“I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any attorneys,” Hayden offers.
Then, a voice pipes in, small but strong, from the other side of the kitchen. “What about the FedEx guy at your office?”
Hayden whips her head around. “Lena! What are you doing up?”
Lena smiles innocently. “Well, you always say he is cute . . .”
Hayden scuttles her back to bed, this time shutting the door all the way, and returns to the table.
“So tell us about the FedEx guy,” Erin says with a sly grin.
“All the ladies think he’s a catch. He has blond hair, brown eyes, and these crazy toned arms,” Hayden says, her eyes going a little dreamy.
Reality smacks me with a big old bag of worry-filled bricks. “Wait. Am I even a catch?” I point at myself, and a new dose of fear shimmies down my spine. “What if no one wants to date me? Oh God, I’m an idiot. I’m about to put myself back on the market, and I might get zero takers.”
Hayden squeezes my knee. “Enough with that nonsense. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? You’re a babe, McKenna. You’re tall and thin, and you have great skin.”
Erin flicks my hair. “And you have this lush chestnut hair—which is even hotter than your blonde hair—and crazy, wild bluish-hazel eyes.”
Reflexively, I raise a hand, fingering a lock of my hair. I’m a natural blonde, but a month ago, I went darker, eager for a change. Maybe that was the start of my emergence from hibernation. A brand-new color, one that I never thought I could rock.
“The hair change is bold, and you pulled it off,” Hayden adds then adopts an over-the-top jealous voice. “And now you’re one of those blue-eyed brunettes, which makes you even more rare.”
“Oh please,” I say, but inside I’m loving the compliments. Correction: I’m loving the love from my inner circle.
A hand curls on my shoulder.
“You are McKenna Bell.” It’s Julia. She’s one year younger than I am, and has always been my biggest champion. “You are going to do this. Watch out, men of San Francisco—we have a hot, big-hearted, funny-as-fuck, smart-as-a-whip, and completely awesome woman on the market.”
Later that night, I post the video on the Fashion Hound Instagram account.
When I wake up, it’s gone viral.
Color me surprised.
The closed sign saddens me. I sigh heavily, shoulders slumping, when I reach Gadgets, Gizmos, and Geeks the next day a few minutes before five. I was really hoping to get this hard drive fixed, and the store is supposed to be open till six.
“Crud muffins,” I mutter, resigning myself to return tomorrow.
I decide to console myself with some shopping, starting with the electronics store next door, to find a new video game perhaps.
I push open the doors and head to the shelves, taking my time perusing various offerings like Yooka-Laylee, which is next to Super Mario Odyssey.
I pick up Yooka-Laylee, considering it.
“Have you played the newest Super Mario Odyssey?”
Before I can even turn around to see where the voice comes from, I laugh.
“Have I played the newest Super Mario Odyssey?” I repeat. “Am I breathing? Am I a sentient human being? I played it, collected a hundred twenty-four moons, and saved Princess Peach from Bowser many times over, thank you very much.”
I turn to my questioner and Holy Mary Mother of Hotness.
I drop the Yooka-Laylee box, and my jaw may fall to the floor too. I contemplate reaching down to pick it up, but that’d make it completely obvious I was checking him out. Perhaps I’ll stick to only partly obvious.
My questioner is tall, trim, with wavy light-brown hair and these crazy green eyes that remind me of how Hawaii feels. Well-worn blue jeans hug his legs, and a casual gray Nor Cal T-shirt has the good fortune to cuddle his stomach and chest. The shirt shows off the right amount of tanned, toned arms.
Have I stepped into an alternate universe where hot men grow on streets and in stores, perhaps rappelling down from the planet of Incomparable Babes?
He hands me the box I dropped. “Here you go,” he says, and I wish his fingers had just brushed mine. I’d take the barest trace of accidental contact from this specimen.
He smiles back immediately and then makes a little bow. “Saving Princess Peach many times. Wow.”
“What about you? Have you mastered it?”
He waves a hand in the air.
“Oh, c’mon,” I persist. “I told you.”
“Does anyone really master Super Mario Odyssey?”
“That’s a rhetorical question.”
“But a good one, right?”
“Are you hiding a Super Mario Odyssey secret?”
He inches closer, scans the store, and whispers, “Beat the jump rope challenge.”
My eyes go wide. “Get out of here.”
He just shrugs casually.
I shake my head. “No, that’s not how it works,” I say playfully, enjoying the exchange with the perfectly handsome stranger behind the warm green eyes, and figuring it’ll help me on my dating quest. Talking to a hottie has to be a positive. “You can’t just drop a little nugget like that and not give me the goods. Tell me how you did it. Because I can barely get five jumps in.”