Publication date: April 30th 2019
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance
It all started with the wrong Help Wanted ad. Of course it did.
I’m a professional fluffer. It’s NOT what you think. I stage homes for a living. Real estate agents love me, and my work stands on its own merits.
Sigh. Get your mind out of the gutter. Go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait.
See? That’s the problem. My career has used the term “fluffer” for decades. I didn’t even know there was a more… lascivious definition of the term.
Until it was too late.
The ad for a “professional fluffer” on Craigslist seemed like divine intervention. My last unemployment check was in the bank. I was desperate. Rent was due. The ad said cash paid at the end of the day.
The perfect job!
Staging homes means showing your best angle. The same principle applies in making a certain kind of movie. Turns out a “fluffer” doesn’t arrange decorative pillows on a couch.
They arrange other soft, round-ish objects.
The job isn’t hard. Er, I mean, it is — it’s about being hard. Or, well… helping other people to be hard.
And that’s the other problem. A man. No, not one of the stars on the movie set. Will Lotham – my high school crush. The owner of the house where we’re filming. Illegally. In a vacation rental.
By the time the cops show up, what I thought was just a great house staging gig turned into a nightmare involving pictures of me with an undressed naked star, Will rescuing me from an arrest, and a humiliating lesson in my own naivete.
My job turned out to be so much harder than I expected. But you know what’s easier than I ever imagined?
Having all my dreams come true.
“I can’t tonight. I have a date,” I blurt out, remembering David. The dating app. The asshole who isn’t an asshole.
Yet. I haven’t met him, so that judgment remains withheld.
“A date?” Will asks, intrigued.
“Yes. A date. You know, that thing where you go out with someone who has no intention of really getting to know you and you spend the entire time eating bread that doesn’t taste as good as your date claims and trying to decide whether to initiate rescue-text sequences with your mom.”
“That’s your idea of a date?”
“That is my actual experience of every date I’ve had since college.”
“You’re dating the wrong guys.” He holds my gaze for just a little too long. I look away.
“I have to keep fishing in the pond if I ever want to catch a different one.”
“If that’s the way you talk to your dates, I am beginning to understand why they all turn out so badly.”
“Don’t accuse me of being a bad date. I’m a great date! I Google the guy in advance and read his LinkedIn profile. I make sure I don’t wear super-tall heels in case he lied about his height on his dating profile. I pretend to care about all his hobbies and don’t reveal that I’m secretly tallying all the micro-aggressions he’s sending my way during appetizers and wine. And if he makes it to dessert, well–” I falter.
“You never make it to dessert, do you?” Will asks, eyebrows up. He drops them quickly, wincing.
“I–well–it’s not that I don’t. He doesn’t!”
“He ditches you?”
“No! No! It’s just that he always has a thing.”
“A work emergency. Or a dog with a twisted bowel. Or a grandma in the ER.”
“How many guys used the twisted-canine-intestine thing?”
“Three.” I sit down and sag against his teenage desk, elbows sliding forward, fingers deep in my hair. “I looked it up. There’s an entire subreddit devoted to inventive ways to get out of a bad date.”
“And yet here you are.” He leans against the edge of his desk. “Trying again.”
“I’m a masochist.”
His eyes gleam. “Maybe you should start your dates with that line. ‘Hi. I’m Mallory Monahan. I’m a masochist.’ You’d definitely make it to dessert.”
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.