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"This is medieval.” That’s Carrie’s response to the reading of her grandfather’s will. The money will allow her to provide for her ill mother and give her the chance to give up one of her full time jobs as a nurse. The money won’t be hers until she marries. This creates a dilemma. She has no time for dating and doesn’t know who would marry her until she thinks of her former best friend, Tony. But can she ask him? Two months later time is running out and she decides to take the plunge. Three years ago, Tony and his wife divorced. Last year he obtained custody or their child. When Carrie asks him to marry her he decides since this won’t be a real marriage, he can accept. Years ago, he loved Carrie but never said anything to her. Now burned, he doesn’t believe in love. To help her uncomplicate her life he agrees. Can Tony and Carrie get past the reason for the marriage and find love and make a home for his son?
She shook her head. “Another job is the last thing I need. I already have two.”
She shrugged. “Necessity.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s a long story.” She sighed. “I shouldn’t have come.”
“What’s wrong? Sounds like you need a shoulder.”
The entire body, she thought. “You could say...It’s like this...I have a problem that needs a solution...It’s sort of...” Her throat closed. Maybe she should leave. Go home. Forget the plan. Find a new one. Except, he was her first, last, and only choice.
“Be glad to listen.” He patted her hand. “Are you saying in all these years, you haven’t found anyone else to listen?
I haven’t looked, she thought. There couldn’t be a replacement for Tony. She couldn’t tell him that. “I thought...Maybe you can help.”
“Be glad to try. Go ahead.”
A crash resounded. Carrie jumped. “I think you’re the one with the problem.”
“You could say that.” Tony rolled his eyes upward. “My son’s protesting his punishment for his latest series of pranks. He’s grounded with no TV and no phone.”
“What did he do?” She sat on one end of a shabby brown couch.
“Do you really want to know?”
She nodded. Hearing about Tony’s problems could give her time to gather her courage.
He slumped beside her. “He glued the sitter’s clothes together. She left in a huff.”
“Don’t blame her.” Carrie frowned. “I thought your son lived with his mother.”
“He did until July. She’s remarried…to one of the Brinkers.
She and her new husband are on a world cruise honeymoon. They didn’t take
His blue eyes were bleak. Was his pain for his son or himself? How badly had his failed marriage hurt him? “Are you all right with the idea?”
He shrugged. “I’ve mixed feelings.”
His expression showed hurt and anger, not ones she’d consider mixed. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s great having
“Maybe I can help.”
“Don’t know how.” He winked. “I’m not without experience in dealing with angry kids. “Remember…”
“Yes, and don’t even mention the first time we met.”
“Or my black eye? Lord, it’s great to see you again. Why don’t you tell me why you came all this way?”
She ran her tongue over dry lips. She searched for an answer and couldn’t find one he would believe. If she asked him, he would think she was crazy.
Good grief, my thoughts are scrambled. He is too…too… male.
And your feelings for him haven’t changed.
The demand in his voice made her feel like a child facing an adult. “It’s...” What sounded like glass shattering brought her to her feet.
Saved, she thought. “Don’t you think you’d better see what he’s doing before he trashes the house?”
He raked his ebony curls with his fingers. “You’re right.” He headed to the door. “Promise you’ll stay ‘til I settle him. Then we’ll talk.”
“I’ll be here.”
She sank against the cushions. Maybe he would need the entire evening to deal with his son. This visit was an act of desperation. After all, it had been years. Maybe he’d changed.
She looked around the sparsely furnished living room. Most
of the pieces looked like refugees from second-hand stores. What had gone wrong
for him? He’d been on the fast track. He’d entered practice with one of the
largest medical groups in