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The Man She'll Marry

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«The Man She'll Marry» - Кэрол Мортимер

Carole Mortimer is one of Mills & Boon’s best loved Modern Romance authors. With nearly 200 books published and a career spanning 35 years, Mills & Boon are thrilled to present her complete works available to download for the very first time! Rediscover old favourites – and find new ones! – in this fabulous collection…A surprise proposal…Abandoned by her—apparently married!—college boyfriend and left to bring up her daughter alone, Merry Baker decided long ago that marriage isn’t for her. But when handsome publishing executive, Zack Kingston, shows up on her doorstep, Merry experiences an intense longing she’s never felt before…So when Zack pretends to propose to her at a party, Merry finds herself almost wishing it was real. But what Merry doesn’t realise is that secretly Zack is determined to put a ring on her finger!
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CAROLE MORTIMER has a long-standing reputation as one of Mills & Boon®’s most popular authors. Readers love her likable heroines and strong, charismatic heroes, so it’s not surprising that over 40 million copies of her books have been distributed internationally. She says, “I was born in England, the youngest of three children—I have two older brothers. I started writing in 1978, and have now written 100 books for Mills & Boon. I have four sons—Matthew, Joshua, Timothy and Peter—and a bearded collie dog called Merlyn. I’m in a very happy relationship with Peter senior. We’re best friends as well as lovers, which is probably the best recipe for a successful relationship. We live on the Isle of Man.”

The Man She’ll Marry

Carole Mortimer

Table of Contents

About the Author

Title Page












‘IS YOUR mother at home?’

Merry stared at the man who stood on the doorstep. She knew she was being rude; her ‘mother’ had taught her all the necessary social niceties. But, looking the way this man did, he had to be used to women staring at him. Dani would have described him as ‘drop-dead gorgeous’, and for the first time Merry understood exactly what she meant by that phrase; this man had to set female hearts pounding, pulses racing, wherever he went!

‘Is Dani anything like you?’

The second question was fired at her before she’d even had chance to formulate an answer to the first one. It had been a long day, and she had only got in a short time ago, though long enough to have quickly changed into an old pair of black denims Dani had outgrown some years before, and a sloppy green jumper that hung loosely down to mid-thigh. Not exactly the height of fashion, but she was comfortable.

At least she had been, until faced with the elegance of her visitor. This man, well over six feet in height, with his ‘drop-dead gorgeous’ good looks—slightly overlong blond hair, a face that looked hewn from granite, eyes a deep blue, nose long and arrogant, mouth sensual above a squarely challenging jaw—wore his own designer-label clothes with a complete disregard for those labels, or for how well his blue jacket and pale blue shirt emphasised the width of his shoulders and the narrowness of his waist, his blue jeans simply adding to his rugged handsomeness. Dani’s cast-offs, which were slightly too big at that, did not do the same for her own appearance!

He frowned at her now, although the laughter lines beside his eyes and mouth said he wasn’t always this serious. ‘Is your mother at home?’ he persisted.

‘No,’ she answered him honestly, intrigued in spite of herself. Oh, not by his looks; good looks alone had never impressed her. Well, only the once. And she had learnt bitterly from the experience. No, what intrigued her about this particular man was that he obviously knew of Dani but he had no idea what Dani actually looked like . . .!

Because Dani was nothing like Merry. Her own long hair was dark, almost black, whereas Dani’s was a riot of blonde curls, and Dani’s eyes were brown, whereas her own were green, and Dani, at eighteen, was much taller than her own five foot nothing. So who was this man? He knew of Dani, but nothing else about her—except her address..


He gave an impatient sigh. ‘I don’t suppose your sister is here, either? No.’ He answered his own question. ‘David said they were going to some coffee shop or other this evening. Damn,’ he muttered, looking thoughtful. ‘I don’t suppose I could come in and wait, could I?’ His imperious tone of voice totally belied the request that his words should have been.

A man used to getting his own way, Merry surmised ruefully. Probably in his late thirties, and with no ring on his left hand to say whether or not he was married. The fact that he wasn’t wearing a ring said he would do as he damn well pleased, not that he wasn’t actually married. Everything about this man quietly cried self-assurance and determination.

‘No, I don’t suppose you could,’ she answered dryly.

Blond brows rose over those deep blue eyes, his mouth quirking wryly. ‘Well, at least one of the family seems to have some sense!’ he allowed.

She remembered again that it had been a long day and she had only been home from work for a short time; what she really wanted right now was to sit down with a glass of cooled white wine and simply unwind before thinking about preparing dinner. Her unexpected guest did not fit in with those plans at all. Besides, exactly what did he want to come in and wait for?

‘One of the family?’ she echoed smoothly, the mildness of her tone totally masking her impatience.

He nodded. ‘You and Dani. You are obviously the elder—’

‘Obviously,’ she acknowledged crisply. Why state the obvious?

He gave her a sharp look, visibly making an effort to relax. ‘I didn’t mean to sound insulting, Miss Baker—’

‘You may not have meant to, Mr...?’ She paused pointedly; he knew her name while she had absolutely no idea what his might be.

‘Kingston,’ he supplied. ‘Zack Kingston.’

Merry frowned. Kingston? The name did sound familiar. Dani had mentioned someone at university by that name. David Kingston... ‘David would be your son—’

‘Nephew,’ Zack Kingston corrected. ‘Dani has obviously talked to you about him!’

Merry didn’t like the accusation in his tone. Any more than she liked standing on the doorstep having this conversation with him. ‘Mr Kingston, I was just about to have a glass of wine. Would you like to join me?’ Green eyes steadily met blue.

How much ‘sense’ did he think she had now? The trouble with Mr Zack Kingston was that he formed snap judgements, and had taken one look at her and decided she was small and defenceless. It was only one of several wrong assumptions he had made!

That direct blue gaze was reassessing now, moving slowly from her bare feet, over the faded black denims, the too-large jumper, to the wild cascade of her long dark hair, the small gamine face dominated by challenging eyes.

To Merry’s amusement, she could see he was none the wiser for his review of her. She obviously didn’t look to him what she actually was. There was something to be said for a man-free—and therefore problem-free—life, after all!

‘Make your mind up, Mr Kingston,’ she advised mockingly. ‘I don’t intend standing here all evening waiting for your answer!’

Anger flared briefly in his deep blue eyes before he quickly brought it under control. Here was a man used to calling the shots, Merry guessed again, not the other way around. Well, this was her home, and her time, and if he wanted to continue this conversation he could do it inside, where she could relax. She had absolutely no idea what he was doing here, what it had to do with Dani—if anything—and she had no intention of discussing it any further standing on the doorstep!

‘You’ll be quite safe, Mr Kingston,’ she added derisively. ‘I make it a rule never to attack defenceless men on—what is it today?—on a Tuesday evening,’ she teased as she turned and walked back inside the house, sure he would follow her, he had come here this evening with something to say, and unless she was mistaken he hadn’t said it yet!

‘I can assure you, Miss Baker, I am far from defenceless!’

She was right; he had followed her! And as she looked up from pouring two glasses of wine she tried hard not to notice how his large frame dominated the bright but compact kitchen. ‘You are?’ she returned as she handed him his glass.

‘I are—I mean—Oh, hell.

’ He scowled. ‘Tell me, Miss Baker—’

‘Merry,’ she put in lightly, sitting up on one of the bar stools. ‘Short for Meredith,’ she tacked on, to save him the bother of asking; he was the sort of man who would want to know!

He nodded. ‘Tell me, Merry,’ he murmured softly as he sat on the second bar stool, his bent knee only inches away from her own. ‘What happens to “defenceless men” on the other evenings of the week?’

Different approach. Anger hadn’t worked, so now he was going to try cajoling, revealing some of that humour she had guessed at when she first saw him.

Merry quirked dark brows at him over the top of her wine glass. ‘Why don’t you come back tomorrow and find out?’ she replied.

For a moment he looked perplexed. And then he smiled, and laughed.

Whew! Merry continued sipping her wine, mainly as a way of hiding the way her breath had caught in her throat. ‘Drop-dead gorgeous’! That laugh only made him more so. A young Robert Redford, she decided admiringly.

He sobered, shaking his head as he still smiled. ‘If Dani is anything like you, then I think I understand David’s dilemma,’ he said.

‘David has a dilemma?’ she prompted softly.

The laughter had all gone now; Zack Kingston’s expression one of grim disapproval. ‘I consider it a dilemma, but I doubt that he does!’

Merry didn’t understand how his nephew’s dilemma could have anything to do with Dani. Dani had begun her studies at university at the end of September, and, being gregarious by nature, she had quickly made friends. David Kingston was only one of several Dani had mentioned during the last couple of months. Merry certainly couldn’t think of any reason for the boy’s uncle to come here in search of Dani...

‘When do you expect your mother home?’ Zack Kingston continued restlessly, putting down his glass of barely touched white wine.

Which wasn’t altogether fair on the wine. Merry didn’t consider herself a connoisseur by any means, but her taste was discerning, and the wine was a delicious Chablis, perfectly chilled.

‘I don’t,’ she told him consideringly. ‘David’s dilemma has something to do with Dani?’ An uneasy fluttering sensation was beginning in the pit of her stomach.

Dani wasn’t only gregarious, she was absolutely beautiful. And there was no bias involved in that observation; Dani had been bowling men off their feet since she was in her cradle!

‘Tell me,’ Merry said slowly, ‘is David anything like you?’

‘What the hell does that have to do—?’ Zack Kingston broke off, shaking his head impatiently. ‘David was the son of my older brother and his wife. Unfortunately they were both killed in a car accident ten years ago, which is when I took over his guardianship.’

Very commendable, considering the demands a child could make on you—even more so when he wasn’t actually your own...

‘That doesn’t actually answer my question, Mr Kingston,’ Merry persisted.

‘I don’t see what it has to do with anything—’

‘It has a great deal to do with it,’ she said tersely; a twenty-ish version of this man could be devastating to a girl like Dani. ‘David is tall, blond, and gorgeous, right?’

Now he was the one to look mockingly at her. ‘Like me?’ he returned.

Merry glared at him. ‘You’re too old to be playing these sort of games, Mr Kingston—’

‘The name is Zack—Merry,’ he cut in. ‘And I don’t consider myself “too old” for anything!’

The chill in his tone would have frozen a lesser woman into silence, but Merry didn’t consider herself a ‘lesser’ anything! And she never would!

‘So David is like you?’ she said irritably. Oh, Dani, sweet Dani, what have you done?

Zack shrugged. ‘There’s a certain similarity, yes. But—’

‘It’s enough,’ Merry waved a dismissive hand. ‘Dani told me she was meeting friends for coffee this evening. Am I to take it David is that friend?’ Singular, not plural. But not exactly a lie, either. Not that she had thought for a moment that it would be; she and Dani had never lied to each other.

Those blue eyes were narrowed now. ‘That’s what he told me before he left this morning to attend classes, yes,’ Zack agreed. ‘Amongst other things,’ he added. ‘I called here earlier in the day in the hope I could talk to Dani’s mother without—’

‘I work, Mr Kingston,’ Merry told him caustically. Unlike some people, obviously... The cut of his clothes, and that air of arrogance, spoke of wealth, and a nature that didn’t suffer fools gladly. Well, she certainly didn’t have the former, but she didn’t suffer fools, either, and this man was taking an awful long time to get to his point!

He was staring at her now, seemingly speechless—not something that happened often, Merry was sure!

She had realised a few minutes ago that he assumed she was Dani’s sister.

‘I suggest we dispense with any misconceptions you may have formed when you arrived, Mr Kingston,’ she told him briskly. ‘Dani doesn’t have a sister, older or otherwise. In fact, Dani is an only child.’ She met his eyes steadily.

Zack Kingston blinked, and then blinked again, his head tilted to one side as he reassessed the situation a second time. Finally he shook his head. ‘You aren’t old enough to be Dani’s mother! Unless—’ His gaze sharpened in dismay. ‘Exactly how old is Dani?’

Merry was unabashed. ‘Daniella—Dani—is eighteen.’

He looked relieved to hear that, but his puzzled vision returned to Merry once again, raking over her appearance once more, from the top of her head down to her bare toes, returning to her face—a face full of good humour, her green eyes clear and bright, her nose small and pert, her mouth wide and inclined to turn up at the corners, giving her a happy look even when she didn’t feel much like smiling.

As she didn’t now. This man, she had come to realise over the last few minutes, had come here to tell her something important about his nephew and her daughter. And in view of the way Dani had made her own way into life, Merry couldn’t help the feelings of foreboding that were seething over her. She no longer found this man’s mistake over her identity a cause for amusement, merely questioned the urgency of his need to talk to Dani’s mother.

Zack drew in a controlling breath. ‘Miss Baker—Er, Mrs—’

‘Miss Baker,’ Merry corrected stiltedly. What was that saying about ‘the sins of the father’...? Did it also apply to ‘the mistakes of the mother’? ‘I’ve never been a Mrs Anything, Mr Kingston,’ she informed him flatly, pointed chin raised defiantly.

He nodded abruptly. ‘Well, Miss Baker, it appears you’re about to have a wedding in the family now! My nephew David informed me this morning that he intends marrying your daughter!’

Merry swallowed hard, feeling the colour drain from her cheeks. Dani. Eighteen-year-old Dani. Beautiful Dani, who had her whole life before her. Dani, who had only been at university for two months. It couldn’t be happening all over again!

Was the mistake of the mother being repeated by the daughter...?


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