One Night With a BillionaireBy: VickiLewis Thompson
It was a three-margarita night when Melanie met her friends Astrid Lindberg and Valerie Wolitzky at Stetsons & Golden Spurs, their favorite watering hole in downtown Dallas. Two weeks earlier, Drew had joined them so Val could meet the paragon Melanie planned to marry, and Astrid could get reacquainted with the childhood friend she hadn’t seen in years. But tonight was just for the girls. Melanie wanted to show them the antique ring Drew had given her, which was perfect and so much better than a huge rock. And meanwhile, Astrid said she needed some advice on her own love life.
The three friends went back a long way. They’d met and bonded their freshman year at a small college in east Texas. They’d joined the same sorority, and because they were all only children, they’d cherished the sense of sisterhood more than most. After graduation, they’d stayed close. Val, the only one who wasn’t from the Dallas area, had deliberately taken a job with a Dallas law firm so she wouldn’t lose touch with her buddies.
Melanie’s wedding plans took up most of the first round of drinks. They discussed dress designs, venues, and the bachelorette party. Because Melanie was the first to get engaged, they spent part of the time on their phones doing internet research on current wedding fashions.
By the second round of margaritas, Astrid began to open up about her problems. Blonde and petite, she didn’t look like anyone’s idea of a large-animal vet, but she loved the work. She also came from money and was expected to marry a wealthy man. She was currently dating Edward, who had all the right credentials.
“My mother loves him,” Astrid said. “So does my father. Edward fits into my family beautifully. And he’s a nice guy. I just . . .”
“What?” Val, a redhead with an eccentric sense of style, leaned forward. “Is he terrible in bed?”
Astrid shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Melanie stared at her. “You’re practically engaged to the guy. You haven’t kicked the tires?”
“He hasn’t pushed for that, and neither have I. I don’t . . . like how he kisses.”
Val threw up her hands. “Don’t you dare marry him. Mark my words, a bad kisser is going to be a nightmare between the sheets. Somebody needs to educate this guy, but not you. And some men are tone-deaf when it comes to these things. Edward could be one of those.”
“But my parents are wild to have him as their son-in-law.”
Melanie laughed. “Yeah, but they don’t have to go to bed with him. Val’s right. Back in the Dark Ages, women had to make a bad match for the good of the family. Those days are gone.”
“Maybe it’s me.” Astrid polished off her drink. “Maybe I’m a cold fish.”
“You are not.” Val smirked. “We remember what you were like in college. You have the soul of a seductress, chica. You just need the right Zorro to light your fire.”
“Like Fletch.” Astrid gazed dreamily into her empty glass.
“Who?” Melanie leaned forward. “Who’s Fletch?”
Astrid glanced up, startled. “Oh, nobody. Just a client. He’s the one with the mare who’s having a rough time.”
“A client.” Val nodded wisely. “Methinks he’s a sexy client. Tell us more.”
“He’s a rancher. Like all ranchers, his money is tied up in land and livestock.”
Melanie studied her friend. Astrid moved in the same circles as Drew, so Melanie understood the issues more than she might have otherwise. “A cash-strapped rancher wouldn’t make your parents very happy, right?”
“No.” Astrid looked at Melanie. “He wouldn’t. My mother has warned me for years to marry someone with money so I’d never have to worry about his motives. But Fletch is not like that. I know he’s not.”
Their third round arrived, and they all drank a toast to true love.
Val was the one who asked the critical question. “How does this Fletch guy feel about you?”
“Ah, there’s the big question.” Astrid sipped her drink. “Sometimes I think he’s interested, but other times he acts as if I’m simply a vet he’s hired to take care of his pregnant mare. And he is a client, so I can’t very well make a move.”
Val cradled her goblet in both hands. “Sticky situation. But promise me you won’t go to bed with Edward until you’ve had a chance to find out if Fletch is on the market.”
“I agree.” Melanie raised her glass. “To talented lovers, which we all deserve.”
“Yeah.” Astrid touched her glass to Melanie’s. “May we all find a guy who floats our boat the way Drew does Melanie’s.” Then she glanced at Val. “Gonna toast with us?”
“I’ll toast the two of you. As for me, I’m on hiatus. No boat floating going on over here.”
Melanie met Astrid’s gaze. Now was not the time to confront Val about her issues. Melanie amended the toast. “To each of us finding what we need.”
Val looked relieved. “I’ll drink to that.”
The three woman clicked their glasses together. As Melanie drank her margarita, she counted her blessings. She never would have expected that a down-home cowgirl would end up with a Prince Charming like Drew. But she’d learned that love could come along when a person least expected it. She hoped her friends would find that out soon, too.