Bought:One Bride

By: Miranda Lee


“She won’t be back till very late tonight,” he added. “Can I help you perhaps? I’m her son. Richard.”

“Yes, I know that,” she said, then looked flustered by her admission.

“In that case, you have the advantage on me,” he replied smoothly. “Have we met before?” He knew damned well they hadn’t. He would have remembered.

“No. Not really. I mean, I saw you at your wife’s funeral. I…um…I did the flowers.”

She seemed embarrassed at having to mention the occasion. On his part, Richard was pleased that he could be reminded of that day without too much pain.

Yes, he was definitely ready to move on.

“I see,” he said as he wondered how old she might be. Late twenties perhaps?

“Please forgive me if I say I don’t recall noticing the flowers that day,” he said ruefully. “But I’m sure they were lovely. I presume these are for my mother?” he said, nodding towards the roses she was holding. Probably from crafty old Melvin.

“Yes. It’s a phone order which was never picked up today. I know how much Mrs Crawford likes flowers—roses particularly—and I thought she might like them. I realise she’s going away next Friday but they won’t last that long.”

“You know about Mum’s trip?”

“Yes, she…um…told me about it herself last week. And about her new doctor friend. Melvin, isn’t it? It’s a pity, really. If she’d still been looking for a travelling companion, I might have applied for the job myself.”

Richard was taken aback. “Why on earth would a girl like you want to travel anywhere with a woman old enough to be her grandmother?”

She shrugged. “Just to escape, I guess.”

If she’d said to travel the world on the cheap, Richard might have understood. But to escape screamed something much more emotional. So did the bleakness that had suddenly filled her big brown eyes.

“Escape from what?” he probed gently. “Are you in some kind of trouble? Man trouble perhaps?”

She wasn’t a raving beauty but, the more Richard looked at her, the more attractive he found her. She had lovely eyes, a sexy mouth and a fabulous figure.

He fancied her. Other men would, too.

She shook her head. “No, no, nothing like that. Here. Give these to your mother when she gets home, will you? Tell her they’re from Holly. Just say they’re a little thank-you present for all the times she’s dropped in at the shop for a chat. She’s a really sweet lady, your mum.”

Richard refused to take the flowers. “Why don’t you come inside and arrange them in a vase for her?” he suggested before she could cut and run. Any girl who wanted to get away that badly sounded like a girl who wasn’t very happy with her life at the moment. If she did have a boyfriend, he sure as hell wasn’t doing the right thing by her.

She blinked, then stared at him.

Richard had no idea what she was thinking, which in itself was as intriguing and attractive as she was. He’d been able to read those women he’d taken to dinner like an open book.

“Look,” he said with what he hoped wasn’t a “big bad wolf” smile. “I have absolutely no talent with flower arranging, whereas you’d have to be an expert. So what do you say, Holly? You do the flowers and I’ll make us both some coffee. I’m good at coffee.”

She still hesitated, making Richard wonder if he was easier to read than she was. Maybe she could see his intentions in his eyes. Not that they were evil intentions. He just wanted the opportunity to learn a bit more about her. He wasn’t planning to seduce her.

Not yet, anyway.

“Who knows?” he said lightly. “Maybe Melvin will prove to be an utter bore and Mum will come home early, still looking for that travelling companion.”

She laughed. “I don’t think there’s much chance of that happening, and you know it. You’re just being nice, like your mum.”

Nice. She thought he was being nice.

Richard’s conscience stirred. But he swiftly put aside any qualms.

Faint heart never won fair lady.

“We will adjourn to the kitchen,” he said before she had time to think up some excuse to flee. “This way.” And taking her arm, he ushered her inside.





CHAPTER THREE





“I’LL JUST get you some scissors from Dad’s study first,” Richard said as he closed the door behind them.

When he abandoned Holly’s elbow to walk up the hallway into a room on the right, a small shudder of relief rippled through her.

Having Richard Crawford answer the doorbell had been a real shock. She’d been expecting his mother.

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