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By Diana Palmer
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
I won't go!" Maggie Kirk said stubbornly, and turned away from her friend's cajoling pleas. "It's like asking me to walk into a Bengal tiger's cage with a sirloin roast tied around my neck!"
"But, Maggie," Janna protested, her dark eyes pleading softly, "it's just what you need. Remember how we used to escape to the ranch when we were in school, how we looked forward to riding and picnicking by the river?"
"My memories are a little different," the slender brunette said with a grimace. She perched on the edge of the bed, studying the legs of her brown denim jeans. "I remember being put over Clint Raygen's knee for riding that surly stallion of his, and being locked in my room for going on a picnic by the river with Gerry Broome."
"Clint did warn you about High Tide," her small friend reminded her, defending the brother she worshipped. "And you know what Gerry tried to do. Clint knew he was too old to trust you with."
Maggie blushed with the memory of Clint finding her fighting her way out of Gerry's furious embrace, and the sight of blood when his big fist connected with the younger man's nose. The lecture that followed hadn't been pleasant, either. She sighed. It had always been like that. She and Clint had been enemies from their first encounter, when she was eight and he was nineteen andshe threw a baseball bat at him.
"It was a long time ago," Janna reminded her. "You're twenty now, and it was all right when we went down to spend a week with Clint and Mama last summer, wasn't it?"
"Of course it was all right, he was in Europe!" Maggie erupted. "This time, your mother's in Europe, and Clint's home, and Lida's just dumped him and he's going to be an absolute pain in the neck!"
"That's why I think you should go," Janna said.
Maggie gaped at her. "Janna, old friend, have you been tippling the brandy bottle again?"
"Well, here you are just getting over that rat, Philip," Janna explained, "and there he is just getting over that ratess, Lida ..."
"Haven't you ever noticed that although your brother and I are probably very nice people when we're separated, we seem to turn rabid when we come face to face?"
Maggie asked patiently. "The last time," she reminded the wide-eyed girl, "he threw me, fully clothed, into the river, I hit my ... my embarrassment on a rock," she faltered.
"You kicked him," Janna replied. "Hard. On the shin."
"He called me an idiot!"
"Well, what would you call somebody who tried to stone a rattlesnake to death from four feet?" Janna threw up her hands. "Honestly, Maggie, when you get around my brother, you lose every ounce of sense you have."
"There you go again ... Oh, never mind." She propped her chin on her el bows. "It's no use talking about it, any way. Clint won't have me down to the ranch without you, and we both know it."
"Yes, he will. I asked him."
"What did you tell him?" Maggie asked suspiciously, her emerald eyes sparkling.
Janna shrugged. "That you and Phil had split, that's all."
"Just that ... not how we broke up?" she asked quietly.
"I swear, Maggie. I'd never do that to you."
She forced a wan smile. "I didn't mean that. It ... I guess it hit me a little harder than I expected."
"Clint said you could fill in for his secretary while she's on vacation," Janna continued brightly, "and have a working holiday that you'll get paid for. He said it would be the best medicine you'd ever swallowed."
"And, knowing Clint, he'll add a teaspoon of arsenic just to flavor it," Maggie grumbled. "Arrogant, hard headed, bossy ..."
"You are between jobs," Janna reminded her.
Maggie sighed. "If I were drowning, you'd toss me an anchor, wouldn't you, my bosom buddy?"
Excerpted from Sweet Enemy by Diana Palmer Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.