Follow Addie Sewell's 10-step plan!
1. Refuse to be the Scary Cat Lady. Don't buy a cat.
2. Step out of your comfort zone.
3. Use a friend's wedding to start your New Spontaneous Life.
4. Prepare to seduce The One Who Got Away (TOWGA).
5. Avoid Derek Bates. Sure, he's hot but he's not why you're here!
6. Seriously. Stop looking at Derek like he's sex-on-a-stick.
7. Seduce TOWGA by slipping into his bed naked. (You can do it!)
8. Don't panicyou accidentally ended up in Derek's bed instead.
9. Okay, maybe you're enjoying being in Derek's bed a little too much. But he does feel really, really incredible.
10. Abort plan. Just go with it.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The sound of the ocean swelled through Addie Sewell's bedroom. She stirred in the soft cotton sheets and listened, picturing waves tumbling, sea foam forming lacy patterns that rushed in, then retreated across soft white sand. Somewhere far off a seagull called.
Addie groaned and threw off the covers on her twin bed. "Alarm off."
The ocean stopped. Or rather, the ocean sound stopped, made by her talking alarm clock, which she'd affectionately nicknamed Tick. The real ocean would have to wait until the following week, when she flew north to attend her friend Paul Bosson's wedding on his family's island in Maine.
She should be looking forward to this vacation a lot more. Been a while since she'd been anywhere except her parents' new house in Florida, and it would be great to see high school friends again. But honestly, she could use the time better staying home and going through boxes of old family photos and papers her great-aunt Grace had left behind, and to get serious about looking for a condo.
By living with her elderly aunt for two years before Grace's death, Addie had inherited this rent-controlled apartment a block from Central Park on Manhattan's E.
97th Street. With her actuary's salary, she'd saved enough for a down payment on the right condo. She just couldn't seem to find time or enthusiasm for the search.
To be honest, she was not a big fan of life changes, and the apartment was not only in a great location, but held lovely memories of Great-Aunt Grace.
Yawning, she stretched and blinked blearily at the freshly painted ceiling, a nice change from the crackling that had progressed for years. Desperate pleas to the landlord had finally been answered.
"Seven o'clock," Tick replied.
Seven o'clock. Her eyes fluttered closed, shot open closed again. Usually she had no trouble jumping out of bed in the morning, especially in the summer when it was so bright out. Lately it had become harder. Maybe she should get her iron checked. Or her vitamin D level. Or work out more.
The chime of an incoming text forced her eyes open again. Pretty early for anyone to be in touch. Mom and Dad were cruising the Mediterranean and her brother, Gabe, was off hiking somewhere in Nepal
Anxious curiosity got her out of bed; she retrieved her phone from its charger and checked the message.
Oh, my. She was awake now. Wide-awake.
The message, seven words long, was not from her world-traveling family members, but from her childhood best friend Sarah Bosson, twin sister of Paul, next week's groom.
Kevin Ames will be at the wedding.
Addie gave a short laugh, shaking her head. Look at her, all excited over something so silly. Kevin was two years older than Addie, Paul and Sarah, but he'd been on the cross-country team with Paul since middle school at John Witherspoon in Princeton, New Jersey. Addie and Sarah had seen him constantly at the Bossons' house. Last she heard, Kevin had some work conflict in Philly, where he lived, and couldn't make next week's Maine trip.
Ignoring her responsible side nagging that she should be in the shower by now, Addie texted back.
Wow. She headed for the bathroom, still clutching the phone. Kevin Ames was The One That Got Away. Everybody had one. That person you never went out with that you really wanted to, or maybe you almost did, but something went wrongthe timing wasn't right, or, in Addie's case, when finally presented with the opportunity to start something with Kevin the summer before her senior year at Princeton High School, she'd totally messed it up.
Another text from Sarah:
He got someone else to go to his conference. Paul just found out.
Addie pressed her lips together to keep from grinning like a fool. She hadn't seen the guy in eleven years. He was undoubtedly married. In fact, she'd looked him up online several years back and yes, he was.
And guess what he's single now!
Addie lost the battle with the smile. Okay, not married anymore. But that didn't mean anything. He could have put on four-hundred pounds, lost his hair and.
He's into marathons.
Oh. Four-hundred pounds was unlikely, then.
Addie shook herself. "Time."
Argh. She was behind on her morning schedule, which she'd developed specifically to avoid having to rush. From an early age her parents had modeled the importance of routines. Addie had scorned them in her rebelliousmildly rebelliousadolescence and her brother had no use for them at all, but she'd come to realize that routines could save you a lot of time and effort and trouble. You knew what to expect. You didn't have to think or make decisions, everything was already in the works and you simply stepped in and did your part.
I told you about that jerk playboy Derek Bates being there? I so wish he wasn't coming.
Addie rolled her eyes. Sarah was pretty judgmental, but her anti-Derek rants were over the top, even for her. There was definitely something she wasn't telling.
Yes, you told me. But only about a million times. Gotta go to work. TTYL.
In her tiny apartment's tiny bathroom, Addie turned on the shower spray, counted to seventeen to make sure the water was hot enough and stepped into the iron claw-foot tub where she washed her hair and scrubbed up, thinking about
Who could help it? Not that he'd been all that remarkable looking. Handsome, sure, but not striking. Bland all-American good looks, brown hair and eyes, straight teeth and an athlete's lean body. But he was so magnetic that women went nuts over him as if he were a knockout. Both Sarah and Addie had been smitten.
When Kevin Ames smiled at you, it was like no one else in the world existed.
Of course since Kevin was a really fun, friendly and popular guy, he smiled at a lot of people, including a lot of girls who were more beautiful and more stacked and more whatever-else guys found essential at that age. He'd always been big-brother sweet to Sarah and Addie, so they contented themselves with worshiping from afar.
Then that one August night, almost exactly eleven years ago, when Kevin was about to start his sophomore year at Brown, someone had told Addie that Kevin was interested in her. Addie couldn't remember who. But she sure remembered the feeling when he asked her out. Stunned, then euphoric, then terrified. She and Sarah had immediately started planning: clothes, makeup, attitude, everything he'd be sure to say and every way she should respond when he said it.
Get going, Addie.
She yanked the water off and dragged her towel briskly over her body. Back in her bedroom, she pulled on the clothes she'd ironed and laid out the previous evening, giving an exasperated groan when her first attempt at pulling on nylons ended in a runand now she had no precious cushion of time left for disasters.
This was why she got up at the appointed hour every day and had everything prepared. Because she hated this flustered perspiring mess she got herself into when she deviated from the plan.
Great-Aunt Grace, her mother's aunt, had been even worseor better, depending on your perspective. Since she'd died, sometimes Addie went crazy, like she had cereal on Thursdays when Grace's cereal day was Friday.
She giggled, pulling on her black pumps. Wild woman!
The smile faded. She hadn't felt like a wild woman in a long, long time. Maybe never.
The night of their date he'd picked her up in his gold Nissan sports car. He'd chatted easily with her beaming parents then they'd gone out for pizza on Nassau Street, and driven to Marquand Park, where she'd played as a child. Kevin had switched off the engine and produced a surprise fifth of vodka Addie had felt too intimidated to refuse, ignoring the voice that told her drinking was not a great idea for either of them.
At the fizzy height of her buzz, he'd taken her face in his hands, looked deeply into her eyes and kissed her.
Oh, that kiss.
She relived it until she realized she was standing on one foot, clutching her other shoe, and it was not getting any earlier.
Addie raced to the living room and snatched up her briefcase, stomach growling for breakfast she'd have to grab at work, headache demanding coffee. She let herself out of her apartment, snatched up the New York Times, which she usually read over breakfast, and ran down the hall, punched the button for the elevator, punched it twice more, as if that would do anything. Slowest elevator in Manhattan. While she waited, she checked her work schedule for the day.
Hey. She grinned at her phone. It was her half birthday. Addie Sewell was now officially twenty-nine and a half.
In another six months she'd be thirty. Still at the same job. Still living alone.
No, no, she liked living alone, loved the independence and the freedom. Though sometimes she wondered about venturing out to the humane society and adopting a cat. Cats were supposed to be good company, and more suitable for a small apartment or condo than a dog. Dogs were a lot of work.
The elevator doors opened to a good day getting better. He was in there, Mr. Gorgeous, the guy from the tenth floor, one of the most good-looking guys Addie had ever seen. In the three years she'd lived here, she'd never once had the guts to say anything more than hi.
So she would again. "Hi."
Mr. Gorgeous nodded. "Hey."
The door closed, leaving that peculiarly charged silence in elevators that Addie tolerated with this guy because saying something and then relapsing to silence would be even more charged and peculiar. But if she started a conversation that lasted all the way to the first floor, then what, would they walk together into the street? What if he were talking to her only to be polite? Better not to say anything. So she stayed silent, watching the lighted numbers at the top of the door descend.
He'd kissed her again, and again. His hand had traveled inside her top to stroke her breast, which felt wonderfully intimate and very hot. Except then Addie had started thinking about his last girlfriend, Jessica Menendez, and the size of her you-know-whats, and the girlfriend before that, Isabella Tramontina, and how she had a body that made men fall like dominoes when she walked down the hall.
Addie had compared them to her own pudgy small-chested big-butt body and virgin status, and panic had erupted. Was this all he wanted from her? To make out in a car drunk on vodka in a public park?
Then came the part that still had the power to bring the sick burn of humiliation to her stomach. Words slurring, she'd told Kevin she loved him. She'd told him she wanted their first time to be on a bed. But not just a bed. A bed of white linen strewn with roses.
Oh, God. She was blushing even now.
Addie would never forget the look of utter bewilderment on Kevin's face. He'd mumbled some kind of apology, said something about a misunderstanding, and had driven her home in a silence even more painful than the one on this slow, slow elevator. Kevin had gone back to Brown. Addie had gone back to high school. She'd heard about him now and then through Sarah or Paul, but hadn't run into him again.
Okay, for a few years, she ran away from him so as not to relive that mortification.
But she had enough self-confidence now to laugh about the incident with him when she saw him again next week. She was no longer a virgin and she no longer confused sex with love. Or at least she understood that for most guys they were separate entities.
The elevator door opened and she surged out ahead of Mr. Gorgeous so as not to burden either of them with forced contact.
On E. 53rd street at the offices of Hawthorn Brantley Insurance Company, she grabbed a bran muffin and cup of coffee from the cafeteria then met with teams to design a new life insurance plan and to work on storm damage models, then she formulated spreadsheets dealing with expected drunk driving deaths in Wisconsin the following year.
At lunchtime, back in the cafeteria, New York Times crossword puzzle section tucked securely under her arm, she selected her usual sandwich, carrot sticks and apple, then threw caution to the wind and picked out a cookie. Special occasion! Her half birthday!
Eating the same thing every day meant she knew how many calories she was getting, and that they'd last through her workout and that she'd be healthily hungry for dinner.
Unfortunately she was a little late and her usual single table was taken. Heading for her second choice, Addie noticed Linda Persson, assistant director of Human Resources, seated by herself at a table for four. Linda was a lovely woman, but a little well, she wasn't very attractive or very funny or very talented or very interesting, and at age sixty wasn't likely to become so.
Addie couldn't bear to see her sitting alone in her beige suit and ivory blouse, forking chef salad into her mouth, trying to look as if she'd chosen to be without a friend in the world because she so enjoyed the experience.
Addie put her tray down on the table. "Hi, Linda."
"Hey, Addie!" She smiled with such obvious relief that Addie banished the doomed feeling and put herself in the Glorious Martyr column.
"May I join you?"
"Of course." Linda pulled her tray toward herself as if there wasn't plenty of room already on the large table. "I was just thinking about my plans for the weekend."
"Fun ones?" Addie hoped they were special and interesting, because then she could think about something other than Kevin.
"I'm getting a new mattress Saturday afternoon. And then I'm going to see a movie." She pushed her too-large brown glasses up her nose. "I like going to movies by myself, do you?"
Addie nodded reluctantly. She did, but was ashamed not to want a lot in common with Linda. "I don't mind, either."
"I like getting there early because I like to sit in the middle of a row, not too close, and because I like to watch the previews, and have popcorn all to myself. And since no one talks to me, I can really disappear into the film."
"Same here." Actually exactly the same.
"And then after the movie I'll probably go home and organize my kitchen. It's driving me crazy that the flour and sugar canisters are on the opposite side of the counter from the measuring cups and spoons. I've stood it this long, but no more." She tossed her mousy-brown curls, beaming triumphantly.
Addie took a long sip of skim milk to wash down her suddenly dry sandwich. She'd made similar changes after Great-Aunt Grace died.
"Sunday's my weekly brunch with my friend Marcy." Linda finished peeling a banana and took a bite. "We have sesame bagels with whitefish salad and read the New York Times travel section to plan fantasy vacations."
"Have you been on any?"
"No, no, they're just for fun."
"Why don't you go on one?" Addie was as surprised as Linda by the edge to her voice. She read plenty of travel articles, had the money and could take the time, but hadn't been anywhere, either. "Or two, or three or all of them?"
Linda shrugged. "I'm an armchair traveler. Saves me trouble and sunburn and storms and delayed flights."
Oh, dear. She forgot lost luggage.
"I'm a creature of habit I guess." Linda polished off her banana and picked up a brownie. "Like I have the same thing for lunch every day."
Addie stopped with a big bite of apple in her mouth.
"I feel comforted by routines. I like knowing what to expect."
Addie told herself to keep chewing, that she was never going to finish the apple while frozen in horror.
"I was thinking after work today I might stop by the humane society and look at cats."
Steady, Addie. She could panic, or she could take this lunch as a sign that maybe she was a tiny little bit stuck in a very small rut.
"They're supposed to be great company. Perfect for an apartment. And not as much work as a dog."
Large rut. Moon-crater-size rut.
Be rational. Rationality was one of Addie's best superpowers. She'd use it now, like this: it was good that Addie was faced with the person she could turn into. Especially today, her half birthday, because she had time to change before she turned thirty.
So she'd change. Starting today. Right after work, instead of going to the gym, then showering and having dinner in her apartment reading whatever parts of the New York Times she'd missed at breakfast and lunch like she did every eveningexcept when she had book group or dinner with a friend, she was going to do something else. Like
Well, she'd think of something.