The Wife He Adored

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Everyone knew Lucy was an airhead, a bubbly blonde who leaped from job to job and never settled down. What they didn’t know was she hid her brilliant mind behind that façade. She had left home at sixteen to further her education and make her way in the world, which did not include getting married and having as many kids as her body could handle, contrary to her upbringing. Trying to shake that off was hard, but one thing she knew was men didn’t like smart women. Then she met Max.

Max was a loner and his reputation was well earned. He had hired Lucy because, while she job hopped, all her past employers gave her excellent references. Their office ran better than ever once she was hired and he made it his mission to find out her secrets. If she wouldn’t confess them, could he coax them out of her another way?

This is book two in the Clearwater Romance series and can be enjoyed independently.

Publisher’s Note: This sweet and clean romance contains elements of power exchange and is intended for adults only.

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Sample Chapter

Lucy Arndt held her chihuahua, Juliet, close as she watched her best friend, Ellie, make her first speech as city manager. Ellie had been working toward getting that appointment, but not for two years when the current term expired, but the city manager before her had suddenly resigned, citing family and health reasons. Ellie had been pushed through by Mayor Shelia Lloyd and there were basically no dissenting votes from the council, who were probably relieved not to have to pay out thousands to do a search for a replacement. Who would have thought back in the day when Ellie was the only friend she had in the world, and she thought their lives would always run along the same path, that Ellie’s life would turn out like this?

Ellie had a fantastic husband, and a brand-new house where she was attending a housewarming celebration tonight. Lucy had watched the house go up, but hadn’t seen it at all the last month or so. Ellie wanted to surprise her with the final results. Now Ellie had a fancy new job and Lucy knew it was only the first step on her way up in the world. There would be no stopping Ellie, she knew. Her husband Mike seemed to support her in everything she wanted to do. Ellie was a lucky woman.

Flicking the TV off, she sighed and looked around her little house she had bought almost five years ago now. She loved her little house and adored Juliet. She’d had her about six months, since she’d found a new job and dumped – or didn’t dump – Max Sutherland. She’d grown to love his little dog, Gypsy, and well, she thought she loved Max too, till she found out that she was only a fling. An afterthought. No one to be considered unless he was in The Mood. Then he’d be calling. He never took her on a real date, and never seemed to care about her, unless he was in bed with her.

She’d had a hard start in life. One of eleven kids, now twelve, she’d heard, she was number six, and mostly forgotten. She wasn’t an older sister mom and she wasn’t a younger with an assigned sibling to care for them. On her own mostly, she floated through her life, trying to never cause anyone any trouble.

Her mom and Ellie’s grandma went to church together and she and Ellie had become friends. Often she was either at Ellie’s house or Ellie’s grandma’s house and doubted her folks even realized. Her mom did what she called homeschooling which was basically assigning them all a number of work book pages to do each week. It had been a joke as she realized when she and Ellie compared homework when they were both in 9th grade. Lucy had been appalled at what all she didn’t know, and worse yet, didn’t realize what all there was to learn out there.

Ellie’s grandma, a former teacher, had taken her under her wing and she had her GED and a spot in the same college as Ellie before Ellie graduated high school. Ellie’s grandma always told her how smart she was and that she could do anything.

Her parents had not been happy. Her only choice in life was to get married and have a large number of babies. Nothing more. That was fine if it was your choice, but it didn’t seem to be a choice, but a rule. She had left home right before she turned seventeen, on very bad terms and still missed her mentor to this day. Ellie’s grandma had passed away suddenly right before they both moved into the college dorm. She and Ellie both had lost an anchor and would always be closer because of their shared grief.

She loved college and kept changing her major so she could stay longer. She often worked two jobs while taking a full load and adored every second of it all. Managing to stay five years, Lucy ended up with a double major in business and accounting, and two minors in history and finance. College had been her first chance at a real life. She rarely got to see any of her siblings or heard anything from anyone but recently her younger sister, Moriah, had suddenly started slipping emails to her. Moriah was nineteen now and seemed to want help breaking free of the family and their restrictions. She would do anything for her, once she could figure out what to do, but right now, she had to get dressed for Ellie’s party.

Getting dressed, Lucy felt the excitement rise. She did enjoy a party and this was at her best friend’s house. She and her friend Jordyn were going to share an Uber out there, just in case they had too much fun. Ellie had said she could stay the night but she would Uber home. She didn’t want to leave her little Juliet that long, after all. Kissing the top of her head, she gently put the little dog on her bed, then went to the closet. “What should I wear, baby girl?” she asked. This month, her naturally dirty blonde hair was a golden blonde with pink highlights. She picked out a dusty rose-pink dress that fell to just below her knees, and beige sandals. Loose enough to be comfortable and fitting enough to make her feel good. So nice to have choices other than the ‘modest’ wear she and her sisters had to choose from. While her clothes still now were mostly modest, they were in bright fun colors. She wore pants and jeans and even a tank top when the mood struck her. It felt so freeing, even if she felt pangs of guilt now and then. Half an hour later, she ran out the door with her purse and gift bag in her hand. She couldn’t wait to see Ellie’s new house.

“Hi, Jordyn,” she said as she slid into the back seat next to her.

“Are you excited about the party?” her friend asked. “I had to take off work tonight to go to this thing.”

“I am very excited,” Lucy confessed. “I bet Ellie’s house is fantastic and I can’t wait to see how it looks.”

“I heard Miranda did a great job on it,” Jordyn said. “I’m looking forward to it, too.”

“Was your client upset that you had to take tonight off?” Ellie asked.

Jordyn shook her head. “Nah, I gave them enough notice. They went to St Louis for the weekend and are probably eating better than they would be at home.”

“I doubt that,” Lucy said. “You are so good. I’m surprised Ellie didn’t ask you to cater tonight.”

“She did. I said no. I wanted to just go to a party and not work for a change,” Jordyn sighed. “I so rarely get a night off, you know.”

“I know,” Lucy said. Jordyn was a private chef working for three families, cooking for them all two nights a week, but making them all three meals when she came over. One for that night and two to save for later. Then she occasionally catered parties like Ellie was throwing tonight and Lucy knew she really wanted to grow that part of her business. “I’m glad you get the night off.”

“Me, too,” Jordyn said. “I can’t wait to get there.”

“Won’t be long,” the driver said. “A couple more minutes.”

Lucy looked at all the cars lining the big circular drive Ellie had insisted on and was glad they didn’t have to worry about parking or hiking in dress shoes. She had a big turn out tonight. Her breath shook a little as she got out the car door. Max could very well, okay, would be there. It looked like a big party. Hopefully, she could ignore him, but if not, then she would act as if he meant nothing.

He’d been her first. The first one to break through her upbringing and convince her that sex outside of marriage didn’t doom you forever. Now she wasn’t so sure he was right, because she felt doomed, as much as she faked being happy. She thought it meant they were involved. A couple. He thought it meant he could come and go as he pleased. No romance. Nothing but a good time. She wanted more than a good time. So he did not matter to her. It was as simple as that.

Ellie and Mike stood at the front door as they came in. “Lucy, I’m so glad you are here. Thank you for coming,” Ellie said, then whispered, “That is my official greeting. But I’m really glad you are here. Go look around, tell me what you think and who Miranda is drinking with.”

Lucy giggled. “Will do, I can’t wait to see it and be your spy.”

Jordyn, she noted, was already at the canapé bar, probably judging the offerings. She was caring for her elderly mother who lived here in town, and Lucy knew that otherwise, Jordyn would be off working in a big city, in some big fancy restaurant. The woman had real talent, and amazing knife skills. What she could do with baked goods rivaled any on the TV shows she sometimes watched.

Now, she would have to check out the house and do a little reconnaissance on Miranda, the woman who had designed most of it, and who was a thorn in her friend Ellie’s side.

Gasping as she turned the corner into a big living room, she saw Max with Miranda. That was killing two birds with one stone, wasn’t it? Deliberately, she turned the other way and went wandering through the house, suddenly wanting only to be at home with Juliet. She could leave as soon as she wanted, she reminded herself. She had broken free from the rules of ‘should’ and ‘must’. But first she would check out the house. Because she wanted to and she could do anything she wanted to do.

One thing she really wanted to see was the double walk-in shower, and the other was the gazebo. Ellie had discovered Mike and Miranda having lunch together one day and the reason, she later found out, was he was making Ellie a gazebo with a koi pond beside it for a surprise Christmas present. Mike was nothing but perfect, wasn’t he? Why couldn’t she find a Mike? One day, probably, she assured herself. She had thought Max was a Mike but he was just a cad. Old fashioned as that sounded, it was what he was. A very handsome charismatic cad, but still.

She walked up the stairs to what she assumed was the bedroom area. After admiring the walk-in shower, she turned to go down to the gazebo before it got too dark outside. However Ellie met her halfway down the stairs. “Let’s go up,” she said.

“Sure,” she said easily as she turned around. “I saw your speech. I’m so proud of you.”

“Thanks for helping me write it,” Ellie said. “I couldn’t have been as eloquent without your help.”

“Ahh, anything for my best friend,” Lucy said as she followed Ellie into a small room, painted a lovely rainbow color. Like the hair she sometimes favored. “I love this room!” How had she missed it before? Too focused on the double walk-in shower, she guessed.

“Mike calls it the nursery, but I tell him that won’t be for a while yet. However, I want to talk to you about something and tonight seemed like a good time.”

“You can talk to me about anything anytime,” Lucy said.

“Well, this is a special thing. I apparently have to have an administrative assistant in my new job and well, I only know one, but she is the best one in town so‑” Ellie looked at her expectantly.

“Really, El? You want me to work for you?” Lucy didn’t know what to think. Sure, they had worked on the speech together, but that was friendship only.

Ellie shook her head. “I want us to work together. If I run for mayor in two years I need you there with me. If I go beyond that, I need you there with me. This is just a start of us and our journey. We have both been seeking something for so long, and I think we might have found it. I’ll send you over the job description tonight after the party and you can let me know soon.”

Lucy didn’t say anything, but hugged her close. The answer would be yes, but she’d be smart and look at the job description – and the salary – first. This sounded like a great opportunity though. Job hopping while fun and entertaining was getting old. She usually got bored with a job too quickly, and moved on to other challenges. Being very very good at her job made her easily adapt to any situation. This would be something new and different – city management would be rife with challenges. And if Ellie did go after the mayor’s job in a few years, well, what was more challenging than politics? She did love a challenge.

“I have to go back to the party,” Ellie said. “Talk soon. Love you, Lucy.”

Overcome with emotion, Lucy took a minute, then smiled, went downstairs and headed to the back yard. There was a small, paved path to the gazebo lit by what she called fairy lights on both sides.

She headed down to it, thinking hard on what Ellie offered. It could be everything she wanted. She had loved helping Ellie write her speech. She loved being an admin. But, it was hard working for family and that is what she and Ellie were. Making that distinction between employee and family might be challenging. Losing her best friend and almost sister over a job was not an option. She’d lost too many people in her family when she broke away from home. Something to think about because she never wanted to lose Ellie from her life.

Everything seemed to be covered in those gorgeous twinkling fairy lights in the back yard and she picked her way down the path easily. This was such a great thing for Mike to do for Ellie. Halfway down, she froze. Two silhouettes were in the gazebo already. One she thought she knew, but the other she recognized immediately. Her gut knew that build, the shape of those shoulders, that silhouette, and her heart felt as if it were being cut in two. Lucy turned and ran back to the house, dialing Uber on the way. She had to get out of here. Right now. Looking around the crowded room, she didn’t see Ellie or Mike to say goodbye and figured they would be busy anyway. Her heart pounded as she waited for her Uber, hoping no one would talk to her.

“Lucy!” No such luck.

“Hi, Joni, Hi, Beth, how are you?” Joni was Ellie’s brother’s next-door neighbor, and Beth was her reclusive sister. People rarely saw her, and often forgot she was around. She worked from home and seemed to hibernate there. Joni, however, was a bundle of energy. She taught middle school with a couple of her other friends, Shona and Izzy, and they all often went out together or got together. They had all been together for Ellie’s bachelorette party. Who played Candy Land at a bachelorette party? This group.

Lucy relaxed a little. She’d be fine with Joni till her Uber came. “We are good,” Joni said. “I finally persuaded Beth to come out of her hidey hole.”

“Oh, hush,” Beth nudged her sister in a surprising show of personality. Lucy had always considered her a mouse. “You know I love a house tour! This is a really nice house.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Lucy agreed. It looked nothing like her bright and colorful house and even less like the white-on-white houses they showed on the TV shows touting upgraded and modern. All she ever saw was cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. She liked Ellie’s more autumn-y feel with the colors. It looked like a subdued maple tree in the living room. The dining room had a huge farm table that seemed to hold at least a dozen people. The kitchen was amazing, with another table Ellie told her expanded to seat ten. She loved that kitchen. It even had pocket doors so people in the dining or living room didn’t have to look at her dirty dishes. Nice and very practical.

“Have you had the tour yet?” Lucy asked them.

“No, we looked around down here and were about to go upstairs. Want to join us?”

Lucy glanced at her phone. Half an hour till Uber came. “Sure! Wait till you see the walk-in shower! Is Hank here tonight?”

Joni nodded. “He drove us. Not sure where he disappeared to, though.”

“Well, it’s a big house, I’m sure he’s talking to someone somewhere,” Lucy said.

“Of course he is. Hank likes to talk,” Beth said as they walked up the stairs.

“That he does,” Lucy agreed. “You have got to see this room here,” she said as she opened the door to the room where she had recently gotten her job offer. The rainbow room enchanted her again, just like the first time she saw it. Lucy assumed it was all Miranda’s doing, she was an excellent designer.

“Oh, I love it,” Joni said. “It is so adorable!”

“Isn’t it? Who would have thought of doing something like this?”

“Miranda, apparently,” Joni said. “I want to see this infamous two people shower and the jetted tub!”

“They are amazing.”

The three of them wandered through the master bedroom and then the bathroom. Lucy peeked into the closet. Looked like Ellie had already started upgrading her wardrobe from upscale casual she usually wore to work, to some nicer clothes and even a skirt or two.

“Joni,” they heard Beth call from down the hall. “Come see this!” Lucy thought it must feel odd to have people come looking through your closets and bathrooms and things, but realized this was part of Ellie’s brand. She loved people knowing things about her and wanted to be accessible. Plus it was probably Miranda’s big reveal in town, too. She’d recently moved here to restart her business after a divorce. She hoped Miranda did well, the town needed new businesses. She did. Really.

Was that Miranda hugging, maybe kissing Max out in the gazebo? Why did it matter? They were both single and free and could kiss anyone they wanted to kiss. It meant nothing to her. Nothing.

Shutting the closet door, she left the bedroom as she heard more people coming in to check it out and smiled her Lucy smile as she walked by them. No one needed to know anything other than she was a happy airhead. Right? That was the persona she tried very hard to create and it mostly worked for her. Some people had seen through it. Ellie knew her inside out. But, most people just took everyone by what they saw. She liked that. It let her float through life.

She brushed past a group of people here in the hall, then stopped as someone grabbed her arm.

“Hello, Sunshine, I was hoping you were here.”

Max. Of course. Was he done kissing Miranda now? Her turn? Yeah. That didn’t work for her. “Why were you hoping I was here?”

He moved her to the side of the hall out of the line of traffic. The party was getting busy. Ellie knew a lot of people, apparently.

“I’ve missed you.” He smiled that easy Max smile and she frowned. She wasn’t falling for that again. “How is the new job?”

Lucy felt startled, how did he know? Oh, he meant the one she was working now, not the one Ellie just offered her. Shrugging, she said, “It’s fine. No one there thinks I’m a play toy to discard.”

Max winced. “I guess I deserved that.”

“Guess you do,” she agreed. “I have to go now. My ride is here.”

“Party is young,” he started.

“Party is done,” she said and yanked her arm out of his grasp. “Enjoy your life, Max.” Walking away, she felt proud of herself. She handled that very well. And she could so wait till she was in the Uber to cry. Just watch me walk away, she hummed as she walked down the steps. That would show Mr. Max Sutherland she didn’t care about him anymore. He could dump her and kiss someone else in the gazebo and she did not care. Not one little bit.

Lucy managed to slip out the front door without speaking to anyone and also managed not to cry till she got in the Uber. Tonight was just a win/win. She couldn’t wait to get home to Juliet.

***

Max frowned as he walked into work. Bryan was already there. He had just moved to town, following his spouse who was transferred to the hospital here in town. Apparently the spouse was a doctor of some kind, but they had yet to meet. They – he – had hired him after Lucy quit. He still didn’t understand why she quit. They had a good time, and it was over. Why did women have to take everything so personally? Bryan seemed to like to show up early and stay late and do a good job, which wasn’t bad, but Max was used to his early morning alone time in the office. But he liked Bryan. Not nearly as entertaining as Lucy, or as fun to flirt with, but still. The office ran smoothly, so there was that.

“Good morning, Max. Good morning, Gypsy,” Bryan said as they walked in. “I have the coffee made and ready for you. The notes from your meeting last night are printed out and on your desk. Mike is already in his office.”

“Thanks, Bryan,” he said. “Let me know when Shelia Lloyd calls. And when she does, no interruptions, please.”

“Will do,” he said. Max missed Lucy and her sass and giggles and how her antics made Mike crazy. That was a fun part. Amusing and fun and once he broke down her barriers, great in bed. The fact she thought it was more than fun and games wasn’t really his problem. Though it was because she didn’t want to play with him anymore. Everyone liked him. He had never had a bad breakup, they always stayed friends. Until Lucy.

His face was the face of their company, though really Mike was the brains. Mike was the one making the good investments and better decisions, but he was the one who went out and made the connections and got the groups to invest with them. Mike didn’t enjoy that as much. He was more of a one-on-one kind of person. He could hold a hand when the stock market went down, but he didn’t enjoy the soliciting of new business. They were a good team. Right now, he was working with the mayor to get not only her personal business, but the town’s investment business also. That would be a big coup to them. They had been working with the same company for years now, but with the city manager shake up, he thought now was a good time for a change, and just needed to convince them to go local.

He stuck his head in the office, “Hey, Mike you all recovered from the party Saturday night?”

Mike looked over from his computer, “Ellie was very pleased with the turn out. The bigger question is did you have a good time?”

Max walked in and shut the door. “Why is that the bigger question?”

“Well, according to my wife, who heard it from her best friend, someone was entertaining a certain lady in the brand-new gazebo I had built for me to have a good time in.”

“What?” Max looked at his friend. He needed to speak plain English.

Mike sighed. “Lucy told Ellie she saw you making out with someone in the gazebo.”

“What?” Max felt like a fool. He had other words at his disposal. He thought back and laughed. “Yeah. Miranda came out to the gazebo and apologized for what she did to me years ago. I told her she was fine, just behave, and gave her a hug.” He shrugged. “But if people want to think I’m a game player and was having a good time, well, who am I to argue?”

“Our business reputation,” Mike suggested. “We aren’t in college anymore. What would the mayor think if she thought you were making out with randoms in public? That you were someone she wanted to invest her money with?”

“Kill joy,” Max said as he went into his own office and sat down. Mike was right, though, he admitted. They had been a powerhouse in college, the two of them. Getting any girls they wanted. Playing at all the fun places. Mike had settled down though, after the Miranda debacle, and he, well, he really hadn’t. Miranda looked like she had moved beyond it too. She’d only been twenty, he reminded himself and took the break-up with Mike very badly, doing the stalker thing for almost a year after. When she couldn’t find or get hold of Mike, she turned to him. For the most part, he thought it was amusing, because it wasn’t him having to deal with it for real. But then he got tired of it, too, and shut her down. Not as effectively as Mike had, by turning her over his knee and blistering her butt till she promised to leave him alone forever.

Sure, he and Mike had scenes in the dungeons and at play parties, but he never thought about using any of the techniques in real life. Apparently Mike did. He’d worry about Ellie, but she was such a confident and seemingly happy wife, he really didn’t think there was anything to worry about. It was always mutual fun at the parties. What he did to Miranda was not consensual. However, it had done what it needed to do, but Max had a little issue with the delivery, so to speak. It just bothered him that Mike didn’t get consent for it. A little bondage and whipping between friends was one thing, but both people got something from it. All he’d done was punish and deter.

Mike tried to explain it like a traffic ticket. You don’t consent to the ticket but you take it and mostly try not to do it again. Max wasn’t sure he agreed with that.

His biggest problem right now, was what was wrong with Lucy? Why didn’t she understand playtime? Why did she have to get feelings for him? Why did he keep thinking about her?

Sighing, Max turned on his computer and sat thinking about the little airhead blonde while waiting for his phone call from the mayor.

***

Lucy smiled as she looked in the mirror. Blue hair matched her mood perfectly today. “I love it, Tasha,” she said.

“You always love it, Lucy,” Tasha said. “But I do think blue looks good on you.”

“You said that about the pink and green, too,” Lucy said.

“Peacock was my favorite. Maybe next month again?”

“Maybe,” Lucy giggled. “We’ll see how I feel next month. See you then, and thank you.”

Although blue had been her mood when she walked in the salon earlier, it really wasn’t right now. She just felt better. She had given notice this morning on her old job and would be starting her new one as the City Manager’s administrative assistant in a few weeks. It was going to be fun!

Then she walked out the salon door and saw Max leaning against his car and frowned. Why was he around? She’d had all she wanted from him at the party a while back. Maybe if she ignored him, he’d go away. Too bad she’d parked three blocks away and couldn’t flounce to her car, get in and drive away. What did he want? She walked by him and once again, he grabbed her arm.

“What do you want, Max?” she almost spat out at him. “I’m not taking off my clothes for you in the middle of town square.”

“That’s disappointing,” he said. “But actually, I’m here to apologize and buy you a forgiveness lunch.”

She kept walking toward her car. “What are you apologizing for?”

“How about we sit down over some good food and I explain that to you?”

“I am not certain I’m in the mood for good food,” she said, and kept walking.

“Well, I could buy you rotten food but you have to explain why you want that to the chef, okay?”

“Go away, Max,” Lucy turned and looked at him. He was a handsome man, for sure. About six-feet tall, dark hair and brown eyes with flecks of green, muscled and lean and dressed in his go to work suit, he was simply easy on the eyes. And oh, the charm. He just exuded it. He knew all the right words to say and very literally, much to her chagrin, charmed her out of her pants. Well, she wouldn’t make that mistake again. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice… he wasn’t fooling her twice.

“Lucy, come on. I know you want to eat. I’ll buy you sushi,” he coaxed.

“And not make fun of me for being vegetarian?” she asked.

“You don’t make fun of people on an apology tour,” he said.

Well, she was hungry, and she did like sushi and they made fantastic brioche there and well… “No. What good would it do? You are sorry. I get that. I’m sorry I misunderstood everything. The end.” She headed toward her car again. But she couldn’t resist one more toss over her shoulder, “Bet Miranda wants sushi.” And then finally, after what seemed like a million miles, arrived at her car. He hadn’t followed her, she saw. Good. She didn’t want him chasing her down the street. That is what she wanted. Him to leave her alone. And he was. Yay.

So why did she feel so let down?

***

“Mike?” She answered her phone, later that evening. “Is Ellie okay?” Why else would her best friend’s husband, who didn’t like her, be calling her? Something happened to her best friend.

“Yes, she’s fine. Lucy, I need your help. I want to do a small little dinner get together for her birthday later this week. We just had this big party at the house, and really, how many parties does one house need in a week?”

“One is plenty,” she agreed. “How can I help?”

“I was wondering, can you host a dinner for about eight or ten at your house as a surprise for her? I was thinking maybe getting Jordyn to cater? I’ll pay for everything, including your time. I hate to ask you but…”

“Mike, I’d do anything for Ellie and I’d love to host a dinner. Ten people max, you think? That is no problem.”

“Well, if Jordyn can cook we need to include her too, because we don’t want her feeling left out. But I will let you know as soon as I get the RSVPs back. I just needed a spot and an excuse. She loves going to your house and would never expect you and I would be working together.”

Lucy laughed. Mike had never admitted before she made him crazy. “True fact. I have room for that many. Are you going to talk to Jordyn and invite people or am I?”

“I’m going to do everything but host,” he said. “All you need is room to seat us all. Maybe a pretty table decoration or something?”

“I can do all that! I’m so excited. Thank you for including me in this.”

Mike sighed. “Basically you are my sister now, so I guess I need to get used to that idea, and you.”

Lucy giggled, knowing Mike thought she was a total airhead and that she made him crazy. Ellie thought it was hysterically funny and often teased her, threatening to tell Mike about her IQ. Lucy had sworn her to secrecy though. It was a little fun to make cool, calm, collected Mike crazy after all. “Okay, sounds good. I’ll try and tolerate you, too.”

“Thanks, Lucy. I’ll be in touch with details, time and menu and things. I’ll let you know if Jordyn doesn’t work out. Don’t forget this is a surprise.”

“I won’t forget!” Lucy hung up. Okay, something to look forward to. She needed to clean her house and Pinterest birthday decor and, yay! Something to take her mind off Max, which she had worried about since giving notice on her job. She’d taken a few days between the end of one job and the beginning of her next one to do some job research and brush up on a few skills. So it would be fun to plan a little party.

For the first time in a while, she felt like her old self again. Lucy smiled and logged onto her computer to see what kind of decor she could do. Hitting her email, she saw a message from her sister Moriah. Sighing in anticipation, she opened it.

Hi, Lucy! Hope things are going well there. Nothing has changed here. Mom and Dad are still doubling down on the rules since you left. I’m writing this from the library computer, so don’t know when I’ll be able to check for an answer. Mom is here with the littles for story hour. They are still pressuring me to accept Ethan’s proposal, but I’m not ready to get married and have a slew of kids like they all expect me to do. I know you have offered to let me come there, but I’m not ready to leave the siblings behind. Yet anyway. I just wanted to check in with you and let you know we are all good and miss you desperately. Love you. Moriah.

Lucy sighed and shut the computer. She’d have to answer her later. While she never regretted leaving the patriarchal lifestyle she grew up in, she did miss her siblings and hated she wasn’t allowed contact with them. She did not miss all the rules, the no choices – a woman’s place was in the home and nowhere else – the maxi skirts and the keeping sweet all the time. No one was allowed to show feelings if they were at all negative or uncomfortable, unless they were males. Boys will be boys after all. She was so grateful to have found Ellie and Ellie’s grandma who helped her find her way into college and her own life. But still. Sometimes…

Resolutely she opened her computer again and logged on to find decor for Ellie’s small intimate dinner party. This was going to be fun and she needed some fun!

 

 

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1 review for The Wife He Adored

  1. Redrabbitt

    STARTING OVER AGAIN

    The second book in the Clearwater Romance series was a fun read, with charming characters, plenty of social interaction, dreams, and aspirations. It will have two people who had been in a relationship but have parted ways. Max and Lucy had different hopes when they had previously been together; her for a future, and he treated it as a fun time. Things are changing, and as they get back together, he will not only romance her but adds power exchange. None of the spankings are based on discipline but more on keeping things on an even keel. The story is also a second-chance romance.

    The story continues from the first book and will have an open house for Mike and Ellie, including lots of friends, including Max and Lucy. Lucy is still hurt and feels used by Max, and things are uncomfortable being around him. With Ellie’s birthday approaching, Mike asks friends to help with a surprise party, held at Lucy’s house, and catered by Jordyn. Once again, that means Max will be there.

    While this story does have many spanking scenes, and none of them is discipline, always power exchange, it is something that Max decides and never gives Lucy a choice in. Even if she is confused by it, it does seem to draw them closer. As Max does as he promised, bringing romance to their relationship, it appears that someone has an uncanny knack at showing up often where they are.

    I like the chemistry between Max and Lucy when he settles down and treats her like a girlfriend, rather than a booty call or to watch his dog. Max does have some endearing qualities, plans some sweet dates, and yet, still likes to spank her for no reason at all. He has slowly guessed that the “airhead ditzy blonde” that she allows people to see is a complete coverup and that, in fact, Lucy is extremely intelligent. Eventually, she will point out how well she has managed when he offers her financial assistance during her ‘job-hopping.’

    “You want to know if I’m hurting for money because I’m just a little air-headed blonde who can’t handle her life. You know, I’m not the airhead people think I am. We discussed that before, despite my reservation about telling anyone. Well, my first job was working for an investment banker, sort of like what you and Mike do. Anything you can do, I can do better. Including investing money and day trading.”

    Lucy comes from a religious-cult family that believes in little education, forced marriages, and babies born one right after another. She escaped that life got her GED, and went to college. Now, she is concerned for her sister, Moriah, who has been messaging her. The one thing she does is keeps this from Max—and when things come to a head, it will scare him and Ellie.

    Key people from the first book play significant roles in this second tale, including Ellie, who Lucy will work for, and many other friends. It will also set up the next book for another new romance among one of their friends. What you will not find in this story is any details or mention of sex scenes. It is strictly the relationship of this couple and power exchange. This is a series but does not end on a cliffhanger, but instead, a segue into the next book.

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