"Andrews has produced something truly special with her latest Karmic Consultants novel. Deftly blending humor with heartfelt insight into her unconventional characters, this opposites-attract comedy pairs two characters with complex histories, whose honesty and compatibility are touching and thoroughly captivating." -4.5 Stars, Romantic Times Bookreviews. Full Review.
"A fun, fast romance with appealing characters, great dialog, and loads of appeal." -The Library Journal. Full Review.
"Finder’s Keeper is well written; it flows well and has great characters you can care about. Give it a try. You’ll be glad you did." -4.5 Nymphs, Literary Nymphs. Full Review.
Finder's Keeper Copyright © 2012 Vivi Andrews All rights reserved.
Speed-Dating: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
“I have three weeks left to fall in love.”
Mia Corregiani, Ph.D, groaned as her date blanched, a look of blind panic entering his eyes. Apparently she wasn’t supposed to be honest when the man sliding into the seat opposite her flashed a toothy grin and asked, So Mia, why speed-dating?
Her other possible response—explaining the efficiency of testing her pheromone compatibility with twenty potential mates in a single evening, with the assurance that each of those potential mates had been vetted by the agency as educated, of appropriate breeding age and monetary stability, and currently single matrimonial status—had seemed the less romantic choice, but evidently confessing you were on a clock to fall in love was a first date faux pas.
God, why had she let her sister talk her into this?
Mia tightened her grip on her pen and considered the empiric criteria for declaring an evening the Worst First Date since the Big Bang. Did speed-dating count as one date or twenty? Was the effect taken cumulatively or did each five-minute encounter qualify as its own independent assault against humanity?
Or perhaps there was a world record for the fastest dating failure. Mia glanced at her watch. Under sixty seconds. That had to be a personal best.
Bachelor Number Twelve was still sputtering, his face flushing to an alarming purple color. “I… Are you… I mean… Do you have…”
Fabulous. She’d paralyzed his frontal lobe. Mia frowned. “I need more words to understand your meaning.”
“Cancer?” Twelve said at a near-yelp.
“Oh no. I’m in perfect health. Excellent condition to breed.”
A choked noise erupted from Twelve’s throat and Mia flinched. Crap, why had she said that? She may not be socially savvy—okay, yes, when it came to social interaction she was a human wrecking ball—but she knew better than to bring up reproduction in the first five minutes.
She tried again. “It’s my family.”
“Oh!” Twelve beamed, visibly relieved, and patted her hand in a way that reminded Mia of her mother’s priest, Father Bob. “My folks have been on my back too. ‘Get back on the horse, Ben. Not every woman is a demented, vampiric bitch determined to take half of everything you own’.”
Oooh-kay. Mia mentally dropped Twelve into the My-Ex-Sucked-Out-My-Will-To-Live box along with Bachelors Three, Seven and Eight.
“It isn’t that.” Well, not just that. She toyed with the stem of her wine glass. How to explain the depth of delusion present in her family tree without convincing him the genetic predisposition toward fantasy made her an unacceptable candidate for merging their DNA? She flicked a glance at his nametag. Hi, my name is Ben. Ask me about Property Zoning! That was promising. Concrete, logical work. Mia experienced a hopeful spark at the prospect of a kindred analytical spirit.
Please, let him get it. “Ben, do you believe in magic?”
“I… Sure. I guess.”
His face twisted with confusion. Like he couldn’t quite figure out if she was flirting or accusing him of being a closet magician. Perhaps she shouldn’t have flung the question at him like it was weaponized, but this particular topic always made her cool rationality boil into frustration.
“What about soulmates?” she persisted, lifting her glass for a sip of Chardonnay in the hopes that it would soften her unintentionally hard tone.
“Um…” His eyes shuttled rapidly back and forth, the shoulders of his navy blazer lifting toward his ears as he tensed.
“I don’t,” she informed him flatly and watched his muscles unclench as she handed him the correct answer.
Ben apparently didn’t like being quizzed, even about his own opinions. Since interrogation was Mia’s primary form of communication, that didn’t bode well for his being the loins to spawn her unborn children, but she wouldn’t think about that right now. Right now she was determined to salvage this date before the bell rang in three minutes. She could do this. She could conquer speed-dating. Perhaps if she just explained…
“My family is superstitious. They believe in magic, soulmates, signs, horoscopes. The whole shebang.”
Twelve flinched, shrinking into his blazer like a turtle in his shell. Mia sighed.
“We have a family legend.”
Ben held his tongue, apparently having learned his lesson about providing color commentary.
“One hundred and forty-odd years ago, my great-great-grandfather bought a gold pocket watch from a gypsy woman. She told him within the next year it would bring him his soulmate and if he gave her the watch, their love would last a lifetime.” Her mother told it as for all eternity, but Mia didn’t like the imprecision of hyperbole. “He met my great-great-grandma the next week. Married her within twenty-four hours of laying eyes on her. Gave her the watch and started popping out kids.”
“Mm,” Twelve murmured.
She tapped a bitten-down nail against the wine glass. “His brother was also lonely, so Grampa Gianni lent him the watch. He found love and passed it on to a cousin, who passed it back to my great-great-grandma’s sister and so on, until the next generation. Each owner had it for one year, found the love of their life and lived happily ever after.”
Mia drained her wine to help the story flow. “For four generations, the legend of the pocket watch grew in our family. It was no longer just responsible for finding true love, it was the reason we’ve never had a single divorce. The reason babies are born healthy. The reason our men came home safely from World War II and Vietnam. For the year each member of my family was custodian of the watch, they were responsible for everyone’s happiness. By finding their own love, they ensured the chain continued unbroken and reaffirmed the magic of the watch. It’s our goddamn sacred duty to fall in love in that twelve-month period.”
Ben was nodding now, caught up in the story, and she realized in a vague, distant way that he was a rather attractive man. Pleasant enough to look at. No visible genetic abnormalities he would pass on to their offspring. If he hadn’t seemed more than a little afraid of her, she might have checked the little yes box next to his number on her form.
“Obviously, I don’t believe in this stuff. I’m a scientist.”
Ben kept nodding, his eyes flicking to the Hi, My name is Dr. Mia. Ask me about Astronomy! nametag on her blouse. “Astronomy is fascinating.”
“It is, but I’m a neurobiologist.” The nametag was what she got for letting her little sister sign her up for this event. Gina loved to tell people Mia was a rocket scientist. Neurobiologist apparently lacked the same cachet, for all that it had the benefit of accuracy. Gina called them lies of simplification. She said “rocket scientist” was just a brainy nerd and people didn’t really care about the finer points of the scientific distinctions.
All Mia saw was the factual sloppiness. “I have a rudimentary understanding of astronomy, but that’s not the point.”
“I’m a Taurus.”
Dear God, not another one. If nothing else, the nametag misprint had convinced her that the number of men who knew the difference between astronomy and astrology was shockingly low. She wept for the state of science education. “Good for you. The point is I don’t believe in magic. Everyone in my family knows I don’t believe in this crap, but if I’m the one to break the chain, they’ll hold me responsible for everything that goes wrong in my family for the rest of eternity.” Sometimes hyperbole was just called for.
“It’s still a nice story.”
“It isn’t just a story. It’s a belief system.” An unshakable one. And God knew Mia had tried to shake it with logic a thousand times over the years. Now she was running out of time. “Eleven months and six days ago, on the anniversary of the marriage of great-great-grandpa Gianni and great-great-grandma Anna Maria, my parents gave me the watch. In short: I have three weeks left to fall in love.”
Twelve’s face, which had recovered a nice flesh color, veered toward crimson, the panic in his eyes escalating to abject terror. Mia’s frustration peaked.
“Oh, for crying out loud, relax. Not with you.”
Twelve blanched, the bell rang, and he bolted like his chair was wired to blow.