Husband Wanted: Will Train (Chapter Five - Aunt Doris Discovers California, page 1 of 13)

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A calliope played a deafeningly cheery tune. Charity pushed her way through a room full of balloons and cotton candy until she came to the rope ladder. Up she climbed, higher and higher, to the very top of the big-top tent. She stepped out onto the tiny platform, and across the way she could see Ross, grinning. She smiled and lifted her arms, suddenly exultant. And then she was flying through the air, her fingers wrapped tightly around the bar of the trapeze. She swung across the wide expanse, once, twice, three times, and then she let go, sailing through space, her body arched like a bird's.

Ross was waiting for her, his muscular legs wound about the ropes of his own trapeze, his arms stretched toward her. She reached for him. Their fingers almost touched.


But no, it was wrong! Ross's hands slipped out of her grasp and she wanted to scream. She was falling ... falling-


She came to earth with a thump, her dream splintering around her. That voice. She knew that voice.

"Charity, darling, wake up. It's me, Aunt Doris."

Charity blinked sleepy eyes and wished to heaven that she were still dreaming. "Aunt Doris?" she repeated weakly.

"Yes, dear. Didn't you get my letter? I decided to come early, and here I am."

Charity tried to smile. Yes, there she was. Good old Aunt Doris, her gray hair frizzing comfortably about her weathered face, her sensible cardigan about her shoulders, her classic plaid wool skirt, her sensible shoes. And right behind her stood Ross.

At least he'd had the decency to don a pair of baggy pajama bottoms. But his chest was bare. And he looked gorgeous. Not like a husband at all, more like a... Charity groaned and closed her eyes, wanting to sink down into the covers and stay there.

"Come along, dear," Aunt Doris was saying brusquely. "It's not like you to be such a slugabed. Do you realize it's almost ten o'clock? What on earth were you up to last night to make you sleep so late? Why, when you lived with me, you were always the first one up. Do you remember how you used to surprise me by fixing breakfast before anyone else was awake?"

The only incident that Charity could recall involved hideously burned toast and incredible, rubbery eggs, but she nodded as though fixing breakfast had been her main occupation in those days. "I'm sorry I wasn't up to greet you," she murmured dutifully, reaching up to accept the woman's affectionate hug and completely forgetting that as a restaurant owner who seldom got home from work before midnight, she had every excuse to sleep late.

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