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Exactly Like You: Cupid's Cafe, #2

Exactly Like You: Cupid's Cafe, #2

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Exactly Like You: Cupid's Cafe, #2

ratings:
5/5 (1 rating)
Length:
189 pages
1 hour
Released:
Oct 8, 2019
ISBN:
9781949931297
Format:
Book

Description

An invitation to Cupid's Café will change your life.

Former social worker Roxie Fisher believes she's cursed to never find happiness and an invitation to Cupid's Café isn't going to change her situation. All the same, against her better judgment, she gives it a try. What else does she have to lose?

After the death of his wife, accountant-turned-firefighter Aidan Craig, can't stop taking ridiculous risks and never turns down a dare. So an invitation to Cupid's Café is an offer he can't refuse. What he doesn't expect is to meet the social worker who helped him through the darkest days of his life. Now she's the one struggling, and he's compelled to help.

The two experience an immediate attraction, but Aidan swore to never become involved in another relationship, and Roxie can't imagine daredevil Aidan being interested in a boring, cat-rescuer like her.

Can Roxie find the simple joy of taking a risk? Is Aidan willing to risk his heart? Or will they both lose out on a chance at true love?

Welcome to Cupid's Café, a place where missed connections meet. How the invitations find them, no one knows…except for the mysterious owner, Mr. Heart.

This multi-author series focuses on protagonists struggling with real-life issues that often get swept under the rug. With Cupid's Café, these issues find representation in the characters struggling to conquer their own problems while trying to carve a future for themselves.

From cops to artists, or social workers to photographers, Mr. Heart ensures these lost souls who believe themselves undeserving of love reconnect with their fated match.

Each couple embarks on their journey at Cupid's Cafe, but the rest is up to them: whether damage wins or they find true love in the end.

READ THEM ALL

Painting for Keeps (Cupid's Cafe #1) by Landra Graf

Exactly Like You (Cupid's Cafe #2) by Lori Sizemore

Captured Memories (Cupid's Cafe #3) by Katherine McIntyre

True Colors (Cupid's Cafe #4) by Landra Graf

Released:
Oct 8, 2019
ISBN:
9781949931297
Format:
Book

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Exactly Like You - Lori Sizemore

Exactly Like You

Cupid’s Café #2

Lori Sizemore

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, places, or events is coincidental and not intended by the author.

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If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may have been stolen property and reported as unsold and destroyed to the publisher. In such case the author has not received any payment for this stripped book.

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Exactly Like You

Cupid’s Café #2

Copyright © 2019 Lori Sizemore

All rights reserved.

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ISBN: (ebook) 978-1-949931-29-7

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Inkspell Publishing

5764 Woodbine Ave.

Pinckney, MI 48169

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Edited By Rie Langdon

Cover art By Najla Qamber

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This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission. The copying, scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions, and do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Dedication

To Landra, Kat, and Cate—the original ladies of Cupid’s Café. Thank you for sharing your imagination and the people who populate it with me and all the readers these books resonate with.

May the Café stay open for many stories to come. I love the broken road our characters have traveled to find the love they didn’t believe they deserved.

Chapter One

Roxie Fisher settled into a hammock chair tied to a big oak tree in the back yard with her black cat, Jinx, and tried to forget her curse. That last day at work flashed through her mind, as usual. They had told her what happened, and she’d lost her shit. She had to literally be sedated, then sent home. Back to her apartment, when she lived alone.

She had no job, and no home of her own. She’d moved back into her teenage bedroom in her parents’ house. She sighed. Depression was a bitch.

When she shifted in the hammock, Jinx looked up with bright green eyes and meowed in annoyance. Everything was surreal and weird. Her constantly chipper mother seemed to believe her attitude would cheer Roxie up—as if that was all it took to cure the depression consuming her life one bite at a time.

Her father simply didn’t speak to her. He wasn’t angry with her, or at least she didn’t think he was. He might be a little disappointed. She’d always been the sensible one. Not flighty, like her sister.

Roxie was pretty sure her dad feared making her depression worse by saying the wrong thing, so he kept silent.

As if conjured by her thoughts, her mother, Meredith, came out waving a card-sized envelope. Exactly what Roxie needed—another get-well-soon card. They all implied she had a cold, or a stomach virus, or something. Hallmark didn’t make cards for clinical depression. Get well soon! Don’t kill yourself.

Roxie, baby, you got a letter. It was hand-delivered by the cutest man in brown shorts. Nice legs, too!

Roxie took the letter with a frown. She avoided contact with the outside world for a reason—the damn curse and, well, she didn’t care all that much for people anymore. The envelope was already ripped open, the creamy folded paper jammed back inside. Mom, you read my mail?

It looked intriguing. Meredith shrugged.

I don’t believe you. With a sigh, Roxie pulled the typewritten letter out and read through it.

Come to Cupid’s Cafe tomorrow at 6 pm and open your heart to opportunity.

It was signed Mr. Heart with a flourish.

Roxie flipped the paper over, but there was no other writing anywhere on the thick, creamy paper and the matching envelope merely read: Roxanne Fisher.

I don’t even know what the hell that means, ‘open your heart to opportunity.’ She crumpled the letter in her hand, so she could take it inside and throw it away.

She had no intention of going somewhere she’d never heard of to open herself to anything. She was doing well to get out of bed every day. On good days, she’d shower, comb her hair, and get out of her PJs. Screw this.

What are you doing? Her mom’s voice was shrill, as if she’d broken some beloved object.

I’m throwing it away. I don’t want to go.

Meredith’s eyes got all watery, and she wrung her hands together. But baby, you’ve got to go.

I don’t see why I should.

You haven’t left the house, except to go to the cat rescue, since... She shook her head. I can’t even remember the last time.

And that’s how I like it. I don’t need anything complicating my life any more than it already is.

Who says this will be a complication? Maybe it’s a Godsend, a solution.

Mom, they don’t just come up with solutions to depression. I’ve tried to explain all this to you. Roxie pushed her way out of the hammock, displeasing Jinx, who meowed at her. Then the cat sat on his hind legs and began to lick his front paws.

Meredith followed Roxie as she made her way to the back door. And I’ve tried to understand. You’re welcome here as long as you need, and we don’t mind helping to support you.

I’ve got my long-term disability from work. I contribute. Roxie shot her mom a glare as she pushed open the back door. Once inside, she made her way to the trash can and tossed the letter and envelope inside.

Well, that won’t last forever, and you’re not getting any better. Meredith dug the letter from the garbage and smoothed it out on the counter. A glob of tomato sauce now marred one corner. You have no long-term plan. Why not just go?

Heaving another deep sigh, Roxie studied her mother. She stood in front of the counter, looking at the letter. Her eyes were red and wet from unshed tears. This was clearly a very big deal for her mom.

On the other hand, getting dressed up...the simple idea exhausted Roxie. Showering, picking out decent clothes with no holes or stains, styling her hair. She wasn’t doing makeup, period. That was cruel and unusual punishment.

She supposed she could pull her hair back in a messy bun. She’d read in one of her mother’s magazines that those were stylish now. She wore them all the time, because they kept her too-long hair out of her face. And her mother had bought her some new jeans and a plain white blouse a few weeks ago, hoping it would inspire Roxie to get dressed for real, instead of in old clothes or pajamas.

Why was she even considering this? Mom, I can’t.

Her mother lifted her gaze to Roxie’s face. Please, she said in a soft voice. Her hands worked at the smoothed but stained creamy paper.

Her voice was Roxie’s undoing. She let her eyes flutter closed and nodded. Fine.

She turned her head toward the living room, where her dad spent all of his time in front of the TV. Their gazes met, because he’d turned his head as though to listen in. He gave a curt nod, then returned his attention to the television.

She’d been overruled by her parents, like an unruly teenager, and guilted into agreeing to go like...she didn’t know what. Someone easily manipulated, she supposed. But seriously, no makeup.

Maybe a little lip gloss? The words tumbled out in a rush now that she’d convinced Roxie to go. I’ve got the prettiest pink, and it would look so good on you.

Mom...no. I mean it. I’m not budging on the makeup, not even lip gloss. This isn’t a blind date, it’s some weird...setup. Probably some well-meaning member of the hospital staff trying to get me out of the house. A thought struck her and she narrowed her gaze on her mother. Did you have anything to do with this?

Would I have opened it if I had? Obviously, I’d have known what was inside.

Fine—her logic was pretty flawless. Well, good. Because I wouldn’t have gone if you resorted to playing tricks on me.

Oh, honey, I don’t think it’s a trick. Look, it says right here: it’s an ‘opportunity.’

For my heart, whatever that means. She swallowed around the lump in her throat. She already regretted agreeing to go, especially within earshot of her father. She didn’t want to disappoint him any more than she already had.

She’d clean up, put on the new clothes, pull her hair back, and show up. She’d give it exactly thirty minutes, and if nothing happened—it probably wouldn’t—she’d be back home in her pajamas by 7:30.

***

Aidan Craig swiped his brow with his forearm. He was covered in soot and stank of smoke. He and the rest of his crew had spent the night putting out a fire in a restaurant. It raged out of control into the early morning hours until they’d finally soaked the buildings nearby and reduced the burn to a slow smolder. Out of accelerant and dry wood to consume, it would soon burn out.

Sushi Den was so much smoking rubble now. They’d managed to save the businesses on either side of it and no one had been hurt, so Aidan counted both as wins.

His friend, Kurt, sidled up to him and clapped him on the back. We did good work back there.

We did, Aidan agreed with a nod.

So what’s better? Jumping off a bridge or fighting a roaring fire?

Kurt referred to Aidan’s latest adventure. Since his wife Miley’s death, a lot had changed. Lately, he didn’t get enough of a rush out of fighting fires, so he’d been taking on more and more opportunities to flip death the bird. That rush...it was the only time he’d felt alive since Miley died.

Aidan nodded at the building’s remains. When we do our job well and no one gets hurt, it’s better. But only a little. He couldn’t stop his slow grin. When you jump off a bridge, death hurtles toward you, and it’s incredible, man. When the bungee cord kicks in and you’re snatched back from its clutches? It’s pretty badass.

Kurt grinned at him, his teeth a flash of white in the ebony of his sooty face. Let’s finish up so we can get back to the station.

Since the structure was compromised, they took care checking that no fire burned through the rubble and they’d saturated the remains with sufficient water to ensure the fire didn’t reignite.

Back at the station afterward, Aidan hit the showers, cleaning all the grime of the night’s battle with destruction from his face, body, and short brown hair. He headed out with Kurt to grab a post-shift breakfast. Aidan ordered a protein-heavy meal, as he usually did. Lots of eggs, a little bacon, no bread.

After the waitress took their order, he and Kurt did a play-by-play of the night before. They’d all done a good, efficient job of putting out the fire.

When the waitress brought their plates, Kurt sat back eyeing his. She left and he quirked an eyebrow at Aidan before digging in. So what’s your next big adventure?

Airplane, I think.

As in, learning to fly one?

Jumping out of one. Aidan peppered his eggs then broke the yolk and mixed it all together.

Kurt paused, his fork halfway to his mouth. You’re serious?

Hell, yeah, I’m serious. What would you suggest I try next?

I’d suggest... Kurt put his utensil down and frowned at Aidan for a moment. When he spoke, his voice was somber. I’d suggest you stop actively trying to kill yourself.

I’m trying to not die, man. That’s the whole point.

Kurt shook his head and shoveled another bite of pancakes into his mouth. He chewed for a minute and swallowed. Doesn’t seem that way.

What’s that mean?

It means I’m a little worried about you. I’ve only known you—how long?

Miley had died two years before, and that was when Aidan’s career as an accountant ended. He didn’t want anything to do with the life he’d shared with her before. He’d sold their house and moved into a garage apartment. He’d traded in his sensible sedan for a pickup truck. He loved driving as fast as possible on the country roads outside of Louisville.

He had the money from the sale of his house to live on, so he’d taken his time choosing a new career. He’d gone through an in-depth hiring process, six months of training. Fighting fires for the last year, and the inherent danger that came with it, seemed perfect. And it had been. It still was. But it wasn’t quite enough to satisfy him anymore.

How long since we met? Recruit class. Aidan shrugged. Year and a half? I don’t know. Long enough. What’s your point?

It just seems like you’re constantly looking for ways to kill yourself.

I’m looking for ways to tell death to fuck off, as often and in as exciting ways as I can find.

You get that death isn’t a real person to be pissed at, right? Kurt pushed his empty plate aside and shook his head.

Didn’t know you were a philosopher. Aidan stood, dropped a ten on the table. I’m out of here.

Forehead furrowed, Kurt nodded a goodbye.

There was no need for Kurt to be worried. Aidan always followed the safety practices of whatever he did. The important part was not dying. If he killed himself, death would win, and he’d never let that happen again.

He got to his driveway and paused to check the mail. A few bills, nothing of importance, so he pulled on up to park in the garage under his apartment. That had been a major selling point for him. He liked to keep his black pickup truck and motorcycle in pristine condition.

Before he got halfway up the stairs that led to his apartment, a voice behind him called out, Aidan Craig?

He turned, pausing on the stairs to see a deliveryman in typical brown garb.

I’ve got a letter for you, Mr. Craig.

Aidan made his way back down the stairs and met the man midway between the road and the garage. Hey, thanks.

No problem, sir. You have a nice day.

Already forgetting about the delivery guy, he nodded. Why would someone send him a letter by courier, rather than sticking it in the mail? His interest was piqued.

He ripped open the

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  • (5/5)
    Exactly Like You tackles a tough subject, clinical depression. Roxie Fisher’s character has been battling clinical depression after an event tore apart her world. Unable to muster the energy or desire to do much of anything, Roxie ends up back at home with her parents. Even though her parents mean well, the way that they are coping with their daughter’s depression is not necessarily healthy for anyone.Unexpectedly, one day an invitation arrives for Roxie to attend a mysterious function at Cupid’s Cafe. She has no interest in going and went as far as to throw out the invitation but seeing how much the idea of Roxie leaving the house meant to her mother, Roxie decided to go. When she reached the cafe, she had little expectation for what the night would bring. She had no clue what was going on or who she would meet. She just wanted to get her mother off her back about getting out of the house.Aidan Craig is a man who throws himself in risks. Not that he has a death wish, his risks are more for extreme sports. Even his job as a fire-fighter is a risky occupation. Aidan’s life was turned upside down when his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. After her death, Aidan changed his life and now lives to take risks just so that he would be able to feel. He may have dealt with his grief but he is not willing to ever let anyone in his life, not willing on taking the chance to love and lose again.Aidan also received an invitation to come to the cafe, not knowing what it was for he decided to come and check it out. Once there imagine his surprise when he sees Roxie. The woman responsible for his recovery after the loss of his wife. Although, this was not the Roxie he remembered. Something was wrong about her, she seemed fragile and broken. Feeling that he must do something for her, Aidan does the only thing he can. He offers her friendship.Friendship is only thing that Aidan feels he can offer and he truly wants to help Roxie. She was there for him when he needed someone and he is going to be there for her. Roxie on the other hand finds Aidan attractive, because well he is hot and she is not dead, but she really doesn’t care to see him again. She really does not care about much but when he takes her home on his motorcycle she feels a spark of excitement and that spark turns into a slow-building flame, which is exactly what Roxie needs.I loved that Ms. Sizemore was able to write a story dealing with a difficult subject and not make it cliche or overly dramatic. Roxie’s struggle is real and she owns her struggle. I enjoyed the relationship between Roxie and Aidan. It was cute, sexy, and serious as well. Exactly Like You is exactly what you need to be reading! It is a delightful journey between two hearts separated by fear and doubt by connected through friendship and something more. I highly recommend!This review is based on a complimentary book I received from Author, Lori Sizemore. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.