Home > The Mismatch (Bad Bridesmaids #3)(3)

The Mismatch (Bad Bridesmaids #3)(3)
Author: Noelle Adams

Compliant was something she never was.

Charles had been soberly studying the room as he ate a wedge of cantaloupe. He looked up at Taylor as she approached, and his eyebrows pulled together as she sat down.

“Hello,” he said politely.

“Hi.”

He waited, clearly expecting an explanation for her unexpected presence.

Taylor, obstinate by nature, didn’t explain herself.

“Is there something you wanted?” Charles asked after a minute. He was a quietly handsome man with brown hair and dark blue eyes like his sister. He had a high forehead and a thoughtful, intelligent demeanor that seemed to command respect, despite the fact that he wasn’t much of a talker.

Taylor had known him forever. Older brother of one of her best friends. Sharing childhood. Going to the same private school. Always being on the periphery of each other’s lives. She’d never thought much about him in the past, but he suddenly seemed better-looking than normal—sexy in a smart, unexpected way—as he gave her a dry, questioning look.

“Not really. I was just told that since we were both sitting by ourselves, I should come over here so we could sit together.”

“Why should we sit together?”

“I have no idea. Just that some people think that when we’re alone, that means we’re lonely. It doesn’t, of course, but not everyone knows that.”

“I already told my sister that I don’t need company.”

“I know. I told her the same thing. But if I didn’t come over here, then Amanda would win a bet, and I couldn’t have that.”

He gave a huff of something that must pass as amusement for him. The man almost never smiled. “Fair enough. As long as you’re not planning on being obnoxious, you can stay.” He spoke the words with an air of intentional condescension as he neatly cut into his melon and took another bite.

Taylor stared at him for a minute, her lips parted. She was torn between amusement and outrage over his patronizing attitude, and she honestly couldn’t tell if he was teasing her or not. She wasn’t used to being off stride like that. “Um, you do know me, right?”

He eyed her soberly. “Yes. I’ve known you since we were kids.”

“So why would you think it was likely I wouldn’t be obnoxious right now?”

He gave another of those huffs but still no smile. “I gave it a shot.”

“And why are you eating that melon that way?” she demanded, still staring at the way he was slicing into the orange flesh with absolute precision.

“What way?”

“You cut perfect little squares. Like it’s a chessboard. Who eats cantaloupe that way?”

“As you can see for yourself, I do. How else am I supposed to eat it?”

Taylor took the fork out of his hand—she didn’t need the knife—and gouged out a large, sloppy piece from the rind. Then she popped it into her mouth, a little bit of juice running down her chin as she chewed.

He shook his head, his eyes amused but his mouth utterly sober. “I think I’ll stick to my method.”

“Nothing wrong with getting a little messy.”

She didn’t—absolutely did not—intend that comment to be anything close to sexual. But she wiped the juice from her mouth as she said it, and for some reason it ignited a little spark of interest in her body. She was suddenly wondering what Charles would look like messy. Rumpled. Urgent. Passionate.

Taylor’s body really liked the image.

She gulped, willing away the ridiculous response. Charles wasn’t the kind of man to have casual sex, which was the only kind of sex she was interested in. So no sense in thinking in that direction at all.

“You are ridiculous,” Charles said, lightly, without any heat. It didn’t sound like an insult, just a mild statement of fact.

Taylor didn’t have a problem with it. “Probably. But I’m not the one eating cantaloupe like I’m trying to stay in the lines in a coloring book. So which one of us is more ridiculous here?”

“That’s a good question.”

His family had a ton of money. He hadn’t lived a particularly indulgent life. He’d worked hard at school and gone to law school afterward and taken a job in the legal department of his family’s successful environmental consulting company. But he was still a rich boy. He’d even taken a year off work so he could write a novel—evidently the end results of all that scribbling he used to do in his ever-present notebook. It would have been easy for a guy to be arrogant and entitled and spoiled in his situation, but Charles wasn’t at all stuck-up. That was one good thing about him.

“What?” he asked, raising his eyebrows when she just looked at him.

She shook her head. She wasn’t going to tell him what she was thinking, because what she was thinking was dying to know what this man was like in bed.

 

 

CHARLES KENSINGTON had spent most of his life believing Taylor was the prettiest girl in the world.

He didn’t have a crush on her. At least not the kind of infatuation he’d understood as meaningful. He didn’t want to date her. In fact, he’d always found her frustrating, rude, and infuriating. She appeared to go out of the way to push people away and took pleasure in defying common courtesy merely for the sake of doing so.

But she was gorgeous. Tall and slim and graceful despite her attempts at ungainly slouches. She had long, smooth dark hair and mesmerizing dark brown eyes and high cheekbones and sensual lips. And a long neck with deliciously elegant lines. And smooth, tanned skin. And slender hands that he could easily imagine touching him all over.

He wasn’t into her or secretly yearning in her direction. He wasn’t that kind of guy. He was disciplined and practical and did his best to do right by his family, friends, and community. He didn’t pour himself into useless crushes on women who would more likely drive him crazy than make him happy. Maybe he’d always had a private vision of himself in his mind that was different. A Charles who took risks. Who did what he wanted. A Charles who could date a woman like Taylor. But that wasn’t the Charles of reality, and he wasn’t foolish enough to indulge that silly fantasy of himself.

Still, he’d never met anyone as pretty as Taylor. Even the women he’d dated—all of whom he’d liked and found attractive—fell just slightly short of the breathlessness he experienced whenever he caught a glimpse of her around town.

It was frankly rather annoying—and doubly annoying now that she’d plopped herself down at his table at the wedding reception and didn’t appear to be moving anytime soon. Which meant he had to continue noticing how beautiful she was. How sexy and compelling and desirable. While he still had to somehow make lucid conversation so she wouldn’t know how blown away by her he was.

He didn’t like the feeling. And he didn’t like her. What kind of woman mocked a man who was harmlessly eating melon?

But he wished she wasn’t quite so gorgeous.

Currently she was ignoring him. He’d asked a question she hadn’t answered. It was just as well because he preferred sitting in silence to idle chitchat that didn’t accomplish anything.

Plus the less he talked, the fewer opportunities she’d have to catch a clue about the current drifting of his thoughts.

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