Home > The Scramble (Single in Seattle #2.5)

The Scramble (Single in Seattle #2.5)
Author: Kristen Proby





Fifteen Years Ago…


“I don’t want to go to the football game.” I cross my arms over my chest and glare at my dad, who just sighs and gives me the look that says I’m going to lose this argument. “I have homework to do, and I’m pulling extra work for college prep. I don’t have time to go watch a stupid game.”

“It’s homecoming,” Dad says sternly. “And your sister is cheering in it. She’d like for us to be there.”

“She’s up for Homecoming Queen,” Mom adds. “We should all be there to support her.”

“I support her. I hope she gets it. She looks great in the dress she chose, and she’s totally awesome and popular, so she’ll win. Blah blah blah. I don’t have to be there for her to be crowned. I have so much to do here.”

They shake their heads at me, but they don’t understand. I like to study. I like to work hard, and I don’t have the time or inclination to play.

People at school make fun of me because I’m a nerd, but I don’t care. I like being a nerd.

And some people think it’s stupid that I love math. They think wanting to be an accountant is boring.

But it’s not boring. I have a family full of people with exciting careers. Hell, my uncle is a professional football player, and another is a rock star.

I don’t need flashy. I don’t need to perform.

I like boring.

“You’re going,” Dad says. “You can take one night off from homework. I can’t believe I have to force my kid not to do schoolwork.”

“You can’t make me,” I fire back, surprising us all. “You’re not my real dad anyway. If I want to stay home and do absolutely nothing, that’s my choice.”

“Madeline Rose Montgomery,” Mom says in surprise.

Dad just blinks at me and then turns away. But I can see that I hurt his feelings.

“I’m sorry,” I say immediately and rush to him. I launch myself into his arms and hug him so tight I fear I might pop his head off. “I’m really sorry. You’re my dad. I’m just so frustrated. I don’t want to go to the game.”

“Why?” His voice is soft now, like he’s not mad anymore, just confused. “Why don’t you want to go, Buttercup?”

“I don’t fit in there. Kids don’t like me. I’m not fun enough. I don’t find them funny, and I just want to work.”

“You’re going to have your whole life to work. Trust me on that.” He sets me on my feet and kisses the tip of my nose like he’s done since I was a little kid when he came into our lives. “Besides, you won’t be there alone. Your mom and I will be there, too. So will Drew.”

“Great. Now I’m the nerd who has to sit with her parents because she doesn’t have any friends.”

“You have friends,” Mom insists.

“None of them are going to the football game,” I mutter, not bothering to tell them that, aside from Josie, I really don’t have any friends. Not close ones, anyway.

And that’s okay because high school kids are dumb.

“If it means that much to you, I’ll go.” I sigh and turn toward the bedroom so I can grab my stuff. “But after halftime, when we know if Josie won, I’m coming home.”

“Deal,” Dad says with a grin.

When I leave the room, I hear them talking about me. They’re worried because I work too hard and don’t have enough fun.

But work is fun.

No one else seems to get that.



Chapter One


Present Day


I take off my reading glasses and rub my tired eyes. I’m only an hour into the eight-hour flight from Seattle to Reykjavík, Iceland, on Christmas Eve, and I’ve been working every minute of it.

A signal chimes in my ear, and I open my eyes to glance down at my laptop. A message pops up from my sister.

Josie: Tell me you’re in the air.

I grin and type.

Me: An hour in. I land early, around six. Why am I going to Iceland again?

The bubbles jump as my twin replies, and I sip from the bottle of water the flight attendant gave me. They’ve also served dinner and dessert.

First class is the only way to go when flying internationally.

Josie: Because it’s Christmas, and the whole fam is here. Don’t be a baby. It’s so pretty. Get here FASTER!

Me: I’m not the pilot. I’ll come wake you up when I get there. Get some sleep!

I sigh and rub my eyes once more. It’s been the week from absolute hell. If there’s a darker place than hell, that’s what it’s been.

The end of the month is always bad when it comes to my job, but add in the end of the year, and I’m swamped. I really don’t have time to fly halfway around the world for a holiday. I tried to get out of it, but my uncle Luke came to my house himself and talked me into going.

He’s one of my favorite people. How could I turn him down?

I couldn’t.

So now, instead of being in my office like I should be, I’m on an airplane, soaring over the polar ice cap on my way to meet up with my entire family in Iceland.

Sometimes, my life is weird.

“That’s the third time you’ve sighed in five minutes.”

I frown and look around. Suddenly, the wall separating me from the first-class pod next to me lowers, and the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen smile over at me.


Great comeback, Mad. Why am I so damn awkward with men? With people in general? I didn’t used to be when I was little.

But the older I got, the more awkward I became.

I like to blame it on hormones.

“You. Sighing.” He shifts so he can look at me closer. “Why so down, beautiful?”

I feel my cheeks flush and stare at my laptop.

I don’t think anyone, aside from my dad and other family members, has ever called me beautiful.

“I’m not down. I’m busy.”

“Ah. So, going on a business trip, then?” He nods. “Me, too.”

“It’s not a business trip. I’m meeting my family in Reykjavík for Christmas.”

I glance over, and his eyebrows climb. “It’s Christmas in…wait, I have to do math with the time change.” He mimics doing math in the air with his finger. “Carry the one…now. It’s Christmas there now.”

“I know.” I sigh again, and he smiles. Holy shit, that smile. Why is he so…hot? His teeth aren’t completely straight, but that smile just made my lady bits stand up and do the cha-cha.

“I’m Dylan.” He awkwardly offers me his hand over the panel between us. “And you are?”

“Late.” I try to ignore the awareness that crawls up my arm from his touch. “I’m late, and I hate being late.”

“So, why are you?” He leans on his elbow, propping his chin in his hand to give me his undivided attention.

It’s a little disconcerting.

I shake my head and close the laptop, resigning myself to the fact that I’m taking a break I really can’t afford. Yet I’m not totally annoyed by this guy, so I might as well chat with him.

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