The perfect match, p.33
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       The Perfect Match, p.33

         Part #2 of Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins
 
Page 33

  Author: Kristan Higgins

  Actually, he was jealous.

  “Are these your relatives?” Honor asked.

  “Yes,” he said, snapping out of it. “That’s Auntie Liz right there. Cousin Chuck. The boys. Lovely lads. ”

  They watched a few minutes in silence. “How was the rest of your day?” she asked.

  “It was all right. Did Mrs. Johnson find a dress?”

  “She did. It’s beautiful. ”

  “Good. ”

  Honor looked back at the screen. “So you like documentaries?” she asked, nodding at the screen, and he was oddly grateful for the neutral question.

  “Yes,” he said. “Especially about how different things were made. Bridges, dams, subway systems. That sort of thing. What about you?”

  “Medical shows. The 149-Pound Tumor, stuff like that. ”

  “Ah. You romantic, you. ” He glanced at her, saw her smile. “Honor,” he said, “I’m sorry we squabbled before. Just because ours isn’t a typical arrangement doesn’t mean I don’t want it to work. ”

  Her eyes softened. “Me, too. ”

  “I just don’t want to. . . disappoint you. ”

  “You won’t. And you’re not. ”

  “I’m not so sure about that. ” She didn’t look away until Tom settled back against the couch. Don’t kiss her, his brain warned. That’d be dumb.

  Right, except they’d be getting married soon. Shagging again, as soon as she gave the green light. Which could be in about three minutes, he suspected, if he put the moves on her.

  “Tom?”

  Ah-ha. So she was feeling it, as well.

  “Yes, love?”

  “Do you think you might be drinking too much?”

  All right, so she wasn’t feeling it.

  “Perhaps,” he answered. “I am British, though. ”

  “I just thought I’d mention it. ”

  “Already nagging, darling?”

  She didn’t take the bait. “A little concerned. ”

  He didn’t speak for a minute, then sighed. “I suppose you’re right. It doesn’t help anything, does it?”

  “No. ”

  “One drink a day, then. Two if I deserve it, and no more than that. Scout’s honor, as you Yanks like to say. ”

  This time, she was the one to pull back and look at him. “You’re a good guy. ”

  Something tightened in his chest. “Glad you think so,” he answered.

  “Your dad thinks the world of you. ”

  He smiled. “It’s mutual. ”

  “He’s a butcher?”

  “Yes. Don’t get him started on great cuts of beef. ” He paused. “My mum left when I was six. ”

  “I’m sorry. ”

  “She wasn’t a great mother. Wasn’t bad, either, just not born to it. ” He paused. “She visited a bit for the first year or two, but that tapered off. My dad’s been single ever since. ”

  “Mine, too. Ever since my mom died. That’s why we’re all pretty thrilled about him and Mrs. Johnson. ”

  “And your mum died in a car accident?”

  “Mmm-hmm. ”

  “Shit. ” The urge to kiss her was back. “I’m sorry. ”

  “It was hard. We were really close. ” She paused. “I haven’t had too many close relationships. You might’ve guessed that. ”

  He tucked some hair behind her ear. “I wonder what she’d think of all this,” he said softly.

  Honor smiled. “Me, too. ” She glanced down at her dog, and her cheeks pinkened. “I guess we should get a marriage license. ”

  At which point the clock would start ticking till their wedding. . . and his green card. “Yes. ”

  “I’ll get one Monday, then. ”

  He took her hand and turned it palm up, stroking the silky skin of her wrist. “Thank you,” he murmured. He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed it.

  Her eyes were soft and wide, her lips slightly parted. His eyes dropped to her mouth.

  And then, just as he was about to kiss her, she stood up abruptly and picked up the sleeping dog, cuddling it against her chest. “I should—I should go to bed. Um. . . Good night. ”

  With that, she padded upstairs, leaving him alone in the cold living room.

  Which was not what he expected at all.

 

 

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  IT WAS ONE of those days. Not in the good sense.

  First, Honor had woken up to the sounds of Tom in the shower. He was whistling slightly, and not very well, and the image of him, warm and wet and soapy, had the eggs tossing aside their dairy-free meals and stampeding for the door.

  They were getting married. They were going ahead with it. She’d come home from work yesterday and stopped at city hall for a license, and once that was filed, they had sixty days. That meant that by June 10, she would be someone’s wife.

  Tom’s wife.

  The thought inspired equal parts of terror and disbelief, with a side of lust and a chaser of panic. They were going through with it. Committing fraud against the government of the United States of America.

  And then again, there was that lust.

  Last night, she sat at the kitchen table after dinner and filled out the paperwork. Learned a few things about Thomas Jude Barlow. First, he was younger than she was by three years. Just in case the years are precious wasn’t enough. Secondly, he’d been born in the back of a cab.

  Thirdly, well. . . she couldn’t remember what thirdly was, not with Tom in the shower just fourteen or so feet away.

  He’d been about to kiss her the other night on the couch. And she stopped it. Why, she had no flippin’ idea. Cowardice, probably. Because if he kissed her, she’d sleep with him, and if she slept with him, she was pretty sure she’d fall in love with him, and she was already a bit swoony, and he wasn’t. Not at all.

  Men didn’t feel the same way women did about sex. They’d take it when offered, same as they wouldn’t pass up a cookie warm from the oven. No, it was the women who counted calories and fell in love. Which was really not fair. Okay, Pru didn’t count calories, not the way she and Carl were going through hot fudge these days. And Faith didn’t, either, always looking like a p**n star when she ate dessert, which was often.

  The water turned off, and Honor resisted the urge to run into the hallway and get a glimpse of Tom in a towel. She got dressed instead, feeling clumsy and irritable with lust. Spent four minutes with Tom before he left for the Barbarian Horde at his college. She felt almost jealous. Maybe she’d take a mechanical engineering class, too.

  Her work morning was filled with eight scheduled phone calls, a marketing meeting with Ned, Jack and Jessica to talk about wine club sales and writing an article for a tourism magazine. Then, she somehow acquired Goggy, who showed up at the office after lunch, when Honor was finishing up a conference call with the sales staff. “Who’s this?” she asked, staring suspiciously at Jessica. “Honor, who is this?”

  “It’s Jessica, Goggy. Guys, my grandmother just came in,” Honor said.

  “Hi, Mrs. Holland!” came a chorus of voices from the phone.

  “How do you do that?” Goggy asked, ever amazed that Edison’s little invention had such diversity. “It sounds like there’s a dozen people in there!”

  “It’s a conference call,” Honor said.

  “Amazing!” The old lady clucked in awe.

  “Okay, call me with any questions. Thank you!”

  There was a chorus of goodbyes, and Honor hung up. “This is Jessica Dunn, Goggy. You met her before. ” Was it her imagination, or was Goggy forgetting more these days?

  “Have I?” Goggy pursed her lips. “I don’t remember. You’re very pretty, dear. ”

  “Thank you, Mrs. Holland. Would you like some coffee?”

  “Oh, no, thank you. It goes right through me. I used to be able to drink it all da
y long, but not anymore. ”

  “Jess, will you email those talking points to the gang?” Honor asked. Now that she was used to it, it was pretty nice having an assistant.

  “You bet. Nice to see you again, Mrs. Holland. ”

  “I’m sorry if I interrupted, Honor. I didn’t realize you were on the phone,” Goggy whispered. Better late than never.

  “I’ve got a bunch of errands to do, Goggy. What can I do for you?”

  Goggy sighed. “You young people. Always running around. ”

  “I have to go to Rushing Creek. Want to come along?” It was all part of the sainthood campaign. Honor was fairly sure she was a shoe-in, but she did love her grandmother.

  “Rushing Creek? That place? I’d rather be murdered in my own bed than live there,” Goggy said happily. “But I’ll come, sure! Thank you, sweetheart!”

  It took Goggy fifteen minutes at the Old House to find a coat (“in case it rains”), apply more Blushing Peach lipstick (“you never know who you’ll run into”), go to the bathroom (“I’d probably catch a disease at that horrible mental hospital”) and trundle into the car.

  Sainthood seemed assured.

  “How’s Tom?” Goggy asked on the car ride over.

  “He’s great. ”

  “How did you meet again?”

  Honor shot her grandmother a look. No, it seemed Goggy was completely serious. “Um, you fixed us up, remember?”

  “I know that, dear,” the old lady said. “I meant where did you meet him. I misspoke. Don’t get that look on your face. I don’t have Alzheimer’s. ”

  “We met at O’Rourke’s. ”

  “Right, right. I’m glad for you, honey. It’s nice that one of us found happiness through an arranged marriage. ”

  “It’s not really an arranged marriage, Goggy,” Honor said, hoping Goggy wouldn’t inadvertently blow it. “You fixed us up. You have good instincts with people. ” Flattery would distract her, hopefully.

  “That’s true,” Goggy said. “I always thought so, but it’s nice to hear. How does this car work again? There’s no key. ”

  As they pulled into the Rushing Creek complex, Honor wished for the thousandth time that her grandparents would consider living here. So much safer, cleaner, brighter. . . “You sure you and Pops want to stay in the Old House forever?” Honor asked.

  “It’s our home, honey. ”

  “I know, but didn’t you ever want to live somewhere else?”

  Goggy shrugged. “I’ve thought about it. I’ve never lived anywhere but on the Hill. ”

  “Neither did I, until a few weeks ago. Don’t you think it’d be fun to live somewhere different?”

  “Oh, who knows? Maybe. ” Progress! That was a more positive answer than Goggy had ever given before. “What are we doing here, anyway?”

  “I have to drop off some tickets for the Black and White Ball. You and Pops are coming, aren’t you?”

  “Of course, of course. Except I’ll have to dress up. ” Goggy sighed heavily. “And probably dance with that old fool. He has two left feet, that one. ”

  “I don’t know. You guys looked pretty cute at Faith and Levi’s wedding. ”

  Goggy gave a little smile. “Oh, I don’t know about that. ”

  Honor took out her phone and sent a quick text to Margaret, the director of Rushing Creek. Any chance we could see a unit? I’m doing a soft sell on my grandmother.

  Margaret came through.

  “Plenty of closet space,” she said, showing Goggy the master bedroom of a very pretty apartment, “and a spare room for visitors. ”

  “No one visits me anymore,” Goggy said with a significant look at Honor.

  “Don’t look at me. Look, Goggy, this kitchen has so much counter space! Much more than the Old House. ”
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