The Matchmaker's Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken

  The ESPN announcer’s voice popped on and explained which guys had been drafted and what their numbers were, and then my name popped up again.

  “Ian Hunter, Heisman nominee.” Blake clenched my hand tighter. “The most promising draft pick played only two games before a freak accident ended his career, but I’m sure that ten-million-dollar signing bonus helped ease the sting a bit.” The announcers chuckled while Blake’s mouth dropped open in absolute shock.

  “You bastard!” She launched herself and her wine toward me. “You’re worth ten million dollars, and you charge over two hundred dollars a day!”

  “In my defense,” I said, laughing, “if I charge too little, it seems like I value my expertise too little. And we didn’t cash any of your checks. But if you’re this pissed, maybe we should reconsider what Wingmen Inc. charges?”

  “You think?” She threw her hands into the air. “I mean, you don’t want it to be charity, but clearly you don’t need the money.”

  “Even without the NFL, I wouldn’t have needed the money,” I said slowly, warily, concerned that we might be entering deal-breaker territory.

  “Oh, right, your parents?”

  “Left me this house—and a few others.” I shrugged, not fully ready to let her know my net worth. Because what was the point? It was money. And it had always made me feel empty.

  Football had given me something.

  But Blake had given me so much more.

  A wry smile teased her lips upward. “Sorry for freaking out.”

  Hard to say exactly what emotion washed over me at her words, but I think it was relief. I could never let Lex know I was beginning to analyze my feelings like a girl.

  She winced and pointed to a red wine stain on the white comforter. “And sorry that I ruined your comforter.”

  “I’ll make you work it off.” Confidence returning, I nodded and sent her a smug grin. “Hard labor. Bedroom-style. You interested?”

  “For how long?” Her eyes narrowed.


  “Hmm, I better get started now, then.”

  “Great.” I set my wine down and then whispered, “On your knees, sweet cheeks.”


  I watched them.

  But they didn’t know it.

  I wasn’t sure if that made it more or less inappropriate. Not that I gave a shit. At least when sober I didn’t give a damn.

  But I was shit-faced.

  And there they were.

  Kissing, hugging. Holding hands. I seriously wanted nothing more than to slam my beer bottle over Ian’s head, give him a good shake, then yell, “What the hell are you doing screwing with the perfect life?”

  He’d had it all.

  Even after his accident he’d still had it all—women, sex, more women. Did I mention sex? Because he’d had a lot of it.

  And now? He was giving that all up. For what? A piece of ass? Like he didn’t have prime pick on campus?

  “What a loser,” I huffed, though part of me felt like I was somehow losing, even though I was clearly at the top of my game.

  As the bartender slid me another beer, she leaned over, her perky tits damn near falling out of her low top. “Rough night, Lex?”

  “Does it matter”—I said with a grin—“when you know you’re going to be making it even rougher?”

  She smirked. “What makes you so cocky?”

  “Look at you,” I said. “Two minutes in, and you’re already talking about my favorite subject.”

  Her eyebrows arched. “Even drunk you’re good.”

  “Baby . . .” I stood, placing my hands firmly on the bar and leaning in so that I could brush my lips against her ear. “I’m the best.”

  “Hmm.” She nodded. “My break’s in five minutes.”

  “Of course it is.” Their breaks were always in five minutes, just like they never did this. I was more used to girls screaming that during sex than my actual name. But whatever made them feel better about getting screwed in the hallway of some cheap bar.

  I felt a slap on my back as Ian fell onto the barstool next to me, followed by Blake.

  “So . . .” Ian said, his eyes darting between me and Blake. “I have this idea.”

  “I’m drunk. Let’s have you and your ideas tomorrow.” I eyed the hot bartender over the mouth of my beer. “Besides, in five minutes I’m getting laid.”

  “You’re always getting laid in five minutes, sometimes ten. Learn to last longer, dude.” Ian smacked my cheek twice. “In any case, not the point. Focus.”

  My eyes blurred as I stared into his face. “You have three minutes. She’s giving me sex eyes, and I’m bored.”

  “When are you not bored?”

  “When I’m having sex.”

  Blake cleared her throat. “I’m sorry he asked.”

  “Jealous?” I winked at her.

  Ian punched me in the arm. “Sorry,” I wheezed. “Drunk, remember?”

  “Gabs is in,” Blake blurted.

  “Smooth.” Ian nodded, then looked heavenward. “You couldn’t at least lead with ‘This really hot chick that we both know, who needs to pay for college, needs a job. Oh, hey, look we have an opening!’”

  “Gabs.” I could taste her name on my tongue, like she was a red Sour Patch Kid that I’d just accidently ingested. “Hell. No.”

  I moved to stand.

  “Wait.” Ian grabbed my arm, pulling me back into the barstool. “She has to pay out five grand in tuition before the end of the semester. It’s an easy way for her to make money, and you did say you wanted to branch out and start accepting guy clients. So why not? What’s the harm?”

  “Oh, I don’t know.” I chugged my beer, then pounded my chest a few times to alleviate the air. “She might kill me? Run me over with her car? Poison my Lucky Charms? Oh.” I snapped my fingers. “Also, she hates me. And I hate her. It’s a very mutual hate that works really well for both of us, so”—I stood—“sorry, but not sorry.”

  Ian shifted in his seat, his eyes meeting Blake’s, hers looking down at her clenched hands.

  “Aw, shit, what did you do?”

  “I kind of”—Ian waved his hand into the air—“already told her it would be cool.”

  Beer rolled around in my stomach, then did some flip-flops, a couple more tumbles, and a jumping jack, then threatened to come right back up.

  “No chance in hell I’m training her,” I spat. “No. Freaking. Chance. I will literally strangle her to death.”

  “Great,” a light feminine voice said from behind me. “Then the feeling’s mutual.”

  I turned, slowly, and came face-to-face with my nemesis, the one girl I seriously couldn’t conjure up anything but hate and distaste for, no matter how sexy her ass was. “Oh baby.” I leaned down and bit the outside of her ear just to piss her off. “You know I’d dig the strangling part if I could have my dick inside you at the same time. I heard you’re into that.”

  It happened all at once.

  The beer bottle flying across my head.

  The knee to the groin.

  And then the searing pain as I fell to the floor, with the devil standing over me, her hot-as-hell heel pressed hard against my chest.

  “Yeah.” Ian nodded. “I think this new partnership is going to work just great. Don’t you?”

  “Just great,” Gabi said.

  “Yeah,” I grunted as all the beer I’d consumed threatened to come back up and make an appearance across her shiny red heels. “Freaking. Great.”


  I release a lot of books . . . meaning I do a ton of acknowledgments, and I still always manage to forget people that made the book possible . . . like the checker at Albertsons who didn’t judge me when I bought two bottles of wine and announced that I had a date with my computer and a scene I really didn’t want to write. Okay, I didn’t drink two bottles, more like one, over the course of a few hours. But seriously, people, it takes a village, and I’m so thankful that I have such an ama
zing team around me.

  Skyscape, you guys work your butts off to make sure that every book you release is pristine. Thank you for constantly challenging me to be better, which of course plays into Melody, my editor . . . you are hard. I’m not just saying that. You’re the type of editor who makes me want to cry into an empty cereal box while trying to justify whiskey in my morning coffee, and I love every minute of it. You make me a better writer, and for that I’m eternally grateful!

  To my beta and editing team on the front end—Katherine Tate, Kathleen Payne, Jill Sava, and Liza Tice—thank you for making sure that each and every book has its own special flavor!

  My amazing agent, Erica Silverman, is as usual the total voice of reason in all situations. Thanks for being such a dear friend. I feel like we are family. ;)

  To my publicist, Danielle Sanchez at InkSlinger PR, thanks for all your hard work with each and every release. Blood, sweat, tears!

  Bloggers and reviewers, you are incredible! It never ceases to amaze me that you are willing to take a chance on each and every release; you guys do so much for me, and I’m so thankful!

  And readers . . . I really don’t even know what to say. I’m so blessed to have you guys. Let’s make a deal: I’ll keep writing, and you keep reading. Yes?

  And finally, I need to thank God. He’s first, always first, in my life. Without him, I am nothing.

  Nate and Thor, you are both real live superheroes. I am blessed by you guys in so many ways!

  As always, thank you for reading! Stay tuned for the next Wingmen Inc. book. You won’t want to miss Lex’s story. After all, there’s a very fine line between love and hate, don’t you think?

  See you guys on the flip side! You can follow me on Instagram @RachVD or text MAFIA to 66866 to keep up to date on releases!




  Photo © 2014 Lauren Watson Perry, Perrywinkle Photography

  A master of lighthearted love stories, author Rachel Van Dyken has seen her books appear on national bestseller lists including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. A devoted lover of Starbucks, Swedish Fish, and The Bachelor, Rachel lives in Idaho with her husband, son, and two boxers. Follow her writing journey at



  Rachel van Dyken, The Matchmaker's Playbook

  (Series: Wingmen Inc. # 1)




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