The Virgin Rule Book (Rules of Love #1) by Lauren Blakely



This minimalism fail is a fraction of the swirl of emotions tangling me up as I prepare to move back to my hometown to run the football team I own.

Home, where I want to be.

Home, with all its complications.

A mother who wants me to find Mr. Right.

An older sister who wants every damn person in a three-hundred-mile radius to love the team.

A brother who worries I work too much, just like our dad.

And a football team that I’ve moved back to its original city. A city full of angry fans who detest the franchise for moving to Vegas in the first place, and adoring fans with sky-high expectations because we’re finally coming home.

Scarlett offers a hand and tugs me up. “Let’s tackle this one at a time. Let’s donate some of your clothes. That’s easy enough. I’ll help you sort it all.”

“But you’re leaving soon. Let’s not waste our time sorting clothes and stuff.” I make a feeble protest, though I would love some help. “You’re going back to Paris soon. This will take a year.”

“We can sort everything in a few hours. I’m highly efficient, and I want to help. This is how I want to spend my time with you. Moving is a big deal.”

I try to inhale some of her steadiness, slightly more relaxed now that Scarlett has to-do-listed my clothes. “Winnowing down my wardrobe is a good idea.”

“Yes. But is that going to settle your . . .” She lowers her voice, shifts her gaze from side to side, then whispers, “Nerves?”

Ugh.

Nerves.

I hate them.

Scarlett is my best friend, and though I don’t see her often, since she lives in another country, she knows my heart and I know hers. But she doesn’t know what I’ve been up to for the last year.

She doesn’t know one of the secrets in my drawer of them.

And this one aches a little bit today.

I blurt it out. “I failed.”

She rubs my shoulder in soothing circles. “What on earth are you talking about?”

I head to the living room, waving her along. From the coffee table, I grab my phone. Cheeks burning, I click on my email and find the offending message from Samantha Valentine, otherwise known as the most successful matchmaker for discerning men and women in this city.

I show her note to Scarlett.

“Read it out loud,” I grit out. “Hearing the words again will remind me that I’m better off alone.”

Scarlett sighs sympathetically then reads the note.



Dear Nadia,





Thank you again for your business. You’ve been a pleasure to work with, and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to seek a match for you. You’re a wonderful, intelligent, vivacious woman, and I know you’ll find just the right man someday. However, your situation is simply too vexing, and I find that I’m going to have to bow out of playing your Cupid. You’re quite particular (as you should be!), but I also simply can’t seem to find a man who meets your criteria.





You’re a wee bit direct, you like to tell it like it is, and you have, as it turns out, more money than most men I represent. That tends to scare men away. Perhaps consider donating your riches to charity? It might be easier to find a suitable mate then.





Wishing you all the best,





Samantha





Scarlett flares her nostrils. Her eyebrows shoot to the stratosphere. “Seriously? A matchmaker just broke up with you, told you to donate your money, and then settle for a man who’s not man enough to handle you the way you are?”

In a nutshell. “Yes! Can you believe it?”

“Who the hell does she think she is? Are we still in the twenty-first century or have I traveled back in time? This is ridiculous and insulting, and I refuse to believe so many men are intimidated by successful women.”

“I’d like to believe that too,” I say, gesturing broadly to encompass Vegas and everyone in it. “Only this city’s men chewed me up and spit me out like so much gristle.” And I’m annoyed to the bone about it, but also resigned. “I’m afraid she’s right though. Most men don’t want a woman who owns a football team. And it’s all mine now too.” I recently bought out my co-owner, Eliza. She wanted the funds to purchase a basketball team, so we did a deal, and now I’m the sole owner. “Samantha secured me six dates in a year. Six measly dates, and none of them resulted in a second or third. I am one hundred percent undatable.”