Love is only a swipe away…
Pre-med student Carly Samuelson doesn’t have time for things like swoony Valentine’s dates, so when her best friend downloads a dating app to get Carly lucky, her expectations are low. But when her friend swipes right on tall, dark, and dashing Thorn Cartwright, Carly walks into something she never expected—Thorn’s got a proposition: one night, one dress, him and her. But can one swipe right really lead to love?
“Girl.” My best friend leveled me with serious eyes, one hand holding a lock of blond hair that was wrapped around a searing hot curling wand above her head. “You need to get some action before those bits turn to dust.”
I burst out in a laugh. “My vagina will just incinerate and float away, huh?”
“What do they say…” She tipped her head to the side. “If you don’t use it, you lose it?”
I shook my head, watching as she unrolled the curl and let it bounce into a perfect ringlet as she got ready for her Valentine’s Day date tonight. Lord knows with whom this time. Saying Selma was a free agent was putting it lightly.
“I’m too busy for the kind of trouble you get up to at all hours of the night,” I finally answered. “You know, someday all of that natural beauty—” She wagged a finger at my face “—is going to crack. That young virginal thing you got going on won’t last forever. Why you wasting all your youth with your head in a textbook? You have to live, Carly!”
I crossed my arms, thinking it was moments like these that made me both love and despise Selma for her natural, dark-eyed beauty and that effortless attitude she lived her life with.
“I’m not like you.” I finally shook my head. “I don’t do well with strangers or in groups or in public places on holidays…really, anywhere with people. I just don’t do well with people.”
“Bullshit.” Selma dropped another curl, twisting it softly then setting the wand on the counter. “Anyone can date now, no more awkward first dates or getting-to-know-you conversations. I downloaded this dating app. You just swipe right if the guy is a hottie, left if he looks like a douchenozzle. Welcome to dating in the modern world.”
“A dating app? You downloaded a dating app?”
“You know I like to spice things up in my life.”
I huffed, a little incredulous. I thought online dating was for nerds… Well, I guess I was technically a nerd, considering all I did was go to class, study, sleep, repeat. While Selma was partying the night away at clubs, kissing strange, sexy men, I was up late in a college sweatshirt and pajama pants, poring over anatomy books. With just one more year to go in my biology degree, the end was in sight. All the hard work of the last few years would finally pay off with a diploma and a set of skills that could allow me to get a job at any doctor’s office around the country as a physician’s assistant. The coursework had been brutal—I’d known it would be—but I was too far in to throw it away now, even if my grades were at the top of my class.
“I’m not using a dating app. I can’t even think about dating right now.”
“It’s not dating, exactly…” Selma pushed me in front of the mirror and picked up the wand, twisting a lock of my hair in her fingers and wrapping it around the barrel of the wand. “It’s more like…hookups.”
“Hookups.” I scrunched my nose, catching her eyes in the mirror.
“Yeah, you know, burn off some steam. Sex releases anti-stress chemicals to your brain, you know, and people who have an orgasm within thirty minutes of having a test perform up to five points higher. Five points! You need to fuck off some steam, Carly.”
“Oh my God.” I covered my face with one hand as she continued to curl random sections of my hair.
“I mean it. When’s the last time you got any play at all?” She twirled a soft lock at my face, adding a wave until it lay nicely with the rest.
“Uh…” I paused, pushing back through old dusty cobwebs to the last time I’d even let a man kiss me. “Freshman year, maybe?”
“Oh my God. You’re practically a born-again virgin. We need to get you that app.” Selma set the wand down on the counter. “Finished.”
I glanced up, shocked she’d curled my entire head of hair and was now separating the ringlets until they were only softly defined and falling over one shoulder.
“Your hair looks too good to waste.” Selma swiped my phone and held it up. “Smile, and give me that look in your eye.”
“That one that says you’re really horny but still a good girl.”
I narrowed my eyes.
“No, that looks like you might swipe their wallet when they’re finished. Softer. Less murder-y, more seductive.”
“Selma!” I squealed, swiping the camera just as the flash went off.
“Wait, let me see. That was a good one!” Selma pulled the phone from my hand, swiping to the last picture taken. “Look.” She thrust the picture into my face. “You look fucking hot. Let’s find you a man tonight.”
“No, Selma.” My asshole friend spun, my phone in hand, and shuffled out the bathroom door, her fingers tapping a hundred words a second as she went. “Selma!”
She stopped dead in her tracks, turned to me in the middle of my studio apartment kitchen, and handed me the phone. “There.”
Her smile was big. I wanted to bitch-slap it off her face.
“What did you do?”
“Created your account, uploaded that pic. Now you’re ready to swipe your way to a lay, baby.”
“Jesus, Selma. Why are we friends?”
“Probably because I challenge your very boring and predictable nature.” She twirled a fresh curl at my temple. “And you love me.”
I only grunted in reply, my eyes focused on the screen, the first handsome candidate to show up on my phone. “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
“Swipe left. He looks like a businessman wannabe.”
“Wannabe? What are you, an expert at typing men on this thing?”
“Swipe enough.” She shrugged, peering over my shoulder to glance at the next potential date.
“Ew!” We both swiped left, clearing the older gentleman with the overgrown mustache off our screen.
“He’s not bad.” Selma paused on the third, tilting her head. “If you squint.”
I groaned, swiping left. Then left. Then another left.
“I’ve learned one thing from this app tonight,” I said.
“What’s that?” Selma was swiping left for me, the frown growing deeper with every swipe.
“That we’re surrounded by a million really creepy guys. It’s no wonder I haven’t found a date in ages.”
Selma nodded, taking in my words. “Maybe it’s time I move. When I visited my cousin in Denver, you should have seen the hot guys. Like, h-o-double-t hot.”
“Well, I’m deleting it. All that’s on here is mountain men and college guys looking to score more action. Not interested.”
“Wait, what about him?” She paused, thumb hovering over the handsome face lit with a one-sided cocky smile. His eyes were a clear shade of ocean blue, hair dark and a little mussed, with a dark smattering of sexy five-o’clock shadow across his angled jaw.
“Nuh-uh. He’s married.”
“What? No way! What makes you say that?” Selma squinted, as if trying to read the signals through the screen.
“Because no man that beautiful is still on the market at his age.”
“His age? He’s like thirty-five, tops,” she scoffed.
“Exactly. Married, divorced with kids, something.”
“Well, okay, then. What do you care? This is just a hookup anyway, remember? Not like you have to worry about him proposing on the first date or anything.”
“Selma…” I groaned, ready to swipe left on his gorgeous, smug ass.
“Nope.” Selma slid her thumb across my screen, swiping right. “Got him.”
She grinned up at me triumphantly.
“Oh my God, what are you doing!” I wiped left, left, up, across. “Where are the settings? Can I undo that right swipe?”
She laughed, walking back down the hall to the bathroom. “Nope. No undoing!”
I followed quickly on her heels, stopping right next to her in front of her post at the bathroom mirror. Just then, the little app chimed in my hand. An alert popped up that said a match was made.
“Oh, you are such an asshole, Selma Martinez.”
“You got a match! That means he likes you, too.” She nodded, taking every second of this painfully embarrassing moment in stride.
“That wasn’t even a good picture of me! I hate you.”
“Or you could say thank you.” She winked. “Now send that boy a message.”
“What? No way. I’m not interested. Maybe you should go out with him.”
“Nah, I’ll take one for the team. Your vag needs some love, and I think Mr. Sex right there is going to give it to you.”
“I’m not going.”
“You’re an idiot if you don’t.”
I nearly replied that she was an idiot for even downloading the app when another chime popped up.
New message alert.
“Ooh, he’s really into you.” Selma snatched the phone from my hands and opened the message.
“Wait! Don’t answer it!”
“Too late, it already shows him that I’ve seen it—or you’ve seen it.” She waggled her eyebrows at me. “It says, Would love to meet tonight. I’ll just reply…” She started tapping at warp speed.
“No! No!” I yanked my phone from her. “Don’t reply.”
“Well, you have to. Otherwise, that would just be rude.”
“Rude. Like I care if I’m rude to a stranger, Selma!” I couldn’t contain the shrieky frustration lacing my voice.
“Well, I just wasn’t raised that way, stranger or not.”
I shook my head, finding myself again stupefied by all things Selma. “You’re unbelievable.”
She caught my eye in the mirror, refusing to say a word. I narrowed my eyes, taking in the stubborn set of her jaw, the way her eyes flared with simmering irritation.
“Fine. I’ll answer him. I’ll tell him he was a mistake swipe or something.”
“What? You can’t say that.”
“Why not?” There were too many rules for online dating, exactly the reason it was better I’d avoided it.
“Way to kick a guy when he’s down. No, I would not like to see you tonight. Actually, I think you’re a dog and wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot pole. Have a nice night!”
“Well, I wouldn’t be that harsh.”
Selma shook her head, finishing one last curl in her hair before placing the wand on the counter and unplugging it. She spun, pushing fingers through her hair until the curls bounced and bobbed with enviable volume. “Tell him the truth—you’re a busy college student with a very large stick up your ass.”
“And with a nosy friend who doesn’t know how to keep her hands off other people’s property,” I chimed in.
“Sounds about right. Listen, chica…” Selma paused, catching her reflection in the mirror and adjusting her boobs in the cups of her bra to get more oomph. Her word. Not mine. “I’ve got to meet Pratt outside in twenty minutes. I hope you give yourself a break tonight. You deserve it. Give that vag a little workout, and you’ll feel better in the morning.” She spritzed some of my perfume in a cloud around her. “I’ll call you later when I get home…or in the morning.” She paused. “It probably won’t be until the morning.” She winked, then placed a kiss on my cheek. “Let loose tonight, Carly. God knows you need it.”
She turned, blowing me one last kiss before sauntering out of my apartment in her chunky, laced boots and skirt.
I glanced back down at my phone, then to the puppy pajamas that fell to the tops of my bare feet.
I did need some fun.
I was ready for a life outside of textbooks and professors and exams and essays.
I hovered over the keyboard, not knowing what in the hell to say before I typed quickly.
Sure. Where and when?
Before I could think twice, I hit send.
Maybe Selma was right. If I didn’t use it, I would lose it. Perhaps not so much my vag but my sexuality, my sense of self, my free spirit.
I grinned, shutting down the app and tossing it on the bed, not caring if the handsome guy with the cocky smile ever replied or not. I was having fun making the butterflies in my stomach jump all on my own.
Aria Cole is a thirty-something housewife who once felt bad for reading dirty books late at night, until she decided to write her own. Possessive alpha men and the sassy heroines who love them are common, along with a healthy dose of irresistible insta-love and happily ever afters so sweet your teeth may ache.
For a safe, off-the-charts HOT, and always HEA story that doesn’t take a lifetime to read, get lost in an Aria Cole book!
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