Authors: Cindy Sample
Copyright ©2010 by Cindy Sample
First published in Spring, Texas, 2010
Dying for a Date
By Cindy Sample
Published by L&L Dreamspell
Cover and Interior Design by L & L Dreamspell
Copyright (C) 2010 Cindy Sample. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in 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 holder, except for brief quotations used in a review.
This is a work of fiction, and is produced from the author's imagination. People, places and things mentioned in this novel are used in a fictional manner.
Visit us on the web at www.lldreamspell.com
Published by L & L Dreamspell
Produced in the United States of America
There are so many readers to thank, friends who loved the book, even in its early stages. Thanks to Barb, Cathy, CJ, Diana, Judy, Karen, Lois, Lynne, Madelyn, Marci, Matt, Maxx, Michelle, Nancy, Nora, Penny, Robin, Sandi, Sunny, Sharon B, Sharon W, Tracy, Val, and Vicki. Your positive remarks kept me going. I can't thank my critique group enough for their unwavering support and excellent suggestions (Kathy, Norma, Pat, Rae.) Special thanks to the Cindy Sample fan club (Jaci, Jana, Liz, Nina, and Terri). They read and critiqued, and reread some more. I'd like to give a shout-out to Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime, for their support. My editor, Cindy Davis was a delight to work with as is the rest of the “Dream” team. A big hug for my son, Jeff, who built my fabulous website, and last but not least, thanks to my ex-husband, Ron, for providing me with so much material.
This book is dedicated to my mother, Harriet Bergstrand, the most supportive mother in the world, and my wonderful children, Dawn and Jeff, who have made me a better person and who bear absolutely no resemblance to any characters in the book.
A special dedication in memory of my friend, Jerry Roberts, who departed her family and friends far too soon.
If I'd known my clothes would be covered in blood by the end of the evening, I probably wouldn't have agonized over my wardrobe selection. But as I prepared for my first date since my divorce, my fashion choice seemed of monumental importance.
Sweaters, slacks and skirts were strewn across my bedroom but I still couldn't decide what to wear. After negotiating my curves into a pair of over-priced tummy control pantyhose, I gazed in dismay at the mess on my barely visible bed.
Too short. Too long. Too boring. Too sleazy.
The bright red numbers on my digital clock glared at me. Less than five minutes to get my butt out of the bedroom and into my car. I zipped up a mid-calf black skirt, buttoned a long sleeved white blouse and tucked it into the waistband. The mirror above the dresser reflected its disapproval of my selections.
"Nothing looks right,” I sighed. “I either look like Betsy Banker or Bimbo Barbie."
"Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Jenna, my sixteen-year-old daughter, slouched against the door. “You're kind of old to start dating again."
Old? Since when was thirty-nine considered over the hill? According to
thirty-nine was the new twenty-nine.
My teenage critic flopped on top of my bed, turning the mountain of castoffs into a wrinkled puddle. I didn't need Dr. Phil to realize some passive aggressive stuff was going on.
I put my hands on my hips and scowled at her. “Look what you did to my clothes."
Jenna slid off the bed with a martyred sigh and disappeared through the doorway. Seconds later a powder blue cashmere sweater sailed across the room and smacked the back of my head.
The loan of the sweater must be Jenna's way of apologizing. Unfortunately it was a gift from her father. No time to ponder the psychological ramifications of wearing an item purchased by my ex-husband for my first date in seventeen years. I slipped the sweater, designed for a smaller frame than mine, over my head and stared at my reflection. Between the tight sweater glued to my chest and the long black skirt on my chunky five foot four frame, I'd invented an entirely new look—Bimbo Banker.
I stepped into my new black heels. At least my shoes looked hot. The only reason I was in the middle of a clothing meltdown was that Liz, my best friend, had talked me into joining a dating service called the “Love Club"—the safe alternative to online dating. As far as I was concerned there was only one safe alternative.
I flew down the stairs then paused to peek in the family room. Red and gold strobes of light swirled over Jenna's auburn curls. Tucked into a chair, I-Pod ear-buds in place, my daughter attempted to concentrate on her book,
The Joy of Calculus,
while her seven-year old brother Ben and his best friend battled it out with their Jedi knight laser swords.
A grapefruit sized lump lodged in my throat as I gazed at my children, re-evaluating my decision to start dating. Was I looking for a partner, or a male role model for my son? If I met someone would it harm the close relationship I had with my daughter? Did I really want to find Mr. Right?
Or just Mr. Every Other Saturday Night? Meaningful questions which I needed to ponder when I had more than thirty seconds to spare.
Fifteen minutes later I walked into Leonardo's, a Tuscan themed restaurant in El Dorado Hills, an expensive residential enclave located thirty miles east of Sacramento. I had lost the battle with a stubborn gas nozzle and reeked of gasoline.
I darted into the ladies room to wash the pungent smell from my hands. After tracing lipstick over full non-collagen enhanced lips, I peered in the mirror. Another one of those mysterious silver strands had appeared in my copper streaked bob. I yanked out the wiry culprit, took a deep breath and threw open the door.
The smell of garlic mixed with flowery perfumes greeted me as I click-clacked across the terra cotta tiles to the reception desk. The women milling around the lobby were all taller, slimmer and better dressed than me. Any minute now the El Dorado Hills fashion police would hand out a fashion citation.
"My name is Laurel McKay,” I said to the size zero hostess who was barely larger than the menu she held. “Do you know if Garrett Lindstrom has arrived?"
An arm snaked around my waist. “Laurel, sorry I'm late."
I squirmed away to get a better look at my date. This guy chose me? Garrett was even better looking in person than on his DVD. Over six feet tall, with dark brown hair and designer wire rims—a Clark Kent look-alike clad in a black shirt and slacks.
The hostess led us past a three-piece jazz combo to an intimate corner table. My heart pounded in rhythm with the bass player as I folded the white linen napkin on my lap. Garrett bore an amazing resemblance to the intrepid journalist/superhero. Thoughts of the two of us soaring over city skyscrapers flitted through my brain.
"Do you like to fly?” I asked, still hung up on the Clark Kent likeness.
Garrett looked surprised. “Uh, yeah, I enjoy flying. But my accounting practice keeps me busy, so I haven't traveled that much. How about you? Taken any exotic vacations recently?"
It took me all of three seconds to contemplate the exotic trips I'd taken in my lifetime. “The kids and I went to Disneyland two years ago."
Garrett gave me a blank look and I mentally slapped myself. Nothing like mentioning Mickey Mouse on a first date to bring the conversation to a crashing halt.
Our waiter appeared before I could embarrass myself further by elaborating on the joys of riding in oversized teacups. He leaned over and lit the small candle on our table. “My name is Aaron. Can I tell you about tonight's specials?"
Garrett winked at me. “I think my date is pretty special but let's hear about yours."
My cheeks flushed tomato soup red. It had been years since anyone paid me a compliment. My self-esteem, which had been non-existent since my ex-husband moved out, jumped up a notch.
Once we placed our orders the silence engulfed us. Silence is not golden in my world. I rushed to fill the gap with anything I could remember from my Accounting 101 class. “Garrett, I'd love to learn about depreciation."
I really needed to get a
Dating for Dummies Guide
Ten minutes later when our entrees arrived, he was still discussing depreciation methods. The glow of meeting my superhero dissipated, as Garrett morphed into an IBA—Incredibly Boring Accountant. When he lined up his dining utensils to display the merits of straight-line depreciation, I could see the writing on the spreadsheet. There would not be a second date.
I peeked at my watch. If we skipped dessert I could make it home in time to watch
. It crossed my mind that I might not be ready for dating if the thought of viewing dead bodies on television was preferable to being out with a live male.
I tuned back in to hear Garrett say, “If you structure it right, it's like getting free money."
Free money? My ears perked up at his statement but my eyes were diverted by the mocha and cream confection placed between us. I could always make time for tiramisu.
Once the server cleared our plates and brought the bill, I was ready for the evening to end. Garrett insisted on pulling my chair back for me as I rose from the table. What nice manners...hold on, did his hand graze my right breast?
Nah. Wishful thinking. It had been years since anyone grazed on any part of my anatomy.
The brisk night air felt refreshing after the garlic and basil scents of the restaurant. As we walked through the parking lot, I pawed through my purse. Lipstick, pepper spray, melted gummy bears. No keys and no phone. We approached my car and I peered in the window. The keys dangled from the ignition, right next to the cell phone hanging from the charger.
Some mother I was. Dating was already proving to be too much of a distraction.
"Garrett, my keys are locked inside the car and my phone is in there too. Can I use your cell to call AAA?” I shivered as the cool night air penetrated my lightweight sweater.
He pointed to a large sedan a few spaces away. “It's getting cold. Why don't you make the call from my car?"
Good idea. I slid into the soft tan leather bench seat of his roomy beige Lincoln Town car. My date had excellent taste in vehicles. Garrett slipped into the driver's seat and handed me a slim metal phone. I dialed AAA and gave the dispatcher our location. I hung up, turned and...
My head hit the passenger side door as Garrett thrust himself on top of me. His cell fell out of my hand and my purse flew over the headrest and into the back seat, removing the pepper spray out of reach. My right elbow smashed into the windshield as I struggled to push him off. He grabbed both wrists, holding them with a vise-like grip, and covered my face with wet sloppy kisses. The door handle pressed into my back as my superhero was transformed into Dr. Evil.
Garrett finally relaxed his hold on my arms and shifted his attention downstream.
Adrenaline surged though my body as anger replaced fear. I grabbed the first thing I could find then raised my right arm.
Blood spurted as the phone connected with Garrett's nose. The back of his head bounced off the driver's side window as he roared out a string of obscenities. Although with his mashed nose it sounded more like “Puck” and “Pitch” than the usual expletives.