Statistically Improbable (Dating by Design Book 2)(4)

By: Jennifer Peel

When I flipped on the lights in the living room, I smiled to myself. It wasn’t a fancy place by any means, but it was perfect for me. Beth was kind enough to supply me with some hand-me-down furniture. A loveseat for two with a wicker coffee table. My favorite was the round wooden table, painted in pale yellow with four chairs to match. The only thing I had bought myself was the small flat-screen that hung on the wall opposite the loveseat. Normally, I would have been getting ready for a Netflix binge on Friday night, but I liked these plans much better. Even though I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing.

Jasper, my calico munchkin cat, rubbed against my leg before I could head to the bathroom to freshen up. I bent down and scratched his head. “I don’t know why cats get a bad rap. You are as affectionate as any dog my family has ever owned.” Jasper purred at the attention. I gave him one more good scratch.

I walked into the one and only bathroom in the apartment. I took a good look in the mirror and decided I should touch up my makeup. I plugged in my straightener as well, to undo some of the effects the humidity had on my short hair. I kept checking the time on my phone, counting down the minutes until Zander would arrive. I was dabbing on some light pink lipstick when I received a text from Zander.

I’m here. I’ll wait for you in the car.

That wasn’t going to do. As your possible pretend girlfriend, I insist on any fake or real boyfriends coming to my door. I wasn’t sure how he would take that. I knew right then I could be blowing my chance to ever get to know him outside the office, but my dad said any man worth his lick would come to the door.

I got a text right back from him. Are you sure you aren’t related to Kenz? I’m coming.

I smiled to myself. I smoothed my hair with my hand one more time and hustled to the door, waiting for what was probably a bad idea. But I thought if maybe I got to know him better, I would really come to see the system was right—we were statistically improbable, no matter how attractive he was.

But then I opened my door to find that he had changed into clothes more appropriate for working out and wore his baseball cap backwards; it kind of did me in. I didn’t know why I found that so attractive, but I was a sucker for a man who wore his hat like that. Not to mention the tight, long-sleeved t-shirt that showed he had a muscled chest.

“Darlin’.” He grinned.

I knew the darlin’ meant nothing—he called every woman that. “Hi.”

He peeked his head in my apartment. “Cozy.” He eyed Jasper, perched on the back of my couch. “A cat?”

“You don’t like cats?” I had to pretend I didn’t know since I was sure he wouldn’t be happy to find out I had pulled up his profile at work.

“What’s there to like?”

“Besides their adorableness?”

His brow crinkled. “I’m adorable. Cats are evil creatures that do nothing besides leave cat hair all over your clothes.” He looked over my sweater and jeans.

I always made sure I never left the house with any kind of pet hair on me. “I guess that’s our cue to go.”

“You’re not going to try and convince me otherwise?”

I nudged him out of the way so I could close my door and lock it. “Why should I?”

His eyes narrowed. “Every woman I’ve known who’s loved her pet always had a laundry list on the tip of her tongue to throw at me when I informed her of my dislike for the filthy things. Even Kenadie.”

I shrugged and locked my deadbolt. “I guess Kenadie and I don’t have everything in common. Pets are a personal choice.”

“Huh.” He sounded skeptical. He clapped his hands together. “Are you ready to have the best barbecue you’ve ever had?”

“Maybe second best.” I grinned.

“Second best?”

“I grew up on a cattle ranch. I know barbecue. My dad has a wall full of blue ribbons for his beef brisket.”

“Well, cowgirl, I’m going to show you how we do barbecue in the South. And you may change your tune.”

“I doubt it, city slicker.”

He laughed. “You’re a little feistier than I thought you would be.”

“Does that disappoint you?”

“On the contrary. I dig it.”

He showed me to his new black sports car. It even gleamed at night. He had gone on and on about it in the office last month when he’d bought it. He headed straight for the driver’s side.

“The rumor about southern gentleman isn’t true?” I stood at the passenger door, wrapping my arms around my chilled self in the late October air.

He tilted his head from across the car. “Do you want me to warm you up or open your door?”

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