By Robin Alexander
© 2010 by Robin AlexAndeR
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in printed
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ISBN 13: 978-1-935216-21-6
First Printing: 2010
This Trade Paperback Is Published By
Walker, LA USA
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are
the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies,
events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
ExEcutivE Editor: tara Young
covEr dEsign bY: tigEr graphics
For the Rose with a golden heart.
My thanks and my love to my partner, Becky. She’s my
My editor, Tara Young, to whom I am very thankful because
she hasn’t shot me yet over my poor use of the dreaded comma.
Many thanks to Kate Sweeney, my business partner who
makes a mean sangria and who doesn’t complain when I force
her to listen to what I’ve written.
“Don’t you dare, Shannon. Those online dating sites are
a hotbed of people looking to cheat on their mates, or worse,
monsters masquerading as princess charmings. Just do it the old-
fashioned way—charm some cutie into a date and see where it
Kalen, my older sister, accentuated every point by stabbing
her fork in my direction. As usual, I sat silent and listened to her
well-intentioned advice until she stopped long enough to take the
last bite of her dinner.
“You’re missing the point,” I said. “I have no game, no
“You have to practice.” Kalen’s eyes sparkled with excitement.
“Practice on the waiter when he comes back.”
“He’s a man.”
“I didn’t say seduce him and take him home. It’s simple. Just
smile and maybe compliment him. Oh! Say something about his
eyes.” Kalen looked around for the unsuspecting guinea pig.
“Show me how it’s done.”
Kalen rolled her eyes. She’d demonstrated the Brycen
charming skills that I was sorely lacking countless times. Our
victim was approaching too quickly for her to argue. I watched as
she smiled up at him and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
He was putty in her hands, and she hadn’t spoken a word. Flirting
was second nature to Kalen, and if she were single, she’d never
lack for companionship.
I’ve often thought it a cruel cosmic joke that I was passed
over for the charismatic gene that my parents and sister shared.
If Kalen and I didn’t look so much alike, I would have gone in
search of my real father, an introverted milkman who my mother
had her way with.
“See how easy that was?” Kalen said triumphantly. “He’s
giving us a slice of pie on the house. We’re going to have to leave
before he asks for my number because I might just give it to
him.”“Better hope that my brother-in-law doesn’t answer when he
Kalen raised an eyebrow. “When he comes back, you give it
I opened my mouth to balk as I’ve always done, but then I
wondered, why not? The food wasn’t that great. We probably
wouldn’t revisit this place. What did I have to lose? I watched as
the waiter weaved between tables, coming closer with each step.
My hands tightened into fists as I tucked them under my legs.
That was the closest I was going to get to being poised.
All was going well until I heard my brain screaming out to the
rest of my body. Oh, my God! She’s going to speak. Who told her
this was a good idea? My stomach began to growl its protest, and
it kind of sounded like Scotty from Star Trek. She’s breaking up,
Captain. I can’t hold her much longer. My brain began barking
out orders, but my body was too stunned to comply. Legs, what
are you waiting for? Get moving! Can we have a coughing fit, a
sneeze, anything? All fell silent as a slice of pie and two cups of
coffee were set on the table.
I glanced over at Kalen, who wore the expectant but fearful
smile of a mother watching her baby take the first ride without
training wheels. The waiter was smiling down at me, and it was
“I…you…well…I like your shirt.” The last part of my pathetic
attempt came out sounding like a balloon being deflated. He
blinked for a moment, then looked down at the black polo with
the restaurant’s name emblazoned on the breast pocket. With no
more than an awkward smile and a nod, he left me to my misery.
I couldn’t look at Kalen. She cleared her throat and went
on talking as though nothing gruesomely embarrassing had
“You know…there’s a new customer that’s been coming to
the Rampart store. I think she may be single.”
If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try the same damn thing
Loyal, warm-hearted, and fun. Loves quiet evenings at home,
enjoys cooking when it’s for someone besides myself. My favorite
kind of day is a rainy cold Sunday when I’m curled up in bed with
someone watching movies and eating junk food—
“Oh, my God, I’m a lap dog with culinary skills.” I buried
my face in my hands and screamed in frustration. I’d spent my
entire Saturday morning trying to come up with something eye-
catching, and all I could manage was an ad for a dog looking for a
good home. I fought the urge to cry when I realized I didn’t even
want to date me.
Had I always been this boring? I’d managed to attract a woman
at one time…well, at least three times. This time was different,
though. I was operating without a net.
Like a monkey, I’d catch the next vine when it became obvious
that the relationship was coming to an end. Neither Marla nor I
wanted to be the first to admit that our relationship was on its
death bed. Though we weren’t unfaithful to each other, we both
put “feelers” out. Susan, a friend of a friend, made it clear she
would be interested if I were single, and I grabbed that vine with
both hands. After six years together, we did the exact same thing,
and I swung into Cindy’s life. We were together two years, and
she caught a vine of her own without warning. At thirty-seven, I
was single, and there wasn’t a vine in sight.
I took one more disgusted look at my computer screen and
pushed away from my desk intent on soothing my frustration
with a handful of Oreos and a glass of milk. I thought better of
that plan when a draft of cold air moved up the crack of my ass.
My habit of cookie consolation had resulted in the ruining of my
favorite jeans that were now split from the crotch halfway up my
backside. I wondered if an apple would comfort me as much as a
cookie. My taste buds said no.
Feeling sorry for myself, I stood at my window and stared
down at the sidewalk. “I could get one of those.” I watched a
cab pull to the curb and deposit a woman and her dog onto the
sidewalk. The yellow ball of fluff sat patiently at its mistress’s
side as the cabbie was paid. I caught a glimpse of blond curly hair
protruding from the knit cap atop the woman’s head, but that was
all I could see from my third-floor vantage point.
The knit cap with pooch in tow approached a moving van that
pulled to the curb when the cab pulled away. “She must be moving
into the Kellehers’ old apartment.” I watched as my new neighbor
disappeared into the doorway. And then the Oreos began calling
to me again.
I was about to heed their call when I caught a glimpse of
myself in the mirror and stopped in my tracks. I’d put on at least
ten pounds in the year after Cindy left. My hair was out of control.
I’d given up trying to do anything with it. It sat piled on top of my
head, held precariously by a banana clip. My eyebrows rivaled
I’d heard Kalen say a dozen times that a makeover worked
miracles. Perhaps it was time I made myself over. I looked at my
reflection again and decided that a diet would have to come first.
The cookies had to go, and I had just enough milk to make that
I was stuffing the last of them into my mouth when the phone