Secrets and Speed Dating by Leah Ashton - Fiction
Trying to move on from a disastrous engagement, Sophie Morgan needs a date for her best friend's wedding--and fast! And what quicker way to find a man than speed dating? Only it's bar manager Dan Halliday who catches Sophie's eye.
Dan can't resist helping a damsel in distress, so he offers her a deal--a few shifts in the bar in exchange for the date--no strings attached. But when pretence leads to passion, they both get more than they bargained for. And it's too late to have any secrets between them....
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The Sophie Project (Project Manager: S. Morgan)
Task One: Find a boyfriend
'Just so you know, I can't have children.'
Sophie Morgan watched her date's expression morph from a twinkly-eyed grin to slack-jawed surprise at her calmly delivered statement. She took a sip of her vanilla martini and met his wide eyes as she continued. 'I really can't. It wouldn't matter if I "stopped trying" or "went on a holiday" or "just relaxed".' She shrugged. 'It just won't happen.'
Her date had barely blinked, so she gestured vaguely at her flat stomach. 'Things down there just don't function properly... reproductively speaking, of course. I mean, I can have sex. That's all normal.'
The poor guy spluttered into his beer. 'Ah, isn't this conversation a bit. .premature? We've known each other five minutes.'
He was being literal. A moment later the high-pitched chime of a small silver bell silenced the room.
The hostess of the speed dating evening—a depressingly stunning modeltype who Sophie was sure would never need to attend such an event herself—waited until all eyes were on her. Unlike Sophie, her hostess looked completely at ease in the fiber-modern bar, with its black granite floor, chrome and glass furniture and leather couches. Back in Sydney, this type of place had been Sophie's domain. But now, in Perth, with her old life three thousand kilometres away, she felt like an impostor.
'Okay, gentlemen, time to say goodbye and move on to your next date.'
Her date still look dazed, so she tried to explain quickly, hopeful that she didn't sound like a completely unbalanced lunatic. She did know blurting out her infertility wasn't exactly normal behaviour. 'Look, everyone here wants a relationship, right?'
He nodded. In fact, this speed dating event was specifically for people seeking long-term relationships.
'So, when most people picture a relationship, they want the whole package deal—wife and kids. With me, that's not possible. I just thought it was only fair you should know.'
He shook his head. 'Not everyone wants that. I don't know if I want kids.'
Sophie smiled, but shrugged. 'I still think it's better to be up-front, get it out in the open. What you want now can change a heck of a lot in the future.'
People changed their minds. She knew that far too well.
Her date smiled at her. Reassuringly, he now looked more bemused than ready to run screaming away from her—that twinkle was even back in his eyes. 'Who knows about the future?' he asked as he stood. 'Why not let a new relationship just flow? Why worry about it now?'
She watched him sit down at the neighbouring table, his attention already on his next date. She envied his naivety. The ability to live a relationship in the moment, to pretend that all you needed was each other. But Sophie wouldn't do that again. She couldn't.
Not that she didn't want the fairytale happy ending. She did. She'd love to grow old with her perfect man—whatever that meant. Definitely someone who didn't want kids. And really didn't—although she really had no clue how she could unequivocally determine that. Maybe someone who'd already had his children? Or was older? Not that she really went for much older men.
She took another sip of her cocktail, a humourless smile quirking her lips. Clearly she didn't know what she wanted. She just knew that she wasn't about to waste her time—or risk her heart—on some guy who would dump her once he knew what she couldn't give him. Getting it all out up-front was definitely a good idea. An excellent idea, even.