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From the Author
That day at dawn, Beth reviewed her stereotypes list:
1. Greater size and strength
2. Goal-oriented, often highly ambitious
3. Values the rational/logical over the emotional
4. More independent, assertive, critical and competitive
5. Fast visual-attraction reactions
6. Better at spatial/mathematical skills
7. Difficulty expressing emotions
Yep. That seemed to pretty much sum up the major male stereotypes as she knew them, omitting universal truths like men's bizarre predilection toward big tools and bigger remote-control devices.
Beth laid down her pen. She was armed and ready for today's coffee "date" and planned to find as much direct, supporting evidence as she could for each point in the few minutes she and Will would spend together. She prayed she'd be able to pull it off.
Somehow she managed to get Charlie to school, do a morning's worth of organizing at the agency and pull into the Koffee Haus parking lot right on time.
The scent of warm, roasted coffee beans enticed her nostrils even before she made it through the doorway. The singles' bar of this century had cinnamon shakers and skim milk pitchers on the counter instead of vodka jiggers and salty peanuts, but the idea was unchanged.
A pair of lanky guys leaned against the counter waiting for their orders to be ready. Neither of them looked anything like Will's website photograph. Where was he?
A small table opened up near the door and Beth leaped for it. She slid into the chair and began casing the room. Mostly couples or small groups of friends. A dark-haired man in his early thirties sat alone with a newspaper. His back was to her so she leaned to the left to try to catch a glimpse of his face.
It could be him. Might be.
She leaned a little further but before she could see him she felt that roller-coaster dip in her stomach and lost her balance--hands swiping the floor, chair scraping awkwardly. Very smooth move.
The guy turned to stare at her. So did everyone else. She readjusted herself and tried to bury her head in her purse.
That looked like him. Close enough to the photo anyway to make her pretty sure. Darn it. There was no way he'd want to be approached by a klutz.
When she looked up, he was staring at her again. An assessing glance.
Yep. The game was over before it had a chance to begin. Something about him struck her as odd, though. His email personality was so warm, so charming. This guy--well, arrogant seemed to be a better descriptor.
She wondered what he'd do now. Ditch her? She grabbed her stereotypes list from her purse, scanning it covertly in case he worked up the nerve to come over before she approached him. A glimpse at her watch told her it was already ten minutes past one. When she looked back at his table, he was gone.
She sighed. This wasn't good. Her final project was due in a few weeks, and she needed to cite concrete examples of Case Study #1's behavior, documented and dated over a period of thirty days. She didn't have time to start again with a new subject. As it was, she'd have to use all of their email correspondence in her report, and that still left her with over a week's worth of communication to obtain and record.
And nothing she had thus far was very conclusive.
She didn't want to resort to shortcuts to complete the paper, but Charlie's future was at stake here. She stood to leave.
"So, are you the woman Lady Catherine thinks I'm destined for?" a deep voice with a laugh hidden in it whispered in her ear.
She swiveled around and stared at the man behind her. He wasn't the guy with the newspaper, but he, too, looked like Will's website photo... only better. Much better.
"If so," he continued, "I'm your Perfect Match."