“As you can see in this contract, Noble Solutions is only responsible for any trouble with upgrades or changes made by myself. Integrating any of your company’s adjustments with my software will be billed to your account. Is that agreeable?”
Amid the muted sounds of a fine restaurant, Nolan Burke attempted to explain the terms of his standard contract to a potential client. Nolan’s frustration mounted as the woman ignored his explanations in favor of overt flirtation. While he spoke of contract renewal dates, she suggested a dinner date and chose not to acknowledge that he declined the offer.
“No? What part of the contract do you have a problem with, Miss Walker?”
“My name is Michelle; I loathe miss. It’s archaic and patriarchal.” Nolan cringed as Michelle Walker crowded into his personal space once more. She’d been excessively warm and friendly from the moment they introduced themselves in the restaurant lobby. As he averted his eyes from a fine view of more cleavage than any man should be subjected to in public, he adjusted his pen and prayed for patience. Instead of the instant escape he hoped to receive, an opportunity to practice patience surfaced. “Michelle will do, Nolan. I’m not a very formal person.”
Michelle gave another slow smile and a sultry wink. Groaning inwardly, Nolan ignored the overture and tried steering the conversation back to the subject of their meeting. “Well then, Ms. Walker—”
“Michelle.” The woman’s tone was determined— almost fierce.
Nolan signaled for the check and snapped the file folder shut with finality. “Miss Walker, I don’t think that my company can offer you what you are looking for.”
Rising to exit as quickly as possible, he continued. “May I suggest Lynn Graves over at Computing Concepts? I thank you for your time and will of course, cover the check.”
Before Michelle could respond, Nolan signed for their lunches, and with a formal nod, wove his way through the diners. Left alone at the table, the young businesswoman fluctuated between admiration, fascination, and irritation at his apparent immunity to her. Men did not resist Michelle Walker. Period.
She scrutinized Nolan as he walked away. The cut of his suit, style of his hair, and the perfect shine of his shoes practically screamed success. He gazed briefly at a little girl wearing a paper crown and blowing out candles on an elaborate birthday cake. Nolan Burke hadn’t smiled at her like that. In fact, after their initial handshake, he hadn’t smiled at all. Michelle wondered what kind of woman could spark his interest and couldn’t conceive as to how she had failed.
Michelle was fully conscious of her attractiveness and allure. The hours and expense required, as well as her hard work in sculpting the perfect physique, was evident with every move. Of course, she rewarded herself by shopping for impeccable clothing designed to accentuate her hard-earned body. Michelle’s recreation hours were all about keeping her fingers carefully manicured, and her cosmetics applied with precision. Her stylist made his car payment on time, every month, thanks to Michelle’s highly pampered hair follicles. She had been on the top of her flirtatious game. The fact that he’d resisted her allure nearly convinced Michelle that he was training for a monastery.
Michelle hadn’t considered Nolan’s company for the computer system she needed to integrate her office until she heard about its exceptionally handsome owner. Her administrative assistant, Janice, assured her that the owner of Noble Solutions was “really hot.” After a recommendation like that, the decision was easy. Didn’t she deserve to enjoy her success? Michelle ruefully admitted to herself that Janice had been right. Nolan Burke, despite his other deficiencies, was definitely hot!
“What a self-righteous chauvinist! He probably wants a domestic little trophy wife in a yellow house with a picket fence, two point three kids, and Sunday school for all. Man, has anyone ever told him that this is the twenty-first century? Queen Victoria has been dead for several generations now…” Michelle Walker continued her mental tirade as she watched Nolan step out of the restaurant, hail a cab for an elderly woman, jump into his waiting SUV, and pull away from the curb.
“Bet he was a boy scout too.” She muttered under her breath, annoyed.
“What is wrong with me? Why is every woman I meet like a female masher?” Nolan Burke put his Escalade in gear and turned up the air conditioning to cool the stifling summer heat, easing into the lunch traffic. As he drove toward home, Nolan reflected on his disastrous lunch meeting.
The successful computer consultant drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, apparently lost in thought. Stopping at a red light, he noticed a striking Asian woman smiling up at him from a convertible. As the light changed, and with an audible groan, Nolan rapidly accelerated and robotically drove home, once again, mentally absent from the world around him. At the next light, he scribbled a note to have his windows tinted.
Nolan had no family. Born late in his parent’s lives, after years of childlessness, he was their pride and joy. His mother poured her heart into rearing her only child, and under her careful nurturing Nolan flourished. Mrs. Burke had called him her “little man” and his personality, even from childhood, showed it. Handsome, intelligent, and successful, his parents had passed away with the knowledge and comfort of their son’s strong faith and unwavering standards.
Nolan was honest with himself. Home and family were important to him; he knew what he wanted in his life and prayed daily that his desires were within God’s will. If a wife and children were not in his future, Nolan often prayed that God would remove his deep desire for a family.
He knew, without a doubt, that what he did not want was the kind of woman that impressed many of his friends and acquaintances. Nolan’s idea of an attractive woman went far beyond the superficial. Even the intelligent women in his social circles seemed to care more about a lifestyle than sharing a life. While he knew that his ideal might not exist, Nolan had no doubt that God would have someone perfect for him if marriage was part of the Lord’s plan for his life. He had no interest in the forward women who’d been throwing themselves at him lately.
Nolan dialed his best friend’s home number. Sounds of squealing children in the background made it difficult for Mike’s wife Traci, to hear him. “Is Mike around? Does he have a few minutes?”
Nolan filled Mike in on his botched meeting. “Mike, is it just me? Am I dreaming, or is there a chance that somewhere out there is a woman who doesn’t find it necessary to throw herself at men?”
Mike roared with laughter. “Well, when you look like you and have your bank account—”
“Man, I’m serious! This is getting pathetic!”
Toning down his voice, Nolan’s friend tried again. “Your problem, Nolan, is that you’ve always compared every woman you meet to your mom. Women like your mother are extremely rare these days.”
“Mike, I just would like to meet a Christian woman who isn’t out there flaunting herself like a baptized prostitute or trying to prove that anything a man can do she can do better. There have to be some women left that are secure enough in their femininity that they don’t feel a need to compete with men too.”
Nolan wished his friend a pleasant evening and tossed the handset on the couch beside him. Booting up his laptop, the frustrated man opened the file and scanned his dream wife “order form.” One evening after a particularly draining charity dinner Nolan had left early, gone home, and created a “wish list” for the wife he prayed the Lord was saving for him. The list had a few additions now and then, usually as the result of an unpleasant encounter somewhere.
- Feminine- loves being a woman
- Sense of humor
After reviewing his list, he added number eight.
- Loves children
Nolan sighed and closed the laptop. At thirty-seven, he was not exactly old, but he was very alone. Apart from his best friend from childhood, he had no family and though the fellowship of Christians was always encouraging, lately it wasn’t enough. Should he move? The women he knew from his church weren’t right for him; the fact that they made their interest in him perfectly clear sent up red flags. Where was maidenly modesty anyway? If he left Rockland, where would he go? Did strong and feminine ladies even exist anymore? Maybe he should move to the South. Southern Belles might be a good idea. Ideas and questions whizzed through his mind at lighting fast speed. Lost in thought, Nolan grumbled unconsciously, “’A virtuous woman, who can find?’ is right!”