Bought:One Bride

By: Miranda Lee


But when he’d arrived she’d been so excited about her own date with Melvin that Richard had abandoned that idea.

And now he was glad he had. Because she would never understand why he wanted a marriage of convenience. Not unless he told her the truth about Joanna. And he refused to bare his soul like that.

“I won’t be back till late,” she said. “We’re going to the theatre after dinner. But there’s pizza in the freezer. And a nice bottle of wine in the door of the fridge.”

“Watch it, Mum. You’re in danger of becoming a party girl.”

Her face visibly stiffened. “And what if I am?” she snapped. “I think it’s about time, don’t you?”

Richard was startled by her reaction. Did she think he was criticising her?

Possibly. His father had been a critical bastard. He didn’t know how his mother had stood being married to him. It had been bad enough being his son. Richard had learned to survive by excelling in all his endeavours. Difficult for a father to find fault when his son came first at everything.

After his father had died several years back, Richard had expected his mother to marry again. She’d only been in her late fifties at the time. And she was a good-looking woman. Reginald Crawford wouldn’t have married any other kind.

But she hadn’t married again. She’d lived a very quiet life, playing bowls once a week on ladies day, and bridge on a Tuesday night. Mostly, she stayed at home where she looked after her garden, watched TV and read. Then suddenly, at sixty-five, the travel bug had hit.

Not wanting to explore the world alone, she’d placed an ad on the community bulletin board at the local library for a travelling companion. Melvin had applied a fortnight ago and was found to be very agreeable. A retired surgeon, he was a widower as well. Not a man to let grass grow under his feet, Melvin had already organised their world trip to start this coming Friday.

“I wasn’t being critical, Mum,” Richard said carefully. “I think what you’re doing is fabulous.”

“You mean that, Richard? You don’t think I’m being foolish?”

“Not at all. But I would like to meet Melvin personally before you leave.”

“Check up on him, you mean.”

“You are quite a wealthy widow, Mum,” he pointed out. “And I’m your only son. I have to keep an eye on my future inheritance, you know.”

This was a load of garbage and his mother knew it. Richard had made more money during his relatively short banking career than his father had in forty years of accounting. Reginald Crawford had always been too conservative with his own investments. He gave excellent advice to his clients but couldn’t seem to transfer that to his own portfolio.

Still, by the time he’d dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of seventy, he’d been able to leave his wife their Strathfield home, mortgage-free, along with a superannuation policy that would keep her in comfort till her own death. Which hopefully wouldn’t be for many years to come.

“You don’t have to worry, Richard,” she said airily. “Melvin is wealthy in his own right. Far wealthier than me. You should see his home. It’s magnificent.”

“I’d like to. So how old, exactly, is Melvin, by the way?”

“Sixty-six.”

Only one year older than his mother. A good match. Better than with his father, who’d been twelve years older.

“He sounds great. Better not keep him waiting, then. See you in the morning. Have fun,” he called after her as she headed for the front door.

He wasn’t sure if he heard right, but he was pretty sure she’d muttered, “I intend to.”

The front door banged shut, leaving Richard to an empty house, but not an empty mind.

Sixty-six, he mused. Was a man past it at sixty-six?

He doubted it.

One thing he knew for sure. A man wasn’t past it at thirty-eight.

Ignoring his growing sexual frustration was proving difficult. His male hormones, now directed where they normally went, had been giving him hassle. Yet there was no hope for them in sight.

It had been six weeks since Reece had put him in touch with the woman who ran Wives Wanted, a striking-looking but tough lady named Natalie Fairlane. Six weeks, and he wasn’t any closer to finding a woman he wanted to continue dating, with a view to matrimony.

He returned to his laptop and brought up the photo of his fifth selection. Another brunette. She was as beautiful on the screen as the other four had been. But not one of them had had any effect on him in the flesh.

There’d been no chemistry, as Reece would have put it.

They’d all been far too eager to please him as well. He’d seen the lack of sincerity in their eyes. In a couple of them, he’d sensed downright greed. They’d chosen the most expensive food on the menu, and the most expensive wine.

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