Free Irresistible? by Stephanie Bond

Book: Irresistible? by Stephanie Bond Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stephanie Bond
    â€œEllie,” Manny said.
    â€œYeah, you know.” Manny toyed with another cigarette, but didn’t light it. “Like compelled to be around her?”
    Mark glanced from side to side. Is this guy for real? “I don’t know if I’d use that word exactly,” Mark said slowly, “but she does seem to have an effect on me.”
    Manny’s sandy eyebrows shot up and he leaned back, nodding and contemplating. Mark glanced toward the hall. “Ellie?” he called, standing.
    To his relief, she appeared with a huge canvas bag over her shoulder. A floppy denim hat nearly hid her cropped wavy hair and made her appear even younger. She smiled and shaved off another couple of years.
    â€œJust how old are you?” he asked.
    â€œTwenty-nine,” she said cheerfully. “Did I go overboard?” she asked, looking down at her outfit. Silver earrings brushed the tops of her shoulders. “Your mom will hate it, won’t she?” Concern pulled down the corners of her eyes and mouth.
    Mark grinned. “Yes.”
    Ellie grinned, too. “Then let’s go.” She leaned forward to study his face, undoubtedly red from the sneezing. “Sorry about Esmerelda. She’s a hairy thing, isn’t she?”
    He waved off the incident and reached for her bulging bag, then playfully buckled under its weight. “Let me guess—you brought books to read, didn’t you?”
    Ellie laughed. “No, just a few necessities for a picnic.” She picked up a small bottle from the kitchen counter, shook two pink tablets into her palm and filled a glass with water from the tap.
    â€œHeadache?” Mark asked, suddenly concerned.
    â€œHmm?” Ellie asked. Apprehension crossed her face, then disappeared. “These are just, um...vitamins.” She stuck the bottle into the weighted canvas bag. “I have to take them throughout the day,” she explained. “Woman stuff,” she added in a whisper.
    Mark had figured as much and nodded curtly, and he hoped, sympathetically.
    When Ellie pulled a huge chocolate layer cake from the fridge, he shot her a questioning look. The last thing he needed was for his mom to think he’d snared a domestic dream.
    â€œWell, I can’t go completely empty-handed,” she said defensively,
    â€œOkay,” Mark relented. “But it’d better not taste too good.” For a few seconds, he experienced misgivings. What if she did hit it off with his family? If they pestered him to bring her around again, his plan would backfire in his face.
    â€œSo TELL ME, what kind of woman does your mother expect you to marry?” Ellie hoped setting the stage for her performance would soothe her jangled nerves.
    Mark pursed his lips and glanced back at the road in front of him. He looked relaxed and athletic in his casual clothes. The muscles in his legs bunched when he shifted gears, sending shocks of awareness through Ellie’s body.
    â€œSomeone demure and domestic, I suppose. Like her.” He smiled wryly. “She thinks I need someone to be a hostess in my home and help me entertain to further my career.”
    â€œAnd you don’t?” she asked.
    â€œNo,” he said flatly.
    â€œWhy not?” she persisted.
    He sighed. “Because I’ve seen too many of my friends get rooked into marriage only to find themselves digging out from under a divorce settlement within a couple of years. I worked my tail off to get where I am. I have no intention of starting over.”
    Ellie sat still, heat burning her neck and cheeks. Mark was convinced that women were fortune seekers. And she’d given him ammunition by lowering his bank account by more than four hundred dollars since she’d met him a week ago. “So,” she said, trying to cover her embarrassment, “you’ve never been married?”
    â€œNope.” Then he shot her a worried

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