Fizzy got that look she had when she was about to get real intense. “Listen. Tinder is the biggest dating app in the world for a reason. Sometimes people just want to have fun. The benefit here is that we get to choose what level of investment we want, and right now, for me, that level is hovering somewhere around sex with people I don’t feel obligated to call again.” She lifted her chin. “I’m testing the waters without all the pressure of forever.”
Holding up her hands in defense, Jess said, “I’m not judging. Write this dissertation and mail it to Americano.”
Fizzy gave her a casual middle finger. “Anyway, I’ve got a date with a twenty-three named Ted tomorrow—who is himself only twenty-one—and on Saturday I’m having dinner with a thirty-one named Ralph.”
“Thirty-one? Wow, that’s a Silver. Moving up in the world.”
Fizzy opened her mouth to reply when, on the table between them, a phone delivered a telltale chime.
Jess assumed it was another mediocre compatibility score hitting Fizzy’s inbox, and Fizzy seemed to assume the same, reaching for her phone—
So it took them both a second to register that the sound had actually come from Jess’s phone … and it took Jess another to remember she’d sent her “sample” away for analysis.
Betrayal widened every one of Fizzy’s features. “Jessica Davis. I’m over here telling you about dick tattoos and you don’t even tell me you sent your spit!”
Jess barked out an uncomfortable laugh. “I can explain!”
She was unable to control her bubbling laughter. Fizzy looked genuinely furious in a mildly cartoonish way. “It was last Thursday, remember? I called you from the toilet. On impulse, I put it in the mail after we hung up, downloaded the app and filled out the basic info, and then totally spaced on it.”
Fizzy picked up Jess’s phone, tapping it awake with a punitive jab of her index finger. Entering the passcode, she stared in confusion down at the screen while Jess stared with similar confusion at her. “I don’t remember giving you my passcode.”
“Juno’s birthday. You should choose a more secure code. Never know what brand of crazy can get into your phone.”
Jess raised a wry eyebrow. “You don’t say.”
Fizzy turned the screen to face her. “It’s red. What does that mean?”
“What’s red?” Jess’s amusement at the situation was fading, quickly replaced by the realization that her DNADuo app had just pinged her with an alert.
She’d excluded matches below seventy percent.
She had a Platinum or higher match.
She suddenly understood Fizzy’s desire to dip a toe in the soulmate waters rather than dive headfirst. Jess wasn’t ready. She wasn’t even sure she was curious.
“The thing,” Fizzy said, pointing aggressively. “The little—circle notification thing over the app icon that means you have a result!”
The prospect of making a decision based on a numerical score made Jess immediately tired. She took her phone back, tempted to delete the app along with whatever impulse had told her to spit in that vial in the first place. “Is red bad?”
“All of mine are green,” Fizzy explained. “Whether it’s a compatibility score of twelve or thirty-one, the match notifications have been green.”
Okay, if the match notifications were green, at least Jess knew a potential soulmate wasn’t just casually hanging out in her inbox. “Might I suggest your intensity about this is now at an eleven?”
Fizzy shot back: “To my romance-loving heart, this app is the most fascinating game ever. Humor me.”
“Most likely it means there was something wrong with my sample,” Jess said, relief expanding in her. “I did it after I brushed my teeth, and it says to wait an hour after eating or drinking anything before spitting.” She put her phone back on the table, screen-side down. “I’ll deal with it later.”
She should’ve known better. “Uh. Nope.” Fizzy immediately handed the phone back to her. “I want to know what red means.”
“It’s my birthday, and I can ignore it if I want to.”
Fizzy shook her head. “What’s a better birthday gift than a soulmate?”
With a sigh, Jess clicked on the DNADuo icon. No notifications under the tab labeled Compatibility Scores, but she did have a small red bubble indicating a new message. Jess’s eyes quickly scanned the words, but her brain was slow to process them. Starting over, Jess read it slowly, word by word, even though there were only eight of them: Please call our office at your earliest convenience.
“What does it say?”
Jess handed the phone over. “It’s from GeneticAlly. I need to call them at my earliest convenience. That’s weird. Isn’t that weird? Like, why not just tell me another sample kit is required?”
Fizzy read it, frowning. “They sent it in your app inbox, so you can reply, right? Let’s just ask what this is about.” Instead of handing the phone back, she did it herself, dictating each word as she typed. “May—I—ask—what—this—is—concerning?” Fizzy stared at the screen, and after only a few seconds, her brows shot up excitedly. “Someone’s typing back!”
Meanwhile, Jess’s stomach was crawling into her throat. She already hated how intense it all felt; this was way too much investment and expectation for something she’d done on impulse in a crappy mood. “I’m sure it’s just a sample thing, just—”
“Fizz,” Jess said, “just give me my phone. I don’t care about any of—”
Fizzy held up a hand. “They’re typ— Oh.” Her brows furrowed. “Okay, you’re right. This is weird.”
She handed the phone back, and Jess’s stomach twisted as she read the note.
Do you mind coming in? it said. We’ll send a car.
THEY’D SEND A car?
Jess managed to find about a thousand important things she needed to do immediately. She made a DMV appointment to renew her license, scheduled her and Juno’s annual physical exams and dentist appointments. She went for a run; she took a long shower. She even bought herself a new sweater as a birthday indulgence. She had lunch with Nana and Pops, cleaned her apartment, folded every piece of laundry she could find, picked up Juno from school, and read almost an entire Judy Blume novel with her before Juno urged Jess to leave the apartment so Nana and Pops could come over and get the surprise party ready.
With two hours to kill and the notification like a splinter in her thumb, Jess gave up and called Lisa Addams.
The GeneticAlly building was dark from the outside, but a light in the lobby flickered on as the town car pulled up to the curb. Lisa emerged, walking briskly out and opening the car door.
“Jessica,” she said breathlessly. “Thanks for coming in on such short notice.”
Even in the dusk, Jess spotted the flush on Lisa’s cheeks, the way her hairline seemed just the slightest bit sweaty. She tumbled one more tick down the Uneasy Scale.
“No problem. I only have about an hour, though.”
“Of course. Come on in.”