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The sky was still pitch-black when the limo pulled up to the JFK terminal at 6:00 a.m. When Jordan got out with Maddie, her sister turned to her in surprise. As she met her twin's eyes, she experienced that same odd sense of connection that she'd felt the moment she'd first seen her.
Maddie smiled. "Jordan, I can get onto the plane back to Santa Fe by myself."
"I know." Jordan led the way through the revolving doors of the terminal. "You must think that I'm some kind of control freak, not to mention a nonstop talker. But I still have some things to say. I'll walk you to the security check."
In the little inn in Linchworth where she had taken her sister after they'd left Ware House, they'd stayed up most of the night talking and talking and talking. But when Maddie had finally drifted off to sleep, Jordan's mind had replayed over and over the voice of Edward Fitzwalter III reading Eva Ware's extraordinary will.
Eva had left a sum of money to her longtime personal assistant, Cho Li. And to her brother Carleton, she'd left all of her shares in Ware Bank. Both of those bequests had seemed reasonable to Jordan.
Then Fitzwalter had gotten to the part that was going to turn her and Maddie's life upside down.
The rest of my estate, including stocks, bonds, cash, Eva Ware Designs, my fifty-percent share of Ware House on Long Island and my New York City apartment, I leave to my two daughters, Jordan and Madison, to be shared equally. It is my sincere hope that they will run Eva Ware Designs together. However, there is one requirement. They must change places and walk around in "each other's lives" for three consecutive weeks beginning within three days (seventy-two hours) fromthe time this will is read. If they refuse to fulfill the terms as I've set them out or if they don't stay the course for three weeksmy fifty-percent share of Ware House will go to my brother, Carleton. Everything else, including the business and my apartment, will be sold and the profits divided equally among all my surviving relatives.
Her first reaction to the terms of her mother's will had been shock. Even her Uncle Carleton had been ruffled. Dorothy had said something to Adam in a low tone, after which he'd jumped from his chair and planted both his hands on Fitzwal-ter's desk. He'd insisted that there must be a mistake, that Eva had intended that he step into her shoes as head designer.
But there was no mistake. Her mother had wanted Maddie and her to switch places for three weeks, and she'd talked her sister into actually doing it. They were going to switch lives just as those girls had done in that Disney movie The Parent Trap.
Maddie had been reluctant at first, and Jordan couldn't fault her for that. Switching lives was going to be complicated, to say the least. But she'd explained that if they didn't fulfill the terms of the will, Eva Ware Designs, the company that her mother had devoted her entire life to building, would be sold. Jordan couldn't let that happen.
When they reached the escalator to the security check, Jordan drew Maddie aside. "I know I shoehorned you into this."
"You're not making me do anything I don't want to do. I've idolized Eva Ware ever since I was in junior high school." Maddie's brows knit together. "My father knew that and he never breathed a word."
"Mom never said a word, either. I've gone over and over it in my mind."
Maddie met her eyes steadily. "I know I was a little reluctant at first, but I understand that we can't let her business be sold. I feel the same way about the ranch."
Maddie had confided she was in a little trouble on that point. Ever since Mike Farrell's death a year ago, she'd been struggling to keep the ranch financially in the black. And lately there'd been some incidents of vandalismcut fences, wandering cattleand, more recently, an attempt to poison her horses' feed. A real estate agent, sniffing trouble, had been after her for the past six months to sell.
Maddie took her hands. "We only have to switch lives for three weeks."
To Jordan's way of thinking, that was the strangest part of Eva's stipulations. Why three weeks? She'd told Maddie it was something their mother had picked up from her personal trainer. Some behavior theorists believed that it took twenty-one consecutive days to build a habit.
Jordan squeezed her sister's hands. "You'll be careful and not stay late at work?"
"I'll be careful. I'll leave at closing time," Maddie promised.
There'd been a break-in and robbery at the Madison Avenue store about a month ago. The police were still looking into it. And Maddie wasn't used to the risks of living in Manhattan.
"I'll feel better when Jase gets back from South America," Jordan said.
"I'm more worried about you being alone on the ranch. I'll breathe easier when I know that my neighbor Cash Landry and my foreman are back from driving our combined herds to market."
One of the things they'd learned about each other during the brief time they'd spent together was that each had a guy pal as a best friend.
Cash Landry had been a part of Maddie's life ever since she could remember. He was like a brother to herand a little overprotective at times. Jordan had described her relationship with Jase using nearly the same words.
"Cash may be back by the time you fly out the day after tomorrow," Maddie said.
"That reminds me. You've got your ticket for the return flight?"
Maddie smiled. "I do."
Jordan took a deep breath and let it out. "We can do this." And looking into her sister's eyes, she believed that they could.
"Don't worry," Maddie said. "I have the easiest part of this. All I have to do is live in your apartment and work in a jewelry-design studio. You have to survive three weeks on a ranch."
"I'll manage. I'm a quick learner."
"I have to go," Maddie said, releasing her hands.
For a second, Jordan felt the loss of contact. "You've got the notes I made."
"Right here." Maddie patted the duffel she was carrying over her shoulder.
"And I've got yours. And we'll talk," Jordan said. "Any questions, you just call."
They moved toward each other at the same time, hugged, held on.
"Love you," Maddie said.
"Same goes." And Jordan realized that she meant it. Then Maddie turned and stepped onto the escalator. Jordan watched her sister until she was out of sight.
Jordan took one last look in her closet, then closed the door and checked her watch. 3:00 p.m. Glancing around her bedroom, she ticked things off her mental list. Her suitcase was packed. On the foot of her bed sat a stack of items still to be tucked into her open briefcase. And she had nearly an hour to wait before the limo service was due to take her to the airport.
Plenty of time for the nerves jittering in her stomach to have a field day. Jordan paced to the window and back. Had she been wrong to pressure her sister into agreeing to the switch? Frustrated, she strode to the window and stared down at the sluggishly moving traffic on the street below. She hated second-guessing herself. Usually, she never wavered once she'd made a decision.
But she and Maddie weren't the carefree preteens of The Parent Trap. They were adults with serious responsibilities. She really had no experience running a ranch, and Maddie had said that it was in a bit of financial trouble. But while she was there, Jordan intended to at least look into the business end of things and see if she could come up with a plan to help her sister out.
The easiest thing on her agenda would be to stand in for her sister at a big jewelry show where store owners would be placing orders for the next year. And she'd had an idea about that. She was going to impersonate Maddie at the show. She'd even purchased a hairpiece that she could fasten to the back of her head so it would look as if she'd tied her hair back into a bun. She was sure that potential buyers would be much more comfortable dealing with the designer, "Maddie Farrell," than they would be with Jordan Ware.
There wasn't a doubt in Jordan's mind that she could handle that side of the job. And Cho Li would be a great help to Maddie at Eva Ware Designs. But, well, her sister was going to be a fish out of water in New York City.
It wasn't that she was overly worried about Maddie's safety. Before they'd left Ware House, Adam had accosted them in the hall, and Maddie had actually shoved him into a wall. The shocked look on Adam's face was something Jordan would treasure for a long time. But living in New York City was a far cry from the life Maddie was used to.
If only their mother had given them more than three days before they had to make the switch. Then she could have eased her sister into the fast-paced life of the Big Apple. But thanks to their deadline, Maddie was going to have to face everything alone.
Jordan felt guilty about that. From the very first moment she'd seen Maddie framed in the doorway to the library, she'd felt this odd compulsion to protect her. Could it be simply because she was the older sister? For the life of her, she couldn't find a rational explanation for the instant sense of connection she'd felt with Maddie.
Jordan began to pace again. What choice had she had? If they didn't change places, Eva Ware Designs would be sold and the money divided among the other Wares, Maddie and her.
She simply couldn't allow that to happen. The business her mother had created and devoted her life to would have been destroyed. She and Maddie were doing the only thing they could do.
Moving to the bed, Jordan sat down again. She needed someone to talk to. And Jase wasn't here.
Jordan picked up a framed photo off the bed table. Jase had taken the picture at her college graduation. In it, she was fully decked out in her cap and gown and her mother was standing next to her.
"What were you thinking?"
It wasn't the first time she'd asked her mother that question in the past two days.
"And why in the world did you gamble the business you devoted your life to on an assumption that Maddie and I would go along with this ridiculous idea?"
At least Jordan had a theory about that. In addition to being a brilliant designer, her mother had been astute about people. And she would have known that Jordan would have been very tempted by the idea of living on a ranch for three weeks. Not to mention curious about the life her sister had been living all these years. And visiting the ranch would be the only way that she would get to know the father she'd been separated from.
But how could Eva Ware have been equally sure about Maddie, the daughter she'd cut herself off from all of these years? Had she kept track of the little girl she'd left in Santa Fe? Had her father kept track of her? Mixed in with the unending loop of questions was a keen sense of loss. In a way she'd lost two parents in the space of a week.
"Why did you and Mike Farrell get married and then break up? And why did you split Maddie and me up?"
Anger moved through her as she thought of the most important questiona question she wanted desperately to find the answer to.
"Why did you keep us apart all these years?"
It was unfathomable to her that her mother, a woman she'd thought the world of, could have kept her sister Maddie a secret all these years. And now there was no one to demand the answer from. Both Mike Farrell and her mother were gone.
Absently, Jordan rubbed at the little twinge of pain near her heart. Then rising, she moved to the foot of the bed and placed the items she'd previously stacked there into her briefcase: a guide to Santa Fe and the surrounding areas and a manila folder containing Maddie's notes on the people she might run into on the ranch and in Santa Fe.
Jordan had provided the same information to Maddie, but she'd organized it into separate files with photos. Her sister, like their mother, took notes on whatever came to handnapkins, some pages from her sketchbook, the stationary from the bed-and-breakfast they'd stayed at after the reading of the will
Last but not least, she bent down and grabbed a few well-worn paperbacks from her bookshelves. The books were all westerns by her favorite authorsZane Grey, Louis L'Amour, Luke Short and Larry McMurtry. Guilt rippled through her. She was going to Santa Fe to make sure Eva Ware Designs went on to thrive. But she hadn't shared with her sister her lifelong obsession with ranches and cowboys.
She wasn't sure how it had begun, but there'd been a surprise Christmas gift from Santa when she'd been six. A miniature ranch, complete with buildings, fences, horses and, of course, cattle. She'd ignored the dollhouse her mother had given her and set up her ranch in a corner of her bedroom. How many hours had she spent reconfiguring those buildings and weaving stories in her mind about what life would be like on the range? And it wasn't long after that her mother had given into her pleas to take riding lessons.
Only Eva had known that she'd always fantasized about living on a ranch one day. It was a dream she'd never expected to come true.
But now it was.
When her cell rang, she reached for it and flipped it open. "Yes?"
"Hi. It's Maddie."
Panic bubbled up. Her sister should be en route to New York. "You've changed your mind? Look, I know I bullied you into this."
"You didn't bully me," Maddie said. "Maybe you plied me with some wine "
At the humor in her sister's voice, some of Jordan's tension eased.
"I was late getting out of Santa Fe, and thanks to bad weather, my connecting flight to JFK is delayed here in Chicago."
"It's good to hear your voice." And it was, Jordan realized. Hadn't she wanted someone to talk to?
"Same goes. What about you? Having any second thoughts?"
"Not a chance. I'm packed and the limo is due in half an hour."
"We're really going through with this."
It wasn't a question. Jordan smiled and felt more of her worries and guilt fade. "Yes, we are."
"You remember where the key to the ranch house is?"
"Underneath the terra-cotta planter on the porch."
"And my latest designs for the jewelry show are"
"In the safe."
"Sorry. Are you as nervous about me forgetting something?"
"No. All you have to do is consult the notes I gave you. And if you have questions, you can call me."