Montana SEAL's Mail-Order Bride(5)

By: Elle James


“Fine. Then we go through a list of all of your acquaintances. Surely, there’s a man amongst them who would make a suitable partner and father.”

“No,” Olivia said. “Actually, I think everything you’ve been saying is right. I need to find a place where I can remain out of the public’s eye.”

“If you mean hide, then you’re right.” Lilianna paced the church aisle. “Where would be the best place to hide for the next ten months? Preferably a place with eligible bachelors. Eligible, desperate bachelors.”

An idea took root and blossomed in Olivia’s chest. She sat in one of the pews, hunkered over the phone and began typing.

“Olivia?”

“Shh.” She kept typing, concentrating on what she wanted to say. Then she held up the phone, snapped a picture of herself and submitted her response.

“Olivia?” Lilianna snatched the phone from her hands. “What have you done?”

“I think I just accepted a proposal of marriage.” Her heart pounded against her ribs, and she felt just a little queasy. But not nearly as nauseated as she’d felt every time she’d said yes to her two previous fiancés. What she’d just done was perhaps the most spontaneous and…crazy thing she’d ever done in her life. But sometimes, a person had to step outside the lines in order to make things happen.

“Sweetie, what have you done?”

“You can read my response. It’s out there, but I didn’t use my full name. I used the name Aurelia George.”

Lilianna found her response and fell into a pew, her face pale.

“Woman with biological clock ticking seeks groom with a family in mind. Willing to work hard and bear children. When can we meet?”

“Oh, dear Lord. You’re kidding, right?” Lilianna shook her head and the stared at Olivia. “Please tell me this is all a bad dream.”

Olivia’s lips twisted. “Lili, this was your idea. Don’t tell me you’re having second thoughts.”

“But he’s only got one leg,” she whispered.

“Therefore, he’s got to be a little desperate. I need a man who’s just desperate enough make this work.” Olivia smiled, feeling more lighthearted than she had in months. She waved to the man standing guard at the door to the little church. “Collin,” she called out.

The man checked out the window beside the exit before he turned to join Olivia in the aisles. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Are you up for a visit to the US?” She slid a side-eye in his direction. Olivia had done a thorough background check on Collin O’Bannon, but she couldn’t remember everything. Only that he’d come highly recommended as a bodyguard. “You’re from somewhere in the US, correct?”

“Yes. Maine.”

“Good.” She leaned close. “Ever been to Montana?”

He nodded. “Went elk hunting there with my father.”

Hunting was a good, outdoor sport. But she needed him to be closer than a neighbor, if she was going to pull this off. “Ever done any ranching?”

“As a matter of fact…no.”

“Do you know anything about horses or cattle?”

“Only that one we eat, and the other we don’t.”

She chewed on her bottom lip.

“You’re not seriously considering marrying this one-legged cowboy from Montana, are you?”

A hope bloomed in Olivia’s chest and spread outward until it lit her face with a smile. “That’s exactly what I’m considering.” She grabbed Lilianna’s hand. “Come on, we have a lot to do in a short amount of time, if Mr. Gavin Blackstock accepts my response.”





Chapter 2





Two days later…



Gavin paced the length of the sidewalk in front of the bus station, forcing himself to walk with as little of a limp as possible. He’d been walking with a prosthetic leg for over two years, long enough he should have mastered it by now. Hell, it didn’t matter. He’d laid it on the line in his advertisement. Or rather, Lori had. One leg short of a pair. Holy shit. He couldn’t believe he’d actually received a response to that nonsense. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve done in my entire life.”

“Give the woman a chance.” Lori stood nearby, her gaze on the main road leading into Eagle Rock, Montana. “You saw her photo. She’s not bad looking. In fact, she’s beautiful.”

“In that case, what’s wrong with her?” Gavin couldn’t believe the first day his advertisement had been posted that he’d received over fifty proposals. He’d reviewed each one out of morbid curiosity, with no intention of taking any one of the women as his wife. Just how many desperate women were out there? He suspected as many as there were desperate men. Including him.