“I don’t love blind dates,” I remind my friend Kat for the fourth time since she picked me up at my place twenty minutes ago. “You really didn’t have to set me up with anyone.”
“I think you’ll like him,” she says with a shrug.
“Why are we meeting them there?”
“Because Mac just finished up with work, and having him come home to get me and then go back downtown seemed unproductive.”
I nod and take a deep breath. It’s not that men as a species make me nervous. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a man that gave me butterflies, which I guess is a sad commentary on the state of my love life.
“You do like men, don’t you?” she asks with a raised brow and glances over at me. Kat is one of the most colorful women I know. She has deep red hair, a full sleeve of beautiful tattoos, and the outfits she wears should land her on the cover of a pin-up girl calendar. She’s super pretty.
“Yes,” I reply with a laugh. “I’m into men.”
“Perfect.” Kat smiles and pulls into a parking space at a trendy sushi restaurant near the waterfront. “And there’s no pressure. If you don’t like him, no harm done.”
“True.” I nod and exit the car, meeting her on the sidewalk. “If nothing else, I get to spend some fun time out with you and Mac.”
“Atta girl,” she says with a wink and opens the door for me, following me into the restaurant. I immediately see Kat’s husband, Mac, sitting at a table in the back of the restaurant. His friend’s back is to me, but it looks familiar.
When Mac stands with a smile to kiss his wife like he hasn’t seen her in a month, his companion stands and turns around with a smile, and all I can think is, fuck.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
“Maura, this is—”
“Chase,” I say, interrupting Mac’s introduction. “We’ve met.”
Chase grins, showing off his perfect teeth and the perfect dimple in his right cheek. He holds my chair out for me, and I take it. Mostly because I’m not an asshole.
If I was an asshole, I’d turn around and leave.
“How do you know each other?” Kat asks, watching me closely.
“I took one of his classes once,” I reply with a tight grin. “Not to mention, the wine enthusiast community isn’t that big.”
“True,” she says with a smile.
Mac and his brother, Chase, own a successful wine touring company in Portland, Oregon. They take groups of people from restaurant to restaurant, showing their clients how to pair certain wines with different foods. Chase occasionally gives classes on wine as well.
And if I’d known in advance that Chase would be here, I probably wouldn’t be. This just proves that I need to ask more questions when I’m being set up on a blind date.
“How are you?” Chase asks. He’s ridiculously good looking. He’s tall, at least six feet, with dark blond hair and blue eyes that should come with a warning label.
Warning: may cause your panties to melt.
“I’m well, thank you.” I immediately take a sip of the wine Mac just poured me. It’s red, fruity, and dry. Just the way I like it. “And you?”
He winks and turns his attention back to Mac, and I finally take a deep breath.
“So, blind dates are awkward,” Kat says, wrinkling her nose. “But I thought you might like each other. Maura, I know wine is a hobby for you, and Chase certainly knows plenty about wine.”
“That’s a nice way of calling me a wino,” he says with a laugh.
“It’s not out of control or anything,” Kat adds with a wink. “I didn’t know that you already knew each other.”
“Not well,” I clarify. Chase is known amongst his family and friends for being a player. He’s as commitment phobic as I am, but the difference between him and me is I don’t fuck everything that shows an interest in me.
“I’m sorry to say this, but, she’s not really my type,” Chase says with a shrug and I can’t help but snort.
He shrugs again.
“So, I’m not your type, but you’ve asked me out at least sixteen times in the past two years.” I roll my eyes as Mac spits his water out in laughter and Kat sits back to watch us with a grin on her face. “I’d hate to see how you are around women who are your type.”
I tuck my blonde hair behind my ear and turn to face him. He’s not embarrassed in the least. Rather, he’s smiling down at me like I’m the cutest puppy he’s ever seen.
He irritates the fuck out of me.
“You know, it’s okay to just admit that a girl said no and move on with your life.” I cock my head to the side and wait for him to reply, but he just shrugs again.
“I really like her,” Mac says, laughing behind his green cloth napkin. “We need to keep her around.”
“I mean, I know your ego is probably fragile, and that’s why you kept asking me out after the third time when I told you to choke on a cork, but seriously, Chase. Saying now, in front of your brother and his wife, that I’m not your type?”
“You’re not,” he says again when the sushi is delivered. The guys must have just ordered an assortment, and it all looks delicious. “Doesn’t mean I won’t ask you out.”
“You’re ridiculous,” I reply, rolling my eyes.
“Just honest, sweetheart,” he says and takes a bite.
“I hope you choke on that California roll.”
“You’re quite taken with choking,” he says, watching me for a moment. “Are you into that sort of thing?”
I want to throw my raw fish at his face, but instead I just smile sweetly and reply with, “You’ll never find out.”
“This is entertaining,” Kat says to Mac, who nods. “We should have them over for dinner every day. We’d never have another need for a television.”
I can’t help but giggle at my friend. “Sorry, guys. I guess you could say that Chase and I butt heads a bit.”
“No need to apologize,” Kat says. “So this isn’t a love match.”
I immediately shake my head no, and Chase just simply laughs and takes a sip of his wine.