Not the Marrying Kind by Kathryn Nolan

1





Fiona





The text from my potential soul mate was infuriating.

I’m sorry to do this last minute. But I don’t think we want the same things right now. I’ll see you around though.

I exhaled long and steady through my nose—like a dragon mere seconds before burning off someone’s fucking face.

Specifically: Brendan’s.

“Last minute” referred to the fact that he was due to pick me up for a romantic date in fifteen minutes.

“I’ll see you around” meant “I’m still here for casual sex, of course.”

Disappointment flooded my veins. Brendan’s online dating profile had boldly stated he was a hopeless romantic searching for his future wife. His desire for a meaningful relationship was the reason we’d connected in the first place. Just two nights ago, after dinner and sex, he’d spun a story for me that felt as real as the bedsheets I lay tangled in. Stories of heading upstate to meet his parents, of cozy long weekends he was already planning for us. A story of monogamy and commitment that perfectly aligned with my own personal goals.

I don’t think we want the same things right now.

With sure fingers, I touched up my flawless eyeliner, smoothed my hands down my new dress and straightened the diamond studs in my ears. I debated a number of different replies, from polite to compassionate. Instead I walked over to my record player and dropped the needle down on a Joan Jett album. The second her voice came hurtling through my apartment—singing about wild girls and stone age love—I smiled to myself. Picked up my phone and began to type.

Dear Brendan, my message began. Please go fuck yourself… forever. And god help you if my older sister catches you in a dark alley.

I hit send. Then cranked up the music. Being an accomplished lawyer didn’t negate the fact that I was the daughter of punk rockers who’d tossed me into a mosh pit at ten the way some parents teach their children to swim.

I was a fucking Quinn. We were taught to fight back.

My methods of retaliation had always been different from the rest of my family. But that’s what made mine so much more successful. This was merely a minor setback. At the end of every relationship I’d had this year, there were steps I followed to track my outcomes. I tackled this romance problem with the same brutal efficiency I’d tackled the Bar Exam: organizing a planned strategy that maximized my goals and guaranteed results.

Which meant I made a lot of goddamn spreadsheets.

Stretching my neck from side to side, I sat down on my office chair and crossed one leg over the other. On the wall in front of me was a color-coordinated display of calendars, to-do lists, and sticky notes. Most of the hyper-planning work I did as an estate lawyer I saved for my actual office at Cooper Peterson Stackhouse. The array of action items facing me here were my personal goals—hopes and dreams I’d crafted in high school and clung to with a dedication that never ceased to confuse my parents and my older sister, Roxy.

“Bad Reputation” started up on the record player, making me smile at first. My parents’ punk band, The Hand Grenades, did a killer cover of this song that Roxy and I had choreographed an entire dance to as teenagers. The vibe of the song matched my punk-rock sister’s shaved head, black eyeshadow and leather vests. It did not match my vibe in high school, which mainly consisted of neat sweater sets, notes for study hall, and take-home tests. I might have been a second-generation wild child, but I was never without my earplugs. I couldn’t study during The Hand Grenades’ raucous practice sessions without them.

But my smile faded after only a few notes. I’d technically been a shitty daughter this past year. Until recently, Roxy and I spent every Tuesday night dancing in New York City’s last remaining punk rock club, The Red Room. Our parents had a weekly headlining set. And the Quinns, as a rule, spent more time there than was probably healthy.

I hadn’t been there in more than ten months.

The spreadsheet on my laptop lit up not a second too soon, sharpening the edge of my focus. Directly above the screen was a faded, wrinkled piece of notebook paper, where eighteen-year-old me had neatly, and succinctly, mapped out the course of my future.

Graduate from high school as valedictorian.

Attend NYU for undergrad and then Columbia Law.

Get hired at a well-respected law firm in Manhattan.

Meet your soul mate and get married by the age of 30.

A cartoon heart followed that last goal.