One San Francisco librarian would rather check out a good romance than dare to experience it herself. Luckily, her own next chapter is full of surprises…
Melissa “Bernie” Bernard isn’t familiar with fame. After all, she works at a college library with hardly any visitors. But when a video of a marriage proposal in her stacks goes viral, it’s not the bride and groom who capture the Internet’s attention. It’s Bernie—caught rolling her eyes. Now, just as she’s ready to go into hiding and permanently bury her nose in a book, a handsome reporter appears with a proposal of his own…
If Colin Rodriguez doesn’t do something big to attract new readers, his boss will hire someone else to dole out dating advice. Determined to prove he’s an expert at romance—despite his own pitiful track record—he pitches a story: He will find dates for the undateable. Specifically, for the now-infamous, love‑hating librarian at Richmond College.
Even though Bernie doesn’t believe in happily-ever-afters, she’s not one to resist a good challenge. Yet with one disastrous date after another, she’s ready to give up. Until Colin proves he’ll do anything to find her the perfect match—even if it means putting himself up for the role…
Praise for Sarah Title’s Southern Comfort Romance series
“Sexy and made me laugh!” —Smexy Books
“A fast-paced read that provided just as many smiles from the humor as it did sizzles from the romance.” —The Book Divas Reads
“Wild, witty, and wonderful.” New York Times bestselling author Jo Goodman
“Quite a sexy book.” —USAToday.com
About the Author
Sarah Title has worked as a barista, a secretary, a furniture painter, and once managed a team of giant walking beans. She currently leads a much more normal life as a mild-mannered(ish) librarian in North Carolina. She is the author of the Southern Comfort series, set in small-town Kentucky; Kentucky Home, her first novel, was published in 2013. She comments irregularly and insightfully on her blog, Title, Author, at www.sarahtitle.com, and if you like pictures of elderly poodles, follow her on Instagram (@titleauthor), Twitter (@titleauthor), and Facebook (facebook.com/sarahtitlebooks).
Read an Excerpt
By SARAH TITLE
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Sarah Title
All rights reserved.
I'm about to graduate from college and I think my boyfriend is going to propose. My parents really like him, but they say we're too young to get married. I really want to start a family, and I love him so much! We've been through everything together. We lost our virginities to each other. We've been talking about what we'll do after graduation, but he's never brought up marriage.
If he asks, should I say yes?
Distressed About Saying Yes in Alamo Square
You are so young. I can barely remember what it was like to be that young, except that marriage was the last thing on my mind. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, and who knows what will happen when you get out in the real world? You might discover that the path you set yourself on is not the path you were meant to be on. Your boyfriend might find the same thing. Hell, you might want to have sex with other people!
Think about that. He is the only person you'll have sex with for the rest of your life. Unless you have an open marriage, which is definitely something you should bring up before he asks.
Imagine your perfect life together. Imagine what your house will look like, how many kids you'll have, what your career will be. Nice, right? Now imagine that none of that happens. You have a dead-end job that you took just to pay the bills. You can barely afford the kids you have, or maybe you find out you can't have kids. You live in the Bay Area, so guess what, you can't afford a house. Life sucks. Is your boyfriend still the person you want to be with?
I can't tell you what to do, Distressed, but if I could, I would tell you: when he asks, say, "Hell, no."
It was seventeen past one and Bernie was hangry.
She thought longingly of her midmorning banana, abandoned and lonely on her kitchen counter, and of her leftover lentil soup, waiting patiently in the insulated bag under her desk. All of her food was so far away. And even if it was right in front of her, she wouldn't eat at the information desk. It would set a bad example. She had enough trouble keeping her student workers off their cell phones while they were on the desk; she didn't need them eating, too.
She looked at the clock again. Eighteen after one. Carly was a wonderful employee in many ways; she was friendly and she seemed unflappable in the face of panicked procrastinators. She had ended up in the library as her work-study assignment, but after four years, she was now considering library school. Bernie was glad. She'd be a great librarian.
A late librarian, but a great one.
As if Bernie's rising hunger-induced annoyance had conjured her up, Carly came sprinting through the lobby, slowing down to a power walk once she crossed the threshold of the library. She mouthed a wincing apology to Bernie, who just shrugged. She could write her up, but Carly was a senior. She'd be graduating in a few months, and anyway, Bernie was about to eat lunch so she didn't really care.
"I'm so sorry." Carly was breathless when she finally reached the desk. She dropped her heavy shoulder bag on the floor next to the reference computer. "Evan was ..." She blushed, then stopped. Bernie was grateful. She'd learned way too much about Carly's personal life, and the oversharing had only multiplied since Carly had started dating Evan. Evan was a musical theater major — not gay — and they were supposed to be saving themselves for marriage. Bernie ignored the alarm bells and minded her own business, or as much as Carly would let her mind her own business. For example, a few weeks into the new semester, Carly was floating around and more tardy than usual, and when Bernie asked her what was up, she got a long, metaphor-filled description of Carly's deflowering by the not-gay (and apparently not-waiting-for-marriage) Evan.
It was sweet, Bernie reminded herself. Young love and all that. She had been young and foolish and in love before. Carly would grow out of it, just as surely as Bernie had.
That was depressing, she thought.
Which was surely just the hunger talking.
"There's nothing carrying over," Bernie explained, her mind half on her lunch. In addition to soup, there was also a cupcake. She had forgotten all about the cupcake. Her stomach growled. "It's art history time again," she said, referring to the annual Intro to Art History term paper rush they got this time in the semester. "I pulled a few of the books this morning" — she pointed to a small cart of giant art books near the desk — "so if you could check the links on the Web site, make sure they're all still good ..."
Bernie was distracted by a big crowd of students entering the library. Her heart sank even as her public service smile lit up. She couldn't leave Carly to handle this many students by herself. Carly was unflappable, but Bernie wasn't a sadist.
"Hi, can I help —"
Bernie started to greet them, thinking they'd all come over from a class together and maybe they wanted a tour. Bernie didn't have any tours on her calendar, but that never stopped a professor from sending a group over. But then they all stopped just shy of the desk and turned their backs to her. Were they protesting? Who would protest the library? Then she heard music coming from the back of the Student Blob, and she was just about to launch into her autopilot Please-Use-Headphones, when the Blob started to shake.
Oh my God, she thought. They're dancing.
She looked at Carly, as if The Young Person might have some explanation for the Undulating Student Blob (was this a thing the kids were doing, Bernie wondered while reminding herself that she was only thirty-one, still a kid, maybe). Carly, however, looked like she was on the amused end of the bemused spectrum. Kids, Bernie thought. Then: I am very, very hungry.
Then the lyrics started, and Bernie recognized the pop song — something about love forever and crap like that. But her Old Person Brain remembered that it was sung by a woman, and this was not a woman singing. The Dancing Blob parted and there, like a singing Moses, was Evan. He was holding a small microphone plugged into his cell phone, karaoke-ing over the original song. As he sang and the music crescendoed, the dancers moved in a joyful, if not totally coordinated, circle around the information desk. Bernie watched them swish and swirl around, wondering where they were going to go next. She started to say something to Carly, but Carly was not watching the dancers. She was watching Evan, who had swirled up to her and onto the desk. He was dancing on the information desk. That was not allowed. Bernie should stop him.
Then a couple of the burlier dancers were behind the desk — another thing Bernie should stop — and they lifted Carly, who squealed, but took Evan's hand as he led her in a few complicated but clearly familiar moves on the desk.
Two people dancing on the information desk. Bernie should definitely not just stand there with her mouth open.
Then the dancing stopped, and so did Evan's singing, although the music continued in the background. Bernie remembered this part. This was the part where the singer talked to the singee about how much she loved him and there were some metaphors about sunshine and butterflies. But Evan wasn't metaphorizing. He was getting down on one knee. Then he was reaching into his pocket. Then, accompanied by the sound of dozens of undergraduate cell phones taking pictures, he pulled open a small square box.
"Carly Monica Hilbert, you have made me the happiest man in the world. Will you make me even happier by becoming my wife?"
No, no, no, thought Bernie. This isn't right. They are way too young. They just started drinking legally — they couldn't possibly be ready to get married!
But Carly wasn't listening to Bernie's silent objections. She wasn't looking to her mentor for advice or approval. She was just looking at Evan, her eyes shining, and she nodded.
There was a surge from the crowd as Evan stood and twirled Carly in his arms, then shakily put the ring on her finger.
Bernie was never going to get to eat lunch.
* * *
Colin woke up on a couch that was not his own.
He knew this because his legs were hanging off the end, and his legs did not hang off the end of the giant lounging sofa he had in his living room. Also, he was sticking to the fake leather. Not only would he never own a fake leather couch — and this one was really fake — he also knew that he didn't own a fake leather couch. He didn't own a real leather couch. Steph would never allow such an affront to the animal community as a leather couch in their house. Never mind that she had a pretty extensive collection of leather shoes, which he regularly pointed out, as was his prerogative as an older brother. However, since he was not on his own couch, the chances of his little sister being here were pretty slim.
He sat up, unsticking his legs from the couch while wondering why his legs were so sticky when he was pretty sure he had been wearing pants last night. He lifted the edge of the Transformers comforter covering his legs and confirmed that, yes, he was in his boxers. Also, his head hurt. Also, where the hell was he?
He looked around the room with squinting, hungover eyes. There were posters for martial arts movies in cheap frames on the wall, an artful tower of beer cans in the corner, and a bed with three heads sharing the lone pillow.
Where. The. Hell. Was. He?
As if sensing Colin's very confused perusal, one of the heads lifted and offered Colin a weak, groovy smile. "Hey, man," the head said, and Colin nodded hello.
"Have you seen my pants?" Colin whispered. This was a phrase he'd hoped never to say again after a particularly wild semester abroad in college. And yet, here he was. Wherever he was.
The head lifted an arm and pointed to the easy chair in the corner, on which another guy was sleeping, his mouth open and drooling onto Colin's jeans.
"I got 'em," the head said, and Colin went to stop him — surely he could retrieve his own pants — but the head was already climbing up and over his bedmates, who barely stirred, and deftly extricating Colin's jeans with barely a jostle of Drooly's head.
"Thanks," Colin said, and stepped off of the couch and into his pants. "Uh —" he started. He wasn't sure how to address this situation. He'd had drunken one-night stands before, and he'd woken up with a woman whose name he'd forgotten more times than he should probably admit. But this was new. A platonic drunken crash with strangers. At least, he assumed it was platonic. He couldn't really remember....
The head, which was attached to a tall, skinny body, tilted toward the door out of the living room or bedroom or whatever it was, and Colin followed him into a small but bright kitchen. He wished he had sunglasses. But at least he had pants.
Tall Head started making coffee, and Colin thought he might kiss him, which reminded him that he had no idea what had happened last night.
"Drake," Tall Head said, holding out his hand.
"Colin," said Colin.
"I know," laughed Drake. "You told us last night. A lot. Colin Rodriguez, Party Reporter." Oh, God. That was Colin's line from his first job as a nightlife reporter at an East Bay alt-weekly. He thought he'd left that particular bro persona behind after his immediate post-college life.
"Geez," he said, recognizing Drunken Asshole Colin Who Thought He Was Being Funny. "Sorry."
Drake shrugged. "Happens. We tried to put you in a cab home, but you couldn't remember your address. Figured it was better if you just slept it off here."
"I really appreciate it, man."
Drake waved him off, then poured him a cup of coffee. Colin thought he might love Drake.
"I think we're out of milk," Drake told him.
"S'cool. Black is good," Colin said, and he meant it. If he could have injected the coffee into his veins, he would have.
It was good.
"So ... you live here?"
Drake laughed at him again. Colin blushed. This was the most awkward morning-after conversation he'd ever had, and he'd had plenty. And this time, he hadn't even gotten anything for his trouble.
Well, he was pretty sure he hadn't gotten anything. He hadn't gotten anything memorable, at least.
"Yeah," Drake said. "Me and my boy who was on the chair. The two girls were ... visiting."
Oh my God, Colin thought. I slept through an orgy.
"Listen," Drake told him around a mouthful of toast. Where had he come up with toast? "I gotta get ready for work. You're welcome to hang out...."
"No! No, that's okay. I'll, uh. I'll just go. Thanks for the coffee." Before anything else dumb could happen, Colin walked out of the apartment, down the hall, and into the bright San Francisco day.
At least he hoped it was San Francisco.CHAPTER 2
My boyfriend won't grow up. All he wants to do is hang out with his bros all night, either at a crappy bar or playing video games online. When I mention it might be nice for him to take me to a restaurant that doesn't have paper napkins, he says sure, but he won't do it. Sometimes I feel like I'm dating a child! How can I get him to change?
Feeling Like Peter Pan's Wendy in Hayes Valley
It sounds like your boyfriend has different priorities from yours. You want to hang out with him; he doesn't. You want him to spend a lot of money on you; he doesn't. You can sit around and pretend that, someday, he'll grow out of it — but maybe that's just his personality. The job of a girlfriend is not to take a shitty guy and make him great. I think the best thing you can do for your love life is to find a new man.
"You're not dead!" Colin heard as he tried to sneak unnoticed through the unlocked front door.
Colin scowled at his little sister as she sat at the kitchen table in front of her laptop. Working again, even though it was the weekend. "You knew I wasn't dead. You gave me directions home, remember?"
Steph shook her head in disapproval. "You grew up in this city. Your lack of understanding of the public transit system is appalling."
"You could have sent an Uber."
"I'm not the one who lost his wallet in a bar last night. Someone brought it over, by the way. All your cards are in there. I took the cash."
Colin muttered a curse and took the wallet from Steph's outstretched hand. Sisters.
"She was cute. Seemed disappointed you weren't home."
"Shut up," he told his sister, then went over to the coffeemaker. He drained the pot into the nearest mug and plopped down on the chair next to hers.
Steph held up her mug for a refill. Colin pretended not to notice. She muttered something unflattering, then got up to make another pot.
"What are you working on this weekend?" he asked, turning her laptop toward him.
"Hey!" she said. "What if I was looking at something personal?"
"This doesn't look personal."
"It could have been! What if it was a picture of boobs or something!"
"What if it was a picture of MY boobs?"
"Fine," he conceded. "Although why would you be looking at a picture of your own boobs on your computer?"
"Why would you be getting blackout drunk with strangers?," she said.
"It was for a story."
"A story on how it's a man's privilege to lose consciousness and end the night with only a lost wallet?"
"Yup," Colin said, decidedly not taking her bait. It was too early for a discussion about the patriarchy. And by discussion, he meant a lecture from his little sister on how the world was designed in his favor, which would inevitably lead to a lecture on how he wasn't doing the women of the world any favors by writing for a fashion start-up that perpetuated an impossible standard of beauty and tied those standards to rampant consumerism. He was well aware that Steph's beauty would not be commodified; he had been told many times before. But he had to make a living.
Even if writing for Glaze was not how he really wanted to make his living. But he liked writing, and he was good at the kind of writing Glaze readers demanded of him (a slightly pandering version of "brutally honest guy's perspective"). He didn't totally hate it, usually. And sometimes it meant he was able to get into a new club or find out the top-secret location of a pop-up restaurant ... or spend the night in a post-college dive bar and get blackout drunk with strangers.
He might not have Steph's drive to better the world and fulfill her career ambitions, but, dammit, he was good at his job.
He ignored the little voice in his head — the one that sounded unfortunately like his little sister — that told him it sure looked like he was losing his touch.
Excerpted from The Undateable by SARAH TITLE. Copyright © 2017 Sarah Title. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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