License to Love

License to Love by Barbara Boswell

Book: License to Love by Barbara Boswell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Barbara Boswell
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance
just—” There was no way to salvage this, he acknowledged. It was time to divert the issue entirely. “How many people are in your family anyway?” he asked abruptly. “You’ve mentioned sisters, brothers, parents and steps—I can’t keep track of them all.”
    Had there been any light, he would’ve seen Michelle roll her eyes heavenward. But she was more than willing to drop the subject of all those guys, boyfriends and lovers he assumed she’d entertained in her bed. Telling a bedroom Olympian like Steve Saraceni that her experiences in bed-sharing included only her stepsisters and her cat would be extremely humiliating. And far too revealing.
    Michelle accepted his conversational olive branch. “My family is a tangle of wholes, steps and halves,” she murmured. “I have pictures of everybody in the living room I could show you if the lights weren’t out. It’s much easier to put names with faces.”
    “I have a fantastic memory for names and titles and who-fits-in-where-with-whom. It’s a must in my profession. Test me. Tell me the names of the Careys and their assorted connections and I’ll repeat them back to you, one hundred percent correct.”
    “You’ve taken on a real challenge,” Michelle warned. The unnerving awkwardness was dissipating and she was beginning to relax. Surprisingly, it wasn’t so terribly threatening to be lying there talking with him. It was rather cozy.
    “We’ll start with Cathy, Warren and Hayden, riiy full sister and brothers,” she said. “They’re in their thirties and married with children now. They were all in school by the time I came along.”
    “You were a surprise, huh?”
    “No, I was an unforeseen, unplanned for, unwanted accident,” Michelle replied matter-of-factly. “Mom and Dad were planning to separate. They’d been to the lawyers and had the papers drawn up and then my mother—” “—Found out she was pregnant with you,” Steve concluded. “Whew! Talk about being caught in a trap!” Then he realized he was talking to the full-grown version of that “trap.” He cleared his throat. “I mean, I’m sure they were delighted. You offered them a second chance at happiness.”
    “My appearance prolonged their marriage for two more miserable years,” Michelle amended. “But they were finally divorced and two years later Daddy married Kate, who was a widow with three children, Mark, Ashlinn and Courtney. I liked them from the very beginning. Sometimes Courtney and I would pretend we were twins since we were the same age.”
    “Imagine marrying a woman with three children /” marveled Steve. He couldn’t.
    “You can’t imagine marrying, period,” Michelle said dryly.
    “We’re not talking about me. You’re supposed to be giving me a sweeping overview of the Carey much-extended family, remember?”
    “If you insist. My mother married Tim Lowell, who was divorced with two kids of his own, Lonnie and Lisa. They lived with their mother but visited their dad twice a month and two weeks in the summer. When I was eight, Mom and Tim had the twins, Debbie and Donna, my half sisters.”
    “A real ‘yours, mine and ours’ family,” Steve remarked. He proceeded to correctly recite all the names and tangled relationships back to her. “Why didn’t your dad and the widow Kate have a baby together? Seems like having children is the thing to do in your family.”
    “They tried. Kate had a couple miscarriages. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
    “Bet you were glad,” Steve said bluntly. “Seems to me there were way too many kids floating around Carey and Company.”
    “You just hit on my most shameful childhood secret,” Michelle said wryly. As he seemed inherently unshockable, she found it surprisingly easy to confide in him. “I desperately did not want Dad and Kate to have a baby. I suppose I was threatened by the thought of yet another child. I always felt lost in the shuffle while I was growing up. I knew I wasn’t particularly

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