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THE BOYFRIEND OF THE MONTH CLUB
by Maria Geraci

Genre: General Mainstream Fiction, Mainstream

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The grocery store was bustling for a Sunday night. It was the weekend before Thanksgiving and shoppers were trying to get a leg up before the last-minute rush. Grace dodged the crowded food aisles and made her way to the frozen dairy section. She could go straight for the big guns and get the Moose Tracks—creamy vanilla ice cream mixed with chocolate and peanut butter. But the mint chocolate chip had its appeal too.

Which to choose? Of course, she could always get both . . .

“I prefer pistachio, myself,” said a familiar male voice.

Grace turned to find Rosie Dimples aka Dr. Joe leaning against his shopping cart. He wore above-the-knee nylon basketball shorts and a T-shirt. Maybe he’d just come from the gym. Grace squelched the urge to reach out and smooth an errant lock of hair off his forehead.

“There’s no chocolate in pistachio ice cream,” she said.

“What is it with women and chocolate?”

It’s the universal substitute for sex, dummy. She wondered what Dr. Joe would say to that. He’d probably volunteer to fill in for the ice cream.

“It’s one of our daily food groups,” she said instead.

He smiled. “How’s the tooth holding up, Grace?”

So he remembered her name. Had he read her patient satisfaction survey? Melanie claimed he personally read each one. Tomorrow it would be a week since she’d been to his office. Surely he’d read it by now. Which reminded her, she really did need to investigate where Tanya had gone to work so she could find a new dentist. She’d planned to do it right away, but with all the roof drama going on at the store, she’d forgotten. Technically, she supposed, she was still Dr. Joe’s patient.

“The tooth is holding up great. Thanks for asking, Dr. Joe.”

“The patients find it easier to call me Dr. Joe rather than Dr. Rosenblum. But outside the office, it’s just plain Joe.”

There was nothing plain about this Joe, that was for sure. He seemed friendly enough too. Almost too friendly. There was no way he had read her patient satisfaction survey. Melanie was so full of it. She probably read them herself and only showed him the good ones to pump up his ego.

A woman with a cart full of baby items tried to slide between them. Joe pushed his cart off to the side to let her pass. You could tell a lot about a person by the items in their grocery cart. What did a hottie like Dr. Joe have in his? Probably a lot of pretentious, overpriced health food items. She tried to discreetly peek at the contents inside his cart.

“Are you checking out my turkey, Grace?”

“What?”

“Do you think my turkey is too big?” He pointed to the large frozen turkey that took up nearly half his cart.

She narrowed her eyes at him. He had to realize his double entendre, although the expression on his face seemed innocent enough. “That depends. How many people do you plan to feed with your big turkey?”

“Just me, my mom, and a few friends.”

Grace looked at the tag around the wrapper. “This is a twenty-five-pound turkey. You could feed half of Daytona Beach with this.”

“Really?” He looked alarmed.

“Not exactly, but it’s way more than you need. Unless you want to eat turkey leftovers until Christmas. The rule of thumb is about one pound per person.”

“I don’t even really like turkey all that much,” he said.

“Then I suggest you go with a smaller version.”

He pulled a list out of the back pocket of his shorts and handed it to Grace. “This is the menu I came up with, along with the list of ingredients. Would you mind taking a look at it and telling me what you think? That is . . . if I’m not keeping you from something.”

She studied the list. “You’re not planning to make all this yourself, are you? You said your mom is coming to dinner? Is she going to help cook?”

“The only thing my mother knows how to cook is hot water.”

Grace found that impossible to believe. Whose mother didn’t cook? Of course, Abuela didn’t cook. Or not well, anyway. How Mami had become so talented in the kitchen was puzzling. But then Mami couldn’t sew the way Abuela did. “So did your dad do all the cooking when you were growing up?”

“I don’t think my dad could manage even the hot water.”

Grace frowned. “Will he be at dinner too?”

“He’ll be spending Thanksgiving with his newest girlfriend down in Boca Raton.”

“Oh.” Grace looked at the list again. She rummaged through her purse and pulled out a pen and began crossing off items. “You don’t need four different types of vegetables, but you do need both mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, even though they’re both starches. That’s a given for Thanksgiving. Are you going to stuff the turkey?”

“Stuff it with what?”

“Never mind. Just don’t forget to take out the insides before you cook it.”

“The insides?”

“It’s probably not too late to have this catered, you know.”

“Where’s the fun in that?”

“You’re going to give me nightmares. Visions of exploding turkey gizzards are dancing in my head right now.”

He looked puzzled but laughed anyway. “You seem to know a lot about this stuff. Maybe you can help me figure out what to buy. If you’re not busy,” he said again.

She should say no, go do your own grocery shopping. But he’d been nice enough to stay late to fix her tooth. Grace was no Martha Stewart, but it appeared she knew more than he did and the least she could do was help him out. Although it still irked her that he pretended not to remember where they’d first met. And there was also the slight flirtation going on between them. Or was that her imagination?

Are you checking out my turkey, Grace?

He wished.

This was one area where Dr. Joe knew exactly what he was doing.

“Okay, I’ll help you out. On one condition. You admit that you know where you met me. Before I came to your office.”

“Is this a deal breaker?”

“Yep.”