out of her home with only the clothes on her back and a few dollars in her
purse because she refused to marry the man her father has chosen, Palm
Beach socialite Sherry Nyland takes refuge in an Ocean Boulevard bar.
Until she is escorted out some hours later by police sergeant Micah Scott.
already low opinion of the spoiled locals isn't improved when the leggy
blond, undoubtedly stinking drunk, refuses to give her name or address so
he can take her home, and then go home himself. He takes her to the police
station, expecting her to break down rather than go to such a place. When
she doesn't, he separates her from her purse, locates her ID and takes her
her key won't open the door and when he knocks, the maid won't let Sherry
in. Finally she tells him what happened and why. Knowing it's crazy,
knowing he's breaking his own rules against Beach babes as well as
department rules that could get him fired, Mike decides to take her home
with him. He offers her a place to sleep for one night only. Nothing more.
Just to keep her safe. Sherry eventually agrees. It's better than 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 other half of the duplex where he lives. She tries to leave
again, obviously hoping Mike and Sherry will get back to whatever
hanky-panky they might be indulging in.
prevents her 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. Mike will even provide transportation to downtown
West Palm Beach for Sherry's job search if she'll stay with his mother.
first day of job hunting is miserable. Too many people pat her hand and
tell her to run home to daddy and her trust fund. But daddy has kicked her
out and she's cut off from her 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.
found the number on their father's desk after hearing him shouting on the
phone about Sherry. One of the banks where she applied for a job
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
Mike gets home shortly after midnight, Sherry is waiting on his front
steps with a proposition for him. He invites her inside for the talk she
wants, but isn't prepared for her verbal bombshell. She wants Mike to
ensuing discussion is heated, her explanation confusing, involving her
trust fund, her father, and her twenty-seventh birthday just a few months
away. Mike won't do it. He can't. He once got deeply involved with a rich
Palm Beach socialite only to find that she was just marking time until she
found a man with more money than her own. 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.
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.
Mike is a good man, and Vernon isn't. The tiny row of old bruises along
the inner surface of Sherry's upper arm, caused by Vernon, convince Mike.
He won't marry her, but he will protect her.
Clara tucked away at Mike's sister's, he's free to play bodyguard for
Sherry on his upcoming days off, though he believes it won't be necessary.
He's proved wrong when Sherry's father is waiting at the bank when she is
called back for an “interview”. 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
arrangements are quickly made through a judge Mike works with, and a few
hours later, with his mother and Sherry's sister as witnesses, they are
married. Clara insists that Sherry move back into Mike's half of the
duplex, 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.
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 conversation.
phone calls from Sherry’s father continue, keeping her on edge. Clara
points Sherry to the secretary's job at the elementary school where Clara
used to teach, and they're both thrilled when she gets it. Mike has
trouble believing Sherry intends to stick with it.
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.
is uncomfortable at the reception, feeling very much like the token peon.
He dances with her, telling himself its part of the show of affection
required to demonstrate that he and Sherry 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.
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, a warning reinforced when the
bottle in Mike’s hand shatters from the force of his anger.
hurries across the room to see how badly he’s hurt himself. She takes
Mike into the guest/pool 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 of her kneeling on the bathroom floor to pluck
the glass from his hand all force Mike to recognize his feelings for her.
not love yet, but the pieces are there. The instant she tapes the bandage
down, 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.
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.
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 only slumming. 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 sort of thing
can’t happen again.
means he has to stay away from her. He manages, until the day he goes to
the school where she works to do his annual “Officer Mike” summer
safety program. Sherry is his escort, and as they go from class to class,
he realizes how well she seems to fit in. He has to do something to prove
to her how much she’ll hate this life.
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 like it. And when he offers to let her
paint the duplex any color she wants, she surprises him with an
enthusiastic kiss. The kiss ignites the passion he’s never managed to
kill, and he 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.
can’t let her go. Somehow, he has to convince Sherry to stay in this
marriage. He realizes finally that he’s in love with her and has been
for some time. Maybe he can’t convince her, but he has to try. And his
first step is to learn what her father meant by his insinuations at the
next Friday, he asks Sherry out on their first actual date, intending to
tell her what he’s discovered and ask her to turn their paper marriage
into a real one. Sherry knows this is more than just a date and fears Mike
intends to end the marriage now, weeks before her birthday. When he tells
her that her trust fund is gone, looted by her father, she’s devastated.
Not because of the money, but the fund was the only thing she had from her
alcoholic mother, the only proof that her mother cared anything for her.
can’t think, can hardly take anything in. She doesn’t hear much of
what Mike is saying, though she does hear him ask her to stay in the
marriage. She assumes he asks out of pity. She thanks him kindly, but she
can take care of herself. Mike takes her home, agreeing that it’s best
if she stays with his mother for the night. He retreats to lick his
Clara refuses to let Sherry stay. She and Mike must patch up their
quarrel. As Sherry hugs the old woman goodbye, she admits to herself that
she loves Clara. And she loves Clara’s son.
realization staggers her. As she sits on the steps to try to sort it all
out, Mike appears. He’s come to tell her again everything he told her on
their date, because he’s decided she might not have heard him the first
loves her. That’s why he wants to stay married, the only reason. Sherry
replies that she’s loved him from the minute he rescued her in front of
the bank, and Mike asks her to rescue him now by promising to love him for
the rest of her life. It’s an easy promise to make.