The Matchmaker Bride (The Bride Series) (6 page)

 

“Most likely.”

 

       “It should be a blast for the kids and the adults. You’re full time staff, right?”

 

Sophie felt her stomach twist, she could only wish. “Well actually, I’m a trained volunteer and a Masters student. I hope to specialize in working with children with autism in the future.”

 

“Well, you are darn good at it.
Best of luck with your studies.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Sophie got down on her knees enthusiastically to finish her activities with her assigned child for the day. She wondered if the therapist was there today or if the child’s guardian would be present. She was doing so well at the new centre that she hoped they could at least see behind the glass window. Either way she was going to do a detailed report and summary for the guardian to follow through with home therapy after the therapist was gone. Surely the guardian would need additional information that the centre provided as a complimentary to the traditional behavioural therapy.

 

Carlos could not believe what he was seeing on the other side of the one way glass. The therapist had encouraged him to drop by Macy’s House to see how
Bria
interacted with other children and adults at the new facility. He was impressed with the layout and the program but especially the way
Bria
seemed so happy and smiled and clapped often.
Bria
was really interacting well using basic social and communication skills. But it was the counselor working with
Bria
that made Carlos
do
a double take. He looked closer. The woman
  had
long, ebony silky hair flowing down her back as it was pinned up in a ponytail. Her curvaceous figure and tiny waist was recognizable. Could it be? She told him on Thursday that she volunteered with children but they never did get into details. She tended to be shy about adding specifics about herself.  His heart beat hard in his chest and he was somewhat aroused by her presence. His spirit moved up a notch. It was she. No mistaking it. When the woman turned her head around, he confirmed it. He moved closer to the window thankful it was one-way. He watched in awe Sophie’s genuine enthusiasm and
Bria’s
reaction to her.
Bria
even played with Sophie’s hair running her finger through it in awe. He had only agreed for
Bria
to be enrolled for the weekends by the therapist’s suggestion and now he was glad. Still he couldn’t pull his eyes off Sophie with his sister. They blended so well together.

 

This would change everything, he decided.

 

“Your sister is doing really well here, Carlos. She’s so advanced.” The program director came into the room and noticed Carlos’s gaze.

 

“Yes. Yes she is,” Carlos answered, almost distractedly. “She’s got a good therapist, I see.”

 

“Oh, yes. Sophie is wonderful with children. I’m not just saying that. She’s so dedicated and hard working. She goes the extra mile. We hope to hire her full time as staff once she gets her Master’s degree. She’s really added a lot to the centre with her special approach to the children and her research and advocacy in providing the best care for children with autism.”

 

“I see,” Carlos whispered, mesmerized by Sophie’s interaction with
Bria
. He could not believe how perfect the situation would be. Sophie would be excellent for his contract wife and he would have a good case in point at the mediation. She was perfect with autistic children.  He felt not a shred of guilt over forming this farce to gain custody of
Bria
. If his stepmother,
Bria’s
mom cared a shred about
Bria
it would all be different. But she was having a challenge in life as it was, being diagnosed with autism. He was stunned by her progress with the right care and attention. Any form of abuse including neglect could send her backwards and undo everything he’d worked for. He’d heard of
  kids
with autism being bullied and later regressing and cutting off all communication. This was not going to happen to his sister. Not on his watch. As a child, he could relate to not having any attention from his own father.

 

His mother worked hard trying to be there for him. She was his only support and showed him love and care. But she’d passed away early when he was only ten. It was a knife in his heart to think about the loss. Of course, his father who enjoyed having kids but not looking after
them,
left him in the care of many nannies. Some were not good others were okay.

 

He’d been tossed around and hardly saw his own father. He almost became socially inadequate himself. Mourning the loss of
  his
mother and not having anyone close to share the burden with him. His father just kept marrying gold-digging women who couldn’t care less about his children. His older sister Katy had died in a freak pool accident. She was swimming with one of his stepmothers when it happened. Carlos never forgave her.

 

Luckily his father divorced her soon after. The only wise thing his father did was to have an iron-clad
prenup
signed every time he married. He would lavish his women and lure them with his wealth then hide it from them. He seemed to skimp where his children were concerned. Still, he was glad that when he passed away he left it all to
Bria
. At least he did something smart on the way out.

 

“Are you going to be attending the staff annual barbecue and pool party later?” The programmer director cut into his train of thought.

 

“Oh, um…well yes. Will all the staff be
there.
I’d like to speak more with
Bria’s
therapist.”

 

Carlos hadn’t really planned to attend the pool party but decided after learning of Sophie’s involvement in the party that he would definitely go. This would be more of a casual pre-date. He could not believe his luck.

 

 

 

Sophie felt her throat close up when she saw Carlos walk into the recreation room with the program director. Had he been watching her behind the one way window in the next room? Suddenly
  her
heart beat escalated and she felt self-conscious. What on earth was he doing there? At
  her
volunteer work? Was he stalking her?

 

Well, now she knew how it felt to be watched in one’s own elements. What was his game plan? She could not help her heart beating hard and fast in her chest,
nor
the butterflies in her stomach as she watched him walking towards her direction.

 

She was just about to do arts and crafts now with
Bria
. There she was in jeans and a plain t-shirt and her hair pinned up.
Not exactly glamorous.

 

Still, he looked delicious in his polo shirt and cargo pants. God his muscles were ripped on his arms and legs. He looked firm and lean.
Gorgeous and casual.

 

Dressed for a…barbecue? Surely, he could not be attending the pool party later.

 

       Damn, Carlos! Why do you have to look so sexy
dressed up or dressed down?

 

She could tell by the way he held her gaze that he was on to her. Nervously she turned her attention back to
Bria
.

 


Bria
would you like to paint or make a flower?” she said trying to hide the nervousness in her voice as Carlos stood there with the program director. His hands shoved into his pockets. A slight grin curled his luscious lips. She could smell the faint delicious scent of his aftershave. Why did he have to turn her on at every turn? This was not going to be easy.

 

Focus, Sophie. Focus on
Bria
. Ignore Carlos.

 

“Um.
Flower!”
Bria
answered Sophie enthusiastically. Thankfully,
Bria’s
back was turned to Carlos.

 

“Great, so what we’ll do is gather all the papers to make our little flower.” Sophie had already spent the early morning shredding various coloured papers for the children who wanted to make a flower bouquet. She was glad
Bria
wanted that choice. Children with special needs love the sensory experience of handling paper and manipulating colours and shapes. It was perfect.
Except having Carlos there.
Should she acknowledge him, now? She wanted to focus on
Bria
right now.

 

“Sophie, this is
Bria’s
guardian, Carlos. He’s just here to observe you working with
Bria
.”

 

Sophie felt her heart pound in her throat.

 

Bria’s
guardian?
Carlos?

 

Sophie glanced at
Bria
while she played with the craft paper fitting it into a flower and glanced at Carlos.

 


Bria
is my little sister,” Carlos offered.

 

“Your sister?”
Sophie could suddenly see the resemblance but never would she have imagined that her newest client would have any relation to her other job as a matchmaker. Both had the beautiful honey tan complexion and large dark eyes and shiny ebony hair. They were beautiful people. Of course, it was obvious now. She wondered if this was the reason he was looking for a temporary wife.

 

“Yes, why does that surprise you?”

 

“Oh, um, nothing, I just…I never thought…” Sophie felt heat gush to her cheeks. Luckily
Bria
was so engaged in her activity she was unaware of what was going on around her. The program director excused
herself
after receiving an overhead page.

 

“Oh, nothing.
How did you learn about this centre?” Well, it was quite a coincidence that
Bria
turned up last weekend as a new client.

 

“Becky told me all about the program here.”

 

“Oh, right, Becky. She’s wonderful isn’t she? She’s been an ABA therapist for like…ever. I’ve learned so much from her.” Funny that Becky rarely mentioned her client’s names or at least the surnames.
Obviously, confidentiality.

 

“I was watching you interact with
Bria
behind the window there.” His voice was silky and direct. Sophie caught the twinkle in his eyes.

 

“Oh, it was nothing. I love what I do.” She was sure she was turning many shades of red now.

 

“Well, you do it very well, Sophie. I’m really impressed with you. My sister means the world to me and it’s not everyone I can trust her with. And it’s not everyone that she takes a strong liking to. You’ve got quite a gift. I admire that.” His voice was low and almost seductive and Sophie tried to keep her composure.

 

“Thank you,” she whispered back.

 

Oh, this was not such a good idea after all, she was feeling a magnetic attraction to Carlos and she felt that he may be too by the way he held her with his dark, sexy gaze. He wanted her. That was the vibe she was getting. But she had to remember that she could not ever get involved with Carlos because of her job. She was his matchmaker not his mistress. Furthermore, it was not a good idea to get involved with client’s family on a personal level. The centre did not recommend it based on a previous fall-out with a parent and one of the counsellors. They were told to leave work at work and to be sensible about developing close ties. So there she was in jeopardy of losing both jobs. One that paid her bills and the other that fed her passion for life.

 

What was she to do now?

 

“You seem like you’re in a daze my dear.” Carlos leaned closer, every now and then stealing a gaze at
Bria
who was now engaged in playing with another child.
A great stepping stone for her.

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