Authors: Rachel Hogan
Dating for Keeps
by Rachel Hogan
Also by Rachel Hogan:
Copyright © 2013 All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
"You can't swear off a relationship forever Tessa, all the good guys will eventually settle down and you'll be forced to pick from the leftovers when you finally are ready."
Tessa Brewster cringed at her friend Becky's crude remark. "Becky, be serious," she said laughing while popping a french fry into her mouth. "It's a little absurd - and sexist - to think of men as leftovers, as if they are nothing more than a delicious meal that needs to be grabbed while it is still hot."
Becky smiled. "Actually, that is a perfect analogy for what I'm trying to say." She sighed, "Look Tessa, I'm just looking out for you. I don't want you to wake up ten years from now and regret the time you had to find a guy. You are a beautiful young woman, and twenty-six is the prime of your life! Don't waste it."
Tessa rolled her eyes at her friend's exaggeration. Despite the fact that they had many things in common, she didn't quite believe in her friend's old-fashioned belief that a woman find a man to settle down and marry as soon as possible.
"I'm not wasting it, I promise. I just haven't found anyone worth going out with. Not everyone is lucky enough to find their prince charming in college like you did with Ron. I do love men and I love to date, but all the guys I go out with bore me within five minutes. I guess I just have high standards."
"Well, I think you need to lower your standards then, just a little. What about that guy last week? What was his name - Jared or something? He seemed nice. And normal. What was wrong with him?"
Becky remembered Jared well. He had texted the entire time they ate dinner together. When she casually asked him who he was texting, he got very upset and told her to mind her own business. "Yeah, no I don't think he was interested in me. And rude guys aren't really my type. Trust me you couldn't pay me to go on a second date with him."
"Well, he was the fourth first date this month. I think that this pattern might be revealing something."
"What are you trying to say?" Tessa asked her friend accusingly.
"I'm saying that maybe you have a problem with commitment."
"I do not," Tessa frowned.
"Oh? And when was the last time you had a serious boyfriend?"
Tessa's eyebrows knit together as she tried to remember. "Well, I don't know exactly. I guess David..."
"David was sophomore year of college! Tessa, that was seven years ago. Yikes, I didn't realize it was this bad. I think you need an intervention."
Tessa snorted, "Oh, and what are you going to do for me, miss therapist?"
Becky thought for a moment, and then a knowing smile crept across her face. "I know. If there is one thing you can't pass up, it is a bet."
"Ye-ah. So?" Tessa stammered, looking at her uneasily.
"Well, I bet that you can't date the same guy for at least a month. Thirty whole days with the same man. That shouldn't be so difficult, should it?"
Tessa thought hard. It shouldn't have been hard, no, but she hadn't gone on more than one date with a guy in years. Years. She took a swig of her beer, as if the beverage could give her courage. "What's in it for me?"
"Well, I thought that this would be the perfect solution to our debate over who gets the master bedroom."
Tessa smiled. The two roommates were soon going to be moving into a new apartment and they had been quarreling for months over who would get the spacious master bedroom. This
be the perfect chance for her to win the coveted spot. "Okay," she said sticking out her hand. "You're on."
"Great!" Becky's face lit up.
"You know, it's kind of sad that you are willing to bet that room on this," Tessa went on. "You obviously don't have a lot of faith that I can do this. I can't wait to prove you wrong." She hesitated. "There's only one problem..."
"Um, it's not like I have any dates lined up at the moment."
"Oh! Don't worry about that. We'll find you someone tonight. In fact, I already have someone in mind."
"You do? Who?"
Becky gave a smile. "There's a guy sitting in the booth across the room who has been staring at you this whole time. I'm willing to bet that he might be interested. He looks alone, and he's super hot."
Tessa looked up from their corner table in the bar. Trying not to be obvious, she discreetly glanced in the direction Becky indicated.
She had to do a double take. "Forget hot, he's drop-dead
," she whispered to Becky
. He had a model's face with a strong cheekbones and jaw line, topped with perfect dark hair. Even though he was sitting down Tessa could tell he was tall, and his broad shoulders indicated that he definitely worked out, which was always a bonus.
In taking him in Tessa ended up staring a little too long. He noticed her looking and flashed a brilliant smile. She immediately felt her cheeks flush and she looked away. "That guy? Are you kidding? Never in a million years would he be interested in me. On a scale of one to ten he's an eleven. At least."
"Don't be so ridiculous Tessa. You know you are beautiful. He certainly hasn't been staring at me this whole time now has he?" Becky looked at her friend. Tessa's long brown hair had a slight wave, just enough to give it volume but not enough that she needed to worry about wrangling the curly mass of hair like Becky did. With her near-perfect complexion and her big green eyes, men were always attracted to Tessa. Sometimes Becky hated being out with her because of that.
"You know you never have trouble getting dates."
"I guess that's true," Tessa conceded. "But how do I get a date with him? He doesn't look like he plans on coming over here." Stealing another glance in his direction, she saw that he was busy playing with his phone and was no longer looking their way.
"Well then, I guess you'll have to do the asking won't you?" Becky laughed because she knew the thought horrified Tessa. "Off you go then. A bet's a bet."
Tessa's beauty and her ability to attract men came as a drawback at this particular moment. She was used to men coming up and making conversation with her, and she was far too shy to even consider going across the room to approach a stranger. "Are you kidding? I can't just walk up to a random stranger and ask him out. Talk about looking desperate. Come on Becky, please help me out here."
Becky looked at the despondency written across her friend's face and felt a little sympathy. She smiled. "Alright, I guess I can help you. Just this once. After all, the bet won't be any fun if you lose already."
"I just can't go over there and ask him outright," Tessa paled. "The thought makes me want to crawl in a hole."
"Okay then, we'll give him an excuse to come over here."
Becky thought for a moment and her face brightened when an idea came to her. "All you have to do is go up to the bar and order a drink. Carry your wallet in your hand, but when you come back I want you to 'accidentally' leave your wallet behind. He's been eyeing you so much he's bound to notice, and that will give him the chance to bring it over here to us."
"I don't know," Tessa frowned. "What if someone else takes it?"
"Well, I'll be watching, silly. If anyone tries to steal it, I'll intervene. Come on, a bet's a bet."
Tessa sighed, "Okay, you're right. Here goes."
She grabbed her clutch and headed over to buy a drink. Upon returning to the table, she left her clutch behind, just as Becky had suggested. She didn't dare look behind her to see if the man had noticed, but the delight on Becky's face indicated to Tessa that they were about to have an encounter with the handsome stranger.
"Excuse me miss," a deep voice with a brilliant British accent sounded behind her. "I believe you left this at the bar."
Tessa turned to face the dark-haired stranger. He was even more handsome up close than he was from afar, and at well over 6 feet tall, he towered over Tessa's petite 5 foot 3 inch frame. She liked that.
"Oh, how clumsy of me," Tessa chuckled, reaching out her hand for the clutch. "Thanks, Mr. -"
"Lucas Griswold," he extended his arm for a warm handshake. "You can call me Lucas, of course."
"Lucas, thank you." Tessa said inwardly reeling from the heat of his grip. "I'm Tessa Brewster, and this is my friend Becky Piper," she turned to indicate Becky.
Becky shot up from her chair. "Hello, very nice to meet you. Actually, if you'll excuse me, I need to run outside and make a phone call. Nice to meet you Lucas," she said, practically running for the door.
Tessa smiled and sighed at her friend's overtly obvious nature. "Sorry, she can be a little - awkward at times."
"Not at all, I understand. We all can be a little awkward, can't we?" His smile made her completely melt.
"Listen, Tessa, I know this is a little out of the ordinary, but I'd love to get to know you a little better. It's not everyday I have the opportunity to meet a beautiful woman like yourself. Unfortunately, I have a prior engagement with a colleague in a few minutes, and I have to run. Can I be so bold as to ask you to join me for dinner tomorrow evening?"
Tessa's heart raced. She had been asked out many times before, but never by anyone quite so handsome."I would love that," she managed meekly.
"Wonderful, I'm delighted you said yes. Perhaps if you give me your number I could phone you tomorrow to finalize details? I want to make a reservation first and so forth."
"Yes, of course." Tessa pulled a business card out of her wallet. "My cell number is on here. Feel free to call me anytime."
He glanced at the card. "Oh, you work for an antiques shop? How interesting," his eyes brightened. "I can't wait to get to know you better, Miss Tessa Brewster. Until tomorrow then." He took her hand and kissed it before turning and walking out the door.
As soon as he was gone Becky came running back to the booth. "He's gone already! What happened?"
"I happened to score a date with him, that's what happened," Tessa smiled confidently.
handsome. And British!" Becky gushed.
"I know. I can't believe it!" Tessa smiled, "Looks like you may be on the losing end of this bet already, Becky."
"Well, we'll see. We still have a month to go you know. But for your sake, I can't say I'd be sorry to see you stay with that hunk."
Tessa smiled, contentedly. "Me neither. Maybe all my waiting is finally going to pay off."
As he promised, Lucas called Tessa the next morning and arranged to pick her up for dinner at 7:00. While getting ready for a date wasn't new to her, the butterflies she felt as she dressed for dinner were definitely out of the ordinary. Something about Lucas seemed different than other guys she had met. Even after speaking with him for only five minutes she could tell that he was far more poised and refined than the men she usually met, and thus she felt that she must dress to impress him a bit differently than she normally would. After agonizing in front of her closet for what seemed like hours, she finally settled on a simple black cocktail dress that was neither too racy nor too conservative.