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"Okay!" he yelled. "I'm coming!"
He glanced at the woman he had been talking to and walked away. If it was company, he thought, they picked a poor time tonight. At the door he looked through the peephole, gasped, quickly opened the door and caught the woman who lurched toward him.
"Please help me," she murmured as his arms went around her.
"Stevie, what in the hell happened to you?" She said something unintelligible, and he pushed the door shut and guided her toward an overstuffed chair. He helped her into it, searching her face as he knelt beside her, rubbing her hands.
Behind him, the beautiful dark-blonde, Honi Holmes, spoke. "I was leaving at your request, but now it seems you'll need me. So the redoubtable Stevie Simms is having trouble? I'll call the police, and maybe an ambulance. Looks like she's been attacked."
The injured woman rallied and leaned forward. "No. No police. You've got to believe me, no police. I'll be all right." Her voice sounded piteous as she mumbled, "It's just that I don't know who I am. I came to in the woods and I've been there a while. But I'll be all right. I think I hit my head on something." She touched her head gingerly before Damien's hand went to the big lump.
Damien drew a deep breath. "You've got a long way to go before you're all right. I'm going to take you up to mybedroom. Where else do you hurt?"
Honi came closer. "Let me take care of her. You know how clumsy you men are in an emergency. She needs to be un-dressed and gotten into something comfortable and you can hardly do that."
Damien stood up. "I'm not a lecher, Honi, and I want to look after her. It's not like she's a stranger. She'll have a story to tell and I'm not sure it's safe with you."
Honi smiled narrowly. "Be careful, sweetie. This woman is Jake McGowan's ex-wife and it's altogether possible he's behind whatever happened here. I don't have to tell you you'd be a fool to cross Jake."
Damien stood up and looked at Honi. "I want you to leave. We're wasting time and Stevie needs tending to. If I need help, I can call my housekeeper. She'll come back, "
"Well," Honi drawled, "Stevie's certainly not your type and she looks like hell right now."
"And that's a statement unworthy of even you." He took Honi's arm. She hadn't worn a coat, and he propelled her toward the door, opened it and gently pushed her out into the night.
Honi called back over her shoulder. "Okay, put me out. That wasn't always the case, and one day it'll be the way it was before. I still love you, Damien, and don't you forget it."
Damien closed the door and swiftly crossed the room to Stevie's side. He leaned over and helped her up. She seemed a little steadier as he led her up the stairs to his bedroom, the master bedroom. His house had six bedrooms, but this one was the closest and it had a kitchenette.
He laid her on the bed and got a wet washcloth to sponge her dust-streaked face. "I'm worried about this lump," he said. "Common sense tells me I should get you to an emergency room. You could have a concussion. Do you remember what you hit your head on?"
"A big stone. I came to beside it and I remembered nothing." She gripped his arm. "Please don't call the police. He'd kill me."
Damien frowned. "Who's he, Stevie? Jake? You've put up with enough from Jake McGowan. I want to see that you don't have to put up with anything else from him. If he did this, I want him behind bars and you safe from him."
"I don't know who Jake is." Her voice sounded wan and fading, like a small child's.
"Then I'll tell you, but you need something to eat. I can hear your stomach rumbling."
"Don't leave me, please."
He stroked her arm gently. "I won't. There's a kitchenette right here. I don't want to give you anything but soup right now. Do you like New England clam chowder and oyster crackers?"
She nodded. "My stomach's raising Cain. You'd think I never fed it." She tried to smile and it fell flat; her eyes misted with tears. "I'm not a crybaby. I'm usually brave."
He patted her hand. "I like crybabies. I know you, Stevie, and I know you're brave. After I get some food in you and find you a pair of my pajamas, I'll tell you who you are and who I am. You've got amnesia, probably from the fall, "
"No, I, "
She was undergoing a metamorphosis and terror spread over lush, warm and soft in his arms. He knew this woman well, but he didn't have time to think about that now.
"You won't leave me."
"I won't leave you. You'll hear me in the kitchenette fixing you something to eat."
She calmed in a very little while and he went to the kitch-enette and heated soup. Waiting for the soup to heat, he rummaged in his walk-in closet for a pair of pajamas. When he put them on the bed for her they looked at each other and neither spoke, but she swallowed hard. Her instincts had been right about him. He had saved her and he seemed so familiar.
Damien brought the food back on a small silver tray with legs for the bed. He set it down and smiled at her.
"You know me," he said softly. "You know me well." Suddenly she seemed much better. "I seem to remember you from somewhere. But I should remember you better than I do now. You're a hunk and you're sexy and kind. I wouldn't be for-getting someone like you."
Damien grinned and sat in a chair by the bed. The woman had a way with words. She was so vulnerable now, with her scratched face and frightened eyes. His heart went out to her. No, she wasn't his type. He had never dated a woman who wasn't glam-orous and Stevie was plain--attractive enough, but plain. The else again. The dusty, bedraggled periwinkle print dress and jacket she wore hugged her curves and her breasts were live things. The thought flashed across his mind unbidden, it would be nice to feel them against his chest, craving his touch.
She finished her chowder and crackers, then he scooped ice cream into a bowl for dessert. Stevie dug into the ice cream.
"My favorite," she said. "Neapolitan. When I was a little girl, my father used to buy cartons of it and stack it in the freezer.
One day I ate so much I couldn't eat any more, and I cried because I couldn't hold any more." She paused. "That was after he died. I've never told anyone else about that." Her voice sounded fragile.
"Thank you for sharing it with me. You remembered that, Stevie. You'll soon remember other things."
She looked surprised. "You're right, I did remember. But I don't remember anything recent. The name Stevie seems like mine. I remember now my father and mother calling me that. My name is also Stevana. Am I married? Do I have children?"
"You have no children that I know of. You were married to a man named Jake McGowan. He owns a recording company. He's a mogul and he was mean to you. You got a divorce on grounds of abuse."
The name didn't seem to mean anything to her. "I remember my father and mother dying within a year of each other when I was sixteen."
"Do you remember being a famous singer who took a hiatus to write songs? And that's where you are now. You've gotten a lot done in your thirty-two years."
"So that's how old I am. I hear songs, but I don't remember being a singer or a songwriter." Her hand went to the lump on her head and she grimaced.
He shook his head. "I really ought to get you to a hospital, and I insist on it first thing in the morning. I hope I'm doing the right thing by in not taking you tonight. Then, too, in the case of amnesia, you probably ought to talk to the police just in case someone attacked you, hurt you, "
The words were barely out of his mouth when she began to tremble wildly and her breath came in great gasps. "No police," she whimpered. "Promise me you won't go to the police."
"Stevie," he began, "I'll never do anything to hurt you, but you should go to the police." "I'll be killed if I go to the police."
"Did someone threaten to kill you?"
"Oh God, I don't remember. Why can't I remember?" she moaned.
"Okay. At the hospital, I'm going to ask that you see the psy-chologist. My half-sister is a psychologist and I know a bit about it from talking with her. Shock and trauma can make you traumatic shock disorder they call it. PTSD. It happens often in wartime. The psychologist will help you to get your memory back. But you'll have to cooperate. Face your fears."
She was trembling again. "I'll try, but it'll take time, a lot of time."
"It may not."
"Oh, yes, everything just seems to recede. The food was very good, Damien, and I wish I knew you. It almost seems I do. You're a nice man. You say I know you. Tell me something about yourself."
Damien smiled and cleared his throat. "Well, like your ex, I own a recording company, and I'm suc-cessful, but there the similarity ends. He does the raunchiest and roughest rhythm and blues and his records sell like hotcakes. The woman who was here tonight is his chief record producer and she's good. She knows him very well."
"She's in love with you."
Damien's nutmeg-colored skin flushed. "She thinks she is. She used to be."
Much of the fear seemed to leave her then and she sat propped up on pillows and looked at him. He had to be at least six feet two inches tall with flat-grained, close-cut, soot-black hair and a longish, well-shaped head. His mouth had a wicked curve and his heavy black silken eyebrows arched over light-brown eyes with big flecks of dark gray. She tried to keep her and narrow hips, his flat abs, and biceps outlined by a snow-white, short-sleeved T-shirt. The pectoral muscles had a mind of their own.
He was a hunk, no doubt about it. She would have remem-bered him if she had any recent memory.
She felt more relaxed now. The food in her stomach and his presence greatly calmed her. "I'm not afraid of you. I feel safe here, and I'm glad I know you."
"Yeah, I'm glad, too. You're good people. Stevie, you can get into these pajamas, and I'm going to sleep over there on that chaise lounge to keep an eye on you, because you're still shaking. Tomorrow morning I'll call my favorite department store and order you an outfit sent out. I know a saleswoman and I can get to her early. Then to the hospital for an exam."
"You're good people yourself." She dreaded the thought of going out of the house, but she forced courage to her mind.
When he went out she looked around the room. The fur-nishings were beautiful, she thought: sleek, expensive mahogany. The drapes were burgundy with eggshell ninon panels. She wondered what her own home looked like. Damien had said she was an important songwriter and singer, so she must have some money. And the name he called her--Stevie. Somewhere in her mind something clicked and said she owned that name.
His pajamas swallowed her. She smiled a bit. They were burgundy with white piping. She rolled back the sleeves and the legs. Having the pajamas on would be like having his arms around her and she blushed at the sudden heat that swept over her.
She stood up and began to take off her torn and dirty clothes. She needed to remember what had happened. He knocked as she began to slide into the pajamas. "Just a minute," she called, and he waited. She got back into the bed before she told him to come in.
Damien sat on the edge of the bed and looked at her somberly. He had always felt close to her, but he was feeling new things now, a stirring in his heart that had long been dormant. No, not dormant, dead. These feelings were deeper.
Thinking that anything he could tell her about herself would be useful, he began with "You recorded quite a few songs for my company--four very successful albums of country music. Your fans were very disappointed when you quit for a while." He grinned. "Your signature song is "I Don't Need You Any-more." Ring a bell?"
She frowned and music came into her head, unbidden. She hummed softly.
"Hey, that's it! Stevie, you're just getting started and you're well underway."
She was excited, but frightened. There was something she must never remember. Her life was as good as over if she did. But other memories had begun to seep in, memories of her past. And what was to be her future?
He stroked her shoulder. Stevie had been a gold mine for his highly successful recording company, Nubian Gold. He had taken over the company from Gina Campbell whose late broth-er, Carson, had founded it. Carson's wife had murdered him and had gone to prison. With her hectic schedule, Gina didn't have time for the hands-on management needed.
Nubian Gold was a one-of-a-kind company that dealt mostly in grassroots, Black country music and gospel. Damien was making a fortune recording country church music and sermons. There were incredible sales. He had expanded more rapidly than he actually wanted to.
Yeah, he thought now, he was feeling deeply protective toward Stevie and if it was more, he didn't want to know about it. He'd been burned once, and the flames of love that had burned him had done him to a crisp.
Excerpted from The Way You Make Me Feel by Francine Craft Copyright © 2007 by Francine Craft. 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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Posted May 28, 2013
Posted November 2, 2007
I found this a fun book, liking country music the way I do. Stevie Simms and Damien Steele are not your average romantic couple and neither wants anything to do with love. Both have been through hell with former partners and Stevie feels her ex-husband, record mogul Jake McGowan, is out to kill or have her killed. I found the mystery very satisfying, ending in quite a surprise. I'm a male reader, and I like the idea of having a less-than-perfect woman as a lead character. The book left me with pleasant memories after I'd put it down. A male romance readerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 30, 2007
This is the first novel I've read by Francine Craft and it was a little disappointing. Apparently, 'The Way You Make Me Feel' is the final book in a series about the Steele family, however, after reading this I'm not sure I want to back-track and read the rest.~~~~~~~~Stevie and Damien instantly become inseparable and make mutual life-long decisions and commitments, it all seems to happen just a little too sweetly and quickly even for a romance novel. Ms. Craft, does a good job visualizing the concert and nightclub performances in a very realistic way, but the romance and mystery were sorely lacking in the same realism. The dialogue seemed for lack of a better word 'corny' and forced, which muddled the storyline and made the characters uninteresting. Surprisingly, the romantic leads are not mutually attracted to each other. Damien must continually strive to focus beyond the physical appearance of Stevie, which makes the few sex scenes luke warm and uninspiring. The pertinent details of the mystery are held back from the reader making the conclusion lacking and unsatisfying.~~~~~~~This is a quick read for anyone who has some free time and doesn't have anything better to read.
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Posted July 26, 2013
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Posted July 11, 2013
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