Chosen by a Stranger (Craved Series #5)

BOOK: Chosen by a Stranger (Craved Series #5)
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Chosen by a Stranger

Hazel Kelly

 

 

©
2015 Hazel Kelly

 

All
rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, copied,
or stored in any form or by any means without permission of the author. Your
support of the author’s rights is appreciated. 

 

All
characters in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons is
purely coincidental.

 

 

“I may not always love you

But as long as there are stars above you

You never need to doubt it

I’ll make you so sure about it”

-The Beach Boys

 

Chapter
1: Jack

 

I should never have asked her to marry me.

 

Not like that.

 

She deserved more. I should've gotten on my knee. And not until
I'd planned something extravagant.

 

Sure, the evening was amazing, and words couldn’t express how much
I’d enjoyed her company, but a proposal shouldn't be an afterthought like that.

 

It shouldn't come after a bath and a bottle of wine and a full day
of sex when people can hardly walk or speak, much less think clearly.

 

And to think I'd been trying not to overwhelm her all evening.

 

What a joke.

 

No wonder she said she needed time to think about it.

 

I didn't regret the sentiment though. Not a word. I knew how hard
it was to find a woman as clever and caring as Audrey, a woman who happened to
be wrapped up in a package I would never tire of opening.

 

And every day she wasn't mine fell short of its potential.

 

It was only after I asked, when I was laying there spooning her as
she feigned regular breath, that I realized I probably should've asked if she
wanted to be exclusive or something first.

 

But I'd been out of the dating game for so long that it seemed
overly conservative to do that, especially when I didn't just want exclusivity.

 

I wanted exclusivity with intent.

 

I was too impatient to take my time and let love grow and all that
bullshit people pretend the heart needs.

 

As far as I’m concerned, those flimsy guidelines are just a load
of crap that people rely on when the love isn’t there and they need to buy themselves
some time to see if it turns up. 

 

I didn't need to be coddled by a security blanket made of excuses.
I knew Audrey was the answer to the only question I thought I might never have
an answer to, and perhaps that realization is what galvanized me into action.

 

Meanwhile, I crossed my fingers that she wasn't freaking out. I
knew from teaching my class that women sometimes dwelled on one piece of a
puzzle to the point that they could no longer see the big picture anymore.

 

In other words, I hoped she wasn't focusing on what I proposed to
the point that she was failing to recognize what I hadn't proposed.

 

For example, I didn’t suggest we get married tomorrow. I wasn’t a
kid. I’d never suggest we rush into anything official. We still had a lot to
learn about each other before we could really sync up our lives.

 

And that was the other thing. Logistically, we had a lot of discussions
ahead of us about whom and what might be interested in moving where.

 

But even with plenty of money at my disposal, it would still be
ideal if we could at least settle on a place to share for a while. Nothing had
to be permanent, of course… except for Audrey's proximity to me since the
thought of not having her around was what caused me to open my big mouth in the
first place.

 

The point is, I figured we could have a nice long engagement
during which we could do all that behind the scenes relationship housekeeping.

 

But at least we'd be together.

 

Because I loved her.

 

And imagining my life without her was no longer appealing for me.

 

Earning her affection, making her laugh, causing a smile to spread
across her face and lift her blue eyes- those were the challenges that really
fired me up, the goals I had that I could get excited about.

 

And being successful at that would trickle into other areas of my
life. I knew my desire to impress her and make her proud far exceeded my ambition
to impress myself. And I wouldn’t expect her to be wowed by the things I
accomplished before she came around.

 

I would change for the better, and she would be my inspiration. She
already was. After all, nothing had spurred me into action the way she had
recently.

 

And that was just one of the reasons I knew I was in love with
her.

Which is why I wasn’t worried about moving or getting back to
work. Cause that was minor stuff. It was finding someone that made you happy no
matter where you were that was the real challenge.

And I had that with Audrey.

 

In fact, craving her had already forced me out of my comfort zone
and opened my mind in ways that had me looking forward to the future for the
first time in years.

 

I just hoped she felt the same way because I was eager
to
make
her comfortable, to make her safe.

 

And that was the other reason I knew it was true love. Because I
didn't want anything from her. She wasn't a means to an end.

 

All I wanted was for her to keep being herself and to let me be
around for it. Because I found her positively magnetic, and no one had ever
captured my attention- my imagination- the way she did.

 

I may have been accustomed to Thai sunshine, but I would rather
soak her up any day.

 

And as I pulled her warm body against mine, I
hoped
she was thinking
of all the reasons she’d say yes.

Chapter
2: Audrey

 

I'd never felt less relaxed in my whole life.

 

On the contrary, I was completely freaking out. The only reason I
managed to stay in bed was because Jack had his arms around me and was curled
up with his knees behind mine. So for ages, I just tried to hold still and
clear my mind by focusing on taking deep breaths so the rhythm of my breathing
would match his.

 

Eventually, though, his breath slowed to a pace I could no longer
match, and I realized he was sleeping.

 

I was simultaneously jealous and outraged.

 

I was jealous because I wanted to be sleeping, too. After what had
been the best day of sex I'd ever had in my life, I was exhausted. And while I
was pleasantly sleepy after our time in the tub, my tiredness seemed to have
evaporated as quickly as the tub had drained.

 

And I was outraged at him, too, because how could he be sleeping
at a time like this?! When he'd just asked me to marry him?!

 

I swallowed and opened my eyes, staring through the dark at the
far wall to confirm that I wasn't actually dreaming the whole thing.

 

But no. It was real… as unlikely as it was considering the fact
that twenty-four hours ago I was a single, unemployed woman in my mid-twenties
with zero job or relationship prospects.

 

And now here I was in bed with a millionaire who was smart enough
to be a doctor, sexy enough to be an underwear model, and skilled enough to be-
I don’t know- some kind of sexpert professor with a marriage proposal hanging
over my head.

 

It was unfathomable. In fact, if it had been any other crazy
situation, I would've pushed it to the back of my mind and left it alone for a
few days.

 

Unfortunately, that wouldn't do in this case because the gorgeous
man in question was waiting for an answer based on the entirely unreasonable
suggestion that I
just sleep on it
.

I mean, what the hell? In all my life, I'd never heard of such a
thing!

 

“Oh you're not sure you can marry me now? Well, why don't you
sleep on it?”

 

It was absurd.

 

If anything, the whole situation proved that he was just as drunk
and sexed up as I was and had no idea what he was saying. And yet, when I
attempted to laugh it off because that was my awkward default setting, he
almost seemed offended.

 

Like it should've been obvious that he was serious!

But how could it be? There was nothing even remotely rational
about the situation. He hardly knew me!

 

For all he knew, I was a complete weirdo. Shit, for all I knew, he
was. And even if neither of us was off our head, it didn't mean we should lock
ourselves into this thing and have a go of it.

 

Right?!

 

Was I totally unromantic and without any sense of adventure that I
was having this logical reaction? I mean, I was still trying to wrap my head
around the idea that a guy like him could even be interested in me, much less
want to commit to being interested in me forever.

 

He didn't even know what my pet peeves were or how short tempered
I could be when I was hungry or about my age inappropriate weakness for boy
bands and how embarrassingly bad my credit card freezing experiment had gone
last year… not that I would ever admit that last one to him anyway.

 

The point was, he was mature enough to know that I had a list of
terrible traits and habits whether he knew what they were or not. And I guess I
was shocked that he was willing to overlook all those wild cards just to be with
me.

 

Me?!

 

Sure, I had relatively healthy self-esteem and everything, but
compared to him I wasn't exactly accomplished or rich or particularly
impressive. I was a regular girl. The most I ever hoped was that I'd capture
the attention- maybe even the imagination- of a regular guy, and we'd see what
we could do with a regular amount of chemistry.

 

But here I was with this exceptional... specimen whose mere touch
sent fireworks through my body and my brain, and the only thing that wasn't
exceptional about him was the fact that he couldn't see how totally plain I
was.

 

It almost made me wonder if there was something wrong with him.

 

Though after the day we'd had together, I was pretty confident that
he was flawless.

 

And yet, he'd never even told me he loved me!

At
dinner he'd said my creativity was one of the
things he loves about me
,
but that's not really the same.

And it's not like this was the Middle East or something where a
marriage might be arranged long before love ever even came into it. This was
the Western World. I couldn't marry someone who’d never said he loved me.

Plus, I couldn’t marry someone I wasn't sure that I loved, and
with Jack, things were complicated to say the least. Obviously, there was no
denying that I loved everything about him.

 

He was kind, funny, smart, sexy as hell, and he made me feel like
I was the greatest catch in the world. Any woman would thank their lucky stars
to have a date with him, much less the opportunity to wake up next to him every
morning.

 

But that was my heart talking, and my heart had been wrong more
times than I could count. As a result, it couldn't be trusted.

 

What could be trusted was reason, and my logical side was telling
me that it was too soon to love him even if I felt differently. Besides, love
at first site wasn't a real thing. It was just a fantasy that people believed
in so they could make rash, unfounded decisions.

 

And it would be one thing if the rash decision was to go away with
him for a weekend or to go visit him in Thailand or something else more…
transient. But marriage wasn't the kind of thing people with college degrees
and level heads jumped into.

 

This wasn't the fifties for god sakes!

 

I had more to worry about than finding someone who was willing to
put a ring on my finger. And just because I never imagined that someone as
amazing as Jack would ever take interest in my long term happiness- or even my
short term orgasms- I didn't want to be foolish.

 

And most of all, I didn't want to get hurt again so soon,
especially by him. Because I feared I might not recover if I lost the best
thing that had happened to me in ages.

 

Then again, if I didn't say yes, I still risked losing him. Or
disappointing him. Or giving him doubts about me that he didn't currently have.

But surely he would understand if I needed more time. I mean, as
romantic as it was that his emotions had gotten the best of him, he was
probably having second thoughts, too.

 

Maybe he even fell asleep wishing he knew how to take it back
without sounding like an ass.

 

If only I could slink to the other room and call Megan. I feared
many of the thoughts I was having were so outrageous I probably shouldn’t
decide whether to take them seriously until I heard them aloud.

 

Of course, I couldn’t because I risked waking Jack whose clear
headedness I would need to rely heavily on in the morning.

 

Plus, I wasn't ready to call Megan yet, not when I hadn’t even had
a chance to sleep on it. After all, she might tell me not to blow it. Or worse,
she might tell me the whole thing was ludicrous.

 

And part of me wanted to believe in it.

 

At least for one night.

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