The Billionaire and the Matchmake(7)

By: Lacy Andersen

“Which means a giant princess-cut diamond in a diamond-encrusted Tiffany setting.” Emily smirked. “Is that what we’re calling modern now?”

“If the Jimmy Choo fits.”

Emily sighed and threw herself into a nearby black and white paisley armchair. Suddenly her eyes grew wide and she bolted upright again. “Wait, what are you going to do with that apartment of yours?”

She’d been unimaginably jealous of Lydia’s apartment ever since they first met five years ago. It was a tiny thing, but full of old character with white wainscoting, crown molding, a gorgeous antique fireplace mantel, and a claw foot bathtub. She would’ve done anything to find an apartment like that, especially now that she was in the middle of selling her mom’s old house and about to be homeless.

“I’m glad you asked.” Lydia’s lips curled into a devious grin. “That brings me back to our original discussion.”

“About how you found a perfect man?”

“No.” She slunk over to the secretary desk, her cream colored pencil skirt tight around her legs. With a flourish, she picked up a piece of paper and waved it around. “How you found your perfect man.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Confusion wracked Emily’s face. She reached for the paper, but Lydia snatched it away.

“I added your information into the database yesterday afternoon. There was nothing better to do and I was curious.”

Dark clouds formed in Emily’s eyes. “Tell me you didn’t...”

“I knew you’d never have the guts.” Lydia lifted her chin and smirked. “It’s my job as your best friend to look out for your best interests, even if you feel inclined to neglect your own happiness. It was just an experiment, to see if any matches pinged. And it did. You had one match.”

“You’re not just saying that to set me up with that guy that was in here the other day?” Emily raised her eyebrows and gave her a dangerous look. Lydia hadn’t stopped dropping hints about Michael Knight since the moment he came in. “Because if you are...”

“No, I swear I didn’t cheat.” Lydia made a crossing motion over her heart. “If you trust your mother’s system as much as you say you do, then it’s the real deal.”

“That’s impossible.”

She snatched the paper from Lydia’s hand and scanned over the black text. For one heart-wrenching moment, she imagined Michael’s face on the page. However, disappointment struck hard when all she saw was the address for her favorite restaurant, Lorenzo’s Italian. There wasn’t even a name attached to her mysterious date.

“What’s this supposed to mean?”

“It’s where you’re meeting your match tonight for your first date. No name, no picture. I don’t want you googling him and finding ten reasons to dump him already.” Lydia began to walk away, her heels clicking on the cracked linoleum floor. “Eight sharp. Don’t be late.”

Emily felt blood rush to her face. She sputtered and stared at the paper, her heart pounding in her chest. “I’m not doing this, Lydia. You know I can’t.”

“You can if you want my apartment.” She sat at her desk and gave her a pointed look. “Edward has a much bigger place than I do and it only makes sense that I move in with him. So, either I need to find a subletter, or I give it to you. Rent is already paid through the end of the year.”

Lydia’s family owned a few vineyards in Napa Valley. They didn’t lack for funds, neither did their part-time employed daughter who had moved out here in the hopes of becoming an actress or a rich socialite.

“So, let me get this straight.” The paper in Emily’s hand shook as both shock and excitement coursed through her veins. “You’re using your rent-free apartment as blackmail to get me to go out on a date?”

“Four dates, to be exact.” Lydia held up four slender fingers. “Give this guy a real chance. Commit to four dates with him and the apartment is all yours.”

She ground her teeth and crumpled the paper in her hand. Part of her was furious at her so-called best friend for forcing her into this situation. She was perfectly fine as she was: single and hopeless.

So what if she complained about having nothing to do on most weekends? And so what if the last time she watched You’ve Got Mail she sobbed like a baby into her chocolate chip ice cream? There were standards to be maintained in a friendship and forcing your bestie to date a mysterious man was just not part of them. He could be a serial killer, for all she knew.