No artists, no smokers, no men with beards… Manhattan real estate broker Lottie Langerman feels confident that if she follows her long list of dating rules, she’ll meet The One and her life will unfold exactly as planned. Everything changes when her best friend decides to throw a fake bachelorette party—just to see what all the fuss is about—and Lottie reluctantly agrees to play the role of bride-to-be for a night.
Faking an engagement turns out to be more fun—and trouble—than Lottie could have imagined. Not only does her dream man think she’s taken, but Lottie keeps running into bearded Brooklyn jewelry designer Tyler, who breaks every single one of her rules...yet manages to get under her skin like no one else. Soon, Lottie finds herself at a crossroads where she must decide: Play it safe—or ditch the rules and follow her heart?
A HeroesandHeartbreakers.com Original Novella!
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||1000 KB|
About the Author
Since childhood, Gigi Garrett has loved playing with and rearranging the 26 letters of the alphabet. When she's not imagining and writing fictional lives, she's probably chasing her kids around or thinking about pizza. She lives near the beach and believes the ocean fixes almost everything. She loves to hear from readers!
Read an Excerpt
I watch as Samantha hugs her plum-colored Mulberry purse close to her body and makes her way into the small galley kitchen.
She eyes the refrigerator. "Decent enough," she says and pulls the door open. Inside, there are three Red Bulls, two half-drunk plastic water bottles, and a cardboard pizza box. (Sadly, this is a fairly typical Manhattan bachelor's fridge.)
Samantha slams the door shut and shudders. "Eww," she mutters under her breath.
"Ignore that," I say. "Imagine your life here." I point to the Grateful Dead posters decorating the walls. "Tear those down. Mentally hang up a collage of black and white photographs of your family and friends."
I point toward the giant 3-D TV screen and the brown leather sectional. "Paint that wall robin's-egg blue and think how bright white couches with floral throw pillows would lighten up the place."
"How very HGTV of you," Samantha deadpans with a smile and an eye roll. "Maybe you can get your own show." She has more of a bullshit detector than I initially thought. I'm going to have to bring my A game.
She scans the rest of the kitchen ... and I wait for it.
The inevitable moment that I know is coming.
"Where's the dishwasher?" she moans. "Did you actually read my email, Lottie?" She puts both of her perfectly manicured hands on her hips.
A friend of a friend referred Samantha to me, which is how I get most of my real estate clients. When we first started corresponding, Samantha sent me a very long list of must-haves in an apartment: a doorman, an elevator, a street with at least four mature trees, laundry, and a dishwasher.
Of course I read her email. I always do my homework. But let's face it: on a twenty - five - hundred - dollar - a - month budget, Samantha isn't going to find an apartment in the East Village that fulfills half that list. In fact, this apartment only checks off "elevator."
But here's the thing: I never, ever openly say, "I can't get you what you want." Rather, I convince people what I have available in their budget is what they want. I didn't endure Psych 101 in college for nothing. Believe me, a little bit of reverse psychology goes a long way.
"Us New Yorkers don't do dishes," I argue. "Most of us are lucky enough to have time to order take-out, never mind cooking a meal that requires more than microwaving and rinsing off a fork. And on weekends, you're going to eat out. Basically, you'd be wasting money and precious space on something that you're never going to use."
I say these lines like a seasoned theatrical actress. This isn't my first "New Yorkers don't need dishwashers" soliloquy, nor will it be my last.
And it's of the utmost importance to make your client feel like she or he is part of the New York collective "us" even before the lease is signed.
I walk over and lean in toward Samantha, the way a friend would do to tell you a secret. I will probably never see her again after tomorrow, but the illusion is important. I need her to think I'm her friend. You're much more likely to take advice from a friend — even a bad one — than a stranger. I whisper: "As your real estate agent and your new friend, I can't let you waste even twenty square feet on an impractical appliance."
"Impractical?" Samantha echoes.
I nod. "Totally. I have a friend who keeps her clutch collection in the dishwasher."
Samantha gives me a polite laugh even though that's actually a true story. Then she sighs and exits the tiny kitchen. She peers at it from a few feet away. Her peppy twenty-two-year-old face falls into a not-so-pretty expression. "But the thing is, Lottie, I love to cook." Her bottom lip sticks out like an upset toddler's. "You should try my ham sammies. I made them for every tailgate back at Ole Miss."
I turn and face her. I keep my chest out and shoulders back. I've read that's the posture of dominance — and, as a bonus, it makes you look thinner. Reference any celebrity magazine for evidence.
"I imagine a lot of your friends moved to Atlanta after college," I say.
"But you didn't." I point at her. "Why not?"
Samantha tucks a blonde curl behind her diamond-studded ear. "Because I got a great job." She shrugs. "But more than that, I wanted to live in Manhattan. I always have."
"That's what I thought," I say with a smile. "So you need to actually live in New York and be a New Yorker, which means eating out. You need to try Nobu. Balthazar. Murray's Cheese," I say, listing off some of my favorite eats in Manhattan.
I swing open the door that leads to a small bedroom with one sliding-door closet. I smile big. "This bedroom is palatial compared to most places'. And your apartment is only going to be one small part of your life here — mostly for sleeping and, well, you know."
Samantha blushes when I say this, but trust me, people want to imagine not only what their regular lives will be like in an apartment, but also their sex lives. As the adage goes, sex — even the imaginary kind — sells. And believe me, men and women move to New York City in droves hoping to improve their sex lives.
"I promise you'll forget all about those sammie things by winter," I say.
Samantha walks around me and over to the small living room and peers out the window. It faces north, which is a real estate nightmare. Not that there's a view anyway. Her one tiny window looks out at a chipped brick wall with some unfortunate graffiti.
I only hope Samantha doesn't look down and see the overflowing dumpster in the alley below. Oh no, I see her standing on her tippy toes and peering out the window.
"Gross!" she shrieks. "Lottie, this place isn't going to work," she hisses. "I mean it. I want to see more apartments."
Now I'm the one who's sighing. "Fine. More apartments." I do a few calf raises because my Manolos are killing me, but you should look the part as well as talk it. I need to look like the type of girl that girls like Samantha imagine live in the city, and most of those ideas come from TV, movies, and celebrity magazines. Therefore, Manolos it is. Even though they are giving me bunions and cost me a fortune.
I smile despite the foot pain. "Before we see any more apartments, let me give you a tour of this neighborhood since we're already here after all. It's my second favorite one in the whole city — besides mine of course."
I approach Samantha and place a hand on her shoulder. "I try to be more than just a real estate agent; I want to be an ambassador to the city. Let's go see what's outside these walls. That's what matters the most."
Samantha forms her Big Apple Red lips into a pout, but she follows me down the hall, albeit hesitantly, and into the elevator.
See, there's one thing I know that Samantha doesn't: I'm going to rent her this apartment.
I have never shown someone more than one apartment. Here's my secret: I don't work harder than everyone else, I work smarter.
"Wow," I say. "That guy sure needs to learn how to check out a girl discreetly."
Samantha looks back over her shoulder. "The guy with the pit bull was looking at us?" she shriek-whispers. "The one in the dark glasses and tight, ripped, black jeans who could pass for a movie star?"
"Play it cool," I say as we cross over Second Avenue. "And he was checking you out, not me."
Not total bullshit. I think he did check her out. Hard to tell when everyone wears sunglasses, even on completely cloudy days. I read Us Weekly religiously, so I'm confident he isn't a famous movie star. New York is just chock-full of incredibly good-looking people, only some of whom act for a living.
I can tell I'm getting to Samantha when she smiles genuinely for the first time all afternoon and chases after me. She's wearing three-inch heels, but she's just finding her footing on the city's uneven streets. I swear there should be a workout class called "Navigating Manhattan in Heels." It'd be a lot more practical than those barre and pole-dancing classes.
"Do you think that guy lives in the neighborhood?" she asks, her head still turned nearly 180 degrees.
"Definitely," I say. "He's just out taking his dog for a stroll."
Samantha turns and points back to Shoolbred's and a few other nearby bars. "Those bars look so much better than the cheesy, honkytonk ones in Atlanta," she says. I nod in agreement.
I can tell my plan is working. Samantha is starting to see herself in this neighborhood, and that's exactly what I want. When most people move to New York, they are hoping — even if they won't admit it — that it'll become their true home, the metaphoric North Star that they've been seeking out their whole life.
I point out the restaurant Dirt Candy on the right-hand side of the street. "Anne Hathaway is constantly photographed eating there," I say.
"Really?" Samantha asks as she nearly plasters her face against the window.
(Yes, Us Weekly is "work" reading. Tax-deductible, in fact. I need to know which stars have been spotted where. Clients love that info. I can't even begin to emphasize how much it helps to rent apartments. After all, this island is full of both stars and — pardon my French — starfuckers.)
"And the food's great there," I continue. "And very low-cal."
The Anne Hathaway being a regular part is totally factual, but the food is only delicious if you're actually a vegan, which I am not. And I imagine Samantha isn't one either since she couldn't stop blabbing about those ham sammies.
"There's one more place I want to show you," I say. "It's at the end of the block."
Samantha peers through the restaurant's windows one last time before tearing herself away and turning down East Twelfth Street.
"This restaurant is dedicated entirely to mac and cheese," I say, pointing to S'MAC, a comfort-food haven. "So whenever you feel homesick for the South or those ham sammies, twelve kinds of mac and cheese can be delivered to you within twenty minutes. I know this is sacrilegious to say to a Southerner, but it's all better than your grandma's." I hold up two fingers. "Scout's promise."
Samantha laughs. A real laugh.
"And that Dumpling Man place delivers too?" she asks. New Manhattanites seem more intrigued by the vast variety of options for food delivery than anything else.
I nod. "Best late-night food ever," I say, trying to appeal to the partying twenty-two-year-old side of her. "Within blocks of your apartment, you have all the essentials you'll ever need: hot guys, bars, and late-night eats." I pause. "And there's even a pharmacy around here for the nonessentials."
Samantha giggles and doesn't roll her eyes this time. I'm definitely getting to her.
We walk back down the block and I pause in front of the entrance to The Zachary, the apartment building we toured earlier.
"Do you want to go up one more time and see if you can get over the dishwasher issue?" I ask.
That's another one of my tactics. I focus on just one of the apartment's issues. To Samantha, the apartment had a laundry list of issues, but I'm asking her to surmount only the dishwasher.
She pauses. "You know, I don't mind doing dishes by hand that much. I grew up washing my grammy's china that way." Then she practically leaps into my arms. "I don't need to see it again," she squeals. "I'm totally sold."
I give her a pat on the back. I'm happy but not surprised. The most important thing about Manhattan real estate is: if you can't sell them on the physical apartment, sell them on the neighborhood and the dream. Everyone moves to New York for a reason. If you can remind them of that reason, they won't care that much about the physical apartment.
"Awesome," I say. "You're going to be very happy here." And I do think Samantha will be. It's a good deal for her money, especially since the Manhattan real estate market is Tabasco-hot right now. I could've shown her a dozen other apartments like that one (add or subtract a problem here or there), but it would've been a waste of our time — and I hate wasting time. Time is money.
"I'll talk to the management and we'll do the paperwork Monday?"
Samantha nods, smiles broadly, and starts almost skipping down the block. I'm going the same way she is, so I trail a few paces behind.
She pulls out her phone, hits a button, and squeals, "The apartment is pretty sweet. It had all this guy junk, but with my own things, it'll be perfect." She pauses. "And get this, Ginger, I saw this smoking-hot guy and I got that feeling. Like the something - is - going - to - happen feeling." I hear her take a couple deep breaths. "I'm pretty sure I'll see him again, even if there are ten million people in Manhattan." She squeals again. "Who knows, he could even live next door." She pauses, "Of course I'm going out. Hello, it's Friday."
B - I - N - G - O, I guessed right. Samantha really moved to the city to find love. The two most popular reasons people move to New York are money and love.
Personally, I came for both, though I'm still working on the love part ... But I know if I stay the course and refuse to settle, it'll find me.
I turn west, relieved to have another broker's fee in the bank, and start heading to my apartment and my own Friday-night plans.
My doorman, Emmanuel, hands me my dry cleaning. (A doorman-building perk. I never forget to sell that to clients looking at doorman buildings. People hate picking up their own dry cleaning.)
"Ms. Elsa May is waiting for you," he says.
"Thanks for letting me know, Emmanuel."
"I still think of you two as sisters, even if you claim you're not," he says. "You must miss her so much."
"I do," I admit, heading for the elevator. "Have a great night," I call out behind me.
Elsa May is waiting for me at the elevator banks when I get out on the fourth floor. "I saw you coming down the street from our — I mean your — window!" she squeals, hugging me like a long-lost relative. Then she jumps up and down three times. "And it's Friday night and for once, that truly means something. Do you know how many episodes of Dateline I've watched in the past year?"
Elsa May leans in close. "Enough to tell you that after someone takes out a life insurance policy on you, you're basically six feet under. Especially if there's a love triangle. And doubly so if one of you works in law enforcement."
I raise my eyebrows and she bursts out laughing. Nobody laughs at their own jokes like Elsa May does. "Hey, I need to practice law somehow," she argues. "Even if it's only watching a whodunit from my in-laws' couch with a bag of chips. Do you know that they now make coffee-flavored Lay's chips — and ones that taste like biscuits and gravy? My grandma is rolling over in her grave in Biloxi, Mississippi, about that one." She leans in and whispers, "They're delicious, but don't tell anyone I said that, especially not my Southern relatives. Bless their hearts."
I give Elsa May another hug and notice she smells different than she used to ... It's as if her signature Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume scent mated with Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo.
I follow her; she's practically skipping down the hall to 404, the apartment which she and I shared for nearly four years before she got knocked up, married, and moved into her in-laws' home in the suburbs.
Once we're inside, she goes to the fridge and pours chilled champagne into two coffee mugs. "Who needs to bother with those dainty flutes?" she asks. "I mostly drink from sippy cups these days." I give her a sideways look and transfer my champagne into a flute.
What can I say? I'm a rules girl. I like to drink my beverage out of its proper glass.
She shrugs. "Let's go drink in our beds."
I'm not super keen on this idea, but it's Elsa May's night — so I reluctantly pick up my flute and head toward the bedroom.
Apartment 404 is almost the ideal NYC pad. It's in the West Village, my favorite neighborhood. It has a doorman, a roof deck, and yes, a dishwasher. (Don't tell Samantha.) The only catch was that for almost four years, Elsa May and I had to share a bedroom. It was the only way we could afford the place back then. We actually liked our twin beds and Bert and Ernie lifestyle. It's been more than a year without her here and I still miss her — and sometimes I forget she won't be waiting for me when I come home.
"OMG," Elsa May squeals, opening the door to "our" tiny bedroom with a very obstructed view of the Empire State Building. "You pushed the beds together." Her face falls for only a second before she recovers. "I guess it was finally time, since I haven't lived here forever." She falls back onto the king bed I constructed out of our twins and rolls around. "Maybe you'll actually get lucky now," she laughs.
Excerpted from "Her Fake Engagement"
Copyright © 2017 Gigi Garrett.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Move over ladies of the silver screen, Lottie Langerman is about to take center stage. Her Fake Engagement is my introduction to Gigi Garrett and she left her stamp on my heart from the first page. Lottie is perfect romantic comedy material. A single girl searching for love in the big city. Her sisters of the heart and her borderline obsession land her in some crazy situations, but she always muddles through with laughter, optimism and friendships intact. Sisterhood, satire and sex appeal make for an entertaining story.