Authors: Susan Hatler
Copyright © 2012 by Susan Hatler
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Cover Design by Elaina Lee, For The Muse Designs
My Last Blind Date:
“Susan Hatler’s “My Last Blind Date” is a totally fun and absolutely delightful short story. Treat yourself to this charming little tale–the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for yourself or anyone who loves romance.”
Patti Berg, USA Today Bestselling Author
“Susan Hatler writes stories filled with light-hearted humor and sweet, adorable moments guaranteed to warm your heart and leave you with a contented smile.”
Kimberly Van Meter, Contemporary Romance Author
“A charming, fun read that will put you in the mood for Valentine’s day.”
Melinda Curtis, Award Winning Romance Author
“Amazing depth for a short story. Hatler creates an immediately identifiable heroine and a yummy hero who could be found in any real-life office. You’ll ache with Rachel’s loneliness and longing, and rejoice when she finally finds love.”
Natalie J. Damschroder, Romance Author
Short, sweet, and so much fun! This short story was perfect.
One Good Book Deserves Another (5 star review)
The only thing worse than having a blind date on Valentine’s Day is having no date at all. Well, that’s exactly where I stood. I, Rachel Price, was dateless. Unless I chose what was behind Door Number Two.
The blind date option had just come from my friend and co-worker, Ellen Holbrook. She’d stopped by my cubicle at work and dropped the bomb. An exciting opportunity to meet the love of my life? Doubtful. With three failed set-ups courtesy of Ellen already, I dreaded dealing with another dating disaster.
Dateless or blind date? Decisions, decisions….
“So?” Ellen strode to my desk and fiddled with the stapler, making it
click click click
. She wiggled her brows and smiled at me hopefully. “Should I make the call?”
An actual date on Valentine’s Day had tempted me, but with Ellen’s track record, it’d be safer ordering take-out.
“No dice.” I reached up from my chair and gave her a hug. “But, thanks for the offer.”
My phone rang and I wondered who would be calling about software sales at four forty-five in the afternoon on the big Hallmark holiday. I snatched up the receiver. “Rachel Price. Hello?”
Lovely. I slammed the receiver down.
Ellen gestured toward the phone. “Who was it?”
“The universe telling me all the non-psychotic ones are taken.” I swiveled in my chair and logged off my computer, knowing I wouldn’t get any more work done today. “Don’t worry about me, Ellen. Just promise when I keel over, old and alone, you’ll bury me in the backyard next to Chester. He’s the only one who’s ever really loved me.”
Ellen rolled her eyes like I was hopeless. “I love you, Morbid Girl. When are you going to admit you’re using your dog as a substitute boyfriend?”
She made it sound like a bad thing. Seemed like a smart move to me. Chester always greeted me at the door, liked to cuddle, and let me pick the side of the bed. What more could I ask for?
Oh, yeah. Romance, marriage, children….
“I’m telling you to listen to your best friend and let me set you up tonight. This guy could be your Henry.” She’d pulled out her ultimate enticement. Ellen and Henry had met, fallen in love, and married all in the last six months. They were sickeningly sweet, but I’d bet Henry leaving his balled up socks by the living room recliner day after day wouldn’t be so endearing by their first anniversary.
“Look, El. I appreciate the thought. Really. If the last three set-ups you planned hadn’t made me want to stab myself repeatedly with that letter opener, I’d totally be all over it.”
She glanced at the silver letter opener in my pencil holder, and then pointed a finger at me. “I knew you were holding a grudge against me for Wayne. How was I supposed to know he wasn’t over Sharon?”
“It’s not just Wayne, and you know it.” My bad blind dates blipped through my brain:
Blind Date #1: Cute, successful, and charming. Until dessert, when he suggested we head back to his place for some “whipped cream fun.” Claimed his nickname was Rock because he could rock a woman’s world.
Blind Date #2: Late, disheveled, and talked about his ex-wife the entire night. He cried at the end, announcing he didn’t think he was quite ready for dating. Uh, you think? Wayne now attends bi-weekly therapy sessions trying to figure out how to win Sharon back.
Blind Date #3: Salesman who spent an hour explaining my good fortune that he’d yet to tie the knot. He gave me his top ten reasons why he was a stellar catch. To end the date, I gave him my top ten reasons for cleaning out my doggy’s litter box.
I shook my head. Ellen’s heart was in the right place, but the nuts and bolts of her screening process needed serious tightening. “I’d rather watch
Sex and the City
reruns with Chester tonight than suffer through another bad date.”
“Trust me, this one will be different. Henry’s friend is in his softball league and he sounds like a Ten. If I weren’t already taken, I’d go for him myself.” Ellen sat on the small filing cabinet next to my desk, stared me straight in the eye, and softened her voice. “I think you’ll have a fun time with him. Fourth time’s a charm, Rach.”
“Charm doesn’t last.” I sighed. It’d been a year since Jeremy and I’d broken up. After two years of trying to make it work with him, he’d started seeing my hairdresser behind my back. I’d known her special haircut/highlight price was too good to be true. Nope, love just wasn’t in the cards for me.
The door to Noah Peterson’s office opened. Ellen and I peered over my sparsely decorated cubicle.
Noah had been with the company for two months now. He had the best sales record of all the VPs, the friendliest personality in the software biz, and the most gorgeous blue eyes I’d ever seen.
Yes, I’d noticed Noah. It was hard not to. He paused outside his office, leaned against the doorjamb, and scanned something in the open file he was holding.
“Hey, Noah.” Melinda Morgan, our lead customer service rep, swept in and sidled up next to him in her tight v-neck sweater.
Ellen and I exchanged a look. Melinda worked out two hours every day, and had the body to show for it. She’d dated two of the VPs already, and it was only a matter of time before she latched her red-painted talons into Noah.
I marveled at Melinda’s skillfully applied make-up. In the morning, I barely had time to make coffee and throw my hair into a twist before I ran late for the office. As for the gym, forcing myself to a yoga class once a week seemed enough of a return on my monthly membership dues.
“Happy Valentine’s Day.” Melinda told Noah in a way that breathed sex. Jealousy surged up my spine.
“Valentine’s Day.” Noah batted the manila file against his forehead. “So, that’s what’s up with all those flower deliveries today. Here I figured we had a horticulture department I didn’t know about.”
I choked on my laugh and Ellen coughed to cover hers. Add a sense of humor to what made Noah number one on my wish list.
“Hmmm.” Melinda didn’t appear to get the horticulture joke and seemed perplexed as to whether or not he’d gotten the hint to ask her out. “Do you have plans for tonight?”
He glanced down at the file for a second, then nodded. “Big plans.”
Ouch. Those two words stabbed my heart. What big plans did he have? More importantly, who were they with? There were no photos in his office and he didn’t wear a ring, but apparently some lucky girl had snagged him. There went any chance of my fantasies becoming reality.
Melinda smiled and leaned toward Noah’s tall well-built frame. “I have plans, too. Nothing that can’t be rescheduled though.”
Wow. The woman attacked like a tigress on the prowl. Why couldn’t I be that forward with Noah? Oh yeah, that niggling fear he’d hurt himself laughing at the one-way crush I’d had since he’d started working at our office. Risks weren’t really my thing.
Noah took her flirtation in stride. “Who’s the lucky guy?”
“Met him in my building.” She made a big show of examining her nails. Probably just making it clear she didn’t have a ring on that special finger. “Stuart owns his own business, drives a BMW, and runs in A-list circles.”
Ellen raised her eyebrows and mouthed, “Impressive.”
And yet, even with a major hunk available to her, Melinda still wanted Noah. Couldn’t blame her. Noah really was in a league of his own. Not that I’d admitted my crush to Ellen, even though we’d been best friends for five years since battling for the last piece of cake at that company picnic. She’d won, but I’d earned her respect by snatching a chunk with my fork.
Never get between me and carrot cake.
I should’ve confided in Ellen, but what would be the point? It’s not like I’d have a chance with a guy like Noah. Me? Medium height. Medium build. Brown eyes and brown hair—that used to get highlighted for a steal. Not exactly a blonde bombshell like Melinda or my ex-hairdresser. No tight butt, firm abs, or long legs either.
“But, like I said, my plans aren’t etched in granite.” Melinda lowered her sultry voice, but thankfully I had the closest cubicle. “If something better crossed my path, I’d certainly be up for that—even if it meant staying in.”
I scoffed. Subtle.
Noah’s eyes widened a fraction, then he gave her a friendly smile. “Well, have a great night with whatever you end up doing.”
“Mmmm.” She pursed her pink lips, started down the hall, then tossed over her shoulder, “You, too.”
“Wow.” I used a low voice so my co-workers in surrounding cubicles couldn’t hear. “Noah must have some serious plans to turn down an invitation with her.”
Ellen raised her brows. “Maybe he’s looking for more in a woman than a killer body.”
I immediately thought of Jeremy and the woman he’d dumped me for. “Yeah, that’s exactly what guys want. Good conversation.”
“I give up. Live happily ever after with your mutt. See if I care.” Ellen stood, huffed, and stomped out of my cubicle.
“He happens to be a pedigree.” How dare she insult my miniature beagle-baby? I snatched pages from the printer tray, stapled them together, then sensed someone behind me. “Don’t even try it. I’m not going to say yes.”
“I haven’t asked you for anything yet.” The smooth male voice had a hint of laughter in it.
Noah. My heart raced. It wasn’t unusual for Noah to stop by my cubicle and chat before leaving work, but being dateless on V-day had thrown me off-kilter. “I thought you were Ellen.”
He smiled, revealing straight, white teeth underneath his perfect lips. “Close, but I’m a little taller.”
And a lot more handsome. “Yes, you are that. ”
When he leaned back against my desk, it put everything below his belt buckle in my direct eye line. “What’s Ellen trying to talk you into?”
“A blind date,” I blurted. With great effort, I forced my eyes from his sculpted chest to his spectacular face.
His brows rose as if surprised. “No date on the Hallmark holiday, huh?”
Had he just…. “I thought I was the only one who called it that.”
“Don’t tell anybody, but...,” he held his hand to the side of his mouth and whispered, “I think St. Valentine’s Day is all part of a huge advertising scheme created by flower and chocolate companies. Now, if we could just make a holiday to help sell software programs, we’d be set.”