A dating site profile faked up to make geeky gamer Otis Tucker more alluring hasn’t done much for his social life, so what does he have to lose by putting his real picture and honest interests online? His pal Barry swears there’s someone out there who will love Otis for himself, extra pounds and all.
Handsome Garret Mims sends “I’d love to meet you!” but takes things so slow Otis is quite sure they’re stopped. Is it really a date if there’s not so much as a kiss between them? Maybe he shouldn’t worry about Garret’s intentions and just enjoy every platonic moment. Instead, Otis could work on finding the missing ingredient for his pumpkin pies before Thanksgiving.
Garret’s upfront in every way but one, and Otis may have found a lie he can live with.
GetaDate.Com had a lot to answer for. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t entirely the dating site’s fault that they’d set Otis up with a man he knew and had done work for. And they sure hadn’t forced him to lie like a rug on his profile, even if they’d encouraged it. “Show your interesting side,” they’d urged.
What interesting side? Maybe they should have issued a warning that posting fake profiles would get found out sooner or later, like on first meeting. To their credit, this disaster of a set-up had turned into a pretty nice “guys’ night out.” But it was all their fault that Otis was standing in his non-date’s living room with his shirt off and not a gleam of romance in Barry’s eyes.
“Do you want a date or not?” Barry’s take-no-prisoners death glare didn’t leave any room for negotiation.
“With you?” Yeah, a date with Barry would be nice, though dating clients might not be the best idea. Otis’ company held the service contract on the computers at Richards General Contracting, Barry’s business. No, no date with Barry, he’s already said so. At least he’d been kind enough to say the “no dating” thing was only because of their business relationship and not because of Otis’ extra poundage, bear-like appearance, or general geekiness.
At Barry’s request (okay, command!) Otis had removed his shirt, flushing from his thinning hairline to the back of his furry neck. Barry snapped a few pictures. Otis took off his glasses and sucked in his gut.
“Not that hard, or you’ll look like a Thanksgiving turkey,” Barry warned.
Otis let his abs sag a little more. A full-on slump wasn’t happening, but he could maintain this posture, so that wasn’t lying. At least, he could maintain it until he got distracted by a computer. Or a doughnut. Maybe he should do some crunches that didn’t involve his teeth.
Could Otis actually find a man who’d want him for himself? Finally, Barry asked him to log onto GetaDate.com, the GLBT dating service that had arranged their somewhat comical meeting. How could Otis not recognize a client’s picture? Although, the one time before that he’d met Barry face to face he had been rather full of eggnog at a Christmas party. He couldn’t lay the blame on Barry, either, for the picture Otis used on his profile featured a hot model who didn’t look remotely like Otis. Well, maybe a bit around the eyes. And Barry couldn’t possibly have known that Otis’ middle name was Vincent.
I hope he knows what he’s doing. Otis sat down at the computer. Hmm… running a bit slow. No problem. A tweak here and there. Oh, he doesn’t need that program. When was the last time Barry cleaned his hard drive? Okay. Better. Download speed improved 30%, upload by 10%. 1834 megabytes of system debris erased. Now that’s how a computer should work. Oh, wait. I’m supposed to be doing something. Otis dutifully typed his user name and password for the GetaDate.com website. Performing a familiar task had momentarily calmed his shaky nerves. His jitters returned with a vengeance when Barry deleted “Vincent’s” picture, replacing it with one from the camera.
“Trust me on this one, okay?” Barry tapped a few keys on his keyboard. “Age? And don’t lie.”
Barry raised a brow but didn’t comment. “Hobbies?”
“That’s it? Just gaming?”
“Umm… I like talking walks. Cooking.”
“Good. Likes? Dislikes?”
That required some thought. “I really like movies. Oh, and microbreweries are cool.” Should he state his true passion? If he were going to be honest, he’d have to. “I never miss an anime convention if I don’t have to.”
How could Barry be smiling? Otis felt he’d lost a friend in his contrived online profile. Not a very good one, but a friend nonetheless. One he’d known, and commiserated with, for the better part of a year. The man I’ll never be.
“Actually, I have someone in mind who I think is gonna love you. Not ‘Vincent,’ but you, just the way you are.” Barry pushed the “Save Changes” button, sending Vincent to a cyber-grave. Where did pseudo-personalities go once they’d been deleted? No amount of pleading dissuaded the well-intentioned (so he said) meddler from what appeared to be a personal mission. Barry hummed “Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof.
Enmeshed in his task, he didn’t even look up while inviting Otis to spend the night—in the guest room.
Well, Otis had drunk maybe a half beer too much. Staying might be a good idea. But would Barry’s well-intentioned meddling help or hurt Otis’ chances?