Catherine Steel is an investigative reporter for a newspaper in Ohio. To supplement her income so that she can buy clothes and gifts for her small godchild, she writes fluff pieces for women’s magazines. Two recent articles are: “What To Wear to Get Noticed” and “Catherine’s Ten Simple Dating Rules.”
When Jake Michaels fills a sports editor’s spot on the paper, Catherine wonders if he is man enough to fulfill her fantasy. And does she want him to be the one? After all, he broke her heart ten years ago in high school when he failed to show up for their prom date. And now that he’s back in town, he wants to date her. Catherine refuses to go out with him but he keeps asking. Should she give Jake another chance?
When it appears the high school janitor, Max, was murdered, Catherine is determined to learn the truth about his death. Catherine’s list of suspects for Max’s death include: the school secretary with her intense dislike of Max, the charismatic mayor, the mayor’s unbalanced girlfriend, the angry school principal, and a strange math teacher.
At ten-thirty, Maggie and I were at McFadden’s eating a shared order of cheese sticks. I decided to drink a second light beer with the food and knew we’d probably stay until closing at two so it’d be okay. But that would be my limit. Like most women, I can’t drink too much since my body absorbs the alcohol more quickly than a guy’s.
While dipping a stick in marinara sauce, I said, “See that group of good-looking women against the wall over there?”
Maggie turned her head to look where I pointed. “Oh my God. I don’t have a chance with so many of them here.”
“But you do. They’re so busy talking to each other they won’t be trying to meet new people, and men aren’t going to approach them. Men have a hard enough time approaching a woman if she’s alone. ”
Maggie gulped her beer while staring at an attractive man by the bar counter. “I can’t believe he’s here.”
“Who is he?”
“That man in the blue shirt and gray pants standing by the bar counter is a lawyer, and he came to talk to one of my paralegal classes.”
“I didn’t know you were going to college.”
Maggie nodded. “I went for a year to NKU, then dropped out because I had no clue what I wanted to do. And I decided to be a paralegal. I’ve been taking classes at UC for a year.”
I rubbed my thumb over my frosty glass of beer. “Perfect. You should go over and tell him how much you enjoyed his lecture.”
She shrugged and wiped her mouth with a napkin. “He won’t remember me.”
“He doesn’t have to. Go talk to him.”
Maggie grinned. “You just want to eat the rest of the cheese sticks while I’m gone.”
As she slowly walked to the lawyer, it hit me that I forgot to tell her to check for a wedding ring. I studied him but his left hand was stuck in his pants pocket. I saw him smile at Maggie. After they chatted for a few minutes, Maggie’s body relaxed.
Okay, now it was my turn. I glanced around and saw a drop dead gorgeous man. I drew in a long breath. He was so hot that I wondered if he was out of my league. He had black hair and reminded me of George Clooney except he was probably in his early thirties. What should I say to him? I had to think of a fresh line for him.
I couldn’t initiate contact with him. With his looks, he probably has women chasing him all the time. Something different needed to be done to get him to notice me. He could be my Mr. Right. With a thumping heart, I decided to walk by him and go to the rest room. After all, I wore my belt skirt with my sparkling shirt. He might stop me and ask me to dance.
As I walked past him, I swayed my hips. I don’t know how I made it to the bathroom without looking to see if he even noticed me. Once in there, I exhaled a deep breath, leaning against the wall.
A woman standing in front of a mirror stopped brushing her long blonde hair and stared at me. “I love your skirt. Where did you get it?”
“My friend made it for me.”
“I’ll buy it from you.”
“It’s not for sale.”
She took a piece of paper and pen out of her purse. “In case, you change your mind, here’s my name and phone number.”
I thought of giving her Angie’s phone number so she could get her own skirt, but I don’t want her to have one just like mine and have us at the same places wearing belt skirts. With the paper in my hand, I read Regina. It occurred to me how Angie never makes duplicates. “I’ll do better than that. I’ll give you my friend’s name and number.” I tore a piece off the bottom of the paper and used her pen to write down Angie’s business information. “She’s a designer and she doesn’t make copies, but give her a call. She’s very creative.”
Before Regina left, she tried again and said, “We can switch skirts. I think we’re about the same size and I’ll pay you a hundred dollars.”
I shook my head and she left. I touched up my makeup and brushed my hair before I followed her. As I exited the bathroom, I ran into a hard chest. I looked up and my jaw dropped. It was the hot guy.
I muttered, “Sorry, I didn’t see you.”
He put his hands on my waist and smiled. “I started thinking you drowned in there.”
“A woman tried to grab my skirt off me.” When I get nervous, I tend to blurt out anything.
He gave my skirt an appreciative, long look. “Did she have great legs, too?”
I shrugged. “I didn’t notice.”
“I imagine you have things happening to you all the time.”
His hands were still on my waist, making me feel crazy inside. “Why do you say that?”
“The first time I saw you tonight I thought you looked like trouble.”
That comment threw me for a moment. How did he mean that? Trouble because he had a girlfriend or fiancée but was attracted to me? “It depends on what you mean by trouble.”
“I just bet you’re a handful.” He smiled and held my chin in his hand. “I want to kiss you.”
At McFadden’s, kissing someone you just met happens a lot, so I wasn’t all that surprised. Hopefully, he hadn’t made some bet with a guy that he’d kiss me. No, he was too mature for that. “I object since we don’t know each other.”
“My name’s Scott.”
“I’m Catherine.” I smiled at Scott. “Now that we’re on first name basis, you may kiss me.”