Home > The Mission (Bad Bridesmaids #2)(4)

The Mission (Bad Bridesmaids #2)(4)
Author: Noelle Adams

“No. Why would he?” Serena frowned in confusion. “He loves me, and he loves Eva, but it’s like family, not like romance.”

“Is he dating anyone right now?” Ri asked.

“He’s always dating someone.” When she saw the surprise on their faces, Serena added quickly, “Not that he’s a player or anything, but he does date a lot. He has no trouble finding girls to go out with. I mean, he’s cute and nice and funny and has a good job. Girls are always into him. But he never dates anyone for more than a few weeks. I’m not actually sure why.”

“Maybe he’s secretly in love with someone else,” Amanda said with a lilt in her voice.

Serena flushed slightly—who wouldn’t?—but she was completely sincere as she said, “Oh, stop it. He’s not in love with me. Where are y’all getting this ridiculous idea anyway? I’m telling you. There’s never been anything romantic between us. We’re friends. Like family. Nothing else.”

“If you say so.” Amanda didn’t look particularly convinced.

“Stop making things up. Seriously. Keith isn’t into me. I really think he dates a lot because he wants to find love but can’t find the right girl. Once he does, I’m sure he’ll settle down. He loves kids, and he’s always wanted a family. I think he’s just making do with me and Eva until he finds the right one.”

The words were said honestly, but Serena didn’t like the sound of them as they came out. It didn’t seem quite right. She and Eva weren’t just “making do” for Keith. The idea just felt wrong.

“What kind of girl is he looking for?” Ri asked, clearly more willing to accept Serena’s statement as fact than the other two. “Maybe we can help. Have you ever tried to fix him up?”

“I used to—back in college—when he was kind of reserved. But he’s not had any trouble finding dates for the past few years, so I stopped worrying about it.” Serena thought about it for a minute. “Actually, maybe that’s the trouble. He’s just clueless about the right kind of girl for him. Maybe I should help him.”

“Maybe he doesn’t want help,” Taylor said.

“Well, I can try at least. I’m perfectly happy single, but I don’t know if he really is.” As the idea took shape in her mind, it felt more and more right. Almost a relief. Like when you manage to solve a riddle after hours of trying. “He’s having trouble finding the right person to love, so why shouldn’t I help with him it?”

Taylor shook her head and rolled her eyes but bit back whatever wry comment she was thinking.

Amanda just laughed dryly. “I’m happy to help if you need some suggestions, but you better check with Keith first to be sure he actually wants to be fixed up. He might have his own ideas about his love life that don’t match with yours.”

“He doesn’t seem to have any good ideas about his love life, but of course I’ll ask him first.” Serena clapped her hands a few times in excitement. “This will be fun. I haven’t had a good mission in a long time.”

“Well, let us know if Keith is on board with this mission, and we’ll all get on the job,” Ri said with her wide, vibrant smile.

“Thanks,” Serena replied. “If Keith’s history of dating is any indication, I’ll need all the help I can get.”

 

 

KEITH LEANED BACK IN a comfortable armchair, sipped his black coffee, and watched Eva Holly make her way through the ridiculously over-iced cupcake. The girl was only seven, but the amount of sweets she could pack away was genuinely impressive.

He’d known Eva from the day she was born since he’d been friends with Serena for so long. Eva was as much a part of his life as anyone was—in fact, he was closer to her than he was to his own family, who’d always cared too much about their money and social position to treat other people as human.

He still did his duty with his family. He made regular attempts to connect with his parents and older brother and assortment of cousins. But so far none of those attempts had led to more than a distant civility, so he’d much rather think of Eva as family than anyone he shared genes with.

Eva had her mother’s thick, wavy red hair but had brown eyes instead of hazel. She also had more pronounced freckles than Serena, and she had a scar that slashed through her right eyebrow from a fall out of a tree when she was five.

“Why are you staring at me, Uncle Keith?” she demanded, wrinkling her little nose in disapproval.

“Was I staring? I didn’t mean to.”

“You were. What were you thinking about?”

He tried to answer the girl’s questions honestly, but he wasn’t about to try to explain to the complicated nuances of his relationships with his family. So he said lightly, “I was thinking about you.”

“Why were you thinking about me?” Eva was smart. She read a lot and thought a lot and often came up with surprisingly astute conclusions about the world. But she was also a seven-year-old and sounded like one at the moment. Just a little whiney.

“Because you’re sitting right in front of me. Who else should I be thinking about?”

“You could think about you.”

“Not much to think about me.”

“I think so,” she pronounced, her brown eyes wider and rounder than ever. “You can think about what you’re going to have for supper tonight. And you can think about what you’re going to buy me for my birthday. And you can think about how you’re gonna help Mommy fix her doorknob.”

“What’s wrong with your mommy’s doorknob?”

“It fell off!” She made a dramatic gesture to illustrate the calamity. “It went plop, right onto the floor, and then rolled under the bed!”

Keith couldn’t help but chuckle. “That does sound bad. Couldn’t she get it back on?”

“No! She tried. And tried and tried. But it wouldn’t co-op-or-ate, she said. Then she said a bad word.”

Keith tried to contain his amusement but didn’t succeed. “That sounds like quite an ordeal.”

“It was. Quite an ordeal.” She spoke slowly, clearly trying words out for the first time. “She said Mr. Milner would take forever to send someone to fix it but that you could probably fix it.”

“I can give it a try for sure.”

“You can fix everything. That’s what Mommy says.”

“I’m not sure I can fix everything, but I can probably handle a doorknob.”

“You fixed my bike.”

“I did fix your bike.” The bicycle repair had been done more than two years ago now, but Eva had never forgotten it. She still brought it up all the time.

“And you fixed Mommy’s computer. And remember when we had a flat tire and had to park on the side of the road? Mommy called you and you came to fix that too.” Eva nodded proudly, clearly convinced that she’d silenced any debate on the issue. Glancing down, she looked surprised to discover she still had one more bite of cupcake in her hand. She popped it into her mouth, smiling as she chewed.

Keith stifled another laugh but wasn’t entirely successful.

“You shouldn’t laugh at me,” Eva told him, her mouth still full of cupcake.

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