Stud Finder (1001 Dark Nights)

By: Lauren Blakely


One Thousand and One Dark Nights



Once upon a time, in the future…



I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.



I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.



I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.



One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.



Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.



Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.



Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.



As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.





Prologue



Once upon a time, in a wonderfully romantic land known as Manhattan, there was a woman who possessed a particular skill. She had the uncanny ability to match—clothes and colors, food and wine, and most importantly, people. She was so skilled that she was sought out far and wide across the city by those seeking to find their true soul mate.

At the same time, there was a most handsome man who was brilliant, funny, and, let’s call a spade a spade, a wee bit socially clueless.

Fine. More than a bit. Perhaps, a lot. But he was a hot nerd, and his brain worked quite well for everything else, and he was in demand as a mate.

He was also ready to settle down, and because he had learned to depend on machines, he was certain a machine would find his true love for him.

When the woman heard of such an insane notion, she could simply not abide by it. She made him an offer to show him how to find a match in real life, without relying on an algorithm. Because he was a natural risk-taker, he gave her three chances to prove what she could do.

Determined to help find him true love, she took on this challenging assignment. Even though she found him handsome, and even though, for the first time ever, she felt the faintest stir of attraction for a client, she bore no risk of that admiration turning into something else. Both online and in the real world, the man and woman could agree that opposites didn’t attract at all. And who could ever fall for someone with such a vastly different view of life and love?

But things are not always what they seem…





Chapter One



Dylan





The Internet and I are best friends. We’ve done everything together. We’ve grown up together. We’ve downloaded music, we’ve ordered food, we’ve learned new languages, we’ve discovered women, and we’ve made millions.

As I turn toward the entrance for Chelsea Piers on a Friday afternoon, my phone in my hand, I see no reason why I can't find a woman here.

Not Chelsea Piers.

Please.

Who meets people in person anymore?

That’s crazy talk.

I mean here. On this fantastic device I’m holding. This is where everyone finds love these days. Swiping left, swiping right. Hitting this button. Liking that button. Okay fine, maybe they're finding other things. But I'm determined to discover happiness the same way I've discovered everything else. Online.

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