Home > The Bachelor (Chandler Brothers #1)

The Bachelor (Chandler Brothers #1)
Author: Carly Phillips


PROLOGUE

 

 

You’re fit, Mrs. Chandler. The cardiogram is normal and so is your blood pressure. Nothing more than a bad case of indigestion. An antacid, some rest, and you should be fine.” The doctor slipped her stethoscope around her neck and made another notation in the chart.

Relief flowed through Raina Chandler as strong as the pain had ripped through her earlier. The fiery sensation in her chest and arm had caught her off guard. Ever since losing her husband to a heart attack at age thirty-seven, Raina had never taken unexpected pain lightly. She’d become health-conscious, watched her weight, and started an exercise routine of brisk walking she’d kept up through to this very day.

At the first twinge of pain, she’d picked up the phone and called her oldest son. Not even the bad memories of sterile, antiseptic hospital smells or the depressing graying walls could deter her from taking care of her health. She had a mission to accomplish before she left this earth.

She glanced at the attractive young doctor who had met her at the Emergency Room. Any woman who looked good in drab hospital green had potential. “You’re new to this town, aren’t you?” But Raina already knew the answer before the other woman nodded.

She knew everyone in Yorkshire Falls, population 1,723, soon to be 1,724, when the editor of the local section of the Yorkshire Falls Gazette and his wife had their baby. Her general practitioner had been Dr. Eric Fallon, a close friend for years. Widowed like herself, Eric only recently had succumbed to the desire to enjoy life more and work less. As Eric’s new partner, Dr. Leslie Gaines was his answer to less stress.

She was new to town, and from Raina’s perspective that made her not just interesting, but fresh, potential wife material for her jaded sons. “Are you married?” Raina asked. “I hope you don’t mind my prying, but I’ve got three single sons, and—”

The doctor chuckled. “I’ve only been here a few weeks and already your sons’ reputations precede them, Mrs. Chandler.”

Raina’s chest swelled with pride. They were good men, her boys. They were her greatest joy and recently the source of continued frustration. Chase, her oldest, Rick, the town’s favorite cop, and Roman, her foreign correspondent and the baby brother, who was currently in London covering an economic summit.

“Now, Mrs. Chandler—”

“Raina,” she corrected and studied the good doctor. Nice laugh, sense of humor, and a protective nature. Raina immediately discounted the woman physician as a mate for Roman or Rick.

Her no-nonsense demeanor would bore Roman and a doctor’s hours would clash with Officer Rick’s. But she could be just the right woman for her oldest son, Chase. Since taking over as publisher of the Yorkshire Falls Gazette for his father almost twenty years earlier, he’d become much too serious, bossy, and overprotective. Thank God he had his father’s handsome, chiseled face to make a decent first impression before he opened his mouth and started taking control. Good thing women loved a protective man and most single women in this town would marry Chase in a heartbeat. He was handsome, as were Rick and Roman.

Her goal was to marry off all three of her boys, and she would. But first they had to desire more from a woman than sex. Not that there was anything wrong with sex; in fact, it could be more than pleasant, she thought, remembering. But it was her sons’ mind-set that presented her with a problem. They were men.

And having raised them, Raina knew exactly how they thought. They rarely wanted any female for more than one night. The lucky women lasted a month, no longer. Finding willing women wasn’t the issue. With the Chandler good looks and appeal, women fell at their feet. But men, her sons included, wanted what they couldn’t have, and her boys had too much, too easily.

The lure of the forbidden and the fun of the chase was gone. Why should a man consider until death do us part when he had women willing to give it up without commitment? It wasn’t that Raina didn’t understand today’s generation. She did. But she’d also loved the trappings of a family life—and was smart enough to hold out for the whole package.

But in today’s world, a woman had to offer a man a challenge. Excitement. And even then, Raina sensed her boys would balk. Chandler men needed a special woman to pique their interest and keep it. Raina sighed. How ironic that she, a woman who held marriage and children as her ideal, raised three sons who thought the word bachelor was sacred. With their attitudes she’d never have the grandchildren she desired. They’d never have the happiness they deserved.

“Some instructions, Raina.” The doctor made some notes on her computer and glanced up. “I’d suggest keeping a bottle of antacid in the house, in case of emergencies. Often a cup of tea is the best remedy.”

“No more late-night pizza deliveries, then?” She met the younger woman’s amused gaze.

“I’m afraid not. You’ll have to find another way of entertaining yourself.”

Raina pursed her lips. The things she endured for her future. For her boys. Speaking of whom, Chase and Rick would be back any second and the doctor hadn’t answered the most pressing question. Raina let her gaze slide up the doctor’s slender physique. “I don’t mean to push, but …”

Dr. Gaines grinned, obviously still amused. “I’m married. And even if I weren’t, I’m sure your sons would appreciate finding their own women.”

Raina tamped down her disappointment, then waved her hand in the air in response. “As if my boys would ever find their own women. Or should I say wives. Nothing short of a life-or-death emergency would force them to pick one woman and settle down. …” Raina’s voice trailed off as the import of her own words sank in.

Life-or-death emergency. The only thing that would convince her sons of the necessity to get married. Her life-or-death emergency.

As the plan began to form, Raina’s conscience begged her to dismiss the idea. It was cruel to lead her sons to believe she was ill. On the other hand, it was for their own good. They couldn’t deny her anything, not when she truly needed them, and by playing on their good natures, she’d ultimately be leading them to happily ever after. Not that they’d know or appreciate it at first.

She gnawed on her lip. It was a risk. But without grandchildren, loneliness loomed large in her future, just as, without a wife or family, it loomed large for her sons. She wanted more for them than empty homes and emptier lives—the kind of life she’d had since her husband died.

“Doctor, my diagnosis here … it’s confidential?”

The younger woman shot her a slanted glance. No doubt she was used to that question with only the most dire of cases. Raina checked her watch. She was running out of time before the boys returned. Her newly formulated plan as well as her family’s future depended upon the woman’s answer, and Raina waited, tapping her foot impatiently.

“Yes, it’s confidential,” Dr. Gaines said with a good-natured laugh.

Raina relaxed a bit more. She hugged her cotton hospital gown closer. “Good. I’m sure you don’t want to have to evade my sons’ questions, so, thank you for everything.” She extended her hand for a polite shake, when she really wanted to shove the other woman through the curtain before the cavalry arrived with pointed questions.

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