Today's Reading

Whenever the events team threw charity galas or auctions, they asked for volunteers to help with registration, crowd control, VIP escorts, and the myriad other moving bits and pieces that went into making an event run smoothly. Tuesday always raised her hand. She spent forty hours a week digging through donors' lives, trying to understand why and where and how they might be persuaded to give away their money. Thanks to the hospital's databases and subscriptions, and all that gorgeous public information lying around on the internet, she knew where they lived, the addresses of their summer houses on the Cape, the theoretical value of their stocks, the other organizations their foundations supported, the names of their children, pets, yachts, doctors, and whether or not their doctor liked their jokes. But she had never met them. She knew them as well as anyone can be known from their digital fingerprints, but volunteering at events was her only opportunity to interact with them in person. To weigh her quantitative assessment of their facts and figures against a first impression in the flesh. Without that, she knew, it was too easy to jump to conclusions.

Plus, the food was usually pretty good.

Her stomach grumbled. Tuesday's lateness meant she'd missed her comped volunteer meal, and the Four Seasons always had great volunteer meals. She'd worked at events where dinner was a handful of gummy bears and a snack-size pack of Goldfish crackers, but at the Seasons she'd missed gourmet cheesy pasta and bread and salad and tiny ice cream sandwiches, the kids' table version of the spread hotel catering would put out later for the real guests.

"I guess you know the drill?" Britney gestured down the length of the registration table, at their mutual coworkers, who probably didn't recognize her either. It was a good feeling, anonymity. "Just ask for their names and check them in on an iPad—there's an extra one on the end, I think. Guests can write their own nametags."

Tuesday took a seat behind registration at the farthest end, in front of the last abandoned iPad, and set her bag on the floor. Her feet pulsed with relief. She'd left her commuter shoes under her desk, and even walking the short distance from the cab to the hotel in heels—over Boston's brick sidewalks— was a rookie mistake. She wasn't even close to being a rookie, though. She was thirty-three, and she'd never been able to walk well in heels.

Her phone buzzed twice, then twice again. Then again. She felt a small bump of anxiety.

It would be Dex. Dex Howard, her coworker from another life—who could, incidentally, run in heels—and the only person who texted her.

HEY AM I ON THE GUEST LIST?

I MEAN I SHOULD BE ON THE LIST

Constantly.

I REALLY REALLY HOPE I'M ON THE LIST
BECAUSE I'M ABOUT TO GET DUMPED
* * *

Across town, at a dark, stupid bar he hated, Dex Howard waited to be proposed to.

Or dumped.

Dumped, definitely.

He sucked a huge gulp of whiskey and propped both elbows on the bar. He knew he shouldn't be thinking like that: all or nothing, proposed to or dumped. He knew it was ridiculous and self-defeating. He wasn't about to be anything, other than be met by his kind and affectionate boyfriend of four months—the longest he'd dated anyone consecutively, ever—who'd asked to meet him here right after work. Dex had no delusions. He only had coping mechanisms, and right now his coping mechanism wanted him to believe Patrick could potentially be proposing to him, when in his heart and his guts Dex knew—knew—he was getting dumped.

He checked his phone. No response from Tuesday (big surprise). No other texts. No emails. No calls (who called anyone anymore, but still). The bar was called The Bank, and it was in the heart of the financial district, which meant it was full of douchebags and assholes. Dex could, when the mood struck, be either or both. It was a land of finance bros: white guys with MBAs and short hair and, now that they were in their thirties, wedding rings and bellies that pulled their button-downs tight with a little pooch of fat over their waistbands. In the corner by the window there was a cluster of young ones, fresh out of school, still studying for their CPA exams, still able to drink like this every night and come in to work the next day, half alive. The boys were prettier than the girls. They were downing pints of something golden, maybe the first keg of Octoberfest.

His phone chimed. Tuesday.

I DON'T SEE YOU ON THE LIST

He texted back, WHAT

ALSO YOU DIDN'T DENY MY PREVIOUS TEXT WHICH MEANS ON SOME LEVEL YOU
MUST 'ALSO' BELIEVE I AM ABOUT TO GET DUMPED

She didn't respond.
...

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