Poppy Reagan is a Type A personality who runs her professional life with the precision of a Swiss watch. After catching her latest boyfriend cheating, she decides it’s time to take her dating life as seriously as she does her business. She swears off the bad boys and strategically maps out a plan to find an honest, attractive man to become her life partner.As she works her way through a summer of dates ranging from crazy to plain boring, she begins to wonder if her soulmate’s even on the same coast. Her foolish emotional spirit secretly yearns for the sexy Ohio dermatologist she met on a trip to Hawaii last year. The one who she insists is “just a friend,” because she refused to engage in a long-distance relationship.
Will her heart overrule her head and move this California girl to the Midwest?
“You’re behind the times.”
“Probably so. I’m not much on technology. My phone is four years old and I’m told it’s considered a dinosaur. So, how have the computer dates been going?”
I stared at the green lip on the coffee cup. “I’ve just started.”
He snorted, “That well?”
I allowed the silence to speak for me.
“Sorry. I’m not usually such a jerk. I’m out of my element.”
“What is your element?”
His eyes narrowed and his jaw muscles worked. “You like adventure?”
I lifted a shoulder. “Sure. Who doesn’t like an adventure?”
“You have anywhere you need to be in the next, say…” he studied his watch, “three hours?”
My curiosity piqued. “Three hours? Not in particular.”
He ducked under the table to glance at my crossed legs. “You wouldn’t happen to carry a pair of boots or tennis shoes in your car?”
“I have a gym bag. Yoga pants, T-shirt, sweatshirt, shoes, socks.” I rattled off, listing each one by finger.
“A well prepared woman, I love it.” He rose and held out his hand. “C’mon, let’s get your stuff.”
“I need gym gear for a three hour breakfast?”
“That’s right, I promised you breakfast. Wait here.”
Campbell sauntered over to the counter and perused the glass case of pastries. He exchanged conversation with the barista behind the counter and pointed to different confections, and I turned back to the table to gather my materials.
“All set.” He held the bag aloft.
I rose, shouldering my tote and grasping my coffee like a lifeline.
What the hell am I doing?
It’s an adventure; you said you were up for an adventure.
Yes, but I hardly know this guy.
Just go with it.
As my subconscious argued with itself, Cambell held the door for me. “Where’s your car?”
“I lucked out. Street parking, around the corner.”
“That’s me, right there.” He indicated a black four door jeep with a hard top, big knobby wheels and splashes of dirt fanned along the sides.
“Okay, why don’t you stay here, I’ll drive round the block and follow you.”
“No need. Let’s get your stuff, I’ll drive.”
My head moved from side to side. “I don’t think so. I’d feel more comfortable if I followed you.”
“It’s about forty-five minutes away.”
“Fine,” he sighed. “We’ll take your car.”
“Hold up,” I placed a hand on his chest. “I’m not getting in a car alone with a stranger.”
A light bulb went on. “Ah. I see. Did you read this in a dating handbook? You’re right. You shouldn’t get into a car with a stranger, except, I’m not a stranger. We were introduced through mutual friends.”
“First, Erika and Neil, though very nice people, are not my friends. They’re clients, and I’ve only known them a few days. Second, you’re much larger and stronger than me. It wouldn’t take much to overpower me, steal my car, and leave me stranded along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.”
“Hey, I offered to drive.” He ran his hand through his hair, tucking it behind his ears.
“Okay, okay. I get it. Here’s what we’re gonna to do. Who’s on speed dial on your phone?”
“Why does that matter.”
He rolled his eyes and sighed, “Work with me. Who’s on speed dial?”
“Office co-workers, best friends, my mom…”
“Who’s expecting to see you soon?”
“That would be either Sierra my assistant, or Cody an account manager.”
“Call one of them, and tell her you’re going to Malibu for an adventure. Then take a photo of me and text it to her. Tell her if she doesn’t hear from you in three hours to call the police and turn me in.”
“Hmm…it’s a thought.”
“Here,” he reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife, deftly flicking it open.
I sucked in a breath.
He laid the sharp end in his palm and offered the handle to me. “You can hold onto this for security. If I make any false moves you have my permission to gut me with it.”
A passerby eyed the knife and scuttled quickly through a neighboring shop door.
“Oh, for the love of Pete. Put that thing away,” I hissed. “We’ll do the photo thing. Say cheese.” I held up my phone and clicked a photo.