The Wedding Belles' photographer, Regina, captures picture-perfect memories for brides and grooms to treasure. But looking at her own wedding photo makes her realize she barely knows the man she conveniently wed.... Dell O'Ryan was always brought up to do the right thing, to be responsible. So when his no-good cousin landed the beautiful Regina in a whole heap of trouble, Dell stepped in to save the day. One convenient marriage later, they are practically strangers, and now Dell has decided it's time to date his wife....
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May 12, 2008
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Excerpt from The Heir's Convenient Wife by Myrna Mackenzie
It was a hot day in Boston when the curtain finally lifted from Regina Landers O'Ryan's eyes and she realized that she had made the biggest mistake of her life nearly a year ago. Now, because of her mistake, marrying the wrong man--or rather allowing him to marry her--her husband was paying the price. That had become clear this past week.
"Well, no more," she whispered to herself as she watched the clock hands move forward. Dell would be home soon. Normally she wasn't here when he arrived. She usually stayed in the darkroom developing photos for The Wedding Belles, the business where she and her friends worked making wedding dreams for other people come true.
The irony of the situation didn't escape Regina. Her business dealt in the kind of romantic dreams she no longer believed in. Still, she wasn't the one at issue.
Dell might still find the woman he would have chosen had he been given a choice. It was long past time to free her husband from his bonds.
Regina sat down to wait.
* * *
The minute Dell walked through the door of the tasteful mansion where he'd lived his whole life, he knew that something was different. And it wasn't the ghosts of old O'Ryan aristocrats that were raising the hair on the back of his neck.
Regina was perched in the hallway on a Victorian settee that had been in his family for generations and was just as uncomfortable as it looked. That in itself set off warning bells. Regina was never waiting for him when he got home. She rose to meet him now.
He looked into her concerned brown eyes. She was holding a sheath of papers.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"We need to talk." Her soft voice came out unevenly.
"We need to talk now," she repeated, clearing her throat and managing to sound firm and determined though she was clearly on edge.
She shook her head. "No, you don't, but I do. Finally."
Regina held out her hand and he saw that the top sheet was a page torn out of a local magazine. "Have you seen this?" she asked.
He hadn't. The publication masqueraded as an event guide for the city of Boston, but the real draw was the bits of gossip sprinkled throughout its pages.
Dell lifted a brow. "Not my usual cup of tea."
She blushed slightly, and Dell realized that he'd rarely seen her blush. But then, he didn't really know Regina all that well. Their brief marriage had been entered into hastily for the sake of convenience, and they had spent very little time together. Like his parents had, they occupied this house as virtual strangers. But the delicate pink that tinted Regina's cheeks and dipped into the shadows at the vee of her pale yellow blouse definitely made him aware of her in ways he hadn't been when he'd entered the room. That was a surprise. It was also obviously bad timing.
Regina nodded, and for a moment Dell wondered if she had read his mind. "No, I suppose this wouldn't be the kind of thing a man like you might read," she said, "but I've verified the facts. They're true."
She turned away, her voice muffled, but she held her head high, her straight brown hair brushing her shoulders. Regina was a woman with generous curves, but she seemed thinner than he remembered her being when she'd fallen into his world just over a year ago. Was it any wonder? She'd been through a lot these past few months.
Dell rubbed a hand over his jaw. If Regina had suffered unhappiness, the blame was partly because of events that he had unintentionally set in motion. "You've verified the facts? So, tell me what they are, Regina." His voice came out too rough, and she turned to face him again.
"You were well on your way to marrying Elise Allenby when you--when we--"
"When we wed," he offered.
"Yes, but you did that to help me. You were supposed to marry Elise. Everyone was expecting an engagement announcement from the two of you. I didn't know. If I had, I wouldn't have--at least I hope I wouldn't have said yes." Distress filled her voice.
"Don't do that, Regina," he commanded. "You didn't destroy my love life if that's what you're thinking, and Elise and I hadn't even discussed marriage. I'm not a heartbroken man." But she was right in a way. Before the events of the past year had changed everything, he had wondered if he should deepen his relationship with Elise. It had been a purely practical consideration. Dell had never been a romantic man. His life revolved around the O'Ryan empire, and Elise came from a highly respected family and was an intelligent and beautiful woman. She knew how to conduct herself at events and would have graced his table admirably when he had to entertain. He hadn't done any entertaining since his marriage to Regina.