Operation: Date Escape
by Lindsey Brookes
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Since her divorce two years before, Kelsie Collins has been determined to guard her heart and steer clear of seemingly ‘perfect’ men. An easy task considering the kind of men her matchmaking mother and her best friend, Nanci, keeps setting her up with. She allows them to set her up, knowing their hearts are in the right place and that there is no risk of her letting any man close enough to hurt her again. Her growing experience in ways to slip out of those ‘dates from hell’ prompts her to start writing a bad date survival guide. One aptly titled - OPERATION: DATE ESCAPE. And it’s during one of those escapes that sexier than sin firefighter Cole Maxwell comes to her rescue.
Cole isn’t sure what to think when the sexy redhead he’s just ‘rescued’ from a bad date informs him that he’s too ‘perfect’ to date. That’s a first. He’s had relationships end because the women couldn’t handle the risks that go along with his chosen profession, but never because he’s too perfect.
When his crew gets called out to rescue someone who is stuck in a tree, Cole finds himself once again coming to Kelsie’s rescue. This time he’s not about to let her get away without agreeing to give him a chance, even holding her high heels hostage to make it happen. She finally gives in and things heat up between them like a 3-alarm fire. But there’s more than passion between them and Cole sets out to prove to Kelsie that he’s nowhere near ‘perfect’, but he is the ‘perfect’ man for her. Can he get past the wall she’s built up around her heart? Or will he end up being just another chapter in her book of men she ran from?
*Operation: Date Escape was a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist as well as a finalist in the American Title III Competition put on by Romantic Times and Dorchester Publishing.*
Grabbing her purse, she stepped out into the hallway and locked her apartment door before heading downstairs. She made her way to the security gate at the apartment complex’s entrance where her blind date waited.
“Wow,” he exclaimed, giving her the once-over the second she opened the gate. “You’re better than I thought you’d be.”
Trying not to laugh as her gaze moved over him in an equally assessing manner, she managed a very forced, hopefully polite smile. What in the world had her mother been thinking when she picked this guy up?
It wasn’t that she judged men only by their looks, but he was wearing spandex pants for God sake! And it looked like he could pull a rabbit out of the crotch of them.
Well, there was no need to look any further for Cornelius’ imperfections. He was a bad dresser with the ‘package’ of a porn star.
Yuck. So not for her.
She forced her gaze up from what was either a male oddity or a portable pet rabbit and continued to smile at her date. “Um, Cornelius, right?”
Just when she didn’t think it possible, his smile widened, reaching his three-inch long sideburns. Maybe he was an Elvis fan. “The one and only,” he replied with a slight bow.
She could only hope there was just one of him. The thought of Cornelius having a twin out there somewhere in the world was more than a little unsettling.
“I...uh, it’s nice to meet you.” Not.
“Same here.” He looked around the complex. “Nice place.”
Yeah, well, don’t get too used to seeing it. You won’t be back.
“Thanks,” she managed with an inner shudder. The spandex thing was freaking her out. “Look, about our date...”
“I’m really sorry to make you come all the way here, but this isn’t going to work.”
Disappointment registered on his face. “Why not?”
Maybe because you’re wearing ballet pants?
“Because I don’t have any skates. I would’ve called to tell you, but I didn’t have your number.”
“Not a problem,” he assured her with a wave of his hand. “Your mother mentioned that you had recently donated your roller blades to a local charity drive.”
Funny how her mother had failed to mention that little tidbit of information when they’d spoken that morning. Apparently she’d just been teasing her about Cornelius taking her rollerblading.
She shrugged. “Afraid so.”
“Not a problem. That’s why I brought these.” His smile widened as he whipped a pair of in-line skates with hot pink laces out from behind his back.
“Roller blades,” she muttered in shock as she eyed the hot pink laces.
“Yeah, they’re my sister’s.”
Thank God. For a moment, she wondered if they were his.
“Your mother was nice enough to give me your skate size when I inquired. Lucky for us my sister’s feet are small like yours. She let me borrow them for our date.”
Her mother was going to pay for this one!
“You didn’t have to go to so much trouble,” she said as she reached for the skates he was holding out to her.
“It was no trouble. Really. Besides, my sister can’t use them until the cast comes off.”
He nodded. “She broke her arm rollerblading a few weeks ago at our church picnic.”
Oh, that was reassuring.
He pushed his glasses further up on the bridge of his nose. “So are you ready to go?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she said in resignation, wanting to get this date over with.
A few minutes later, they were on their way to the Olengtangy Parklands. For what normally would be a short ride, it seemed to go on forever. As did Cornelius’ attempts to impress her with his knowledge of facts and numbers and his financial status. It wasn’t working.
When they finally reached the park, he practically leapt from the car and raced around to the passenger side to open the door for her.
At least he was a gentleman.
“Thank you,” she said. Then her gaze drifted downward. A gentleman in spandex.
Her gaze shot up to meet his. “No. I mean yes. What I mean is that I feel like I’m a little overdressed in my jeans.”
“Don’t worry about it. There’s no dress code for skating here. Besides, you look great.” He grabbed their skates from the back seat of the freshly washed Acura and closed the door. “Take me for instance. I always wear my running pants when I roller blade. They’re both comfortable and breathable.”
She wasn’t even going to ask what needed to breathe down there. She already knew. It was the rabbit.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Romance author Lindsey Brookes grew up reading romance novels. She penned her first romance, a historical, at the age of seventeen. From there she went on to join Romance Writers of America where she learned the ins and outs of the publishing business and ways to hone her craft. She switched to writing contemporary romance and has finalled in/or won more than 75 RWA chapter sponsored contests with over a dozen different manuscripts. She is also a four time RWA Golden Heart finalist as well as a past American Title III finalist and winner of Harlequin's Great American Romance Novel contest. She's married to her childhood sweetheart, her hero, with whom she has two beautiful daughters.
Check out her websites:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lindsey.brookes.9?ref=tn_tnmn
Operation: Date Escape purchase links:
Amazon: OPERATION: DATE ESCAPE Buy Link
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/operation-lindsey-brookes/1115662939?ean=2940016420349