Authors: M. J. Carnal
Tags: #General Fiction
Taming the Bachelor
A Dickerman/Moretti Novel
By MJ Carnal
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by MJ Carnal.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding rights, contact the publisher.
Cover photo by Eric Wainwright, Wainwright Images, Portland, Oregon.
Cover Model: Alex Michael Turner,
Edited by Ashley H. Reynolds and Melissa Carter
First Edition July 2013
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked names and owners.
To Rick, for Being Patient
To Ashley Reynolds,
My Memory and My PIC
To Alex M. Turner,
My Mark Moretti and My Muse
10 years ago
“Moretti, let’s wrap it up man.” Rich Dickerman pounded his fist on the side of the Chevy Equinox with the steam covered windows. “Five minutes until first pitch. Let’s get a move on.” Rich paced the length of the car. His role as look out was getting old. He couldn’t wait for the day Mark Moretti decided life was not just one party after another. He would be there on the sidelines laughing. “Ha,” he chuckled.
The car door opened and Mark stepped out. Tucking his jersey back into his pants, he turned and flashed his million dollar smile at the sophomore brunette in the back seat. “Thanks, Kelly.” He slammed the door shut.
“It’s Casey.” Rich shoved Mark and laughed. “Not Kelly. Casey.”
“Kelly, Casey, same thing.” Mark stretched his pitching arm.
“It is not even close to the same thing. You really are a pig. I’m not sure I understand how you do it. Are these women dumb?” Rich threw him the baseball.
Mark stopped for a minute. He shook his head and smiled. “Dumb? Hardly. I am a good investment. Besides, every one of them thinks they can change me. That’s never going to happen. But I thoroughly enjoy their attempts.”
Mark threw the baseball to Rich. This was the last game of their senior season. Hard to believe they would be graduating in a week. He had heard that the high school years were some of the best. They had been good to him. But soon, he would pack up his life and move into a tiny apartment outside the UCLA campus with Caleb and Ryan. Rich would go to his fancy, private school and Molly would be left behind to carry on the Moretti name.
He sighed. Molly. Sweet, beautiful, innocent Molly. Life had not been easy for them. The military demanded constant moving and Mario Moretti had not wanted his children torn away from what they knew. So he headed out on adventures all over the world, leaving his wife and two children behind to struggle to keep up with the socialites of Beverly Hills. Mark had worked as long as he could remember. He wanted Molly to be able to join clubs and have friends and not worry about how she would pay for things. At the age of ten, Mark had vowed to make enough money to care for everyone he loved. That list was short but significant.
Rich Dickerman, Caleb Allen and Mark Moretti were the bad boys of Beverly Hills. Or so they thought. Where one was seen, the other two were sure to follow. They were the three musketeers until Ryan West crash landed smack into the mix in middle school. Rich was level headed and the voice of reason while Caleb broke some hearts and even more rules. Ryan and Mark were the best of both. Both studious and rebellious, they spent their weekends chasing women, stealing beer from their parent’s refrigerator and studying. The four of them had been joined at the hip until Rich fell in love with Molly Moretti. Mark loved his sister more than anything in the world. He welcomed her into the fold with open arms. But there was nothing like a younger sister to ruin someone’s game.
Mark made his way to the pitching mound. The sun had set and the lights hummed above him as he took some calming breaths. His last varsity baseball game. He threw several pitches to the catcher to loosen his arm. He inventoried his friends, as he did the beginning of every game. Rich on first, Ryan at center field and Caleb in his soccer gear sitting in the stands next to Molls, his beautiful sister. All was right in the world.
Mark sat in the dugout at the end of the game. Molly sat on Rich’s lap and Mark shook his head. “That’s my sister, man. Cool it.”
“Marco, I take it those are yours?” Caleb laughed as he pointed to the row of women sitting in the stands.
Mark looked up as a few of them waved. He winked and waved back. It was good to be him. “None of them are mine C. But they all want to be.” He chuckled as he packed up his gear.
“Give me a break.” Molly smacked him on the leg. “There will come a day that some woman steals your heart, Markie. And I cannot wait until that happens. Pay back is a huge bitch.”
“I agree, Moretti. When that day comes, I am strapping myself in because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.”
Mark laughed and looked his friends in the eye. “That day will never come. I am Mark Moretti. Forever a bachelor.”
“Always the one with the broken wheel. Always!” Sophie huffed as she blew at a strand of her blond hair that had escaped from her messy bun. She knew Saturday morning was the worst time to shop. But with her work week ending later that expected and the engagement party only a few hours away, she knew she only had time for a quick work out and an even quicker trip to the grocery store.
She loathed grocery shopping. Actually, she loathed shopping of any kind. It wasn’t until she met Molly six months ago that her views on shopping had changed. And they had changed by force.
Six months ago, Sophie had made the move to Los Angeles to follow her college boyfriend. She had landed her dream job editing for Phantom House books and loved being a junior editor. They had bought a tiny house with a yard full of stones and she had hung some flower baskets and made herself a little sanctuary in back. A month into her job, she had come home early with a headache and walked into her worst nightmare. Shawn had brought his secretary home and was enjoying her in the bed they shared. After several screaming matches, she had learned of Shawn’s indiscretions during their four year relationship. She packed a few suitcases and walked away from the future she had written for herself.
Molly had been a mentor at work and had been her only true girlfriend in the whole city. The few friends she had made with Shawn found him more entertaining and had turned their backs on her the moment they heard the news. Molly had saved her. Sophie moved into the tiny apartment Molly was leaving to move in with her fiancé. She had forced Sophie from her funk by signing them up for Pilates and taking her to the spa for a complete life overhaul. She forced Sophie to throw away the remainders of her old life by taking her shopping for furniture and clothing and refused to let her sulk on Friday nights. On one occasion, she had even taken her speed dating to try to open her eyes to other men in the world. She was her rock and Sophie knew she would not have made it through the last six months without her.
The buzzing of her phone brought her back to reality as she fished through her giant purse to find it. The envelope alerted her to the text message.
“Babes! I need you to get over here stat! My cousin just found out she is pregnant and I need a new Maid of Honor. Dress fitting in one hour. See you there.”
Sophie just stared at the phone. She was happy for Molly, but part of her died a little every time she was reminded of how happy her best friend was. Her self confidence had stayed back in the old house when she walked away from it. She questioned her decisions, her looks, and her desire to ever find a man again.
Her cart hit something hard and it stopped with a jolt. Sophie looked up and saw she had run into a man’s heels. “I am so sorry. Oh my gosh. Are you ok?”
He turned around with a small huff and looked down at her. He pulled his baseball cap off his head and ran his hand through his dark hair. “Well, you are going to owe me some Band-Aids.” His grin reached his green eyes and Sophie couldn’t help but smile. “And if I didn’t have somewhere to be five minutes ago, I would wait.” He laughed as he started to jog away.
“It was nice running into you.” Before she had a chance to think, the words were out of her mouth. She had never seen anyone so handsome before. Of course, she had shown her true clumsy colors and rammed him with the cart. Sighing, she looked at her watch and picked up her pace. She needed to get out of here and across town to put on a dress that would remind her again what a failure her relationship had been.
Mark settled into his new car and shook his head. What was that? He had taken one look at this frazzled woman and his heart had jumped into his throat.
Enough Moretti, get it together
he told himself as he put the key in the ignition.
Rich was going to kill him. He was supposed to be at the tux shop by now and he had yet to pick up the kegs for the party tonight. His first night back in LA had been a little wild and running into his high school sweetheart had been an added bonus. The shocking part was waking up in her bed this morning. He knew things might be a little awkward tonight since she was part of the bridal party and he needed to set things straight as soon as he saw her.
His decision to join the Marines right after graduating from UCLA had taught him a few valuable lessons. He was always a gentleman but he was not the marrying kind. He had seen his buddies lose their girlfriends and wives while they were away for so long on tour and he refused to put himself in that situation. He had tried when his tour was over but each time he met someone, his heart wasn’t in it. He was happy being a bachelor and he knew his decision to move back to LA would only confirm that for him. He was living the high life being a stock broker and his transfer to the corporate headquarters gave him the corner office with the view he’d been working so hard for. He would not have time to share life with anyone.
He cursed as he reached Rich’s voicemail for the third time. “I swear I am not blowing you off Man. I got caught up this morning. It’s a long story that you won’t be hearing because Molly will kill me. But I will see you soon.” He tossed his phone onto the passenger seat.
He had time for one stop. Missing either would make Rich panic but only one would ruin the whole night. He needed to get the kegs.
Sophie looked around the grounds in awe. The vast backyard was perfectly groomed and caterers raced around making sure everything was perfect. The pool was lit with floating candles and there were flowers everywhere. She looked down at her black sundress and sandals and suddenly felt very underdressed. She knew Rich came from money but she had no idea what that meant until now. She felt guilty for not paying more attention to Molly’s description of what Rich’s life had been like. She shivered wondering what the wedding would be like if this was only an engagement party.
“A friendly face!” Molly squealed behind her.
Sophie crossed her arms across her chest. “Next time you invite me over, could you give me a specific dress code? What is all this?”
Molly giggled, “This babes, is my new life. Look around. This is the uncomfortable place I will be bringing my children for holidays. I don’t even know half these people.” She took a long swig of her champagne. “Rumor has it my brother has snuck a few kegs in the side yard so if this isn’t your scene…”
“Lead the way.” Sophie followed Molly through the maze of people in designer clothing and big hats.
Molly had hit the jackpot with Rich. He was a wonderful man; He held doors open for her and spent Sundays in pajama pants reading the paper and doing the crossword with her in his lap. He was classically handsome, tall, blond and very boy next door. The modest home they had purchased proved to Sophie that he was not being influenced by his parent’s money. Until today, she would have never guessed Rich was LA royalty.
The sounds of the party became a little more rowdy as they rounded the estate. She sighed in relief thinking she would fit in a little better here.