Home > Single Dad Seeks Juliet(4)

Single Dad Seeks Juliet(4)
Author: Max Monroe

5. Don’t forget to ask if he has any questions about the way the contest works; detailed rules and procedures listed on paper under this one.

 

 

Hello, neurotic, right?

Well, trust me, there’s a reason for my neuroses, and it revolves around my lifelong track record of turning into a flustered, bumbling mess on a dime.

When I’m confident I have all the important reminders laid out in front of me, I pick up my phone from its cradle and carefully dial the numbers from Jake’s application one by one.

Here goes nothing…

When the first ring sounds over the line, I take a deep breath and toss my reading glasses onto the top of the desk.

Of course, I panic then, because I’m not going to be able to read any of my notes without my damn glasses, and I scramble to get them back on my face as the line clicks over to answered.

“Hello?”

“Uh, hi.” I stumble over my words, briefly surprised by the young, female voice. Cold calls are not my forte—to be honest, they’re not even my “five-te.” While I may be a confident, successful, intelligent woman by some measure of the world, I am also an eternally awkward mess. Babbling, stuttering, fumbling—I’m guilty of all the cardinal tells. “May I speak with Jake Brent, please?”

“Oh! He’s not in right now,” the girl says cheerfully. “Can I take a message?”

Shoot. I wasn’t entirely prepared for this. I was expecting Jake himself to answer the phone, to be able to follow my little prewritten script, and I foolishly didn’t prepare a backup script for the instance of leaving a message. Still, there is an actual human waiting on the phone for me to get my shit together, which becomes even more apparent when she prompts, “Hello?

“Ah…yes,” I force through my saliva-filled throat. “I’m Holley Fields with the Tribune. I’m just…” I glance down at my notes, and in all of two seconds, I try to soak up as many bullet points as I can. “I’m…uh…calling regarding his entry into the Bachelor Anonymous Contest. He’s been selected, and I need to go over the details. Can you tell me when might be a better time to reach him?”

There’s a muffled shuffle and a muted yell on the other end of the line, and I draw my eyebrows together slightly. When a thud sounds in my ear, I pull my desk phone away from my face to look at it—as if the clunky plastic handset will tell me anything—and then put it back. I still hear a small scream in the background. What is happening over there? I swear to Jesus, this guy better not have a secret wife. I cannot redo this contest! The voting already took six weeks to process. Not to mention, the additional seventy hours of work I had to suffer through last week, just to choose the damn women!

“Did you say Holley Fields?” the woman asks, an edge to her voice that I can’t exactly place. All I know is she no longer sounds easy like Sunday morning.

“I did.” I said it quite well, actually, thank you very much, I congratulate myself. Eloquently, even. “And to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

I smack my forehead. Now I sound like the Queen of England.

“Chloe,” she says simply before adding, “Chloe Brent. Jake’s daughter.”

His daughter?

Of course, it’s his daughter, you moron! His personal ad is titled Single Dad Seeks Juliet!

Oh hell. Suddenly, the reason I gave for calling seems a little too detailed. I sure hope she knew her dad was signing up to be part of an all-out dating meat market since I just outed him. Yikes. You’d think nearly ten years of journalism experience would’ve prevented that horrible mistake, but here I am, fumbling and bumbling my way through this call.

Oh well, at least it’s not a secret wife, right? Now, that would be bad.

“Ah, okay. Well…hmm…okay.” I pause, tripping over my own words. On a quiet breath, I sink my head into my hands and find the strength to try again. “Do you know when a better time would be to reach your dad?”

“He’s, uh…” She pauses almost long enough to confuse me before continuing. “Pretty hard to get ahold of on the phone.”

Sooo…how am I supposed to get ahold of this guy? Literally all other forms of communication are escaping me right now. How can someone be hard to get ahold of by phone? Isn’t it surgically attached to his hand like the rest of us?

“All right. Hard to get on the phone…” Holy hell, this conversation has turned remarkably uncomfortable. “Should I…email?

“He doesn’t really do that either,” she says, and I internally snort. What’s left? A carrier pigeon? Are they even still working, or did some union put a stop to that?

“Is he of this world? Or a goblin of some sort?” I find myself asking sarcastically before I realize I’m shit-talking to a stranger. A stranger who just so happens to be the daughter of this year’s Bachelor Anonymous, mind you. I slap a hand over my mouth and bang my head against the desk.

Thankfully, she laughs.

“My dad isn’t a goblin,” she says through a final snort. “He’s one hundred percent a human man, and he’ll be at Coronado Beach tomorrow morning. He’s literally there every morning, just after sunrise. A bit of a creature of a habit, I guess you could say.”

“Coronado Beach?” I repeat and mentally calculate that it’s only a short drive from my house. Ten, fifteen minutes tops.

“Yep. You can find him there.”

And, what? I’m just supposed to stumble around the beach for a couple hours until I find him? Pretty sure I’m going to need a meet point that’s a little more detailed than an entire freaking beach…

“Maybe I should just give him another call ton—”

“No!” she says quickly, and I squint, curious as to her intensity. “He won’t be home. But I’ll let him know that you called, and he’ll be expecting to see you tomorrow at Coronado Beach. Right across from the Hotel Del.”

“But he doesn’t even—”

The line goes dead before I finish the rest of my thought, “know what I look like.”

Well, that didn’t go as planned…

I pull the phone away from my ear slowly before replacing it back in the cradle. I’m not sure what level of awkward I’d classify that conversation as, but it was definitely on the spectrum. Still, I guess being the daughter of a single man who’s entered himself in a bachelor competition has to be a little unsettling. I know I probably wouldn’t have known what to say or do in that situation either.

Which is exactly why you shouldn’t have given so damn many details at the beginning.

I cringe and offer up a silent prayer that my minor conversational fuckup doesn’t come back to bite me in the ass. The last thing I need is Mr. Bachelor threatening to sue the newspaper because I accidentally spilled the beans to his daughter.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

You’d think, at this stage in my life, I’d be better prepared for my blundering, but no.

My foot-in-mouth syndrome appears to be chronic.

Goodness, I really hope I didn’t traumatize his daughter with my slipup.

My dad had the good grace to be perpetually single after my mom passed. Don’t get me wrong, I want him to be happy—I’ve always wanted him to be happy, and I know a large part of that would be amplified by a companion in his life. But the interviews I’ve spent the last week doing in order to narrow the Bachelor Anonymous dating pool have been irrefutable proof that it’s scary out there in the open seas of desperate women.

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