Page 4 of Forbidden Stranger

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To no one’s surprise, my mom shows up late in the afternoon.“How is your day going?”She gives me a kiss on the cheek and hugs me like I’ve been away for days.

“Candy didn’t report back to you already?”I tease my her.Her best friend was here two hours ago.

“She might have mentioned she was in here,” my mom says as she picks an imaginary piece of lint off my sweater.“Did she tell you her son is in town?He got in last night.”

“She did.”My mom and her best friend Candy have this dream that Mark and I will get married.We kind of grew up together, and he's four years older than me.Since his mom and mine are best friends, I saw him often until he left for college.

“You know he’s thinking of moving back to Troping when he graduates in the fall.”

“Candy informed me.”I’m always filled in on what Mark is up to.At least what he lets his mom know he’s up to.He got around a lot even in high school.I’m sure college really opened up the field for him.

I don’t think Mark is one that would want to settle down—not that I’m remotely interested.He’s too handsome—if that’s even a thing.Or maybe I’m used to people saying he’s handsome and I've gone along with it in my head.Everything about him is too perfect, and to me that’s dull.There’s nothing interesting or eye-catching, and he’s definitely not a grumpy bear shifter.The thought makes Snow pop into my mind.I haven’t heard from her in a while, and normally we text throughout the day.

“They’re coming over for dinner tonight.”

“Mom,” I groan.

“What?It will be nice to catch up.”

“You and Candy really need to see that Mark and I aren’t going to be a thing.He was like the cool kid and I was on the dork side.”

My mom rolls her eyes at me.“You weren't a dork.”

“I have no problem with being a dork, but you’re right.There were no groups per se in school, I just mean we’re really different.”

“That’s a good thing.Did you see Frostie?She’s with that man who grunts all the time.Opposites attract.”Okay, that’s true, but they were the kind of opposites that attract, and it’s adorable.The second I realized they were together.I knew it was a perfect match.“Besides, you haven’t seen Mark in a few years.You’ve grown up.”

I think he might have been the one that needed to grow up, but I keep that to myself.

“You mean I got boobs, lost my braces, and figured out how to control my hair?”My mom's lips purse because that’s not what she means at all.“I’m teasing you, Mom.”

“I’m only saying you’re a woman now.There could be a spark now that you’re older.”

“How is he even contemplating moving to Troping?He’s a lawyer, and we just got one of those, and she’s a real—”

“Noel,” my mom warns.

“What?I don’t like her.She went after Mayor North even after she knew he was married!”I hiss.“So yes, she’s a real jerkface.”

“Jerkface?”My mom laughs.I’m not calling her a bitch because sometimes a bitch is pretty cool.She’s not cool.In fact, after what she did, she isveryuncool in my book.

“She and Mark could open a law firm together,” I suggest.Aren’t most lawyers a bit jerky?I don’t know, but they are in books and in movies.

“Let’s see how tonight goes, sweetheart.”Mom kisses me on my cheek before she goes, and I grab my phone and text Snow.

Me:Send help!My mom is trying to set me up.

Snow:On a date?Tell her no.

I love how direct Snow can be.I wish I was, but I always lean on the side of not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.

Me:I can’t.It’s her best friend's son, and she invited them over for dinner.

Snow:Who is he?

Me:Let me see if I can find him on social media.

I quickly go to Candy’s Facebook and find a family picture and send it over.

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