Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE

Nik Paterson looked around at the perfect Los Angeles day: clear blue sky, bright green baseball field, warm sun shining down on the thousands of people with her at Dodger Stadium. There was only one thought on her mind: when can I get out of here?

Fisher was next to her, his blond man bun golden in the sun, laughing as he drank warm beer to celebrate his birthday. He and his buddies were talking about lifting, or their latest auditions, or their upcoming car purchases—all of the things his friends always talked about, all of the things Nik couldn't care less about. If she'd known this birthday outing was going to include a bunch of Fisher's friends, she would have at least gotten one of her girlfriends to come along so she would have someone to talk to.

Although to be fair, it was possible Fisher had told her his friends were coming and she hadn't been paying attention. She tended not to pay that much attention when Fisher talked, but then, she hadn't been dating him for the past five months for his conversational skills.

Nik looked back up at the scoreboard and sighed. It was still only the fifth inning; she probably had at least an hour, maybe an hour and a half, more of this.

She didn't have anything against baseball, exactly. It was just that she'd rather be spending this beautiful spring day at home with her laptop and a glass of bourbon on the rocks than outside at a baseball stadium with a warm beer. But when the hot dude you were sleeping with wanted to go to a Dodgers game for his birthday, you sucked it up and went along with him and his bros.

She sighed again and reached for her phone. Maybe she could get some work done as she sat there.

Just as she was starting to make some actual progress on a draft of an article, Fisher nudged her hard.

"Nik! Put your phone down, you can't miss this!" He threw his arm around her and kissed her on the cheek. She pressed save and tucked her phone back in her pocket. His favorite baseball player must be coming up to bat or something.

She looked down at the field, but nothing was going on there. She followed Fisher's pointed finger and looked up at the scoreboard, just in time to see on the screen:

NICOLE: I LOVE YOU. WILL YOU MARRY ME? FISHER.

She turned to Fisher, her mouth wide open. "What the hell is going on?"

To her horror, he dropped down onto one knee, on top of the peanut shells that carpeted the concrete, dangerously close to the puddle of spilled beer.

Oh God. He had a ring box in his hand.

"Nikole." He tucked a strand of hair behind his ear and opened the ring box. She averted her eyes. "Will you make me the happiest man in the world?"

Was she asleep? This definitely felt like a nightmare.

They'd only been dating for five months! That he loved her was news to her—he'd certainly never said that before—but a proposal? He didn't even know how to spell her name!

She tried to put on a smile, but she'd never had the best poker face —except, strangely, when she was actually playing poker. Not even his best friends would call Fisher perceptive, but even he could tell something was off with his happy moment.

"Nik, did you hear me? You're just standing there. You haven't even put the ring on!"

"I don't..." She cleared her throat and tried to talk in a low voice, so the whole damn stadium couldn't tell what was going on.
"It's just that we've never discussed this. We aren't really in a place to...I didn't...I just wish you'd brought this up before...before now."

"Are you saying no?"

He was still on one knee, good God.

"I'm saying this isn't really the place to have this conversation."

He just stared at her, wide-eyed.

"Are you saying no?" he repeated.

She took a deep breath.

"I'm trying not to say that out loud so everyone can hear me."
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