Rina Thorn straightened and then turned to her best friend, Maggie Barnes. “You heard them. They, our very own special children, have friends that need our matchmaking skills.” Rina eyed her water bottle and then her son. “Ander, pull out one of the three blenders you got as wedding gifts. You know what this means?”
Maggie’s eyes twinkled and she laughed, the robust sound eliciting grins from the group in Ander’s kitchen. “Rina and I are going to need Margaritas!”
Ander turned to his wife, Noelle. “Would you get the glasses for us?” He opened a cupboard and pulled down a bottle of Tequila Gold.
After everyone settled in with their drinks—except for Noelle who opted for orange juice because of her pregnancy—Ander said, “So let’s talk about matchmaking for Rico and Allie. Separately … not together.”
Jenn, Maggie’s daughter, added, “Totally. I think we have to decide what we want our moms to do and what we want to handle.”
Maggie and Rina exchanged glances before Maggie said, “We have the experience for success, Ander and Jenn, as you both know.”
Jenn’s fiancé, Finn, rolled his eyes and Noelle laughed.
“It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows,” Ander reminded Rina.
Rina shrugged. “Just because there were a few glitches doesn’t mean we weren’t successful. What about the last couples?”
“Point taken,” said Ander. “But Jenn and I talked about this quite a bit before we came to you and Maggie. We expect a little more—”
“—Finesse,” Jenn finished.
“What!” Outraged at the disrespect, Maggie and Rina shouted in unison. “We have plenty of finesse.”
Before Maggie could sputter another response, Rina said, “Anderson Thorn, I brought you into this world and you bet your butt I can take you out. You’d better explain that accusation.” She leveled a glance at Jenn. “And you, too, missy.”
Ander held up his hands in surrender. “You know how Rico feels about commitment. I’ve known him since grade school and if I’m not sure how to handle this, how will you and Maggie? I—Jenn and I—think we need to proceed more slowly than you have in your past projects.”
“Allie, for all her civic activities and committee work, is shy and reserved.” Jenn shook her head. “It’s hard for most people to get past her outgoing public persona. She’s my best friend and I don’t want to hurt her by pushing too hard.” She dodged a straw Maggie had launched at her. “Mature, Mom.”
Maggie inhaled, released her breath. “Rina, what do you think?”
“I don’t think I can work with them.” Rina crossed her arms. “I’m insulted they’re questioning our abilities.”
“They forget neither of them were even interested in soul mates, much less doing anything about it. We came in and gave them their happily ever afters. Ungrateful,” added Maggie.
Ander said, “We didn’t mean—”
“Yes, we did,” Jenn interrupted. “We want to be the lead matchmakers.”
“Since you brought this to us, you must want us to play some role,” Rina said. “Do you want us to serve as consultants? Make recommendations, be there for you if you run into operational difficulties?” She shot a glance at Maggie, who shrugged and nodded.
“Just a minute,” Ander said. He and Jenn put their heads together and held a whispered conversation. “Yes, that’s what we want.”
“Hello.” Noelle waved her hand. “What about Finn and me?”
“I don’t think he wants to be involved,” said Jenn. “Do you want to help me, Finn?”
The whole group swiveled to look at Finn as if they were at a tennis match.
“That feels like a trick question.” He cleared his throat. “How would I help?”
“Nothing out of your comfort zone,” said Ander. He reached over and took Noelle’s hand. “My sweet bride and I might want to double date with Rico and his—what do you call them, Mom?”
“Yes, candidates. I’m sure Allie would think it odd if you didn’t go with Jenn on a similar double date.”
“You did with Allegra and Reese,” Jenn reminded him.
Finn leaned over and kissed Jenn on the cheek. “I’m in.”
“Good answer,” Maggie said drily.
“The only right answer,” Rina said with a smile.
“That’s settled.” Maggie nodded.
“And me?” Noelle asked, tucking a swath of blonde hair behind her ear.
“Nothing too strenuous.” Ander rested his hand on her baby bump.
Noelle punched him in the shoulder.
“I’ll let you know if it’s too strenuous.”
“Noelle, we’ll come up with a strategy.” Maggie sipped her drink.
“I have a question.” Rina rested her hand on Ander’s shoulder. “Rico has a well-documented marriage aversion issue. What makes you think he’s going to agree to this? Of all of your friends, why him?”
“Trust me on this, Mom.”
Rina stared at her son for a moment. “Okay. How do you and Jenn plan to start this project?”
“Jenn and I will talk to Allie and Rico.”
This time, it was Maggie who rolled her eyes. “The honesty card? Have I taught you nothing? Good luck with that.”
“Okay, okay. How are you going to find likely candidates?”
“I can host a party.” Rina immediately began planning the details in her head.
“I felt like a side of beef at an auction, so no. No party.”
Rina had seen that stubborn expression enough times that she knew he wouldn’t budge on this point.
“Besides, I have a woman in mind,” Ander said.
“You didn’t tell me that,” said Jenn.
“That’s because I want to talk to Rico first. Feel him out.”
“Do you have someone in mind for Allie?” asked Maggie.
“Oh, hell no.” She took a sip of her drink. “You know, Mom, I’m beginning to see why you and Rina love these Margaritas when you’re planning.”
“I propose a toast.” Rina lifted her glass. “Here’s to Margaritas and to successful matchmaking.”