Page 49 of The Dating Proposal

“Thanks. I think I needed to hear that.”

I head to my office, noodling on what he said. The assurance was good to hear, but as I sink down in my leather chair and flip through the emails, I’m also aware that I’ve had to reach the same conclusion, and to do so on my own terms.

Carly is the past. She’s not my present, and she’s not my future. I can’t let whatever mistakes she or I made then dictate how I live my life now.

And how I love.

I can’t give the past that power.

And I won’t.

That knowledge fills me with a newfound certainty as I read through a few more emails.

Most of them make me smile.

But then I come across one that’s not quite so smiley face.

Chris:

Your new segment sux. It’s boring AF and obvious you just put your GF on the show to get into her pants. Go back to game talk. Not the dating game.

David

Ouch.

That hurts.

I set the page down and shift my gaze to the wall and a framed photo of a surfer gloriously riding through the barrel of a fifty-footer. The waves curl over him majestically, threatening to take him under if he doesn’t ride it just so.

Just right.

Just like he knows how.

Because this guy knows balance.

I take the paper, crumple it up, and toss David’s note into the recycling bin. I’m sure it was an oversight that Bruce’s assistant printed this email for me.

Just as I’m sure that it doesn’t bother me.

A couple weeks ago—hell, a few days ago—it would have gnawed away at my confidence, made me wonder if I was giving my all to Geeking Out, or if I was getting distracted by a girl.

Now?

I want the perfect girl more than I want a perfect show.

The show is good enough. Hell, it’s great most of the time. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be everything to everyone.

I’m doing my best, and that’s all I can do.

As I turn to my computer to work on the lineup for the next episode, my phone buzzes on my desk.

Grabbing it, I find a message from my buddy.

Cooper: Yo. Karaoke tonight with the crew. You still in? You bringing your new woman?

Chris: I’m down. Let me check with her.

Cooper: Ah, so you do admit you’re into her.

Chris: Yeah, the cat’s out of the bag on that.

Cooper: I knew it. I’m always right.

Chris: If you’re always right, tell me you’ll win next weekend in Baltimore.

Cooper: I’ll own Baltimore. Also, I’ll see your skinny ass tonight. I’m thinking Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time” ought to bring the crowd home.

Chris: You should have been on a Broadway stage. You’re such a performer.

Cooper: I believe you mean in a stadium. Since I was clearly a rocker in my other life.

Chris: Such an active imagination too.

I’m about to text McKenna when I decide I’d rather hear her voice.

She answers on the first ring. “Hey! What are you up to?”

Like the wave just crested, I slide into the barrel, going for it. “I got this note from a viewer. It was all about how he doesn’t like the segment we do.”

“Oh, that sucks,” she says, sounding disappointed.

“That was the gist of it. But here’s the thing. A few months ago, it would have gotten in my head. One little email would have made me doubt my commitment to the show. Today? I don’t give a shit.” I lean back in my chair and grin, feeling like all is right in the world.

“You don’t?”

I shake my head. “Don’t care. Not bothered. You know why?”

“Why?” Her tone is curious.

“He’s just one viewer. I can’t please everyone. I do a damn fine job at work, and that hasn’t changed since I started seeing you.”

“Oh. That’s good that you feel that way,” she says, sounding nervous, maybe surprised.

I get it. She’s not expecting this from me. I’ve made my concerns clear from the start. And I need to make it clear I don’t have them anymore. “What I’m trying to say is I’m over the trust issues. I’m not going to let them get in my way anymore.”

“You’re not?”

I laugh. “Why do you sound so surprised?”

“Sorry. I . . . just wasn’t expecting this right now. My mind is still in work mode.”

“No worries. We can talk tonight. It’s karaoke night. I’m going out with Cooper and some other friends. Would love to have you join us.”

“Sure. Just text me the details.”

My work line lights up. When I see the area code, I sit up straighter. “Shoot. That’s Zander Kendrick’s manager.”

“Go, go. I know you’ve been waiting for this call.”

I say goodbye and pick up the work line.

His manager is the chattiest fellow. He’s also in town and wants to have lunch to discuss the segment. Today.

We pick a place, and I tell him I’m on my way.


Tags: Lauren Blakely Romance
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