"Don't worry about it, Nikole. I think you deserve shotgun today." "Nik." She needed to make this one thing clear, even though she was only going to know these people for the length of the car ride to Silver Lake. "Everyone calls me Nik. My first name is Nikole, yes, but it's Nikole with a K."
Angela looked at Nik for a long beat, her hand still on the open back door.
"But didn't the screen spell it..."
"With a C? It sure did!"
She got into the passenger seat and put her seatbelt on, and Angela slid into the seat behind her.
"You do not mean to tell me he spelled your name wrong in his proposal?" Angela said.
"That's exactly what I'm telling you. Only one of the many things that stunned me about this afternoon." Her pocket buzzed. "Wait, hold that thought, I have to tell my friends my ride is taken care of."
She had forty-three new text messages.
She clicked on her messages and let out a deep breath. Okay, thirty-three of the messages were from the group chat with her girlfriends, first their reactions to her initial texts about the proposal and then their increasingly agitated texts asking her where the hell she was when she stopped responding.
Sorry sorry, camera crew was in my face, some strangers rescued me, getting a ride back to the eastside from them right now, long story. Meet me at the bar within the hour.
She scrolled to her other new messages. Two were work related, she would deal with those after she'd recovered from the hangover she had every intention of having tomorrow morning. Oh my God, three were from people she knew who had been at Dodger Stadium that afternoon and had seen her on the JumboTron. There were more than eighteen million people in the greater Los Angeles area, she knew no more than a few hundred of them, max, and three of those had just HAPPENED to be at Dodger Stadium the one time in her life she was there, just so they could see the craziest thing that had ever happened to her? This was like some sort of sick joke.
And the other five texts were from Fisher.
You fucking bitch, I can't believe
She turned the phone off and dropped it in her pocket. So Fisher wasn't a perfectly nice guy after all. She wasn't even going to think about looking at those texts until she had at least two or three shots of bourbon in her.
"Everything okay?" Carlos asked, glancing over from the driver's seat.
She laughed, even though none of this was really funny. Now she understood what hysterical laughter really meant.
"As okay as anything can get today, I guess. Sorry for zoning out like that, I had a bunch of texts. My friends are very relieved that I got out of there in one piece."
"God, me, too," Carlos said. "When we saw that camera crew coming for you, I was worried that you'd either punch them all and run or burst into tears."
"Believe me, I was contemplating both," Nik said. "Unfortunately, I don't exactly know how to land a punch, and I didn't really want to get filmed crying on top of everything else."
He grinned at her, and she grinned back. It was refreshing to be around a guy who would joke with her like this after months of Fisher, who would only look at her blankly.
"Where to?" Carlos asked. "Do you want us to drop you at home, or at a friend's house, or...?"
She was glad that she'd already made plans to meet Courtney and Dana at the bar, otherwise Dazed-by-the-JumboTron Nik probably would have given the first guy she'd met in forever who had a sense of humor her home address.
"There's a bar on Sunset that has a bottle of bourbon with my name all over it. My friends are meeting me there to hopefully get me drunk enough so that I forget this day ever happened."
"I cannot believe he spelled your name wrong," Angela muttered from the back seat.
"To be fair to him, we'd only been dating for five months, maybe he just hadn't absorbed that bit of knowledge about me yet."
"Wait, WHAT?" She'd thought that Angela was the loud one, but Carlos nearly shouted that. "You'd only been dating for five months, and he proposed? In public?"
If she had to pick a strange man to rescue her, at least it was one who was outraged by the right things.
This excerpt ends on page 14 of the paperback edition.