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Truth or Date

By:Susan Hatler


Nobody ever said finding the right person was easy. But, nobody said it would be this hard, either. I just wasted ten years on a guy who, when given an ultimatum, finally admitted he didn’t want to get married. Ever. A nice tidbit of info that would’ve been helpful a decade ago. George even had the nerve to ask me why I couldn’t just be happy with the way things were—living together indefinitely, but with no permanent purchase. Um, because I want to be married with a family one day? Which I made very clear from the beginning?

Call me disappointed in men, but if marriage isn’t on a guy’s list, he’s out. Until I find this devoted love of my life, if he actually exists, I’m committing myself to dessert. All kinds. Any time of day. If my heart can’t be satisfied, then at least my taste buds can swoon.

To twist the proverbial knife in my already distraught gut, my co-worker and friend, Ellen, just asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. Apparently, she’d been so blissfully happy with her boyfriend of four months that they’ve decided to get married next weekend. Yay love!

I’d agreed to be her bridesmaid because, after working together for several years, we’d become close friends over the last four months. She’d really been there for me after the break-up and I was happy for Ellen even though her sappy relationship felt like hot lava being injected into my arteries. Such was the current state of my life. It could be worse I guess. Like instead of trying on a cherry red evening gown right now I could be swimming next to a great white shark during feeding time. Or maybe both were equally appealing.

“Ouch!” I gasped as Ellen tried to zip up the back of my strapless dress, which got stuck just below my shoulder blades.

“Gina, you told me to order a size six. Right?” Ellen frowned.

“Yes. Check the tag.” I groaned even though I’d already guessed the truth. That my nightly routine of watching reality TV with my new boyfriend, Cookie Dough Ice Cream, had finally caught up with me. He may be high in calories, but at least he doesn’t have a fear of commitment. I can be with him (or a new carton of him) until death do us part.

Staring into the three way mirror, I watched Ellen peek inside the back of my gown, then give me an apologetic look. “Maybe the sizes at Blissfully Bridal run small.”

“Right.” Because that kind of error would definitely happen at the most popular bridal boutique in downtown Sacramento. Never mind that Rachel’s maid of honor dress fit like a glove as did the bridesmaid dress for Ellen’s very annoying friend from high school, Kristen. Not to diss one of Ellen’s longtime gal pals, but if I had to hear Kristen rave on about her perfect boyfriend, Jake, one more time . . . well, let’s just say I shouldn’t be accountable for my actions.

“Maybe the seamstress can take it out a little?” Rachel suggested.

I raised my brows hopefully.

“Not enough material.” Kristen shook her head. “We’ll have to order a larger size.”

Was it my imagination or did Kristen seem cheerful delivering that news?

“No way.” I shook my head, emphatically. “I’ll go on a liquid diet. Those lemonade drink thingies.”

Desperate? No, not me.

Ellen put a hand on my shoulder. “Sorry, Gina. A dress size in a week isn’t healthy and isn’t going to happen. I’m gonna ask the saleslady if they can do another rush order.”

“What?” I gaped after her retreating figure. “That’s it? I’m supposed to accept a size eight? The bride has spoken?”

“Don’t stress, Gina. You’re entitled to a few pounds after what you’ve been through the last few months.” Rach dropped into a wingback chair and crossed her legs. “Speaking of . . . how’s the current sitch at home? Did George get off his rear and move out?”

“No.” I fell back against the iridescent satin wall and slid to the ground, chastising myself for eating that donut for breakfast this morning. And the one from yesterday morning. . . .

Kristen played with a strand of her silky red hair. “Who’s George?”

“My ex.” It still felt weird calling him that. Especially since he hadn’t vacated our apartment yet. “We broke up four months ago and he hasn’t gotten his own place.”

“Oh, right.” Kristen snapped her French-manicured fingers. “I remember hearing about him. He’s the one you’d been with forever, but never proposed?”

Ah, how I loved being reminded what a sucker I’d been. “Your point?”

She knelt next to me on the fluffy white carpet, smoothed the front of her shimmering red dress, and stared me in the eyes. “Sweetie, I’m going to tell you what your friends are apparently too afraid to. Your ex-boyfriend, George? Moving out? It’s never going to happen.”

I guffawed. “How would you know?”

“Obviously, taking action is not his m.o. I mean, you waited how many years for a ring and that never happened?” She raised a hand in the air, as if to say, hello?

“Leave her alone, Kristen.” Rach unzipped her fancy dress, let it fall to the floor, then stepped out of it. “She’ll move out when she’s ready.”

Rachel’s tone spoke volumes and my mouth dropped open. “You think I should be the one to find another place even though I’ve already put myself out staying in the guest bedroom for four months?”

First ten years. Now four months. I was beginning to see a pattern. . . .

Rach raised a shoulder. “Unless you want to change the locks and throw his stuff out, what choice do you have?”

My mouth opened and closed like a guppy out of water. “You know I could never do that.” I sighed. “I’m the one who found that apartment and it’s only three blocks from work. It’s just not right.”

Kristen cleared her throat, possibly to ease the obvious tension. “Listen, I just closed escrow on my condo and it has a spare room. I was going to advertise for a roommate, but you’re welcome to it.” She furrowed her brows. “If you really want to go forward with your life, that is.”

My blood began to boil, not because Kristen had delivered this offer absent any shred of sensitivity—which, as a licensed marriage and family counselor, you’d think she’d have a little of—but because she was so clearly and obviously right. Why was I, once again, waiting on him? Was that my m.o.? What was wrong with me?

Although it seemed grossly unfair to have to let go of the place that had been my home for most of my twenties, it was time to stop waiting and start taking action.

I straightened my spine. “When can I move in?”

Her chin pulled back in surprise, then she smiled. “It’s Saturday. No time like the present, right?”

Rach let out a cheer. “Way to go, Gina! I’ll help you pack.”

“Thanks.” With the decision made, it felt like a weight had been lifted. “And let me state, for the record, that I will never again date a man who isn’t into marriage. N. E. V. E. R.”

“That eliminates the hot rebound I was about to suggest.” Kristen stood and scooted up to the mirror in her size four dress (that fit her slim figure perfectly). She smoothed a wandering eyebrow back into place, then snapped her fingers. “I’ve got the best idea. I have a friend and Jake recently suggested I set him up with someone.”

Ah, Jake. I hadn’t heard about him in at least ten minutes.

“Gina, he’d be perfect for you.” Her face lit up in a way that made me wonder if she wanted to be with him. “Ethan’s an amazing guy, absolute marriage material, and recently single. He can be your date to Ellen’s wedding.”

“Mmmm.” Rach flipped the page of her magazine with a small smile that told me she thought it was a good idea.

I’d just made the decision to move. It was hard to think about dating. “I don’t know.”

“Truth or Dare?” Kristen said, suddenly.

I narrowed my eyes at her. “Are you really a marriage and family counselor?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s a simple question, Gina. I’m sure you’ve played the game a million times.”

I bit back a laugh. “Yeah, in junior high.”

“Hmmm.” She bent her index finger and rubbed her chin. “I can’t tell which you’re uncomfortable with. Revealing the truth or doing something out of your comfort zone.”

“Dare.” An inane task sounded better than analyzing my psyche.

She grinned, triumphantly. “I dare you to take Jake’s friend to the wedding. If you two end up wildly in love, then I get to be a bridesmaid in your wedding.”

“Are you allowed to put those kinds of conditions on a dare?” Okay, I was stalling. Mostly because Kristen was right again. There was no good reason not to give this guy a try. “Fine, as long as I can meet him ahead of time. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable on such a special evening if we don’t click.”

“Deal.” Kristen exchanged a satisfied smile with Rach, then clapped her hands faster than a butterfly flapping its wings. She added a squeal for good measure. “You’re not going to regret this. Ethan is divine.”

I paused a moment, suddenly remembering some rules to our childhood game. “Truth or Dare back to you.”