“Your dream man is only a click of a button away.” Ned, always thoroughly annoying, peered over Katie’s shoulder at the profile of the attractive young man labeled Alex Weston.
“You should try it, too, Ned. The Perfect Match Dating Service promises to find someone just like you.”
“There isn’t anyone just like me,” Ned replied with a twinkle in his eyes.
“No, I don’t suppose there is,” Katie agreed. “Unless you could find a girl who likes to spend hours helping you work on your old cars. Or watching you coach little league down at the grade school. Bor…ing!”
“I admit I would find a woman with my same interests pretty dull,” Nate commented lazily. “What do they say about variety being the spice of life?”
“I’m not like you.” Katie tapped the screen. “I think it would be refreshing to find a guy all caught up in the kind of things that interest me.”
“Chinese food, you mean?”
Katie waved that away. “No, in books and theater. Imagine being able to discuss literary novels like Life of Pi.”
“I like pie.”
“Oh, Ned, you’ll never understand!” Despite their great differences, Katie could in confide in him. She couldn’t remember a time when Ned, her friend and schoolmate since fifth grade, wasn’t bugging her. His unruly brown hair and slightly crooked smile—his face looked as familiar as her own in the mirror.
“So, are you going to arrange a meeting with Mr. Perfect?” The usual teasing had drained from his voice, and he sounded grim.
“Luckily, he only lives twenty miles away. We’re going to meet Saturday at one at the Regal Dragon.”
* * *
Katie waited nervously for her date. Alex said she would know him because he would be carrying a red rose—her favorite flower. But she would have recognized him, anyway. He was wearing a blue shirt, the color she liked best. He was just as handsome as his picture, with dark, well-groomed hair and brown eyes.
“Katie Stevens, I presume,” he said, extending the rose.
She brought the flower close to face, savoring the perfumed scent. The guy was just too perfect!
“You look just like I thought you would,” he said approvingly. Reaching for the menu, he asked, “What’s your favorite?”
Katie often dragged Ned to the Regal Dragon where they had loud disputes on what to order, Ned telling her she needed to “widen her horizons.” On the other hand, he had dragged her places, too, like to the park to dine on peanut butter sandwiches and apples. She almost felt as if he were here now, watching her with her date. But Ned would be on his way to
to coach the Little League team. Harrison Grade School
Alex talked endlessly about his research paper on the English poets. Because the subject was so familiar to her, she could supply answers without half listening.
She couldn’t keep her thoughts from straying. She wondered if Ned had repaired the old Mustang. She wondered if his team would be winning.
“Let’s meet here again tomorrow,” Alex said at last.
“We both like Chinese food.” He went on confidently, “Afterwards, we can go to the library. You can help me research my paper.”
At home, Katie kept watch from her window, but she caught no sight of Ned. For some reason, he had abandoned his custom of being underfoot every evening. She couldn’t believe how much she missed him.
The next day, reluctantly, she met Alex. After they had finished another long meal, Katie said, “I can’t go with you to the library.”
“Then I must go alone,” Alex said, not too overcome with disappointment.
After he left, Katie lingered, finishing the tea, toying with the fortune cookie. When she looked up again, she saw Ned.
“Ned,” she said happily, “What are you doing here?”
“Checking up on you,” he replied with a grin. “Don’t trust these blind dates with a total stranger, one you’ve met on the Internet.”
He avoided the seat Alex had vacated and sat down beside her.
“You know, I’ve been thinking about what you said,” Katie remarked. “People do need variety. It turns out that dating someone just like me is just plain boring.”
Ned laughed. “How about someone not like you, then? How about me? Let’s see, we could pack some sandwiches and go fishing this evening.”
She smiled at him. “Or maybe...” She smiled at him. “There’s this play I’ve been wanting to see at the community theater.”
“Your choice today; mine tomorrow.”
Katie removed the cellophane wrapper from the fortune cookie, surprised to find that it read: Today all of your choices have been good ones.