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We were locked in a standoff. A big part of me was still angry with him and resented his interference. The rest of me remembered the regret in his voice from the previous night, the comfort of his touch, and the warmth of his nearness. I didn’t know if they were enough to erase the moment Joseph hung up on me and I realized Monroe was still there and had heard everything, that it had been his demand that I call him and face Joseph’s betrayal so starkly.
“Clearly,” Lorelei said as she turned toward Greenly, “my brother has lost all sense of manners.” She waited for my friend to abandon her boxes then extended her hand. “You must be the infamous Greenly. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Red spread through Greenly’s cheeks. “Infamous, huh? What has he been saying about me?”
“Only good things,” she assured her. “Getting him to take time off work isn’t easy. I’d like to know your trick.”
Greenly laughed. “Well, I didn’t really give him much choice.”
Lorelei chuckled. “Yes, that is usually about what it takes.” She shook her head at her brother, but kept her focus on Greenly. “Tell me, do you have anything special planned for this evening for your friend?”
Maybe Greenly’s close proximity to Lorelei clued her in to something I couldn’t see, because her smile turned mischievous. “Nope. We’re planning to crash and gorge ourselves on Lydia’s leftovers.”
“Perfect,” Lorelei said.
Up to that point, Monroe had been largely ignoring his sister. Something in her tone alerted us both. I eyed her warily while his lips twisted into a wry smile. “Lorelei,” he said warningly.
Her innocence was clearly false as she turned to regard him. “Honestly, brother, Momma would be so ashamed. Sara is new to the building, has no plans for Christmas dinner, and is all alone. How can we not invite her to join us?”
“Oh, no,” I said quickly. “Really, I’m fine. Don’t feel obligated—”
“Obligated?” Lorelei laughed. “It would be our pleasure.” She stepped away from Greenly and linked her arm with Monroe’s once again. He gave her a look that said she was in for a talking to, but she ignored him completely. She tugged him to get moving, and as they passed by said, “Dinner is at six. I’ll send Monroe up to collect you a little before that. Have a lovely afternoon.”
“Uh, sure. You too,” I said, only realizing after they were well past me that it sounded like I’d just agreed to dinner rather than simply wishing her a good afternoon. “Wait,” I spluttered, looking up to stop Lorelei. They were already gone and Greenly was laughing at me.
I glared at her, but she couldn’t stop. When Roman and James walked up, they eyed each other without speaking. It wasn’t until Lydia walked up that the awkward silence was broken. “What are you all doing just standing here?”
James shrugged. Roman looked to Greenly, who was still giggling. “Sara…has a…date,” she managed to spit out.
Clearly startled, Lydia put a hand on her hip and turned to face me. “Really? With who? Is it really a good idea so soon after Joseph?”
Clamping my jaw shut, I refused to answer. It was not a date. Not even close.
“Monroe,” Greenly chuckled. “His sister shanghaied Sara for Christmas dinner.”
For a moment, Lydia seemed confused. Then her eyes brightened. “Well, okay then.”
Realizing I was severely outmanned in this, I shook my head, picked my boxes back up, and stomped past them toward my apartment. I was not having dinner with Monroe, and even if I were, it certainly wasn’t anything close to a date. The absolute last thing I needed was a new relationship. I couldn’t even get my cat to like me!
The Oblivious Girl’s Handbook
Being oblivious to all the signs that your life is about to fall apart doesn’t stop it from happening to Sara Taylor.
Alone except for the Siamese cat her boyfriend—ex-boyfriend—Joseph left behind to teach her a lesson, Sara has no clue how to survive on her own. She hasn’t handled her own bills in years, can’t meet a deadline without someone else programming alarms into her phone, and is constantly either losing important things or getting herself hopelessly lost. Sara has no idea how she’s supposed to move out of her university apartment and start her first real job without someone there to hold her hand.
Although she knows her new friend Monroe would step in to help, she’s not about to call him after having thrown him out of her apartment when his suspicions about Joseph prove true and Sara is left angry and mortified. It doesn’t take long before she is desperate to lean on someone else’s strength, even for just a few minutes, as real life begins to overwhelm her. Pride forces her to either sink or swim, even when sinking seems the most likely outcome.