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“Oh, great,” she said dryly. “Dave just opened our sixth party platter. We didn’t even register for one, let alone six. Don’t my friends know I hate people?” Her voice seemed to brighten. “Anyway, what’s up? How are you?”

“I’m okay.” The last cheerleader had left the fieldhouse, so I was all alone. I sat down on the stacked mats. “Hey, question for you about Dave’s friend, Jay. Anything about him I should know?”

“Uh . . . nope.”

“Okay, so he doesn’t go to Michigan? Or play tight end for them?”

She sounded like she was faking shock. “What? He does?”

“Marcy.”

“Okay, fine. You know what I want to tell you about him? He’s a great guy who goes to a good school. Maybe it happens to be the one you don’t like so much. Did you know he helped save the wedding?”

“What?”

“Jay left the wedding early to babysit Dave’s shithead cousin, who was plastered and started getting into it with my mom.”

I pressed my fingertips to my forehead, trying to massage away the headache that persisted. I didn’t want confirmation that Jay was a nice guy. He was supposed to be the enemy.

“How’d you find out?” she asked. “Dave wants to know.”

“I say this with love, Marcy. Your husband’s a dick.”

She snorted. “He has his moments.”

I told her the story about being blindsided at Biff’s, the diner, and then everything that happened in Jay’s sweltering backseat, but made her promise to edit the version she relayed to her new husband.

“Oh my God,” she gasped. “You left him with blue balls?”

“At least they match his school colors,” I said.

“You’re terrible,” she groaned. “What are you going to do?”

“Nothing. I can’t hang out with a guy who plays for that team up North.”

“You are so one-track. Hope you like cats, spinster.”

I squeezed my eyes shut tight, forcing myself to ask. “Did he . . . I don’t know, mention me?”

I could hear her huge grin through the phone. “He did.” She made me wait a lifetime before elaborating. “Dave’s not allowed to give out Jay’s phone number, but you never said anything to me.”

My heart skipped. “You gave him my number? When?”

“Last night.”

Oh my God. Why the heck was I disappointed he hadn’t called?

Wait a minute. The text I’d received at ten o’clock last night from an unknown number made a lot more sense now. At the time, I’d written it off as a wrong number. I thought it had been a picture of a chicken drumstick made out of Play-Doh. It wasn’t.

It was probably tofurkey.

“Dave just unwrapped the wedding gift you gave us.” Marcy’s tone was pointed. “How thoughtful of you.”

I’d never understood why Dave was so anti-OSU before. He and Marcy had graduated from Ball State in Indiana. So, I’d sent them the 11×14 dish as a joke, mostly aimed at Dave. The Pyrex glass had our logo and the words “Ohio State Kick-asserole” frosted on the bottom. Knowing now that Dave’s close friend played for Michigan, I got it.

“I ordered you a real present off your registry,” I said. “Your coffee maker is on backorder. It’s supposed to arrive next week. Or maybe never. I’m reconsidering after what Dave did.”

“You know what? You can keep the coffee maker if you call Jay.”

“Come on, man. Fooling around with him in his back seat was crazy, but you know that’s as far as it can go with us.” Maybe he was a nice guy. He was definitely smart, and funny, and obviously into sports. But he was a Wolverine, full stop.

So, why couldn’t I stop thinking about him? Stupid lust. I flopped down backward on the mats, hoping if I lay still long enough, the feeling would pass. I just needed to flush him out of my system.

The thread of an idea developed. What if . . .

I’d been blindsided at Biff’s, caught with my defenses down. What would it be like if I saw him again, now that I knew the truth? Maybe he wouldn’t seem quite so funny, or smart, or even attractive. Perhaps this was the fastest way to get rid of the distraction that was Jay Harris.

“You realize he’s the first guy who’s seen all your OSU ‘crazy,’” Marcy said, “and it hasn’t scared him off.”

I launched myself upright to sit, pleased to have a plan of attack, even though it filled me with anxiety. “You know what? Fine. I’ll call him,” I said. “But when it ends in tears—his—I’ll blame you.”

Marcy laughed. “Yeah? I can live with that.”

Even after the decision had been made and I’d hung up, I struggled. I pulled up the text message, took a deep breath, and flung myself off the cliff into the murky waters of the unknown. Good God, I was about to willingly call a Michigan guy.

The phone rang.

And rang.

What if Jay didn’t pick up? Should I leave a message?


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