ANOTHER SHOT AT LOVE
Imogen Gorecki needs a date to her sister’s engagement party—especially since her cheating ex-boyfriend is on the guest list. But finding Mr. Perfect in a time crunch is proving impossible.
Just when she’s about to give up, she face-plants into the crotch of the sexiest guy she’s ever met.
Matt Sesnick is everything Imogen wants in a man, but he’s not looking for a relationship so soon after his recent divorce. Will Gen’s pregnant and hormonal older sister, her bridezilla twin, and all of her past Mr. Wrongs get in the way of their happily-ever-after, or can she convince Matt to take another shot at love?
Cute, funny, sweet & accidentally romantic with likeable characters. Gen sometimes frustrated me – not in a bad way but just because she is just too nice and I didn’t want her to be walked all over. She was raised so prim & proper and doesn’t want to ever hurt someone’s feelings. That’s where her little white lies come to bite her. She has good intentions. I really, really liked this story! Matt is so awesome and a surprisingly good sport considering how their ‘relationship’ started. I can’t wait to read the next books about her sister (#2) & her best friend (#3).
I heaved the last load of clothing out of the second story apartment window and watched it land on the soft, brilliant white snow below. A pair of boxer briefs and a white sock snagged on the barren branches of the Knockout rose bushes hugging the side of the beige building, and I smiled in grim satisfaction before yanking the window shut on a gust of wind. Winter was relentless, dropping snow almost every day since Christmas. I shivered as I made my way to the bedroom door.
There hadn’t been much of Brent’s stuff left to throw out—a sweater I used to wear around the apartment, a couple of law review journals tucked under my art magazines, two suits layered between a winter jacket and a gown I wore to a charity event hosted by his parents.
Little things to remind me how big a role he played in my life up until a week ago. New Year’s Eve; a night I’d likely not forget.
At the door, I turned and glanced around the now-bare room. There were still indentations in the carpet from where the heavy furniture had been. Everything I owned was downstairs in the U-Haul parked at the curb, all except a few boxes I had dropped off at my parents’ house a few nights ago. My little yellow VW was already parked in their driveway, probably snowed in. I planned to stay with them in my old bedroom until I figured things out.
This was the final load I had to move, and then it was all over.
There weren’t any tears. I’d been running on adrenaline the last few days. Weird how I was mostly numb, considering my two-year relationship with Brent had taken a nose dive and shattered into a million tiny pieces of disillusion.
I still grimaced at the memory of catching him locked in a porno-worthy position with his fake-breasted ex-girlfriend on the sheets I got us for Christmas. At least he had a good excuse for not showing up to the New Year’s Eve party. I’d waited for him all night, and when the clock struck midnight and my boyfriend wasn’t there to kiss me, I went looking for him.
The sight that met me at the apartment left me speechless. My eyes would probably never recover. It was like being in one of those nightmares where running was the best thing to do—the safe thing to do—but you couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, couldn’t do anything except watch your life being slashed apart. When I finally moved, Brent chased me through the apartment, buck naked. By the time I made it outside into the pitch black, the snow swirling around my shell-shocked body, sound finally came back to me and I heard him calling down to me from the window of our apartment.
I closed the bedroom door and made my way down the hallway to the kitchen. Everything was different now. It felt as if someone were slowly removing excess skin with a dull blade.
I couldn’t bear to stay another day. Living in this downtown apartment—one I couldn’t afford on my own—was part of a plan I made with Brent, the two of us together. It was near his family’s law firm and only blocks from the art gallery where I worked. It was perfect for us. Together, we had lots of great plans: get married, buy a house, and I’d have babies for the rest of my reproductive life.
Everything had seemed perfect, and wadded up into a wrinkled ball of resentment somewhere near the back of the U-Haul was a pretty white gown to remind me just how naïve I’d been. What kind of idiot bought a dress before the actual proposal, anyway? Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I wished moving out would be the very end of us, the final cut to sever all ties. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be, not when my twin, Lexie, dated Brent’s best friend. He’d be everywhere all the time, probably with Stripper Barbie on his arm. I’d have to stay clear of our old hangouts, stick to the opposite side of town. Just to be safe. I hadn’t ever liked Brent’s ex-girlfriend. If I had to see them together, I’d get flashes of their Kama Sutra pose and I’d vomit.
I even changed my number. He’d been leaving me endless voicemails, begging to explain himself. I was tired of ignoring him. Exhausted.
Why he thought I’d ever want to hear from him at all made no sense. He moved in with Stripper Barbie to the Barbie Mansion, where I imagined them playing house, eating chocolate-dipped strawberries, and ordering the maid around. Seemed to me he had nothing to explain and no reason to.
After penning a quick note to the landlord, I locked up the apartment and took the steps down to the entryway. The overcast sky matched my mood. I was ready for spring, for color and light—a new beginning.
After adjusting the crocheted burgundy scarf around my neck, I hurried through the door and squinted into the wind as my boots crunched over the snowy sidewalk. The truck was parked illegally at the curb in front of a fire hydrant.
There wasn’t a ticket under the windshield wiper, so that was good. I jumped inside and turned the key in the ignition. While I waited for the heater to warm up, I gazed out the window. One of Brent’s ties dangled from the rose bushes, just a few barren branches away from a pair of navy blue boxer briefs. The worn and fuzzy sweater I’d loved had a white cross trainer sneaker on it. I didn’t see the other sneaker, but it could have been behind the leather duffel bag lying on its side. It looked like a tornado had hit in the middle of a blizzard.
If my weasel ex had any idea his belongings were strewn all over the lawn getting snowed on, he’d be in his Porsche, headed in my direction. I’d conveniently left that little nugget out in the text I’d sent him, telling him he needed to pick up the rest of his things.
Maybe a homeless guy would come along and get to the tailored suit jacket first. I could only hope. Brent was too vain about his appearance anyway; he didn’t need another expensive suit he’d purchased to flatter his blue eyes. The guy could afford a hundred more just like it.
I buckled up and put my cell phone earpiece on. While I waited for my older sister, Catherine, to answer, I put the vehicle into gear and pulled out cautiously into the street.
“Hey, Gennie.” The concern in Catherine’s voice sounded through my cell phone loud and clear. “Are you on your way to Mom and Dad’s?”
“Just got in the car. I’ll be there in twenty minutes, thirty at most if there’s traffic.”
“Oh good, you’ll be here in time for supper. Mom’s making tater tot casserole.”
Comfort food. Of course. My family was the rock I needed right now.
“Great, sounds good,” I said, though I wasn’t hungry. My appetite had been just as void as the rest of me. I glanced into the rearview mirror at the distance widening between me and the apartment building.
“Lexie’s here. She made up your old bed.” There was a pause before she asked, “You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m great,” I said, channeling my inner optimism, which had been on vacation the last couple of days. But I was okay, really. Not a tear. That was good.
“Just be careful. We’re supposed to get sleeting rain here soon. Hopefully you make it home before then.”
“I’ll be fine. I’m just across town, remember,” I assured my worry-wart sister. Catherine had inherited the trait from our Mom. “I’ll see you soon. Love you, Cat.”
I had mixed feelings about moving back home. After graduating high school I’d had so many plans for my future, and all of them involved a career in art on the East Coast. I’d been so excited to find myself out in the big old world. Instead, I met a man, fell in love, and stuck around Nebraska. Then he cheated on me.
The streets were congested with evening traffic and I crept along behind a minivan full of kids and a woman waving her hand blindly back at them from the driver’s seat. It didn’t seem so long ago that I was in the backseat of my mom’s minivan, and she’d waved just like that at me and my two sisters. Always to “knock it off” and “get along, or else.” A wave of nostalgia put a smile on my face as I veered right to merge onto the on-ramp. The highway would take me around town, away from traffic, and give me time to think. I gripped the steering wheel, nervous as sleeting rain pelted my windshield, and stayed a few car lengths behind a semi pulling a trailer full of cows.
When had my relationship with Brent gone so wrong?
Within a few miles, I realized we’d never been as close a couple as we should have been. We both craved our personal time, and mostly because I wasn’t interested in his golf game or hanging out at the country club; it was much too pretentious for me. Brent hadn’t been interested in my art, either. Spending an afternoon under a tree in the park with a sketch pad or book was as foreign to him as shopping at a superstore. He never wanted to come along, so eventually I stopped asking.
Like Lexie’s boyfriend, Brent was from a wealthy family, heavy into politics and parties meant for social climbing, to show off the new Mercedes or brag about a company bonus. I was more of a black boots and live music kind of girl. He’d never dated someone like me, which was why he was so determined to get me to say yes to a date. It must have been exciting for him, living on the edge with a girl like me. I worried about our differences for months at first, but we fell into a routine, a safe comfort. There were two versions of Brent—the one who lounged on our living room couch eating fried chicken and cupcakes, and the one who drank too much with the boys at the club or ate caviar at a Sunday brunch with his family.
The fake blonde I caught riding him like a drunken cowgirl had been more his type, a wealthy daughter of an old family friend. The two together made sense, and Brent and I never had.
I switched on my MP3 player and turned the volume on high, then tossed it onto the seat beside me. The music flooded through the moving truck and I broke out singing off-key to Kate Voegele’s “You Can’t Break a Broken Heart.” It wasn’t until I hit mile marker 215 that the tears finally poured, and with it, all of the emotions I’d been blocking out the last few days.
I’m going to be okay.