Preconceptions

Preconceptions is a sweet and geeky contemporary romance that will ask you to test your own perceptions and preconceptions as two strangers meet in total darkness. Subtle clues and conversation will be your only hints at the two main characters’ true identities. When the lights come on and all is revealed, will your preconceptions prove true, or will the truth be an unexpected surprise?

It’s Dee’s thirtieth birthday, and her two best friends have quite the surprise in store for her. She’s been kidnapped via taxi, blindfolded and shoved into a strange room with a strange man who has the idea that this is all a planned blind date.

Another blind-date hadn’t been in Chris’ plans, but when the The Dark Room club’s owner called him up and said he finally had the perfect match, Chris decided one more try couldn’t hurt. When his date arrives in the pitch-black room confused and completely unaware it’s a date, Chris has to wonder if he’s in for yet another disappointing night.

 


Excerpt

Who Turned Out The Lights?

 

Let’s go out to dinner, they’d said.

It’ll be fun, they’d said.

Oh, Dee was sure they were having fun. Fun at her expense. After a hush-hush taxi ride and the not-so-subtle glances between her two best friends, Dee should’ve known the Barbie Twins had been up to something.

Before being allowed out of the taxi, they’d conned her into putting on a blindfold under the guise of taking her to her birthday gift. Their full lips had pouted in unison, causing her to sigh and give in like she always did. She supposed it’d be wrong of her to ruin the efforts her step-sisters were making to surprise her.

In hindsight, she supposed the smart thing would have been to see the devious mischief behind their blue eyes and run for her life as soon as the taxi bumped the curb. After knowing those two for close to twenty years, Dee thought she’d have known better. Maybe it was her old age making her senile.

Thirty. The big three-zero. The pre-forty test run that served as a big blaring sign to remind you of all the stuff you hadn’t managed to accomplish yet.

Fun! Right.

So, were her two best friends there to support her with this life-changing event? Nope. They’d blindfolded her, led her into some sort of establishment, handed her over to a woman then disappeared with a cheerily synchronized “Have fun, Dee!”

Before she could make much of a protest, the woman escorted her farther into the establishment in complete, unnerving silence. With the blindfold on, Dee tilted her head and craned her neck in attempts to glean any sounds that might give her a hint, but like the woman, it was eerily quiet. Never one to cause a scene, Dee inhaled slowly and tried to just go with it.

Her curiosity, however, got the best of her. “Where are we going?” she asked in a hushed whisper that seemed to fit the quiet nature of the place.

The woman stopped their walking and leaned in, a kind smile on her voice. “Your friends asked that it remain a surprise. They think you’ll have fun with this, and I’m inclined to agree.”

Dee laughed nervously. Her idea of fun had always been very different than the twins. It was a wonder their friendship had survived for so long, though Dee had always had the sad belief that it was more charitable obligation than anything.

It was wrong to think of Rose and Lily that way, because they had never been anything but kind, but Dee had her reasons to let doubt creep in. It was a coping mechanism. A way to deal with what life had thrown at her.

“Here we are,” the woman spoke, startling Dee. “Sorry,” the woman quietly chortled followed by the sound of a door opening. “Please step inside,” she whispered into Dee’s ear, “and don’t remove your blindfold until the door closes.”

“Okay,” Dee hesitantly agreed. Oh, what the heck. I’m thirty, so I might as well do at least one thing a little daring in my life.

Shuffling inside with her arms out in front searching for any obstacle, she heard the woman giggle a little behind her as the door slid shut. Great. She’d just made a fool of herself for a complete stranger. With her luck, she was going to take off this blindfold to find herself standing like an idiot in a room full of people ready to yell Surprise! at her.

She hated surprises. They never turned out in her favor.

With another deep breath, she peeled the blindfold from her eyes, the elastic band getting caught in her curly hair. When no one shouted at her, she assumed it was safe to open her eyes. Why she had held her eyes shut the entire time behind the blindfold, she was just now starting to question.

Peeking one eye open revealed nothing. Opening the other eye didn’t help. There was absolutely nothing to see.

It was pitch-black. Total darkness. She squeaked.

“Hello?” a male voice called from across the room.

Oh, God! I’m in a dark room with a strange man. A flashback to Jacob Lane’s party in the eighth grade hit her; being locked in a closet for the ‘kissing game’ with her crush, David Moore. It had not gone well.

“Hello?” the man’s baritone called out again.

Dee stammered at its deep, masculine sound. “I-I-I think there’s been a mistake.” She reached behind her for the door, but couldn’t locate the doorknob.

“Are you Dianna?”

“Uhm, yes?” I think that’s my name? Brilliant, Dee. She took in a deep gulp of air and tried again. “Yes, but my friends call me Dee.”

“Hello, Dee,” the mystery man replied, his voice sounding closer. “That is, if I may I call you Dee?”

“Uh…” I don’t know, may you? Thirty, Dee. Remember that number. “Sure.”

“I’m Chris,” he offered. “It’s nice to meet you, Dee.”

Inhale. Exhale. “What’s going on? Where are we?”

Silence.

“Hello?” she practically whimpered.

“Sorry,” he finally replied. “You mean, you don’t know where you are?”

“N-no,” her back pressed hard against the cold steel door. “My friends sort of kidnapped me in a taxi, blindfolded me, gave me to a rather pleasant woman who then kindly stuck me in a very dark room. With you, apparently.”

A light chuckle filled the darkness, its rich vibration giving Dee goosebumps. Being laughed at, however, wasn’t exactly on her birthday wish-list. “I’m glad you find this amusing,” she groused.

“Sorry,” he apologized again. “Just sounds like your friends have a very interesting sense of humor.”

“They’re a real riot,” Dee replied sardonically. “So, any hints as to what’s going on?”

“This is a club called The Dark Room. It’s for blind dates.”

Dee had to laugh at that, her signature snort sounding horribly loud in the darkness. Glad that he couldn’t see her embarrassed flush, she relaxed a bit. “Blind dating where you can’t even see your own hands, much less your date? Yeah, this about fits the Barbie Twins’ idea of fun.”

“Barbie twins?”

“Oh, uh, my friends. They’re twins. Tall, blonde, blue-eyed and beautiful. They chose the nickname, not me.”

“Oh?” his voice suddenly sounded more interested.

A huff escaped her lips. Figures. She’d been set up on a blind date and had now set his expectations to unreasonable levels. Clearing her throat, she felt the need to dash his hope right away.

“Yeah,” she forced a laugh. “In high school, they were the Barbie Twins and I was Skipper. You know, the short, brown-haired younger sister.”

“So, you’re younger than they are?”

She frowned. “Older, actually.”

“Oh.”

Bubble successfully popped. Go me! For some reason, the expected disappointment hurt more now than it ever had in high school.

Her hand began searching for the doorknob again. “Look, this is obviously a birthday surprise gone horribly wrong. I’ll go find the nice lady and get you a new date… as soon as I find the doorknob.”

“Wait – It’s your birthday?”

Oh, wonderful. Let’s just dig that hole a little deeper, Dee. “Yep. The big three-oh. The point of no return, refunds or exchanges.” And, I can’t believe I just said that. In the darkness, her forehead tapped against the door.

“Well, I’d hate to be the one to spoil their birthday gift to you. This place has a no refunds or exchanges policy, too.”

Despite her efforts to hold it in, the quip made her snort. At least the guy had a sense of humor. Leaning more heavily against the door, her hand gave up the search for the non-existent knob.

“Have you eaten?” He seemed to be genuinely curious, perhaps even a tad concerned.

Great. He couldn’t even see her and she had him concerned. “No. They kidnapped me before I could finish my ramen noodles.”

“That’s a shame,” he teased. At least, she thought he was teasing. You don’t realize how much you rely on facial cues until you can’t see them. “Well, there’s dinner here… somewhere,” he added.

“They make you hunt for it in the dark?”

“Yeah. It’s supposed to be part of the fun. Like an icebreaker, I suppose.”

Her brow quirked upwards. “Done this before?”

Silence. Then, “A few times,” he admitted. “All the rooms are different, though, so you never know where the furniture is. Last time I stubbed my toe and knocked over a wine glass.”

“I’ll be lucky if I don’t knock myself unconscious on something,” Dee muttered.

He barked out a laugh. “Most everything in here is padded, or at least it’s been that way in the other rooms.”

“Ah, wonderful!” Dee snorted. “Always knew I’d end up in a padded room eventually.”


 

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