His E-Mail Order Wife(7)

By: Kristi Gold

She knelt and smiled, her hands braced on the little girl’s thin shoulders. “Let me guess. You must be the maid.”

She giggled and squirmed. “I’m Amanda. You can call me Mandy like my daddy if you want.”

One innocent smile from this beautiful child, and Kristina was already in love. “I’d like to call you Mandy, if it’s okay with your daddy.”

Kristina glanced up to find Drew hovering over them, looking less than pleased. “Mandy, why don’t you go upstairs so I can talk to Kristina alone?”

Amanda stuck out her lip in a practiced pout. “I wanna talk to her, too.”

“Later, Amanda Elizabeth.”

When Amanda hung her head and looked as though she might cry, Kristina gave her a quick hug. “Tell you what, sweetie. Why don’t you go up and get dressed, then find me some of your favorite toys? I can come up and see you in a little while.”


“I promise.”

“You’re not going to go away?”

Kristina’s heart squeezed tightly in her chest. Obviously Amanda had been left before, maybe often. Maybe her father was one to bring women into their life then push them away as soon as Amanda got close to them. Maybe this was a bad idea.

She straightened and said, “I won’t go away right now.” It was all that Kristina could promise at the moment, since the decision now rested on Drew. “I’ll come up as soon as your dad and I are finished talking.”

Amanda looked wary, disappointed. “Okay.” She trudged back up the stairs, looking over her shoulder now and then, probably to see if Kristina would keep her promise.

Once the little girl was out of sight, Kristina turned back to Drew. He’d cinched his robe, covering his chest completely, but he looked no less attractive and no less uncomfortable.

He studied the ceiling for a moment before bringing his gaze back to her. “Look, Kristina, there’s something I need to say to you.”

Considering his serious tone, Kristina had no doubt what he was going to say. After taking one look at her, he’d probably changed his mind. So much for appearance not counting.

She glanced at the staircase and found it empty. Still, she didn’t want Amanda to overhear the dismissal. “Is there some place more private where we can talk?”

“Sure. Right this way.”

Kristina followed Drew Connelly down the lengthy corridor, preparing for the moment when he told her this was one huge mistake.


Drew wouldn’t have been more surprised if Lilly had driven up on a Harley. He didn’t know what he’d been expecting of Kristina Simmons, but this wasn’t it.

She settled on the sofa in the den; he took the lounge chair across from her. Avoiding his gaze, she surveyed the silent room, allowing him to assess her unassuming attire of plain white sandals and sleeveless coral dress that revealed not much more than arms and ankles. Her skin was bronze in coloring, surprising, considering her long dark auburn hair. She was tall, probably close to six feet, and nothing at all like the women he usually dated.

Kristina Simmons was a throwback to a time when women were women, with ample breasts and generous curves that left no doubt about their gender. However, she tried to conceal those attributes behind loose-fitting clothes, probably because that look was no longer in vogue, thanks to the assumption that a woman had to be emaciated to be attractive. But Drew could imagine every fine detail. Man, could he imagine, and he needed to stop doing that immediately before he embarrassed himself.

Kristina’s big brown eyes proved to be one of her most notable features, eyes that had frozen him in his tracks when he’d first seen her standing in his foyer. Eyes that assessed him now and then while he considered what he needed to say.

“Did you have any trouble finding the house?” Lame, but he couldn’t think of anything beyond small talk at the moment, especially when his gaze kept drifting to her full lips.

“Not at all. You give great directions.” Her sudden smile revealed white teeth that contrasted with her golden coloring. It was also wan, self-conscious. “Your house is beautiful. So is your daughter.”

So was Kristina Simmons, in a natural, unsullied way, Drew decided. She didn’t wear much makeup. She didn’t have to. Her skin was flawless, her lashes thick and long, fanning against her cheeks when she lowered her eyes, as she did at that moment.

“Mandy’s a great kid,” he said. “Precocious, I guess you could say.”

“Intelligent, I’d say.” She grabbed up the decorative pillow next to her and hugged it to her chest, her eyes fixed on some focal point to her right. “Okay, so what did you want to tell me?”

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