THE HOOKUP BY ERIN MCCARTHY
Bella’s idea of a great night was to go to a bar and have men admire her and buy her drinks. My idea of fun was quantifiable statistics with a side of Star Trek trivia. But I knew I had to go. Not just for Bella, but for me.
I was going to approach a particular problem tonight—that of my virginity—and solve it. What better place than somewhere far away from where I grew up in Boston and nowhere near my college campus. It had become an issue. When you reach the age of damn near twenty-five and hadn’t relinquished your V-card, the assumption is you’re waiting for Mr. Right, which basically ruins potential relationships before they even have a shot. Or men assume you’re a freak.
I wasn’t either. I wasn’t holding out for some magical unicorn over-the-rainbow, he played the harp in a meadow kind of moment. I just never quite got around to it, and now it was too late to have that first teen love where you fumble over each other and explore and discover all the amazing things a body can do. Nope, missed that. I was busy studying for the SAT, which I didn’t regret, but a little more work-play balance would have been advisable.
“I can do that,” I told Bella. “I can have fun.”
As long as no one defined fun.
Now I just wanted to go out, have a nice, sweaty hook-up, then be able to move on with my life, and potentially find a boyfriend who liked my body and my mind, and do the standard conscious coupling thing.
“Okay, then. Good. Sophie, you just have to be open to new experiences.”
What I wanted to be open to was a penis, but I could never tell her that. Bella didn’t like the way I reasoned out life. She operated on emotion, and she was a lover of romance, inspirational quotes, and kittens. The kittens I was on board with, the rest was not my thing. Romance and science aren’t a natural pairing and I’ve never met an inspirational quote that didn’t need to be stamped with a giant “OBVIOUS” all over it. See? Too literal. That’s me.
Bella checked her own makeup, and fussed with her controlled beach waves, her hair a blonde halo around her heart-shaped face.
I’m not an ogre, but I don’t have the definition of features that make women considered beautiful. My eyes are brown. My hair is equally brown. My skin is creamy and smooth, but my lips are (normally) thin and I cannot be bothered to wrestle my eyebrows into penciled-on perfection. I want to be considered attractive, because who the hell doesn’t, but I had never devoted the time or the energy required to take my looks to their highest potential. Bella was born beautiful, so precious that even jaded nurses came over to coo at her and admire her perfect features. I was born blinking like an owl, my mother always said. And watching everyone and everything like a hawk, according to my father.
I put on pink Converse. “Not a word,” I told her. “I’ll wear the heels to the wedding but not to a bar.” I was already squeezed into the world’s shortest and tightest dress, which seemed excessive for a Tuesday in June in coastal Maine, but I was willing to own it. And the eyelashes. That counted for something. I wasn’t killing myself in the heels too.
Bella sighed, disappointed in her protégé, but she did begrudgingly add, “On you, it kind of works.”
“Thanks, Be.” We were in Bella’s room and when we left I turned the light on, off, on, off, four times. It’s a tic and it drives Bella crazy. I have a few tics, my mother refusing to acknowledge that I am borderline OCD, me well aware that I am. I have an obsessive mind that fixates and churns in circles around and around. It’s why I love math. It isn’t circular. It can go on and on but there is either an answer or infinity, which I love. Give me a solution to an equation and I’m happy.
Bella sighed. “Why must you do that?”
“It’s what I do when I’m nervous. It confirms the flow of electricity for me, but also that I can control it. But then when I do it, I doubt the results and need to test them again.”
I knew what she was thinking—that I was a freak. But she didn’t say anything. Bella was easy to read. I could practically hear her thoughts—the “why the fuck does it matter?” that was running through her head. But she had lived with me for the majority of her twenty-six years. She knew there was no point in asking the question. I’d already given her my answer, whether she understood it or not.
I saw him the minute we walked into the bar. A guy perched comfortably on a stool, his arms muscular, his grin confident, arrogant. He had short dark hair and a jawline that was sharp and symmetrical. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, this was no software engineer or physicist. This was one of those manly men that they use for memes on Pinterest and for beer commercials and underwear ads. He was abs and ass, muscles and machismo, and like any other female, I had an immediate reaction to all that testosterone.
My heart started to race and my body started to tense and tighten, and grow warm in places that normally only got hot and wet in the privacy of my own apartment. I wanted to fan myself as I stared at him, blinking through the veil of mascara and fake lashes.
It was like my vagina stood up and sang. Him. He would be the one. The man to take my virginity and make it a memory. He wasn’t my type, but that wasn’t the point. He wouldn’t be interested in me either, but I knew enough about bar culture to know that if he was here, he was interested in going home with a girl. I could be that girl.
I was delusional, of course, a fact I was forced to acknowledge immediately when I realized that despite the fact that my dress had coaxed huge cleavage from my reluctant breasts, the hottie was checking out my sister.
So typical. But I couldn’t deny that blondes were more fun. At least more fun than me.
I walked past him to the bar and plucked the menu off the countertop, debating how to proceed. Men. The one equation I could never solve.
Excerpt posted in coordination with Penguin Random House
Released: May 8, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Jordan Brothers #1
Published by Loveswept
Is there an equation for the perfect hookup? Turns out it’s a lot more complicated than one plus one. . . .
Sophie: Numbers are my comfort zone, which explains why my sex life is a big fat zero. Then again, if I’m smart enough to earn a PhD, why can’t I calculate a way to get a guy into bed, just to see what all the fuss is about? With my prima donna sister, Bella, getting married in Maine, I figure her wedding is the perfect opportunity for my little experiment. And Cain Jordan seems hot enough—he’s certainly drunk enough—to show me what I’ve been missing. Judging by the body of evidence, it’s a lot. . . .
Cain: Being stuck in the same town as my lying SOB twin brother, Christian—who may or may not be the father of the son I’m not allowed to see—is a hell of a reason to drink myself silly after the lobster boat docks each day. Any port in a storm. . . . But Sophie’s different. She doesn’t play around. And she’s becoming a habit I don’t want to break. Because the smartest woman I’ve ever met is also the sexiest—and the only one who makes me want to change.
Don’t miss Bella and Christian’s story in The Breakup!