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Authors: Marianne Stephens

SecondSightDating

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An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Second Sight Dating

 

ISBN 9781419909245

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Second Sight Dating Copyright© 2007 Marianne Stephens

 

Edited by Helen Woodall.

Cover art by Syneca.

 

Electronic book Publication May 2007

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are
registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc., 1056 Home Avenue,
Akron, OH 44310-3502.

 

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or
distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.
No part of this book may be
scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means,
electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission.
Criminal copyright
infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by
the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of
$250,000.  (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/).
Please purchase only authorized
electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the
electronic piracy of copyrighted material.
Your support of the author’s rights
is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental.
The
characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

Second Sight Dating

Marianne Stephens

Acknowledgement

 

Loving thanks to Steve (my computer wizard husband), my
family, and wonderful friends in MRW, MARA, and my critique group for their
support.

 

 

 

 

 

Trademarks Acknowledgement

 

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark
owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

 

Boy Scouts: Boy Scouts of America Corporation

Cheesecake Factory: Great World Foods, Inc

Honda Accord: Honda Motor Co., Ltd

Macaroni Grill: Brinker International

Mazda: Mazda Motor Corporation

Ouija: Hasbro, Inc.

Sprint: Sprint Communications Company L.P.
US Telecom, Inc.

Zio’s: Mazzio’s Corporation

 

Chapter One

 

“I want him, not that other one you just showed me.
Look at
this guy,” Miss “K” rattled on with a pout, a blue-polished fingernail pointing
at a picture of Mr.
“Thirty-six”.
“He’s a hunk.”

Thirty-year-old Serena Xavier, owner of Second Sight Dating,
listened to her female client’s whiny demand while silently cursing her clumsy
trip over the slippery office rug.
The unexpected dilemma and now
cog-in-the-wheel of her usually perfect operating system, irked her.

Miss “K” had sniffed indifferently at the bio and picture of
Mr.
“Twenty-five”, the first-choice match presented to her.
With hesitation,
Serena offered to try a second number.

She’d grabbed a few folders from her desk to lessen the
clutter and, in a hurry to reach her filing cabinet in the backroom, tripped
over the rug, sending three folders scattering on the floor.
A picture of Mr.
“Thirty-six” had slid from its folder and Miss “K” riveted her attention on it
like a lioness spotting her prey and eager to pounce.

“He’s not the one for you.” As Serena took her seat again,
she did her best to present a sincere, efficient and credible explanation to
match her words.
“I don’t just consider looks.
I analyze everything.
You came
here because you wanted someone right for you.
Yes, he’s handsome, but there’s
more to it than that.”

“What more do I need?
For Christ’s sake, he’s wearing a lab
coat and stethoscope so I’m guessing he’s a doctor.” Miss “K” raised her head
up a notch as if ready to make an important point.
“I’m in the medical field.
How much more compatible do we need to be?”

As far as Serena was concerned, the twenty-nine-year-old
bleached blonde client promptly massacred any semblance of credibility she’d
hoped to display by twirling a loose curl and cracking her gum…again…for about
the fiftieth time since entering the office.
With one leg crossed over the
other, she repeatedly tapped her foot.
All three actions—the curl twirling, gum
cracking and foot tapping—ceased every time Miss “K” spoke.
Apparently the
woman couldn’t talk and do those at the same time.

A quick glance at Bachelor Thirty-six’s application
indicated that the ditsy, gorgeous, leggy, Miss “K” possessed some qualities
topping his “What I’m Looking For” list.
Unfortunately, not much else,
including their backgrounds, came close to signaling a match.
His degree from
Harvard and hers from Wayne’s Quick & Easy Business School, pushed them further
apart from being compatible.
“Miss Sight”, Serena’s name at the business,
realized the two singles wouldn’t work.

That’s what her job was all about—pairing couples she knew
would match based on her numbering male clients and lettering female clients system.
Love connections took more than resorting to resumes and lists of wants and
desires, in spite of what most people thought.
They needed Serena’s expertise
to guarantee compatibility.
They needed assurances of matching innermost
thoughts and finding a true soul mate.
In short, they needed her second
sight—the one she couldn’t explain—that told her if two people were meant for
each other.

Mentally counting to twenty since ten wouldn’t come close to
what was needed, Serena geared herself for battle, although fully prepared to
eventually back off.
The few times a client didn’t opt for Serena’s first
choice, she’d offer a refund or another less compatible match, minus a
guarantee of success.

“Miss ‘K’, I haven’t forgotten that you’re a clerk in a
medical center’s administration department.
But you came here knowing I do this
by intuition, a gut feeling I get.
Your friend, Miss ‘Z’, followed my advice
and that’s why you’re here, right?”

The woman pouted again.
Serena could almost imagine hearing
the sounds of wheels turning in her client’s head if she didn’t already know
Miss “K” was a few checkers short of a game.

“So, you helped Jennifer.
But I really think you’re wrong
about him.” She pointed again to the glossy photo and licked her lips.
“Match
me with him.
He’s drop-dead gorgeous.
We’ll make a great-looking couple.
Your
radar must not be working today.”

Resigned to backing off, Serena let out a deep exhale as she
rummaged through her papers and handed one to Miss “K”.
“I strive to please my
customers.
If you’ll just sign here releasing me from my guarantee, I’ll get a
meeting arranged for the two of you.
Assuming, of course, he agrees to meet
with you.” She offered a pasted-on smile.

Her client frowned, but grabbed the paper and
signed.
“Fine.
He will, once he reads my résumé and sees my picture.
So, do I
wait for you to call?”

Serena nodded and got up, leaving the woman no choice but to
follow suit.
“As stated in the contract, I’ll arrange your first meeting
somewhere surrounded by other people so neither party feels obligated to
continue the evening if things don’t work out.
Nothing fancy, just a quick
dinner somewhere nearby for both of you.
You pay your own way and then it’s up
to you two how the evening ends.”

“Great.
He’ll wanna meet me.
I’m not worried.”

That said, the soon-to-be-disappointed client popped her gum
one last time as she sashayed out the office door.
Serena had no option but to
pick up the phone and place a call asking Mr.
“Thirty-six” to come in for
another interview.

He’d already rejected the first bachelorette she’d offered
and now would get her honest opinion of matching him with “Miss “K”.
If he
ignored her warning, he’d sign a guarantee waiver and the two would meet.
Their
disastrous relationship would begin and soon end with an equally miserable
breakup.

That, she could guarantee.

* * * * *

“I’m here to see Miss Sight.”

A sexy-looking man, framed by her doorway, jolted Serena’s
heart.
Beating an overtime rhythm, she chalked it up to the fact that he’d
startled her.
It had nothing to do with his being the proverbial tall, dark and
handsome.

“I’m, uh, Miss Sight.
Welcome to Second Sight Dating.
May I
help you?”

“I got this gift certificate from some friends.” He gave a
quick cursory glance around the office.
“How legitimate is this business?”

He sounded skeptical, ill-at-ease and completed that
appearance with the defensive stance of a definite nonbeliever.
Too bad he’d be
someone she’d find difficult to deal with.
The man could be appealing if he’d
only stop frowning.

“I’ve been in business for two years.
Check out the licenses
on the wall to the left of the door before you decide if you want to go any
further.
If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them.” Unwilling to
make any further comment, Serena purposely lowered her gaze to her desk,
feigning interest in whatever she’d been reading.

He coughed, catching her attention.
“That won’t be
necessary.
What do I do first?”

Smiling would be a good start.
I know there’s a dimple
there somewhere
.

“Why don’t you have a seat?
You can fill out the application
form.
I tell everyone up front that I check places of employment and look for
police records.
Do you object to my doing that?”

“No.
Why?
Do you sense I do?”

Man, this one would be a challenge.
Strange.
Other than her
pulse slightly racing, Serena didn’t get any initial “vibes” from him at all.
Only once before had her “sight” not worked.
Her disastrous attempt at finding
a match for herself had turned out to be a doozy of a failure.

The well-built hunk left the doorway and strolled in.
The
closer he got to her, the more the light scent of his aftershave mingled in the
air.
Serena recognized the fragrance as one she adored and tried to halt
breathing in too deeply.
He lowered himself into the seat opposite her, giving
her ample time to survey his features.
Wavy, jet-black hair, the type women
loved to run their fingers through, topped his head.
His grayish, steel-colored
eyes commanded her attention as they became darker the longer she stared at
him.

He filled out his form-fitted shirt to a “T”, muscles
bulging and hinting at a well-toned body, maybe thanks to exercise.
Serena let
her mind wander for a few seconds, contemplating how he’d look in gym clothes
doing push-ups, toe touches, sit-ups…

“Do I pass inspection?”

Heat careened up her neck to her face.
What the hell was
wrong with her, ogling a client?

“Oh, sorry.
I was trying to get a ‘feel’ for you.
That’s
what I do here.
Let my intuition, what I call my ‘second sight’, take over.
It
tells me about a person.”

The man’s mouth turned up slightly in each corner.
He tilted
his head, as if angling for a better view of her.
Yep, there was a dimple, just
on the left side.
The one she knew would be there.

“So, explain exactly how this works.
Do you gaze into a
crystal ball and conjure up dead spirits?”

Ice water flooded her veins.
It figured.
In front of her sat
the sexiest man she’d met in a long time.
His strapping physique and wonderful
aftershave had clouded her insight.
A momentary loss of mind control had
allowed her brain to maneuver a slight detour from sanity, but that was over.

Annoyed with his remark, she stiffened her spine and readied
herself to dismiss him and his irritating attempt at humor.
To hell if he was
handsome.
She wasn’t in the mood or business to tolerate skeptics.

“I’m sorry you came all this way in the hopes of
finding entertainment.
You’re no comedian and I don’t perform, either.
I’ll be
happy to refund the amount of your certificate.”

Serena rose quickly from her seat and stepped around her
desk.
She tripped over her blasted rug again as she approached the man in his
chair, losing her balance.
She reached out to steady herself but faster than
she could imagine, he jumped up and caught her before she hit the floor.

His arms surrounded her in an effort to break her fall.
Heat
cascaded through her body the closer he tugged her to him.
Letters popped into
her head, over and over again.

That’s the pattern her “sight” followed.
When she touched a
man, she’d see a letter for a woman listed in her files.
When she touched a woman,
she’d see a number for a man who’d be a good match.
But never before had three
letters or numbers materialized for anyone.
It had always been one letter or
number per person.

This stud, and he definitely fit the category, filled her
with conflicting thoughts of warmth, security and irritation as he squeezed her
tighter into his embrace.
Her heart beat in double-time rhythm.

Serena fought to regain control of her senses.
He was a
client.
She ran a business.
Professionalism and composure needed to be employed.

“Are you okay?
Sorry about my lousy attempt at humor.
Just
trying to calm my nerves.
I’m kinda having a hard time admitting I need help.
Please, I want to do this.” His voice, barely above a whisper, tickled her ear,
the one his lips lightly grazed as he spoke.

Do what?
Lord, she could imagine lots of things two people
locked in an embrace could do that weren’t remotely related to her job.
Forcing
herself to breathe normally, she focused her unnervingly wayward thoughts on a
key word, job.
She did have a job to do.

He needs help finding women?
Was he some type of genius
business geek who’d been locked away but now ready to test the waters of the
dating pool?
With her last shred of strength, she pulled away.
Contact gone,
the letters stopped their unending dance in her head.

“Apology accepted.
I’m fine.
Thank you.” While swearing
under her breath to fix the damn rug, she straightened her clothes.
A slight
chill covered her body.
Short of putting on a jacket or sweater, neither of
which she had, not much could be done.
Serena quickly crossed her arms in front
of her, chiding herself for letting him affect her.
No other client had come
close to messing with her body chemistry.

BOOK: SecondSightDating
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