Trading Card: Charlie Winslow
Nickname: "King of Manhattan"
Occupation: Celebrity Blogger
Marry/Date/One-night stand: One night...but it'll be fabulous!
Secret passion: Shh! He's old-fashioned.
Warning: Complete workaholic.
Bottom line: Be genuine. Be yourself...
Charlie Winslow isn't your average New York date--he's wealthy, successful and usually mingling with the A-list crowd. So how exactly did he get set up with Bree Kingston on Valentine's Day?
Still, there's something about Bree. Her quirky style, her authenticity, or an unanticipated attraction that just keeps Charlie wanting more. And if Bree plays her trading card just right, this might be the luckiest--and nakedest--Valentine's Day ever!
Bree Kingston had been in Manhattan for five months and twelve days. This was her third visit to the St. Mark's Church basement kitchen, where she and sixteen women she barely knew were exchanging ten days' worth of frozen lunches. She'd gotten invited by Lucy Prince, whom Bree had known for four days. Lucy wasn't part of the exchange. Not anymore. She'd moved to Buffalo with her fiance, thereby freeing up the fold-out ottoman bed that Bree slept on in the one-bedroom apartment she shared with three other girls. Bree's rent was a steal at seven hundred per month. The stove at the apartment had been nonfunctioning for as long as anyone there could remember.
Technically, this was her sixth visit to the kitchen.
She had gotten permission to come to the communal church basement the evenings before the exchanges to prepare her lunches. Sixteen portions of veggie lasa-gna and medium-heat chili this week packed in small freezer-to-microwave containers, all ready to be handed out during the semimonthly trade.
Although it had sounded odd when she'd first heard about the group, Bree suffered from both of the two major maladies that came with living the Manhattan dream: no decent single men to date and no money.
She'd anticipated both. Since she'd spent most of her twenty-five years planning her escape to The Big Apple, she'd read every article, blog and book about the subject, saved her money like Scrooge as she'd worked her way through college, and even had a decent savings account set aside for emergencies. Bree was in this for the long haul.
Finding the lunch exchange had been a brilliant stroke of luck. Fourteen of the sixteen were also single, worked in the East Village and all of them knew where to find the best happy hours, the cheapest dry cleaning, cell service that actually worked and where not to go on a date, assuming one ever had a date.
Even better, she'd actually made her first real New York friends.
"Attention ladies!" Shannon Fitzgerald, a natural redhead wearing a fantastic knockoff dress Bree had noticed first thing, had needed to shout to get everyone to listen. All of them were standing around a rectangle of tables, their lunches in front of them in neat little stacks. Everyone had brought their own cooler bag with ice packs on the bottom. In a moment, they'd move from pile to pile, an elegant assembly line of working women, all of them under thirtyish, all of them wearing something dark on this December day. All of them except Bree. She had chosen a yellow-and-black plaid skirt and jacket, emphasis on the yellow, handmade from her own copycat pattern. Which would have looked very nice on Shannon, now that Bree thought about it.
"Hush," Shannon said, and in a moment, the room fell silent. "Thank you. I have had an idea," she said.
It wasn't just a sentence. Not the way it was said. No, all the words were IN CAPS and bold, like a headline. The IDEA was going to be good. Exciting. Way more than just a new frozen lunch recipe.
"For those of you who are new--" Shannon nodded toward Bree "--my family owns a printing press. Fitzgerald & Sons on 10th Avenue and North 50th."
Bree had seen the place. It was huge.
"We do trading cards. Mostly sports, but now everybody and their uncle wants them. Artists use them as calling cards, Realtors do the same. They've got them for Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and we just finished a ginormous order of official Hip-Hop trading cards."
Shannon paused, looking around the room. Then she smiled. "No one, however, is using trading...