Home > The Vampire's Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1)(16)

The Vampire's Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1)(16)
Author: Kristen Painter

“Seems appropriate. What did you get?”

“Black coffee. Simple and uncomplicated. Which is in no way an indication of what I look for in a woman.”

She laughed. “Point taken.”

He glanced at her cup and raised his brows. “So? How’d I do with my choices?”

She bit into the brownie. The top was slightly crisp but then instantly gave way to a fudgy interior redolent of coffee and chocolate. Her tongue found a piece of cherry, and the fruity tang cut through the richness in the most perfect way. She tried not to moan. “Exceptionally well. That was easily the best thing I’ve put in my mouth in a long time.”

The muscles in his jaw twitched, and she realized he was fighting hard not to say something about her inadvertent innuendo. He sipped his coffee instead.

She laughed and tried the drink he’d brought her. It was like bathing her mouth in liquid chocolate. There was no holding back the moan this time. “Oh, that is…wow, yeah, good. Please tell me we can come here again.”

His gaze fixed on her mouth for a long second. Then he shifted in his seat and answered. “Whenever you want. Although with the Panic Parade this weekend, it’s going to be mobbed.”

The word made her blink twice. She shook her head to clear Rastinelli’s image. “Are we, uh, going to that?”

“The parade?” He seemed taken aback by her question. “I wasn’t planning on it. Do you want to go?”

“Sure. Sounds interesting at the very least. I’m here, right? Might as well see what this place is all about.” She canted her head. “You don’t come to town much, do you?”


“Why not?”

“It’s just…not my thing.”

“I don’t know why. Except for Icky Vicky, the townspeople seem to love you.” She took another bite of the brownie, hoping he’d share something to dispel some of the mystery surrounding him.

“I’m just more of a private person.”

Hello, open door. “Is that why your grandmother thinks you need help finding a woman?”

“It isn’t so much that she thinks I need help finding a woman as it is she thinks I need help learning to commit.”

“And an arranged match was going to do that how?”

He growled softly in frustration. “She believes if I meet the perfect woman, I won’t find a reason to break things off.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re a love ’em and leave ’em type.”

“No,” he said sharply. “That is Julian. I have been in plenty of meaningful, long-term relationships—”

“You just can’t put a ring on it.”

He frowned. “Something like that.” He sat back, twisting slightly so he could cross one long leg over the other. He planted his hand on his ankle and studied her. “Why did you need a matchmaker?”

“I…” Think, Delaney. You’re not you, you’re Annabelle. “I just got out of a relationship.”

“Not rich or strong enough?” He smiled.

“Not faithful enough.” She rolled the edge of her paper napkin under her fingertips. “Money and physical attributes I can take or leave. After all, they’re both attributes that can come and go depending on the circumstances. But I will not abide a cheating man.”

“Is that why your last relationship didn’t work?”

She nodded, thoughts of Russell ruining the taste in her mouth. “He forgot his phone at my place.” She held her hands up. “I didn’t snoop on purpose. It chimed, I looked and the rest is history. He knew when he came to pick it up he’d been found out.” She forced herself to smile. She was sitting across from an exceptionally handsome man, eating the most amazing brownie she’d ever had. Now was not the time to mope about Russell. “How about you? Why’d your last relationship fizzle?”

“The same reason they all did.” He stared at his coffee. “She wasn’t the right one.”

“How long did it last?”

“Five months. I’ve had longer. Ten months. But she wasn’t the right one either.”

She nodded. “Five months or ten months, either one is long enough to know. Clean break?”

“Not exactly. She thought I was proposing. I wasn’t.”

“Yikes.” Delaney’s brows shot up. “Is this Piper we’re talking about? The woman Vicky mentioned?”

He nodded. “Her family owns the local newspaper.”

“I think I know why you don’t like coming into town.”

He snorted softly. “My relationships don’t often end that badly, but…” He shook his head.

“You probably want to go home, huh?”

He hesitated, and a slow smile curved his mouth. “I’m actually having a pretty good time.”

“Me, too.” She took another bite of the brownie. Hugh was a nice guy. She’d judged him based on his initial reaction to her, but that had been all wrong. He was a guy reluctant to make a commitment for whatever reason, and that was okay with her. After her mother died, her father had remarried so fast she’d doubted the institution of marriage herself for a while. Whatever Hugh’s reason for staying single, it would certainly make things easier. “Why don’t we make a deal?”

Curiosity sparked in his eyes. “What kind of deal?”

“You’re not looking to get married, but you have to make a good show of things for your grandmother, so let’s just agree to have fun for the next twenty-nine days, no strings attached.”

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