One Plus One Makes Marriageñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
PRAISE FOR MARIE FERRARELLA—AUTHOR OF SEVENTY-FIVE SILHOUETTE NOVELS! Letter to Reader Title Page Dedication About the Author Letter to Reader Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Copyright
PRAISE FOR MARIE FERRARELLA—AUTHOR OF SEVENTY-FIVE SILHOUETTE NOVELS!
“Marie Ferrarella is a charming storyteller who will steal your heart away.”
–Romantic Times magazine
The Baby Came C.O.D. (SR #1264):
“Marie Ferrarella pens another winner.... As usual, Ms. Ferrarella finds just the right balance of love, laughter, charm and passion.”
–Romantic Times magazine
“This is a hilarious, slapstick read.... It will leave you in stitches while wanting more.”
Do You Take This Child? (SR#1145): “The strong romantic flavor...will win the hearts of romance fans everywhere.”
–Romantic Times magazine
Father in the Making (SR#1078): “Lively, heartwarming characters make this poignant romance...a read to cherish.”
–Romantic Times magazine
Wanted: Husband, Will Train (SE#1132): “This is an irresistible, sparkling and sometimes funny story. Absolutely delightful.”
“Taking a classic plot and adding her own humor and passion, Ms. Ferrarella gifts readers with a grand romance.”
–Romantic Times magazine
Silhouette welcomes popular author Judy Christenberry to the Romance line with a touching story that will enchant readers in every age group. In The Nine-Month Bride, a wealthy rancher who wants an heir and a prim librarian who wants a baby marry for convenience, but imminent parenthood makes them rethink their vows....
Next, Moyra Tarling delivers the emotionally riveting BUNDLES OF JOY tale of a mother-to-be who discovers that her child’s father doesn’t remember his own name—let alone the night they’d created their Wedding Day Baby.
Karen Rose Smith’s miniseries DO YOU TAKE THIS STRANGER? continues with Love, Honor and a Pregnant Bride, in which a jaded cowboy learns an unexpected lesson in love from an expectant beauty.
Part of our MEN! promotion, Cowboy Dad by
Robin Nicholas features a deliciously handsome, dutyminded father aiming to win the heart of a woman who’s sworn off cowboys. Award-winning Marie Ferrarella launches her latest miniseries, LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER, with One Plus One Makes Marriage. Though the math sounds easy, the road to “I do” takes some emotional twists and turns for this feisty heroine and the embittered man she loves. And Romance proudly introduces Patricia Seeley, one of Silhouette’s WOMEN TO WATCH. A ransom note—for a cat!—sets the stage where The Millionaire Meets His Match.
Hope you enjoy this month’s offerings!
Senior Editor, Silhouette Romance
Please address questions and book requests to:
Silhouette Reader Service U.S.: 3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269 Canadian: P.O. Box 609, Fort Erie, Ont. L2A 5X3
One Plus One Makes Marriage
In the memory of Miss Anne J. Nocton,
who took a shy, awkward fifth grader and made her see her own potential. Thank you.
MARIE FERRARELLA lives in Southern California. She describes herself as the tired. mother of two overenergetic children and the contented wife of one wonderful man. The RITA Award-winning author is thrilled to be following her dream of writing full-time.
In One Plus One Makes Marriage, I have the opportunity to share with you a little of one of my passions—old movies. The heroine was raised in the movie business and thus has a clear view of reality while still believing in the magic of life—and love. It’s a lesson she finally manages to pass on to the hero, but not easily. Therein, hopefully, lies the entertainment.
This book is rather special to me. It marks my seventy-fifth book with Silhouette. I remember the exact moment I sold my very first book to Silhouette. I was in the shower. My agent called to tell me the good news, and it was like getting a reprieve from heaven. I was seven months’ pregnant with our second child, and my husband had been laid off for thirteen months from a very depressed aerospace industry. The wolf was not at our door yet, but he was circling the area. Thanks to Silhouette and you, he never arrived. I’ve been writing for Silhouette for fifteen years now, and I still feel as if I’m in the honeymoon stage of a wonderful marriage. So far, I’ve had seventy-five “children”—how’s that for a world record?—and a world full of neighbors to come and enjoy them with me.
All my love,
“I’ve never seen such a wonderful collection of photographs. And all autographed, too.”
Staring at the uniquely decorated wall for a moment, the small, matronly woman’s gray eyes became as round as a child’s, lighting up her face and adding color to the almost-translucent, sagging skin. Wrinkles and stiffness, the outward heavy signs of her advancing age, magically faded. Like twin beacons breaking through a thick fog, her eyes scanned the back wall of the shop again, picking out familiar, well-loved faces of movie stars, many long gone except for the miracle of celluloid. She sighed in what sounded to Melanie like ecstasy.
The reaction pleased Melanie. Melanie McCloud had hammered in every single nail herself that supported the 126 photographs, painstakingly recreating Aunt Elaine’s old parlor.
Her shop, Dreams of Yesterday, now had the atmosphere of a cozy room, where someone could seek refuge from a frantic world for an afternoon—the way she had so often in Aunt Elaine’s parlor, she remembered fondly. It was there that the photographs had originally hung. Most of them were personalized with a salutation from a movie star, and some had short notes, all directed to her late aunt.
Melanie smiled to herself as she silently watched the woman next to her. The woman’s excitement grew in direct proportion to her recognition of the various celebrities. It was her first time in the shop, and she didn’t know where to look first, afraid of missing something in her scattered, shotgunlike approach to viewing the photographs.
“Oh, look, there’s Rita Hayworth.” She sighed again, beaming. Without being fully conscious of it, she patted her own strawberry-tinted hair as she commented, “Such a beauty.” Turning her head a fraction of an inch, the woman spied another star. “And Tyrone Power. My mother was just crazy about him. Oh, and Errol Flynn.” Standing on her toes, she looked closer at the inscription, then blushed over the risqu? message written in a bold hand across the actor’s bare chest.
Melanie bit her tongue to keep from laughing. That particular photograph, one of her aunt’s treasures, was not for sale, but she knew her aunt would have gotten a kick out of having people see it. As a matter of fact, she would have insisted they see it. She was proud of the. fact that the handsome actor had come on to her in print.
The elderly woman paused and turned toward Melanie, astonishment mingled with the joy of discovery. That was half the fun of owning a place like this—seeing the way people reacted to items that she had, for the most part, taken for granted while she was growing up.
Scarlet nails fanned out as the woman touched Melanie’s arm in instant, intimate camaraderie. “Tell me, my dear, where did you get all these wonderful things, and who is Elaine?”
It was evident by the look on the woman’s face that she thought Elaine was in an enviable position, to have known so many great stars.
“Elaine was Elaine Santiago, my great-aunt.” There was pride in her smile. There was little that Melanie loved more than reminiscing about her aunt.
“Was?” A tinge of disappointment entered the woman’s voice.
Melanie nodded. “She died a little over two years ago. But she left me her collection of memorabilia.” Melanie gestured around the shop. “About half of all this was hers.”
The rest Melanie had gone out of her way to acquire for this little shop in Bedford, California, like the large shipment that had arrived just this morning, thanks to a successful afternoon at a Hollywood memorabilia auction. She couldn’t wait until she closed up tonight, so that she and Joyce, her partner, could go through everything. Not just to see if it was all there, but just to enjoy it.
The woman looked at the wall again, still overwhelmed by the wealth of photographs hanging on it. “She was a big movie fan?”
That was putting it mildly, Melanie thought. Aunt Elaine had crammed her head full of colorful stories and a myriad of trivia by the time she was old enough to read. Aunt Elaine was a walking font of information and she never forgot anything.
“The biggest. She worked at MGM in the wardrobe department for years, then went over to Paramount Studios, where she went on to become a makeup artist.” For someone like Aunt Elaine, the job had been a dream come true. And everywhere Aunt Elaine went she made entire platoons of friends. She believed it was her mission to leave everyone’s life a little brighter for knowing her. In Melanie’s opinion, she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams.
“In her time she knew them all. Everybody loved Aunt Elaine. That was what they all called her, Aunt Elaine.” And that was what she’d tried to be, everyone’s aunt. The thing about Elaine Santiago was that she truly cared about people. And everyone knew it. “She always seemed to know when someone had a problem, and she was always willing to lend a sympathetic ear. No one could keep anything from her. She was exceptionally easy to talk to.”
Melanie grinned, remembering one of her aunt’s favorite stories. “Burt Lancaster once said to her that she could probably get a stone to talk. She had that way about her.”
The greatest compliment Melanie had ever received was when someone had compared her to her aunt. Her mother had put a slightly different spin on it, saying that she could coax words out of a mime, but it was one and the same, Melanie mused. She and Aunt Elaine loved people, all manner of people.
A hint of envy entered the gray eyes. “She must have been a remarkable woman.”
She’d get no argument from Melanie. “She was, in every sense of the word.” Melanie still missed her fiercely. She knew a part of her always would.
“Melanie, you want to come here a second?” Joyce Freeman’s raised voice broke apart the easy tempo of the conversation. When Melanie turned in her direction, Joyce gestured with a touch of urgency that was underscored by the frown on her small mouth. “I think someone here wants to talk to you.”
There was a nervous note in Joyce’s voice. So what else was new? Joyce wasn’t happy unless she was worrying about something. Melanie gave the woman at her side an encouraging smile.
“You’ll excuse me?” she murmured, beginning to back away. “Feel free to browse as long as you like. I’ll be back to answer any questions in a minute. Maybe two,” she amended as she glanced again in Joyce’s direction and saw the depth of her best friend’s frown. Even from across the shop, it looked pronounced.
It undoubtedly had something to so with the tall man who was standing beside her. Melanie lengthened her stride, hurrying over while still giving the impression of taking her time. She could feel the man’s scrutiny as she drew closer. Curiosity began to sprout.
“Something the matter?” She directed the question to Joyce, who looked positively ready to leap out of her skin.
There was confusion in Joyce’s dark brown eyes. She didn’t really care for change in general and absolutely abhorred the unknown. The unknown was standing at her side in the form of a very tall, very somber-looking man with charcoal gray eyes and the darkest shock of black hair Melanie had ever seen.
Hair, she thought, that looked like velvet. The kind of velvet found on the inside of a really expensive jewelry box used to hold valuable, well-loved rings. For a second, looking at him, Melanie couldn’t help wondering if his hair felt as soft as it appeared.
Without thinking, she almost reached out to touch it before she caught herself. Would that have made the man’s frown retreat? Or merely deepen?
Melanie’s eyes shifted back to her friend’s face. There was no relief evident at her approach. If anything, her expression of concern had intensified. Now what? Melanie tried to shrug off the tiny kernel of concern that was beginning to root within her. It was all probably nothing. Just Joy’s way.
They complemented each other that way, Melanie thought. Joy, in direct contradiction to her nickname, worried about inventories and bills, about things that might happen and things that didn’t happen, while Melanie, with what Joy dubbed her terminal optimism, went along assuming the best would somehow manage to push its way through any dark obstacles that stood in its path.
Melanie absolutely refused to spend her time worrying. She firmly believed that if something was going to go wrong, it would happen without her obsessing about it, and if it didn’t go wrong, then worrying that it might would have been a waste of energy and time. She made Joy crazy, especially since most of the time she was right.
Joyce licked her lips. She slanted a nervous look at the man. “I’m afraid he thinks something is the matter.”
Melanie smiled at the stranger with the clipboard in his hand. A wish list perhaps? It wouldn’t be the first time someone came into the store clutching one. Maybe Joyce was upset because they didn’t have any of the items on it. She wouldn’t put it past Joy.
“Can I help you with anything?” Melanie asked engagingly.
There was a dimple appearing and disappearing in her cheek, as if unable to decide whether to remain, as she smiled at him. Lance Reed watched for a moment in fascination despite himself. A snappy answer to her question, which several of the guys at the firehouse would have easily uttered, played across his mind, never making it to his lips. And with good reason. It was largely unrepeatable.
He took quick measure of the petite blonde who’d blown in his way like a sweet, cool breeze on a warm spring day. Unlike the woman he’d been talking to, she didn’t appear to have a care in the world. She also didn’t seem to be aware of the errors she was guilty of committing. Or, if she was, she didn’t care. He guessed that the latter seemed more likely.
That innocent look on her face was probably purely calculated for effect, he decided. Beneath the wide smile and wider eyes lay a devious mind. Lance Reed was well acquainted with the type. Hell, he’d been engaged to the type.
The blonde opened her mouth. The dimple set up housekeeping, calling forth a twin in her other cheek. She was going to flirt with him, he realized. Well, she could flirt until she was completely out of breath, wiles and charm. It wasn’t going to do her any good. She wasn’t going to talk her way out of a citation. Which would be for her own good. Or at least the public’s.
Certainly liked to stretch things out, didn’t he? Melanie thought. She raised a questioning eyebrow in Joyce’s direction, but Joy looked positively spooked. What was going on here?
“I’m sorry, maybe you didn’t hear me. I said, ‘Could I help you with anything?’ ” Melanie repeated.
“I heard you,” the deep voice rumbled. But before answering her question, Lance checked off several items on his clipboard.
He’d only taken on the job of fire inspector a little less than two months ago, helping out until someone permanent could be hired to take the place of John Kelly, who had just retired. He wore two hats these days, one as a fire inspector and his regular one, that of an arson investigator. It wasn’t easy, juggling the two, but there wasn’t much else to fill his hours the rest of the time since Lauren was permanently out of his life.
Thoughts of Lauren, of the way she had just turned and walked away when he had needed her most, dragged sharp, rusted nails through wounds he’d thought he’d finally managed to cordon off so that they could heal.
Showed how much he knew, Lance thought ruefully, disgusted with himself. His mood was not the best as he focused on the blonde standing before him and tapped the clipboard. “It’s not me you’re going to need to help, Ms. McCloud.”
“Melanie,” she corrected, trying to put him at ease with her smile. Being addressed by her surname put much too formal an edge on things. Tutored by her freespirited mother and equally uninhibited great-aunt, formality was something that had never taken root in Melanie’s life.
From the way the stranger looked, it had obviously not only rooted, but flourished in his. He made her think of a soldier, standing just at the line of battle a moment before going into the fray.
An extremely good-looking soldier, she noted. If Aunt Elaine were still around, she’d have been drooling, Melanie thought fondly. Aunt Elaine had always had an eye for good-looking men. It never waned, not even when she was in the hospital. Melanie liked remembering her that way. Aunt Elaine had flirted with a young intern moments before permanently closing her eyes. She died with a smile on her lips.
“And who is it that I’d need to help?” Melanie asked, wondering if she was going to have to coax every word out of this man’s mouth.
Her voice was low and melodious, Lance thought. He wondered if that was a put-on. Probably. The next moment she’d be batting her lashes at him. It seemed in keeping with the old-fashioned decor in the shop. When he’d first walked in, he’d had to take a minute to adjust. Not his eyes, but his orientation. Crossing the threshold had been like walking in through a time warp. Outside, in the bright California sun, it was the nineties; in here, it was like being thrown headfirst into the early fifties. Or maybe even earlier than that.
Retro wasn’t his thing. It obviously seemed to be hers. There was an old record player in the corner, its spindle laden with a stack of what looked like long-playing albums, the type that had been made when vinyl records were the only kind available. The music floated along the perimeter of his mind, vaguely familiar, even though he thought that wasn’t possible.
It was the theme from an old movie, he realized, before he shut the sound out. Something he’d probably heard as a kid.
He wasn’t here to play “Name that Tune,” Lance reminded himself, he was here to do his job and move on.
“You’re part owner of this store,” Lance nodded at the shop, “aren’t you?”
Just what was this about? Melanie exchanged glances with Joyce, whose lips seemed to have lost the ability to form words.
Though she had owned all of the inventory before she’d decided to open up the shop, Melanie had insisted that Joyce become equal partners with her. It seemed only fair, seeing how many hours they both put in. Besides, it felt right, and Melanie always went with what felt right. Like her friendship with Joy. Living on the same street, they’d been friends since before kindergarten. Actually, only Joyce had gone to kindergarten. Melanie had remained home, to learn at her mother’s elbow. Her mother’s and Aunt Elaine’s, as well as several tutors her mother had brought in.
Melanie was firmly convinced that she’d learned far more from the two women, about life and surviving as well as the usual subjects, than she ever would have in a school where knowledge was contained within four walls and within the pages of books. Her classroom had been the world in general and the movie set in particular. Or rather, behind the movie set, where drama and magic, make believe and truth played equal parts.
“Then these citations belong to you.” Removing the sheet from the clipboard, Lance handed it to her. It listed five direct violations of the fire code, and he knew he could have given her more.
Melanie glanced down at the sheet, then back up at the man who had given it to her. She shared a little of Joy’s confusion. “You’re a fire inspector?”
“Yes, and your shop, Ms. McCloud, is a fire waiting to happen.” Disapproval was etched on his chiseled, rigid features. Though some might find a place like this charming, Lance didn’t care for small, cluttered places. He liked wide-open spaces. The less people allowed junk to pile up, the less fuel there was for a fire and the less likely it would be for a fire to break out.
With the tip of his pen, Lance pointed toward the four huge boxes that had been delivered this morning. “Do you even realize that you’re blocking an exit with that stack of crates? If there was a fire, someone could be hurt because of your carelessness.”
The delivery man who’d brought in the shipment had looked and sounded as if he was coming down with a cold. Taking pity on him, Melanie had sent him away after he’d dropped off the crates right inside the rear of the shop rather than in the storeroom. Customers had arrived, and she just hadn’t gotten around to putting the crates into the storeroom.
Melanie eyed the inspector. The complaint seemed minor enough to her. Rules, except for the very basic ones, were meant to be a little flexible. Surely he could cut her a little slack. John Kelly always had. A kind, jovial man in his late fifties, the other fire inspector and she had hit it off the first time he’d walked into her shop. But then, he was an old movie buff, and they’d found a great deal to talk about even before he’d discovered that she’d practically grown up in movie studios.ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî