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Blind Date, Checkmate
Copyright © 2011 by Veronica Blade. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Crush Publishing, Inc
Gardnerville, NV 89460
The places, characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by author.
Cover design by Rose Nomura
Blind Date, Checkmate
Note from the Author
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~ For my wonderful husband ~
I’m in love with all things young adult and I rarely stray. But I think the reason I love Blind Date, Checkmate is because, even though the characters are in their twenties, they still remember their first love.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Immediately following the end of this story, please scroll to the next page for sneak peeks of my other books.
As with any of my stories, whether written for grownups or young adults — with or without werewolves or witches — you’ll always get lots and lots of romance, both sweet and steamy.
— Veronica Blade
For a limited time, you can get a FREE copy of Thrown To The Wolves: The Legend of Hannah & Eli (Shapes of Autumn Prequel) directly from my website!
Simply go to VeronicaBlade.com for more info.
Various ways to murder my best friend flashed through my mind. But if I got rid of her, she wouldn’t be around for me to talk to. Then I’d just be more lonely. Despite the guys I’d dated, they’d rarely tempted me enough to get me into the bedroom. I was used to living without a soul mate. I didn’t want to live without my best friend, too.
There were other ways to punish her for secretly arranging a blind date for me — and waiting until practically the last minute to tell me about it. Ways that would drag out the pain, make her suffer longer. I’d spent two hours every day for the past nine years working off my sexual tension at the gym. I could take her.
“No, Ginny.” I shot up from the sofa, my hands slamming to my hips. “Call him and cancel. I’m not going. Besides, aren’t you forgetting Jared? Going out with another guy doesn’t seem right.”
Granted, Jared and I had only gone out once before he moved and I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. He’d do as an excuse though. The point was that he was a known entity. One I was comfortable with. One who was a hundred miles away but that was a fairly easy weekend commute. And he had promise. Who knew what I’d get with this last minute blind date?
Ginny’s eyes snapped to mine as she, too, rose from the couch to go toe-to-toe with me. “Nothing against Jared. I like him, Shelby. I’ve known him longer than you have. But he did leave. If you’d made it to a third date, that’d be a different story. In the meantime, you can date another guy.”
“Maybe I don’t want to date another guy. It might work out with Jared,” I said in a pouty voice.
“Or it might not. You should keep your options open.” Ginny canted her head and gave me a sly smile. “But you’ll never know unless you meet this guy."
“But a blind date, Ginny?” I grimaced, then shook my head. “No. I’m not that desperate.” Not yet, anyway.
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. I give up. If you want to cancel this date, you’ll have to do it yourself. Here’s his number.” She reached into her jeans pocket, pulled out a tiny piece of paper and thrust it at me.
“What? No way.” I shook my head violently. “You set it up—”
She sighed and stuck the paper back in her pocket. “As usual, I was looking out for you. If you think I’m going to be the bad guy here, you can forget it.”
Bad guy? Guilt swept through me and I hesitated, but then I saw her lips quirk.
I narrowed my eyes. She thought she was so slick.
I was slicker. I shrugged, putting on an air of indifference. “Then the poor guy’s going to sit at the restaurant and wait for a date that never shows.”
“Trust me, a guy that hot won’t be waiting alone for long. But if you blow him off, don’t be complaining to me about your love life — or lack thereof — ever again.”
Apparently, I wasn’t as slick as I thought because the words ‘a guy that hot’ piqued my interest. How hot were we talking about? Hotter than Jared? That would be saying something.
I reconsidered. Whether it was Ginny or I who called and cancelled, some guy was going to have his plans for the evening ruined. What if he had a fragile ego? Unlikely if he was hot, but possible.
What else did I have to do now that Jared was gone?
Let’s not forget Ginny thought this guy was hot. If nothing else, I’d get a nice meal out of the date.
A girl has to eat.
“Fine.” I rolled my eyes to keep up the pretense. Ginny would gloat if she thought she’d won and I wouldn’t want her to make a habit of setting me up on blind dates. “When and where?”
She smiled smugly. “You’re meeting him at six tonight at The Boat House. Remember where it is?” She grabbed her purse from my overstuffed chair.
“Yeah, I sell real estate, remember? I know where just about everything is in Sacramento.” I rose and followed her to my front door. “So what’s this guy’s name?”
“Have fun.” She gave a mischievous grin. “And let me know how it goes,” she threw over her shoulder, just before disappearing outside.
“Hey, wait a second—” Too late. She was gone. Great. I checked my watch. Two hours to kill. Grabbing my phone, I texted Ginny.
What’s Hot Guy’s name?
I stared at my phone but it didn’t ring or buzz or anything else. I plopped onto my black suede sofa and flipped on the giant flat screen TV. A second later, I turned it off and glanced around my living room. I had everything a girl could want — nice house, great friends and a profession I loved and was damn good at. But it wasn’t enough. Loneliness swept over me. Unfortunately, it was an all-too-familiar feeling. One I’d lived with for years.
All because of one man.
Chances were that even if I liked my date tonight and he liked me, even if we went out and kept going out and, even if it led to sex, I’d still be lonely. Because let’s face it, whoever I dated would never be the man I really wanted.
Nope, no one could measure up to good old Logan. The love of my life. The boy who’d taken my virginity nine years ago at age seventeen. The dog who’d moved to Los Angeles to live with his dad, then dumped me after stringing me along for months.
Even now, a familiar pain sliced through me. No wonder Ginny had blindsided me with a blind date. She probably knew better than anyone that a part of me was still hung up on Logan. But I refused to give him any more of my mental energy. At least not tonight. He didn’t deserve it.
My attention turned to the stack of mail by the front door. I got up and sorted through it. At the bottom of the pile, Logan’s face smiled up at me from the cover of the latest Movers and Shakers magazine. I bit my lip and told myself to toss the rag in the trash. In the end, I couldn’t.
Enslaved by my curiosity, I took it to the sofa with me and flipped through the pages to find his interview. He had a whole spread, complete with multiple photos — Logan at the tender age of twenty-three when his debut novel had hit the New York Times bestseller list, Logan at his first movie premier wearing a tux and a blond starlet on his arm, a quote from a reviewer praising the work of the great writer and another announcing his new three-book deal and hefty advance.
Page after page recorded his epic moments in the last four years, but I already knew about most of them. You didn’t have to leave your house to hear about Logan Starks.
The gossip magazines and tabloids didn’t normally pursue novelists. Even the biggest names in books rarely made their way into those coveted pages. But the paparazzi loved Logan’s face — along with most of America’s female population. Being spotted at posh clubs in Beverly Hills with the co-star of his first movie had spiraled him into the limelight and given him a secure spot on the A-list. He’d become a household name and forgotten all about me.
I gave myself another mental slap for caring. Hollywood could have him. I didn’t need him. Besides, who knew where things would lead with Jared? Or this blind date? I had options. And if I worked fewer hours and made myself more available for dates, I’d probably have more options.
It took me a few minutes, but eventually my pep talk worked. I felt better.
And I felt even better when I tossed the magazine in the trash. For good measure, I opened the fridge, took out several molding containers of leftovers and dumped them on the image of Logan’s gorgeous face. “Bubbye,” I said caustically.
I checked my watch. Five-fifteen. I only had about thirty minutes to get ready. No way would I go on a blind date and not look my best. That meant I’d be slightly late. The question was whether to dress slutty or classy. I stood in front of my open closet.
Neither, I decided. Better to err on the safe side since I had no idea who my date was or anything about him. I grabbed a black pencil skirt just a hair too short for showing houses and a soft pink cashmere tank top that clung to my every curve. Choosing a pair of too-high strappy heels that brought me to nearly five eleven, I laid everything on the bed.
At record speed, I showered and straightened my long auburn waves. I skimped on the make-up since I didn’t want my date to think I was trying too hard. Or that I needed to. Men respond better when they think you don’t care.
I checked my watch again. I’d be even later than I thought. Crap. Had to hurry.
Wait. How would I find him? Ginny still hadn’t returned my text. Talk about the blind leading the Blind Date. My heels clicked as I walked to the front door and texted her again.
What does Mr. Hottie look like? Any identifying marks or tattoos?
Feeling more upbeat since covering Logan’s face with week-old lasagna, I imagined Mr. Hottie having a tattoo or two, maybe something on his stomach that led to his happy trail.
Unfortunately, in my mind, Mr. Hottie looked a whole lot like Logan.
I stood outside the entrance of The Boat House with sweaty palms. I was already fifteen minutes late, but I couldn’t bring myself to go in. Why was I nervous? It wasn’t as if I’d never been on a date before. Somehow, this one was different. And it was more than the blind date. It was the way Ginny had set it up without asking, how she wouldn’t call it off. She really wanted me to go out with this guy, but why?
It didn’t matter. He still wasn’t going to be Logan. He could never be. After all, Logan and I had a pretty long history.
Our moms had been best friends so he and I had grown up together. He was a year older than me, fifteen, when he asked me to be his girlfriend. We were together nearly three years and I never once imagined I’d be with anyone but him for the rest of my life.
A couple months before my seventeenth birthday, Logan arrived at my house, face flushed and hands trembling. His parents were getting a divorce and his dad was moving to Los Angeles. They’d agreed that Logan would go with his dad and his sister would stay with his mom. He wasn’t given a choice.
We’d intended to make the long distance thing work. He kept promising that when he turned eighteen, he’d come back. He never did. Eventually, he stopped returning my emails or calls.
And it was over. I’d lost the love of my life and my best friend.
No matter who I dated afterwards, I’d always remember what I’d felt like when I was with Logan. I wanted another love like that. If I couldn’t have it, why bother?
I’d probably die of old age, still single and childless. I was so screwed.
But I was already at the restaurant and my stomach was growling from hunger. I told myself to go inside and meet Mr. Hot and Gorgeous. I snorted, beginning to suspect Ginny was exaggerating the physical appeal of my Blind Date when she replied to my text with, You’ll know him when you see him. Look for the most gorgeous guy there.
I’d barely stopped myself from shooting back a text: If he’s so hot, how come you’re not going out with him? She’d only remind me of her husband. Sure, rub my face in it.
A couple exited the restaurant holding hands and laughing, eyes shining as they gazed at each other. Love, the kind that brought loyalty, trust and security. The kind that meant if you got in a huge fight, he’d still be there in the morning. The kind that didn’t dump you and pulverize your heart. My chest tightened over old memories and I took a deep breath. Time to go in and meet my date.
Inside, I forced a polite smile at the hostess. “I’m meeting someone. I’ll just have a look around.” Walking the aisle, I scanned the tables for anyone sitting alone. Men glanced at me when I passed by and I recognized their looks. Appreciation. Admiration. Lust. And that familiar feeling filled me. Power.
Too bad I couldn’t harness the power long enough to make a man fall in love and stay there forever. At least, not one that I felt the same way about.