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One Night with a Geek -- Linda Steinberg

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One Night with a Geek
Unforgettable Nights (Book 7)

What happens when a geek turns into a Greek god?

Free-spirited Callie Rose is not one for long-term liaisons. She’s had a longer relationship with the I.T. guy at work than any of the men she’s dated. So when her brainiac friend needs help with his online dating profile, Callie is happy to take him under her expert wing. She rewrites his profile, gives him a makeover, and coaches the clueless introvert on how to talk to women. But as she helps him gain confidence, Callie realizes she’s been the clueless one. Eyes finally opened to the feelings she’s had for Ian all along, Callie fears she’ll lose this caring, amazing guy to someone smart, someone perfect for him.

Ian Thomas’s computer skills far outweigh his romantic abilities. He’s had a crush on Callie Rose since they started working together but she’s got him firmly relegated to the Friend Zone. When she offers to help him navigate the scary world of online dating, Ian welcomes the chance to spend more time with her. While Callie coaches him on dating skills, he uses what he learns to charm and win the woman he really wants.

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“Can’t you do it any faster?” Callie Rose let out a frustrated sigh.

The I.T. guy looked up from her computer with an odd expression on his face. “I’m running multiple spyware and malware programs. It’ll take as long as it takes.”

And when he was done, Callie knew from experience, everything would run smoother and better—and faster. Ian Thomas was a tech genius. She blew her bangs off her forehead. “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I know it’s not your fault.” She paced two feet away from her small work cubicle and back. “It’s just that the producer wants the graphics for this footage by the end of the day.”

“What time is that?”

A wry smile fought its way to Callie’s lips. “Whatever time I finish the assignment.” This wouldn’t be the first Friday she’d had to work late. The producers always wanted the job on the client’s desk first thing Monday morning, but rarely did the client even look at it for days.

“Okay, I’ve got everything loaded now but it’ll take a while to install and reboot.” Ian adjusted his glasses and checked the wide-strapped watch on his wrist. “Why don’t you get some lunch? This should be done in an hour or so.”

Lunch. Now there was a welcome thought. “My stomach’s been dreaming about Pete’s Hamburgers all day.” Callie grabbed her sweater from the back of her chair and her purse from a large file drawer. “Do you want to come with? Or did you bring your lunch?” Ian usually did.

“You mean go out?”

“Yes, like not in the coffee break room. Like, in an actual restaurant.”

Ian grinned. “I did bring my lunch but I can keep it in the fridge. A hot burger sounds a whole lot better than cold ham and cheese.”

His leftovers would undoubtedly be tossed out Monday morning by the overzealous kitchen police, but Ian probably needed the change of scene as much as she did. “Let’s go, then.” Eyeing his pale forearms visible below the rolled-up sleeves of his blue work shirt, Callie realized that in the year or so she’d known Ian, she’d never seen him outside these office walls.  “I’ll drive.”

She headed for the elevator, with Ian following at her heels like a puppy let off a leash. In her job as a graphics artist, Callie dealt with lots of unnecessary interruptions from editors and producers. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like to work as a systems tech where interruptions were your job.

She lucked out finding a metered parking space right in front of Pete’s, but as soon as they alit from her Prius it became obvious why. “Closed for Renovations?” Callie tapped the posted sign in annoyance. “My mouth was already watering for a bacon burger with cheese.”

“There’s a deli just a couple of blocks from here that has pretty good burgers,” Ian said. “If you don’t mind walking.”

Callie normally drove even the half block from her apartment to the breakfast place on the corner, but snagging a parking place just off Wilshire Boulevard warranted not wasting half an hour searching for another one. “Lead the way.”

The southern California sun beamed pleasantly on Callie’s face and neck. At the first cross street, they waited for the parade of whizzing cars until the green graphic of a walking man appeared at the traffic light. When Callie stepped off the curb, she was abruptly yanked back up by two strong arms. A second later a metallic blue Corvette raced through the intersection against the red light.

“Damned L.A. drivers.” With a relieved sigh, Callie leaned into Ian’s surprisingly hard chest.

“Probably some celebrity who thinks he owns the road,” he said, slowly releasing his arms from around her waist. “You okay?”

“Sure.” She smoothed her tank top over her jeans with shaky hands. “Nothing a good burger can’t fix.”

Rico’s Deli was busy, even at eleven a.m. Waitresses charged by carrying trays laden with enticing salads and sandwiches, and the decibel level was through the roof. No wonder many of the patrons wore earphones as their fingers skimmed over their smart phones.

“I’m Cassie and I’ll be your server.” A fifty-ish, big-boned woman plopped a couple of menus on their table and took their drink orders. “Just wave at me when you know what you want.”

“I know now.” Callie ordered her bacon cheeseburger and looked across the booth at her companion.

“I’ll have the same.” Ian handed back their menus. “With extra pickles.” He grinned at Callie. “Nice to be with a woman who knows what she wants.”

Callie blinked, then grinned back. Of course he hadn’t meant that as it sounded. She and Ian were not together. They were work pals, occasionally lunching or sharing coffee together in the company break room, nothing more.

“I haven’t seen you since you got back from your cruise,” Ian said. “How was it?”

“Great.” Callie shrugged her sweater off her arms to show off her November tan. “Sun, sand, sea and a whole lot of buff, macho men.” She giggled. “It was a Veteran’s Day cruise and they gave active military a discount so the boat was swimming—excuse my expression—with hot American heroes.” She sighed. “Of course, the guy I chose to hook up with turned out to be married.”

Ian swirled the salt shaker around the plastic tabletop. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” She waved her hand dismissively. “It was fun for a few days anyway.”

Ian smiled. “That’s something I really admire about you.”

“What is?”

“Your…perkiness,” he said as if he couldn’t think of a better word. “You’re always so upbeat about everything, no matter how it turns out. A true optimist.”

“No way.” That would be her friend Emma. Callie accepted the soda the waitress handed her and peeled the paper off her straw. “I’m a realist. When it comes to men, I have low expectations, so I’m rarely disappointed.”


 “Why am I not disappointed?”

“Why do you have low expectations?”

She took a long, slow sip of her soda. “I have three brothers. So I know about guys and what they want. Easy, uncomplicated sex.” She forced a chuckle. “My own, fairly extensive experience has not disproved that.”

“Maybe your experience isn’t quite extensive enough.” Ian’s ears turned a rosy shade. “I mean, maybe you just haven’t met the right guy yet.”

“The right guy?” Callie chortled. “You mean Prince Charming?”

“Maybe not a prince,” Ian conceded. “Maybe just a good man who thinks you’re his princess.” He unwrapped his flatware, letting it clang onto the table. “Outside of Prince Charming, what would your ideal man be like?”

“Single,” she said immediately.

Ian chuckled. “I know you’re pickier than that. What else?”

The waitress arrived with their food, giving Callie time to mull it over. She dipped a French fry in ketchup and dangled it close to her mouth. “Honesty is important. I hate liars.” She chomped down the fry. “And it wouldn’t hurt if he was drop dead gorgeous.” She winked. “And built like a tank.”

Ian winced but quickly turned his grimace into a smile. “Anything else?”

“Why, are you taking a survey?” Callie sifted mentally through a raft of positive adjectives. Thrifty? Brave? Clean? Reverent? Sounded like the Boy Scout pledge and she definitely did not need a Boy Scout. What she really needed was… She blanked. “I…actually don’t know.”

Ian wiped his lips with a napkin without taking his eyes off her face. “If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how are you going to know when you find it?”

“Good question.” She giggled, suddenly struck by how brown Ian’s eyes were. Not grainy or multi-colored. Just a deep, true brown. Eyes that looked like they’d never lied.