How to Lose a Guy in 10 Dates

By: Lacy Williams
Acknowledgments





With grateful thanks to my local writers’ group, OCFW, for suggesting (and in some cases living through) many of Angela’s awful dates. You all rock!





Prologue





Why had she ever agreed to this?

Angela Hudson picked her way across the potholed high school parking lot. In early August, the summer break wasn't over yet, and the lot was empty save three other cars.

The other three schmucks who'd been wrangled into joining the reunion   committee. Schmucks, because who wanted this job? No one.

She’d been too nice to hang up on the high school principal when he'd called and pleaded for her to take a spot on the committee.

It wasn't that she didn't have the time. She was a busy single mother with a cake decorating business, but she could carve out an hour or two out of her schedule.

It was the humiliation factor.

She’d been homecoming queen. Head cheerleader. Voted by her classmates as Most Likely to Succeed.

Ten years later, and she was a failure. Failed marriage. Failed relationship with her own dad. Failed business—or close enough.

And she really didn't want to walk in and face off with three former classmates who probably had it all together.

But she also wasn't one to back out when she'd committed to doing something, so she straightened her shoulders and the cuffs on her Anne Klein blouse and pushed inside the dim, cool building.

Why they'd chosen to meet here instead of someplace like the coffee shop Cup of Joe on the town's small Main Street was a mystery.

Sounded like they were all here already as voices echoed down the shadowed hallway. Someone had left the overhead lights off, and sunlight from the bank of windows at the front of the building angled along the floor before disappearing. One of the classroom lights was on, spilling out of the room and onto the floor.

She braced herself and sucked in her tummy before passing through the door.

"Angela!"

"Hi!"

A chorus of female voices rang out. She was momentarily blinded as her eyes adjusted to the overhead fluorescents.

"Mary Beth. Jo." Angela nodded to the music teacher and to the UPS store owner. Both women were local to Ross, Oklahoma, population two thousand forty-three, though Angela mostly greeted them in passing and hadn't had a real conversation with them in years. Real conversation meant admitting to the imperfect status of her life.

"And Morgan. I haven't seen you since graduation."

Morgan had been in a vastly different social circle than Angela's popular cheerleader friends back in high school. Though she'd occasionally crossed paths with Mary Beth and Jo, Angela realized she didn't know anything at all about the other woman.

Back then, Morgan had been voted Most likely to leave town and never come back, and she had. She didn't look entirely happy to be here now, chin propped on her hand with a glum expression.

Awkwardness descended, and Angela let her eyes roam the room. It was a math classroom, the chalkboard she remembered now replaced with a white board, but the linoleum and desks seemed to be the very same from ten years ago. Everything had seemed bright, important and life-or-death back then. Now the classroom looked tired and faded. Or maybe it was her jaded eyes.

"So we all got roped into the committee?" Angela tried to inject some brightness into her voice, but it felt false. Like her smile. "Are we waiting on anyone else?"

"I don't think so," Mary Beth said.

Morgan tapped a pencil on the desk. "Principal Jay said there were four of us who volunteered."

Volunteered…yeah. Sure.

"Let's get down to it then," Jo said, flipping open a binder. "I need to get back to the store soon."

They worked together relatively well, quickly deciding on a theme, assigning tasks for contacting vendors and classmates, and scheduling their next meeting for a month from now.

Angela couldn't help sighing, glancing out the window.

"What?" Jo asked.

Angela debated whether to say what she was thinking. She shrugged. "I'm not sure I even want to go to the reunion  ."

Morgan's eyes flicked up from where she'd been staring at the desk. "You too?"

Mary Beth glanced between them, wearing a bemused smile. "What's the big deal?"

"Nothing for you," Angela said. "You've got a boyfriend. I have an ex, and a failing business, and I'm not looking forward to making small talk with everyone who'll want to catch up."

"Tell me about it," Morgan agreed.

Mary Beth looked to Jo. "What about you?"

Jo nodded slowly. "I never thought I'd still be single by our ten-year." Some shadow passed behind her eyes, one that Angela couldn't recognize. She vaguely remembered a prayer request from Bible class. Had Jo battled some illness? Was that why she was still single?

"Too bad we can't just manufacture boyfriends for the occasion," Morgan muttered.

Angela snorted. Wouldn't that be nice? "I wish."

"You could," Mary Beth said. "What about online dating?"

Angela froze, watching to see that Jo and Morgan had done the same.

Mary Beth went on. "If all you're looking for is a date for the reunion  , why not? Maybe it could even be more."

Angela's mind spun faster than a mixer on high speed. She'd resisted dating since her divorce, knowing her baggage was a lot to take. But if a guy knew the whole sordid tale up front because he'd read her profile...maybe it could work.

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