Bought:One Bride

By: Miranda Lee

Meanwhile, she wasn’t going to breathe a word to Connie. And she would stash away every cent she could.

The sight of a huge bunch of red roses sitting in a bucket in the corner brought Holly up with a jolt. It was a phone order she had taken yesterday afternoon. Not one of her usual clients. A man, who’d promised to pick them up by noon today.

With a sigh, she checked her records, found his name and number, and rang.

An answering machine. Botheration. She hated answering machines.

After leaving a message saying she’d cancelled the order, Holly hung up with a sigh.

What a waste. Such lovely red roses. Expensive, too. He hadn’t wanted buds, but open flowers. They wouldn’t last more than a few days. Impossible to sell them to anyone else.

And then an idea came to her.

Mrs Crawford. She absolutely loved roses, and she wasn’t due to leave on her overseas jaunt till the end of next week. Holly could call them a going-away gift. Plus a thank you for all the times she’d dropped into the shop for a chat and a cuppa.

Nice woman, Mrs Crawford.

If Holly’s thoughts drifted momentarily to Richard Crawford, she didn’t allow them to linger. Yet there was a time when she’d thought about Mrs Crawford’s precious only son quite a bit. She’d even woven wild fantasies around him, about their meeting one day and his being bowled over by her.

Sara was right. Most women were romantic fools!

Flicking her address book over to the Cs, she checked Mrs Crawford’s number and rang to make sure she’d be there.


Oh, well, at least she was home.

Holly bent to scoop the roses out of the bucket, wrapped them in some silver paper and tied them with a red bow the same colour as the blooms. She would walk up to Mrs Crawford’s house and give them to her personally. It wasn’t far and the day was still pleasantly warm. The sun didn’t set till late and it was only four-fifteen.

When Holly set out, it never occurred to her that Richard Crawford might be at his mother’s house, even if it was the weekend. Mrs Crawford had told her just the other day that she rarely saw her son any more. Apparently, he’d been promoted to CEO at his bank—the youngest ever!—and was more of a workaholic than ever.

Holly took her time, strolling rather than striding out, enjoying the fresh air and mentally running through her list of things to do in the coming weeks.

Number one. Find a job, preferably in the city.

Number two. Find a flat, preferably near the city.

Number three. Find herself a nice bloke. Preferably one who wore a suit and worked in the city.

Holly pulled a face, then struck number three off her list. That could definitely wait a while.

Regardless of how much of a two-timing rat Dave had turned out to be, he’d still been her boyfriend for over a year and she’d thought she loved him. Had thought he loved her as well. He’d said he did often enough.

Dave’s dumping her for Katie had really hurt. Holly’s self-esteem was still seriously bruised and she simply wasn’t ready to launch herself back into the dating scene.

No, she would concentrate on the two things she could manage. A new job and a new place to live.

Finding a new boyfriend was not on her agenda, not for quite some time.


“I’M GOING now.”

Richard looked up from his laptop, taking a few moments to focus on his mother, who was standing in the study doorway.

“You’re looking very smart,” he said.

“Thank you,” she returned, her hand lifting to lightly touch her exquisitely groomed blonde hair. “Nice of you to notice.”

Richard had noticed more than her new hair. She was a totally different woman today, all due to Melvin’s arrival in her life, no doubt.

“I’m sorry I’m going out, Richard. But you could have warned me you were dropping by. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of you for weeks.”

“I’ve been exceptionally busy,” he said, and let her think he meant at the bank.

In reality, he’d been busy, wining and dining his five final selections from Wives Wanted. So far he’d taken out four of them. The first three, on successive Saturday nights. Number four, however, hadn’t been able to make it tonight, so he’d taken her out last night.

The evening had proved as disappointing as the three previous dinner dates.

Richard had been going to go into work today—he often worked on a Saturday—but he’d decided at the last moment, and in a spirit of total exasperation, to come and tell his mother about his quest for a new wife via Wives Wanted. He hadn’t wanted to discuss his lack of success so far with Reece, and certainly not with Mike, who knew nothing of his wife-finding endeavours. Richard had even brought his laptop with him to show his mother the Wives Wanted database.

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