Home > The Mismatch (Bad Bridesmaids #3)(4)

The Mismatch (Bad Bridesmaids #3)(4)
Author: Noelle Adams

He was finishing his piece of cantaloupe—cutting it even neater than he normally would have because he knew she was watching him—when she blurted out, “Why are your mom and grandma staring at us?”

Charles glanced over toward the table where his family had been sitting the last time he’d noticed them. They were still there, and they were indeed focused on him. He knew them well enough to imagine what they might be saying. “They’re probably plotting to fix you up with me, so if you want to be smart, you’ll make a hasty retreat.”

Taylor didn’t look startled or even the smallest bit nervous about being paired up with him in gossip. He should have known better than to think the idea would fluster her.

Nothing seemed to fluster her.

“Really? Why would they want me for that particular role? Surely their plotting could do better than that.”

She was being sincere—as sincere as she ever got. She must know how attractive she was, but she still couldn’t imagine anyone thinking she was a good catch.

He cleared his throat and thought quickly before he responded. “I think they’re probably desperate enough about my relational state that they are no longer very picky about choices.”

She frowned. “Seriously? Why are they so desperate? You’re just thirty, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“So why the desperation? You’ve got tons of time to settle down.”

He gave a slight shrug. “But I haven’t dated much in the past few years. They think I’m giving up.”

Taylor chuckled, a soft, rippling laugh that seemed to vibrate through his entire body. “You should tell them straight out that you’re not interested in getting married. That’s what I did with my family. They don’t even try to pair me off anymore.”

“I haven’t given up on marriage,” he told her, getting into the conversation so much he forgot to be careful with his words. “I do want a relationship. I would like to marry and have kids. I just haven’t found the right woman yet.”

“So then let your family help you out. Maybe they can find someone good to match you up with.”

He made a scoffing sound in his throat. “I haven’t found that to be the case in past experience. They choose the worst sorts of dates for me.” He didn’t say so, but his family always chose sweet, quiet girls to match him with. Well-behaved like him. They were all nice and pretty, but they didn’t excite him. Not in the slightest bit.

Maybe he was still hoping for a woman to match the vision of himself he held in his mind.

Or maybe he’d simply prefer a challenge. Someone who’d get his heart racing and his blood coursing and always kept things interesting. But women like that never looked twice at him.

Taylor was a perfect example.

“Then tell them to stop.” She said it as if it were a simple proposition.

“I do. They don’t listen.”

“So tell them in a way that will make them listen.”

He rolled his eyes. “Some of us don’t like to be rude to other people—especially our families.”

“Sometimes you have to be rude. Or else put up with their interference. I can see the expressions on their faces. They’re about to set you up on one date after another with any available girl in sight.”

Charles glanced again at his mother, who was eyeing him with a speculative look.

“Shit,” he muttered under his breath.

Naturally, Taylor heard him. “Told you.”

“You’re not helping.”

“I’m not trying to help. There’s nothing I could do to help you even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. You’ve gotten yourself into this situation by being too nice.”

For some reason that made his shoulders stiffen. “I’m not that nice.”

She laughed again.

“Why is that funny?” he gritted out.

“I’ve known you since I was five, Charles. You’ve always been one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. You never want to hurt anyone’s feelings or make trouble for someone else or do anything wrong. I remember when we were kids, me and Ri and Amanda decided to have an adventure and climb over the fence into the Morgans’ orchard to steal some of those petits fours they’d laid out for their big party. We’d only eaten one each when you showed up and yelled at us and took the rest of the plate back!”

He was surprised she’d remembered the little incident from twenty years ago, much less sounding so outraged over it. “You would have gotten in trouble if you’d been discovered. I put the plate back without anyone seeing, so no one ever knew.”

“You didn’t do it so we wouldn’t get in trouble. You did it because you were an uptight, bossy little know-it-all who didn’t know how to have fun.”

“I’ve had plenty of fun in my life.” He said the words as the only acceptable response to this silly argument. Not because he believed them.

“Have you?” She was eyeing him now like she could see all the way inside him. All the way down to his soul.

“You think I haven’t?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you have fun when I’m not looking, but you certainly don’t seem to have much fun when I’m around. You’re at a wedding reception, and you’ve only had one glass of champagne. Don’t you ever get drunk?”

“I don’t find it fun to get drunk.”

“Very sensible of you. Why aren’t I surprised?”

It would be easier to stay annoyed with her if she weren’t so enchanting, gazing at him with her head tilted to one side and a half smile on her face.

He narrowed his eyes at her. “If I’m not mistaken, you’ve spent most of the reception by yourself too except for the requisite dance as a member of the bridal party. You haven’t gotten drunk. You haven’t done much more than I have. Are you telling me I’m required to act silly in order to have fun, but you’re allowed an exemption?”

“No. I haven’t had all that much fun here either, but I’m a bridesmaid. If I weren’t, I’d have made a quick escape. But you’re too good for that.”

“I’m not that good.” He didn’t know why he felt compelled to defend himself from her. He should just ignore her the way he did other annoying people.

“I bet you’ve never even had casual sex.”

His eyes widened slightly, and he immediately regretted revealing his reaction since she’d obviously intended to startle him by the blunt comment. “Why would you assume that?”

“Because I know you. I thought we’d covered that.”

“I’ve had plenty of sex in my life,” he said, pleased that he sounded mild and unconcerned despite the fact that his heart was racing for no good reason. “You have absolutely no idea about my experiences.”

“True. But I didn’t say you were inexperienced. I’m sure you’re just fine in bed. Serious and committed and dutiful about pleasing your partner.” She was teasing him, hoping for a reaction.

He managed not to give her one, although he didn’t appreciate that she believed he was so boring in the bedroom.

When he didn’t answer, she continued, “All I was saying is that you’ve never had casual sex. I bet you’ve only slept with women you have feelings for.”

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