Home > The Mismatch (Bad Bridesmaids #3)(7)

The Mismatch (Bad Bridesmaids #3)(7)
Author: Noelle Adams

“Yes, I figured. Although I’d be all for it either way.” She chuckled and stood up. “Okay. If tonight is good for you, I’m ready to leave any time.”

“I’m ready too. Should I wait here while you get your stuff?” He wasn’t smiling, but something was smoldering in his eyes that she’d never seen there before. An expression that took her breath away.

“Yeah. I’ll just be a minute to grab my stuff and say my goodbyes. Wait here.” She started up the stairs and glanced back. “Don’t leave.”

He gave a huff of what sounded like dry amusement. “I won’t.”



TAYLOR HURRIED INTO the building, grabbed her belongings, and was back in the parking lot in less than five minutes. She did manage to slow down as she pushed out through the front doors.

Didn’t want to look overly eager by racing back.

Instead of Charles alone where she’d left him, she found him talking to someone. Their backs were toward her, but she easily recognized his lean form and nice shoulders and the gray bun at the nape of his grandmother’s neck.

She stopped several feet away because it looked like they were having a private conversation. She wasn’t someone who followed rules of courtesy merely to abide by them, but she’d had a lifelong reluctance to participate in intimate conversations—even just as a silent observer.

She wasn’t sure why she thought their discussion was intimate after five seconds of awareness, but she did.

“I’m sorry, Grandma,” Charles was saying. “I’m not mad or upset about anything. I was tired and didn’t think before I left.”

“Why are you so tired? Are you staying up all night, working on that book?” Charles’s grandmother was in her eighties. She presented as a sweet, soft-spoken old lady, but Taylor knew well she had a steely backbone and iron will.

“I’m not staying up all night. But working is hard, no matter what kind of work it is. We get tired on the weekends.” Charles’s tone was mild and patient—far more gentle than Taylor’s would have been in a similar situation.

“I suppose so. But I think you seemed much happier when you were working for your father. You were always around when we needed you, and you never left without telling us goodbye.”

Taylor bit her lip so she wouldn’t make a snide remark that wasn’t hers to make. Nothing would annoy Charles more than that, and at the moment she didn’t want to annoy him.

“I’ll still come whenever you all really need me. Ariana does too. But we’re grown-ups now, and it’s sometimes good for grown-ups to have a little space.”

“Why would you need space from your family?”

“Everyone needs space sometimes. We’re less than an hour away.”

His grandmother tsked her tongue. “I suppose. But it’s such a small town. Who are you going to find to marry all the way out there?”

“I don’t need to find someone to marry in Azalea. That’s not why I’m there. I’m there to write.”

“But you’re thirty now. Charles, dear, you should have started your family years ago. Time is running out.”

He’d turned his head to the side, so Taylor could see more of his expression. He was controlling frustration with admirable restraint, but it was there. She could see it pushing against the edges of his self-control. “I have plenty of reproductive years remaining.”

“Don’t be vulgar, dear.”

He blinked. “I only meant that I have plenty of time to find someone. I can’t just force it to happen because you and Mom want it to.”

“In my day, when it was time to get married and start a family, we just looked around and took the most suitable possibility. We didn’t waste time with hoping for soul mates or nonsense like that. Looking for a perfect partner is a recipe for unhappiness. You take a person as they are and learn to love them.”

“I’m not looking for perfection. I’m really not. I’m looking for someone who feels right for me, and I haven’t found her yet.”

“Then let us help. You know we could reach out to all our friends and find you a nice, pretty girl without any trouble at all.”

Charles was clearly reaching the end of his patience. “I don’t want a nice girl,” he muttered, a hint of a growl in his tone.

His grandmother gasped. “What did you say, dear?”

“I mean it’s not as easy as that. And I’d appreciate it if you give me a little space to be my own person and find my own relationship.” His tone was still mild, but firmer now. If Taylor was on the receiving end, she’d know the conversation was over.

His grandmother patted his chest like he’d said something cute. “Of course, Charles. You have all the space you need. But we’re ready whenever you need us to help you find the mother of your children. You know you’re the only one who’ll carry on the Kensington name since your uncle refused to have any children. I’m sure you won’t let us down like he did.”

Taylor’s fists were clenched at her side, and she couldn’t stand silent any longer. She knew women like this. She’d known them all her life. They pretended to be sweet and compliant while they manipulated their way into always getting exactly what they wanted. Maybe the old lady meant well. She probably did. But that didn’t mean everyone else had to be molded to her own liking. Charles obviously wanted to escape from this conversation and wanted to do so without hurting his grandmother’s feelings, so Taylor was going to help him out.

“Charles,” she said, moving forward again and finally getting their attention. “There you are.”

He blinked a couple of times and turned around, clearly startled by her sudden presence. “Taylor. Hi.” He nodded toward his grandmother. “We were just talking.”

“I see that. How are you, Mrs. Kensington?”

“I’m doing tolerably well. As well as an old lady like me can do.”

“I’m glad to hear it. Charles promised to show me a coffeepot he found. It’s in his car. You don’t mind if I steal him, do you?”

“Of course not. I know young men prefer young ladies to old ladies like me.”

Taylor didn’t quite restrain an eye roll. “You’re his grandma, and that’s not going to change. But he’s got a long drive back to Azalea tonight, so I want to catch him before he leaves.”

“Yes, yes, dear. That makes sense. I’ll hobble back inside.” She patted Charles’s arm. “You go on. Drive safe, and I’ll see you soon.”

Taylor and Charles watched as his grandmother started to walk up the stairs and back into the building. Despite her protestations, she was quite spry for her age.

When she was out of earshot, Charles turned to Taylor. “A coffeepot?”

“It’s the only thing I could think of off the top of my head.” Taylor chuckled. “I’m not even sure why I thought of it. I was just trying to give you an escape route.”

“I appreciate it. It was shaping up to be a long lecture.” He paused. “How much of it did you hear?”

“Enough. I’m sorry you have to deal with it. If it was me, I would have just walked away.”

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