Amy Richards, a girl who'd been oil to his water once. Now, to his shock, George found himself wanting to spend 24/7 with the spirited beauty instead of on businessespecially when he learned why she'd unexpectedly relocated.
Amy was expecting.
Suddenly, George's urge to care for Amy and her fatherless child rivaled his urge to climb the corporate ladder, making him wonder if his mother's wedding wish wasn't so off-the-wall. With Amy, George had bride and baby all lined up. Now all they needed was love .
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One Bride: Baby Included
By Doreen Roberts
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. All right reserved. ISBN: 0-373-19673-3
Chapter One"Absolutely not. It's out of the question." George Bentley, Jr., dabbed furiously at his mouth with
his linen napkin and scowled across the spotless white tablecloth at his mother.
Framed by the tall window behind her, Bettina Bentley was a magnificent sight, as usual. Her
blue feathered hat exactly matched the color of her elegant dress and jacket, her hair had been
tinted a perfect shade of dark blond, and, with the help of clever makeup, she looked much
younger than her fifty-six years.
Not that George appreciated the charming picture she made right then. He was too irritated.
"George." His mother breathed his name, leaning forward until her bosom hovered perilously
close to her hot fudge sundae. Her coated eyelashes flapped at him in feminine appeal. "I'm
desperate. I promised Jessica you'd take care of things. Do be a darling. I assure you it will be
Fun? George almost snorted. He should never have accepted her invitation for dinner, even if
Martoni's was his favorite restaurant. He should have known she had something devious up her
He glanced up at the sparkling chandeliers that hung from the ornate ceiling. Dining at Martoni's
was always a pleasant experience. The Italian-style furnishings and decorgave the whole room
a festive atmosphere, with colorful floral arrangements and bright paintings of hot, sunlit streets
hanging on the peach walls. Elegant - like his mother. Bettina revered elegance to the point of
making it a religion.
Since the heart attack that had taken his father's life, he'd done everything in his power to be
there for his mother when she needed him, but sometimes her demands could border on
He glared at her, more angry at himself than at her. "Mother, you must have a dozen friends
who would be only too happy to show Amanda -"
"Her name is Amelia."
"- Amelia the sights. After all, Portland isn't exactly New York. It doesn't take that long to find
your way around."
"I'm not asking you to show her the city. All cities are pretty much the same, after all. Oregon is
such a beautiful state. I just know the girl would adore a trip to the mountains, the ocean, the
gorge, the desert, the wineries ...." She paused to give him the smile she usually reserved for her
charity targets. "You are terribly knowledgeable about wine, darling. I'm sure Amelia would be
awfully grateful to learn from you. After all, one can never know enough about good wines,
don't you think?"
"Mother ..." George laid his napkin down at the edge of his empty plate, "I do not have the time
or the inclination to play travel guide to that little brat."
Bettina's perfectly tweezed brows rose a fraction. "How on earth can you say that? You don't
know anything about her. You can't even remember her name, for heaven's sake."
"We practically grew up together. From what I remember, she took great pleasure in humiliating
"Amelia liked to tease. It wasn't her fault you had no sense of humor. Besides, that was fifteen
years ago. Amelia was just a child then. She's all grown up now."
"In that case, she doesn't need someone to show her around. She's old enough to take care of
herself. I have far better things to do with my time."
The stubborn look he dreaded appeared in Bettina's blue eyes. "Doing what? All I can say,
George, is that your father would be most disappointed in you. He would have jumped at the
chance to help Ben Richard's daughter."
George could never understand how a woman as tiny as his mother could have such a
formidable will. His father had been a giant of a man, towering over his wife, yet had seemed
totally incapable of opposing her. No wonder his son was having so much trouble filling his
shoes. Afraid he might weaken, he strengthened his resolve. "I'm far too busy right now. My
"You spend far too much time in the office." Bettina wagged a finger at him. "When you're not
there you're cooped up with no one but a cat to keep you company in that dreadful apartment,
doing God knows what -"
He straightened. "The apartments at River Park West happen to be some of the nicest in town."
"- when you should be out enjoying yourself with a nice young lady. All you care about is that
job and that ridiculous car of yours."
George took time out to swallow the last of his chardonnay. Even so, he couldn't quite contain
his resentment when he said stiffly, "My Lexus happens to be an excellent car, my job pays my
rent and I have all the social activities I can handle."
Bettina uttered a short bark of derision. "Two nights a week at a fitness club? An occasional
night at the theater? You call that a social life? You happen to be a very handsome man,
George, if I say so myself. There are at least three women in this room right now who can't
keep their eyes off you. You have the looks, the money and the time, so why don't you have
girlfriends? What's wrong with you? You're thirty-two years old, for heaven's sake. You should
be giving me grandchildren." Her eyes narrowed and she leaned forward again. "You're not one
of them, are you, George? Surely a son of mine -"
George gritted his teeth. "As I've told you before, many times I might add, I am not gay. You
know very well I've had some very ... healthy relationships in the past. I'm just not in one now,
that's all. I haven't the time."
"Of course you have the time. I'll never understand why you can't be more like David. At least
he joined the navy to see the world. The most you see are the four walls of your apartment. You
don't know what it is to be adventurous."
Ignoring the pang that had hit him at the mention of his younger brother, George muttered
darkly, "I spent half my life keeping David out of trouble. That was enough adventure to last me
Bettina studied him with a maternal eye. "What you need is a good woman. At least then you
would have sex regularly. Every man needs plenty of sex to stay healthy."
It was time, George decided, that he put an end to this conversation. Discussing his sex life with
his mother was low on his list of enjoyable pursuits. "Well, Mother, this has been quite nice, but
now I really do have to get back to the office."
"Not until we have this settled."
"It is settled as far as I'm concerned. Get someone else to keep an eye on the brat."
Excerpted from One Bride: Baby Included by Doreen Roberts
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.