Home > The Mishap (Bad Bridesmaids #4)

The Mishap (Bad Bridesmaids #4)
Author: Noelle Adams

 

about The Mishap

 


ARIANA KENSINGTON HAS had a slight mishap. Or maybe a major one.

Last Christmas, she had a hot fling with a mysterious guy at a ski lodge. She had the best time of her life with him, but they both agreed it was no-strings-attached. So she's moved on and has been living her life like it never happened. Then he turns up at her friend's wedding a year later. With two kids. And a girlfriend. He's as off-limits now as it's possible to be, so it doesn't matter how attracted to him Ariana still is. She has to stay away from him—which gets harder and harder as he decides to hang around town for the holidays.

Bradley Barnes thought he'd put his steamy week with Ariana behind him, but as soon as he sees her again, his safe, stable world is blown apart. He realizes he never stopped wanting her. But she doesn't seem to even like him anymore, and he's already in a relationship that he's trying to make work for the sake of his children. He has to think about his family and his future. He can't indulge in these fantasies about a woman who will probably end up hurting him.

But it's Christmas. And bigger miracles have happened. Maybe his heart can come to life again.

 

 

prologue

 


ARIANA KENSINGTON HAD spent most of her life giving more than she received romantically.

She didn’t even mind most of the time.

Her family owned a successful environmental-consulting company and earned more money than they could ever spend, so it wasn’t like she had any right to complain about her situation. Her family was loving—if rather naggy and intrusive—and she had an older brother she was very close to and more friends than she could count.

She was well taken care of emotionally, but when it came to her love life, she’d had some very bad luck. She was an outgoing, generous person, so she had no trouble finding men who wanted to date her. But most of them were takers, leaving her as the primary giver in the relationships.

Her last boyfriend she’d dated for almost four years, and she’d invested far too much of herself in him since she’d believed they were destined for a lifelong love.

She’d been wrong. She’d given and given and given and given, and he’d taken for as long as it was easy. But when she’d started putting pressure on him for a commitment—which she’d thought was only reasonable after so long—he’d put on the brakes, leading to a messy and devastating breakup for her. Still trying to get over that relationship, she’d wanted to break out over the holidays this year. Do something thoughtless and maybe even foolish, purely because she wanted to do it.

That was how she’d ended up in bed on Christmas Eve morning with a man she barely knew.

She knew his name was Bradley, and she knew he lived in Virginia like she did. She could guess from his appearance that he was in his thirties—probably eight or ten years older than her twenty-eight. She knew he was a skillful and generous lover and that he liked books and movies and history and baseball. And she knew he was smoking hot because she had eyes in her head.

But that was it.

She didn’t know his last name. She didn’t know where he was raised or what he did for a living. She didn’t know about his family or his romantic history. And she didn’t know why he’d decided to ski at Snowshoe, West Virginia, on his own for the first part of the holidays.

They’d agreed a week ago that they would have fun together for the time they were here at the resort, and then they’d part ways with no strings, expectations, or feelings. Ariana had thought it was a good idea when she’d agreed to it since she wasn’t ready for a new relationship and she wanted to know how it felt to enjoy being with a man without pouring herself into him.

But today was their last day. He was going home this afternoon. And now she was having second thoughts about the whole thing.

She wasn’t good at casual sex. She wasn’t good at holding herself distant from other people. And she was starting to doubt she’d managed it in this case as much as she’d hoped.

Her chest ached at the thought of Bradley leaving. He wasn’t even awake now, and she was already tearing up a little as she said goodbye to him in her head.

He was sprawled out on the bed beside her, both arms out of the covers, one hanging off the bed and the other reaching out toward her so his fingers were almost grazing her hip. He had thick, wavy brown hair and clever brown eyes and a big, solid frame with broad shoulders and long limbs. His features were wide and handsome, and he had dark hair on his arms and legs and chest and also his jawline, even though she’d watched him shave yesterday.

She liked that he made her feel small.

She liked everything about his appearance.

She couldn’t believe that after today she’d never see him again.

“Everything all right over there,” he asked in a gruff voice without even opening his eyes.

“What?” Her voice squeaked slightly in surprise. “What do you mean?”

His lids opened a slit so he could peer at her dryly. “It felt like I was being stared at.”

“You couldn’t possibly know if you were being stared at. Your eyes were closed.” She was trying not to giggle at the edge to his tone.

“I could sense it.” He blinked his eyes open all the way. “Everything okay?”

“Of course. Why wouldn’t it be?” She asked the question lightly but suddenly didn’t want him to answer it, so she hurried on. “I just woke up myself and was trying to summon the energy to get up.”

“Why should you get up?”

“Well, I need to pee, so it’s either get up or get messy.”

He chuckled at that. He always laughed at her attempted jokes, even when they were corny or silly. “In that case, getting up is probably a good idea.”

Since she’d raised the subject, she now had no choice but to roll out of bed and limp to the bathroom. She was rather sore from the skiing she’d done yesterday and the energetic sex they’d had last night.

After she’d peed and washed up, she checked herself out in the mirror. Not too bad. She had light brown hair and dark blue eyes and regular features with a wide smile and clear skin. She looked better than she’d expected, even with the messy hair and wearing nothing but one of his T-shirts, which was way too big for her.

She looked brighter than she’d expected to look. A little bit glowy. Like something had come alive inside her she hadn’t been aware of before.

The look made her very nervous since it seemed clear her subconscious was hoping for something to happen that her mind knew wasn’t going to happen.

They’d agreed to this one week. No strings. No expectations. No last names.

Her chest was aching again as she returned to the bed. She smiled at him because he was watching her, but his mouth turned down in a slight frown.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“Nothing.” She shrugged as she let him pull her back down onto the bed. “Why do you ask?”

He rolled over and propped himself up above her, peering down into her face with a look that left her feeling naked. Exposed. “Because I can see when you smile with your mouth but not your eyes, and I know it means something is wrong. What is it?” He brushed her cheek very gently. Almost tenderly.

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