Chapter Three

“Kindling Dating?” I rounded on my sister as she put the cute onesie away into a closet full of onesies. “Did you really sign me up for Kindling Dating or was that just a way to get Mom off my back?”

Rosie didn't answer right away. She took her time putting the new clothes into the closet and then turned to face me.

“You really are signed up and you really do have a date,” she finally said. “If you want it. No pressure.”

“No pressure?” I flopped into the rocking chair, nearly flinging myself right back out of it. “You told Mom. She's going to follow up on this until I marry the the poor guy!”

Rosie frowned, her hand going to her swollen belly and pushing as the little boy inside of her kicked her like I wanted to do. “I thought it would be good for you. I thought you'd be happy.”

“You signed me up for a dating service, Rosie,” I said, trying to calm myself by rocking. The motion was soothing, but I was still agitated. “One that costs money. There's a reason I stay on the free ones. I don't want you paying for this kind of thing. You have a baby on the way. I want you to buy booties, not booty calls. The reason I haven't tried this one is that it's so expensive.”

Rosie sighed and leaned against the wall. “I know. But the advertisements are so awesome! I'm trying to help you out.”

“You're supposed to be the good one. Signing me up for dates without my knowledge is not good.” I pressed my fingers into the bridge of my nose. “Maybe we can still get your money back...”

Rosie's lip quivered. “I really was just trying to help.”

“Don't cry, Rosie,” I pleaded. I knew her hormones were causing emotional swings. The last thing I wanted to do was make my baby sister cry because she was trying to help me.

“I'm not,” she said with a sniffle. “And I already paid for it. It was supposed to be a present.”

She wrapped her arms around her and looked at the floor, looking like a chastised child. I knew she really did just want to help.

I stood up and wrapped my arms around her. “I'm not mad, Rosie. Promise.”

Holding her like this, I was transported back in time. Back to when Dad was still alive and we were just little kids. Rosie and I would hear Mom and Dad arguing upstairs almost every evening. Their marriage was not a happy one, but they stayed together because it was the “right thing to do.” Whenever their arguments would fill the house, I would hold little Rosie close and we'd whisper secrets and jokes to drown out the unhappiness upstairs. She would bury her face into my shoulder, just like she was doing now, and I would keep her safe. It was why we were so close now.

“I just want you to find somebody. I want you to be happy, and you know that I'm proud of you and your blog, but it isn't taking you where you want to go.” Rosie held me tight, letting the words spill out without having to look at me. “You deserve so much more than these bad dates all the time.”

“Oh, Rosie...” I sighed, but I didn't know what else to say.

“So, when I saw the ad for this matchmaking service based on science and guaranteed to help you find love, I couldn't stop myself. I signed you up.” Rosie shrugged.

“What about the date part?” I asked, not letting go. As long as I had her like this, she would spill everything.

“That was kind of an accident,” Rosie admitted. “I filled out all the questionnaires and profile questions like I was you. It wasn't that hard, and it was actually kind of fun.”

“You pretended to be me?”

“How else was I supposed to sign you up? Anyway, after I did all that, a guy contacted me. I mean you. I mean, your profile,” she amended.

“And you answered him?” I asked, horrified. The first rule of online dating was not to talk to just anyone, but knowing Rosie, she probably responded to every single request sent to the profile. This was going to be a disaster.

“He was cute!” she shot back. “Super cute. And funny. You'll like him I promise.”

“Funny?” I pulled back so I could look at her face. Funny meant they had a conversation. “How do you know he's funny?”

Rosie refused to meet my eyes. “I chatted with him online.”

“Rosie, you're married!” I exclaimed. “You were totally flirting with another man. Does your husband know?”

“Actually, he helped a little bit.” She bit her lip, still refusing to look at me. “He actually does a really good impression of you.”

“Rosie!” I couldn't believe this. I was going to have to kill her and her husband now. It was a shame.

“He's charming,” she promised. “Just give it a try. I have a really good feeling about this, Harper. A really, really good feeling. Please?”

I sighed. That was really the only response I had. There was no way I could tell my pregnant, hormonal, baby sister and my mother that I wouldn't at least give the guy a shot.

“Fine.” I crossed my arms. “But just one date. And if it's awful, I totally get to blog about it.”

Rosie's face lit up like the Fourth of July. “Really? Oh, that's so great! You'll really like this guy, I promise.”

“Just how much did you chat with him?” I asked, suddenly a little nervous. She seemed way, way too confident about him for just a simple online chat. My stomach was doing nervous flips just thinking about what I was getting myself into.

“Not that much...” Rosie trailed off and began to mess with her phone.

“Rosie, how much?”

“Here, just look at him,” Rosie replied, handing me her phone instead of answering my question. The dating website was pulled up to my profile. The picture of me was from her birthday party last year. I looked happy. Not sexy or flirty or any of the other emotions I usually chose to display, but happy.

I scanned down to the chat logs. It looked like Rosie and her husband and chatted Mr. Perfect Match quite a bit. I groaned, knowing I was going to have to go through all the chat logs.

But, at least the picture of the guy was good. He was definitely attractive. His hair was dark and messy, as if he'd tried to tame it but the wind had just picked up right when the picture was taken. Green, piercing eyes the color of emeralds peered back at me from a smile that could light up a room. The photo was just a head shot, but even then, it looked like he worked out.

“He's cute in this picture,” I told Rosie. “If that's even him.”

Rosie rolled her eyes at me. “Oh ye of little faith.”

“I'm the one who has been doing this for a living,” I said. “Do you know how many guys have amazing pictures? All of them. Then, in person it turns out that it was them ten years ago. Or their roommate. Or the guy on their underwear package.”

“Just meet him, okay?” Rosie stood before me and batted her eyelashes. “If he's terrible, then you get a great article for your blog. If he's not...”

“Then you get a great 'I told you so,'” I finished for her.

I sighed again and looked at the picture again. He was really cute.

“Fine,” I promised. “Not like I have a lot of choice in the matter. Can you at least give me my user name and password so I can read through the novel you three wrote each other?”

“We did not write a novel!” Rosie replied, snatching her phone from my hands. “We just had a couple of very nice conversations. That's it.”

“Sure.” I gave her a nice smile. “User name and password?”

“HarpStrings and GonnaFindMeSomeLUV!23,” Rosie rattled off, emphasizing the capital letters. At least she had picked a decent password. I wasn't so sure on the user name, but it was too late now. Rosie chewed on her lower lip as she unconsciously rubbed her belly. Her dark brows were pulled together in fear that I'd still be mad.“Are we okay?”

“Of course we're good,” I assured her, pulling her in for another hug. “I'm not terribly pleased, especially since you let Mom in on your little secret, but your heart was in the right place.”

“Okay.” Rosie smiled and then let out an excited gasp. “He's kicking.”

She grabbed my hand and put it on her belly. It took a moment, but then I felt it. The life inside of her pushing and stretching, saying hello to the world outside. How could I be mad when I had that under my hands?

“He's getting so strong,” I murmured, lost at the awe of feeling life growing right under my fingers. “I can't wait to meet him.”

“Me too.” Rosie shifted slightly as the baby kicked hard. “You are about to have a lot of good men in your life, Harper.”

“Well, at least one,” I agreed quietly. For a moment, I hoped that I wasn't just talking about the baby.

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