Season for Love
Velvet Carter

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Chapter 11 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 12 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 13 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 14 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 15 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 16 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 17 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 18 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 19 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 20 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 21 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 22 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 23 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 24 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 25 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 26 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 27 (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 28 (#litres_trial_promo)

Copyright (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter 1 (#ulink_71a12690-fd61-579d-8b07-498a33909b99)

Lark Randolph was taking a long, relaxing bubble bath, complete with soft music, candles and a glass of crisp chardonnay. After a long, stressful day at the office, she was now pampering herself before her much-anticipated date. It had been a while since Lark enjoyed a night out with a man, and the possibilities of that evening made a smile form on her lips. As she lounged in the warm, fragrant water, she fantasized about this guy being The One. Although she hadn’t had much success with relationships, Lark hadn’t given up hope of finding her soul mate.

She lathered soapy suds all over her skin with an oblong loofah. After gently rubbing her body, she rinsed off and stepped out of the Jacuzzi tub. Lark toweled off, wrapped herself in a white terry-cloth robe and made her way into the adjacent bedroom. Spread out on the king-size bed were a black cocktail dress with a plunging neckline and a multistranded pearl necklace. She was going for a sexy yet sophisticated look for the evening, much like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Being a workaholic, Lark hadn’t put too much emphasis on finding a man and cultivating a relationship. This had culminated in a string of short-lived involvements. As the years ticked by, while most of her friends got married and started families, she focused on growing her family’s fashion-design business. Despite some challenges, Randolph on the Runway was still one of the industry’s leading designers of women’s clothing.

Lark was in her late thirties. She knew if she didn’t shift her attention from her work to her personal life and put in a concerted effort to find a husband, then the family she had always dreamed about would probably elude her forever. Lark was determined that would not be her destiny. In the past, friends had set her up on blind dates but nothing had materialized.

To hasten her search to find a mate, Lark had followed the trend and had joined several online dating sites. She was serious—she had mapped out a plan and was approaching the electronic dating process like a business. She would spend her evenings scanning profiles of men whom she found visually appealing. Lark took her time and closely read their answers to various stock questions designed for compatibility. She took notes and didn’t waste time deleting those men who had nothing to offer but a pretty face. Once she narrowed down her search, she devised the next step.

Before meeting a potential candidate, she would communicate with him via email. If the electronic exchanges went well, Lark would agree to talk on the phone with him. And if the conversation flowed, she would have a face-to-face meeting with him, usually at a coffee shop over a cappuccino or a latte. If there was chemistry between them, Lark would agree to dinner with her prospect.

Lark was excited about tonight’s date. Edwin Spears, a mature, successful investment banker, was the third man she had met online, but the only one she had actually met in person. The first two guys hadn’t even passed the preliminary email test. Their lewd comments had alluded to getting her between the sheets. Lark had wasted no time in setting them straight. She had zero interest in a one-night stand.

After a nice online chat with Edwin, they had agreed to meet over coffee one afternoon, and it had lasted for hours. She and Edwin had covered the basic getting-to-know-you questions—Where are you from? What school did you attend? What do you do for a living? Do you golf or play tennis?—and had talked explicitly about their individual future plans. They both wanted to eventually get married and raise a family. Edwin was candid and refreshing. During their first conversation, Lark had asked him point-blank if he was involved with anyone else, to which he had emphatically replied, “No!”

Lark had been relieved. She had a rule never to date someone else’s man. She believed a man could only be unfaithful if he had a willing partner to cheat with. Lark didn’t care how many sob stories she heard about a man’s marriage being on the rocks, putting him on the verge of filing for divorce. Or the line to beat all lines: My wife and I have an understanding. As far as Lark was concerned, marriage was marriage, whether happy or not.

Over the next few weeks, Lark had found Edwin to be consistent and considerate. He had phoned every evening to ask about her day. She looked forward to hearing his sexy baritone voice and often fantasized about him lying in bed cuddled next to her. He’d sent bouquets of white roses to her office, with notes that read “I’m thinking about you.” After a month of Edwin’s steady calls and old-fashioned courting, Lark began warming up to him, even though she had seen him only once. Lark didn’t think this was odd since they both had demanding careers. Edwin had told her that he didn’t want to plan their first date until he completed a major deal he had been working on. Lark totally understood. She even told her best friend, Darcy, that he might be The One.

Darcy had warned Lark to tread cautiously. Darcy said that she had read numerous articles about the hazards of internet dating and that some people used those sites like an electronic meat market, looking for sex partners. Lark had halfheartedly listened to her friend’s advice. She knew Darcy had stern opinions when it came to the business of dating.

Lark finished dressing, slipped on a pair of black Jimmy Choo shoes to complete her look, combed her chin-length auburn hair and applied her makeup. She dabbed the backs of her earlobes with the sexy scent of Burberry’s Brit Eau de Parfum before leaving.

Outside, she hailed a taxi in front of her condo building and headed over to Jean-Georges, the swanky Michelin award−winning restaurant located in the Trump International Hotel & Tower. Edwin had chosen the restaurant and made the reservations. He had told Lark not to worry about any of the details, just to meet him at the restaurant looking beautiful. Lark loved a man who could take control and make plans on his own. In her past relationships she had been the one to orchestrate the details of dates, so needing simply to show up was a welcome change.

Lark could feel her heart beating quickly with excitement as she exited the taxi and made her way up the steps to the entrance of the restaurant.

“Welcome to Jean-Georges. Do you have a reservation?” the tall, model-looking hostess asked.

“Yes, table for two for Spears,” Lark answered, using Edwin’s last name, which rolled off her tongue with ease. “Mrs. Lark Spears”—I like the sound of that, she thought, getting ahead of herself.

The hostess scanned the reservation book and then said, “Right this way.”

Once again, excitement flowed through Lark’s veins with each step she took. She was looking forward to sharing a gourmet meal with Edwin and lingering over after-dinner drinks—and maybe, just maybe, going back to her place. She wasn’t ready to sleep with Edwin yet, but she wasn’t opposed to other forms of intimacy. During their coffee date, she had taken notice of Edwin’s full lips and had wondered whether or not he was a good kisser. Lark was sure tonight she would find out the answer.

“Here’s your table. Your waiter will be right over,” the hostess said, placing menus on the table.

“Thank you.”

Lark sat down. She was a bit disappointed that Edwin hadn’t arrived ahead of her. He always called her at the designated time. She automatically assumed that he would be prompt for their long-awaited romantic evening.

“Hello, my name is Jeff, and I’ll be your waiter this evening. Can I start you off with a cocktail or a glass of wine?”

“I’ll have a Manhattan.”

“Coming right up.”

Lark peered around the restaurant. It was mostly filled with couples having cozy dinners. She was the only person sitting alone, and she began to feel self-conscious. I wonder what’s keeping Edwin. Maybe he got caught up in traffic. Lark glanced at her watch. It was a quarter past eight.

She took out her cell phone and dialed his number. It rang and rang before going to voice mail. Instead of leaving a message, Lark sent him a text, thinking he would get her message sooner.

Hey where r u? I’m @ Jean-Georges waiting 4 u.

The waiter came back with her cocktail. “Would you like to hear about tonight’s specials?”

Lark looked at the front entrance, hoping to see Edwin walking through the door, but he was nowhere in sight. “Actually, I’m waiting for someone. Can you come back in a few minutes?”

“Sure, no problem.”
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