Cassie doesn’t want your pity. She doesn’t want your sympathy. And she certainly doesn’t want to date you.
When perpetually single Cassie McTiernan agrees to her friends’ online dating scheme, she thinks she’ll go on maybe two dates then bail before things get uncomfortable. She’s turning 30; might as well give it a shot, right? Little does she know that they’ve devised a contract, binding her to date one man per month for one year. Sure, if she finds Mr. Right she doesn’t have to complete their challenge. How hard could dating be? Jumping through an increasingly long list of hoops, Cassie realizes that she might have to endure the entire torturous year with twelve strange men beside her. What could go wrong? Why does her first date need two cellphones? And is the man who broke her heart years before lurking behind that shadowy bush?
“We have a proposition for you,” says Alicia, suddenly in let’s-make-a-deal mode. Her tone fits a power suit more than her jeans and sequined top. “More of a bet, you guys said it was a bet,” says Keeley in a much more anxious voice than Alicia. There better not be a male stripper waiting at my apartment building when I get home. Hopefully they didn’t shave my cat like last Fourth of July. “You’re such an ass Keel,” says Lindsey, in no way helpful. “She won’t win anything if she does it.” “Oh, she’ll do it. She’s curious already.” Alicia’s grinning now too, but I feel my smile fading. It’s like I’m in front of a court-marshal hearing. “What did you do?” “It’s really awesome! I think it’s a really good idea! Lindsey and Alicia thought of it.” “Great, so what is it?” The bar music changes to the Dropkick Murphys’ thudding beats, and I notice how many people are in the bar. A public place. Somewhere I can’t lose it and scream at them. “What is it?” They all talk at once, cutting each other off. “Don’t be mad—” “Who cares if she’s mad, she’s doing it—” “It was a good idea, right?” “Enough you guys!” I pound the table with my mug, sloshing beer. It spills on my hand and I reach for some napkins. “Did you get me something stupid like a pony?” “You wish,” says Alicia. “It’s better than a fucking pony.” “It’s a boyfriend!” Keeley’s exclamation startles me. She covers her lips with her fingers. “Sort of…” “Not very easy to wrap,” I say and cross my arms over my chest. Please not a blow-up doll, please not a blow-up doll, not in front of all these people. “It’s not the sort of thing Macy’s gift-wraps for you with a sprig of mint or whatever,” says Alicia as she waves her cocktail straw back and forth in a motion that suggests scolding one of her children. “We got you something thoughtful this year. Something you actually need.” “I need a new loofa,” I mumble. And maybe some nice bath soaps. Is it too much to ask for nice bath soaps? Maybe honeysuckle-scented? “Stop bitching and listen,” says Lindsey. “Alicia, Keeley, and I got together and really thought this through. Step one: you need to stop moping about dating and just get on with it, or ‘get it on with it’ if you will, you’re not getting any younger or thinner.” “Thanks a lot.” She ignores me and goes on, “Step two: stop whining about your job and get a better one.” “She means start writing again,” whispers Keeley, trying to sound supportive. “So basically, what you got me is an inspirational rant from a divorcee whose sole purpose in life is to sleep with as many men as she can before her vagina falls off.” “Ha ha. Listen. We signed you up for an online dating service.” “You did what?”
Colleen may be a writer, but she’s also a dater. Many of the events in this novel happened to her or someone she knows, both male and female. Who hasn’t felt the harsh slap of an unanswered email on Match.Harmony.Fishing.com? Who hasn’t narrowly avoided an oncoming mouth with its tongue sticking out and drool tendrils forming in the corners? She wrote this novel because her fellow online daters needed a voice, or at least a fun read to get them through the day after their online crush quit the website because he “found someone else.” She has been published in Iconoclast literary magazine as well as in her college literary journal, Prologue. She lives in Minnesota with her faithful cat, Duncan.
REASON FOR WRITING THIS PARTICULAR NOVEL
My love life is disastrous, mainly because it’s nonexistent. What dates I did go on in my twenties went well enough, or so I thought. After a long string of first dates with men who weren’t too keen on my opinions once we actually met in person, I wondered if my other friends were having the same issues. Hint: they were. This was before rampant “dick pics” emerged, and most online dating sites were pay only. I signed up for Plenty of Fish, a free matchmaker site my friend recommended, which was an even bigger school of sharks masquerading as tropical fish. I had a terrible relationship stemming from that site, which prompted me to finish the little novel I’d been working on for years. -Colleen McMillan Between the Lines Publishing