Home > With a Prince (Missed Connections #2)

With a Prince (Missed Connections #2)
Author: Jeffe Kennedy

Acknowledgements

 


As always, many people helped me with this book, answering questions, brainstorming ideas, and giving me inspiration.

First and foremost: Thank you to Anela Deen, winner of my newsletter contest to name the bakery in this book. “The Last Crumb” is exactly what I was looking for. Will be sending you books and cupcakes!

I want to thank everyone who loved Last Dance and poked at me to get Marcia’s story out there. It’s a great feeling to write a book you know people are excited to read.

Gratitude to Anne Calhoun for beta reading and enthusiasm. Your early love for Damien made all the difference.

Thanks to Julie Fine for reading and fact-checking, and for the amazing recipe suggestions!

Nancy Teichman Bauer gets credit for help for all things Chicago. Any mistakes are my own—especially because she told me not to argue with her.

Thanks again to Sonali Dev for trying to keep me from screwing up too badly. And for a really interesting discussion on the saying “my cross to bear,” and how religion doesn’t seem to factor on that one.

Hat tip to Lonman & Eagle, they of “Eat, Drink, Whiskey” for answering my weird emails. Next time I’m in Chicago, I’m absolutely going there!

Thanks, forever and always, to Rebecca Cremonese who goes to great lengths to make everything as perfect as she can, even to researching how the L really smells. (And conceding to me on that one!)

And, also as always, love and thanks to David and Carien. Both of you are amazing and wonderful parts of my life.

 

 

The Rules

 


As women holding ourselves to certain standards (if not necessarily high ones), we of the Fabulous Five agree to abide by the following Rules:

1. It is permissible to dance or hang with any man once and once only in order to assess his fitness according to the following criteria: Looks, Rhythm, Taste, Touch, and Chemistry, with a maximum of one point per criterion.

Amendment 1a. Partial points are permissible, in multiples no smaller than a tenth.

Amendment 1b. A sixth criterion, “that extra something,” can be considered, but only after round four. It cannot be used to tilt scores in the original five criteria.

2. A man must score at least a two out of five to advance to the second round—dating or dancing.

Amendment 2a. This must be a score of 2.0 or better. No rounding up from a score below 2.0 is permitted.

3. Cell numbers will be given only upon request, never offered, and only to those who’ve advanced to round three.

4. A score of four out of five is needed to advance to round three. No exceptions. This can include additional dances, dates, or making out, short of intercourse.

Amendment 3a. This must be a score of 4.0 or better. No rounding up from a score below 4.0 is permitted.

5. No sex with any man who has not advanced to round four, which requires maintaining a score of 4.0 or better following round 3.

6. Anyone who has agreed to abide by these rules and fails to do so will pay a penalty as determined by the group.

Amendment 6a. Rounding up from lower scores will elicit a more severe penalty.

Amendment 6b. (aka the Charley Amendment): Poor math skills are no excuse.

 

 

~ 1 ~

 

 

Juliet – m4w (Chicago) I know I could be you’re Romeo, if you’ll just give me another chance. I’ve changed. Losing you was the wake-up call I needed. I’m willing to grovel. Just make that call. You know where to find me. Always as you wish. Your prince.

I allowed myself a little dreamy sigh over that one. The reference to The Princess Bride was a particularly nice touch, and mostly made up for the your/you’re confusion. And he was willing to grovel! At least he paid attention, and was at least trying to change. He got the wake-up call and still loved her. She should appreciate that. So many people didn’t appreciate what they had.

Look at all the people in this L car, so many frowning or sad. Of course, that could come from being crowded in with the evening commuter traffic. Or that the train car smelled bad, as they all do. Exhaust, dirty snow, the peculiar mix of plastic parkas and good leather, on top of that weird sour smell pervasive in all trains, no matter how clean, like vomit and spilled beer.

Reading between the lines of the ad, it seemed that she must have loved this guy at some point. Probably still did. Maybe they had been living together and something happened. He slept with another girl and—ugh. No infidelity. Never an excuse for that. He… was a workaholic. Yes, working so hard at his job, long hours, weekends, all to save up and buy that diamond ring for her, maybe put a down payment on a pretty townhouse in Oak Park. A nice place to raise the kids they’d have. But he forgot to pay attention to her and she thought, oh, she thought he didn’t love her anymore. Maybe she suspected him of screwing around with someone prettier, smarter, more fun.

So she threw him out. Maybe he came home late one night. Way too late, but with that ring in his pocket! He’d planned to make her breakfast in bed and propose, but she’d put all his stuff on the sidewalk, refused to speak to him. And he’d gone away, crushed, desperate to find a way to make her listen…

Some women were like that—refusing to just listen to the explanation. Or they pretended to listen, but then still stayed mad. Like my housemate, Charley, swearing revenge on me for the way I’d tricked her into dating Daniel, when I’d tried to explain that I did it for her happiness.

Okay, maybe for a bit of vicarious happiness on my part, but still…

The thing is, people don’t do things for no reason at all. Charley hadn’t been giving Daniel a chance and you have to do that. Like when Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice read Darcy’s letter and finally understood everything. What if he’d never written that letter? What if she’d been horrible and thrown it out or burned it without reading it? It all would have ended right there. Darcy would have married that sickly cousin. Lydia would have been abandoned by Wickham and likely become a prostitute.

(Austen never says so explicitly, of course, but a modern woman knows perfectly well what “ruined” meant back then.)

And Lizzie… well, she would have become an old maid, wouldn’t she? Alone in her virginal bed for the rest of her life. Not unlike Jane Austen herself, but let’s not go there.

Too close to home.

That’s why—if it ever happens for me—I would always listen to the explanation, always give a guy another chance. Even with Charley swearing a vengeance to fit the crime, I refused to close myself off to possibilities. Which meant I had to be vigilant and clever. She might act like a ditzy drama queen, but Charley had a super sharp brain and she’d absorbed all the dramatic arcs of the shows she played in and studied at school. Here she’d ended up—happily!—with Daniel Holt, catch of the century, but she couldn’t let go of it, that I’d gone behind her back. The whole mystery had all just been so romantic. And she’d fallen for it, the enigma, the clues. I would have eaten that up, if anyone cared enough about me to set me up with the guy who turned out to be the One. Daniel was totally her One.

My prince, my true love would find me, too. I knew it in my heart. He could be right around the corner, looking for me. There had to be a hundred people in this one car, so he could be here somewhere. Not that older man with the newspaper over his face. There was a younger guy in a hoodie, a few seats down on the opposite side, earbuds in and face bowed over his phone, thumbs working non-stop. He’d been there when I got on and I still hadn’t seen his face. Still, with those skinny jeans, fringed holes showing skin at his knees, he seemed more like a high school kid, so no go there. And obviously not that little boy across from me standing between his mom’s knees, though he was super cute.

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