age 26, blond hair, blue eyes, 5’7”, slim, athletic build. Sherry was
raised by her rich, alcoholic mother—who named her daughter after her
preferred drink at the time. Following her mother’s death shortly after
Sherry turned eleven, she was shipped off to her father and his second
wife in Palm Beach, Florida, where she was mostly ignored. Her sole ally
in the family is her younger half-sister Juliana. Her father has made
arrangements for Sherry to marry a wealthy creep—probably financial
arrangements, but she doesn’t know for sure. Rather than go through with
it, she leaves home, but despite her junior college education, she’s
unable to get a job—she’s never held one. Her credit cards are
cancelled, she doesn’t have a bank account of her own, and she’s down
to her last fifty. She takes refuge in a restaurant/club to figure out
what to do next.
Thomas “Mike” Scott,
age 34, brown hair, gray eyes, 6’ tall, lean and muscular. A native
Floridian, he earned his millions the hard way after getting out of the
Marines, buying failing businesses—mostly restaurants and
clubs—turning them around and selling them for many times what he paid.
He makes more money through his successful investments these days, but he
likes to keep his hand in. He owns the Palm Beach building where he lives
and a club on Ocean Boulevard that’s rising steadily in popularity and
profitability. He doesn’t have much respect for those he calls “trust
fund babies,” considering them useless, and he’s wary of women. He’s
been burned by too many who were more interested in Micah’s millions
than in Micah.
his club one evening in late spring, the bartender calls Mike aside to
point out a young woman who’s been sitting in the bar all day and
ordered nothing but two glasses of wine. Mike immediately suspects she’s
come looking for a rich sugar-daddy to take care of her. Except she
hasn’t paid any attention to the other patrons of the club and she
turned down an offer of a drink from one of the richer locals. She’s a
puzzle. Still, she’s not doing any harm, so he let’s her stay till
closing when she turns down his offer to call a cab.
he’s driving home, he sees he walking down the beach. Concerned, he
stops to offer a ride home, but she refuses to cooperate. After a lengthy
“discussion”, involving the destruction of her purse and Mike’s
retreat to his car to follow her to her destination, she finally accepts a
ride. But at the address on her driver’s license, her key won’t fit
the lock and the maid insists she doesn’t live there any more.
Sherry reveals that was locked out for refusing to marry someone chosen by
her father, a man she couldn’t abide. Her father is attempting to force
her into compliance. Micah offers her a place to sleep at his apartment. One
night only. Nothing more. Just to keep her safe. Sherry eventually agrees.
It's better than the beach.
The next morning, Sherry wakes in Mike's guest room
to the sound of someone knocking on the front door. A close encounter with
Mike, emerging from the shower wet and towel-clad at the same moment she
comes out of her room, prevents either of them from reaching the front
door before it opens. A frail elderly woman, Mike's mother Clara, enters,
come to visit from her home in the apartment next door. She tries to leave
again, obviously hoping Mike and Sherry will get back to whatever
hanky-panky they might be indulging in.
Sherry prevents Clara’s departure on Mike's
behalf, and while he cooks breakfast, contributing to the conversation
from the kitchen, they explain Sherry's situation. Clara immediately
insists Sherry stay with her. Sherry expects Mike to argue against it, but
he agrees. His mother needs a keeper. She never remembers her oxygen, and
needs someone to stop her from overexerting herself.
Sherry won’t accept payment for staying with
Clara—providing her a place to stay is payment enough. She still needs a
job, so Mike offers to put her to work at the club. He encourages her to
believe he’s just the manager, and that he can afford two apartments in
this very pricey building because he also manages it for the same owner,
who gives him a price break on the rent. He convinces Clara to keep his
exact financial status quiet as well, though she believes Sherry won’t
Sherry’s first day as hostess is miserable. Not
because of the actual work, but because of all the people who want to
gossip about why she’s working there. They keep telling her to run home
to daddy and daddy’s money. However, her first night with Clara is
delightful due to tales of Micah's childhood mischief and Sherry's first
cooking lesson. Then she gets a call from her half-sister.
Juliana found the number on their father's desk
after hearing him shouting on the phone about Sherry. One of the customers
at the club apparently called and gave him her location. Sherry worries
that her father might somehow harm Clara by accident. She realizes he
won't stop hounding her until she does what he wants or she puts herself
completely out of his reach, and the only way she will be out of reach is
if she is already married.
When Mike gets home shortly after midnight, Sherry
is waiting outside his door with a proposition for him. He invites her in
for the talk she wants, but isn't prepared for her verbal bombshell. She
wants Mike to marry her.
The ensuing discussion is heated, her explanation
confusing, involving her trust fund, her father, and her twenty-fifth
birthday just a few months away. Mike won't do it. He can't. He once got
deeply involved with a Palm Beach socialite only to get dumped when she
found a man with more money. Sherry was bred in the same hothouse. He
likes her stubborn spunk and knows he could fall hard if he let himself,
and that would be disastrous.
Angry, Mike tries to frighten her out of the idea
with sexual demands, but she responds to his fiery kiss by melting into
it. Then she tells him that if he wants sex, it's okay with her. Now
thoroughly confused, he asks why she's willing to marry him for business
reasons when she won't marry "Vernon the Geek" as she's dubbed
her father's choice.
Because Mike is a good man, and Vernon isn't. The
tiny row of old bruises along the inner surface of Sherry's upper arm, put
there by Vernon, convince Mike. He won't marry her, but he will protect
With Clara tucked away at Mike's sister's, he's
free to play bodyguard for Sherry, though he believes it won't be
necessary. He's proved wrong when Sherry's father comes into the club
looking for her. The confrontation is brief but ugly. Mike ends it when he
announces that Sherry can’t marry Vernon because she’s already married
to him. Both Mike and Sherry are shocked by his statement. He never
expected to say any such thing. When she asks what happens next, Mike says
they get married. She’s right. It’s the only way she’ll be safe. But
it’s a business arrangement only—just a paper marriage.
The arrangements are quickly made through a judge
Mike knows and the next day, with his mother and Sherry's sister as
witnesses, they are married. Clara insists that Sherry move back into
Mike's apartment, refusing to listen to any talk about "marriage of
convenience." In her eyes, the marriage is real and she has no qualms
about using her heart condition to make the youngsters go along.
Mike carries Sherry over the threshold to convince
his watching neighbors of the reality of their marriage—if they believe,
they can help convince her father—then insists Sherry stay inside with
him for at least an hour to further the charade, let the neighbors think
they’re making love. He’s tempted into a no-holds-barred kiss, but
breaks it off to explain that sex isn’t just a pastime to him. It should
mean something to both people. Sherry’s insistence on defining just how
much it should mean drives Mike to insult her just to stop the
Harassing phone calls from Sherry’s father
continue, keeping her on edge. He still believes he can convince Sherry to
get rid of Micah and marry the man he prefers. Sherry insists on
continuing her job at Mike’s restaurant because he’s short of help.
Besides, if she’s going to be independent, holding down a job is a good
way to start. Mike has trouble believing Sherry intends to stick with such
a low paying job.
They are invited to the wedding reception for
Sherry's sister. Mike talks her into attending it as a way of
demonstrating to her father, to Vernon the Geek and to the world that they
are married and no one had better interfere. She doesn’t want to go,
especially since she saw her father possibly following her in his car
during the week, but she recognizes that Mike is right.
Mike is uncomfortable at the reception, feeling
very much like the token peon. He didn’t grow up in these surroundings,
even though he now has as much money or more than the others at the party.
He dances with Sherry, telling himself it’s part of the show of
affection required to demonstrate that they are deliriously happy
together. But he gets lost in the dance and the woman in his arms. Until
Juliana cuts in and carts Sherry off for a sisterly chat.
While waiting for them to finish, Mike’s
discomfort increases when Sherry’s father comes for his own little talk.
He informs Mike that if he and Sherry stay married, Mike will get nothing.
Then her father offers to make it worth his while if he will divorce her
now. Mike’s temper flares. He warns the man to stay away from Sherry,
setting off her father’s temper. With surprise on his side, the older
man punches Mike in the face twice before Mike can stop him, easily
holding him helpless with skills learned years ago in the Marines.
Mike’s ease in holding him convinces Sherry’s father to back down and
leave his daughter alone.
Sherry hurries across the room to see how badly
Mike has hurt himself. She takes him into the guest house across the yard
for privacy while she tends his cuts, plentiful but shallow. Her careful
attention, the anger he felt at her father, the sight and scent of her
tending his bruises all force Mike to recognize his feelings for her.
It’s not love yet, but the pieces are there. The
instant she finishes, he pulls her into his lap and kisses her. He can’t
fight it any more. Somehow he gets her out of the bathroom to the
guesthouse bed where they make love for the first time.
Sherry is stunned by the emotion he rouses in her
with his tender care. No one has ever shown her so much care before, which
is why she’s afraid to trust it. She’s spent her life turning herself
inside out, longing for love she never got. She can’t fall back into
that trap again.
Mike is equally stunned. He doesn’t know how he
can let her go, though he knows he must. He begins to wonder if he can
convince her to stay, but he doesn’t dare take the chance. He believes,
he knows, that Sherry's just biding her time till she has control
of her own money and can do as she pleases, and what she pleases will most
certainly not involve Micah Scott. They both agree that this can’t
Which means he has to stay away from her. He
manages, since he puts her on the day shift and he works nights. Then one
night at work, he gets an incoherent phone call from Sherry that Clara is in the hospital. When he arrives, he learns that his
mother fainted and Sherry blacked her eye hitting the kitchen island
trying to break Clara’s fall. Clara will be fine—once she gets the
pacemaker she needs and doesn’t want. Mike’s not so sure about
himself. Sherry sacrificed herself for his mother’s well being. How can
he not care for her? He’s beginning to think about staying in the
marriage, but first he has to discover what she really wants, money or
He takes her to paint his parents’ rent
house—the house he grew up in—to get it ready for new tenants, sure
that she’ll hate the hard messy work. Instead, she seems to enjoy it.
And when he offers to let her paint the apartment any color she wants, she
surprises him with an enthusiastic kiss. The kiss ignites the passion
he’s never managed to kill, and h e bears her down to the sheet-covered
floor. But he can’t make love to her, because it has to mean something
to both of them. Sherry is shocked to realize that Mike believes she
doesn’t care about him. She proceeds to demonstrate just how much she
cares by making love to him the way he did to her.
Mike can’t let her go. He realizes finally that
he’s in love with her and has been for some time. Somehow, he has to
convince Sherry to stay in this marriage. And his first step is to learn
what her father meant by his insinuations at the party.
Micah discovers that the trust fund Sherry was so
proud of was emptied out years ago. She’s engineered this whole charade
to get to him and his millions. He goes home to confront her, to send her
away. She’s shocked both to discover that Mike has lots of money and
that she has none. She’s devastated to learn that her father has looted
her trust fund, not because she has no money, but because the fund was the
only thing she had from her alcoholic mother, the only proof that her
mother cared anything for her.
On top of that, Mike lied to her, pretending he
was—if not actually poor, at least far from rich—and on top of that,
he’s accusing her of scheming to marry him in order to get her hands on
money she never knew he had. Her only mistake was falling in love with
him. She runs to Clara for refuge. But Clara refuses to let Sherry stay.
She and Mike must patch up their quarrel. Sherry hugs the old woman
goodbye, while making plans to disappear. She’ll get by. Somehow.
Mike tries to tell himself that he doesn’t care
where she’s gone, she didn’t mean anything to him, she was just a
gold-digger. But he can’t stop thinking about her, can’t stop
wondering if she’s okay. Then do-it-yourself divorce papers arrive from
Sherry. All he has to do is sign and file them, and their marriage will be
over. But he can’t do it. He still loves her. He realizes that their
marriage had never felt like paper and begins to wonder if he might have
Sherry would have to be the best actress in the
world to fake her reactions when he showed her the statement of her empty
trust. He was too hurt and angry to see it then, but now—now he realizes
what he has done.
Three weeks later, Mike comes to the Orlando resort
where Sherry is now working. He’s finally tracked her down. He wants to
talk. Sherry believes he’s come with new divorce papers and asks for a
pen so she can sign them. Mike tells her there aren’t any new papers,
and he tore up the old ones. Sherry asks why, and he tells her he wants to
stay married. He can’t stand seeing her like this.
Sherry realizes his overgrown sense of
responsibility has made another appearance and gently informs him that she
really can take care of herself. She’s even moving into management
training at the resort the next week. She doesn’t need him to rescue
Mike knows that. He’s come so she can rescue him.
He needs her to be his wife. Once more she asks why, and finally Micah
admits that he loves her. He wants it all, marriage, kids, forever, with
her. Almost afraid to believe that anyone could really love her, Sherry
asks if he really means it.
Finally, Mike talks to her the way he talks to his mother, pushing the wedding ring back on her finger and informing her that he loves her, she loves him and her only choice in the matter now is whether she walks to the car to go home or gets carried over his shoulder. His outburst convinces Sherry the way nothing else could and she throws herself in his arms. She’s finally found everything she ever dreamed of.