Prologue – Six months ago, Las Vegas
When Josh McInnes realised it was time to settle down and start a family, he did what any self-respecting celebrity would do and called his manager.
“This better be important,” Mitch grumbled down the line. “It’s four in the morning over here.”
Josh glanced at the clock and winced. He hadn’t thought about the time in New York. In his mind’s eye he could see his best friend with his hair standing on end and a scowl on his face.
“I want to get married,” Josh said instead of apologising.
There was silence for a beat.
“Thanks for the offer, Josh, but you’re not my type.”
“Not to you, fool, to a woman.”
“Please tell me that you aren’t planning a Vegas cliché? The world doesn’t need another celebrity with a drive-through marriage license.”
“You don’t seriously think I’d do something that stupid?” There was no reply. Josh frowned at the phone. “No, dumbass, I’ve decided that it’s time to start a family, before I’m too old to play football with the kids.”
“You’re only thirty-five.” Mitch sounded fed up.
“And by the time I find a wife and start churning out the kids, I’ll be older. I don’t have time to sit around waiting for it to happen. That’s why I’m calling. I need you to find me a wife.”
The line went dead.
Josh’s lips pursed as he listened to the dial tone. Then he hit redial.
“Go to sleep,” Mitch said by way of hello. “Or at least let me go to sleep. I was in meetings all day; I’m beyond beat and don’t have the energy for whatever the hell this is.”
Sleep? Josh scoffed at the phone. It was barely one a.m.—Vegas was just getting started.
“Did you hear me? I need you to find me a wife.”
“Yeah, I heard. Are you drunk? Why the hell would I find you a wife? Find your own woman.”
“You’re my manager.” From his room high above the city, Josh watched lights flicker on the Vegas Strip.
“Exactly. I manage your career. Your life is your business.”
“You’re also my best friend.”
“That doesn’t mean I want to play matchmaker. Marry one of the many women who throw themselves at you.” Mitch paused. “Just don’t do it in Vegas.”
“I don’t want one of them. They’re factory made. I feel like I’m a product tester for Mattel. One more Barbie look-alike and I’m going to lose it. I don’t need another date. I need a wife. Someone different. Someone real. I want you to arrange a marriage for me. You know, like they do in India.”
“Like they do in India?”
“Why are you repeating everything I say?” Josh was losing patience; Mitch was supposed to be the one with the brain.
“Seriously? You have to ask me that? You call me up in the middle of the night and ask me to get you married and you wonder why this is hard to follow?”
“Look,” Josh said, “I thought this through.”
“Yeah, that’s what worries me.”
“You know me better than anyone else, so you’re the best person to find me a wife.”
“What about romance, attraction, crap like that?”
Josh waved a dismissive hand, even though Mitch couldn’t see him. “You know I don’t believe in that stuff.”
“You make millions from that stuff.”
“Singing about romance is different from actually believing it exists. It’s the same as singing about Santa. He doesn’t exist either. There’s no such thing as romantic love, only hormones and lust.”
“That’s a great quote,” Mitch told him. “Should we put that on your next album cover?”
“So you don’t want to love your wife, just bang her and get to the baby part?”
“I didn’t say that.” Josh kicked off his shoes. Dealing with Mitch was using all his energy. Suddenly the party he’d planned to attend didn’t seem like such a great idea. “I believe in love. But love doesn’t happen instantly. You start with commitment and then you get love. And what’s more committed than marriage? The love will come later.”
“Commitment my ass. You should be committed,” Mitch mumbled.
“I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been around all that romance stuff since I was a teenager. I know every soppy ballad out there. I’m telling you, there’s no such thing as romance. I want a wife.”
“A non-romantic wife?”
“A wife with family values who doesn’t care about her career?”
“She can have a career, just not one that involves using me to get ahead.”
“Carry on.” Josh grinned at his reflection in the window.
“Basically, you want a relationship from the fifties?”
“Yes!” He thought about it. “No! Wait a minute; you’re putting words into my mouth again.”
There was a long sigh in his ear. “Don’t worry. I get it, buddy. You want me to vet some women and find you a wife, and”—there was a grin in Mitch’s voice—“if she happens to be Doris Day, even better!”