Husband Wanted: Will Train (Chapter Four - The Circus Comes to Town, page 1 of 11)

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"Just one glass," she said firmly when she first sat beside him on the brocade couch.

Of course, one glass led to another, and the headache began to fade. Ross started to look rather benign sitting in the light of the single lamp, and before Charity knew what was happening, she'd slid down to sit on the floor, saying, "This elegant upholstery makes me nervous. I know I'm going to spill wine all over it."

She leaned against the coffee table and he slid down next to her, a bit stiffly at first. He loosened up as he realized how comfortable it really was, and before long they were talking like cautious friends instead of sparring partners.

"What I don't understand," Ross said at last, when the bottle was empty and another had been found in a kitchen cabinet, "is why a woman like you hasn't been married before. For real, I mean."

That statement might have raised her hackles an hour or so earlier, but now she was relaxed enough to take it casually. She smiled, leaning her chin into the cup of her hand, her elbow on the coffee table.

"And here I thought you were a perceptive man," she teased. "You said it yourself. My style is South Sea Islands, no matter how much I try to hide it."

He raised an eyebrow, his dark gaze skimming across her flyaway hair and the nightgown that she had unconsciously allowed to drape provocatively off one shoulder.

"South Sea Islands is damned alluring," he said flatly. "If you think that's turning men off, you're wrong."

"That's not what I mean." She took another sip of golden wine, completely unaware of the seductive picture she made beside him. "It's just that it seems to turn the wrong men on. I always end up being someone's outlet."

She stared at Ross. She'd never told anyone this sort of thing before, and yet it just rolled out for him. What was it about this man that made her feel so vulnerable and at the same time so free?

His skeptical frown told her he still didn't understand.

"Take Freddy Wainehold," she went on, narrowing her eyes to look into the past. "A stockbroker. Staid. Boring even. We met when I was trying out restaurant management, working as an assistant manager at the Mellow Prawn in Beverly Hills. He asked me out. We seemed to get along just fine. He even asked me to marry him. And-" she shrugged, unable to believe it herself now "-I actually considered doing just that at the time. And then I began to realize a disturbing pattern was emerging." She looked at Ross over the rim of her glass. "All our dates ended up at the circus."

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