Finding X

Is there a science to falling in love?

Carlisle Santiago is through with men. After the devastating end of a seven-year relationship, she’s trying to put her life back together. What she doesn’t know is that she is the subject of the patient and methodical observations of blue-haired scientist Matteo Villegas, who just wants to find love himself. She must decide whether she’s ready to give love another shot or if this is doomed to be one failed experiment.

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Finding X at FilReaderCon 2015 — Read by Rachel Coates and Gio Gahol > Listen Now

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“Let’s go?” she asked when she turned to him with that ready smile of hers.

“We can wait, if you want to,” he told her. “I’m not in any hurry. It’s still raining a bit anyway.”

Carlisle shook her head and walked forward, one step ahead of him towards and through the lobby doors—only to stop and learn that the rain had taken a turn for the worse. The car was just parked nearby, but it still meant running through the rain with a shared umbrella.

He opened the umbrella then held out his hand for her package. “I can get the car myself and bring it over here. That way you won’t get wet.”

“No, no!” she quickly said, as if scandalized at the thought, and her hand reached for his arm. “You don’t have to do that. You’re not my driver!” She seemed to grit her teeth before letting go of her hold. She looked out towards the rain, to the car. “It’s not too far.” Annoyed at feeling helpless, she reached for his umbrella, and urged him to share it with him.

“All right,” he said, holding the umbrella over her, unperturbed. He stepped a little behind her so they could t under it. Then when he was sure she was covered, they made a run for the car.

They ran in the rain, and the water splashed at their feet, at the hem of their pants. When they reached the car, she even nudged the umbrella towards his side of the car. Somehow despite her protests, he maneuvered her towards her side of the car instead and opened the door for her. She shook her head but she got in anyway.

When Matteo nally got inside the car, slightly drenched but okay, they both realized they wouldn’t be going anywhere soon. The rain was too strong, and they could barely see outside the windshield.

At this realization, she winced. “Sorry about that.”

It was a dark and stormy night… She hoped the night wouldn’t end like a bad horror flick.

“You don’t have to apologize,” he told her. “You didn’t make it rain. I think I have an extra shirt in here somewhere that you can use to dry o .” He twisted towards her so he could reach into the back seat.

“Uh, no, it’s okay. I’m not the one who’s drenched,” she said. “It’s better if you get changed.”

“Yeah, sorry,” he said sheepishly, even if he was dripping inside his own car. “This won’t take long.”

When he tried to feel around the back seat for the gym bag, his awkward position made Carlisle feel that he was too close. She saw how prominent his Adam’s apple was, and how his collarbones peeked from the collar of his wet polo shirt. She cleared her throat and looked away.

When he nally got the handle of his bag, he lifted it up to him in front. “Sorry, watch your head,” he told Carlisle, narrowly missing her with the bag. He balanced it on his lap and then fumbled with the zipper.

“Here, let me take that for you,” she o ered, holding out her hand for the bag, as soon as he got his shirt out.

“No, it’s okay, I can manage,” Matteo insisted. He tried to hurry things along, leaning forward to tug his wet polo shirt from his jeans. But he accidentally leaned too hard and a loud beep from his car horn disturbed the silence. “Oh sh–” He nearly swore, moving back quickly.

Loud laughter lled their small, enclosed space. She was shaking her head, arms hugging herself, leaning close to the door. She was laughing so heartily that there were tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry, I just—” she tried to apologize, but she couldn’t stop laughing. She wiped the tears from her face. “Come on, let me get that bag,” she said as she yanked the gym bag from his lap to her own.

“I won’t look,” she added.

He grinned in embarrassment. “I’m sorry! I really do know how to change my shirt!”

She said she wouldn’t look, but she did—one eye opened, one eye closed. And she liked what she saw. He pulled on a lever to adjust his seat. With the extra space, he nally nished changing. He managed to shrug out of the damp polo shirt before tugging down his faded black shirt over his head.

He wasn’t packing heat, but he was t. He wasn’t fully de ned, but he was toned, and surprisingly a bit tanned, which wasn’t really apparent when he wore his formal shirts. Doing eldwork must have helped him in that regard, and it suited him well.

“Done,” he announced as soon as he got his shirt suitably pulled down.

She opened her eyes ceremoniously, before turning to look at him. She nodded then gave him a thumbs-up sign. “Good job!” she said in a serious tone, but her eyes were lit up. If he only knew why she was giving her approval.


Tan’s triumph is that despite the fact that Matteo rarely displays any of the markers of conventional masculinity, it in no way diminishes his appeal to Carlisle or the reader. In fact, when put beside the more conventionally masculine Erickson Gutierrez — Carlisle’s ex-boyfriend and immediate boss — it’s clear who the better man is.


This book was ultrasweet, giving you all the delicious tingly sugared halo-halo feelings the entire ride. Matteo is deadly cute with light blue hair and Carlisle is too smart and too skittish for her own happiness. I love the geology jokes, nerd humor, the outrageously awesome notebook Matteo kept about his experiment on getting Carlisle to fall in love with him.

Rachelle Ayala

I must say that Finding X is one of the sweetest geeky stories I have ever read so far. I loved how science and romance beautifully blended in this novella, and of course, who wouldn’t like the blue-haired, journal-writing Matteo?


I love Carlisle’s journey of finding herself, and the geeky and quirky Matteo definitely helped in making the journey fun to read. I loved the importance placed in Carlisle’s self growth in this story. It felt real and gave more depth to the book.