Here’s an excerpt from my current work in progress — MATCHED: A Romantic Comedy. It’s still being written but I expect to finish and have it ready for release on September 25th so stay tuned!
Preorder details to be posted asap!
Everyone thinks Jon is in love with India and India is in love with Jon — everyone except Jon and India.
They don’t want something as crass as sex to mess up their beautiful relationship as co-owners of a tech business that’s on its way to the Forbes 1,000. When India’s best friend matches them both with someone chosen using her dating app, everything changes and they must come to terms with the truth about sex, love and partnerships.
WIll their beautiful relationship survive?
We fist bump before she walks on the stage and she gives me that smile – the smile that says, “I got this, Jon. Watch me blow their minds.”
Jon Anders Thorson. CEO of Pacifica Technologies Inc. We’re a spunky little startup that’s challenging Lockheed Martin’s dominance of the aerospace industry.
That’s my girl – India Louise Ward. Girl wonder at twenty-five years old. BS (Engineering) Stanford. MBA Stanford. My CTO – Chief Technology Officer. She’s also my communications lead for the company. She’s our public face because, why not put your best face forward and India is definitely Pacifica’s best face.
She’s fucking beautiful.
We’re at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference and India is the speaker, talking about our experiences as a startup and how we went from my parent’s garage in Pacifica, CA to a hundred-million tech business in Palo Alto. I’d be up there instead of India but I love seeing the audience when they realize that besides being smoking hot, she’s smart.
Super smart. You can see it in her eyes. There’s just so much going on behind them besides being pretty. They’re hazel with flecks of green and violet behind thick lashes.
Not that I’m obsessed with her eyes, mind you. But I’m a man. I notice those things.
Back to India – you have to be whip-smart to be successful in this business and she’s a fucking rocket scientist. She’s one of the few women in the aerospace industry in positions of power.
Pride fills me as I watch her step up to the podium. There’s polite applause, and the faces in the crowd I see are all interested. They’ve heard about the girl wonder at Pacifica Technology Inc. with the flaky name. Now they can see her in person and she’s an eyeful.
I mean, who the fuck names their daughter India?
Hippies, that’s who. Her parents are old hippies, professors at Stanford, which explains India’s brains. Her mom waited until she was forty to have children. Her father plays bongo drums for fuck’s sake. Her mother has all these crystals lying around their house and is into yoga and eastern religions and took India to Machu Pichu when she was eight. You’d think that being exposed to all that airy-fairy stuff would warp a young mind…
Not India’s. She’s a straight arrow. Workaholic. Capitalist straight down the line.
Her parents must be so torn. They’re typical flaky humanities professors. As a result, India didn’t go to regular schools. No. She went to Montessori. She went into Stanford’s Education Program for Gifted Youth program and was at Stanford doing a fucking engineering degree when she was six-fucking-teen. She’s beautiful and she’s probably one of the smartest people in the room.
Today, India’s wearing a navy skirt to her knee and a white silk blouse. Over top is a navy blazer that hides curves like you wouldn’t believe under her sober business suit. Her dark hair is pulled back into a bun and she’s wearing little makeup and black-rimmed reading glasses.
It’s her disguise, as she calls it. She puts forward a totally professional demeanor but underneath, she’s as crazy and geeky as the rest of us.
Here’s the secret she’s trying to hide. She’s five-foot five inches of babelicious woman. You should see her in a bikini.
Scalding hot. I mean, burn your retinas hot. Curves that would make a man kill to grab onto them and pump hard…
I know that each and every one of the men in the audience – at least those who are straight – want to bang her despite the disguise. Their puny brains get all mixed up when they see a beautiful woman like India. They can’t keep two thoughts in their swelled heads because all the blood’s drained down to their dicks.
They all want to fuck her. Every straight guy I meet wants to fuck her.
Unlike them, I don’t want to fuck her. Sure, I mean, I could fuck her if the opportunity arose because she’s sexy on legs and beautiful, but it never does. On purpose.
I need her to do her job.
We need each other to be totally professional.
We’re practically best friends and have known each other since our freshman year at Stanford. People joke and tell us we should just give up the pretense and fuck each other’s brains out but no. We’re business partners and more importantly, we’re friends.
I was a hot young stud of an Army Ranger just returned from Afghanistan and was on the GI Bill, attending college to study business. Six foot three of hard-muscled killer. She was this pretty little brainy girl with a big laugh doing her engineering degree who stole my heart – in a brotherly-sisterly way – and who puts me in my place when I get too wild.
We took the same intro English class and the friendship began over coffee and then beer in the student pub. We did our MBAs the same year. Now, we’re business partners.
I rely on her to run the technology department of Pacifica so I can focus on the financial side of things.
We don’t go there.
I know what people think – they think I’m in love with India.
We’re best friends. People say you can’t be best friends with a woman and especially not a beautiful woman like India, but we are the exception that proves the rule.
She’s not into relationships either. I’m sure she looks up to me like the big brother she lost in the war. What we have is unique and I’m determined to not let something as crass as sex get in the way of our beautiful relationship or Pacifica’s success.
I listen with half an ear as she wows them with our latest roll out, knowing her presentation about our latest satellite like the back of my hand. This one’s destined for the military and will help soldiers on the modern battlefield. The contracts we’re busy negotiating are huge. Huge.
I look out over the audience and I can see it as she finally wins them over and they’re actually listening, their tongues rolled back up into their mouths. Behind her on the huge screen is her presentation, showcasing our technology. The music flares at the end and there’s a huge round of applause for her. She smiles and bows to the audience, then leaves the stage, her face lit up, her cheeks flushed.
She’s fucking amazing.
We fist bump again. “You rocked it, girl,” I say, a huge smile on my face as she comes behind the curtain, grabbing the bottle of water I have ready for her.
“I think I did,” she says and opens the lid, drinking down half the bottle. “They seemed to like it.”
“Listen to them,” I respond. I take her by the shoulders and turn her around so that she can see the audience on the video monitor, and bend down so that my face beside hers. “They loved you.”
The audience is still clapping because the presentation was a combination of technology and patriotism. It was stirring, talking about mission and performance and making the world a better place and rah rah USA.
When the applause dies down, I let go of her arms. “You deserve a cold beer.”
“I deserve a fucking keg of beer,” she replies, grinning up at me, a twinkle in her eyes.
That’s my girl. Huge brain. Potty mouth.
I love her.
Not in that way, of course. In the brotherly collegial and proud CEO way.
“Let’s go,” she says and grabs hold of my arm, her fingers gripping my bicep. I flex it because she’s always kidding me about my workouts. I’m ripped. I work out daily. A habit I developed while in combat and I keep it up. No slacking off for me even though I’m no longer in a combat zone.
“I’m starving,” she says, gazing up at me with those eyes. “I want to stuff myself with a huge piece of steak to go along with that keg of beer.”
“Your wish is my command, CTO of mine,” I reply but my mind substitutes I want you to stuff me with that huge piece of meat you have, Jon…
I can’t control that part of my mind.
Give me a break.
We walk out the side of the auditorium, my arm draped around her shoulder in a brotherly way. I’m no longer interested in the last speaker and so we leave the conference for a bar where we’re meeting the rest of our team to talk about the conference and our latest contract. Then, we’ll go for dinner and I’ll make sure she gets her big juicy steak.
Life is good.
* * *
Two hours later…
What the fuck?
Marina Clark, India’s best friend from Montessori, and from forever, is sitting with us and as usual, she’s frowning at me. She doesn’t really like me. I don’t know why, but she’s always scowling at me like I’ve done something wrong. I check myself over. There’s no food spilled on my crisp white shirt or silky blue tie. I run my fingers through my hair, which has a habit of falling into my eyes.
“What’s your problem?”
She frowns. “You’re working the poor girl to death.”
“She’s a big girl. She works herself hard. She’s a winner.”
Why Marina showed up at the bar, I’ll never know. She’s not in the tech biz. She’s a psychologist. Doing her Ph.D. Sure, she’s like India and is precocious and smart, but still. This celebration was meant for the team – not outsiders – even if she is India’s best friend.
When India gets up to go to the bathroom, Marina leans closer to me.
“She’s got a date tonight. Don’t mess it up.”
“India has a date?”
I’m not the only one shocked by that announcement. The rest of my team members glance at me quickly like they expect me to be mad. I frown when they lean forward, eager to hear the details. Marina fills us in on this guy she’s matched India with.
Like India needs help finding men… Every man she meets would fuck her, but she’s not that kind of girl.
Besides, she doesn’t want a man right now. She’s focused on her career. I know because she told me that when we met at Stanford, back when I thought there might be something between us. She wants to make a hundred million dollars before she ever gets serious about a man and while we’re definitely on our way to that hundred million, we’re not there yet.
She’s pure ambition – like me. Like the rest of us at Pacifica.
“She’s lonely,” Marina says plainly.
That hits me like a truck and I’m at a loss for words for a moment.
“How can she be lonely?” I say when I recover. I tip my beer up and take a long pull on it. “She’s too busy to be lonely. She said so herself. She’s focused on career. India says that men are superfluous. Those were her words, not mine, Marina. Superfluous.”
“You think she’s going to admit to you that she’s lonely?” Marina gives me this derisive snort and takes a sip of her own beer. “She comes home to an empty apartment and is so lonely that she sleeps on the couch with the television on because she hates being alone in her king-sized bed. True confession.” Then she points at me, her eyes narrow. “Don’t tell her I told you that or she’ll kill me.”
I frown and imagine India sleeping on her couch instead of her bed. I remember when she bought that bed because I helped her pick it out. I even imagined the two of us fucking our brains out on it, but that’s just an idle male thought. I’m as red-blooded as the next guy. But that was it. I imagined it one time, maybe twice. Less than a dozen times.
It’s not like I think of sleeping with India often. I’m way too busy running one of the most successful tech start-ups in the past five years.
Speaking of her bed, it’s hugely ostentatious with thick four posters and dark wood. Silk gray coverlet and throw pillows. In her huge master suite with the marble and expensive fixtures and the sliding doors that lead to her own personal deck overlooking the ocean.
She doesn’t like sleeping in that bed?
I love that bed.
“She sleeps on the fucking couch?” I say, still dumbfounded at the prospect that India’s lonely and wants a date.
Marina nods. “Sad, right? So, I’ve found this guy for her. I mean, he’s right up her alley brains-wise. He teaches at Stanford, like her parents. He has a Ph.D. from Harvard in Humanities. Philosophy.”
“Philosophy?” I snort and make a face of disgust. “What the fuck is that?”
“You know – what is the good life? That kind of shit.” She shrugs. “She filled out my questionnaire and his name came up among my subscribers as a match. I figured he was smart enough for her. Plus, her family is big in the whole humanities thing. He’s coming tonight.” She glances at her watch. “Any time now, in fact. I’m sure India’s nervous. She’s probably in the bathroom throwing up.” She wags her eyebrows in this most annoying way.
“Throwing up? What the fuck are you talking about? Why would India throw up because she’s meeting a pencil neck professor of philosophy?”
“He’s not a pencil neck. He’s really handsome in a professorial sort of way. She’s shy, Jon,” Marina says and that’s the second time tonight I’m struck dumb by something she says. “You should know that. God, what have you been doing all this time? Ignoring India? See, that’s what I mean by you work her too hard. You don’t even know her.”
“I know her better than almost anyone else.”
I lean back, my blood pressure rising, my anger at Marina’s meddling choking me for a moment. I sit steaming, unable to respond.
My India – shy? Nervous enough to meet some man that she’d throw up? I don’t really even know her?
“This wasn’t supposed to be a public event, Marina. This was meant to be a celebration for the team.”
“India needs a man,” she replies, shrugging like it’s nothing. “I found her one.”
“She doesn’t need a man. She needs to focus on our business. On Pacifica. We have a big meeting coming up at the fucking Pentagon. I don’t want her to be distracted by some flake from the Philosophy Department.”
“No, no,” she says and punches my arm. “She needs some, Jon. She’s been out of circulation for way too long. You’re always going on about how important sex is for well-being. Isn’t that right?”
I sit and glower at Marina for throwing my words back at me, but she doesn’t seem to notice the hate I’m sending her way.
“Oh, here he comes,” Marina says and sits up straighter. “Be nice.”
Be nice… Like I’m not nice.
Into the bar walks this tall fucker with dark hair and eyes, and a fucking goatee. He’s wearing a tweed blazer with actual fucking leather patches on his elbows. And jeans. He must be forty if he’s a day.
Old, in other words. There’s actual gray in his hair at the sides.
“Him?” I say under my breath, giving Marina a glare. “He’s an old man. Couldn’t you find someone a bit closer to her age?”
“I did a really careful review of him, his values, his goals, his beliefs. They’re a great match.”
“You used the questionnaire?” I harrumph and lean back in my chair, taking a big drink from my bottle of beer. “I can tell just by looking at him he’s not right for her.”
“The questionnaire is an interest inventory that many of the dating businesses use. I’ve adapted it based on my understanding of psychology.”
Yeah, I know all about Marina’s damn dating app she’s developing. I even agreed to help by filling one out so she can test the system. I had no idea Marina was this far along in the app’s development.
“The app’s ready?”
“Not quite, but I wanted to use India as a test subject.”
I watch the dickhead professor of philosophy walk in the bar. I don’t know who this fucker is, but he’s not the kind of man for India. That much I do know just by looking at him. How could he be? I can tell by the way he looks and dresses and walks that he’s a stuffy old man. How could India be with someone like him?
“He’s too old for her.”
“Shush,” Marina says and turns to the guy as he walks up to the table, all smiles. “Thomas! You made it. India’s in the bathroom but should be right back.”
“I did make it,” Thomas says, his voice deep. “My flight from Boston was late but I managed to get an Uber driver who actually knows the fastest routes. I was giving a guest lecture at my old Alma Mater and we were late getting finished because I was hounded after the lecture by students wanting to talk. I missed my flight but was able to get on the next plane out. Barely made it.”
He gives us all a smile, his teeth white over his goatee.
I hate him.
Marina introduces him as Doctor Thomas McAllister. Professor of Analytic Philosophy at Stanford.
He’s not a fucking doctor. He’s a professor. Doctors actually do important work in society, unlike professors of philosophy. I should know – my father was a doctor. I hate the way people call professors Doctor like they’re something special…
“Pleased to meet you,” I manage and shake the guy’s hand, squeezing extra firmly. “So, tell me, what does a professor of analytic philosophy do? I mean, when you’re not giving lectures.”
“We think about how to think. It’s meta,” he says, smiling like he’s made a joke.
I don’t know what the hell he means, thinking about how to think. What kind of lame-ass job is that?
“Cool,” I say, shrugging. “I already know how to think. Now, I just make shit. Shit that helps the good old USA win wars.”
I lean back in my chair, folding my arms, and smile back at him.
Score one for the Viking…