Book Blurb of “The Drake Equation”:
She’s a Democrat, he’s a Republican. She spends her days fighting global warming at an environmental non-profit, he makes his living doing PR for Bell Motors and their fleet of SUVs. But as soon as they meet, Emily Crossley and Robert Drake realize they have encountered their intellectual match. You’re never challenged, he tells her. You’ve surrounded yourself in a cocoon of people who think exactly the same way you do. She hurls the same accusation back at him, and the fiery debates begin.
Despite both of their attempts to derail it, there is no denying that they are falling in love. But their relationship is threatened by political differences, Robert’s excessive work hours, and Emily’s fear of losing her identity as she falls deeper in love.
Can their love survive? The Drake Equation is a tale of modern love and all its complexities.
Chapter 1 tease
She noticed him first for his clothes. He was the only one in khakis and a polo shirt—or not wearing sneakers, for that matter. She had seen him watching her during the interview. Now he was scanning the crowd, and because he was tall, it seemed like a natural movement for him, the way someone else might casually scratch their nose. Emily was not impressed. He struck her as one of those people who felt they were deigning to even stand among hoi polloi. If there was one thing she could not tolerate, it was arrogance.
But she noticed him next for his eyes. She had never seen eyes like his. They were brown, which of course was nothing novel to her. Just about everyone in North Prospect had brown eyes, except for the few blue-eyed blondes who traded Most-Attractive yearbook ratings and queen-of-the-dance crowns. But his were huge, these sunken-in eyes that seemed to cut a swath across his face.
While her eyes were not as remarkable as his, Emily had always considered them her best feature. There was nothing particularly unattractive about her other features —she had her mother’s long, elegant nose and her father’s wide mouth. But her eyes were hazel, and she loved the way she could manipulate their color. It was a parlor trick: watch, she would say. Hold something green or blue against my neck and my eyes will turn green. And sure enough, the flecks of brown would draw back as the green and yellows came forward, as if summoned.
She was purposely looking away, but she could tell he was coming to her.
“SUVs are the leading—” Emily said.
“You’re Emily Crossley,” he said.
“You’re almost famous.”
“Sure. You and your rally are in the almost real newspapers. That makes you almost famous.”
“Carson, I think he’s making fun of our pre-coverage spread in the Gazette.”
“Why would anyone do that?” Carson said.
“Should I bring Joe back here? He could provide us with the impressive stats of his paper: two sections, one purely grocery store ads,” Emily said.
He smiled. “I’m Robert.”
He extended his hand, but Emily reached over and picked up a pamphlet. She pressed it into his palm.
“Well Robert, have a pamphlet on why you should give up your SUV for preferably more than a day.”
“All right then. I think I’ll take one for my boss too.”
There was something lodged there in his sentence. Emily could smell the bait, but she wasn’t certain if she should take it.
“Why, who’s your boss?” Carson said.
“I don’t think you’ll like my answer.”
“Well, tell us anyway,” Emily said.
“Some overpaid executive at Bell Motors.”
Carson held up his hands. He slowly extended his two index fingers and then crossed one over the other.
“I’m going to have to agree. If I had any holy water, I’d throw it in your direction,” Emily said. She tried to sound insouciant to mask just how much his answer had knocked her off guard.
“I warned you.”
“Why does your company continue to churn out a half a million Foragers a year, a vehicle that gets an irresponsible 16 miles to the gallon? You’re the only car company in Connecticut, in all of New England even, and you’re doing nothing but letting us down,” Emily said.
“Actually, the Forager has one of the highest miles-per-gallon ratings out of all of the sport utility vehicles its size. And that 16 is only city driving.”
“I know it’s city,” she said quickly. “That’s still way under the passenger car average. Or look at your Journey, getting 12 miles to the gallon. It’s monstrous, its emissions are a disgrace.”
“Bell Motors is one of the first auto makers to begin working on reducing emissions and increasing gas mileage within the next seven years.”
“What are you, their PR guy or something?” Carson said.
“Actually, I am. Or one of them, at least.”
“Seven years is too long,” Emily said quietly.
“It takes time. You can’t just change an enormous, well-established system overnight.”
Emily had to admit he did sound slightly intelligent. You never knew with these arrogant types—sometimes it took a while to pinpoint exactly where their conceit stemmed from.
“Do you realize how much damage they can do in seven years? And how do we even know you’ll keep that empty promise? There’s no law to hold you to it. Not yet, at least,” she said, trying to sound as menacing as possible.
“I’m curious. Did you write in any of these pamphlets that older or malfunctioning cars emit almost half of all vehicle emissions? That’s what you should be targeting.”“Well on your way out of town, why don’t you stop by the parking lot of Stop & Shop and count old cars versus new SUVs? Old cars are a dying breed, with all the 0% financing schemes out there. Your company and friends are just saturating the market with SUVs. 50% of all vehicles sold—”
“Yes, I know that statistic.”
“Well, it was nice to meet you.”
“And you,” he said, without any sign of agitation.
“But I have to get back.”
“Tell your boss we think his company is the equivalent of Satan,” Carson said.
“I’ll let him know.”
As soon as Robert was out of earshot, Carson grunted.
“Who does he think he is coming here?” he said.
“I hope his boss actually does read the pamphlets. Not that I think he would do anything with the information.”
“Still, the nerve of him, to tell you who he was like that. He must be here to spy on us. Too bad he wasn’t fat and awkward so we could make fun of him.”
“Oh, it’s almost my turn to sit in the dunk tank.” He looked over there, smiling.
Emily was grateful for the distraction. She was still castigating herself for allowing Robert to affect her composure like that. She had fallen for his bait, and he had sat there as calmly as a wizened old fisherman might, surveying the frantic movements on his line.