Love Me or Leave Me (Harringtons Series)by Gwynne Forster
Love Me or Leave Me
Engineer Drake Harrington has spent years living in the shadow of his older brothers. His extraordinary good looks have earned him a reputation as a ladies' man, but Drake's real goal is to make his mark in the family business. When he meets television news anchor Pamela Langford, Drake gives in to his attraction. And
Love Me or Leave Me
Engineer Drake Harrington has spent years living in the shadow of his older brothers. His extraordinary good looks have earned him a reputation as a ladies' man, but Drake's real goal is to make his mark in the family business. When he meets television news anchor Pamela Langford, Drake gives in to his attraction. And although he's reluctant to settle down until he realizes his career ambitions, Pamela is not interested in playing the waiting game. A business trip to Accra, Ghana, could confirm Pamela's fears about Drake's inability to commitor help him to recognize a onceinalifetime love
Read an Excerpt
Drake Harrington loped down the broad and winding stairs of Harrington House, his ancestral home, and made his way to the back garden, his favorite place to sit and think or to swim on early summer mornings. He stopped and glanced around him, the familiarity of all he saw striking him forcibly. He surmised that he'd looked at that same evergreen shrub every daywhen he was at homefor as long as he'd known himself. He sat down on the stone bench beside the swimming pool, spread his long legs and rested his elbows on his thighs. He had slept in the same room for thirtyone years, from his days in a bassinet to the kingsize sleigh bed he now used. Wasn't it time for a change?
His long, tapered fingers brushed across his forehead, their tips tangling themselves in the silky wisps of hair that fell near his longlashed eyes, giving him a devilmaycare look. He liked to measure carefully the effect of a move before he made it, but he wasn't certain as to the source of his sudden discontent, so he was at a loss as to what to do about it. He loved his brothers and enjoyed their company, and he liked the women they had chosen for their mates, but he recognized a need to make headway in his own life, and that might mean leaving his family. A smile drifted across his features, features that even his brothers conceded were exceptionally handsome. He couldn't imagine living away from Tara, his stepniece, or Henry, the family cook whowith the help of his oldest brother, Telfordhad raised him after the death of his father when he was twelve years old.
As he mused about his life as he saw it and as he wanted it to be, he began to realize that because his older brothers had found happiness with the women of their choice, he was pressuring himself to decide what to do about Pamela Langford. He dated several women casually, including Pamela, but she was the one he cared for, though he hadn't broadcast that fact, not even to herand he often sensed in her nearly as much reluctance as he recognized in himself. He had been careful not to mislead her, for although he more than liked her, he was thirtyone years old and a long way from realizing his goal of becoming a nationally recognized and respected architectural engineer, and he was not ready to settle down. When he did, it would be with a woman whounlike his late motherhe could count on, and he had reservations that a television personality such as Pamela fit that mold. He'd better break it off.
Hunger pangs reminded Drake that he hadn't eaten breakfast. As he entered the breakfast room, the loving voices of Telford and his wife, Alexis; Tara, their daughter; his older brother, Russ; and Henry welcomed him. He took his plate, went into the kitchen, helped himself to grapefruit juice, grits, scrambled eggs, sausage and buttermilk biscuits, and went back to join his family.
"I said grace for you, Uncle Drake," Tara said, "and that's four times, so you'll have to take me to see Harry Potter."
He turned to Russ, who had spent the weekend with them at the family home in Eagle Park, Maryland. "We're looking at a sixyearold con artist, brother. She decides who's to say grace, and she decides there should be a penalty if that person doesn't say it. She also metes out the punishment."
"Yeah," Russ said. "That's why I get down here before she does."
"You notice she never dumps it on the cook?" Henry said, obviously enjoying his healthconscious breakfast of fruit, cereal, wholewheat toast and coffee.
"That's 'cause I don't want to eat cabbage stew," Tara replied. "I'm ready, Dad," she said to Telford. "Can I call Grant and tell him to meet us, or are we going to his house to get him?"
Telford drank the last of his coffee, wiped his mouth, kissed his wife and took Tara's hand. "We're going to Grant's house. His dad can take you and Grant fishing. I have some urgent work to do."
Drake relished every moment he spent with his family, but was a stickler for punctuality, hated to wait on others and rarely caused anyone to wait for him. He excused himself, dashed up the stairs and phoned Pamela. He didn't believe in procrastinating. He wouldn't enjoy what he had to do, but he couldn't see the sense in postponing it and stressing over it.
"Hello." Her refined, airy voice always jumpstarted his libido, but that was too bad.
"Hi. This is Drake. Any chance we can meet for dinner this evening? I'll be working in Frederick today, and I can be at The Watershed at sixthirty. You know where it isright off Reistertown Road at the Milford exit."
"Dinner sounds wonderful. See you at sixthirty."
Pamela finished her third cup of green tea for that morningshe had substituted green tea for the five or more cups of black coffee she used to drink every day, thankful that she'd never taken up smoking. Being the only newswoman at a television station that had eight male reportershalf of whom considered themselves studs was more pressure than she could enjoy, but she held her own as a newscaster, and her boss's mail verified that. She didn't prefer dates so soon after workespecially not with Drake, and not when she couldn't go home and dress for the occasion.
If Drake Harrington knew how she felt about him, he would probably head for the North Pole, as skittish as he was about committing himself. After a calamitous affair when she was a college sophomorethe boy seduced her not because he cared, but for bragging rights among his buddiesshe had sworn never again to get involved with a man who had a pretty face. And Drake wasn't only as handsome as a man could getall six feet and four inches of himhe was also very wealthy.
"He came up on my blind side" was how she explained to herself the way Drake mesmerized her when she met him. Fortunately, she'd had the presence of mind not to show it.
"How's about a hug for the nicest guy at WRLR?"
At the sound of Lawrence Parker's voice, Pamela spun around in her swivel chair. "Would you please knock before you open my door, and would you try being more professional? Your kid stuff gets on my nerves."
"Aw, come on, babe. Give a guy a break. I know a real sexy movie, and then we can go to my place and"
She glared at him. "Lawrence, you're making me ill. I'm not going out with you, now or ever. Besides, I have a dinner date. Beat it so I can finish the copy for my fiveo'clock newscast."
"What's he got that I don't have?" He raised his hands, palms out, and rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. "All right. All right. Don't tell me. I know."
She heard her office door close and hoped he'd left, but she didn't risk looking up for fear that he might be leaning over her, as he'd done a few times.
Pamela was much like Drake in that she believed in making the best of every opportunity. She decided that before she slept that night, she and Drake would have achieved a level of intimacy they hadn't previously shared. Oh, he'd kissed her a few times, though he hadn't put his soul into it, but this time she was going for the jugular. If she had to seduce him she knew how, and she would. She had coasted along in the relationship doing things his way, but beginning tonight, they would be using her road map.
She raced home on her lunch hour and changed into a red sleeveless silk dress that had a flouncy skirt and a matching longsleeved jacket, and put her pearl jewelry in her pocketbook and her makeup and perfume in her briefcase. Within an hour and fifteen minutes, she was back at the station.
Her news report that evening included an account of one homicide, an attempted rape, Southwest crops ravaged by drought and a local practicing physician who was exposed as an eighthgrade dropout and possessed no formal medical knowledge. She exhaled a deep and happy breath when she got to her last story, which described the return of a missing baby to its parents. At the end, she folded her papers, shoved them into her drawer, locked it, grabbed her briefcase and pocketbook, and started for the elevator.
"Where're you rushing off to, babe? It's early yet. What about a drink next door at Mitch's Place?" The elevator arrived, saving her the necessity of answering Lawrence.
She stopped at the service station about a mile before the Milford exit, bought gas and got an oil change. She liked that station because the attendants still serviced cars, and she didn't care to pump gas or measure the air in her tires while wearing her best cocktail suit. The attendant came back into the station, made out her bill and handed it to her.
"She'll run like new, Miss Langford. In the future, don't let your oil get so dirty. It's not good for your car. I checked your tires. You're good to go."
She paid the bill and added a tip. "Thanks. I'll bring it in for a thorough checkup one day next week." She looked at her watch. Five after six. She had plenty of time and didn't have to speed, for which she had reason to be grateful five minutes later when her car swerved dangerously as she was crossing an old bridge that had only wooden railings. She eased the car to the elbow of the little twolane highway, stopped and got out. With the sun still high, she had no difficulty finding the problem. Both of her front tires were flat.
Hadn't that servicestation attendant just told her that he'd checked her tires and they were fine? She searched her pocketbook for her cell phone, but couldn't find it. She dumped everything in her purse and in her briefcase on the front passenger's seat. Then she remembered having taken the phone out and placed it on her desk to charge it.
"Now what?" she said aloud. She opened the trunk of her car, got the sneakers she kept there for the times she played tennis, locked her car and started walking. Several cars slowed down and two drivers stopped to offer her a ride, but she wouldn't risk it. She walked the two miles back to the service station, all the time wishing she wasn't wearing that brilliantred outfit.
"You told me my tires were fine," she said to the attendant, "but as soon as I turned into the ramp going to Milford Road, both of my front tires blew."
He stared at her. "That's impossible, Miss Langford. Those are new tires in perfect condition. Did you drive over glass, or maybe some pieces of metal?"
She shook her head. "Neither one, and this is messing up what may be the most important day of my life."
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I'm truly sorry. I'll call a patrolman and alert him to the location of your car. Then I guess you need a tow truck, 'cause you only have one spare, and there's nobody on duty tonight but me, so I can't leave here."
She waited for what seemed like hours until she could get in her car and drive on to the restaurant. She prayed that Drake would still be there, but she wouldn't blame him if he left. She rushed into the restaurant so eager to know if she would see Drake that she walked past the maitre d'.
"I beg your pardon, madam," he said with his nose just a little higher than she imagined it usually was.
"A gentleman was waiting here for me. I suppose he left."
The man gave her a dismissive look. "He did, indeed, and I can imagine that he was greatly embarrassed to wait an hour and a half with an untouched glass of wine in front of him."
She spun around and went to the pay phone near the women's room. "Oh, my Lord. I could have called him when I was in the service station, but all I thought about was that I didn't have my cell phone." When he didn't answer his cell phone, she called Harrington House.
"He ain't here." It was Henry, the cook, who answered. "He said he was having dinner out. Who should I tell him called?"
"His Tell him that Pamela called. Thank you." She hung up and began the long drive home. No one had to tell her that wherever Drake was, he was furious, for he hated to wait for anyone and didn't make anyone wait for him. She trudged into her house, locked the door and checked her answering service. He had not called. A ham sandwich and a glass of milk sufficed for dinner, which she ate pacing her kitchen floor. What had caused those tires to blow out?
She phoned the station attendant. "Did you check those old tires to find out what caused them to blow?"
"Yes, ma'am, I did. Somebody slashed them."
"What? When could anybody have done that?"
"Beats me. The slashes were so long and so deep that you couldn't have driven out here from East Baltimore on those tires. It Say, a big yellow Caddy drove in here right behind you. It was here while you were inside the station paying the bill, and it took off without getting anything. I wonder Well, anything can happen these days."
She thanked him, finished her sandwich and went to bed. She'd left a message telling Drake that she called. Now it was up to him.
Drake let himself into Russ's apartment, dropped his suitcase on the floor and went to the kitchen to find something to eat. He knew that Russ wouldn't be home until much later, and he hoped that by that time, he would have rid himself of his anger and frustration. He wouldn't have expected Pamela to leave him sitting in a restaurant without phoning him to say she couldn't make it. It was out of character. Bowing to his protective instincts, he phoned a policeman, a longstanding friend, to know whether an accident had been reported on Reisterstown Road or Milford after five o'clock that afternoon. There hadn't been. He wanted to telephone her, but she had his cellphone number and hadn't used it. He took the phone from his briefcase, saw that he'd forgotten to turn it on and checked the voice mail for messages. There were none. His emotions warred with each other, anger battling frustration, hurt struggling with anger.
He defrosted some frozen shrimp, sliced some stale bread and toasted it, found some mayonnaise and bottled lemonade, and ingested it. However, the ache inside of him didn't respond to food. Russ got home around tenthirty and found Drake sitting in the living room in the dark with his shoes off and his feet on the coffee table. "What's going on?" Russ asked. "Sorting out my thoughts."
"Yeah? Can't you sort 'em out with the lights on?"
"Very funny. Will you have time to drive me to the airport tomorrow morning? If not, I can call a cab."
"Of course I'll take you. Leave your flight schedule, and I'll meet you when you come back. Say, man, what happened to you tonight? You're in the dumps. Wouldn't be that you're strung out because you'll soon be the only single man you know, would it? "
Meet the Author
Gwynne Forster is an Essence bestselling author and has won numerous awards for fiction, including the Gold Pen Award, the RT Book Reviews Lifetime Achievement Award.
She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology and a master’s degree in economics/demography and has traveled and/or worked in sixty-three countries.
She lives in New York with her husband.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
This book was not a romance novel. The story dragged on forever that I had to bypass pages trying to get to the good stuff. The characters were very boring and the love scenes oh wait if that's what the author was going for she missed by a long shot. All talk and no action. The chapters were very redundant....DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY!!!!
My first and last book by this author. A waste of money..it was painful and a struggle to finish but I made it!!!!
The story was boring, the 30 year old characters talked like they were 50 & a bit bougee. Waste of money & time. Drake cant make up his mind, Pamela is either deparate or stupid to let him keep coming around, storyline doesnt make sense. Its just not a good read.