
Julie rolled her eyes. “It isn’t romantic. Well, I guess it could
be if there were such a thing as love at first sight, but the goal is to meet a
guy, right? Not necessarily fall in love. You just want someone to make your
panties a little damp.”
Julie enjoyed this banter a little too much. She was so
comfortable with guys and sex. She wasn’t a slut by any means; she just knew
how to have safe fun and not get heartbroken.
“Look, I don’t need my panties damp. Knowing me, I’ll have an
anxiety attack and probably pee a little; that’ll make them damp.”
We both laughed. Although, I inwardly cringed; it really wasn’t
that farfetched. I was known for my anxiety attacks. They started in middle
school when I was picked on for not having the right brand of clothing or
something like that. I ended up at the nurse’s office, and that was where I met
Julie. She didn’t feel well that day. Well, that’s what she told the nurse. She
really didn’t want to go to Algebra. She confided in me that day, and we’d been
inseparable ever since. Julie was one of the cool girls, so my being picked on
was instantly over. Back then, I was so thankful for Julie, as I am now.
“How does it work anyway?” I felt my anxiety building already.
Julie adjusted herself as if she were going to give me a
marketing presentation. Her posture was perfect; she flipped her hair over her
shoulders and flashed her perfectly white teeth. “There will be tables lined up,
and each of the ladies picks one and sits down. Every six minutes or whenever
the bell rings, a new guy will sit at the table. Both the men and women will
have rating cards where they can make notes on whomever they meet. At the end
of the night, Brian and I will collect the cards to see if there are any
matches and take it from there. Voila! You could have your muse!”
I was shaking my head in disbelief, and my head was spinning. I
felt as if I just drank a pitcher of margaritas. “So I’m going to be rated by
men I’ve only spoken to for six minutes? And you expect me to find a match?
What the hell do I say in six minutes that gets me a high rating? ‘Hi, you’re
hot. Want to have sex?’ Will that do it?”
“Oh, Aubrey, you’re so dramatic! Listen, you’ll never know if you
don’t try. What do you have to lose? If all else fails, we’ll call it conversational
practice. It’s a win-win!”
“Yeah, win-win or lose!” I covered my face with my hands. I
couldn’t believe I was considering doing this.
Julie pulled my hands down and looked at me. “What do you have to
lose? If you don’t meet Mr. Romance Hero, you don’t lose anything. But you
could meet someone. You won’t know if you don’t give it a shot. Just have
Julie was right; I had to admit at least that much. If I really
thought about it, the idea wasn’t that bad, and I really didn’t have many other
options. I was just trying to think of what to say that would be so amazing in six
minutes. Worse yet, what would a guy say? And what were these guys like? They
were probably creepy losers, and this was the only way for them to talk to
women. Or worse yet, they were players looking for their next piece of ass,
like Garrett. Either way, I couldn’t believe I was going to do this. Did that make
me a loser too?
Oh hell, who cares? I need to do this.
“Okay, I’m in. What
do we need to do first?”
“First, we call the spa and make appointments for tomorrow, and
then we shop and figure out what questions you’re going to ask in your six-minute
time frame.” Julie was so excited; it was as if she were the one who would be speed
dating; she definitely had faith.
“How come you never told me about this event or club?”
“I don’t know. Honestly, it never dawned on me. I never thought
you would do this or even want to.”
“You’re right. I wouldn’t have done it if I had any other choice.
I really need this for my research, or I wouldn’t be going.”
“Yeah, about that . . . What happens if you do meet a great guy?
You know that’s a possibility.”
I shook my head and rolled my eyes. “I honestly don’t think
anyone who would attend an event like this would be my type—no offense. And
what do you mean by ‘what would I do?’”
“I mean if you meet some delectable, stunningly handsome, want-to-make-you-strip-naked
creature of a man and you end up dating him, will you tell him about the book,
about him being your muse, or will you keep it to yourself?”
I shrugged, “I don’t know. I never thought about it. Anyway, I highly
doubt I’ll meet someone who’ll make me melt and be gaga over. Do you know what
kind of guys signed up?”
“We ran limited background checks on the guys. They have to be
gainfully employed, between the ages of twenty-five and forty, single, and not
on any sex-offender registries.”
My eyes went wide. “I guess those last two would be quite
We both laughed. We called the spa to make appointments for
nails, hair, and makeup for the next afternoon, and then we were off to find
some nice little boutiques off the beaten path.
I had money, but I didn’t want a cookie-cutter outfit. I didn’t
want to look as if I tried too hard, but I definitely didn’t want to look like
a mall rat. I purchased a black pencil skirt that came just above my knees and
a tasteful blue, sleeveless top that had a scoop neck and just grazed the top
of my cleavage. I didn’t have much in the breast department, but the padded
black lace bra Julie picked out for me helped fill me out nicely. She also made
me buy a matching black lace thong and confirmed that I was okay in the waxing
department. She wanted me to wear a garter belt and silk stockings. I just
laughed and told her that I was all set. We finished our day with some good
food and wine.