When post-grad Rachael Hamilton accidentally gate-crashes a pro-athlete party, she ends up face-to-face with Ryan Carter, the NFL's most beloved quarterback.
While most girls would be thrilled to meet the attractive young millionaire, Rachael would rather spend time with books than at sporting events, and she has more important things to worry about than romance. Like her parents pressuring her to leave her unpaid publishing internship for law school.
But when Ryan's rookie teammate attaches himself to Rachael, she ends up cohosting Friday-night dinners for half a dozen football players.
Over pancake brunches, charity galas and Alexander the Great, Rachael realizes all the judgments she'd made about Ryan are wrong. But how can a Midwestern Irish-Catholic jock with commitment problems and an artsy, gun-shy Jewish New Englander ever forge a partnership? Rachael must let down her barriers if she wants real love--even if that opens her up to pain that could send her back into her emotional shell forever.
The invitation arrived at 8:37 on a Friday, right before Eva and I left for a party. I read it curled up on the couch, my laptop burning my legs and the words scarring my retinas:
Can you believe it's already been five years since graduation? We've booked the Ashbury Inn for the reunion, and we'll have dancing, drinking, and a slideshow of all our favorite moments. I can't wait to hear what all of you have been up to!
Sophie Salisbury, Class President
"You look as though you swallowed a toad," my roommate said.
I glanced up from my email. Eva watched me in the warped glass of our cheap mirror, where she stood smudging on wine-dark lipstick. She'd already carefully layered for the evening, belting a red cardigan over a short black and white dress. I wore one of her cast-offs, a slinky green thing she swore brought out my eyes.
"Did you know high schools have five-year reunions?"
Now she turned fully around. "They do not."
"Apparently mine does." I stretched out my legs. "I just got an email from my brother's girlfriend. We're going to have a slideshow of 'all our favorite moments'. Gag me." Sophie Salisbury's favorite moments probably included winning Homecoming Queen and tripping me at graduation.
A smile worthy of the Cheshire Cat slid across Eva's face. "That sounds brilliant. Oh my God, maybe you can connect with your old high school crush--"
"Ha! Not likely."
"Or show up the mean popular girl--"
"Your theatre background's showing. Besides, Sophie's dating my brother. We're supposed to play nice." I read the email a little more critically. Was "I can't wait to hear what all of you have been up to" actually passive-aggressive, or could Sophie genuinely be interested in the lives of other people? "Besides, I don't have anything I could use to show anyone up."
Eva shot me an irritated look. "Well, not if you go in with that kind of attitude."
I smothered a laugh and slid my computer off my lap, crossing the room for the bottle of Pinot gris. "You're right." I gestured widely at the kitchenette that bled into the tiny living room, and the two box-size bedrooms off it. "I'll tell everyone about our stellar apartment--though maybe I'll bump us up to Park Slope--and about my fabulous publishing internship--I think I'll pretend it's a salaried job." Come to think about it, this reunion seemed like a really bad idea. I leaned against the counter in defeat. "Oh, God. I haven't done anything. I'm going to show up and be a failure."
"'Oh, woe is me,'" Eva said from back at the mirror. "'To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!'"
That was the problem with living with a former theatre major. Sometimes she rebuked me with Shakespeare.
"You could bring John with you."
I swallowed too much wine and grimaced, the cheap taste of six dollars curdling in my stomach. "Eva."
"What?" She thrust her glass out behind her and I topped it off. "He's gorgeous. And you said he asked you out again."
"There are so many problems with that suggestion." Apart from the idea that I should impress my former classmates with a guy, rather than my own success, John and I hadn't exactly dated. I mean, I'd thought we'd been dating, but it turned out I was just the third wheel in his open relationship.
"Come on. Maybe it was total serendipity that you ran into him this afternoon and also got that reunion invite."