Husband Wanted: Will Train (Chapter Three - A Grand Entrance, page 1 of 12)

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Charity stood in the doorway and surveyed her empire with a certain sense of satisfaction. La Mer was a small but thriving restaurant. The lunch crowd had hardly evaporated before the tea crowd began to trickle in. The place was never empty, right up until long after closing when they often had to encourage the last of the lingerers to head for their cars. Her success was partly because the classic menu was good, but also due to the inviting atmosphere. People enjoyed eating at the La Mer. It was as simple as that.

The rest of her success was due to good employees, hard work and attention to detail-and that included the image the owner projected. Instead of the barefoot gypsy of the day before, Charity was a vision of cool professionalism. Her wild hair was tamed into a sleek French twist. Her gunmetal-gray wool suit and rose-petal crepe de chine blouse were muted and classic. Topping it all off were the tortoiseshell glasses, which added ten years to her age.

Cool. Composed. Capable. That was Charity Ames at work.

"Wonderful lunch, Miss Ames." The tall, distinguished-looking man nodded amiably as he passed her on his way out. "As always."

"Thank you, Mr. Vandenberg," she murmured, smiling at the well-known lawyer. "It's always a pleasure to have you and your colleagues."

The most important people in town patronized her restaurant. She grinned as she thought of it. What would Alan Grayson think if he could see her now?

She stopped, frowning, and quietly said the name aloud. "Alan. Alan Grayson." No twinge. No wince. No pain. Did this mean she was finally over him?

Alan Grayson. Sleek blond hair combed straight back. A classic profile. Cool gray eyes and an arrogant chin. She'd been crazy about him, so crazy that she'd opened up about her life, her family, everything to him. She'd been there for him at any time of day or night, helping him through disappointments, soothing his ego when it was bruised, devoting months to doing nothing but helping him study for the bar exam, letting him use her apartment when he ran out of funds. They'd laughed together, loved together. Mutual need had bound them together more and more tightly, until finally, while they were drinking champagne to celebrate his passing of the bar, she'd blurted out her dream.

Her dream had involved babies and roses twining over the garden gate, two cats in the yard-and a wedding ring. Alan had stared at her, incredulous.

"I can never marry you," he'd told her, as though she must be blind not to have seen this for herself. "You know I want to go into politics. I'm aiming high, Charity. You've got that insane family and too many skeletons in the closet. I'm going to need a wife who can help me get ahead, not one who's an albatross around my neck."

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