The Rebound Girl (Getting Physical)

Chapter One

“Is this seat taken?”

Whitney Vidra looked up from her phone and stifled a sigh. The man approaching her in the poorly lit bar didn’t have a popped collar or the scent of Axe Body Spray wafting around him, which counted as a few points in his favor, but that didn’t mean she wanted his company.

Yes, she was dressed to the hilt in her favorite red dress. And yes, her hair looked fantastic, if she did say so herself. But it had taken all of five seconds to recognize this place for what it was—a backwater attempt at trend, and a fairly poor one at that, what with the middle-aged DJ encouraging them all to start grooving and the cheap black paint blistering on the walls. Her friend Kendra might be content to swap spit with one of the locals out on the parquet dance floor, but Whitney would rather reserve her saliva for digesting the stale bowl of pretzels on the bar.

“I’m not saving that particular stool for anyone, if that’s what you’re asking,” she said, striving for a politely distant tone.

Taking it for an invitation, the man sat, holding up two fingers to the bartender—either a secret code or a macho attempt to order her a drink without asking first. She hated when guys didn’t ask.

“Your friend’s a really good dancer. You don’t dance?”

Whitney switched off her phone and tucked it carefully in her purse before turning to face her accoster. Now that she was seeing the man head-on, she could tell she was going to have to take it a little easy on him. He wasn’t bad looking—in fact, the hesitant smile and tousled sandy hair signaled nerd chic at its best, and there was a slight depression in his cheek that she thought might transform into a full-blown dimple if he tried. But the guy wore a corduroy jacket with elbow patches and drank something pink with little bits of fruit floating on the top.

He was obviously clueless.

“If you’re asking can I dance, the answer is yes.” Whitney took care not to provide any encouragement. “But I’m choosing not to at this particular moment.”

She cast a glance over the dance floor, nodding when Kendra sent up a cheerful wave. Her best friend and business partner had insisted they go out tonight, an official commemoration of their first night as Pleasant Park residents. But although Kendra felt the permanence of their signatures on their new office building as a good thing, Whitney had never been nearer to breaking out in hives. There was so much finality in a ten-year lease.

“I’m a terrible dancer,” the man offered.

“Imagine that,” Whitney said dryly, taking in his crisp khakis at a glance. In her experience, men who ironed their pants and men with great moves—on the dance floor or off it—were mutually exclusive entities. “Next you’ll be telling me you’re a regular Don Juan.”

“I like to do my part for womankind.” He deflected her sarcasm with some of his own. “Your friend said you might want some company.”

Aha. Things were beginning to make sense. “Let me guess—you’re friends with the guy she’s currently grinding against, aren’t you?”

“He’s my brother,” the man corrected her, “not my friend. Well—I guess he’s my friend too, since we’re obviously out together tonight. But you know what I mean.”

Seriously? Whitney had known coming in that her new life would take a little getting used to. That was kind of the whole point. Take one part upscale Pennsylvania borough, add three parts big-city beauty professionals. She, Kendra and their third partner, John, were practically their own bad joke: