Authors: Susan Hatler
Save the Date
Save the Date
Copyright © 2013 by Susan Hatler
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
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Cover Design by Elaina Lee, For The Muse Designs
Also by Susan Hatler
An Unexpected Date
Better Date than Never Series
Love at First Date (Book #1)
Truth or Date (Book #2)
My Last Blind Date (Book #3)
Save the Date (Book #4)
A Twist of Date (Book #5)
“Susan Hatler has a knack for writing books that draw me in from the very first page!”
— Books Are Sanity!!! on Love at First Date
“Ms. Hatler has a way of writing witty dialogue that makes you laugh-out-loud throughout her stories.”
— Night Owl Reviews on Truth or Date
“Seriously you guys, you have to pick this one up if you are a romantic at heart. Deliciously sweet.”
Getting Your Read On Reviews on My Last Blind Date
“An Unexpected Date is a wonderful and perfect release to a stressful or crazy day.”
— Cafè of Dreams Book Reviews
“If you enjoy a YA Romance jam packed with adventure and the unknown. I would recommend this fantastic read.”
— Tifferz Book Review
Kristen Moore was a side-character in Truth or Date. Her life was seemingly perfect, and she always gave her friends the best advice. Naturally, I wondered how such an intelligent woman would deal, if she were completely deceived by the man she’s supposed to be closest to.
Life doesn’t always go the way we want, but women are strong, and having the best of friends helps us make it through.
Hope you enjoy Kristen’s story. Happy reading!
~ Susan Hatler
Save the Date
Growing up in the war zone my parents called a marriage had me moving out at eighteen, majoring in psychology, then I earned a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. I wanted to help couples communicate effectively to save kids from existing in the chaos that had been my childhood. And I had. Especially when I’d moved on to private practice.
My life was the epitome of a woman’s dream. Career. Relationship. Peace.
Four months ago, I learned it was all a sham.
I’d been a dirty mistress, and hadn’t even known it. I’d thought I was low maintenance, the kind of girlfriend who gave her guy space. But I’d been nothing but a snack to Jake. A candy bar. Turned out the real meal was his
. I found out when I saw them together at the Sacramento Community Theater—watching
wasn’t nearly as enjoyable with the back of my boyfriend and his wife’s heads in my view.
Regular people discovering their boyfriend was married would be all sorts of horrible, but, as a family therapist who evaluates people for a living, Jake’s duplicity caused me an epic degree of cataclysm. I mean, how could my judgment help people if someone who I’d considered perfect—meaning he’d seemed kind, intelligent, left the toilet seat down, those kinds of things—had really been a two-timing troll?
That’s why I’ve taken a sabbatical from my career. Not because my failed relationship devastated me too much to make it to the office—a month of crying had cleansed that scuzzball from my system—but because, if I couldn’t evaluate well in my own life, I didn’t want to mess up someone else’s.
Unfortunately, after two months off work, my savings account had taken a serious hit. I had to bring in some income again—pronto. As a homeowner, my bank kind of expected me to do things like pay the mortgage. Sigh. I needed to find a job, but one that didn’t require decision making since my personal judgment was clearly off.
“Maybe I should become a park ranger.” I adjusted my sunglasses and gazed out at Folsom Lake as we motored across it, the wind whipping my red hair away from my face.
“Right, Kristen.” My friend Rachel snorted, then opened the top of her cooler, and sifted through the lunch items she’d brought. “Because you’re so outdoorsy.”
“I could get a pair of boots. Some insect repellant.” Plus the trees and bushes wouldn’t need me to evaluate them. They just stood there and swayed and stuff. “Nature is breathtaking. It makes me feel calm. Like now.”
Rach scoffed. “You’re sitting in a brand new ski boat, holding a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Not exactly roughing it in the wilderness, girl.”
I pulled down the rim of my straw sun hat. “Way to kill my dreams.”
She blew me a kiss, then rummaged through the cooler again. “Do you want a turkey or a hummus sandwich? Or would you prefer that we dock so you can shoot your own food?”
I flinched at the thought. “Hummus.”
It was a sunny Saturday in April and the lake’s blue-gray water resembled glass—its beauty complimenting the rolling Sierra foothills surrounding us. My friend, Rachel, and her boyfriend, Noah, had invited me on the maiden voyage of Noah’s boat. It felt good getting out of the city—and out of the house, for that matter.
After two months on leave, I’d scrubbed every inch of my condo, painted each room, and redecorated three times over. My roommate, Gina, complained that my compulsiveness made it hard for her to chill out on her days off. Apparently lounging on the couch watching her reality TV shows wasn’t as relaxing while I’m shampooing the carpet. She’d practically begged Rachel to take me out with them.
Rach held out a sandwich to me. “Hope you like lettuce, tomato, and onions.”
“Thanks.” I took it, but didn’t have much of an appetite. Too many financial problems looming on the horizon. “I’m at the end of my savings, Rach. I need a job. Like A.S.A.P.”
“You have a job. A very successful career as a marriage and family counselor, actually.” Rach pulled a potato chip out of a bright yellow bag and snapped it between her teeth. “Isn’t it time to get back to it?”
I shook my head. Upon discovering I’d been Jake’s sleazy side dish, my aptitude for evaluating human behavior had promptly taken a nosedive. “My patients deserve better. I’ve referred them to someone well respected in the area.”
She curled her lip. “Better than Kristen Moore? Not possible.”
“You wouldn’t sing my praises if you’d seen me in action before I went on sabbatical. Picture a desperate couple coming to my office, baring their souls to me, hoping I can give them guidance to save their marriage. Wonder how many useful suggestions I came up with? Zero. Zip.
They stared at me with such trust and I froze, second-guessing every thought that came to mind. After four years thriving in private practice, I’m completely washed up.”
“Had to be a fluke.” Rach popped another chip into her mouth. “What happened to our know-it-all girl who always gives the right advice? Mostly unsolicited, but still . . .”
My stomach roiled at the truth in her words. “After eight months bragging about her
boyfriend, she’s got a lot of egg to wipe off her face.”
Her eyes grew serious. “Come on, Kristen. It’s not your fault Jake’s a lowlife cheater.”
“It’s not my fault, no.” I shook my head, knowing that much was true. “But I can’t get over the fact that I had no inkling of doubt about him. Zilch. I go over it a thousand times a day, wracking my brain for clues I should’ve picked up on.”
“It was four months ago.”
Yeah, and I
hadn’t pieced it together. “I got a calendar, wrote out dates and phone conversations, yet I can’t figure out how he fooled me so completely.”
“Stop beating yourself up. Gina says the condo looks like the team from that home makeover TV show went through it. That kind of obsessive behavior can’t be healthy.”
My brows came together in mock confusion. “So you’re saying I shouldn’t start on the backyard?”
She leaned forward, hands on her bare knees. “Do you think I knew Jeremy had been getting it on with my hairdresser those weeks before he dumped me? No. He shattered my trust in men.”
“Yes, but you’re a customer service rep. I assess human behavior for a living.” The ache in my gut escalated. “I used to, anyway.”
“I’ve been where you are, Kristen. I’m not saying it’s easy.” She glanced behind us at her very muscular and tanned boyfriend sitting in the driver’s seat, one hand on the wheel. “But you have to put yourself out there again. Have you dated anyone since?”
I unwrapped my sandwich, the roar of the engine dissipating as our speed slowed. “No.”
“What about you and Ethan?”
Upon hearing his name, my heart fluttered. I met Ethan last year at a Sacramento Heritage walking tour downtown. We bonded while perusing historically significant buildings and homes, dating all the way back to the Gold Rush. Fascinating stuff. Although I guess not to everyone. Last December, I’d set Ethan up with Gina, and when he’d regaled her with historic tales on a couple of dates, she’d nearly nodded off in her pasta. “Ethan and I are just friends.”
Her eyebrows wiggled up and down. “With benefits?”
“Very funny.” Although she was joking, my insides warmed at the thought. Ethan had stunning dark features, a solid physique, and he was attentive in everything he did. What sane girl wouldn’t find him enthralling?
She smirked. “You think he’s hot. Admit it.”
“Even so, I’d rather be stripped naked, tied to the front of this boat, and used as a hood ornament before I put my trust in another man.”
Rach pulled her sunglasses down her nose, and peered up at me. “The boat doesn’t have a hood.”
“Why would you want me to date Ethan?” I’d actually been attracted to Ethan even while dating Jake—yeah, I’m human, but it’s not like I acted on it—and I’d felt
over my feelings. Oh, the irony. “For all I know, he could be married with five kids and on parole for grand larceny. It’s not like I have stellar skills when it comes to sensing stuff like that.”
Her right brow raised. “Drama doesn’t suit you.”
Recalling the emotional hurricane I’d been through last December, I bit into my sandwich, and seethed. “Besides, Ethan doesn’t think of me that way.”
Rach’s face fell. “What? You guys danced all cuddly and cozy at Ellen’s wedding.”
“Exactly.” We glided to a stop in the middle of the lake, so the engine no longer drowned out what we were saying. I lowered my voice. “And did Ethan ask me out? No.”
She stared at me like I was crazy. “Why didn’t
“Because I’d just been screwed over by another man? And I didn’t feel like suffering through round two?” In human behavior, people base decisions on which would be greater, the pain or pleasure. In this case, my choice had been a no-brainer.
“A legitimate concern,” she acquiesced.
I sighed. “Jake used to accuse me of having a crush on Ethan. That’s partly why I’d set Ethan up with Gina—to prove I
have a thing for him.” Even though I’d pushed them together, my gut had twisted at the thought that Ethan might fall for Gina. Things hadn’t worked out between them, which had secretly been a relief.
Rach tilted her head. “I heard you were with Ethan last weekend for some history dealio.”
“A few weeks ago, I ran into him at the farmer’s market with a girl named Dana.” I remembered the jolt of pain that struck me when I saw Ethan’s arm around the beautiful brunette as she gazed up at him adoringly. “He asked me to go on a historical walk right in front of her, and she didn’t flinch. If she’s that secure in their relationship, they must be serious.”