Marrying Mr. Wrong by Claire Kingsley



1





Sophie





I never should have gone commando in this dress.

People wandered by—men in tuxes and women in evening gowns—and I swore I could feel a breeze wafting up my legs and brushing my backside. Was I standing near a vent or something?

The hotel ballroom was beautifully decked out for the gala and auction. It was a great cause, benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters. Long tables held silent auction items, and the live auction would take place on the temporary stage in front of the panoramic windows. Tables were decorated with fancy linens and two bars provided drinks to the well-dressed guests.

The problem was, I’d totally forgotten about coming to this benefit. My boss, Shepherd Calloway, and his wife Everly—who’s one of my best friends—were supposed to attend. I’m Mr. Calloway’s executive assistant, so I arrange the details. They attend the events.

But Everly was pregnant, and yesterday her ankles had seemed a bit swollen. She was sure it was nothing to be concerned about—as was her doctor—but Mr. Calloway had developed an impressive level of protective paranoia when it came to his pregnant wife. He’d cleared his schedule for the next few days to make sure he could be there for Everly.

It really was rather cute.

But it left me in the position of filling in for them at this gala.

Which I’d forgotten about until the last minute.

And because I’m Sophie Abbott, expert hot mess, in my haste to get myself presentable enough for a black-tie gala, and be on time, and not break a nail, and find shoes that were formal enough but would allow me to walk, I’d completely forgotten to put on underwear.

Who forgets to put on underwear?

Me, that’s who.

At least I’d remembered a bra. That’s important when you have curves—and I have plenty of those.

So here I was, a bra dutifully taming the twins and my dark blond curls behaving nicely, but nothing below the waist except the thin fabric of my red dress.

My rather short, thin red dress.

Was it see-through? Could people see my butt crack?

That was probably my biggest concern at this point. I glanced over my shoulder, wondering if I’d catch someone looking down and pondering the nature of what was beneath my too-light-and-flimsy-to-go-commando dress.

A man in a black tux stood nearby, his eyes locked on my butt.

He could tell.

I sighed and moved farther down the silent auction table. At this point, I had to either cut out early and go home or resign myself to the fact that a handful of people in the room were going to notice and stare.

What would my friends do? My three best friends always seemed to be put together in ways I was not.

Everly would have Mr. Calloway to block her from view. His icy stare would freeze any man who dared to look at his wife. Hazel would never have worn this dress in the first place. She’d be wearing something much more practical. And lined.

But Nora? She’d just own it.

So maybe that was the answer. Channel my inner Nora. After all, tonight couldn’t get any worse. I was already dateless at a charity benefit where I didn’t know anyone—socially, at least—wearing a dress that made me feel like I was in one of those nightmares where you’re naked on stage in front of an audience.

And then, just like that, it got worse.

A man in a dark suit met my eyes from across the room. Gasping, I quickly turned away. Oh no. It was Dr. Handsy Perv.

My elderly father was on a quest to find me a husband and had appointed himself matchmaker. Which meant he tried to set me up with just about every single man he met who appeared to be between the ages of twenty and fifty.

The neighborhood mail carrier. The guy putting stickers on bananas at the grocery store. The waiter at our favorite restaurant. His ophthalmologist. The guy who did his taxes.

This one, Dr. Shilling, was the surgeon who’d recently performed a minor procedure on his wrist. When Dad had gone in for a follow-up, he’d somehow convinced the doctor to go on a date with his daughter.

I’d gone to appease my dad and very quickly wished I hadn’t. Dr. Shilling had spent the entire evening finding excuses to touch me. And not in cute ways that made me want him to touch me more. He’d groped and leered and made me so uncomfortable, I’d faked a sudden bout of food poisoning and left. Later, when I’d dished to my friends about it over martinis, we’d named him Dr. Handsy Perv.

And there he was, just on the other side of the silent auction tables.