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Never Be Her Hero: The Perfect Date, #5

Never Be Her Hero: The Perfect Date, #5

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Never Be Her Hero: The Perfect Date, #5

4/5 (1 rating)
163 pages
2 hours
Sep 13, 2018


Della needs a hero. Anybody got a cape Elliston can borrow?

How can a 31-year-old guy in his prime have a dating emergency? Elliston stupidly told his best client that he would bring a date to his weekend function, but then he got too busy with work to actually get off his butt and find one. 

Hey, don't judge. Finding a girlfriend wasn't on his agenda.

So what did he do? He called his favorite dating service. The owner of The Perfect Date, Dr. Mariah Bates, offered the perfect deal—one that just might save his ego and his man card. He gets a fake girlfriend for his business trip and all he has to do in exchange is take his fake girlfriend to her sister's wedding. 

Enter Dr. Della Livingston. Mariah's career-minded assistant with surprisingly great legs has Elliston soon thinking he's hit the fake girlfriend jackpot. 

Maybe he's nuts from months of working too hard, but he's beginning to wish this whole fake date thing wasn't so fake. Now he wants to jump off the love cliff and save the girl, except he needs to figure out how to fly first. 

Anybody got a Superman cape he can borrow?

Sep 13, 2018

About the author

Donna McDonald published her first romance novel in March of 2011. Fifty plus novels later, she admits to living her own happily ever after as a full-time author. Her work spans several genres, such as contemporary romance, paranormal, and science fiction. Humor is the most common element in all her writing. Addicted to making readers laugh, she includes a good dose of romantic comedy in every book.

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Never Be Her Hero - Donna McDonald


Chapter One

The soon-to-be Dr. Della Livingston sighed as her cell phone went off again. She'd kept it with her today to take notes for her research, not to answer personal calls every five minutes. Glancing at the number displayed on the ringing phone, she shook head and stared at the camera, forgetting for a moment what she'd been doing.

Deciding to be firm with her family, Della declined the call and sent it to voice mail, not that her voice mailbox wasn't already full of her siblings’ current woe-is-me crap. She was the eldest daughter of five and her sisters had no boundaries where she was concerned—none.

When her phone rang yet again, Della instantly declined the call—again. It immediately rang a third time, but from a different phone number. That was worse because it meant her sisters were starting to tag team with each other as if all of them calling would somehow lure her into answering at least one of them.

Della glared at the ringing phone. Leave me alone. Irena's pregnancy is not my problem. Don't you realize I'm trying to work here? I have a paying job and everything.

Her phone ringing for a fourth time prompted a screech of frustration. She picked up the phone, waited for the ringing to stop, and then turned it off. There. Take that you bunch of small-minded, small-town nutbags. If I didn't look so much like Dad, I'd swear I was adopted.

Mad at herself for raging like a crazy person, she was pounding her forehead with her powered off phone when she heard sweet feminine laughter in the doorway. Her head turned as her boss and friend, Dr. Mariah Bates, walked into the room. Sorry. It's my crazy family. They don't know when to stop bugging me.

Smiling, Mariah reached out and rubbed Della’s arm in support. It's okay. There are no clients in the office at the moment. You can always take personal calls when you're not busy. If that was John or Mom calling me, I'd take the call.

Della shook her head. No, it's not that kind of call, Mariah. It's just my family being annoying. I threatened to call our hometown sheriff and file charges if my mother or any of my sisters called our office during business hours.

Mariah laughed at Della’s sudden seriousness. Even the pressure of working toward her doctorate hadn’t affected Della’s humor. Dealing with family was always tough.

I'm not concerned about any of that, Mariah said, hoping she had no reason to be. I've known you for several years now, Della. I didn't know your family bothered you this much. Normally, you only get this agitated over bad boyfriends.

Boyfriends? Yeah, I remember those. Maybe I'll have one again someday—sans the bad part. A wry chuckle wrenched free. Della knew she was starting to feel sorry for herself, which was an emotional state she had no time to indulge. Feeling sorry for herself led to binge streaming TV shows while wallowing in a junk food orgy.

God, she needed a stern lecture. Or maybe a real friend her age who was going through what she was.

She often envied Mariah's more settled life, but revealing her melt-down to her hopefully future business partner? Nope, no way was she doing that. The last thing she wanted was for Mariah to think she was unstable. She wanted her boss, mentor, and friend to think she was worthy of helping make The Perfect Date a successful business.

Della turned and bravely smiled at Mariah. She hated offering excuses for the people who were supposed to be supporting her to the one person who always had. My entire family wants to drag me into Irena's pregnant-at-nineteen drama. Frankly, I don't want to hear from my mother about how the unplanned baby is messing everything up. We all watched this happen to Martina—she's the second oldest. That should have been lesson enough for my mother to insist all my sisters use good birth control.

Are you mad at your younger sister over her pregnancy? Mariah asked.

Della grunted. "No, I'm not mad at my sister for making the passionate mistake of having a child with a man she loves. An unplanned event like that could happen to any woman. I'm mad at my mother for insisting the wedding be moved up to October. She's trying to keep the people in our hometown from doing the math when the baby comes early next spring. Like that ever works to fool anyone. People always know."

Wait… isn't your dissertation defense happening in October? Mariah asked.

Della snorted again. Yes. That's why the phone keeps ringing. My mother wants me to move my final defense out, even though I've explained several times that I can't do that. One of my directors is going on sabbatical. I'm not changing my date or anyone on my committee. I've worked too long and too hard. Whether my family understands or not, I'm finishing in October.

Of course you are, Mariah said firmly, putting an arm around Della's shoulders and giving her a hug. She'd known Della's family didn't offer her much moral support, but from what she could tell, they weren't offering her any support at all in her career. In fact, they were doing the opposite. Sometimes you have to put yourself first. Maybe as a compromise, you could at least attend the wedding as a show of support.

Della gathered up her things before shaking her head. No. I can't go to the wedding if it's in October. I haven't had a real date in six months and I have no guy friends. My family thinks I'm an unmarried failure of a female already. I won't compound my unwed sins by showing up completely alone.

You're turning twenty-eight and about to finish your doctorate. Are you sure your parents see you as a failure? Mariah asked.

My father shrugs and acts like he has no opinion my life. He'll never defend my choices. My mother would use me attending the wedding alone as an opportunity to redirect all the pity she could in my direction to save Irena from small-town clicking tongues. I'm not letting my parents ruin my achievement with their under-enthusiasm.

Oh dear, Mariah said in sympathy.

"Right. Oh, dear sums it up perfectly, and honestly, my stress level can't handle any more right now. I have to be clear thinking and positive about my research. I have to focus on my findings and how to speak intelligently about them when asked. My dissertation defense is only two days before the wedding, Mariah. It's just too much pressure for me to try and find a date too."

Hmm… Mariah said, narrowing her gaze on her nearly defeated assistant. She hated seeing anyone in that condition, but it was worse to have to witness it up close in someone she cared about. What if I got you a date for the wedding? It can be my graduation present to you.

Della shook her head. "I can't take advantage of any of our clients. They'd learn the horror that is my background and they'd lose respect for me working for The Perfect Date. She shook her head again. No, Irena can just get married without me. If they want me to attend, they need to have the wedding next Spring like originally planned."

Mariah smiled. But what if the guy I find for you isn't looking for a ‘real date'? I could promise the guy a free match in exchange for being your escort. She tapped her chin with the tips of her fingers as she pondered possibilities. I assume you'll want someone close to your own age, but not younger than you because no telling what your parents would think about that. Mature dates can hold their own better in weird circumstances, but a guy too old will draw negative reactions. No, I think we better make your date as close to your age as we can get.

Della's face crinkled in angst. I don't know, Mariah. Trading a real match for being my wedding date sounds pretty pathetic. I'd still have to deal with the guy afterward as a client.

So? We make very good money helping professional people just like you, Della. You're in a business crunch time in your life. Normal dating isn't a real possibility. Your focus is on satisfying the committee and getting your doctorate. You need someone willing to be your escort for an important function who understands the pressure you’re under. Come on—we set these kinds of dates up for clients all the time.

Nodding, Della closed her eyes and sighed. You're right… and that's exactly my personal situation… but I still don't think it's a great idea for you to bribe a client into going out with me. You might lose the client if he gets traumatized by the wacky Livingstons of Outback, Kentucky.

Mariah laughed. I'll take my chances. And you might be surprised. You're beautiful, smart, and about to become Dr. Livingston fully and officially. You're a prime candidate for the database.

Della snorted as they started walking out. I sure don't feel much like Dr. Livingston right now.

Mariah stopped Della in the doorway and put her hands on her shoulders. Your judgment is impaired because you're super stressed. This is a very reasonable thing given what you're dealing with. It's only the beginning of September. Give me a couple weeks. Let me at least try. If we have no takers, so be it.

Alright, Della said, rolling her eyes and giving in as they walked down the hall.

It actually took her three weeks, but Mariah did manage to find two guys for Della. Though neither were keen on being a date to someone's wedding, they both liked Della well enough to tolerate being her escort in exchange for two free matches from the database. She hadn't gotten by with offering just one. While that was an ouch to her bank account, in the long run, it was still a good thing for Della. She loved that girl like a daughter. Some things were more important than making money.

Mariah intended to present her results to her on Friday so Della would have the weekend to decide. It was Thursday and Della had left work early to meet with her doctoral committee. Since The Perfect Date wasn't expecting clients this afternoon, Mariah locked the door to use the uninterrupted time to assemble Della’s package.

She was deep into the work when her cell went off with a text. Thinking it was John back early from his latest job, she picked up the phone immediately to check. It turned out not to be the new love of her life, but the sender was almost as good. It was someone she hadn't seen in a couple of months.

Mariah hurried down the hall in bare feet, not bothering to put her heels back on. She unlocked the door and hugged the man now giving her a sheepish look. Elliston, I'm so glad you sent the text instead of just leaving. Della's out this afternoon and I decided to lock myself in.

He smiled and ran a hand through his hair. I'm so sorry to disturb your quiet work time.

Don't be silly. I'm always happy to see you. Come on back to the office. Excuse the bare feet, but I didn't want you to leave before I got my shoes back on.

Grinning over her teasing, Elliston stepped across the threshold, waiting until Mariah had relocked it behind him. "I should have texted you before I left my house. I took a phone call as I was getting in the car and ended up driving all the way here before it was finished. Texting you outside your office door was a spur

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