The Matchmaker Bride (The Bride Series) (8 page)


“Well, I’m not sure how that would work. I mean…” Why was she always fumbling for words when he was near her? This was stark crazy. She was usually more well-spoken and witty and could answer any questions with a good comeback.
But not now.
Not around sexy, dripping with charm, Carlos.


“You need a wife for a special reason, Carlos. I can’t do that for you.”


and why not?”


“Because…Carlos, I’m not for sale,” she tried to sound as gentle and polite as possible. After all, he was her client. She had to let him down gently. They walked off down the lawn into a more private area, away from the crowd so that they can converse in privacy. Sophie didn’t know if this was such a good idea.
Being so close to Carlos.
The very thing she wanted deep down inside, but the very thing that terrified her because of her feelings for him and her conflict with her job and work at the children’s agency.


“I don’t think any amount of money could buy the honor of your presence. You are priceless.”


She felt heat rush to her cheeks and a lump climb in her throat. “Thank you. I think you’re priceless too.
The way you care for your little sister.
I think that’s an amazing thing.”


“Oh? Then why wouldn’t you want to be a part of the reason I can keep her in my custody? You are great with her. She loves you. All you’d have to do is pretend to be my wife, my companion for a month or so during the mediation process. It would be much easier than trying to convince a client from the agency looking for a quick date to inherit money.”


She knew he had a point but didn’t know how to respond to that point. It was her job and her reputation on the line here.




“I’m sorry, I just…”
I’m falling in love with
but this is all wrong.


How ironic that she was supposed to spend time screening this man for another woman when he would be perfect for her. He apparently felt the same thing.


Except this was a pretend relationship he wanted. Not a real one.


       “But you don’t even know much about me.”


“I’ve been around many women to know who’s genuine and who isn’t. And I ran a background check on you.
Though not in the same way you did with me.”
He playfully cocked a brow.


She laughed about the fact that she was with a guy who had done as much research on her personality and likes and dislikes as she did with him. This would be ironically humorous if only he wasn’t a client in the agency.


“So you know about my background,” Sophie swallowed her drink a little harder than she’d intended. Her eyes filled with tears.


“That you’d been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome?”


She looked at him and said nothing.


“Sophie, I’m in love with you.
All of you.
You are amazing to be around with. I don’t care what you’ve been diagnosed with…well actually I do care…about you. As far as I know, nobody’s perfect. Everybody has an issue or a problem or an imperfection. At least you’re honest about yours and you’re managing just fine. I would never have known if I didn’t run a check on you by the way. I realized that you owe an agency that works with adults living with autism spectrum disorder thousands of dollars.”


“Yes,” she murmured.


“Don’t worry about it.”


“What do you mean?”


“I took care of it.”




“Never mind when. I work fast. I get results in seconds. Everything is digital and wireless these days. Just know that you don’t owe them anything more. I give money to a lot of organizations dealing with autism. My sister means the world to me, remember? And you’ve just showed me this morning how much she adored you and opens up to you. You’ve showed me that she could lead a life as normal as possible and be loved and give love back. You’ve given me hope and that’s worth  more than a million bucks to me and if you try to reverse the generosity I’ve done, you would have offended me and everyone and everything I care for. You give a lot to others, it’s okay to have it reciprocated, Sophie. Know that you are worth it.”


“Oh, Carlos….I….I don’t know what to say.” Her eyes misted and she turned her head to try to dry them with her dress material.


Still, Carlos changed the subject and they engaged in the most delightful conversations she’d had in months. He was charming, observant and she loved his opinions on different issues. In fact, they seemed to share a lot of similar interests. She was falling in love. She’d never felt this way by any man before. There was something about him.
In his eyes.
In the way he addressed her. He seemed to be the type of guy who would always defend his woman.


He wasn’t even the slightest interested in Sandy
. How on earth was she going to tell Mrs. Stone? Everything was a go before she got involved. Mrs. Stone would have her
on a platter. She was always independent and could not afford to lose her job in this economy and have to be dependent on anyone for anything that was her motto, her pride, her existence. And she was proud of paying her own way through life.


“So, what do you say? We can draft up the papers this week at my lawyer’s office. You can stay at my house or my penthouse suite to make it look real in case the investigators try to get involved.”




She was interrupted by the ringtone on her BlackBerry. She had to take the call and excused herself. As she walked away trying to get a clearer reception, she was so engaged with speaking with her friend Trina that she didn’t realize how far she’d walked and before long, she’d tripped and made a splash in the pool. Her cell phone had vanished in the middle of the call into the chlorine water.


Oh, no.”
She struggled as she tried to climb to the side. She thought she would drown. She didn’t know how long but Carlos had run over to her in a hurry and dived into the pool, gently pulling her to safety. She felt her lungs burn like an inferno. How could this be? How could she have not seen the pool? What the heck was it doing there, anyway?


“You okay?”


She nodded faint, breathing heavily and fast. Unaware of the crowd that had gathered around gaping and the music that stopped playing as a guard came over to help.


“Slow down, baby. It’s
be okay. Take a deep breath.” His voice was gentle and soothing like warm honey. She tried to comply.


She was drenched through. Her dress was already a light material and she knew that her nipples would be showing now that they were hard from the effects of the cold water. Her silky ebony hair was wet like a puppy in the rain. How awful this must be. Many rushed to her aid to see if she was okay. Carlos calmed the crowd and told them, it’s all
control as he took a warm blanket from the guard to wrap around her. She had her arms wrapped around his neck and was trying to breath in deep. She didn’t remember what happened. Maybe it was the shock of knowing what could have just happened if he wasn’t there or if she was alone. Or maybe it was the sexiness of his muscles and body that showed through the wetness of his t-shirt and cargo shorts.
Or perhaps, the tasty aroma of his sweet aftershave.
As he held her up in his strong arms, a round of applause erupted from the few remaining at the poolside. Carlos face was close to hers. Why did she feel so secure and cared for in his presence? It was that feeling you get when you feel as if you’ve known someone for a long time, even though you’ve met them recently.
That special feeling.
That “clicking” feeling.
As if everything fit perfectly. As if this was the one you’d waited your whole life for though you may not have known it at the time.


They locked gaze momentarily and before long they were locked in a passionate kiss that almost knocked the remaining wind out of her lungs. When they pulled apart, Carlos told her she was amazing. She faintly said the same to him. Luckily the kids were inside watching the movie so they were unaware of what was happening.


Did she just kiss him, the guardian of one of
In public?


She saw camera phones flashing but thought nothing of it at the time. Speaking of phones, hers was pulled from the pool and badly in need of replacement. She thought if wind of the event got out to Mrs. Stone, her phone would not be the only thing to be replaced.






After a whirlwind weekend and the replacement of her cell phone, Sophie got ready in the bathroom for work. It was already Monday morning. She’d had a weekend to remember for sure.




They’d spent some time together on Sunday when he dropped by to see if she was okay. She’d given him her address which he probably already had if he really had been watching her as he said.


Her mind ran on Carlos. She could not stop thinking about him. And that kiss at the poolside. It made her head spin, in a good way. It was as if neither cared at the time that they had spectators. She felt this magnetic pull that was impossible to deny.


Later at the office, the receptionist stopped Sophie as she walked in with her briefcase.


“Mrs. Stone would like to see you right away, Sophie.” The woman sounded almost apologetic.


Sophie’s heart hammered in her chest. She had the report in her case about Carlos for the match detailing what he really is like compared to his profile. All good things of course, but she had a sick feeling in the pit of her
Mrs. Stone would not be talking to her about that.


“Thanks, I’ll go to her office now.”






Sophie’s jaw fell open as she sat there staring at the screen in Mrs. Stone’s office. She felt as if she’d throw up all the contents in her tummy as the squeezing pressure strangled her midsection.




Mrs. Stone sat there looking aloof in her leather executive chair as she sipped her tea from her tea cup and saucer. As if she were
holding  her
temper in while attempting to keep her cool.
The calm before the storm.


Sophie gaped at the computer screen which Mrs. Stone made sure she could see. It was on the YouTube website and a freeze frame titled raw video, dating disaster: woman falls into pool at kid’s party. Drunk?

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