Read an Excerpt
Big Sky Baby
By Judy Duarte
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright © 2003
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Jeff Forsythe was back in town.
All right, Jilly Davis thought, maybe temporarily, but he was home just the same. And it was a darn good thing, because
she could really use a friend in the flesh right now, not to mention a hug.
When Jeff left to join the forestry service five years ago, Jilly had felt somewhat abandoned. But unlike every other
male she'd known, he'd called her every week, insisting on maintaining their friendship.
Jilly scanned the green, woodsy interior of the florist shop Jeff had loaned her the money to buy. She hoped he liked
what she'd done to the place, especially the window display that changed every couple of days.
She'd gotten a deal on Gerber daisies this week, and using pots of the pastel-hued flowers and a quaint cast-iron
bench, she'd created a parklike setting to catch the eyes of the locals who passed by.
Jeff had always said she was artistic, and apparently he'd been right. Jilly's Lilies was a blooming success.
Imagine that. The scruffy little Davis girl from the wrong side of the tracks was now a genuine member of the Rumor
Chamber of Commerce - and a homeowner to boot. That was quite a feat for someone like her to accomplish, especially at
the ripe old age of twenty-three.
Who would have guessed?
No one but Jeff Forsythe, that's for sure.
What made their mismatched friendship even more surprising was the fact that he'd been born with the proverbial silver
spoon in his mouth.
Jeff often referred to himself as a shirttail relative of the MonMart Kingsleys, but the shirttail had been made of the
finest imported silk.
His socialite mother had been Carolyn Kingsley's younger sister, and when she died in a fiery car accident,
six-year-old Jeff was sent to live with his aunt and uncle on the Kingsley ranch.
Jeff was a very wealthy man by virtue of his mother's money alone. The Kingsley riches only added to his considerable
worth. But you'd never know it by looking at him. Jeff was one of the most unassuming guys Jilly had ever met.
More times than she could count, Jeff had ventured over to her run-down, trashy side of the tracks, something that had
caused his wealthy, straitlaced Aunt Carolyn a great deal of worry. Still, the social icon of Rumor hadn't been able to
discourage their friendship. Nor had the passing of time.
Jilly hadn't seen Jeff in five years, but she doubted he'd changed much. Tall, lanky. Dark hair,
nice but serious smile. He was the one constant force in her life.
And her very best friend.
She'd missed him something fierce when he left town, but their friendship continued to flourish over the telephone and
through a jillion emails.
Who needed Dear Abby when a girl had her very own Jeff Forsythe to keep her in line, to listen to her problems, to
encourage her hopes and dreams?
Jilly had a penchant for getting herself into one jam or another, and Jeff's friendship had proven to be an invaluable
asset. She had a feeling he actually liked coming to her rescue, although he probably wouldn't admit it. Either way,
the years had only deepened their relationship.
Each time the bell on the florist shop door rang, she glanced up from her work, hoping to see her old friend. At a
quarter to five the bell chimed again, and this time her glance was rewarded.
Only it wasn't the gangly kid she remembered who stood in the doorway of her shop. It was a tall, dark-haired god of
epic proportions - a sight worthy of a gasp, a second glance or an all-out gaping stare.
Lanky Jeff Forsythe had filled out, grown up and aged to perfection. When he removed his aviator glasses, eyes the
color of the Montana sky locked on hers, piercing her heart and sending a swarm of bewildered butterflies to her tummy.
If Jeff hadn't grown used to feminine appreciation, he'd better.
His smile broadened, revealing a set of dashing dimples. "Hey, good-lookin'. Where can I find the owner of this
"You found her, flyboy." Jilly hoped he hadn't seen or sensed her reaction to the sight of him.
Sheesh. Talk about buff and good-looking. If he weren't her best friend, she might find herself gawking at him. Heck,
she was gawking at him.
Get a grip, Jilly told herself. It's only Jeff.
"I hope you stopped by to give me a hug," she said, trying desperately to thwart a runaway sexual attraction to her
That's right. Her friend.
"It's good to see you, Jilly." His deep voice settled around her, cloaking her in crushed velvet and causing her heart
to slip a gear before jetting into overdrive.
She dropped a sprig of greenery on the table and dashed into his arms, eager to feel his familiar embrace.
He lifted her from the floor as though she were merely a rag doll, and a musky, woodsy scent accosted her. She
struggled to act nonchalant, unaffected by his touch.
Who was this gorgeous guy? And what had he done with her best friend?
"I missed you," she said, although she hadn't realized how much until he'd walked in the door.
"Maybe I should hang on tight so you can't get away."
Jeff held Jilly close, savoring the earthy scent of flowers and spice. It had been too damn long since he'd seen the
little brown-haired girl with the chipped-tooth smile.
He'd missed her, too.
Excerpted from Big Sky Baby
by Judy Duarte
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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