Rock the Boat - Gia Riley

Question One:

Which word best describes what you’re looking for in a partner?

Sense of humor

Adventure

Loyalty

Trust

Passion

Other

“Does ‘other’ mean he can keep his pants up?” I ask Noelle, as she intently answers each question on this ridiculous questionnaire. It came in the mail with the rest of our cruise documents.

She lifts her head, rolling her eyes at my hesitation to jump head first into the possibility of meeting my perfect match. She’s the type that writes with her face two inches away from the paper with her tongue sticking out as she concentrates. I don’t know how she doesn’t go cross-eyed. Still, she answers me honestly, like she’s actually taking my question seriously. Then again, why wouldn’t she? She’s a firm believer in the magical serendipity of soul mates, and she’s on a mission to find both of ours in the same week. “You would choose letter C or D for that.”

“I think I’m still picking ‘other.’”

“Why can’t you have fun with this, Lark? You just started the quiz and you’re already hung up on the first question. Relax a little. You’ll get better results.” I don’t miss the hurt in her voice as she responds. She wants nothing more than to have her best friend back—the carefree one who used to love a little adventure. But I haven’t been that girl in two months.

The old me was so blissfully happy, I was blinded by love. And then, before I knew what hit me, it smacked me across the face like the oblivious fool I was. “Why can’t we use a dating website instead of dragging ourselves on some random singles cruise? If I couldn’t hang onto my dream guy on dry land, what makes you think it will be any different in the middle of the Caribbean?”

With a defeated sigh, she says, “I promise it’ll be worth your while. Have I ever let you down before?”

“No.” She’s been like a sister to me, especially after my world fell apart.

“Then answer the questions. You’ll thank me when it works out exactly the way it’s supposed to.”

I want to tell her she’s not capable of predicting the future. That no matter how hard she tries to place the pieces in a row so they interlock perfectly, there are no guarantees when it comes to love. It’s evil, twisted, and out of control. In fact, I should crumple this test up and toss it in the trashcan where it belongs before I get hurt again. I gave one hundred percent of my mind, body, and soul to my last relationship, yet here I am, sitting in my living room as single as can be.

Noelle stands up, collecting the paint swatches and carpet samples from the coffee table, tossing it all in the trash. She even grabs the bridal magazine I have stashed at the bottom of the pile. “Stop torturing yourself. The dream you had with Grant is over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a new one with someone else. Maybe with all these little reminders gone, you’ll have a real chance.”

“I’ve tried throwing it all away, but then I feel guilty.”

“Grant’s the only one who should feel guilt, Lark. You know that as much as I do, even if it’s hard to admit. Now, less thinking and more writing,” she encourages.

So, I do what any sane woman in my shoes would do. I pick up my number two pencil and take the first step toward moving on—I read question number two.

Question Two

Choose your perfect first date?

Dinner

Walk on the beach

Movie

Dancing

Stroll in the park

Drinks

Concert

Opera

Other

“Do people really go to the opera? I don’t think we even have an opera in this town or any other within a hundred mile radius. Which means going to one would be a commitment and not a date.”

Noelle sets her pencil down, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath in through her nose and out through her mouth. She’s completely annoyed with me. Without even opening her eyes, she says, “You promised you would go on this cruise with me. You’ve told me a million times it’s time I found someone to spend my life with. This is how I’m choosing to do that, and I would really appreciate it if you could take your own advice and finish this damn test.”

I flinch because I’m honestly not trying to be difficult this time. It’s a valid question, or so I thought. “I’m sorry, but you have to admit it’s a ridiculous option.”

“You weren’t going to pick it anyway, so it