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Secrets of the Worlds Worst Matchmaker

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.

 

Secrets of the Worlds Worst Matchmaker by Piper Rayne is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

1

Summary

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.

Book 7 in the Baileys Series

Author: Piper Rayne

Juno

I’m at the bar, waiting for my strawberry lemonade with vodka, when the guests at the Bailey baby shower start yelling about cars and hospitals and kids.

I look over my shoulder and Colton’s weaving through chairs and tables with a concerned expression. I roll my eyes and turn back around.

Thankfully, before Colton reaches me, the bartender hands over my drink. I’m only three sips in before Colton snatches it out of my grasp and tosses the plastic cup in the trash.

“Hey, I paid for that,” I say.

“It’s open bar. Savannah just went into labor.”

“Good to know.” His hand grips my upper arm and I attempt to wrench it back with no success. “Shouldn’t you be with your fiancée?” My tone holds more of a sneer to it than usual.

“She had to go into the office. Mr. Beecher’s dog is in labor.”

I narrow my eyes. “You’re more qualified than her.”

He huffs and leads me out of Denver and Cleo’s airplane hangar, where the triple baby shower is being held because my two sisters and sister-in-law all got pregnant at the same time.

And my brother Denver is now engaged, so I have another soon-to-be sister-in-law. Harley, my other sister-in-law, is now pregnant for her fourth time.

“I have a lot of sisters-in-law,” I say. “They can handle it.”

Colton looks at me. “You’ve had more than I thought. I have no idea why you hang around that Trey Galger.” He shakes his head and scowls. Colton rarely scowls.

My heels push into the gravel, my balance wobbly for a minute before I can really anchor down. “Don’t scowl. You smile. That’s why all the ladies love you.” I pat his cheek.

His scowl turns into a smile, but his grip on my arm loosens at the same time.

I feel myself pitch over, my mind spinning. “Oh God, I’m going to be sick.”

Colton has seen me through a lot, and unfortunately, he’s held my hair back so many times that he’s like the MacGyver of keeping me from getting puke in my hair.

“Hold on.” He moves us off the path.

When I see green, all the acid from the lemonade erupts up my throat and I throw up all over a bush.

“You should thank your buddy Trey for all the vodka he fed you today,” he says, his fist holding back my hair.

“Please, just take me home,” I mumble.

***

My cheek slides and grinds against the glass from the window being raised and lowered. I blink a few times and glance around. Colton’s truck is parked at the curb on Spring Street.

It was touch and go there for a while—I had my head out the window like a panting dog.

“You could have just nudged me awake,” I grumble.

Colton chuckles. “What fun would that be?”

I sigh. I don’t have the energy to roll my eyes.

“Don’t breathe in my direction. Your breath is noxious.” He waves his hand in front of his face, laughs at his own damn joke, and leaves me alone in his truck.

I sit in solitude for ten seconds before he springs my door open. “Let’s go, you’re home.”

I step down onto the running board and grab a hold of the stability bar to climb out. “Stop holding me back,” I tell Colton, swatting my arms in the air.

“Jesus, Juno, your seat belt is on.”

I look down and see that he’s right. “Anyone can make that mistake.”

He bends down into the cab of the truck, his neck dangerously close to my lips. I inhale the scent of his soap and a smell that is just Colton.

He’s never been big on cologne except that short phase of junior high when he discovered girls. Unfortunately, the smell of men’s Polo cologne will remind me of my first kiss forever.

“Did you just sniff me?” he asks, unclicking the seat belt and releasing the pressure on my chest.

“No.” I shake my head, dodging eye contact. “Come on, Colton, unless you want me to puke in your truck.”

He moves out of my space and I step out. My heel catches something on the sidewalk and my face meets the concrete.

“Oh, you are in rare form tonight.” Colton swoops me up into his arms as though I’m his bride, but I’m not. He has a bride now. Or a bride-to-be at least.

“I always knew you’d make a good husband,” I say, touching his stubbly five o’clock shadow. He leaves the house clean-shaven and returns hours later with scruff most guys try for nowadays.

That’s just one of the many things I know about my best friend.

He props me up higher in his arms. “Juno, get your keys out of your purse.”

I open my purse, a little disappointed that he rudely disregarded my compliment. “I don’t see them.” My fingers dig and dig. “Hmm.” I turn the purse upside down and the contents fall all over me.

Colton groans. “Seriously, Juno?”

“How else are we going to know if they’re in there?” I look on my stomach for anything that didn’t fall to the sidewalk and there they are.

“Ah ha!” I pick them up as if I found a hundred-dollar bill on the street.

“Now let’s see if you can get it into the lock.”

I lean in close to him. “Are you challenging me, Colton Stone?”

“If it gets the key in the lock and you out of my arms quicker, then yes.”

I frown and turn my attention to the lock. Colton tries to move me when I miss by a millimeter to the right or the left.

Eventually the key goes in, I unlock it, and voila, we’re in my apartment building.

He walks up the stairs and he sighs at the second door. “Let’s hope you can go two for two.”

I get the key in the lock on the first try and raise my hands with a smile.

Colton walks into my apartment and immediately disposes of me on the couch. “Sit tight. I’ll be right back.”

He jogs back down the stairs. I kick off my heels and walk into my bedroom to change.

I have my dress half off when Colton walks in. “I told you to sit tight.”

His eyes flare at the sight of my lacy bra. I’m not sure why I wore a nice bra and panty set today, but right now, I’m happy I did.

Although over the years, Colton’s seen my much less stellar undergarments.

I struggle for another second with my dress, but the zipper won’t cooperate.

“Come here.” He relents and breaks the distance between us when I continue to get the fabric caught in the zipper.

He’s showing little patience for my antics tonight, and I’m about to remind him of all the times I’ve nursed him back to health.

Like that time he decided we should do a bar crawl in Anchorage with his buddy from college. That was a record two-day hangover.

Then his fingers are on my skin and my mind blurs. The softness of his touch and the smell of him so near calms my jittery body. It always does.

It’s one of the reasons I swore we’d never cross that line into a romantic relationship. Why I need him to be in my life forever and not for a brief affair that, if it ends badly, I’ll lose him.

But all of that seems so senseless right now. My jealousy of his fiancée feels like a living, breathing thing inside me. I watch him work the zipper, the fabric releases, and I catch his eyes.

He holds our eye contact.

I want him. I want him to promise me I won’t die alone. But I don’t want his words—I want his body weighing mine down on the bed. The slow roam of his hands along my body.

His smoldering eyes says he’s thinking the same thing. He wants me too.

I rise on my tiptoes and my dress pools around my ankles. His gaze dips down, and the fire in his eyes suggests I’ve sparked his interest.

“Juno,” he whispers.

I put my finger to his mouth and press my lips to the hollow of his neck. I continue to place light kisses up his neck and across his jaw. His stubble only spurs thoughts of his face between my legs.

If only for tonight, I need him.

Abruptly his hands grip my upper arms and he pushes me away. “You know we can’t.”

As if someone snapped me out of a hypnosis, my eyes pop open.

“Thanks for the ride home,” I say and step away from him.

“Juno, let’s talk. I mean…” He stops when I turn my back to him and crawl under the covers of my bed.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve never done that. You can go home to Brigette now.” And I do mean my apology, but the embarrassment flooding every cell in my body is controlling me right now.

I threw myself at an engaged man. What the hell is wrong with me?

The bed dips by my feet. “I’ll stay. Make sure you don’t get sick again.”

I tighten the covers over me. “Go home.”

***

The next day, with a pounding head and blurry vision, I pick up my phone to find a million voicemails and text messages from my family.

Oh my God!” I scream, and a loud thump sounds outside my bedroom door.

What the hell was that?

I grab my shoes from my closet and slowly open up my bedroom door.

“Fucking hell.” Colton is on all fours on the floor, getting up. He’s only in his boxers.

“You stayed?” I ask, wincing as my voice causes my brain to vibrate in my skull. My gaze travels the length of his chest, bouncing down his rippled stomach.

“I wasn’t going to leave you alone in your condition,” he says, grabbing his pants and putting them on.

“I gotta go. They’ve all had their babies.” I leave him in the living room and head back into my room, pulling out a pair of yoga pants and a sweatshirt.

“Don’t you think you should shower first?” He looks me over when I step out and grab my purse. “You look like you got run over by a semi.”

I narrow my eyes. “Aren’t you a sweet-talker. Is this how you got Brigette to marry you?”

He says nothing and his eyes cast down to the floor. I head to the bathroom to brush my teeth. He comes in and grabs the mouthwash from me.

We both spit in the sink at the same time, our eyes catching for the briefest of seconds, but it’s like releasing the plug in a bathtub full of water. Memories of last night flood my brain.

They’re only pieces as I put them back together in chronological order. The drinks. The acid of the lemonade still raw in my throat. The drinks. The acid of the lemonade still raw in my throat. He walks out of the bathroom and I try to remember more.

His hands on my skin while he helped with my dress. My lips on his skin. Oh shit.

I walk out of the bathroom to find him texting on his phone. No doubt to Brigette, explaining why he had to stay at my apartment last night.

She probably thinks nothing of it because she feels no threat with me being Colton’s best friend. She trusts me. And I betrayed that trust and Colton’s last night.

Fuck, Juno, get your shit together.

He pockets his cell phone. “I’ll drive you to the hospital.”

“I can drive myself.” I want to ignore the confusing feelings where he’s concerned and being away from him will make it a lot easier.

“They’re like my siblings too. I want to see the babies.” He opens the door for me.

I file out with zero intention of acting as if I remember last night at all. But at some point, Colton will corner me about it—hopefully after I arm myself with an excellent excuse.

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

2

One Week Later…

Juno

“Sorry, I’m all out,” Greta says, her apron smeared with frosting, proof she had a crazy morning. She only bakes what she bakes, and when she’s sold out, she’s sold out.

Matchmakers trust their guts, so I should’ve trusted mine this morning when I woke up with a sour pit in my stomach.

I should’ve pulled the covers over my head, rolled myself into a ball, and forgotten anything existed outside of my bedroom for the rest of the day.

But a failing business coupled with a fear of failure pushed me out of bed.

Now I stand inside Sweet Suga Things staring into an empty case that should be filled with donuts. And it probably was an hour ago when I should’ve been here.

“Your brother grabbed a bunch for the high school science club,” Greta says.

Austin, I think with a growl. Instead of showing Greta my annoyance, I smile and peruse the glass cases. “That’s okay. I’ll find something else.”

A potential new client is coming in today, and I want to look professional. So I figured some mouthwatering donuts and coffee from Brewed Awakenings might get him to sign on the dotted line.

As I’m looking over her cookie selection, I hear my last name mentioned behind me. Actually, I overhear two people having a conversation about my family.

I slyly glimpse over my shoulder to find two old ladies Grandma Dori’s age seated at a table.

“Three of them just had babies. One is pregnant with their fourth. She’s now a great-grandma six times over,” the one says.

“She must be tired,” the other one says.

“You know Dori, it’s more bragging material,” the first continues.

Did they not notice me walk in?

“She acts like they’re so perfect. Even up in Fairbanks, I heard the stories about those twin boys. Always up to no good.”

“Well.” The first one lowers her voice. “I heard they’re all pretty much settled now except for three of them. Even that Phoenix lives with some hotshot music producer from LA.”

“My daughter was telling me something about her…”

Greta’s expectant eyes on me cause me to stop eavesdropping on the women who think my family is their business.

“Two of those and three of those.” I randomly point at the case of cookies. “And fill the rest with those.”

Greta’s eyes follow my finger, then she grabs a box and tissue to get to work.

“What is the big news around here now?” the second woman asks.

“Colton Stone is engaged.”

My heart squeezes. Who are these women and why can’t they see I’m right here in this small shop?

“Leta Stone’s grandson?” the one asks.

“You know she passed, right? Ten years ago now.”

That fall day flashes through my mind.

The flowers I stared at the entire time so that I didn’t have to think about my parents as the pastor preached about what a great person Colton’s grandma was and how we should keep her memory alive.

“Oh, I forgot. It’s been so long since I’ve been back,” the second woman says.

“He’s engaged to some French veterinarian doing her internship with Dr. Murphy.”

There goes that fist squeezing my heart again. French, beautiful, intelligent, and has a helluva lot more going for her than me. I’m sure she would’ve been up in time to get the donuts.

Before I can turn around for a better look at them, the bell above the door rings and Grandma Dori enters the small bakeshop and cafe as though she owns the place.

One of the things I love most about her is that she does what she wants, damn the consequences. The woman’s been hurt just like us.

She’s lost her husband and her son, yet she lives for her nine grandchildren.

“Juno!” she says with excitement.

I turn around fully, glancing at the women to my right. Their faces pale like gossiping church women who got caught by the preacher.

“Hi, Grandma,” I say.

She hugs me tightly. She’s been hugging me tightly ever since Colton announced his engagement six months ago. She, along with all of my family and probably most of this town, thinks I’m heartbroken.

Well, I might be, but I have a doctorate in denial and know how to smack on a smile and assure her I’m fine.

“I was going to go see you after I had a morning coffee with my friends.” She gestures to the women. “Come say hello.” She drags me toward them, but I stop.

“Let me pay Greta first,” I say.

She releases me, and I head to the cash register while Grandma Dori goes to the table. I hear all their exchanges of, “it’s been too long” and “I missed you.”

“Thanks, Greta.” I accept the small box from her.

Grandma Dori is busy, and I might be able to sneak out of here. I’d suffer the consequences later, but they might be worth it.

Then again, do I want Grandma Dori busting into my meeting with a potential new client? The answer to that would be hell no.

So instead of dodging her, I figure a polite hello and goodbye will be sufficient.

“Juno!” Grandma catches me in her peripheral vision like the hawk she is.

“Hi, Grandma.”

The first woman looks familiar, but I don’t know her name. The second woman looks at me with scrunched-up gray eyebrows.

“This is my dear friend, Nelly, from Fairbanks. She grew up in Lake Starlight but moved away when you… well.” Grandma Dori looks to Nelly for confirmation.

“I think you only had a couple grandkids then.” They all laugh.

“Yeah, I suppose you have been gone for decades, not years,” the other woman says, putting out her hand. “I’m Willa. We were all high school friends.” She twirls her finger between them.

I shake her hand. “I’m Juno Bailey.”

“Are you the one who married the tattoo artist?” Nelly asks.

“No, that’s Savannah.”

She nods. “The one who’s married to the New York millionaire?”

Grandma Dori giggles and her chair screeches across the floor, her hand reaching for me before I bolt. “Juno’s our matchmaker.”

She wouldn’t be the proud grandmother with her arm around me if she knew I’m late on my rent this month.

“That’s interesting,” Nelly says in the same tone I’d expect if my grandma had told her I’m the tarot card reader with the giant neon sign off the highway.

Meanwhile, Willa keeps staring at me with a puzzled expression. “I never would’ve guessed that you were a Bailey. Dori, where does the red hair come from?”

This question has plagued me my entire life.

People blatantly ask if I’m adopted or if I dye my hair or, worst of all, a foster child the Baileys took into their home. Not looking like any of my siblings is an ongoing joke.

Thanks to the movie Cheaper By the Dozen, I was called FedEx the entire year I was eleven. I still feel a kinship with Mark Baker from that movie.

Being the red-haired kid in a huge family royally sucks.

Grandma looks at me with a sweet smile—the one reserved for when she knows someone is poking an open wound. Austin gets it when people talk about baseball.

Savannah when they compare her to our dad in regard to running Bailey Timber. There’s a list for each one of my siblings.

“She gets it from my daughter-in-law, Beth’s side,” Grandma Dori says. “They have matchmaking in their blood as well. Right, Juno?”

I smile at my grandma, giving my rehearsed spiel. “There’s a long line of matchmakers on my mom’s side. My Aunt Etta was kind of famous for matchmaking famous actors and actresses for years.

“Casting directors would hire her to figure out who had the best chemistry before casting a film.”

“That was ages ago. In the nineteen-forties and fifties,” Grandma chimes in.

Neither Nelly nor Willa seem like believers in the matchmaking profession though. Just like me, they smile to be polite.

“And who are you married to, dear?” Nelly asks.

Well, thank you, Nelly. Lay me on the table and slice me open, why don’t you?

“She’s not married yet. But if I look into my crystal ball, I see that her guy is about to walk into her life any time now.”

The bell over the door chimes and we all turn as if Grandma’s a fortune teller. In walks Colton, my best friend and the man currently starring in my wet dreams. I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment.

I do not want to do this with him in front of Grandma Dori.

“Grandma,” I say, sighing heavily. She must have caught him in her peripheral hawk vision.

Colton spots us on his walk up to the counter. “Ladies.” He dips his head in our direction like a true gentleman.

His dark hair is perfectly styled and he’s freshly shaven, his collared shirt tucked in with no tie. At least he’s not wearing his white medical jacket with his name embroidered.

That’s made too many appearances recently in my recurring dreams. He turns to Greta to order, displaying his ass in a pair of snuggly fit khaki pants. I swear even Willa whimpers.

“I should get going.” I kiss Grandma on the cheek and turn to the women. “Very nice to meet you both.”

They say their goodbyes, although their eyes linger on Colton.

Willa touches my arm. “If you can get me a guy like him, I’ll sign up for you to match me.”

My smile slips for a second. Oh Willa, there’s a long line of women who want in Colton’s pants, and I should warn you, I’m scrappy.

“You never know who you’ll match with,” I joke.

“I’ll come by later,” Grandma says.

Jeez, the whole reason I stayed here to get judged by her friends was to avoid a visit from Grandma.

“I heard Harley wasn’t feeling well,” I lie.

She nods and her eyes scrunch. “I better check if she needs help with the kids then.” She looks at her friends. “That’s Rome’s wife. Three kids and another on the way.

“I just love being a great-grandmother. They need me so much.”

I giggle and walk toward the door.

“Juno. Hold up,” Colton calls out as my hand is on the door to push through.

I wasn’t trying to dodge him. I mean, if he really wanted to talk to me, he knows where to find me. My office is literally one block over from his.

“I figured you were in a rush?” My gaze dips to his two coffees. One for him and one for Brigette, the French goddess.

I push the door open and he says the words I’ve dreaded since I made a fool of myself when I got drunk at my sisters’ triple baby shower last week.

“I think we should talk,” he says.

Of course he does. We’re opposites in every way. He likes to talk all his shit out and I’d rather shove it under a rug.

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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