More Than Crave You(4)

By: Shayla Black

“Okay…” She sets her purse aside, gets the gumbo heating, then pushes up her sleeves. “Do you know how to start the dishwasher?”

“I’m sure I could figure it out.”

“But you haven’t tried?”

I shake my head. “No.”

Until a couple of weeks ago, I spent all my time at the office. It kept me from thinking about how empty my house was. Since the terrible April day Becca perished, I’ve spent as little time here as possible to avoid the reality that I’m alone. I plump up the pillows in bed beside me to mimic the feel of her taking up space in our king-size bed. I even downloaded an app to simulate the sounds of her breathing beside me. Lately, it’s working less and less. Most nights, I stare at the dark ceiling and try to come up with a logical answer to the emptiness around me. The wife idea still seems like the best solution.

“I’ll…um, look into that while you tell me where you placed my ad.”

Nia hesitates, then reaches for the faucet and flips it on. “I haven’t had a chance yet. Most dating sites want you to fill out a profile, not give them a couple of sentences about your prospective mate.”

“Profile?” That sounds tedious and time-consuming.

“Yes. After all, you’re not the only person selecting someone from the database; a woman has to choose you in return, based on your answers to the questions. Prospective dates looking at your information will want to know what your interests are, what you like to do with your downtime, what your religious and spiritual philosophies are, how your best friends would describe you and—”

“I’m looking to hire a wife, not begin an actual romantic relationship. A dating profile would be a complete waste of my time.”

She shakes her head as she begins washing out the dishes in the sink. “Well, not doing it cuts down on your possibilities. Would you prefer an overseas mail-order bride?”

“I don’t have the patience to deal with government bureaucracy and paperwork. I want someone already in the country legally.”

She sighs. “I was kidding, and the fact you thought I was serious is scary. I’ll do what I can, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Put the glasses on the top rack of the dishwasher.”

I do as she instructs with a frown. “I can’t possibly be the only wealthy man with this problem.”

“Evan, seriously? Most already have wives and are looking for a lay on the side.”

She has a point. “Maybe I should call Harlow, Keeley, and Britta.”

“You know I applaud you for getting to know your newfound family, but you met your sister and your brothers’ wives six months ago. Do they know you well enough to help you find a woman who can make you happy?”

I tracked my long-lost siblings down during a relocation scouting trip to Hawaii. Despite the fact my siblings and I share a biological father, they’re still somewhat like strangers, but… “They already live in Maui and probably have single friends.”

“They don’t know who you are, what you want, or what you’ve been through.” She shuts off the water to face me. My face must tell her I don’t care about any of that because she sighs. “Besides, if you wait until you move to Maui to meet someone, you won’t be married by Christmas.”

“I’m going for Thanksgiving in a few weeks. I’ll ask them to introduce me then.”

“You’re really serious about finding someone right now?”

“I’m serious about filling the position of wife as soon as possible.”

Exasperation fills her face. “Then let me handle it. I’ll figure something out quickly.”

I shake my head. “If you’ll simply screen the candidates, I’ll take it from there.”

“I’m worried what—or who—you’ll come up with if I leave you to your own devices.”

Nia might have a point. My interpersonal skills suck. I was lucky Becca understood me and didn’t have romantic expectations.

“All right. I’ll give you until Thanksgiving to find me someone. But I still want that ad placed as backup.”

“Fine.” She doesn’t sound fine with it at all, but focuses instead on showing me how to scrape off the crusted food from my dirty dishes, then place them in the dishwasher. “How is it you never figured out how to clean your own kitchen? Didn’t you ever live alone?”

I laugh. “For eight disastrous months before I got married. After that, Becca did everything.”

“None of your foster families made you load a dishwasher?” She sounds shocked.

“Nope. I did other chores, but I blocked out a lot of my life before I went to live with Diana. As long as I kept her old cottage in working order, she took care of what little cleaning got done.”