Four Last First Dates by Kate O’Keeffe
Series: Cozy Cottage Café #4
Published by Wild Lime Books on August 9, 2018
Genres: Romantic Comedy
What do you do when you’ve agreed to a pact with your friends to get married, but neither you nor the guy in your sights is quite ready to fall in love?
Bailey De Luca is the last of her friends to complete the Last First Date pact—to marry the next guy she dates. But lady luck must be in a bad mood, because so far, it’s all come to nothing.
Everywhere she looks people are in love. Everyone except her. Is she fundamentally unlovable? Or is it that she’s already found—and lost—The One? Whatever the reason, one thing’s for sure: Bailey never expected to be alone at thirty.
When one of her friends announces her engagement with a rock that could eclipse the sun, Bailey throws herself into a new business. Starting up Cozy Cottage Catering seems like the perfect way to bury her head in the sand. But fate has other ideas, and soon Bailey is swept off her feet by the oh-so cute Ryan Jones.
Ryan may seem like the perfect combination of Prince Charming meets Thor (without the hammer), but is Bailey ready to be with him?
Or will the ghost of her past love prevent her from finding happiness again?
Escape to New Zealand in this fun, feel-good sweet romance.
Books in the Cozy Cottage Café series:
Book 1: One Last First Date
Book 2: Two Last First Dates
Book 3: Three Last First Dates
Book 4: Four Last First Dates
The next “speed date” was so nondescript and dull, not even my list of probing and unusual questions helped. And I wasn’t here for nondescript and dull. I was here to find “The One.”
Well, that was the plan at least.
As I sat half listening to Nondescript Guy carry on about how important his health was and how he liked to have granola each morning to keep himself “regular”—talking about bowel movements on a date? Really?—I did my best to stifle a yawn.
I scanned the room. I could see Fake Jamie-slash-Fabio chatting up some new victim, and Adam talking with Perky Blonde at the adjacent table. Marissa waved at me from the bar, catching my eye. She shrugged, her palms face up as she nodded at my current “date.”
I gave my head one shake to indicate Nondescript Guy was a non-starter, and she scrunched her face up.
I stole another glance at Ryan. He and Paige were deep in conversation, and he didn’t look my way.
“. . . and you see, that’s why the flora of your gut is so important,” Nondescript Guy said, an earnest look on his face. “Not a lot of people know that, but it’s vital for good health.”
“Absolutely,” I replied, having no clue what he was talking about. Wasn’t flora a word scientists used for plants? I thought remembered it vaguely from high school biology.
“I’m glad you understand. That’s important to me, to have a partner on the same health journey as me.”
I blinked, unsure how to respond. A “health journey” didn’t exactly sound like something I could get on board with. You see, I had a bit of a cake habit. Baking, eating, the lot. And I had a great excuse—my café was known for its cakes. We always had a variety to suit most tastes, even offering a couple of gluten-free options lately, too.
Although I’m not sure Nondescript Guy and his “health journey” would approve of even those.
Fortunately, the bell sounded, so I didn’t have to pass comment. Instead, I smiled and said, “Nice to meet you.”
He got up and moved on to Perky Blonde. I heaved a sigh of relief.
I looked up to see a small, bespectacled man standing by my table. He was dressed in a button-down shirt and khaki pants. He looked more than a little nervous.
“Hi,” I said brightly, trying to put him at ease. Although he didn’t look like they type of guy I’d dated in the past, I knew I needed to keep an open mind. “Please, take a seat.”
“Oh, I err . . . okay.” He pulled a pad and pencil out from his back pocket and sat down opposite me.
I glanced at his name tag. “Your name is Reg? Is that short for Reginald?”
He nodded. “Lieutenant Reginald Barclay the third, actually.”
Lieutenant? Very formal. He didn’t look much like a military man, with his slim frame and lack of stature. But who was I to judge?
“Nice,” I said with a smile, trying not to let on what I was thinking.
“It’s not ‘nice.’” He scowled at me as though I’d insulted him. “Lieutenant Reginald Barclay is the most underrated member of the Starship Enterprise.”
The what now?
“Oh.” Not for the first time tonight, I didn’t know quite what to say.
“It’s all Captain Kirk and Spock, the superstars of the series.”
“This is a Star Warsthing?”
“Star Wars?” he spat, his features forming a disapproving scowl.
You’d think I’d insulted his mother.
“Star Trek.” He shook his head, his lips forming a thin line. “Reginald is a crew member of the Starship Enterprise.”
“Gotcha.” I didn’t at all.
“He needs his time in the spotlight, too, you know. He was a technical genius, not one of those ‘look at me, I’m an alpha male’ types.” He glared at me as though I was personally responsible for this Reginald Whatshisname’s lack of superstar status. “Beta males are just as important for the procreation of the species.”
I cleared my throat. Is this guy for real?
I glanced down at his notepad, landing on a way to move the conversation on. “You’ve come prepared.”
“Yes, I . . . have some key questions I’m looking for answers to.”
“Okay,” I replied, steeling myself for what was to come.
He flipped the notepad open and studied his notes.
I waited and waited.
I shot my friends a desperate look I hoped they could read. It went something like “get me the heck out of here!”
“Ah, excuse me, Reg?”
He looked up at me as though I were some sort of irritation to him. “What?”
“We only have four minutes together. You know that, right?”
“Yes, yes.” He waved his hand in the air at me.
I knitted my eyebrows together. This was feeling less like a date and more like a visit to the school principal.
“Aha!” he exclaimed, making me jump.
“You’ve found your question?”
“Yes, I have.”
“What is your bust measurement?”
My mouth dropped open. “My bustmeasurement?”
“Yes.” His tone was matter-of-fact tone. “Your bust measurement, otherwise known as the circumference of your . . .err chestal area.” He made a circular motion in the air with his hands.
I crossed my arms on the table in front of my “bust.” I cleared my throat. “Why do you want to know that?”
“Because I assessed you as you arrived, and you have the proportions I am most invested in.”
What? Invested? Proportions? What was this guy, a freaking mad scientist? Or, worse yet, a serial killer?
“Invested in for a date?” I asked, really not wanting to know the answer.
“Of course!” he replied a little too loudly. “Why else would I be here? There isn’t any other explanation. I’m here for the dating. I want to meet someone to date.”
I wasn’t buying it. I glanced down at his notepad. There were numbers scrawled over the page. I let out a laugh, hoping to lighten the mood. “I don’t know. Maybe you’re doing some research or something?”
He pursed his lips and glared at me. “Who said that?” His eyes darted around the room in accusation.
I shifted in my seat. “Ah, me?”
He let out a puff of air. “I’m here for the dating, and as part of that, I would like to know what your bust measurements is, thank you.”
To my astonishment, he half-stood and reached into his front pocket, pulling a blue plastic measuring tape out in a long coil.
“You’re serious?” I guffawed. I shot a nervous look over at my friends. They all had incredulous looks on their faces, watching the bizarre speed date with “Reg”—allegedly the most underrated of the Starship Enterprise crew—unfold before their eyes.
“I thought I’d made that clear already. Do you have an objection?”
I crossed my arms. “Actually, I do.”
His glasses slid down his nose, and he pushed them back up his face with his index finger. “Well, in that case, I will need to hug you.”
This was getting more and more perverse.
“Yes. That way I can assess you, since my measuring tape appears to be so abhorrent to you.” His tone suggested I was slow on the uptake and he needed to explain things more clearly. “It won’t be as accurate, of course, but if you won’t provide me with your consent, I shall have no choice.”
That was it. I’d had enough. I placed my hands palm-down on the table. “Look, Reg—or whatever your actual name is. I’m not interested in being assessed or measured or anything. So, can you please refrain from asking me again?”
He slumped in his chair. “But you’re the best one.”
“The best one for what?”
Why oh why did I have to ask?
He let out a puff of air. “I’m designing something, even if Fatherthinks it’s a ‘waste of my education.’” He did air quotes, his face contorted in bitterness.
“What are you designing?”
My mouth was clearly disconnected from my brain at this point.
“The perfect woman, only robotic so she won’t have any of the challenges of a real woman.”
“She’s going to be incredible. Beautiful, loving, flexible, do whatever you want . . .”
I held my hands up. “Stop!” I’d heard more than enough. I slid out of my chair and stood up.
Reginald BarclayIII looked up at me in surprise. As I stepped around the table, he also stood and attempted to swing his measuring tape around me.
I grabbed a hold of one end of it and snapped it away from him. “You have gotto be kidding me.” I smacked the tape down on the table, turned and walked away, just as the bell sounded for the next round of “dates.”
But there would be no more “dates” for me. I’d had more than enough Jamie wannabes and sicko mad scientist guys to last me a lifetime. I was done.
About Kate O’Keeffe
Kate O’Keeffe is a bestselling author of fun, feel-good romantic comedies. She lives and loves in beautiful Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand with her family, two scruffy dogs, and a cat who thinks he’s a scruffy dog too. He’s not: he’s a cat. When she’s not penning her latest story, Kate can be found hiking up hills (slowly), travelling to different countries, and eating chocolate. A lot of it.
Kate has written the Amazon bestsellers the Cozy Cottage Café series, the popular chick lit stories, the Wellywood Romantic Comedy series, as well as some standalone titles.
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