Home > Fools in Love

Fools in Love
Author: J. Sterling

“Another satisfied customer,” I said out loud to no one in particular as I pressed on the keys of my laptop, closing out the file with the word SUCCESS stamped across it in bold red font.
My assistant, Meredith, walked by the moment I said the words, stopping abruptly in front of my office door. “Are you adding the client notes, or do you want me to do it?”
I looked up at her, smiling. “I got it. They’re already done.”
“You’re a machine, April,” she complimented me before walking away to handle her own set of tasks.
Her words made me laugh softly even though they were true. I was a freaking machine. And not only because I was the best damn matchmaker in Manhattan, but also because I absolutely loved my job. There was nothing more satisfying to me than helping two people find love in this insane city. It seemed like it should be pretty simple with everyone always hustling and bustling around outdoors the way that we did here, but it wasn’t.
Finding someone to screw was easy.
Finding someone to build a life with was hard.
There were other matchmakers in the city, of course, but no one had the record that we did. Our office was so good that we didn’t even have to advertise. Everyone who came to us did so through word of mouth. I’d learned early on that when you did a good job for people and actually cared about the end result versus the money they paid you, it showed.
And it was valued.
My mentor and old boss, Sheila McHenry, had taught me that. She owned the company before I took over, training me in all of her ways while she groomed me, so to speak. And while she’d built up a reputation for being the best, I carried on the tradition, surpassing the old record of matched couples and new sign-ups.
Apparently, people were growing tired of online dating, claiming that all the same individuals were on every app. They wanted hands-on help, something different that proved to work and that was where I came in.
“April, don’t forget we have that bachelor auction later.” Meredith appeared in front of my office door, her ponytail swishing behind her shoulders as I blew out a long, annoyed breath.
I didn’t do things like bachelor auctions. It wasn’t my forte.
“Please tell me why we signed up to attend that again,” I sincerely said because I couldn’t for the life of me remember.
I would have never willingly agreed to attend something like that without good cause. I wasn’t a fan of gimmicky type stuff. Especially when it came to things like single men being auctioned off for dates. It was supposed to be sexy and alluring, but I found it weird and off-putting. Even if it was usually for a charitable cause. It felt like it went against everything I stood for in my line of business.
I took dating and love a little too seriously to be able to enjoy an auction for what it was supposed to be—a fun night with a bunch of hot, available guys who were ready and willing … for what exactly, I wasn’t sure. I’d heard rumors about what happened between the auctioned off and the buyer, but I had no idea what was actually true or not.
Meredith shook her head slowly, as if disappointed that I couldn’t recall. “One”—she held up a single finger—“because of the charity they chose. They’re helping all those missing people, remember? And two”—another finger—“because Sheila McHenry is the one putting it on.”
Pressing my lips tightly together, I nodded in remembrance. It was a favor to the one person who had taught me everything I knew about matchmaking. The woman who had told me what was important and what wasn’t when it came to finding lasting love for other people.
Sheila had told me that people often thought they knew what they wanted, but they didn’t really have a clue. She said that most thought about love within four walls of a box, and it was our job to break down the walls and think outside of them.
When she sold me the company, she walked away, proud of what she’d built and hopeful for what I’d continue to do. But soon after leaving, she started hosting charity events. She’d quickly realized that being retired was supremely boring if she wasn’t traveling twenty-four/seven.
“That makes sense. What time does it start, and what’s the dress code?” Even though I didn’t want to go, there was no way I’d ever tell Sheila no to something like this. I’d probably do whatever she asked me to until I took my last breath.
Meredith walked toward my desk, holding a lone sheet of paper. “I emailed you the details. They’re in your calendar, already synced with your phone, but just in case, here’s a hard copy.”
It was considered old-fashioned of me, but I still liked to have some things printed out. It gave me comfort in a weird way to be able to hold information instead of studying a screen for it.
My eyes met hers. “You’re coming too, right?”
“Yes.” She smiled. “But unlike you, I’m flipping excited.”
I grinned. “Of course you are.”
Meredith was fun and funny, always up for a good time, and I imagined the idea of a slew of hot, single guys was right up her alley. Not that she’d have the funds to bid on anyone, but I figured she’d enjoy the atmosphere.
“You never know. Might meet Mr. Right tonight.” She gave me a little dance before disappearing out the door.
“I highly doubt it,” I whispered once she was gone, not wanting to burst her bubble, but it was unlikely that an event like this one could result in a real relationship.
That wasn’t the point of it at all.
A one-night stand was more likely. And I wasn’t interested in that either.
As if being a fireman wasn’t exploitive enough, here I was, about to get auctioned off at a freaking charity event I had no interest in being at. I wanted to resist, but the fire chief would have my ass if he heard that I was being a little bitch about the whole thing. I had been told to suck it up, be a fucking gentleman to whoever was desperate enough to buy me for a night, and make sure they had a good time.
It was humiliating.
And don’t get me wrong; I’d had plenty of action from the ladies over the years. Hell, I’d reveled in it not that long ago. Told any and every female I saw on the street how I was a fireman before asking if they wanted to slide down my pole. I know; I know, but most of them did want to slide down said pole.