Mr Wrong

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Kate McArthur is determined to marry for security: a man with a good job and bright future. Based on her own upbringing mired in poverty she has schooled herself to be the perfect mate. . .for a rich man. She doesn’t want any children she has to ever have to go through what she did. Enter Brady Gallagher, stand-in salesman for an afternoon, who takes one look at Kate and decides she’s the woman for him. When he discovers she wants to marry for money, he stubbornly refuses to tell her that he’s an affluent lawyer wanting to prove to Kate that marrying for anything other than love, is unthinkable. Glad his ancestor did such a good job of kissing the Blarney stone, and passing the right genes on, Brady sets out to strip Kate of all her defenses and prove to her that her version of ‘Mr. Wrong’ is indeed the ‘Mr. Right’ she has been looking for all her life.

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Date de parution 14 août 2013
Nombre de visites sur la page 0
EAN13 9781773623481
Langue English

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Mr. Wrong The Homespun Series – Book 5 By Geeta Kakade
Digital ISBNs EPUB 9781773623481 Kindle 9781771451338 WEB 9781773623498
BWL Print 9781773623504 Amazon Print 9781773623511
Copyright 2013 by Geeta Kakade Cover Art 2013 by Michelle Lee All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights un der copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or in troduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electron ic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written p ermission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
Chapter 1 Brady switched off most of the lights and went over his mother’s checklist. Lock double doors first, put security bar in place, set alarm system, leave through side door, lock it. Eyes fixed on the keys in his hand he trie d to figure out which one he needed for the front door and shrugged. Trial and error would supply the information just as well. Agreeing to watch Bernie’s Gifts and Luggage hadn’t been such a mistake after all. As his mother had reiterated a dozen times, since s he had talked him into it that morning, anyone could do it. Even an up and coming lawyer on a rare visit home. The Sunday afternoon shoppers in Jacaranda Meadows hadn’t given him a hard time but he would be glad when he was nursing a col d beer in his parent’s spa. A couple of women had almost made him nervous by hang ing around for longer than necessary. Their body movements had informed him th at either of them would be glad to get to know him better. His instinct for self-preservation had propelled him into a long conversation with a man who had picked up a duck de coy. By the time he knew everything there was to know on the subject of duck hunting, the pair had left. Brady swung the double doors to close them. And fou nd he couldn’t. There was a foot in the doorway, encased in a light blue summer shoe of the canvas variety. Slowly his gray, charcoal rimmed, eyes traced a path up sl im ankles, long lovely legs, heart stopping knees and slender thighs. He couldn’t reme mber ever thinking of knees as sexy but hers were just that. Beautifully, glorious ly sexy. Reluctantly his eyes continued their journey north. The satisfyingly, miniscule blue shorts she wore were the kind that ought to be give n away free to those who qualified for it. The elastic waistband defined a waist that he could span with his hands. Perky breasts lifted the checked shirt above it. Finally he lifted his gaze to her face. Brady’s bre ath left his body in a small surprised whoosh. As forest green eyes met his, Bra dy heard a distinct cymbal clash of emotion in the far reaches of his brain. “Ma’am we’re closed,” he said politely. Could she hear him above the drumroll of his heart? “Please,” her voice silvery, perturbed, pleaded, “Y ou can’t be. It’s still one minute to five and it says here,” she pointed to the card in the window, ‘Sundays 12 - 5’. I fell asleep otherwise I would have been here much earlie r. I must have a present for tonight. I really must or I wouldn’t bother you lik e this.” Experience had taught Brady that it was hard to fin d everything one liked in one woman. With legs like hers, he was prepared for the rest of her to be average. But the woman in front of him seemed to have been created b y a consistently diligent artiste intent on achieving all round perfection. The voice put the seal on the matter. It’s chimes w inged straight to his heart with arrow like precision staking claim on it, for all e ternity. Brady stared at her, bemused.
Here, before him, was the missing piece of his pers onal jigsaw puzzle, the woman he had waited for all his life, his other half. How he could be so positive, he didn’t know. But he was. Which was strange, because the only clairvoyance he had ever been attributed with was in his childhood, on the occasions he had known he was going to be spanked. That hadn’t needed any great foresight, just a look at h is mother’s face. But now even without any leads, he was absolutely, irrevocably s ure. This luscious vision was his. The deduction, for a man of thirty two, who never j umped to any conclusion, preferring to arrive there after a logical summatio n of facts, was incredible, but for the moment it didn’t even occur to him that there was a nything unusual about his instant premise. Stunned by the force of his conviction he said blan kly, “Come in.” Could she feel this tumult that coursed through his veins, this emphatic emotion that declared they belonged together, had always done so ? Later, his legal brain would examine and analyze, but for now this heady tinglin g certainty was enough. She smiled at him uncertainly, revealing deep dimpl es placed unusually high on the inverted crescent of her cheeks and a tiny gap betw een her two front teeth that enchanted him. Brady’s hands clenched at his sides in an effort no t to reach out and pull her into his arms where she belonged. What a delicious smile. “Thank you.” Brady stepped back, still holding the door. As she passed him, a whiff of a maddeningly, elusive, floral talc tantalized his te nse nostrils. Like a wild stallion, he lifted his head and breathed deeply. * * * Kate hurried past the key chains, the handbags and luggage, heading straight for the glass case at the back where the more expensive items were kept under lock and key. Pointing to the most expensive, hand-tooled, l eather wallet she said, “May I have that one, please.” Harold had been so obvious about it, she couldn’t p ossibly get him anything else. Personally, she thought it too showy. And far too e xpensive. The man seemed to take a long time finding the key to fit the case. Kate watched as he went through the bunch. “Nice,” had been her first thought. Something flexe d in the pit of her stomach. She amended that. Very, very nice. He was taller than her by a head, well built, the c urve of biceps in the tee shirt pleasing without being overly muscular. His black h air was thick, wavy and well cut, the gray eyes she had looked into earlier, magnificent. Strength plus kindness was a formidable force in a man. His looks jogged her sen ses but it was his niceness that wrapped her heart in a swathe of crushed velvet.
Lying down for a few minutes had been a terrible mi stake. But cleaning her apartment, on top of a fast paced three mile walk, had worn her out. Bolting awake at four forty five she’d catapulted out of the apartme nt. Her foot in the doorway had been a last ditch attempt to get in. Luckily for her, it h ad worked. His quick survey had made Kate very conscious of th e five year old shorts she had donned that morning to do her chores in. At eightee n, there had been more of the shorts and less of her, but there was nothing she could do about that now. She was lucky just to be here. “He’s new here.” Katie watched as he systematically went through the bunch of keys, trying to find the one that would open this p articular glass case. Earlier when those gorgeous gray eyes had laser bea med their way to her soul, the distinct responsive surge of feeling in her body co nfounded Kate. She wanted to know this man better. “No,” warned her brain, “NO!” “Yes,” thumped her wayward heart, “Yes, please!” Raising a hand, she raked the tightly clustered aub urn curls on the top of her head, nervously. Kate hadn’t seen him before in the store. Not that she came in here very often. Bernie’s gifts and luggage carried things above and beyond her carefully controlled budget. She had come in with Harold the first time and then once after that. Both times this man hadn’t been here. She didn’t think she cou ld have forgotten him, despite her preoccupation with Harold. “Here, it is,” Brady put the wallet into her hands. Kate glanced at it to check it was the one Harold w anted before announcing, “I’ll take it.” As he rang up the sale Kate wandered around the sto re, finally coming to a stop at the counter closest to the cash register. In front of her was a glass paperweight. Inside it were tiny pressed blue and purple wildflowers, their delicacy a direct contrast to th e thick glass they were encased in. Kate touched the flat surface with a finger, wondering h ow the flowers had been imprisoned in the glass without being destroyed. Now this, she thought, this is what I would have li ked to have given Harold. Reversing it she noticed the price and the orange s ticker. Clearance. Under three dollars. It would never do. Looking up, she saw the man watching her. Her flesh goosed over as she realized he knew what was passing through her mind. Their ga zes caught and tangled and Kate felt some unknown emotion weave a tenuous web aroun d them, as fragile as the flowers in the glass paperweight. “With those eyes,” thought Kate, “he’ll never need words to make love with. Those eyes say it all. If only Harold was more like him.” Now where on earth had that thought come from, for Heaven’s sake? Harold was her future, this man only a passing, extra fluffy c loud on the day’s horizon.
“Will that be all?” he asked, and for a mad moment Kate wondered what he would say if she asked to have him as well. Weakly she nodded. The nap had definitely addled he r brain. She’d better get a grip on herself. Her plans were already made and no one was going to change them. “Thank you so much for letting me in.” Words were better than this silence that seemed to breed tantalizing impossible pictures, coloring them with the breath of wickedne ss. “I’m usually more organized. In my line of work I h ave to be,” the rueful note in her voice drew an answering smile that had Kate feeling like a hummingbird had been released in her throat. The tiny creature’s wings w ere beating up a miniature tempest in that region. “It’s no problem,” the words skipped over his kindn ess, hurried on to his next question, “What do you do?” “I teach preschool here in Jacaranda Meadows now,” she said, and he was aware of the pride in her voice, “but I’m taking classes at Cal Poly and I’m going to be a fully-fledged teacher one day.” “Do you like children?” But Brady knew the answer to that already, before s he nodded. She would want at least half a dozen of her own. She looked at her watch and the gesture prodded him back to the matter at hand. “That comes to a hundred and twenty five dollars an d sixty five cents,” he said, reluctant to let her go, so soon after he had just found her. “It can’t be.” Brady looked up to see the disbelief in her eyes. T he silvery voice sounded staccato, desperate. “I was here last week and they told me it was ninety five dollars including tax.” She’d had to know to bring in the exact amount. “We have some others at that price.” He had seen a burgundy one in the case, by another manufacturer that might work out to the amount she mentioned. “I specifically asked about this one,” her chin sup ported her statement with its defiant tilt. Kate knew she wasn’t making a mistake. Harold had p ointed out the exact one and she’d returned later in the week to find out the price. “There was this girl here, blonde with shoulder len gth hair and lots of makeup,” Kate said desperately, “She told me it was ninety five d ollars, including tax.” She’d had to know exactly to be able to save up the amount. She didn’t have any extra cash with her. Or anywhere else for that matter. “I’m sorry.” Brady said. “The information wasn’t co rrect.” Extracting the second price tag inside the case, he held it out to her as confi rmation. The girl she mentioned must be the one fired yester day. According to what he’d been told, she’d been a cross between a professiona l gum chewer and a punk devotee.
In the time she’d been here, she’d made enough mist akes to turn his mother’s hair white. * * * “It’s not fair....,” Kate’s voice trailed away. She swallowed hard. “It’s for a friend’s birthday.” “Must be a very important friend.” Kate nodded “Harold is important.” What was the point of arguing about an absent sales person’s mistakes? It wasn’t this man’s fault she didn’t have the cash to make u p the difference. He had been kind enough to let her in and giving him a hard time now wouldn’t achieve anything. After all he was only an employee here. Putting the sales tag down with a hand that tremble d, she lifted her eyes to him, staring somewhere past his shoulder, unwilling to l et him see the full extent of her disappointment, “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to take it now. Thank you for your help.” She was almost at the door before Brady could marsh al his wits. The sight of those eyes filled with dejection had startled and unnerve d him. Damn Harold and double damn his birthday. What kind of a swine was the man anyway to make her feel his birthday gift was so almighty important? ‘Wait a minute,” he called out, “Maybe I can help y ou.” “How?” Turning she stood by the door and he knew he ’d have to think fast to come up with something that sounded plausible. “I get an employee discount,” Brady began, blessing his grandfather for kissing the original blarney stone in his homeland so thoroughl y and for passing the gift of the gab down to his descendants. Rapidly punching some buttons at random in the cash register he said, “With a forty percent discount, it comes to seventy five dollars and thirty five cents.” He could see the battle raging within her. “I couldn’t let you do that,” she said reluctantly. Was letting a man she barely knew give her somethin g on his employee discount the same as taking candy from a stranger, Kate wond ered? Her reaction to this man told her it might well be. “It’s no problem really,” Brady assured her. It didn’t even matter that it was for Harold. All t hat mattered was that he should remove that look in the green eyes that evoked a co rresponding ache in his gut. “After all, you have to have it today don’t you?” And how, thought Kate, retracing her footsteps, her nod confirming the fact. Explanations would sound so lame and the truth woul d put her beyond the pale of desirability. And she had to marry Harold. She just had to. “I can’t let you do that,” she repeated slowly givi ng voice to the idea recently born in her head, “but if you’ll take an I.O. U. I’ll come back Friday and pay you the rest. I get paid then.”
Did he think it strange she didn’t have credit card s or a check book? The narrow, carefully maintained margin between the amount of m oney she earned and her expenses didn’t merit either. A simple savings acco unt with the minimum of fifty dollars was all Kate could lay claim to. All the things she ’s heard about rainy days and saving money, she’d ignored. She’d had to. If she could af ford an umbrella for those days it would suffice. All the money she earned was investe d in the present with the hope that it would yield the more than ample dividends she wa nted in the near future. Kate held Brady’s gaze, hoping he would agree to he r plan, silly though it sounded. I.O.U’s indeed! “Sure,” Brady forced himself to say, turning back t o the register. Her pride endeared her to him even more. He didn’t need an I.O.U. from her but something warned him to keep his own counsel on the matter. From her bag, Kate extracted a small notebook and a pen. Even white teeth highlighted by that small gap, bit down on her lowe r lip while she scribbled something and handed it to him. “Kathryn McArthur, 12 Goldrush Hill, Jacaranda Mead ows,” Brady skimmed the words quickly, making mental notes. Kathryn. He lik ed that, but she would always be Katie to him. His Katie. “I promise to pay the bala nce of fifty dollars and thirty cents to Bernie’s Gifts and Luggage.” She had signed her nam e underneath and added today’s date. “Here’s my driver’s license.” Kate offered him the laminated card, “You could take down the number.” She watched anxiously as he scann ed it momentarily and then returned it to her. “I don’t need that,” he said quietly folding the no te and slipping it into his hip pocket instead of the cash drawer. “This is more than enou gh.” Tears surged in Kate’s throat as she struggled with the urge to reach over and give the man a hug and a kiss. He really was special. Sh e couldn’t remember anyone being so kind to her before. He trusted her though he had never seen her before, might never see her again. That too, in California, where a con a day was common. Warmth originated in her toes and spread through her body toasting her lightly till she was a golden glow of happiness. “May I know your name please?” At his raised eyebrows she said quickly, “In case y ou’re not here when I come back. Just so I can tell them who let me have the wallet in the first place.” “It’s Brady.” He watched her carefully, wondering if she was a re gular customer, if she had stopped by before, been drawn into a conversation w ith his mother who, as usual, had talked about her children. Mentioned their names. W hat they did for a living. For some inexplicable reason, Brady just didn’t want to be a nything other than the store employee she had taken him for. No trace of recognition show ed on her face and he relaxed. Only her lips moved as she said the name to herself. He wanted to reach out, cup that wonderful face, and hear her say his name against h is mouth. “Just Brady?” Kate liked the name. Very much.
“Just Brady,” he said firmly. “Do you have everythi ng you need? Wrapping paper? A card? Ribbon?” Kate nodded weakly. The store stocked none of these items. Why was he going out of his way to be helpful? She couldn’t remember a t ime when someone had actually looked out for her. Harold, bless his soul, was the perfect chivalrous gentleman. He did everything by the book. Like holding the door for h er or standing up when she came into the room, but he always spoiled it by looking aroun d to see if he had an audience. But this man, Brady, looked as if he pleased no one but himself. Each action of his, each word, seemed to be a wave, eroding the fortress she had erected around herself with such painstaking care, and guarded so zealously. The impulse to curl up against the comfort of that soli d chest, lose herself in the warmth of his arms, was becoming harder to resist by the seco nd. She picked up her package hurriedly. She had to get herself out of here fast. “I’ll be back on Friday, around seven with the rest of the money. Thank you. Goodbye.” Turning she fled. “Not goodbye,” Brady said softly to her retreating back, “Never that. It’s hello. Hello, darling.” * * * Kate pirouetted in front of the mirror, wishing her breasts had never grown out of the thirty four C cup she had worn when she was eightee n. It wasn’t fashionable to have big ones these days, and Harold’s mother, rake thin and impossibly beautiful, had suggested that a little dieting wouldn’t be amiss. “Well,” said Kate defiantly to herself, imitating P opeye, “I am what I am.” Staring at her face, she reviewed her features. Her eyes and her dimples were her best bets. Her nose and mouth were tolerable and th e gap between her two front teeth she positively hated. Smoothing the black skirt over hips that suddenly f elt too big, as seen through Marcia Jensen’s eyes, Kate sucked in her breath and turned for a sideways look at herself. Suddenly reminded of eyes the color of slate and fi lled with blatant appreciation as they looked at her, Kate was flooded with confidenc e. The loose top, in a rose patterned crepe de chine s he had made herself, looked very nice. Hopefully Mrs. J, wouldn’t ask her where she had got it. When Kate had mentioned once she enjoyed making a few things for herself, especially when they cost about a third of regular store prices, a distinct c old front had moved into the older woman’s eyes, making Kate feel she had committed a serious social gaffe. No wonder some people were driven into sewing designer labels into their homemade clothes. But that wasn’t what was important now. What was im portant was that Harold should like her. Enough to propose marriage. Harold had walked into the preschool where Kate wor ked, to discuss leasing technicalities with Mrs. Wright the director, in De cember. Kate had been using the office
copier at that very moment and explained that Mrs. Wright would be back in a few minutes. By the time the director had come in fifte en minutes later, Harold had found out she was single, taught the three year old class , and lived in Jacaranda Meadows. They had seen each other once a week since then and Kate knew he was going to ask her to marry him tonight, just as she knew Haro ld hated colored shirts and cut offs. Getting to know Harold had been easy. He told her a bout himself at every possible opportunity. Irritated at times by his tendency to center the conversation around himself, other factors had inclined Kate to overlook this propensity. Harold was a very wealthy person. As a real estate broker who owned his own realty firm, his future was assured. The man did ha ve justification for dwelling on his successes. It wasn’t his fault that he didn’t reali ze how he came across. After all no one was perfect. By March, Kate knew he was giving serious thought t o offering her the honor of being Mrs. Harold Jensen. But everything with Harold took a certain circumspect path. For a moment, Katie frowned at her reflection, thin king of years with Mrs. J. as a mother in law, years of herself listening to Harold every evening, surrounded by little Harolds with suitably rapt expressions on their inn ocent faces, growing up thinking it was only right and natural to hold forth ad nauseum about oneself. Out of context, a face flashed across her mental sc reen. Devil may care bitumen eyes asking if she had wrapping paper. Kate gave herself a light slap on the face, “Snap o ut of it Kathryn McArthur. Fantasies aren’t going to help you realize you drea ms. Harold is.” She reached for a summer stole and picked up her ke ys. It was a good thing the habit of keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground was so firmly ingrained.