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Authors: Barbie Bohrman

Playing It Safe

BOOK: Playing It Safe
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Playing It Safe
Barbie Bohrman
Montlake Romance (2014)

Julia Boyd has dated more than her share of jerks, and she’s done even pretending to like them. Putting her dating life on hold and focusing on her event planning career is a
much
safer bet for the blue-eyed blonde…until she meets her newest client.

Organizing the opening for an art gallery should be a breeze for Julia, but gallery owner Alex Holt is becoming very distracting. Tall and muscular with enough charisma and sexy dimples to make Julia swoon, Alex could be the perfect man. The two of them click immediately, creating enough witty banter to ignite sparks.

But just before flames of passion can erupt with Alex, Julia begins planning an engagement party…and learns the groom is Aiden, the man who broke her heart years ago. When Aiden admits that he still has feelings for Julia, everything changes. Should she seek shelter in the familiarity of the past, or should she risk everything on a brand-new love?

About the Author

Barbie Bohrman was born and raised in Miami. Long after she gave up her dream of becoming an author, she entered a book club’s prologue contest. What followed became the roots of her debut novel,
Promise Me
. When she is not writing, you can find her trying to get through the books on her Kindle (over a thousand at last count), or watching
Lost
or
Seinfeld
. She currently resides in New Jersey with her two children.

ALSO BY BARBIE BOHRMAN

Promise Me

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Text copyright © 2014 Barbie Bohrman All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle
www.apub.com

Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Montlake Romance are trademarks of
Amazon.com
, Inc., or its affiliates.

ISBN-13: 9781477825464

ISBN-10: 1477825460

Cover design by Mumtaz Mustafa Library of Congress Control Number: 2014907965

To the best friend, the bestie, the BFF, the confidante, the wingman …
There are a few people in my life who fit this description—some of you I’ve known for as long as thirty years, and some I’ve known for far less. But the amount of time of our friendship does not at all lessen the impact you’ve made in my life.
So this one’s for you, with love.
CHAPTER ONE

I
’m sitting across from a Dick.

No, really. His name is Dick, and he won’t shut up. I think he may love the sound of his own voice or something because he hasn’t stopped talking for the last twenty minutes. I know this because I’ve been able to eat my entire meal without uttering a single word.

It’s a fine art pretending to be enthralled in a conversation with a person you have absolutely no interest in speaking to normally. Almost like an acquired skill. Apparently, I possess said skill set in spades. This can be a blessing and a curse all rolled into one. It’s a blessing because not really saying much other than the occasional
“Really?”
or
“I understand completely,”
along with a varied selection of head nods, you can get away with making it appear like you give a shit, when in reality you don’t give a shit whatsoever. Unfortunately, these same reasons are why it’s a damned curse. Because the other person takes your feigned interest as an indication that you
are
interested. And this is how and why I currently find myself in quite the pickle.

Sitting across from me at this very fine Italian restaurant is my date, Dick. Yes, I’m aware the name alone should have been enough of a warning for me to run in the opposite direction when he asked me out the first time a couple weeks ago. What can I say? It made me laugh to know that I was or would be dating a “Dick,” further proving my closest friends’ theories that I have the sense of humor equivalent to that of a thirteen-year-old boy. So, foolishly or hard up, haven’t decided on which one of those applies to my lapse of better judgment, I agreed to the date, and he was … nice. That right there should have been indicator number two. He was just plain old nice. Maybe that’s why I agreed to this second go-round with him because he kind of duped me into a false sense of security with his “nice” routine.

This time, though, as we sit in this upscale dining room that only fits about thirty to forty people, and it’s so exclusive that there aren’t even any menus—the chef will prepare items based on your likes and dislikes—he’s far from nice. He’s been rude to the waitstaff, a pet peeve of mine, and he’s made it more than obvious that he’s expecting a little something in return at the end of the evening, an even bigger pet peeve of mine. I could lower my standards for the night and sleep with him, because the fact remains he’s not too hard on the eyes, and as I’ve previously mentioned, I’m a little hard up. But there’s hard up and there’s desperate, and I’m nowhere near the level of desperation required where I’d want to knock some boots with Dick. There’s nothing exciting, enthralling, engaging, or even the slightest bit fascinating about him. In fact, he’s the polar opposite of all those things. He’s boring, irritating, and uninteresting. In short, if Dick were any more of a dick, he’d be, well … a
total
dick.

“Julia?”

Dick’s voice is grating on my nerves and snaps me out of the task of trying to count every single polka dot on the dress of the woman sitting behind him right now. I veer my gaze a fraction of a hair back over to his, and I can tell he’s noticed that I wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to him. Hell, I wasn’t even bothering with the aforementioned occasional nod this time. I must have gone straight into self-preservation mode over the utter boredom I’ve been feeling during this date. No need to panic, because along with having the talent of pretending to be interested, I also possess the talent of covering my tracks.

Oh so casually, I smile at Dick and grab my wineglass for a quick sip. All the while his eyes never leave mine, watching and waiting to see what I’m going to say. Now, I can play this one of two ways. One, pretend I know exactly what he was talking about and take the chance that whatever lie flies out of my mouth will fit perfectly within the conversation he was having with himself while I was busy with polka dot lady. Or two, admit to not paying any kind of attention to him. This second choice is tricky and can have a high risk of coming back to bite you in the ass. But, if played correctly, you can get sympathy from your date instead of being insulted, which, if he had any clue, is exactly how he should be feeling. I have about a half a second to decide as I bring the glass of merlot down from my lips and set it back on the table.

“I’m sorry, Dick.” I have to stifle a laugh; it still cracks me up. “I’ve been so busy with work, and this is the first night I’ve had off in about a week. I’m just so stressed and can’t help it if it seems like my mind is elsewhere. I’m sorry.”

Pitch-perfect. His brown eyes soften slightly, and his head tilts to the left in that sympathetic look reserved for funerals or sick puppies.

In a condescending tone, he says in response, “Julia, I’ve told you before, you shouldn’t be working yourself so hard.”

My spine stiffens, and I sit upright. He wanted my attention, well now he’s got it. For the record, I love my job. Not many people can honestly say they love what they do, but I can. I run an event planning business that used to belong to my father until he had a health scare and retired a few years ago. He had been grooming me since college so that one day I could take over the company, and I’m proud to report that it’s doing better than ever. Maybe it’s the independent woman in me or my strong-willed personality, but I take offense to Dick’s comment.

I put down my fork and sweep my blunt blond bangs away from my forehead. They cascade right back into place as if I hadn’t done a damn thing to move them. Carefully, I forge ahead. “And what does that mean, exactly? How can I not work too hard when I own the company? The fate of my employees rests on the sole fact that I
do
work hard to ensure they get a paycheck every other week.”

He puts his hands up in defense while chuckling. Ugh, I instantly regret selecting option number two; I should have just played dumb when I had the chance. “Julia, that’s not what I meant. I simply meant that when you work too hard, you don’t get to enjoy the other things in life. Like this.” He motions his hand between us to drive his point home that he means “us.”

Is he shitting me? There is no “us.” I’d rather watch paint dry than be here on this date with him. Thankfully, the waiter comes before I can respond, and he asks if we need anything else. Dick doesn’t even ask me; instead, he tells the waiter to bring the check. Normally, this would bug the hell out of me since it’s another pet peeve to add to Dick’s ever-growing list of cons, but tonight I’m glad he did it because it means I’m that much closer to never having to see him again.

After he signs the check, which he makes a big deal out of since the final tally of our dinner is somewhere above the hundred-dollar mark, I stay silent and just put on a tight smile while we walk to his car. The drive back to my house is even worse. He blasts Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”
over the speaker system the
whole
way home.

Seriously?! I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.

And it’s right then that I have a moment of clarity. An epiphany, if you will.

Why am I putting myself through the torture of another date that never goes anywhere? I’m not a conceited person by any stretch of the imagination. I think I’m halfway decent in the looks department, pretty goddamn funny, and successful enough in my own right that I could afford several dinners that this prize just paid for on my behalf like he was doing me a favor.

The answer sneaks up on me just as he pulls into my driveway. I don’t need to put up with guys like Dick over here, ever. In fact, I don’t think I need to bother with men at all. Maybe what I need to do is take a complete and total break from dating. They do say when you’re not looking for love is when you’ll find it magically appearing on your doorstep. He’ll appear with a pretty red bow on his beautiful, perfectly coiffed head. Mind you, nobody knows exactly who “they” are, so this theory is still up for debate. But still, I think it’s worth a shot.

“So, are you going to invite me in?”

I turn in my seat to face Dick, who is trying his damndest to grin in a sexy way. Instead of being sexy he looks more like an overeager twit.

“Thanks for the date, Dick.” Still funny. “But yeah, um, I don’t think so.”

He actually has the nerve to look surprised. “Come on, Jules. The night doesn’t have to end so early. I can make it worth your while.”

Rule number one that I should put out as a disclaimer for everyone who meets me: never, under any circumstance, call me Jules. Anger infiltrates me to the point that I’m
this
close to smacking him upside his head for calling me that, especially since he knows I hate it with a passion.

I have to take a deep breath and exhale before I say anything back. “Listen closely,
Dick
. On what part of this date, or the one before it, did I lead you to believe you were going to ever get inside my pants? Did you think that just because I agreed to a second date that I was a foregone conclusion? A sure thing? Better yet, did you think because you paid for dinner that it gives you the right to assume I’d let you inside my home to have your way with me?”

His mouth drops open to say something, but I’m on a roll now. “You are a pretentious, overeager asshole. There is no scenario in the world where this date ends with you in my bed. I’d much rather pleasure myself with my battery-operated boyfriend for the rest of my lonely existence than have you attempt to find my G-spot.”

“You use a vibrator?” he asks with an obvious smirk in his tone, like he didn’t hear anything else I just said to him.

“Good night, Dick.”

“Wait! I just meant—”

I don’t even wait to hear the rest of what he just meant. Opening the car door as he’s still bumbling to form a coherent string of words that would closely resemble a sentence, I make my way to my front door. Once inside, I slam it behind me and turn the dead bolt for good measure. I heave a sigh of relief that that’s all over and done with, and this new phase of my life can immediately begin.

One thing to know about me, I’m pretty big on lists. And this occasion lends itself to a list for the ages. Feeling resolved in my newfound singledom, I kick off my heels and toss my purse and keys onto the floor before making my way to the kitchen, because this list calls for a big-ass glass of wine.

“Ha! I can’t believe he actually thought he was going to get some,” I say out loud to absolutely no one. Ever since my old roommate and best friend, Sabrina, moved away about a year ago, sometimes I forget that there is nobody here to listen to me rant. We keep in touch often and Skype frequently. So much so that her boyfriend, Tyler, thinks we’re completely and utterly nuts. I miss her like crazy, but I’m so happy for her because she’s found the love of her life, and more than anyone I know she deserves it.

But back to my current dilemma. The list. Yes, the almighty list that will help me focus on the important goals and any other bullshit I can think of while the wine seeps into my bloodstream.

1. Focus on career.
2. No more dating losers because of number one.
3. Try to take a pottery class.
Yeah, probably not something I want to do … ever.

I sit back and stare at the list while taking a sip of wine. Not my finest, most detailed list in my whole twenty-nine years of list making, but I like it. It’s short, to the point, and serves its purpose in reminding me of my goals. To drive the point home, I go one step further. I sprint for my laptop that’s on the coffee table and log on to my Match.com account to disable it before I chicken out.

There, I feel
sooooo
much better. Like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m sure the alcohol has something to do with it, but who cares? I kick my feet up, feeling empowered by my new sense of self, and turn on the TV to unwind before going to bed. Glancing at the clock, I do a little fist pump when I realize I’m not too late to catch another rerun of my favorite comedy. I hurry and change the channel before relaxing back into the couch, ready to laugh for a little while before calling it a night.

“Make me laugh, Jerry.”

Yeah, I might need to work on this talking out loud stuff … I’ll add it to the list tomorrow.

BOOK: Playing It Safe
12.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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