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Finally Shannon Raine decides to stop speculating about her dark, brooding neighbor on California's rugged Mendocino coastline — and just introduce herself But the last thing she expects to find in this enclave of artists and writers is a Silicon Valley mogul. Garth Sheridan is cool, sensual and intriguing. And ...
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Finally Shannon Raine decides to stop speculating about her dark, brooding neighbor on California's rugged Mendocino coastline — and just introduce herself But the last thing she expects to find in this enclave of artists and writers is a Silicon Valley mogul. Garth Sheridan is cool, sensual and intriguing. And immediately Shannon knows the passion that flares between them will become intense and all-consuming.
But the more intimate their desire becomes, the more Garth's life seems hidden from Shannon. She longs to understand this man and the other life he leads, far from the scenic haven they share. Somehow she has to convince Garth that he can trust her with the part of him that rules the ruthless, high-stakes arena of big money and corporate power. For only then can their two worlds become one.
Shannon Raine stood at the window sipping her tea and wondered why she felt so oddly torn about introducing herself. It was a natural enough gesture to make. After all, he was a visitor here in this small community on California's rugged Mendocino coast. She was a permanent resident and his nearest neighbor. There would be nothing unusual or remarkable about simply following him down to the beach and wishing him a good morning.
Then again, a lot of visitors came and went during the summer around here, drawn by the spectacular coastal scenery, the quaint Victorian architecture of the tiny towns and the array of art galleries. Shannon reminded herself that she certainly didn't make an effort to introduce herself to all of the tourists who passed through the area.
But this man was different, and it wasn't simply because he happened to be staying in the immediate vicinity. Last summer the cottage had been filled with two vacationing mothers and their noisy brood of children. Shannon had had verylittle difficulty keeping her association with that crowd to a minimum. She was reasonably friendly by nature but not the sort who felt compelled to seek out others for companionship.
Perhaps it was the artist in her that made her content to spend long periods of time alone with a sketch pad or laboring over her silk screen. And perhaps that was what she sensed in the strange man who seemed so at home in the fog. He, too, was probably an artist. Shannon considered that possibility and then shook her head. No, it was far more likely the man was a writer or a poet. Yes, she could easily imagine him as a poet. There was a harsh, austere quality about him that told her he had discovered life to be a battle in many ways. Poets and other impassioned writers often found themselves at war with the world. Out of that inner conflict, Shannon supposed, sprang the fierce energy needed to put words together to form intense images. Idly she wondered how many restless, raging poets or writers drove silver-and-black Porsches like the one parked in front of her neighbor's cottage. The man must have had some measure of worldly success with his writing.
Shannon sipped her tea and reflected on the subject. Whatever his craft, she was certain of her analysis of the dark, brooding spirit that animated him. It touched a chord in her, and she couldn't ignore it. Only a man with a great capacity for passion would have to go through life with such a tight leash on himself.
With sudden decision Shannon set down her mug of tea and walked to the hall closet to pull out her plum-colored quilted jacket. It would be warm later on when the fog burned off and summer returned for a few hours, but this morning there was a distinct chill in the air.
The screen door slammed shut behind her as Shannon stepped out onto the back porch of her small, rustic cottage. For a moment she hesitated, inhaling the scent of the thick ocean air with absentminded pleasure. She had lived here for two years now, but she never ceased to enjoy the tangy smell of the sea. There was a raw, primeval richness to it that made her feel gloriously alive. Shoving her hands deep into the pockets of the jacket, she started down the short bluff to the beach. It was an easy descent in the daytime, and she didn't pause as the fog closed around her. Shannon knew where she was going. She had found her way down the short incline almost every day for two years. She thought she could probably do it in the dark now.
When she reached the rough beach she stopped, trying to decide in which direction her neighbor would have gone. The fog had reduced visibility to a matter of a few feet. The surf crashed a short distance away, sending lacy, curling tendrils to lap at her shoes. Shannon stepped back a few paces to avoid splashing her jeans. Then, on a whim, she turned to the left and started striding briskly along the water's edge.
She told herself she would handle this casually. After all, the beach was hers to use, too. She would be friendly and polite and see what happened at that point. Shannon was so busy deciding exactly how she would handle the introduction that she didn't even notice her quarry until he suddenly loomed up out of the fog. She nearly collided with him.
"Oh, excuse me, I'm sorry," she said quickly, feeling awkward now that the moment was upon her. This wasn't quite how she had planned the initial encounter. Hastily she recovered her balance and stood looking up at him. It was definitely a case of looking up. Shannon was a hairbreadth under five foot five, and as she lifted her eyes to his, she decided the stranger must have been close to six feet in height.
There was a certain sense of massiveness about him, although he was clearly built along lean, hard-edged lines. Her artistic eye automatically registered the overall impact of the dark, remote aloneness that seemed to radiate from him. The somber quality was reinforced physically by the near blackness of his hair, the ice-gray eyes and the roughly hewn angles of his face. Shannon did not find conventionally handsome men attractive. There was a shallow, uninteresting flatness about them that she had discovered was often accompanied by an equally shallow and uninteresting personality. The creative element in her instinctively responded to the more complex and the less easily defined, both in physical characteristics and in emotional makeup. At this moment everything in her was reacting with fierce awareness to the somber stranger.
"My name is Shannon Raine," she finally said when he made no reply to her awkward apology. "I'm your neighbor. Are you going to be staying long in the area?" She smiled, reaching up to push a curve of breeze-tossed hair out of her eyes.
"I'll be here for a while." She nodded, accepting the ambiguity of his answer while she absorbed the deep, rough-textured sound of his voice. Its resonance made her want to reach for a sketch pad to see if she could find a visual representation of the dark textures. Already she could imagine an elaborately worked initial in the Carolingian style, classic and strong in overall proportion, but with intricate and complex details decorating the whole. The sort of image that compelled the viewer to keep studying it, every glance detecting a new element.
Excerpted from The Ties That Bind by Jayne Ann Krentz
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted January 28, 2010
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