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The Summer Proposal

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From #1 New York Times Bestselling author Vi Keeland comes a new, sexy standalone novel.The first time I met Max Yearwood was on a blind date.Max was insanely gorgeous, funny, and our chemistry was off the charts. He also had the biggest dimples I’d ever laid eyes on.Exactly what I needed after my breakup.Or so I thought…Until my real date arrived.Turned out, Max wasn’t who I was there to meet. He only pretended to be until my real date showed up.To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.Before he left, he slipped me a ticket to a hockey game a few blocks away, in case things didn’t work out on my actual date.I tossed the ticket into my purse and went about trying to enjoy the man I was supposed to meet.But my real blind date and I had no connection.So on my way home, I decided to take a chance and stop by the game.When I arrived, the seat next to me was empty.Disappointed again, I decided to leave at the end of the period.Just before the buzzer, one of the teams scored, and the entire arena went crazy.A player’s face flashed up on the Jumbotron. He was wearing a helmet, but I froze when he smiled.You guessed it: Dimples.Apparently, my fake blind date hadn’t invited me to watch hockey with him, he’d invited me to watch him play.And so began my adventure with Max Yearwood.He was everything I needed at the time—fun, sexy, up for anything, and only around for a few months since he’d signed with a new team three-thousand miles away.Max proposed we spend the summer helping me forget my ex. It sounded like a good plan. Things couldn’t get too serious when we had an expiration date. Right?Though, you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

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Chapter 1-1
Georgia “What can I get you?” The bartender set a napkin down in front of me. “Ummm... I’m meeting someone, so maybe I should wait.” He rapped his knuckles against the bar. “Good enough. I’ll keep my eye out and stop back over when I see someone join you.” But as he started to walk away, I reconsidered. “Actually!” I raised my hand like I was in school. He turned around with a smile and arched a brow. “Change your mind?” I nodded. “I’m about to meet a blind date, so I wanted to be polite, but I think I could use something to take the edge off.” “Probably a good idea. What are you drinking?” “A pinot grigio would be great. Thank you.” He came back a few minutes later with a hefty pour and leaned his elbow on the bar. “So, blind date, huh?” I sipped my wine and let out a sigh as I nodded. “I let my mom’s seventy-four-year-old friend Frannie set me up with her grandnephew to make my mom happy. She described him as ‘a smidge ordinary, but nice’. We’re supposed to meet here at five thirty. I’m a few minutes early.” “First time letting someone fix you up?” “Second, actually. The first was seven years ago. It took me this long to recover from it, if that tells you anything.” The bartender laughed. “That bad?” “I was told he was a comedian. So I figured, how terrible could it be going out with someone who makes people laugh for a living? The guy showed up with a puppet. Apparently his comedy act was as a ventriloquist. He refused to speak to me directly—wanted me to talk only to his dummy. Who, by the way, was named Dirty Dave, and every other comment out of its mouth was obscene. Oh, and my date’s mouth moved the entire time, so he wasn’t even a very good ventriloquist.” “Damn.” The bartender chuckled. “Not sure I’d give another blind date a chance after that, even after a few years.” I sighed. “I’m sort of regretting it already.” “Well, if anyone comes in with a puppet, I got you covered.” He gestured toward a hallway behind him. “I know where all the emergency exits are, and I can sneak you out.” I smiled. “Thanks.” A couple sat down on the other end of the bar, so the bartender went to help them while I continued to stare at the entrance. I’d purposely taken a seat in the back corner so I could watch the front door, hoping to get a look at my date before he saw me. Not that I planned to ditch if he wasn’t handsome, but I didn’t want him to read disappointment on my face if I felt any. I’d always been terrible at masking my feelings. A few minutes later, the restaurant’s door opened and a drop-dead gorgeous guy walked in. He looked like he belonged on a men’s cologne ad, probably emerging from crystal blue Caribbean water. I got excited, until I realized he couldn’t be my date. Frannie had described Adam as a computer nerd. And pretty much any question I’d asked her about him, she’d answered, “About average.” How tall is he? About average. Is he handsome? About average. Body type? About average. This guy was tall, with broad shoulders, big, blue bedroom eyes, a chiseled jawline, dark hair that was sort of messy, but totally worked for him, and even though he was wearing a simple dress shirt and slacks, I could tell he was buff underneath. Frannie would have to be crazy to think anything about him was average. Oh. Oh! Well, she was a little…different. Last time I went to Florida to see Mom, we went to lunch with Frannie, and she’d glowed orange from an excessive amount of self-tanner she’d bought on the Home Shopping Network. She also spent all afternoon telling us about her recent road trip to New Mexico to attend a UFO convention in Roswell. But even with that factored in, this guy didn’t look like a computer nerd. Nevertheless, his eyes scanned the room, and when they met mine, he smiled. Dimples. Deep ones. Oh, Lord. My heart did a little pitter-patter. Could I be this lucky? Apparently it was possible. Because the guy headed right toward me. I probably should’ve played it cool and looked away, but it was impossible not to stare. “Adam?” He shrugged. “Sure.” I thought that was a bit of an odd response, but his smile widened, and those cavernous dimples seemed to turn my brain to mush. “Nice to meet you. I’m Frannie. My mom is friends with Georgia.” I shook my head. “Sorry. I mean, I’m Georgia. My mom is friends with Frannie.” “Nice to meet you, Georgia.” He extended his hand, and when I placed mine in it, mine felt really…small. “I have to say, you are definitely not what I was expecting. Frannie didn’t describe you very accurately.” “Better or worse?” Was he joking? “She may have described you as a nerd.” He sat down on the stool next to me. “I usually don’t admit this when I first meet a woman, but I do have a Star Wars action figure collection.” He reached into his pocket and pulled something out. “In fact, I almost always have one on me. I’m a bit superstitious, and they bring me luck.” Adam unfolded his big hand to reveal a tiny Yoda. He leaned over and set it on the bar in front of me, and a hint of cologne wafted through the air. Smells as good as he looks. There had to be something majorly wrong with him. “Women tend to not like Star Wars for some reason,” he said. “Or a grown man carrying around an action figure.” “I actually like Star Wars.” He put his hand over his heart. “A beautiful woman who likes Star Wars? Should we skip the formalities and just grab a flight to Vegas to get married?” I laughed. “Maybe, but first promise me you aren’t into ventriloquism.” He crossed his heart. “Star Wars is as bad as it gets.” The bartender came over to take Adam’s drink order. I was surprised when he asked for a Diet Coke. “You’re not going to join me for a cocktail or a glass of wine?” He shook his head. “Wish I could, but I have to work later.” “Tonight?” He nodded. “Yeah. I wish I didn’t. But I actually need to get out of here in a little while.” I’d thought we were meeting for drinks and dinner, but perhaps Frannie had gotten that wrong. “Oh, okay.” I forced a smile. Apparently Adam saw right through it. “I swear I’m not making that up. I do have to work. But I definitely would love to stay. Since I can’t, is it too early to say I’d love to see you again?” I sipped my wine. “Hmmm... I’m not sure about that. Normally, I get to know someone on a first date, so I can weed out the serial killers and nutjobs. How am I supposed to know you’re not the next Ted Bundy if you’re running out of here?” Adam stroked the scruff on his chin and looked at his watch. “I have about fifteen minutes. Why don’t we cut the small talk and you can ask me anything?” “Anything?” He shrugged. “I’m an open book. Take your best shot.” I gulped my wine and turned in my seat to face him. “Alright. But I want to watch your face as I grill you. I’m terrible at hiding lies on mine but great at reading others.” He smiled and turned, giving me his full attention. “Go for it.” “Okay. Do you live with your mother?” “No, ma’am. She doesn’t even live in the same state. But I do call home every Sunday.” “Have you ever been arrested?” “Public indecency in college. I was pledging a fraternity, and me and a bunch of other guys had to walk through the center of town naked. A group of girls stopped us and asked if any of us could hula hoop. Everyone else kept walking. I figured they were all too chicken, so I stopped. Apparently, the guys weren’t afraid; I was just the only one who didn’t see the cop coming out of a store a couple of doors down.” I laughed. “Can you actually hula hoop?” He winked. “Only naked. You wanna see?” The smile on my face widened. “I’ll take your word for it.” “Shame.” “When was the last time you had s*x?” For the first time, the smile on his face wilted. “Two weeks ago. Are you gonna hold that against me?” I shook my head. “Not necessarily. I appreciate the honesty. You could have lied and said a while ago.” “Okay, good. What else you got?” “Have you ever been in a relationship?” “Twice. Once in college for a year, and then I dated a woman for eighteen months, and that ended two years ago.” “Why did they end?” “College, because I was twenty and…it was a crazy time in my life. And the woman I dated a few years back, because she wanted to get married and start a family, and I wasn’t ready.” I tapped my pointer to my bottom lip. “Hmm… Yet you just asked me to go to Vegas and marry you.” He grinned. “She didn’t like Star Wars.” We were both too busy laughing to notice a guy walk up to us. I figured he must have known Adam, so I politely smiled and looked to him. But the guy spoke to me. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but are you Georgia Delaney?” “Yes?” He smiled. “I’m Adam Foster. Frannie showed me a picture of you, but it was from a costume party.” He motioned to the side of his head, twirling his hand around in a circle. “You were dressed as Princess Leia, with your hair all pinned up on the sides, so you looked a little different than you do now.” I furrowed my brow. “You’re…Adam?” The guy seemed just as confused as I was. “Yes.” Now this man looked like what I’d been expecting: worn, brown tweed jacket, cropped hair parted to one side—sort of the average Joe that worked in the IT department at your office. But… If he was Adam, then who was this? I looked at the guy sitting next to me for an answer. Though that’s not what I got. “Did you really dress as Princess Leia for a Halloween party?” “Yes, but…” Adam, or whoever the hell the guy sitting next to me was, put his finger over my lips and turned to the man who was apparently my date. “Can you just give us a minute?” he asked. “Umm…sure.” As soon as average Adam walked away, I laid into hot Adam. “Who the hell are you?” “Sorry. My name is Max.” “Do you make a habit of pretending to be someone else?” He shook his head. “I just…I saw you sitting at the bar through the window when I was passing by, and you had such a pretty smile. I came over to introduce myself, and it was clear you were here to meet someone else. I guess I sort of panicked that you weren’t going to talk to me since I wasn’t Adam. So I went with it.” “And what if my date hadn’t showed up? Would you have pretended to be Adam on a second date?” Max dragged a hand through his hair. “I didn’t think that far ahead.” Normally catching a date in a lie would make me angry, but finding out Max wasn’t Adam was more disappointing than anything. We’d had great chemistry, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed so much meeting someone new. “Was every answer a lie? Do you even like Star Wars?” He held up both hands. “I swear. The only thing that wasn’t the truth was my name.” I sighed. “Well, Max, thanks for the entertainment. But I don’t want to keep my real date waiting.” He frowned, but nodded and stood. “It was nice meeting you. I guess asking for your number would be stupid right about now?” I gave him a look. “Yes, it would. Have a good night, Max.” He looked at me for a few seconds, then slipped a bill out of his wallet and tossed a hundred on the counter. “You, too, Georgia. I really enjoyed meeting you.” Max took a few steps away, but then stopped and walked back. He again took out his billfold, only this time he peeled off what looked like a ticket of some sort and placed it on the bar in front of me. “I’d really love to see you again. If your real date turns out to be a dud or you change your mind, I promise I will never tell you another lie.” He pointed to the ticket. “I’ll be at the hockey game over at the Garden at seven thirty, if you would consider giving me another shot.”

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