Statistically Improbable (Dating by Design Book 2)(9)

By: Jennifer Peel

Zander was right about his adoring fans. The older women at the table reminded me of a show my mom used to watch, The Golden Girls. Kenadie’s mom reminded me of Blanche, not that she was promiscuous, but she was spunky and beautiful for a woman of any age. The table erupted in delight when we approached. All the older women’s eyes lit up when they saw Zander, but they widened when they noticed me by his side.

“Ladies, this is Meg Dawson. She works with us,” Zander introduced me.

Before I could say hi, I noticed Kenadie give Zander a shrewd look—she didn’t like that we were there together. But Jason gave me a friendly smile.

Before I knew it, Kenadie’s mom, Nan, was on her feet and hugging me. “How lovely to see you again.” I had met her in the office several times.

I hugged her back. “It’s nice to see you as well, Mrs. Marshall.”

“I love this girl’s manners.” She pointed to her friends. “These are my dearest friends in the world, Cissy and Adelaide.”

Both women looked between Zander and me with interest. Then they nodded to one another with conspiratorial smiles.

“Well, you two sit down,” Mrs. Marshall directed.

Cissy stood up and let Zander slide between her and Adelaide in the booth. Zander settled there and put his arms around the two women, which seemed to delight them.

I took the chair that was brought over from another table and sat on the end. I felt out of place. Like a kid sitting at the adult table during the holidays.

“What have you guys been up to?” Kenadie asked me. I could hear the uneasiness in her voice.

I met Kenadie’s worried eyes. “Just dinner and watching a game.”

Kenadie whipped her head to focus on Zander. “Where did you take her?”

“And since when did you become my mother?” Zander smirked.

“It was a barbecue place on Orchard Street,” I intervened. There was this underlying tension at the table that made me uncomfortable.

“Love that place,” Jason jumped in. “It’s where I met Kenadie.” He kissed the top of his fiancée’s head. Kenadie seemed to relax under his touch. She gave me a smile. “Did you like it?”

“It was good.”

“She’s lying,” Zander said playfully. “And now she has to prove to me that she can make a better beef brisket.”

“Oh, so you’re going out again.” Mrs. Marshall smiled, pleased at the thought.

Cissy and Adelaide nodded their approval with big grins.

Mrs. Marshall stroked my arm. “You are a pretty girl.”

Zander tugged at his collar. “You know I’m never settling down. Meg’s just helping me keep my reputation up as a ruthless player.”

Mrs. Marshall wagged her finger at Zander, but she spoke to me. “Is that true, dear?”

“No, ma’am.”

Jason laughed. “Sounds like you better get your story straight, man.”

Zander gave me a smile. “She’ll come around, don’t worry.”

I rolled my eyes at him.

“Why do I think that’s going to be the other way around?” Mrs. Marshall smiled at me.

“Did we come here to eat ice cream or not?” Zander ignored Mrs. Marshall’s surprising comment.

“We already ordered.” Kenadie handed me a menu from the other side of the table.

“Thank you. What’s good here?”

“Jason and I always get butter brickle, and butthead always orders sorbet.”

“Not tonight,” Zander announced. “I skipped the beer at dinner, so I have some calories to spend.”

I was touched that he didn’t take a sip of his beer after I told him about my mom.

Both Jason and Kenadie seemed surprised by his admission, but Kenadie voiced hers. “Really? What’s gotten into you?”

“Again, you aren’t my mother or my boss, oh wait.” He gave her an evil grin. “I guess you are, but we’re off the clock.”

I decided I’d better look at the menu. I couldn’t tell if Zander and Kenadie were playing or if there was an issue between them, mainly the fact that I was there. Everything on the menu looked great, but I decided on a scoop of the mint chocolate chip. Zander ordered a chocolate shake.

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