Full Time Wife: A Full Circle Sequel
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by Anna Dynowski
Description: Wanted: A full-time wife for one of Prince George County's finest--and most eligible men in blue. If bachelor Luke Boniface isn't on police duty, he's enjoying the company of women. Life is great, until two meddling and matchmaking old men in his small town decide he needs their help in the walk down the aisle. When they place a personal ad for a wife in the newspaper, without his knowledge, the small town swell with eager respondents. And heading the list of enthusiastic applicants: his ex-wife, Tara Rivers.
eBook Publisher: ebooksonthe.net/ebooksonthe.net, 2008 ebook
eBookwise Release Date: May 2008
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [356 KB]
Reading time: 217-304 min.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV
To Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who covers my heart, soul, mind and spirit with His peace.
To Hentry, my hero-husband, my forever soulmate, my everlasting lifemate, my love eternal.
To my mother, my best friend and the most precious woman in my life, I love you.* * * *
Fear, no matter what shape and size it takes, devastates, demoralizes. It causes our internal system to spark and short out, leaving us defenceless.
Luke feared to make a huge investment of hope in someone, one person, Tara, and then lose it all, again.
Tara, fearing Luke would pull up as the caboose on a long lineup of walkers in her life, walked out first.
They both came to possess a valuable piece of truth they could take with them throughout life's journey: where the peace of God is present, there is no room for fear.
When they embraced this truth, their internal systems came back on line, spluttering at first, but gaining in strength as they chose to put their trust in God.
When fear comes knocking on your door, place your trust in God and remember this acronym:
Love and Prayers,
Anna* * * *
"They did what?"
Luke Boniface spluttered, staring open-mouthed at his partner and feeling the air swoosh out of his lungs much like it spurted out of an open-ended balloon. He'd always prided himself on having a good sense of humor, but right now, it was nowhere to be found. AWOL. It went AWOL.
Closing his eyes, he wished with every fibre of his being, he could have accompanied it. He wanted to be anywhere but here, in the squad room of the Prince George County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police, in the midst of his fellow policemen--his laughing fellow policemen.
Too bad he was an officer of the court. Too bad he had pledged to uphold and enforce the laws of the land. Too bad he couldn't use his weapon in anything other than official police business. Because right now, he entertained homicidal thoughts and not just toward his collegues. Two scheming, conniving, meddling old men--
His temper building, he gave his head a vigorous shake as if in so doing, he could dispel the murderous ideas shooting off in his mind. "Right, Paladini." His voice vibrated across the room with suppressed anger.
The clickety-clack of keyboards click-clacked to a stop, the boisterous laughter died a sudden death, and every wary eye slammed on him. Everyone got the picture. Finally.
He was furious.
There could be no other reaction to finding out he had acquired himself, without his knowledge or consent, a couple of matchmakers intent on making his life miserable.
Through clenched teeth, he ordered his partner, "Tell me."
Matt Paladini's eyes still danced with amusement but he managed to make his voice solemn. "First, calm down, Boniface."
"Calm down?" Calm down? Luke was sure he was about to burst a blood vessel. How would Matt feel if he was the recipient of the Machiavellian plot of Paradiso's devious duo, Carmen Paladini and Giuseppe Fusilli?
"Yes, calm down."
Amid the roaring of blood in his head, Luke recognized the steely-calm voice of a policeman. He should. He'd used the same voice himself on many occasions to calm down the rattled emotions of victims of crime.
He let out a long breath and said, slowly and quietly, "Okay, I'm calm. Now, tell me everything you know."
Matt lifted a questioning brow, studying him, assessing him.
Luke obliged him by offering back the trained blank look of a police officer. With every bit of willpower he possessed, he willed his arms to hang limp at his sides, his hands relaxed. His hands, yes, but not his mind. It jolted, leaped, and boxer-danced all over the place.
When the tension-filled seconds crawled by, Luke began to wonder if Matt had such a bomb to drop that he chose his words with extreme caution. "Just spit it out." He already knew he wasn't going to like what he'd hear.
With a brisk nod, Matt suggested, "Maybe you ought to sit down. Get him a chair," he commanded to no one in particular.
Luke never took his eyes off his partner but heard the legs of a chair scrape the floor behind him, felt the seat slide against the back of his thighs. "I prefer to stand." He blew out a frustrated breath, surprised he still possessed some air in his lungs. "Come on, Paladini. Stop hedging. Give it to me straight."
"Okay. Straight. Fine." After firing a warning glance to everyone in the room, he asked, "You do promise not to do anything rash?"
Luke felt his lips tip up in a mocking smile. Maybe his sense of humor was trying to make a come back? "If by rash, you mean, am I going to shoot two of Paradiso's elderly citizens, namely your father and his accomplice, then the answer is 'no.'"
If he was going to do them in, he intended their demise to be suitable for the crime committed. It had to be ... slow and painful. And enjoyable. For him.
"It's like this." Matt cleared his throat. "My dad and Giuseppe, they're from the old country, y'know?"
Tell me something I don't already know. Like, why have they singled me out to be the "lucky" participant in their mad plot to get me married? And how do I get out of the mess my gut tells me I'm in?
"Go on." Luke felt what he could only describe as a chill wash over him and settle at the base of his spine.
He watched Matt throw a glance over his shoulders toward the Detachment Commander's office. He probably wished--no, prayed fervently--for Roll Call to be announced so he could be let off the hook here, but unfortunately for his partner, Staff Sergeant Palozzi was still holed up in his office.
"Go on," he repeated.
Matt sucked in a deep breath and continued. "Dad and Giuseppe, being the patriarchs that they are, like to see their children settled down--"
"Neither of them is my father." Luke crossed his arms at his chest. He had one of his own. And he never missed a beat in reminding his son, his very single son it was time to join the ranks of his siblings and find himself a suitable spouse. Luke almost shuddered.
Thanks, but no thanks. I'll pass, thank you very much.
"Luke," Matt implored for understanding with his eyes, "they're two old men who believe the earth isn't spinning correctly on its axis unless everyone--that is, everyone in Paradiso--is married." He gave a lopsided smile. "That includes you."
The chill at the base of his spine began a slow ascent up his back.
Matt's grin broadened. "You see, Giuseppe takes credit for getting Nick and Allie together and dad for me and Petra. So to their way of thinking, you needed their combined and highly specialized assistance in the matrimony department."
Luke felt his eyes widen to the point he thought they'd never close again. "Assis--" The chill must have reached his throat and sliced off his voice. Swallowing, he tried again. "I don't need any assistance." Yeah, the chill had definitely reached his throat and cooled his voice to sub-zero temps. He was fairly certain his eyelids had been released and now lowered to menacing slits.
Matt raised a hand and rubbed his chin. "Not from how they saw it."
"How they saw it?" Slow, methodically, he massaged the bridge of his nose. He was beginning to sound like a parrot, he thought and grimaced. "What. Exactly. Did. They. Do?" The chill seemed to have frozen his jaw in place and he had difficulty pushing the words out of his mouth. It was either that or he was experiencing extreme fear. Not a good sign for a cop.
"They, um, placed ... a personal ad for a wife in the paper. For you," Matt finished on a quick intake of air.
Luke would have responded with a quick-witted retort had he not developed a sudden case of laryngitis and discovered, to his dismay, his brain, right at this precise moment, opted to go south on vacation and leave him stranded here. Alone.
Great. No sense of humor or brains to save him.
He lowered himself onto the chair behind him as carefully as an old man--a century older than those two calculating, interfering, manipulative busybuddies.
An ad. For a wife. Oh, God.
"Quick. Someone get him a coffee. Black. Strong." Crouching before him, Matt barked out the order. "Easy, buddy. Take it easy. Breathe."
Someone--he didn't see who--handed him a styrofoam cup. He took a deep breath and inhaled standard, regulation bitter coffee. He took a long gulp of scalding liquid, not caring pain burned his throat. At least, this physical pain would give him something else to think about instead of the one eating slowly through his gut.
"Listen, buddy, they didn't mean any harm by it." Matt straightened, patting Luke on the shoulder.
The sound he made through his clenched mouth was neither an agreement nor a dispute. It was, more or less, a snarl. "No harm? No harm?" His voice upped a notch. "They place an ad, a personal ad, in the paper without my knowledge or consent..." He let his voice trail off as he washed his face with his hands. One minute, his life was going along just fine and the next...
"Listen, Boniface, Carmen and Giuseppe just thought you needed a little help in the romance department. That's all."
Luke dropped his hands, and turning his face, he clamped his eyes on the speaker, Detective Carl Spencer. "I do not require any assistance in the romance department," he said, his tone clipped. "I have never, repeat, never had any problem in getting a date. In fact, I'm seldom without female companionship."
"That's just it, Boniface." Constable Frank Quintiliani piped up, with a smile. It played about his mouth and danced in his eyes.
And Luke wanted to bop him one. Just one punch, carefully aimed at that smirk. Instead, he pressed two fingers over his right temple where a headache began to beat. "What's it?"
"Boniface, no one is questioning your ability to charm the ladies." Matt's grin widened. "Just your ability to charm one of them to the altar."
Luke's laryngitis returned. Although he opened his mouth, no sound emerged, and he snapped his lips shut, swallowing a couple of times to dislodge the ball of emotion stuck in his throat. He wasn't quite sure what that emotion was exactly.
Was it fear that roped his stomach? Or anticipation? And why had his sense of humor hit the road now when he could have used a healthy dose of it to get through this disaster?
When he managed to work his mouth, he said, "I don't do marriage."
His chin came up, his eyes level on his partner. Been there. Done that. Doesn't work. The silent words whipped through his mind with the vulnerability of hurt.
Some people were born to be married. Some people thrived at it. Some excelled. He was none of these as his one--and only--attempt at the walk down the aisle fizzled into a hard and grim walk into the divorce court. And this after only two years.
With a bleak smile, he crushed his cup--lucky for him it was made of styrofoam and not glass--and tossed it into the garbage can. "Some people are better off not married." He straightened his shoulders. "I'm one of them."
"Maybe one of the lovely ladies who'll respond to your ad will be able to change your mind about that." Quintiliani slapped him on the back and wiggled his brows.
"It's not my ad," he said with something close to a sigh. These guys were enjoying his discomfort and dilimma a little too much. Clasping his hands together to keep them from throttling his collegues, he let his mind wander, only for a second, to Tara.
I've been cured, for good, from the notion of a happily-ever-after. A forever soulmate. A love eternal.
His voice remained colorless, his hands remained folded. "I prefer playing the field."
There's safety in numbers, he thought. Safety for his heart. No committment. No strings attached. No expectations.
"And I prefer to be the hunter. Not the hunted. Thank you very much," he added dryly.
"Boniface, you must have a screw missing upstairs," Spencer offered with a sad shake of his head. "What red-blooded, single male would not want to be swarmed by hundreds of lovely ladies?"
The other officers chuckled and Luke couldn't help himself. His lips tugged up into a reluctant smile. Maybe his sense of humor, having realized how boring life was without him, decided to return and report for duty?
"Stop drooling, Spencer. Wonder how your wife would react?" The laughter grew louder. "Anyway, I have nothing to worry about." Smiling, he leaned back in the chair and clasped his hands behind his neck. "How many lovely ladies could there possibly be in Prince George County who would have read that blasted ad in the local paper and responded? I can continue going about my merry way and--"
Luke stopped in mid sentence when the laughter in the squad room was replaced with a quiet tension and the expression on every policeman's face turned wary.
The headache, which earlier began a tap dance on his temple, now thumped its way across his forehead. His sense of humor, the traitor, decided to skip town again, leaving him alone with this feeling of impending doom and unable to shake off the foreboding chilling him to the bone.
"What?" Silence except for a couple of nervous coughs. "What?" he snapped out, growing more and more irritated.
With a shrug of an apology, Matt stepped forward. "Luke, the ad wasn't placed in the Prince George Guardian."
"It wasn't?" He was sounding like a parrot again.
"Nope." An amused smile accompanied the one word.
He pressed his thumb and forefinger to his closed eyes. He didn't want to know. Told himself he'd be better off not knowing. But he was a glutton for punishment. On a resigned breath, he said, "Go on."
"Dad and Giuseppe placed the ad in..."
The headache built until it raged like a firestorm behind his eyes. What vulture of a disaster might right now be sweeping down on him to clutch him without mercy in its sharp, relentless claws? Lowering his hand, he sat very upright, very still, and crossed his arms. An urgency churned in him. Breathing in a long, deep breath, he focused his attention on his partner. With his eyes, level and cool, he forced Matt to look at him, to nod.
"They put the ad in the Toronto Star."
Luke was struck dumb, feeling all thirty-five years of his life shrink down to five. Not only did those two rascals, masquerading around as Paradiso's wise elders, place the stupid ad in a newspaper, but they had to place it in a paper with such a huge circulation. And if that weren't enough, they added salt to his injury by choosing the paper his ex-wife worked for.
That meant a lot of people--all across the province--were going to see the ad.
That meant--God help him!--a lot of female readers with stars in their eyes and a finely-tuned nose to track down an eligible bachelor, were going to be hounding him.
That meant Tara might actually see the ad and assume he was desperate for a wife.
He uttered a string of colorful words normally heard in locker rooms and pool halls, and generally never from him. But this was an extenuating circumstance.
In slow motion, Luke pivoted his head to see Detachment Commander Danny Palozzi standing in the doorway, waving a rolled-up newspaper in his direction.
"What's this I'm reading about you getting married?"
No one heard Luke's groan. It was drowned out by the loud peels of laughter.