Paula and Joe
“What? What did you tell him about me?” I asked.
My brother shrugged. “That you don’t have a boyfriend.”
“Don’t do me any favors,” I told him. I could blame his girlfriend for this – she was determined to set me up with her brother, and I was equally determined not to fall for it. How weird would it be to go on a double date that included my brother?
My family was already as huge and bizarre as it needed to be. I’m the youngest of seven in a blended family, which made it possible for two half-sisters and a sister-in-law to share the name “Deborah,” a brother and a brother-in-law to share the name “James,” and don’t even get me started on the Claudes. Plus, almost all of them have kids. Why would I want to add to the confusion by dating my brother’s girlfriend’s brother? Not to mention how awkward the situation would be if one relationship ended and the other continued.
Besides, I didn’t have time to date anybody. Easter was coming up, and I was helping get the house ready for the onslaught of relatives. My mom’s house had the biggest yard, and there were more than twenty nieces, nephews, and their friends coming to hunt eggs and have the big pre-Easter lunch on Saturday. The only way this guy could possibly see me was if he came to the Easter party, which would never happen. My brother invited him to come, but I didn’t think he would. Come to a house filled with nearly fifty people to meet a girl whose brother was dating his sister? Give every single member of my family a chance scrutinize, interrogate, and evaluate him? He’d have to be pretty self-confident for that.
The day of the big Easter party, I was finding serving spoons for eight different varieties of casserole when I looked out the window and saw an unfamiliar burgundy Camaro roll up the driveway.
“Nope, not interested,” I said when my sisters came in to tell me that my brother’s friend was really cute and of course he must have come to see me.
“Come on,” Deborah said. “You don’t mean you’re going to put him through all this chaos for nothing, do you?”
Then my dad came inside for a minute. “He has a nice car,” he remarked approvingly.
“Oh, all right,” I said, and went out to meet him.
My sisters were right – he was cute. And he did have a nice car – not new, but well taken care of. He stood up and clasped my hand for a moment. “Hi, I’m Joe,” he said. He didn’t seem in the least bothered by having to wade waist-deep through squealing, sugar-high children to reach me, or by the curious looks and not-so-subtle questions from the older members of my family. “Would you want to go see a movie after the party?” he continued. “Your brother and Melissa are going, too.”
What kind of guy would brave a major family event to meet a girl on her brother’s not-so-flattering evaluation? I grinned at Joe. I didn’t know, but I was looking forward to finding out.
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