After a long series of stinkers, when a respectful match from an online dating site asks to meet Avery Cahill in real life, she agrees. Invoking her favorite romantic comedy, they arrange to meet in a local coffee shop with a flower and a book.
Under a serious deadline to finish a group project for his MBA–solo–the only thing Dillon Lange wants is peace and quiet. When a beautiful stranger sits down in his booth at the coffee shop, he knows he ought to say something about not being who she thinks he is, but he can’t resist her smile or her engaging conversation.
How long can he keep up the charade? And what will happen when her real date shows up?
A short story of approximately 7,500 words.
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He had a great smile—an inviting curve of lips that made you feel like you were sharing some kind of juicy secret.
He made so much better an impression in person than he did online.
“Why didn’t you have a picture up on your Perfect Chemistry profile?” She couldn’t resist asking and hoped it wasn’t a sensitive subject.
The oddest expression crossed his features. “It wouldn’t have been me.”
Huh. He hadn’t struck her as much of a philosopher in their previous conversations. “Well, I guess we do tend to place too much importance on physical appearance.”
“Why are you on one of those sites? You can’t tell me you have trouble finding dates.”
“Wishful is a little bitty pond, in case you haven’t noticed. Of the guys here in my relative age bracket, I already dated half of them in high school. The other half are either married, dated friends of mine long enough that it would be weird, or they just don’t ring my bell. We don’t get a whole lot of new blood, as it were. I’m sure your hometown is the same.”
“True,” he agreed. “In a town that size, we had to revoke the whole no dating your friends’ exes rule, otherwise nobody would’ve had anybody to date. Most folks either married their high school sweetheart or hoped to meet somebody in college.”
“Exactly. And since I didn’t do that while I was at Ole Miss, online dating helps…cast a slightly wider net. And it’s nice to theoretically have a system to match you up on some kind of criteria that suggests compatibility.”
“You think an algorithm or whatever can actually do that?”
“Don’t you?” she asked. He was on the same dating site, after all.
“I don’t think it’s a substitute for real, in person conversation. It might be able to match you with somebody based on—I don’t know—similar values or movie tastes or political views. And, sure, maybe you end up hitting it off. But I don’t think there’s any true substitute for a chance meeting where you feel that indefinable spark with a complete stranger—and you know they won’t stay a stranger for long.”
The moment stretched between them, pulling taut with awareness and unspoken things. Avery felt her skin prickle and thought if she reached over to touch his hand right now, she’d feel a snap of electricity.