A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this charming romantic comedy from the author of The Ex Talk.
Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.
In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.
Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?
Forecast: Cloudy with a chance of public humiliation
There’s something especially lovely about an overcast day. Clouds dipped in ink, the sky ready to crack open. The air turning crisp and sweet. It’s magic, the way the world seems to pause for a few moments right before a downpour, and I can never get enough of that heady anticipation—this sense that something extraordinary is about to happen.
Sometimes I think I could live in those moments forever.
“What was that?” my brother asks from the driver’s seat. It’s possible I’ve just let out a contented sigh. “Are you getting emotional about rain again?”
I’ve been staring—well, gazing—out the window as the early morning sky surrenders to a drizzle. “No. That doesn’t sound like something I’d do.”
Because it’s not just that I’m emotional about rain. It’s that rain means the thrill of tracking a cold front as it moves in from the Pacific. It means knee-high boots and cable-knit sweaters, and it’s simply a fact that those are the best clothes. I don’t make the rules.
For so many people, weather is small talk, the thing you discuss when you’ve run out of conversation topics at a party or you’re on a first date with a guy who lives in his parents’ basement and thinks you two could be really happy down there together. Can you believe the weather we’re having? It’s a source of joy or frustration, but rarely anything in the middle.
It’s never been small talk for me. Even if we’re due for six more months of gloom, I always miss it when summer comes.
“You’re lucky I love you so much.” Alex rakes a hand through the sleep-mussed red hair we almost share, only his is auburn and mine is a bright shock of ginger. “We’d just gotten past Orion’s fear of the dark, but now Cassie’s up at five if we’re lucky, four-thirty if we’re not. No one’s getting any sleep in the Abrams-Delgado house.”
“I told you she’s a little meteorologist in training.” I adore my brother’s five-year-old twins, and not just because they’re named after constellations. “Don’t tell her we have to do our own hair and makeup. Ruins the illusion.”
“She has to watch you every morning before preschool. Dinosaur-shaped pancakes and Aunt Ari on the TV.”
“The way God intended.”
“I must not have been paying attention that day in Hebrew school.” Alex stifles a yawn as we jigsaw around Green Lake. He lives on the Eastside and works in South Seattle, so he picked me up in my tree-lined Ravenna neighborhood and will drop me off at the station when we’re done.
His clock is always six minutes fast because Alex loves the extra motivation in the mornings. Right now it reads 6:08—usually late for me, but thanks to one of Torrance’s last-minute schedule changes, I won’t be on camera until the afternoon. I might end up staying awake for a full twenty hours, but my body’s gotten used to me messing with its internal clock. Mostly.
Still, imagining my tiny perfect niece transfixed by a weather report warms the very center of my heart.
Once upon a time, I did the exact same thing.
“Relax. It’s going to be great,” Alex says as I fidget with the zipper on my waterproof jacket, and then with the necklace buried in the fuzz of my sweater. I only roped him into this because I didn’t want to do it alone, but there’s always been a whisper-thin line between excitement and anxiety for me.
Even if my tells weren’t so obvious, he’d be able to sense my emotions with his eyes closed. At thirty, Alex is three years older than I am, but people used to think we were fraternal twins because we were inseparable as kids. That morphed into a friendly rivalry as teens, especially since we were in the habit of crushing on the same boys—most notably, this Adonis of a track star named Kellen who had no idea we existed, despite our appearance at every one of his meets to cheer him on. This was made clear on the day of the state championships, when I showed up with flowers and Alex with balloons, and Kellen blinked his gorgeous tide pool eyes at us and said, “Hey, do we go to the same school?”
Reluctantly, I allow the swish of the windshield wipers to lull me into a false sense of calm. We head north up Aurora, past billboards for the Pacific Science Center, for gutter cleaners, for a guy who could be either a personal injury lawyer or a pro wrestler, given the way his face is twisted in a scowl. A cluster of car dealerships, and then—
“Oh my god, there it is. Stop the car. Stop the car!”
“You’re not allowed to yell like that when I’m driving,” Alex says, even as he stomps the brake, his Prius tossing me against the door. “Christ, I thought I’d hit something.”
“Yes. My ego. It’s shattered.”
He swerves into the parking lot of a twenty-four-hour donut shop, sliding into a spot that gives us an unobstructed view of my very first billboard.
Wake up with KSEA 6 at 5! We’re always here 4 you, it proclaims in aggressively bold letters. And there’s our Colgate-toothed weekday morning team, all of us looking natural and not at all uncomfortably posed: Chris Torres, news. Russell Barringer, sports. Meg Nishimura, traffic. Ari Abrams, weather.
And an unmistakable whitish-gray streaked across my smiling face, blotting out my left eye and half my nose and ending in a beautiful bird-shit dimple.
My face only.
Chris and Russell and Meg keep on grinning. We’re always here 4 you, my ass.
“Well. I’m sufficiently humbled,” I say after a few moments of stunned silence. “At least my hair looks okay?”
“Am I allowed to laugh?”
A sound that might be a giggle escapes my own mouth. “Please. Someone has to.”
My brother cracks up, and I’m not sure whether to be offended or to join him. Eventually, I give in.
“We’re taking your picture with it anyway,” Alex says when he can breathe again. “It’s your first billboard. That’s a huge fucking deal.” He claps a hand on my shoulder. “The first of many.”
“If this doesn’t haunt the rest of my career.” I follow him out of the car, my Hunter boots splashing through a puddle that turns out to be deeper than it looks.
“Say, ‘KSEA 6 Northwest News: where we really give a shit,’ ” he says as I position myself beneath the billboard and mug for the camera. “ ‘KSEA 6: what you watch when the shit hits the fan.’ ”
“How about, ‘Breaking news: Alex Abrams-Delgado is a piece of shit’?” I say it in my best TV voice while giving him the middle finger.
“Thanks for doing this,” I say once we’ve grabbed a table inside the donut shop. I brush damp bangs off my forehead, hoping there’s a spare hair dryer in the KSEA dressing room. “I would’ve gone with Garrison, or with someone from the station, but . . .”
Alex braves a sip of his donut-shop coffee and grimaces. “I get it. I’m your favorite person in the world.”
“You are,” I say. “But Cassie’s a strong second place. Don’t take that privilege lightly.”
“I could never.” He empties a compostable packet of sweetener into his cup. “How are you doing, by the way? With . . . everything?”
Before the everything he’s talking about, my brother and I saw each other about every month. Now I’m draped across his couch once a week while his chef husband ladles comfort food directly into my mouth.
“There are good days and bad. I’m not sure what today is yet, or if that’s a literal sign from the universe that things are about to go to, well, you know.” I wave a hand toward the billboard outside before taking a bite of a chocolate old-fashioned. “You’re not going to tell me to get back out there, are you?”
That’s the worst side effect of a breakup. Let me breathe for a moment before I attach myself to someone else who’s only going to end up disappointing me.
I rub the place on my finger where the engagement ring used to be. I figured its imprint would last longer than a few days, and I wasn’t sure how to feel when my skin no longer carried the evidence of our relationship. Truthfully, I never thought I’d be that attached to a ring—until Garrison asked for it back. In his defense, it was a family heirloom. In my defense, he’s a human trash can.
A human trash can I’ve barely been able to stop thinking about since the breakup five weeks ago, when I moved out of our spacious Queen Anne rental and into the studio apartment just big enough for me and my feelings. Our friends felt like they needed to pick sides, which is why these days, my sole confidants are my brother and a precocious preschooler. At least now I can say Garrison’s name out loud without wanting to curl up inside one of those nest pillows Instagram is always advertising to me. I think they’re meant for dogs, but I can’t be the only person who desperately wants one. The algorithm must know I need it.
“Absolutely not. Not until you’re ready.” Alex reaches for another sweetener packet. “At least you hadn’t put any deposits down. Silver linings, right?”
“Mmm,” I say noncommittally. Wedding planning was another one of those excitement-anxiety knots for me, though most of the time, anxiety had been winning. Whenever we started talking about it, I’d freeze with indecision. Spring or fall? Band or DJ? How many guests? Even now, it’s enough to make me itch inside my cable-knit sweater.
But what Alex said sticks in my brain. Because silver linings—they’re kind of my thing. Any time I sense negativity beginning to simmer inside me, I force it away with one of my practiced TV smiles. Leap right over that murky puddle. Keep myself dry before I risk sinking deeper into the darkness.
“We should have these donuts more often,” I say, even though it’s an entirely unremarkable donut.
Alex must be able to tell I’m not eager to dig up more history because he launches into a story about Orion’s determination to lose his first tooth.
“He was trying that old string-and-a-doorknob trick,” Alex says. “Only, he completely missed the doorknob part, so I found him sitting in his room with all this string hanging from his mouth, waiting patiently for a tooth to loosen up.”
“And why didn’t you send me pictures immediately?” I ask, and he remedies this.
Once we’ve both moved on to our second donuts, my phone lights up with a notification, and I tap it to find an email from Russell Barringer, sports.
If he’s emailing me, it can only be about one thing.
Seth put up new signs today. Torrance found one on her oat milk and she’s livid. Just wanted to let you know you might be walking into a hurricane.
“I should get going,” I say to Alex. “Or, we should get going so you can drop me off.”
“Something with your boss?”
I do my best to temper my sigh so it doesn’t sound as long-suffering as I feel. “Isn’t it always?”
We’re about to get up when a thirtysomething guy with a soaked umbrella stops in front of our table and stares right at me. “I know you,” he says, wagging a finger at me as rain drips onto the linoleum.
“Oh, from the news?” I say. It happens on occasion, strangers recognizing me but for the life of them unable to figure out why. Usually they’re disappointed I’m not my boss, and honestly, I’d feel the same way.
He shakes his head. “Are you friends with Mandy?”
“I am not.”
My brother waves an arm out the window at the billboard. “Channel six. She does the weather.”
“I don’t really watch TV,” he says with a shrug. “Sorry. I must have been thinking of someone else.”
Alex is shaking with silent laughter. I elbow him as we head to sort our trash into its proper bins.
“I’m so glad my pain is hilarious to you.”
“Gotta keep you humble somehow.” Before we leave, Alex waits in line to grab a few dozen donuts for his fourth-grade class. “Guilt donuts,” he explains. “It’s state testing week.”
“It’s a wonder some of us make it out of school with only minor psychological wounds.”
He gives me a half smile that doesn’t quite touch his eyes, and then he lowers his voice. “You’ll text me if you’re feeling down or anything this week, right?”
It’s so easy to joke around with him that sometimes I forget I can do more than that. “I will.” I glance down at the time and tap my phone. “If you can get me to the dressing room in twenty minutes, I’ll make Nutella rugelach for Hanukkah next weekend.”
“On it,” he says, reaching for his keys while I balance his boxes of donuts. “You could really use that extra time.”
“Hey, I am very fragile right now!”
With his chin, he gestures outside one more time. “Fine, fine. You look just as good as your billboard.”
Copyright © 2022 by Rachel Lynn Solomon
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