Secrets of the World's Worst Matchmaker
by Piper Rayne
Book 7 in The Bailey's series
Imagine you’re a matchmaker and you realize too late you’re in love with your childhood best friend. You only have yourself to blame—you’re the one who matched him and now he’s engaged to be married.
When you find yourself in this position there’s a few secrets you’re going to need to keep…
Secret #1 – Smile when he tells you the happy news, even if your heart cracks in half.
Secret #2 – Don’t compare yourself to his beautiful French fiancée. You’re just as beautiful.
Secret #3 – Don’t tag along to the tux fitting with him alone. Just no.
Secret #4 – Don’t help him learn to dance to his wedding song.
Secret #5 – Erase all memories of the two of you through the years when lines blurred for even the briefest of moments.
And the one you never saw coming…
Secret #6 – Definitely, don’t stand and object—someone else might just do it for you
THIS BOOK RUINED ME!
I love friends to lovers. Especially childhood best friends to lovers.
Double that for childhood best friends who fight their feelings for one another.
When I tell you that the first 50% of this book had my chest aching from the tension, I mean it.
Because I get overly invested in what I am reading, and it affects me physically like that.
The romance is great in Secret's of the World's Worst Matchmaker.
And I don't think it's because I've been waiting for Juno and Colton. I was also looking forward to Phoenix and Griffin's story, but I was left disappointed with that one.
It's the chemistry. The banter. The comfort and deep knowledge that Juno and Colton have with one another. The memories. The sexual tension. The tension from unrequited love.
Ugh. So good!
And of course, it's not a Bailey novel without some awesome moments with the siblings, and of course, G'ma D. I will say it over and over again, as much as I love the romance, and the steam, I equally love the family bond and the banter between the siblings. It just makes these books that much better.
I adored Secret's of the World's Worst Matchmaker, and I can't wait to see what the last couple of books has in store!
Nelly: “And who are you married to, dear?”
Well, thank you, Nelly. Lay me on the table and slice me open, why don’t you? We could go on and on about all our memories. The good ones. The funny ones. We never talk about the serious ones. Juno likes to keep those in a locked vault. Unfortunately, many of those times are memories I like to relive. Not because they’re bad, but because of what happened when we comforted one another. The lingering touches, the tight hugs and long holds. The short kisses to cheeks that would continue down the other’s face until our lips met. The soft, hesitant kisses to test if the other one was on the same page. Times when the line would blur slightly with the excuse of comfort. Juno: “Friends forever, right?”
I nod and she smiles, tossing the ladder through the opening and climbing down from the treehouse. Once she’s gone, I whisper,
Colton: “But what if I like you more than a friend?” Dr. Murphy: “Listen to your heart. That’s the advice I was given a long time ago, and I promise you, your heart doesn’t lie. It never leads you where you shouldn’t go.” Juno: “What harm can it do?”
Colton: “Are you seriously asking me that right now?”
Juno: “I need Dori out,”
I whisper. She’s busy naming off my qualifications to Cami, Stella’s friend.
Colton: “I get it, but it’s my truck, Juno.”
Ethel watches like a hawk to see if Colton has another sip of beer. I know that the only way they’re leaving is if Colton gives her the keys. Eventually, Colton realizes it too.
Colton: “You so owe me for this, and I mean huge.”
Colton stands, downs the rest of his beer, but right before Ethel is about to say something, he drops the keys in her hand.
Colton: “Bigger than that time you accidentally kneed me in the nuts when we were wrestling.”
I giggle, remembering how his face turned blue. I felt so bad. I hope he can still have children. I rise up on my tiptoes and kiss his cheek.
Juno: “I owe you big. Promise. Name it and I’ll deliver.”
He wraps his arm around my waist and turns his face to me. We’re millimeters apart and my heart pounds.
Colton: “No take-backs,”
Juno: “No take-backs. I promise.”
Then he kisses my cheek and releases me. Now I’m not so sure I want him to go.
Colton: “Let’s go, Golden Girls. We will be driving five over the speed limit.”
Ethyl: “I can’t lose my license, Colton Stone,”
He winks at me one more time before the three of them leave the room. Still, I feel like a boat lost at sea and all these lighthouses are shining to guide me to shore, but I have no idea which way is the best way to go. Who’s to say I won’t end up following the wrong light and end up on an island all by myself? Stella: "Live your life like your parents would’ve wanted you to. It’s okay to be scared. Just push forward anyway.” Stella: "Everyone deserves to have a guy who looks at them like Colton looks at you.”
Juno: “How does he look at me?”
Stella: “The same way you look at him—like all your happiness is wrapped up in the other one.”
She pats my hand again.
Stella: “Go tell him before it’s too late.” Colton: “I’ve loved you my entire life. Do you know what that’s like? To pine away for someone day after day, year after year, someone who keeps insisting that we can only be friends because she couldn’t stand to lose me? Let me tell you—it’s heartbreaking. And tiring. And the hardest fucking thing I’ve ever done, okay? And now on my wedding day, suddenly Stella says something and you open your eyes and see what’s been here all along?”
Her eyes don’t stray from mine as the anger pours out of me.
Colton: “Well, I’m sorry, it’s too late. I’m getting married, Juno. I made a commitment. Not like it matters. If I canceled this wedding, you’d probably run away tomorrow. Let’s just admit that this is what it is—you’re jealous and scared to lose me.”
Juno: “Do you have any idea what it took for me to come here right now? How scared I am that what we had has changed? I cannot live without you.”
Her chin drops to her chest and her tears drop to the floor.
Colton: “You don’t get to make this all about you again. You’re too late.”
I fold my arms over my chest, a million things on the tip of my tongue begging to be unleashed.
Juno: “So you’re going to go through with a fake marriage?”
Colton: “I made a promise.”
Juno: “Okay. Well, I guess that’s it then.”
Colton: “I guess so.”
She walks by me, right to the door.
Colton: “You’ll be happy tomorrow when you realize nothing has changed with our friendship. These feelings you have for me will vanish as soon as you know you didn’t lose me.”
I don’t turn around because if I did, I’d probably cage her to the wall and confess how much I love her. How much I hope she’s really had her eyes opened to how perfect we are together. But it’s all just too big of a coincidence.
Juno: “I know I haven’t made it easy on you all these years, and I wish I didn’t harbor this fear of losing you. And yeah, I’m sure everyone, you included, think I feel this way now because I lost my parents so young and I’m scared of losing you now that you’re getting married. But what’s been keeping me up at night since you announced your engagement are these images in my head of you loving another woman the way you’ve loved me all these years. And I know I’m slow on the uptake and I should have owned my feelings for you a long time ago. I can even understand why you’re angry with me, but you’re wrong. Tomorrow I will still be nursing a broken heart because I do love you, Colton Stone. Every year that love has compounded, but I kept that memory of us in the treehouse on the day of my parents’ funeral front and center in my mind to remind me that whatever horrible thing happens in my life, you’ll be there to see me through. But now, the horrible thing that’s happening to me is you marrying another woman and I haven’t been able to talk to you about how badly it hurts.”
Juno: “You can choose to believe me or not, but I’ve never lied to you.” Kingston: “Colton!”
Kingston steps in front of me, and Juno’s smile disappears. He pushes on my chest until we’re out of the tent, away from everyone else—and where apparently all the rest of the Bailey brothers are waiting for us. Austin’s hands are in his pockets. Rome’s arms are crossed. Denver’s open palm has his other fist in it. Kingston grabs my shoulder and squeezes.
Kingston: “You call off your wedding and now you give our sister googly eyes? What the hell is wrong with you, man?”
Rome: “Do you really think we trust you with our sister after you almost married someone else?”
Denver just stands there, hammering his fist into his open palm over and over, glaring at me.
Kingston: “Think about it, Colton. Give us one reason we should be okay with you and our sister?”
They cannot be serious. I never thought I’d have to worry about them being okay with me and Juno. Shit. I underestimated them.
Colton: “I’m in love with her.”
Kingston: “You’re in love with her?”
Kingston echoes my words back at me.
Kingston: “Do we believe him?”
Austin rocks back on his heels.
Austin: “I do.”
A smile breaks his serious facade.
Denver: “Fuck yeah. About time.”
Denver pretends to punch me in the stomach.
Rome: “I wondered what the hell you were thinking.”
Rome puts me in a headlock and his knuckles rub my scalp.
Kingston: “But in all seriousness, if you hurt her, we’ll fuck you up,”
Kingston says with a smile.
Colton: “I’m not going to hurt her.”
Kingston: “We know,” Juno: “This is weird, right?”
I look at him and he turns his head, but I can’t read him.
Juno: “I mean, you were going to marry someone else and now we’re going back to your house to do it.”
He pulls to the side of the road and puts it in park.
Colton: “Do you not want to go to my house? Would you rather take this slower?”
My nerves set in as he takes my hands.
Colton: “You can run this. Hell, I’ve waited this long. A few more weeks isn’t going to make my balls any bluer than they already are. But if you have some stipulation about so many dates we need to have before we sleep together, then you better free up your calendar for the foreseeable future.”
He’s got it all wrong. I want to have sex with him. He’s played the starring role in my dreams for months now.
Juno: “I don’t want to take it slower. I was just thinking that the last time we had sex, we had both had our fair share of alcohol…”
Juno: “It just seems weird that I’m going to see your penis.”
Colton: “You’ve seen it before. And can we not call it a penis? It sounds like we’re in that puberty class in the fifth grade.”
Juno: “I know, I know. But don’t you feel weird that you’re going to see me naked?”
Colton: “Um, no. I feel eager. I have puzzle pieces of you that I’ve formed in my head and I can’t wait to see the whole package stone-cold sober.”
I unbuckle my seat belt and rise onto my knees, leaning forward to kiss him again.
Juno: “You always say all the right things.” Rising up on my elbows, I stare at her. Her skin is flushed and she’s still catching her breath.
Colton: “Still weird?”
She hits my back.
Juno: “Turns out I quite like your penis.” Colton: “Dori? Ethel?”
I peek around his body.
Dori; “Good morning, lovebirds.”
Dori’s putting donuts on a plate while Ethel is pouring glasses of juice.
Colton: “How did you get in my house?”
Dori rounds the counter, licking powdered sugar off her fingers.
Dori: “I have the keys to all my kids’ houses.”
Colton: “But I’m not your kid.”
Colton’s face is stark white, and I laugh, passing him for a donut. Dori: “Juno, you cannot be a slob.”
Dori picks up Juno’s dress that I took off her body last night and lays it nicely over the back of my couch.
Juno: “I didn’t leave it there, Colton did,”
she says, which shocks me since upstairs, she was so concerned that the town she grew up in would see her as evil for breaking up my wedding. Dori swats her granddaughter’s arm.
Dori: “Stop it, Juno. I don’t want to hear those things.”
Juno: “Then why are you here this early in the morning? And please tell me you haven’t been here long?”
Juno glances at me because about a half an hour ago, she was screaming my name.
Dori: “Yes, we did just get here, which I guess we’re thankful for.” Dori: “You’re a matchmaker. You know as well as I do that they belong together,”
Juno: “Do they really? There’s a lot of hurt there.”
Dori: “There’s a lot of hurt here.”
Dori signals between Juno and me.
Dori: “But you two were able to work it out and screw like rabbits.”
I stare blankly at Juno because what the hell am I supposed to say to that?
Colton: “Tell me you don’t have a nanny cam in my house, Dori.”
I look into my family room, finding a vase I don’t remember ever buying. Mrs. Stone: “I’m sad to miss her. I really wanted to hug her because I’m so happy the two of you are finally together.”
Colton smiles at his mom. It’s the one that says he agrees with her.
Mom: “Well, I guess I’ll come back tomorrow. Give me a hug.”
Mrs. Stone: “What?”
Mrs. Stone sounds confused.
Colton: “I have to go to the bathroom. If I get up and hug you without going to the bathroom first, I might pee myself.”
I bite his jeans to muffle my laugh. That’s the best he could come up with?
Mrs. Stone: “I’ve told you not to hold it. You’ll get a urinary tract infection.”
Colton: “Sorry, Mom.”
I cover my mouth before I lose it and crack up under here.
Mrs. Stone: “Uh huh. Okay, love you.”
Colton: “Bye, Mom.”
He waves and I’m assuming she’s at the door.
Mrs. Stone: “I love you too. Juno, you can come out from under the desk now. Oh, young love. Reminds me of your father and me.”
The door chime rings, and Colton slides out, buttoning and zipping his jeans. My cheeks are red hot.
Juno: “I can never face your mother again,”
I say, crawling into his lap. He holds me tightly, kissing my neck.
Colton: “She might be weirded out, but she’s cool with it.”
Juno: “That’s just wrong. For your mom to know I was doing that.” Colton: "No matches?”
He smirks and shakes his head.
Kingston: “I just can’t. You know? I’ve tried. You ever feel like you’re filling a need and not the hole?”
I raise my eyebrows and he laughs.
Kingston: “Yeah, I phrased that wrong. I guess I mean, I sleep with girls, but nothing really fills the void.”
I tip my water bottle toward him.
Colton: “There’s a better word.” Family: “Surprise!”
Juno says, scrambling to get her robe, but our only choice is to hide behind the island, peeking over the top. Within moments, Calista stands at the kitchen entrance with her eyes pinched together. Dion is playing with some electronic thing. Phoebe points at the floor.
As if it can’t get any worse, all the Baileys file in. Denver laughs.
Denver: “You kinky motherfu—”
Harley smacks him on the back of the head before he can finish.
Goddamn, I need that key back. Dori: “Ugh.”
She turns toward the house.
Dori: “I’m going up, Austin, call the paramedics if I fall and record this… Juno gets nothing if I fall and die. She’s cut from my will for making me go up there.”
I throw my hands in the air.
Juno: “Don’t come up, I’ll come down.”
Dori: “Too late now, missy. Make room for me.” Dori: “You’ve always been a Bailey. No other Bailey talks back to me the way you do. Who do you think you get that from? Yours truly.”
She thumbs at herself. Dori: “I wish I could promise you that nothing bad will happen. All of you deserve a lifetime of happiness, but life doesn’t come with guarantees, Juno. But I can guarantee the universe won’t conspire against you just because you’re happy.”
She gives my hand a squeeze.
Dori: “I have one question for you. Will it hurt any more or less if you lose him right now with your stubbornness than it will years from now when you’re wearing his ring and living as his wife?”
I feel as if a band is growing tighter and tighter around my chest.
Juno: “I’m just so afraid that if I’m too happy, something will happen to destroy it. Look what happened with Mom and Dad. They were so happy one minute and then they were gone.”
Grandma Dori smiles, but sadness fills her eyes.
Dori: “I hate to break it to you, but you don’t have any control over that. No one does. All we can do is live our life.”
I lay my head on her shoulder, and she runs her fingers through my hair.
Dori: “Life keeps happening to you whether you choose to live it or not, Juno, my strong one.”