Authors: Donna McDonald
Tags: #Contemporary Romance, Humor, Holidays
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Copyright 2013 by Donna McDonald
Cover by LFD Designs for Authors
Edited by Karen Lawson
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is coincidental.
This book contains content that may not be suitable for young readers 17 and under.
Thanks to my street team, Donna’s Dreamers, for all their encouragement and support. I appreciate that you are helping me share my work with others. It’s very nice to have you all to talk you when I’m writing through the hard spots.
Mahalo (thank you)
Thanks to Victoria S. who helped me with the final questions I had on the Hawaiian in the book. I used a fairly good website for the language references, but it was nice to have a real person.
Mahalo Nui Loa
Thanks to author friends J.M. Madden and Robyn Peterman for their love and continued support. I know you don’t speak Hawaiian, but it seems appropriate for this book to say this in Koka’s language:
Aloha Au Ia 'Oe (I love you).
Though she hadn’t openly flirted with a good-looking man in a long time, Sabine smiled at the one smiling back at her. Then as casually as she could, she turned her attention back to her emergency phone call.
“So here’s the deal. There’s a cute guy sitting across from me just out of earshot. He smiles every time he catches me chair dancing to the canned music they’re playing. Should I go over and say hello? Do women get to do that now?”
“Depends, babe. How old is he?”
Joe’s excessively loud demand vibrated her eardrum and had her holding the phone away from her head. She glared before pulling it back, but didn’t press it against her head again.
“Stop yelling, Joe. There’s no crowd here.”
Glancing at the guy, Sabine saw him smile into his coffee. She hoped she was right about him not hearing her conversation. This could get embarrassing fast.
“It’s hard to tell how old he is, but he’s definitely not a kid. Judging by his clothes, he went to work today. But then what do I know? I haven’t dated in over a decade. Maybe he’s hanging out and hoping to pick up chicks,” Sabine reported.
Her description elicited a snarky male chuckle. The phone ended up on her shoulder again as she listened to Joe’s rumbling baritone as he lectured her.
“Listen to me to me carefully, Sabine. If he’s as young as the others you’ve been scoping out lately, they’re hotties or babes to him, not chicks. Saying ‘chicks’ automatically means you’re way too old to talk to him.”
Sabine laughed at the critique. “Point noted . . . oh shoot. Never mind. Some teenage girl in a microscopic skirt just came in and sat down with him. My left leg is larger in circumference than her entire body. I’m hanging up now so I can cry in my coffee.”
When full-out male laughter came through the line, Sabine laughed herself. The younger man she had been ogling slid a covert glance her way, even with his girlfriend present. Her smile back was wide. Maybe single life wasn’t going to completely suck. At least she could legally lust now.
“Sabine, what I have been telling you? Skip the coffee shops and just go to a bar—an adult bar. Find a slightly younger male—not a kid—who’s had a few and let nature take its course. You obviously need to get that youth thing out of your system. Just remember not to take the kid’s lack of attention too personally. The younger ones are all like that—gay or straight. The last cub I dated had the attention span of a gnat. Make him do the deed a second time if he doesn’t get the job done on his first try.”
Sabine laughed. “What great advice, Joe. Glad no one else can hear you giving it. You’ve been very helpful in educating me about navigating single life, but even I know the bar scene doesn’t work very well for straight women my age.”
“Then it’s a good thing you don’t look your age.”
“Now that’s why I keep you around. You’re such a sweetie,” Sabine cooed into the phone, smiling as she sipped the dregs of her cold drink.
Despite all his teasing, she had to admit her gay best friend was way more grounded about men than she was. Even after two years of tortuous relationship limbo, her divorce had still rocked her self-confidence. Fortunately Joe hadn’t let her wallow in her failure. Other than her two college-aged children, Joe Kendall was probably the best thing she had to show for the twenty years she’d been married to his brother.
“So are you going trolling for grown-up men later? If you want, I’ll come watch and keep you out of trouble.”
“Thanks, but no. When I go trolling, I get hit on by old guys with open shirts and fourteen neck chains. They want a twenty-year old, but figure what the hell when they see my long blonde hair and big boobs.”
“Sabine, it works that way for everyone at first. You can pass along the old guys to me. I prefer older men. Neck chains come off—right over the head. And yes, I’ve de-chained my fair share.”
Sabine laughed, drawing her admirer’s covert stare again. “Gross. Give me a thirty-year-old with lots of energy who can take direction. What’s wrong with that? I just want to feel like my life isn’t over, you know?”
“Yes dear, I absolutely know.”
There was a long-suffering sigh in her ear.
“Fine. Go back to trolling the coffee shop. With the way you work, your days off are too precious to waste a minute.”
“Oh, I’m just getting started today. I’m moving on to canvassing bookstores this afternoon. Maybe I’ll pick up a young single dad at story time after school,” she said, drawing doodles on her sketchpad.
“God woman, you need help. Meet me at the Haunted Owl for happy hour if you’re still unattached after five. We’ll troll there together and I’ll show you how it’s done. I’ll even try to look really gay this time so they don’t think we’re married.”
Sabine laughed at his offer. “You would have been a much better life partner than your brother even without the sex—no offense.”
“Offense? What offense? You know I refused to attend the wedding. Besides, I tried to tell you that Martin was a player twenty years ago when I still had an open mind about women. Don’t stand me up tonight. I want to ask you a favor—one that will be fun for both of us.”
“Oh God, I think a chill just ran up my spine,” Sabine said.
“Chicken? I thought you were Sabine Almighty, sassy image consultant?”
“Hold that dare. I’m one more coffee away from an espresso orgasm,” Sabine said.
You need to do this, Sabine. You’ve almost forgotten what having real fun feels like.”
She hung up on Joe’s laughter and tossed the phone in her purse.
On her way out the door, she couldn’t resist winking at the good-looking guy. His answering guilty blush told her more than anything else that he was definitely too young for her.
was packed as usual for a Thursday evening. Patrons crowded the bar stools for drinks while their restaurant pagers glowed like fireflies in the low-lit room. Sabine lifted her soda and sipped.
“You have officially lost your mind. Saturday is Valentine’s Day, and since I don’t have a date, I’m going to treat myself to a spa. I’m not spending my first love holiday as a single woman bidding on a new boyfriend for you. I love you, but no.”
Sabine grinned when Joe turned puppy dog eyes her way. “You can look as sad as you want, I’m still not doing it. A woman has to draw a line somewhere.”
“The auction is not Saturday, silly girl. The auction is Friday night. The
is Saturday. All you need to do is bid on my Todd for me. I’ll keep the date for you. Come on—this is my chance to be his hero,” Joe said.
“Weren’t you the guy offering to show me how to troll bars this afternoon? Are you really that desperate for a hook-up? The man’s not even
yet, Joe. Why would you spend that much money for a date you could probably get in a hundred other ways?”
“I don’t prey on straight men and Todd is not just another date. And he’s
himself to me—just not to all of Seattle. His company is making him do this charity bachelor auction. Winning bids will be in all the newspapers and they’re taking pictures,” Joe argued. “Come on, Sabine. It’s a few hundred dollars. I’m good for the money back.”
She laughed and shook her head. “I work for a high-profile PR agency. My refusal is about
all of Seattle
seeing me date shopping at a worse meat market than any bar. Who do you think bids on men at bachelor auctions, Joe? Women do. Women like me do—well not exactly like me. I have never done anything like that in my life. Hell, I’ve even avoided online dating sites so far.”
“Yes, but just think how smashing you would look standing next to a Rundgren VP, Sabine. You could frame the newspaper clipping and put it in your office at work. Your boss would faint when she saw it.”
“I could photoshop that same picture and save myself tons of humiliation,” Sabine declared.
Joe nudged her arm on the bar with his elbow. “Come on. Where’s your sense of adventure hiding? You’ve forgotten how to have fun.”
Sabine laughed. “Fun? I didn’t hear any fun for
in your suggestion.”
Joe grinned. “Todd said he had a younger brother who is definitely straight. I bet I could get you a date with him. You could legitimately feed that youth fetish you’ve got going on just by doing me this one
Sabine elbowed back. “Do you honestly think I’m desperate enough to trade an expensive date I’m not even going to go on myself for the possibility of one I might or might not get? Nothing you’re offering is a sure thing. What if I get outbid and your mysterious Todd ends up with someone else? What if I buy him and he’s straight after all?”
Joe shrugged. “Life is full of risks. I know this is a strange concept to you because you aren’t taking any at the moment. But I know you, Sabine. If you do this, you won’t get outbid. Go as high as you need to, so long as it doesn’t require me selling my car to pay you back afterwards.”
“You don’t even want to tell me his last name,” Sabine said sternly.
“It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s that I don’t know it. He wouldn’t tell me. The first step is always hard. Most men coming out are cautious about revealing their identity. He told me about the auction, thinking I’d never attend that kind of function. Maybe I even said as much—but you would have too, if you’d seen how nervous he was.”