Authors: Barbara Dunlop
An Unlikely Match
Book #1 of
The Match Series
USA Today Bestselling Author
Published by Barbara Dunlop
©2014 Barbara Dunlop
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
“I think we’re missing the obvious here,” said Daisy Vashon as she set a tray of button cookies on the white, lattice table by the pool.
JW Sterling tried to ignore the
fresh baking, but his gaze caught and held on the soft, vanilla layers and fluffy, chocolate icing.
“What’s the obvious?” he asked, promising himself he’d have
only one this time.
He could bar
ely speed-walk his way through two miles nowadays, and he feared he’d done his last stomach crunch on his seventy-eighth birthday. Disappointing, but reality, even for a former Green Beret and Army general. Giving in to the inevitable, he sat forward in his lawn chair, reaching for the biggest cookie in the center of the plate.
” Daisy offered cheerfully as she sashayed back to her lounger.
“What?” JW sputtered,
nearly dropping the cookie.
turned and plunked herself down on the padded webbing. “He’s a little awkward, a little tongue-tied around women, and a man that fit and good-looking without a girlfriend?”
“He’s not gay,” JW protested
vehemently, offended on behalf of his grandson. Gay might be a perfectly acceptable thing to the general populace these days, but Sterling men were
Why not?” asked Hannah Sprite. She was lounging on a floating chair in the condo complex’s pool, a brightly colored one-piece bathing suit covering her still-toned, well-tanned, seventy something body. “Because he happens to be
Because it’s an outrageous accusation, based on absolutely no factual information whatsoever.”
JW would admit
that his newly discovered grandson, Morgan Holbrook, could use some manning up. But that’s what happened when a boy was raised by his mother and two older sisters without a male role model in his life. If JW had known of his existence before now, he might have steered him into the military. Basic training and military camaraderie would have done Morgan a world of good.
“He’s not gay,”
Sam Finnegan commented mildly, glancing up from his own lounger, where he was working on his laptop. As always, a pair of glasses were perched on his nose, while a canvas fishing hat covered his balding head.
“How do you know?” asked
He’s a nerd,” said Sam. “Just like me.”
“I wouldn’t call him a nerd,” JW disagreed.
“Maybe he’s young, and maybe he hasn’t exactly found his way in life.”
said Lizbet Blythe, the fifth member of their usual group, speaking from her own lounger next to Sam’s. A pair of designer sunglasses shaded her eyes, a floppy, straw hat keeping the Florida sun from her face. “That definitely makes him a late bloomer. At that age, I was already on the management training program at Pascott Mutual.”
“Why are you all so hell-bent on categorizing him?”
JW bit into the cookie, enjoying the taste despite his deteriorating mood.
“He went to
Berkeley,” Daisy pointed out. “And he rides a bicycle.”
Berkeley is one of the top-rated computer science schools in the country,” Sam interjected. “Do you know what it takes to graduate first in your class at Berkeley?”
“Maybe he’s a savant,”
Hannah mused from the pool. “One of those guys who’s brilliant at one thing and stupid at everything else.”
“Are you calling my grandson stupid?” JW demanded.
Hannah shrugged and flashed a smile. JW knew she’d been a beauty her entire life. That dimple, those straight, white teeth, and those sparkling blue eyes persuaded the world let her get away with anything. She’d never learned to censor herself.
“I doubt they can
accurately measure his IQ,” said Sam.
harrumphed his acceptance of Sam’s statement. The two men had little in common, but they’d lived next door to each other in the Sunny Autumn Seniors Community in Port Aidin, Florida, for the past eight years. In that time, JW had come to grudgingly admire Sam’s intellect, even if his politics were left-leaning, while Sam seemed to have forgiven JW for driving a full-size SUV and having used deadly force in a variety of war zones.
“Why don’t you ask him?”
Lizbet blithely suggested.
known the man for exactly thirty-six hours,” JW gruffly reminded her. “I’m not about to ask him if he’s gay. He’s
only learned of his illegitimate daughter, Nadia
back in March. As a young soldier, during a brief stopover in Monterey, he’d had a weekend fling and never given the woman another thought
After Nadia’s mother died last year, Nadia had tracked him down, introducing herself as his long-lost daughter and telling him he also had a grandson.
JW prided himself on logic over emotion, duty over desire. But
as a world-weary soldier who’d long since given up on having a family, meeting Nadia had touched him in ways he never could have imagined. He’d had no expectations, wouldn’t have blamed Nadia if she’d hated him for deserting her mother. But she hadn’t. Two months later, she’d sent Morgan to meet him.
“There’s one sure way to find out,”
Hannah noted, bringing him back to the discussion.
asking him,” JW reiterated.
How’s that?” asked Lizbet, sitting up straight with obvious interest.
“We fix him up with a girl.”
Sam’s brows popped up in surprise.
“That’s not a good idea
.” For reasons he couldn’t quite pinpoint, JW had serious reservations.
“You’re afraid I’m right,”
Daisy told him with conviction.
“You see gay everywhere,”
Lizbet told Daisy.
“Wishful thinking,” Hannah laughed.
Daisy grinned unrepentantly.
did a double take at Daisy’s expression.
What the hell?
Then he felt it—a wet sandbag smacking him upside the head. He glanced questioningly at Sam, who gave him a small, helpless shrug and a nod.
Daisy was gay? JW
stared at the half-eaten cookie in his hand. All this time, he’d thought she was plying him with her baking because she saw him as a potential boyfriend. How embarrassing was that?
Nerds crash and burn on dates,” Sam pointed out. “Just because a guy doesn’t hit on everything in a skirt doesn’t mean he’s gay.”
won’t just pick some random woman and hope he takes the bait,” said Hannah. “It has to be the right girl.”
“What about a hooker?” asked
hoked out a cough then wheezed to recover.
“I mean, a call girl, of course.
A nice, classy call girl. Nerd or not, he is a man.”
are not getting my grandson a call girl,” JW all but bellowed.
He couldn’t help picturing
Nadia. What would she think if he fixed her son up with a call girl? What kind of a grandfather would do something so colossally irresponsible?
“Do you know
any call girls?” Daisy asked Lizbet, appearing to be quite serious about the question.
I hosted international businessmen for over twenty years,” Lizbet answered. “I cultivated a lot of contacts in that time.”
“You got them hookers?” asked
Hannah with what looked like awe.
counted off on her fingers. “Most common requests were five-star steak houses, strip clubs, hookers and cocaine. In that order.”
me a break,” Sam interjected with obvious disgust.
figured Lizbet was probably right. He’d spent his entire life surrounded by men who were away from their homes and families. They liked great food. They loved sex, and they sometimes succumbed to drugs. It wasn’t exactly admirable, but it was reality.
Your gender is appallingly predictable,” Lizbet declared in a jaded, world-weary tone.
Apparently not the nerds at NASA,” Daisy joked.
JW glanced to Sam, but he had fixed
his attention on his laptop and didn’t respond. The icing on JW’s cookie was starting to melt, so he popped the remainder into his mouth and inwardly sighed with bliss.
Daisy might be batting for the other team, but she was still the best cook he’d ever met.
“I have three granddaughters up in Fort Pierce,” Hannah offered, pulling herself out of the pool. “I could get one of them to come down for the weekend.”
Water dripped from her one-piece suit, glistening on her arms and legs in the bright sunlight.
JW might be over seventy, but he still appreciated the view of an attractive woman.
e might like Chastity,” said Lizbet.
“I was thinking Kaitlin,” Hannah
responded. She crossed the deck to where her beach towel was draped on a chair, wrapping it around herself like a sarong.
Esmee might be gay,” said Daisy.
The other two women burst out laughing.
Daisy glanced back and forth between them. “What?”
Esmee’s had a boyfriend for two years now,” said Lizbet.
“But I admire your optimism,” said Hannah.
“You women have completely lost your minds,” JW felt compelled to point out. He glanced at his watch, wondering how soon Morgan would return from his bike ride along the coast. The last thing JW needed was for his grandson to walk in on this ridiculous conversation.
It’s not really up to us to choose,” Lizbet noted. She looked to Hannah. “Do you think they’d all come and meet him?”
“That might be a little awkward,”
said Hannah as she carefully settled herself on a chair.
?” JW drawled, with a disgusted shake of his head.
All this crazy talk was making him hungry, and he reached for another cookie. He could shuffle through an extra mile
tomorrow morning to burn it off. It was kind of liberating to know that Daisy couldn’t possibly have romantic designs on him.
Daisy sat up, swinging her legs around the side of the lounger.
“What we need is one of those computer programs. The kind they use on dating Web sites. You put in personality attributes and, poof, the computer spits out a match.”
“Those are bullshit,” said Sam.
The women swung their gazes to him.
“They should be illegal.
Fleecing people out of their hard-earned money. A grade-eight math student could write a more complex algorithm.”
“How do you know that?” asked
Lizbet, rising to her feet and tossing her hat back on the lounger.
Sam’s brow furrowed together.
“Because I’ve checked them out.”
Checked them out how?”
took a look at their source code.”
“You hacked into a dating
Web site?” asked Daisy.
re not exactly the CIA,” said Sam. “The only thing more bush league than their matchmaking software is their security programs. Add a few random lines of code, and I could match supermodels up with trash collectors, librarians up with rock singers.”
moved to perch herself on the end of Sam’s lounger. “Have you done that, Sam? Are you messing with people’s lives on WebDate.com?”
split second, Sam looked guilty. “Of course not.”
Hannah moved closer to Sam. “Are you saying you c
ould you write a better one?”
“A better one what?”
“A better dating program,” Lizbet added, obviously following the train of Hannah’s thoughts.
“Easily,” said Sam.
He looked up, glancing between the two women.
ou write the program. Hannah can fill in her granddaughters’ profiles and see which one is a better match for Morgan.”
granddaughters, too,” said Daisy.
snapped her fingers. “Voilà. Between us, we find exactly the right date.”
JW knew he should
launch another protest. Not that his opinion had ever slowed those three women down.
t didn’t seem right to let them loose on his grandson’s life. Then again, if Sam was right and Morgan was a nerd, he probably did have trouble meeting women on his own. He might very well appreciate some assistance.