Excerpt: The Man Plan by Elise K. Ackers

‘Walk me through a date,’ Matt said.

Cora raised a brow and cast her eyes around their setting.

Understanding her confusion, he spoke again. ‘Theoretically. It’s the beginning of the night. You’re the type who would expect me to pick you up–‘

‘I’d meet you there. Safer.’ She smiled and copied him when he turned his body to face her.

​’Would you be expecting flowers?’

‘If I meet you there, then I’m just carrying them all night.’

He blinked slowly, his expression bemused. ‘No weeds then. Dinner and a movie?’

She curled her fingers into her lap and pictured it. Or more accurately, remembered. She’d eaten many meals and seen many movies with this man. When she answered she was smiling, because she was anticipating his exasperation. ‘Probably not a movie on a first date. Sitting in the dark with a stranger? And it’s not very social. I’d angle for a casual dinner, or even just drinks.’

‘Great, so I’m batting zero for three. Okay, assuming I haven’t tanked so far, dinner or drinks wraps up. I walk you to your car.’

A tickle of nerves rode the length of her spine. Words of caution flashed through her mind, bright moments of clarity wholly ignored. ‘Of course.’

He nodded, satisfied. ‘Score one for Matt. Then I tell you I want to see you again.’

‘Assuming you do.’

‘True. Let’s pretend you don’t mention your desperate need to marry and breed and I don’t climb out the bathroom window. We’re standing at the car. It’s dark. Mood lighting and all that crap. Maybe it’s rained recently so there’s that cool wet sound of tyres on the road.’


‘You’re looking at me like all your dreams have come true. You’re thinking we’d make really good-looking babies–‘

‘You’re an idiot.’

‘You start playing with your hair. Finding excuses to touch me. So I’m thinking, ace, I’m in. And I lean in to kiss you.’

Cora pictured it, and was taken aback by how perfect it all sounded. She could imagine standing on a darkened street with him, toying with her keys because she didn’t want the night to end. He would smell as good as he did now – like sea salt and warm sand – and smiling that brilliant, distracting smile of his that so often scattered her thoughts. He’d tease her as often as he’d compliment her, whipping back and forth between casual and charming, and she’d fall.

She’d fall for it all.

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