Home > The Mismatch (Bad Bridesmaids #3)(5)

The Mismatch (Bad Bridesmaids #3)(5)
Author: Noelle Adams

“Is something wrong with that?”

“No. Of course not. It’s very admirable. I always knew you were a good boy.”

She was right about him. He knew it down to his bones. And at the moment he hated how true it was. That he was so predictable. So unwavering in his good behavior. So unlike the Charles in his mind—the one he really wanted to be. Why hadn’t he ever tried to break free? Be someone close to that vision? Do something merely because he wanted to do it?

He couldn’t remember ever doing so. Not even once. Except last year when he’d announced to his family he was taking a sabbatical from work to write a novel.

That was the only time he’d done something like that in the thirty years he’d been alive.

Taylor continued in a softer tone. “Don’t you ever want to go wild every now and then?”

He thought. Hard. But he couldn’t think of an answer that didn’t sound vaguely childish or defensive. Finally he said mildly, “I’m sure everyone wants to go wild occasionally. And if we can do it without selfishly indulging our own whims at the expense of other people, then there’s nothing wrong with it.”

She sucked in a breath, her expression changing. “Are you saying that’s what I do?”

“No. Of course not.” He hadn’t for a moment intended the words as an insult or to be pointed at Taylor. He’d simply been trying to get the upper hand in the conversation and protect the raw discontent she’d awoken inside him.

“It’s possible to have casual sex without hurting other people, you know. You both just need to be on the same page.”

“I know that. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I’m sor—” He broke off midword because her expression was changing again. A glint of amusement had sparked in her eyes. He muttered in what was almost a growl, “You are the most infuriating woman I’ve ever known.”

She burst into laughter, dropping her head back, her hair spilling down her back and shoulders in shiny, touchable waves. “Just proving my point about you being too nice and good. You were about to apologize to me even though I drive you crazy.” She leaned over toward him, so close he could smell the champagne on her breath. He got hot all over as she whispered, “If you ever want to be bad for a little while, just let me know. I’ll be happy to help.”

With that, she got up and sauntered away, her hips swaying in a way that gave him very naughty thoughts.

She was right about him. He’d always tried to be good, to live up to other people’s expectations of him, and he didn’t think there was anything intrinsically wrong with that.

But he suddenly wanted something different for himself, and he couldn’t help but wonder with a wave of hot lust what it might feel like to be bad with her.

For just a little while.



TWENTY MINUTES LATER, Charles was still thinking about Taylor.

Still thinking about doing things to her he really shouldn’t be imagining.

He normally didn’t have a difficult time disciplining his thoughts, so he was on the verge of growling with annoyance as he finally stood up from his seat.

He needed to move. To find a distraction. To remove himself from her vicinity. He’d stayed long enough at this reception to leave without any bothersome recriminations from his family, but he’d need to say goodbye to a few people before he walked out, or he’d get a multitude of calls from his mother and grandmother and anyone else they’d talked to about how something must be wrong if he’d left the wedding without saying a word to them.

His family was close—but also of the nagging variety. The only way to get them to stop would be to demand it, and that would genuinely hurt their feelings (which he didn’t want to do) and also cause a big uproar (which he’d prefer not to deal with). So he’d found ways to work around their quirks by making as few waves as possible.

One of them was to always make a point of telling them goodbye when he was about to leave a social function they were also attending.

His problem at the moment was that Taylor had planted herself at their table, next to Ariana, so he couldn’t take his leave of his family without coming face-to-face with her again.

He could do it. Of course he could. He was a sober, no-nonsense kind of person who was never the victim of his stray irrational desires and impulses. But he was still far too physically interested in the details of her face and body, so he gave himself a reprieve by heading to the restroom first.

He wasn’t in there long. Just long enough to give himself a firm internal lecture in the hopes of getting Taylor out of his mind. But when he came out, Ariana was waiting in the hallway for him.

“Was it entirely necessary to send Taylor my way earlier?” he asked before she had time to say whatever it was she was there to say (which was probably chiding him for his antisocial tendencies).

“Why shouldn’t I? You were both just sitting around by yourselves. Anyway, I was trying to get Mom and Grandma off your back.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Did it work?”

“No. They were watching y’all the whole time, and they thought you were arguing rather than flirting.”

“We definitely weren’t flirting, but I don’t think we were arguing.”

He wasn’t entirely sure what he and Taylor had been doing, but he wasn’t about to attempt an explanation to his sister.

“Taylor seemed kind of out of sorts when she left you.”

“She’s always out of sorts.”

“Not like this. Whatever you said to her got under her skin.” Ariana was one of those perpetually sunny souls who always saw the good in people and situations. This trait might have gotten on his nerves in someone else, but he and Ariana had always been close. He appreciated her positive outlook and her outgoing personality. So many times over the years it had helped him and balanced out his own tendencies.

He was used to seeing her smile, but she wasn’t at the moment. She looked a little bit worried, which was enough to make him worry too. “Was she really upset?” he asked, something in his chest tightening at the idea of Taylor taking what he’d said personally.

“No. She wasn’t upset. Just... I don’t know... distracted or something. It seemed off. Anyway, that’s not what I came out here to talk to you about.”

“What is it?” he asked.

“Just a warning. Mom and Grandma are getting worried about you.”

“I already knew that. They think I’ve been single for too long. But there’s nothing I can do about that.”

“But it’s more than that now. They want to do something about it.”

He groaned. “Shit. They’re not going to launch that whole set-Charles-up campaign again, are they?”

“They are. I told them we’re living in Azalea now, so it would be too long a drive for you to date people in Richmond, but they’re doing it anyway. So if you have a secret girlfriend waiting in the wings, it’s time to bring her center stage.”

He groaned again. This happened every few years. They’d nag him until he agreed to go on dates with women of their choosing, and they wouldn’t give up until they’d tried everyone they knew. Last time had been three years ago, and he’d suffered through two and a half months of futile dates with women he wasn’t at all interested in because it was the only way to get his family to shut up about it.

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