His E-Mail Order Wife(8)

By: Kristi Gold


He knew what he needed to tell her—this whole ridiculous scheme had been masterminded by his grandmother. But the way Kristina looked at the moment, unsure and circumspect, he didn’t have the heart to blurt out the revelation. He’d have to ease into it gradually. “I think we should talk about this arrangement.”

She tossed the pillow aside and scooted to the edge of the sofa, her hands clasped tightly in her lap, and met his gaze head-on. “Look, I’ll make this easy on you. I realize you’re surprised by my appearance, and I know you said in your e-mails that it didn’t matter. But I can certainly understand why you might not find me suitable.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, a good-looking rich guy like you could have any woman he pleases. A woman who would be, shall we call it, more svelte, delicate. Thin.”

That didn’t set well with Drew. Inaccurate assumptions about him never did. “Do you really think I’m that superficial?”

“I really don’t know what to think. I wasn’t exactly expecting you.”

That made two of them. He hadn’t counted on her either, a woman who had his imagination working overtime. “What were you expecting?”

“Honestly?”

“I think that’s probably best.” Although he had yet to be honest with her.

“I was expecting someone a little more—”

“Homely?”

“Plain.”

“So was I.”

A slight splotch of pink colored her cheeks and she grabbed the pillow again. “At least one of us wasn’t wrong.”

How could she say that? Didn’t she realize that she had a simple beauty a man would have to be dead not to notice? Not to mention she’d made a connection with Mandy immediately. How many times had he hoped to see that happen with any of the women he’d introduced to his daughter? More times than he could count, and it hadn’t happened—until now. Maybe Lilly was right. Maybe he’d been looking in the wrong places. But the Internet?

Regardless, he had no intention of getting caught in the matrimony trap any time soon. He’d tried that once and it had been one of the most devastating experiences of his life. Amanda was the only good thing to come out of it.

But how could he tell Kristina Simmons that he wasn’t interested without making it seem as though her looks had something to do with it? How could he explain it to his daughter, who had looked at Kristina with open worship, without destroying her completely?

Damn Lilly for putting him in this predicament without regard to Amanda’s feelings. Or Kristina’s. If he sent Kristina on her way now, he might lead her to believe that he was as superficial as she’d assumed. Not to mention he’d have to deal with his grandmother’s and his daughter’s wrath. Now what was he going to do?

Then something occurred to him. Maybe he could subtly convince Kristina that this wasn’t going to work out. Maybe he could totally turn her off, let it be her idea to leave. That was a better plan. A great plan.

First, he’d start with a leer. God knew he’d seen it done enough times in the office when one of the male staff members had the hots for one of the secretaries. If that didn’t scare her off, then she was a lot tougher than he’d presumed. “Well, Kristina, I think you’re an exceedingly attractive woman.” Hell, he sounded like a bad impression of Dudley Watts, Connelly Corporation’s resident lecher.

Unfortunately, Kristina found the fringe on the pillow more interesting than his attempt at being seedy. “Thank you.”

“And I’m looking forward to us getting to know each other better.” At least he sounded a little more suave. Less Dudley, anyway.

She glanced up from the pillow, surprise in her expression. “Then you’re saying we should go ahead with this arrangement?”

“Unless that’s a problem for you?”

Her gaze faltered once again. “No. I agreed to do this, and I think we should give it a try.”

So much for his first attempts to discourage her. He would just have to try harder to convince her that he had questionable intentions. “Do you need help moving your things?”

“Everything I own is in my car.”

“You’ve been living in your car?”

That earned Drew a smile. “Not hardly. My lease ran out on my apartment this week, so when you asked me to move in, I decided not to renew. I guess you could say that this couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Now Drew felt even worse. If he put her out, she’d be—for all intents and purposes—homeless. Back to plan A—dubious overtures. He leaned forward and attempted a come-on look, although his face felt stiff with the effort. “I think you’ll find my bed more than comfortable.”

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