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His Big Offer

By:Penny Wylder

His Big Offer
Penny Wylder

       One





"You know what? He was a nice guy, as guys go. But don't get all macho  on me about having a plan and then very obviously not have a plan. That  just makes you look controlling. Plus, unfortunately, I wasn't attracted  to him. Bonus, I don't think he was attracted to me either. So at least  neither of us wanted to be there. Anyway, I could have had a better  dive back into the dating pool, but as you know, readers, I've had way  worse."

-Rock Bottom Caroline



Warm, strong arms slip around my waist, and I snuggle back against his  chest. I love when he comes to bed after me, because then I can feel the  way his warmth seeps through the sheets, enveloping both of us. His  lips are on my neck, teasing, trying to wake me up, and I smile because  it's working. I turn over to face him, and I see the flash of his eyes  in the dark as he leans down to kiss me, and … oh my God. His breath is  terrible! What is this? Not what I signed up for.

A slobbery tongue whacks against my cheek, and I come awake with a  start. Alice's dog Noodle is licking my face, and his breath is so bad  I'm about to hurl. I push him off me, sitting up. Unfortunately, this  isn't an atypical way to wake up when you're sleeping on Alice's couch,  but I would have really liked to see where that dream was heading. I can  guarantee that it's better than the real-life action that I've been  getting.

I scrub my face with the blanket, getting the rest of the dog saliva  off. Honestly, it's par for the course with where my life is right now.  No girl dreams of waking up with her best friend's dog every morning.  But things could be worse. I'd much rather be woken up by Noodle than  still be living with my parents, where my shortcomings was dinner  conversation and I was constantly being ridiculed.

When everything got to be too much, and I couldn't take any more of  their passive-aggressive comments, Alice let me move in here. Because  she's a saint. And now it's been nine months of me living on her couch,  barely contributing to rent because I can't keep a normal job. If I'm  not laid off because my position is no longer available, than it's the  store closing, or some other thing that seems like I'm making it up when  I string it all together.

Thankfully, I still make a little money from ads on my blog, "Rock  Bottom Caroline." The trials and tribulations of my love life, all  online for anyone to see. It's mostly bad. It's shocking what people  will send to women on dating sites and social media, and lots of times,  it's down right gross. But I've got a small, dedicated group of readers,  and the ad revenue keeps me from starving. Sometimes I write stuff  about my life-my struggles to find a job and balance in my life. But the  posts that are most successful are the dating stories.

I log on and moderate a couple of comments on my latest post: a summary  of last night's date, where the gentleman who asked me out insisted on  making the plans for the date, but when I showed up, he had no plans and  we ended up walking around the financial district for two hours. Let me  tell you, the financial district is not a fun place to walk around in  NYC. We didn't even shake hands goodbye. Definitely not the worst date  I've been on, but certainly not the best either.

Last night was actually the first time I'd gone out in months. There was  a date so bad that I couldn't bring myself to take the chance until  now. I'm still a bit anxious when I think about it, but there's nothing I  can do. I'm kind of happy that last night's was uneventful, because at  least it was normal boring. The two blog comments are from regulars,  commenting and laughing at my predicament but also welcoming me back  after not posting for a while. At least I know there will always be a  few people who appreciate what I do.

I hear Alice's door open, and she comes out into the living room.  "Morning," she chirps. How she's always so perky is beyond me. She pours  herself a cup of coffee and grabs a granola bar from our stash while I  drag myself over to the bar.

"You're having a good morning, as always."

"Of course," I say. I'm probably the least morning person to ever exist. I'm barely awake before noon on a good day.                       
       
           



       

"What are your plans for the day?"

Alice always asks me this. Sometimes I make something up to make her  feel better about my lousy life, and sometimes I'm honest. Today I don't  feel like I have enough mental energy to make up anything interesting.  "I honestly don't know. I'll see if there's anywhere new that I can  apply." I'm a pro at scanning job listings now.

"That's always good," she says. "Can't hurt." Alice would be happy if I  never got a job, and I think she'd be fine if I decided her couch was my  new permanent home, but she knows that's not what I want, and she tries  to be supportive of whatever I do. She's going off to her absurdly  well-paying job at a bank. A job which she tried to bring me on for as  well, only I totally crashed and burned in the interview, and I'd be  surprised if they didn't throw me out of that bank if I ever decided to  show up there again.

"Can't hurt," I mumble, taking the coffee she hands to me.

My computer makes a small dinging sound, and I wince. I'm so used to bad  news that I don't even like the sound of email arriving anymore. Maybe I  should change the sound. I click open my email, and the cup of coffee  almost falls out of my hand.

There, in the dark black letters of an unopened message, are the words: Job Offer.

Alice sees the look on my face. "What is it?"

"Am I crazy or does that say what I think it says?"

She comes around the corner and peers at the screen. "Oh my God."

"Am I hallucinating?"

"No you're not. Open it!"

I do, and am greeted with a sleek logo and an email that's a few short  lines. The person emailing, a guy named Chance Montgomery-with the  initials CEO attached to his name-has seen my blog and thinks he might  have a position for me at his company called Heart Makers. Is there any  way for me to come in sometime today to speak with him about it?

"Is this for real?"

Alice reads over my shoulder, her jaw dropping open. "I think it is. What the hell is Heart Makers?"

I open up an internet tab and run a search. Heart Markers search results  explode across my screen, with news stories piling up at the top. I get  the gist pretty quickly. Heart Makers is the new matchmaker on the  block and they're shaking things up with the way they work. They're  young, fashionable, and the best place to go if you're single in New  York City.

"Oh my God." My fingers are on the keys before I can even register that  I'm replying. Yes, I am so interested. I hit send having barely  proofread it, and I'm sure that I have typos that make me look like an  idiot but I can't even care. A job offer. A job offer. I mean, I have no  idea what I would do working for a matchmaker, but I didn't even  realize how hopeless I'd become until this showed up in my mailbox.

"You're going to go?"

"Of course I'm going to go," I say. "I need a job. I can't keep bumming  on your couch for the rest of my life even if you'd let me."

She grins. "This is so exciting! I really hope it works out. You have to tell me everything when you come home tonight, okay?"

"Deal."

"I've got to run." She pours the rest of her coffee into a to-go cup.  "Raid my closet, take what you need, make sure you look fabulous." And  just like that, she's out the door, Noodle looking after her mournfully.

My computer dings again, and it's a reply.

Can you be here in an hour?

I look at the address. It'll be a stretch, but I think I can make it. I  type back an enthusiastic yes and sprint into Alice's room. I'm not sure  how I manage, but I get ready faster than I ever have in my life. Thank  God I showered last night. At least I don't have to waste time washing  and drying my hair.

Barely twenty minutes later, I'm locking the apartment behind me, trying  to walk to the subway as fast as I can in Alice's borrowed pencil skirt  and heels. I have my own clothes, but none of them are new, and the few  nice things I have that are appropriate for an interview are better  suited for things like the bank or an upscale retail job. Not a  matchmaker with an office in a downtown high rise.                       
       
           



       

I make the train with only seconds to spare and find a seat. Now I just  have to keep from panicking all the way there. That sounds totally  doable and totally like me. Not.





Two





"The first time this guy messaged me, he complimented my eyes. I should  have known that was too good to be true. The bad ones are easy to tell.  But if someone shows up and it sounds like he stepped out of a romantic  comedy? That should be the biggest warning sign of all."

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