Forget Me Notby Elizabeth Lowell
The terrible tragedy Alana Reeves suffered on Wyoming's Broken Mountain has vanished from her memory. Now nothing remains of those six lost days that cost her everything she held dear. But a man has appeared from the shadows of Alana's past a rugged outdoorsman who once dwelt in a wounded heart he is now sworn to heal. Like an answered prayer, Rate Winter… See more details below
The terrible tragedy Alana Reeves suffered on Wyoming's Broken Mountain has vanished from her memory. Now nothing remains of those six lost days that cost her everything she held dear. But a man has appeared from the shadows of Alana's past a rugged outdoorsman who once dwelt in a wounded heart he is now sworn to heal. Like an answered prayer, Rate Winter has come to lead Alana out of the darkness and back to the scene of the nightmare she has erased from her mind. Alana must follow him for in Rate's powerful arms her fears can be conquered, and through his love hers can be reborn.
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When The Phone Rang, Alana was almost relieved. Though it was before dawn, she was wide awake. Since she had come back from Broken Mountain, she had slept very little, and never peacefully.
Kicking aside the tangled sheets, Alana turned toward the phone. It was too early for anyone she knew on the West Coast to be up and about. That meant it was probably her brother in Wyoming calling to see how she was.
Calling to see if she remembered what had happened on Broken Mountain.
"Hello," Alana said, keeping her voice steady with an effort.
"Sis? Is that you?"
"Hi, Bob. How's Merry?"
"Counting the weeks until February," said Bob, laughing. "If she gets much bigger, well have to put her in a stall with the brood mares."
Alana smiled at the thought of petite, blond Merry tucked into one of the heated stalls Bob kept for his prize mares.
"Better not let Merry hear you say that," Alana warned.
"Hell, it was her idea." Bob paused, then said, "Sis?"
Alane's hand tightened on the phone. She had heard that tone before, little brother to big sister, a smile and affectionate wheedling.
He wanted something from her.
"When are you coming home?" Bob asked bluntly.
Alana's heart began to beat too fast. She. didn't know how to tell her brother that she was frightened by the thought of returning to the ranch where Broken Mountain rose steeply, mantled in ice and darkness.
Before her last tripto Broken Mountain, Alana had loved the ranch, the mountains, the silence, the heights, and the clouds swirling overhead. She had loved the memories of Rafael Winter Rafe reflected in everylake, every fragrant forest, sunsets and sunrises sweeping across the land like fire, the wind's keening harmonies echoing the music Rafe had made on his harmonica.
Alana had come to love the land even more because she and Rafe had been part of it, lovers suspended between sky and mountains, more beautiful than either, timeless, burning with the sun.
But now those mountains terrified Alana.
Now the memories of Rafe were a brittle, cutting armor that she pulled around her like the colors of dawn, hoping to drive away the horror and darkness that crawled up out of the abyss of those six missing days.
"I don't " Alana began.
Her brother interrupted before she could refuse.
"I've already talked to your agent," Bob said cheerfully. "He told me you've refused to accept any concerts and won't even took at the songs he sends to you."
"Yes, but "
Bob kept talking.
"So don't tell me how busy you are," he said. "If you're writing songs again, you can write them just as well here. Better. You always did your best work here."
With a conscious effort, Alana loosened her grip on the phone. She had no more excuses, so she said nothing.
"Sis? I need you here."
"'Bob, I don't think " Alana began.
Then her voice broke.
"Don't say no," Bob said urgently. "You don't even know what I want yet."
And you don't know what I want, Alana thought rebelliously. You've never even asked if I want something.
The words went no further than Alana's thoughts, a silent cry of need. Yet even as the cry echoed in her mind, she recognized its unfairness.
What she needed, Bob couldn't provide. She needed warmth and reassurance, safety and a man's hard strength standing between her and the abyss, protecting her until she knew what had happened and could protect herself once more.
She needed love waiting instead of terror. She needed a dream to banish a nightmare.
She needed Rafael Winter.
But Rafe was just a dream. The nightmare was real.
With a deep breath, Alana gathered herself and set about living in her new world just as she always had lived. Alone, depending only on herself.
She had done this many times before, the deep breath and the determination to do the best she could with what she had, no matter how little that seemed to be when the nightmare descended like a storm.
'"What do you want?" Alana asked softly.
"You know cash has always been a problem with the ranch," Bob said quickly. "Land poor, as they say. Well, Merry and I had this idea for a classy and I mean classy dude operation. High-country fishing safaris for people who can pay high prices."'
Alana made a neutral sound.
"We had it all planned, all fined up, all our ducks in a row," Bob said. "Our first two customers are very exclusive travel agents. Their clientele list reads like Who's Who. Everything was going great for us, and then..."
"And then?" Alana prompted.
"Merry got pregnant," Bob said simply. "I mean, we're both happy, we've been trying for two years, but..."
"'Dr. Gene says Merry can't go on the pack trip."
"'Is that a problem?"
"Hell, yes. She was going to be our cook and entertainer and general soother, take the rough edges off. You know what I mean, sis."
"Yes. I know."
It was the same role Alana had played in the family since she was thirteen and her mother died, leaving behind three boys, a devastated husband, and a daughter who had to grow up very quickly. That was when Alana had learned about reaching down into herself for the smile and the touch and the comfort that the people around her needed. She had rebuilt the shattered family as best she could, for she, too, needed the haven and the laughter and the warmth.
"It will really be more like time off than a job," coaxed Bob.
Alana heard the coaxing, but it didn't move her nearly as much as the disturbing thread of urgency beneath the soft tone...
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