The Matchmaker Bride (The Bride Series) (10 page)

“I got fired.” The lump in Sophie’s throat almost closed off her airway as she uttered those painful words. She felt as if she would suffocate in her regret. Damn that Carlos! Why did they have to have a chemical attraction to each other? Why?

 

“But how?
What happened?”

 

“Carlos happened. That’s what happened.” She held on tight to her coffee cup not feeling up to putting it to her lips. She didn’t think she could keep anything down right now.

 

Sophie explained everything to her best friend in the busy café amidst the noise of lunch time patrons. She’d been there all morning. She called her friend to meet her there on her friend’s lunch break so that she could talk and have company.

 

“Girl that is so messed up. I’m sorry to hear that. That old goat woman can’t get away with firing you like that.”

 

“Oh, yes she can. And she did. I violated their policies and I’m on probation. Right there in the clause it says either party can terminate the agreement within the probationary period without warning with one week’s pay.”

 

“Oh? What are you going to do now?”

 

“If I
  had
enough money, I’d skip town. But I love my volunteer work at the centre,” she said in a low voice.

 

“Wow, what a coincidence that his sister is a new client there.”

 

“I love working with little
Bria
, but Carlos is just….not for me.”

 

“Whoa there, sister.
This man is perfect for you. You yourself even said so. It’s not your fault he chose you over that heiress. You talk about him a lot and it seems as if you think about him nonstop. I’d say go for it.”

 

“Go for it? Are you crazy? I can’t do that!”

 

“And why not?”

 

“Because…”

 

“Listen, you already got fired for smooching with the guy may as well go all the way now. What have you got to lose?”

 

My heart to this guy I fell in love with and it scares the
bejeezus
out of me.

 

“Wait a minute. Does he even know what happened to you this morning?”

 

Sophie gave her friend a look that said it all.

 

“Okay, Sophie, first thing’s first, call him. Visit him and get this out in the open.”

 

“But it’s his fault I got fired.
Sort of.
I mean what am I going to say? You got me fired can you help me out now?” Though it hurt like hell to be fired from a job, the matchmaking agency was still a way to survive and fund her real dream. She hoped to gain her Master’s degree then open up her own school for children with special needs, particularly autism spectrum disorders.

 

  
“No, girlfriend.
You’re going to admit everything you feel for him. You’re going to start over.”

 

“Start over? What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

Trina gave her a knowing grin as she narrowed her eyes. Trina had an idea. Her ideas made Sophie very, very nervous.

 

 

 

14

 

Sophie sat in the open reception area of Bradley Inc. flipping through a magazine.
Her eyes glossing over the pages not taking anything in.
She was just killing time or perhaps calming her nerves.

 

“Mr. Bradley will see you now, Ms. Wilson,” the young receptionist with beautiful braided hair down her back called out to her. Her smile was as wide as her desk. She was very pleasant and eased the tension. She was a new receptionist. Last week, Carlos had another woman at the desk. “His office is straight down the hall.”

 

“Thank you,” Sophie answered quietly as she gathered her bag and her nerves.

 

 

 

Carlos looked annoyed as he glared at the letter in front of him. So his stepmother was playing hard ball was she?
Digging up new dirt on him, or at least trying to dig up damaging information to insist that he would make a terrible guardian for
Bria
.
He winced. Last year he was a perfect guardian to the little girl and took a load off Tessa. This year, after the reading of her late husband, his father’s will and the fact that
Bria
and whoever was her guardian in trust would inherit millions, he’s no longer fit to be in the same room with her. He crumpled up the paper and tossed it in the bin angry. He’d just come off the phone with
  his
lawyer. This was going to be a nasty battle. He would be up for it, if it didn’t involve
Bria
. But still, while Tessa was in rehab, he’d noticed some odd behaviour and withdrawal in
Bria
and had her assessed by a friend of his who is one of the top pediatricians in the province. She was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder then. Obviously, Tessa had no
  idea
at the time or what’s involved and how much care she would  require. She was in rehab herself during that time.

 

A polite knock at the door derailed his thoughts. Sophie. He was glad she showed up this morning at his office. She had a calming effect on him. There was just something about her presence, her aura, her charm that set him straight. He just couldn’t get enough of her. Funny thing, he was glad they met during this time in his life. He needed a good woman by his side.

 

“It’s open.”

 

Sophie
peaked
her head around the corner of the door.
“Hi, Carlos.
Sorry to barge in on you like this.”

 

He stood up. “You my
dear,
are a pleasant interruption if you could call it that. I would never see you as barging in anywhere.”

 

He offered her a seat surveying her body language. “You’re tense. What happened?” His tone turned serious and protective.

 

Sophie told
  him
everything that happened to her that morning.

 

“She did what?” Carlos muscle twitched in his jaw. He whipped up the phone and dialed a few digits but before he could get far, Sophie sprung up from her chair and stopped him by placing her hand over his and her other hand on the base of the phone to hang it up.

 

“Please don’t. I’m in enough hot water as it is.”

 

Before she realized, her hand was on his and there was a magnetic reaction. The heated chemistry between them was electrifying. A spark ignited as their eyes locked briefly. God, his skin was deliciously smooth and soft. Sophie was breathless but for more than one reason. His irresistible aftershave and his dark, sexy penetrating eyes held her close.

 

“I…” she removed her hand off his. She noticed that he seemed to enjoy their brief touch as he replaced the phone on the receiver.

 

“I’m sorry. I just…” she fumbled her words. Damn Carlos. Why did she have to be so attracted to him? There was something there she just could not deny. Waves of desire swept through her entire body at the thought of their touch and the memory of their delicious kiss over the weekend. Her body craved him.
Every inch of him.
She glared at his undeniably sexy features and wondered how many other women have been pleasured by his lips. She felt troubled and torn. This was not the way it was supposed to work out.

 

“No need to be sorry, beautiful. I’ll deal with the Stone lady later. But are you going to be alright?” He offered holding her gaze. He lifted his finger to stroke her chin gently and waves of pleasure coursed her veins. Her spine tingled at
  his
soft touch.

 

This was too crazy for her. She was off the assignment now, so what was stopping her? Carlos. He wanted to help her clearly but her pride just wouldn’t accept out right.

 

“I’ll be fine. I have enough in my savings to get by…”

 

“Until tomorrow,” he finished for her with a sly grin as she paused forever. Damn him! He knew everything about her including her financial situation of course. How could she lie to him?

 

She turned and looked out the tall glass window overlooking the street with a view of the lake in the near distance. The water seemed to sparkle, the sky was cloudless blue. This should have been an ordinary Monday, not a disastrous start to the week.

 

“How much do you need? Never mind,” he said as he reached into his pocket and grabbed a pen and his cheque book. He scrawled her name on the cheque with the date and left the figures and amount blank. “You can cash this at my bank down the street. You’ll need your ID.”

 

“Carlos, no!
I…I can’t. I won’t take money I haven’t earned.”

 

“Nonsense, it’s a friendly gesture,” he said. “Not many women would walk away from a blank cheque, my dear.”

 

“Well, I’m not many women,” she gave a nervous laugh, she really needed a way out but it felt wrong this way. She would feel as if she was being bought. She didn’t come to him for money. She didn’t know what brought her back to him.

 

My heart.

 

“Sophie, I want to help you. Besides, I contributed to this fiasco didn’t I?”

 

“It wasn’t your fault, Carlos. I knew the rules up front. I should have refused your…advances.”

 

“Then why didn’t you?” he challenged her in a voice so deep, low and silky it slid into her veins and caused a reaction in her body.

 

“Because…” There she was fumbling with her words again.

 

“Because you couldn’t resist me any more than I can resist you.”

 

“What?”

 

“Are you denying you have feelings for me?”

 

“No, I’m…I mean…yes…no…”

 

“Well, which is it?
Can’t be both.”
His seductive grin was enough to stir her crazy. She had to keep her composure.

 

“Damn! Let me answer this call. I’m expecting a call from my lawyer.” He answered the phone and Sophie breathed a sigh of relief. She could not help but over hear the anger in his voice and frustration. When he was finished it was her turn to ask him what was wrong.

 

He leaned back in his chair and swiveled around to the window to gaze outside, clearly perturbed. He was hot one moment and cold as ice the next. She got the gist of the phone call but was a little confused.

 


Carlos is…is everything okay?”

 

He turned to her and leaned forward in his chair. “Actually, beautiful, that depends.”

 

“Depends on what?”

 

“On you.”
His voice and tone was serious and his expression distant.

 

Carlos explained everything that was going on with the battle over his
half sister
,
Bria
.

 

Sophie listened attentively and in shock as he opened up to her about
Bria’s
biological mother and her sudden interest in the child after learning about the inheritance. For some strange reason, Sophie’s defences went up over
Bria
. She was her client and she was very protective and had a vested interest in the well-being of her clients. Especially
Bria
, they had a connection that was magical. She didn’t want to see anything happen to that child, especially being in an unwelcome environment. She knew all too well with most children with autism spectrum disorder, any trauma can undo and reverse progress. The last thing she wanted was for
Bria
to close up communication again.

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