The Arrangement Book Tour – Short Story
To kick off the book tour for Sonya Lalli’s new book ‘The Arrangement’, the lovely author has written a short story that will continue across the other websites of the tour.
In The Arrangement, thirty-year-old, fun-living Serena is on the sidelines. She shares a mutual friend with the novel’s heroine Raina, and for a while dates one of Raina’s relatives. Even though Serena’s story doesn’t make it into my novel, I wanted to share a bit more about her own dating misadventures – and give you a few clues about what’s to come in ‘The Arrangement’!
“I’m done with dating.”
“You don’t mean that,” says Shaylee.
“This time, I mean it.” Serena takes a sip of her lukewarm pinot grigio and thinks about every lousy boyfriend she’s ever had – from first-kiss-worst-kiss Luke in the eleventh grade, to her most recent ex, Kris, who had the emotional intelligence of a granola bar.
Meanwhile, Serena had – for lack of better words – her shit entirely together. She was a successful marketing manager, had great friends and nearly enough in her savings account to finally buy that dream flat. She drove out to the suburbs every Sunday to spend the afternoon with her parents, attended yoga class every Tuesday and Friday morning, and – she thinks modestly – isn’t entirely unattractive.
Wasn’t she a catch? In the words of her spirit animal Charlotte on Sex and the City, “I’ve been dating since I was fifteen. I’m exhausted. Where is he?” If Mr. Right wasn’t here by now, Serena thinks decidedly, he wasn’t showing up at all.
As Shaylee orders them a plate of nachos, Serena tucks her phone back into her purse to avoid checking it obsessively. Just hours ago, James had texted her a picture of his new kitten poking out of a tea cosy with the caption Garfield is looking forward to our date, too!
Now, her new coworker James – who’d she been crushing on for weeks –had stood her up. He’d disappeared without so much as a “wait, actually, I’m just not that into you” text, and let her sit by herself at a bar waiting for him. Now, she was still just regular Serena – crushed and crush-less – still on the mend from her breakup with Kris.
“Oh, snap!” Shaylee slides her phone across the table. “The cinema down the road is doing a midnight screening of Mean Girls. Should we go?”
“It’ll cheer you up…”
“OK. I guess.” She smiles, thankful Shaylee had nothing better to do tonight than keep her company. “Doesn’t Raina live nearby? Should we invite her? ”
“She’s on a date tonight.”
“Her Nani’s fixing her up, remember?”
“Maybe her Nani should set me up.”
“Be careful what you wish for, Serena,” Shaylee says, as she buys the cinema tickets on her phone. “She’s driving Raina crazy right now.”
“Well, I guess I’d rather be alone than crazy.” Serena sets her hands on the table with purpose. “And in fact, I will be. I am never going to date again.”
“You still don’t mean that.”
Shaylee leans forward on her elbow, like she’s trying to read Serena’s face.
“I’m serious. This is bullshit. I’m done with dating.”
She reaches across the table and grab’s Serena’s wrist, rotating the watch face upwards. 9:04 pm.
“We have three hours until the movie starts,” Shaylee says. “Three whole hours to kill…”
“Your point is?”
“I’ll make you a deal. In the next three hours, I’ll introduce you to three men. Three men of my choosing.”
“Yeah,” Shaylee says. “Tonight. And if you don’t like any of them, I’ll leave you alone. I won’t say all the things friends are supposed to say about ‘taking time for yourself’ or ‘letting yourself heal’ – or anything like that. I’ll let you give up.”
“You’ll let me give up.”
“Not just let you, Serena, I’ll enforce it.”
Three men? Three hours? Would Shaylee pick them out in this very bar? Serena glances around the room, a few strangers already catching her eye. Or, would Shaylee go through Serena’s phone? Message men she’s met up with in the past but has already written off. Connect her with new ones on her dating apps?
“So are you in?”
Tapping her fingers on the table, she shrugs. It’s not like she had anything better to do, or at this point, anything to lose.
Three hours. Three mini-dates. This would be a walk in the park, and then she could sit down and embrace spinsterhood in peace.
If you enjoyed this short introduction to the characters, you can buy the book The Arrangement from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.