Home > Best Laid Plans

Best Laid Plans
Author: Lauren Blakely



I’m most definitely a planner, but I never planned to be a good girl.

Honestly, I didn’t even think twice about good girls versus naughty ones. I always figured with sex and love, you could have it all.

That’s what we’re taught as women, right?

You can be prim and proper during the day and wild and daring at night. Or the other way around. Whatever floats your banana boat.

But somehow over the years, I inadvertently landed on the “nice” half of the divide, so squarely in the good-girl camp I’m practically the poster child of oh-so-sweet, and I can’t seem to get a crack at the other side.

Only, I keep peeking over the fence, peering, wondering.

What if the grass is greener? What if I’m missing out on something better in the bedroom and, by extension, something better in life and love?

There’s only one way to find out.


The trouble is, when it -comes time to woman up and make a request for what I want to try at the ice cream stand of sexual flavors and favors, I wind up with so much more than I bargained for.

More than I’m ready for . . .

And with so much more to lose than I ever expected.

Guess I’m about to learn if it’s better to be naughty or to be nice.



A year ago

You can never go wrong with cheese.

Or crackers, for that matter.

Add in grapes, hummus, olives, Marcona almonds, and strawberries, and you’re good to go.

Plus, wine. Because . . . wine.

As I tug the corners of a red-and-white checkered blanket neatly across the grass, I’m 100 percent pleased with the spread.

Wicker picnic basket with adorable handles? Check.

Tasty food and treats? Check.

And the woman he wants? Double check.

Plus, I’m wearing his favorite outfit.

Well, David probably prefers me in heels and lingerie, on account of being male and all. But I’m surrounded by bushes, bugs, and trees, and you can’t wear heels on a hiking trail.

If I did, I’d be a complete nitwit.

Generally, I try to avoid nitwittery, partial or complete.

And I try to embrace looking pretty for my man. That’s why I’m sporting a dress, since he likes dresses and the easy access they afford. This summery blue number with white polka dots has a cute breast-hugging bodice and a skirt that’s the right length. Navy-blue Converse sneakers complete the casual but cute look.

Picnic couture, I like to call it.

A platoon of butterflies flaps around in my chest, but I don’t let them wind me up or worry me. Taking a deep, calming breath, I remind myself that I have fantastic plans to take our relationship to the next level, and I have a good feeling David wants the same. He’s given me every indication we’re on the same page.

Well, every indication, bar asking me himself, but the number of times he’s remarked on how helpful it would be to have a toothbrush, deodorant, and the farm-fresh eggs he likes for breakfast at my place are indication enough.

How could he not want to move in together?

We’re simpatico, like mornings and coffee, movies and popcorn.

Moving in together is the next step on the path to “I do.” Today, I plan to let him know that’s what I envision for us—sharing a place, sharing a life, and eventually sharing a name.

One step at a time, but the first one starts with something along the lines of:

Would you like to move in with me because I picked up those coffee filters you like so much and I’d be happy to make you a cup of joe every morning?

I already have the filters on the kitchen counter, ready for his coffee-loving heart.

Checking my phone for the time, I bounce on my toes in excitement. He’ll be here any minute.

I whistle a short tune.

Fine, he’ll be here in one more minute.

I peek inside the basket once more. A perfect spread for a Sunday lunch here along Silver Phoenix Lake, the water reflecting the bright sun and the birds chirping in the trees.

Another minute ticks by, and I smooth my hand along my skirt and double-check the wineglasses. The crisp sauvignon blanc I picked out is delish for today’s festivities. I happen to be fantastic at wine pairings, and I know this one is ideal.

I stand, crunch across the twigs and grass to the trail, and peer down the path.

No sign of David.

No matter. He’ll be here soon. I return to the blanket. I shield my eyes as I look to the sky, reminding myself to enjoy the view, to savor the great outdoors.

I do that for fifteen stinking minutes.

I try not to get wound up. It’s entirely possible he received a call from the hospital. That happens, and I’m used to it. I’m a good ER resident’s girlfriend.

I check my phone. Odd. There’s no message from him. But if there’d been an emergency, he probably wouldn’t have had time to call me. And really, don’t we all want a society where doctors are focused on saving lives rather than alerting their women of their whereabouts?

But he is off today, and there’s also this cheese.

I don’t want it out all day, especially since I already sliced it.

I should send him a text. What if he has the location wrong? I check the message I sent him yesterday, where I asked him to meet me in this little nook of the woods, a few feet off the trail, then tap out a quick text.

Hey, handsome. Can’t wait to see you! Just wanted to make sure—

I stop typing when I hear footsteps, and my heart runs in circles.

“Hey, Arden.”

I smile giddily. He’s here at last, walking past the tree, and when my eyes land on his handsome face, his dark hair, his eyes that I know so well, I chide myself for worrying.

Of course he’s here. The fact that he’s been a little busy, a little distant lately means nothing. I pop up and practically run to him, throwing my arms around his neck.

He’s stiff at first then hugs me back. “Sorry I’m late. I was at the gym.”


He was at the ever-loving gym?

“I hope you had the best workout ever, then,” I say, keeping my tone chipper, even though inside I’m thinking that’s rude with a capital R. But I have things to do and plans for us, so I move on. “And I’m glad you made it. I have a picnic lunch with all your favorites.” I jut out my hip then whisper, “Including me. It’s private here too. We can eat and chat and maybe more . . .” A flush spreads across my cheeks as my voice trails off in invitation. The suggestion feels a little risqué to me, but I’d like to try a little risqué-ness. I’ve never had sex outdoors, and I honestly wouldn’t mind trying something new. I shiver at the thought.

David looks away, scratching his jaw. “Yeah, that’s the thing, Arden.”

“What’s the thing?” My pitch rises as worry shoots up in me. His tone is saying something before his words do, and that something isn’t what I want to hear.

He sighs, smiles sympathetically, and then fingers a strand of my blonde hair. “You’re so sweet. Seriously. You’re like the nicest girl I’ve ever met.”

There’s a but coming. A big fat but.

I swallow past the stone in my throat. “Nice is good, right?” I sound as if I’m white-knuckling a steering wheel so I don’t drive a car off the side of the road.

David leans closer, lets go of my hair, and drops his voice like he’s prepping to say something grave to a patient. “But I like naughty better, so I don’t think this is going to work out.”

The earth slips beneath me. The sky falls. My plans crater. This was not on my schedule for today.

Especially since he has no idea how much I’d be interested in trying something new in bed. But he’s never asked.

“You never said you liked naughty better,” I point out as my stomach twists and hurt claws its way up my throat.

He shakes his head, making sure I don’t miss his meaning as he points from him to me. “I shouldn’t have to say it. Naughty should come naturally.”

“What? You shouldn’t have to say it? How else would I know what you wanted?”

He laughs gently. “Even if I said it, it doesn’t matter. You’re too good. It’s your natural state. You don’t have a naughty bone in your body.”

“Oh, I do. I definitely have several.” He’s wrong. He’s so wrong. All my naughty bones are just waiting to be used.

“You’re so adorable. That’s why I don’t think you and I will work out.”

Of course we can work. All we have to do is talk. Maybe he’s been working too hard in the ER. Maybe he’s stress-tired. Surely that must be it.

I place a hand on his chest. “We can talk about this. Work this out. Try all sorts of new things in the bedroom, or even here. This is the first time you’ve mentioned it, but I’m up for it. I was literally thinking about other uses for this blanket before you showed up. I know we haven’t had sex outdoors, but we should try new things in the bedroom and out of the bedroom.” I take a deep breath and go for it. “After all, I love you and I want you to move in with me. Isn’t that where we are headed?”

Not exactly how I planned to ask him, but clearly I have to launch the parachute quickly and try to save our plane from tumbling out of the sky.

He smiles even more sympathetically, quite possibly full of abject pity for me. This isn’t going to end how I want it to at all. I am the biggest fool in the land.

“Look at you. So good to me up until the end. That’s why it took me so long to say this. Because you treat me like a king, and you’re so damn sweet. It almost makes me want to stay.” He sighs. “But you’re too vanilla.” He pats my head like I’m a pet, and evidently I’m the Maltese he’s not taking home from the pound instead of the chocolate lab he really wants.

I jerk my head away from him. “Don’t pat me like a dog.”

“I was just trying to be nice.”

“Oh, don’t even use that word with me right now. ‘Nice,’” I hiss, even as tears threaten my throat, clogging my voice.

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