Falling for the Millionaire

By: Merrillee Whren

The Millionaire’s Mission

Millionaire Hudson Conrick is used to being liked for his family name and fortune. So when Melody Hammond cuts short their blind date, Hudson can’t help but be curious about the pretty ministry director. And when Conrick Construction wins the bid to expand the women’s shelter at the Village of Hope ministry where she works, he’ll get the chance to know her better. He soon learns that because of her painful past, Melody leads a cautious life. But as a former solider, Hudson craves adventure. Can he convince Melody that while he likes to have fun, his reckless days are behind him—and that he’s her perfect match?

“You come from a rich family,” Melody began.

“I’m from a small town in Georgia and grew up poor. What do I know about the life of a multimillionaire?”

“Maybe you should find out,” he said. “People are people. How can you make a judgment without getting to know me?”

“Tonight was wonderful, but this has to be it.” Melody wished he would listen to reason, but his mentioning her judgment went right to her guilt. Was she too critical? But this wasn’t all about his money. She couldn’t forget his love of skydiving and car races—dangerous activities that took lives. She couldn’t be with a man who took such risks.

“I won’t take no for an answer.”

“Please don’t make this difficult. It’s not just because you come from wealth and I don’t. You like to live on the edge, and I like to play it safe. How can that be a good combination?”

He smiled. “It might be fun to find out.”

“You don’t give up, do you?”

“Not when I want something.” Hudson’s look could cut steel. “You haven’t heard the last of me, Ms. Hammond.”

Chapter One

Blind dates mimicked test-driving cars. Tonight Melody Hammond had another one to deal with. What would it bring? Her friends kept sending her fancy sports cars when all she wanted was a nice simple sedan.

The doorbell rang. She peered through the peephole in the front door of her small brick ranch house in her suburban Atlanta neighborhood. She couldn’t tell much from the distorted image except that the man was tall and had dark hair.

This was one date that carried some consequences. Tonight’s fund-raiser for The Village of Hope Ministries was an event intended to raise money for Melody’s pet project—building more housing for abused and troubled women. Too often the ministry had difficulty finding space for all the women who needed help and had to turn many away. She planned to do everything within her power to see this project funded.

People had paid a lot of money to attend this formal dinner dance, including her date. She hoped it would go well, so she could represent The Village properly. She wanted to believe anyone who had an interest in helping a charity was a decent person. Unfortunately, she’d learned over the years that not all donors to good causes were good people. Some had ulterior motives.

Melody took a deep breath, then tried to produce a genuine smile as she opened the door. That breath caught in her throat as she stared up at Hudson Paine Conrick, the Fourth. In his black tuxedo he was handsome beyond description. His dark hair curled and waved in a rumpled kind of way. The five-o’clock shadow he sported gave him a dangerous look—at least where a woman’s heart was concerned.

A Ferrari.

No doubt.

He gave her a lazy grin. “Ms. Hammond, Hudson Conrick. Nice to meet you.”

Melody nodded, hoping her brain would engage her tongue. “Please come in while I get my wrap, Mr. Conrick.”

“Certainly. You look lovely, though it’s a shame you have to cover that stunning red evening gown with anything.” He stepped across the threshold.

“Thank you, but a pashmina doesn’t cover much. Thankfully, it’s not too cold tonight.” Smiling, Melody tried not to assign any connotation to his compliment as she grabbed her purse and wrap from the nearby hall table.

“Fortunately, Atlanta is having a mild January.” Hudson opened the door for her.

“Thanks.” She threw the wrap around her shoulders, then locked the door. Turning toward the driveway, she stopped short at the sight of a black limousine. She caught herself before she blurted, Wow! A limo! Was he trying to show off? She shouldn’t question their mode of transportation, just enjoy it.

As they approached the vehicle, the driver appeared out of nowhere and opened the door. Melody slid across the black-and-gray leather seats, a combination of butter and silk beneath her fingers. The smell of cleaner permeated the warm interior. A television in one corner broadcasted business news while soft music played in the background. A lit workstation with a laptop computer and a bar filled with rows of glasses sat across from her.

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