On the day her father is buried, 21-year-old Adrianna Moore learns that he left the family fortune under the control of Richard Pope, his attorney and partner who has lusted after Adrianna for years. Pope informs Adrianna that she'll get her money, but not how she thought: she must marry him in a week. Adrianna, wanting nothing to do with Richard, runs, but her flight ends when her car collides with a truck in rural Louisiana. The truck's driver is Quinn Baxter, a brawny tavern owner. A deal is struck: while Adrianna's car is being repaired, she'll play piano in Quinn's bar to make good for the damage done to his truck. Adrianna will also help out with Quinn's teenage handicapped brother. To do this, she has to bypass Lola Oxnard, a slovenly Cajun housekeeper with a violent bent who's determined to marry Quinn. As Adrianna and Quinn fall in love, Richard and Lola close in. The mawkish love story is as extreme as the plots hatched by the vile lawyer and the scheming backwoods gold digger, but Garlock's many readers will be satisfied by the triumph of good and love over evil and greed. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
A Week from Sundayby Dorothy Garlock, Renee Raudman
Adrianna Moore's recently passed father has left his entire estate to his lawyer, who tells her that to regain her inheritance, she must marry him "a week from Sunday." Driving desperately to a new life, Adrianna collides with Quinn Baxter's truck, falls for him, and must deal with Quinn's scheming housekeeper as well as the spurned lawyer, who continues… See more details below
Adrianna Moore's recently passed father has left his entire estate to his lawyer, who tells her that to regain her inheritance, she must marry him "a week from Sunday." Driving desperately to a new life, Adrianna collides with Quinn Baxter's truck, falls for him, and must deal with Quinn's scheming housekeeper as well as the spurned lawyer, who continues to track Adrianna in order to force her to marry him.
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A Week from Sunday
By Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2007 Dorothy Garlock
All right reserved.
Chapter OneShreveport, Louisiana, 1935
"I'M TERRIBLY SORRY, my dear. Your father will be missed."
Adrianna Moore listened to the older woman's condolences with a slight nod of appreciation before moving on. The small parlor was filled with smartly dressed men and women, all wearing black, who had come to pay their respects to the recently deceased. Some of the faces she recognized, mostly older gentlemen who had done business with her father over the years, but nearly all of the names escaped her. She knew she should say something, at the very least thank them for coming, but she couldn't manage to get the image of her father's coffin out of her head. It all seemed a horrible dream. Her sadness kept her mute amid the soft murmur of voices and the clink of coffee cups against their saucers.
The funeral itself had been a quiet affair. Thankfully, the Louisiana spring had cooperated; although drizzly rain had been falling for days, the morning had dawned with warm sunlight and only a light breeze rustling the treetops. High on the lone hill of the cemetery grounds, they'd laid her father to rest. Now, with that business concluded, she was required to play the role of hostess, a task that normally she'd be well equipped to handle. Today was anything but normal.
She moved from guest to guest, each stopping her for a few measured words of sympathy. She looked into forlorn faces, hands gently holding hers. Adrianna knew that they all meant well, but the things she was hearing only intensified her grief:
"Charles Moore was a lion of a man."
"Regardless of the crippling effects of his polio, he never let it get the best of him."
"I can't begin to tell you how much I learned from him about the banking business. It's a debt that I can never repay."
"He'll be watching down on you, Adrianna." A matron wiped tears from her fat cheeks.
Once, when an older gentleman with enormous jowls was telling her of a hunting trip he'd taken with her father before he had become stricken with polio, she found herself desperately fighting back tears. It wasn't the story that had upset her; she'd heard it a half dozen times before. What made her cry was the realization that her father had become a story, a legend in town. It had taken all the strength she could muster to get through the day, but somehow she'd managed to keep her composure through it all.
Finally, as the last rays of the spring sun disappeared over the horizon, all of the mourners had gone, leaving Adrianna alone in the large home she'd shared with her father. Built from the earnings of Moore Bank and Trust, the stately manor house had been constructed with the finest of materials. The interior was decorated richly but tastefully: a marble fireplace, an antique clock from Germany, as well as a crystal chandelier that hung over the dining room table.
This home was the only one she'd ever really known. Her mother had died when Adrianna was just fifteen years old. Her father had never remarried. Charles Moore had done everything for his only child. She'd wanted for nothing: piano lessons, private tutors, all the best that his banking fortune could buy. When his own illness had worsened, confining him to his bed or the wheelchair that he despised, she'd done her best to give him the same degree of comfort he'd always given her. But still his health slowly and steadily deteriorated.
Now he was gone and she was alone.
After the mourners left, she went through the downstairs rooms dimming the lights. Glancing up, she caught sight of her reflection in a mirror. At twenty-five years of age, Adrianna Moore had a head of dark brown curly hair that fell to her shoulders. Her soft, oval face was defined by high cheekbones and a warm complexion. Her father had always told her that her deep-set, emerald-green eyes were exactly like her mother's. He called her his "beautiful princess." At the moment, wearing a simple black dress, mourning the loss of her remaining family, she felt anything but beautiful; she was heartsick and exhausted.
"I daresay you get more stunning with each passing year."
Startled by the voice behind her, Adrianna whirled at the sound, her hand reflexively rising to her chest. With slow, measured steps, a man crossed the room toward her. In the scant light, she had to peer intently into the shadows to see her unexpected guest. Finally, there was the spark of recognition, a spark that sent a shiver down her spine.
"Oh! It's you, Mr. Pope. You startled me."
"How many times must I tell you, my dear, to call me Richard?"
He eased out of the gloom to stand before Adrianna. In his late forties, Richard Pope was a man who exuded an air of supreme confidence. Short, with a long face that was marked by full red lips, he had colorless eyes that, over a bulbous nose, looked straight into hers. His clothes were immaculate, his shoes polished to a perfect black. The sweet-smelling pomade he rubbed into his thinning salt-and-pepper hair made Adrianna's stomach churn.
"I didn't realize you were still here," she said, ignoring his comment.
"I was showing Judge Walters and his wife to the door and walked with them out onto the porch. I don't know if you recognized him ... the wisp of a gentleman whose wife is as fat as he is thin," he explained. "He has always been very important to Moore Bank and Trust, and I wanted to give him my assurances that everything concerned with the company was in good hands. It's all about impressions, you know."
"Thank you for your help today, Mist- ... Richard," she corrected herself. "What with the funeral arrangements, and all of the guests, I don't know if I could have managed without you." She hated to admit it, but he had been very helpful. With his legal guidance, her father's bank had continued to grow ever larger and more prosperous. Adrianna was certain that the only thing that mattered to Richard Pope was acquiring more and more money. As Charles Moore's health worsened, taking him away from the day-to-day operations of his bank, Richard's influence had grown. For the past several months, he had been essentially overseeing the business.
"It's the least that I could do. How are you managing through all of this?"
"All right, I suppose. I don't think it has fully sunk in yet - that he's gone, I mean. He was always positive about things. Even after my mother passed away, I could never imagine the same happening to him."
"And yet it did," Richard said matter-of-factly. "He did die." Walking over to a small bureau, he proceeded to pour himself a generous glass of brandy from a beveled decanter. As he contemplated the amber liquid, a thin smile spread across his face. To Adrianna, he looked like a wolf preparing to sink his fangs into its defenseless prey.
"I'm sorry to have to leave you," she said hurriedly, wanting desperately to get away from the man, "but I am going to retire for the night. All of this has left me exhausted. Please let yourself out." Quickly, she turned on her heel and made for the staircase on the far side of the room. But before she could take even a couple of steps, his voice stopped her.
"Actually, my dear, there are things that you and I need to discuss. Business matters that cannot wait even for a night. I'm afraid that you'll just have to bear with me for a while longer."
Turning back, Adrianna felt a slight flare of defiance course through her body. She wanted to tell him that he would have to wait for her, but something in the way he was looking at her kept her from responding. From what her father had told her over the years, recounting his lawyer's smashing victories in court, Richard Pope was not the kind of man you wanted for an enemy.
"What sort of business matters?" she asked. "I'm afraid I don't know much about banking."
"Charles left a good man at the helm. It's not about the bank. Not really." Richard chuckled before swallowing the entire drink in one gulp. "It's actually about you, my dear. You and your future."
"What ... what are you talking about?" Adrianna asked in confusion.
"I suppose that I shouldn't be shocked by your lack of understanding, sweet Adrianna. After all, you've been cuddled a bit too close to your father's weakened chest all of these years."
"I don't think I like your tone, Mr. Pope," she managed, hoping that her voice sounded stronger than she felt.
"There is no offense intended, I assure you," Richard said apologetically and went back to the bureau to pour himself another drink. "But let us call a spade a spade. You've always had household help. You've never worked outside this house a day in your life. You've never wanted for anything. Charles made sure that you were always provided for, and it wasn't until the very last that he saw the error of his ways."
A sickening feeling suddenly washed over Adrianna. Her knees were weak. What in the blazes is this pompous ass talking about? Keeping silent, she waited for him to continue.
"His greatest fear was that you would find yourself all alone, incapable of taking care of yourself," Richard explained.
"As I was his closest confidant for all of these long years, it was only natural that he would turn to me to see after his most precious treasure. And that is why he decided to make me executor of his estate. I am completely in charge of you, your money, the bank, the house and everything in it. It's all under my supervision."
"What?" Like a thunderclap out of a clear sky, Richard's words struck Adrianna with dramatic force. Stumbling on shaky legs, trying desperately to stay upright, she managed to grab hold of a nearby chair and steady herself. Her eyes filled with tears, and her voice cracked as she said, "You must be joking!"
"Not in the slightest, my dear. The last legal document that your father ever signed was a change in his will ... a change that made me executor."
"But not of me!"
"Yes, of you."
"I'm of age."
"Of course you are, but I'm in charge of your money."
As shocked as Adrianna had been by her father's passing, what Richard Pope was telling her shook her even more. How could what he is saying be true? How could her father have done this to her? Richard was lying. He had to be! With anger rising in her breast, she gave voice to her disbelief. "This can't be! My father wouldn't leave my future in the hands of someone else! He wouldn't!"
"And he didn't ... not entirely."
"But you said that he left you in control."
Slowly, Richard crossed the room until he stood before her. She could smell the brandy on his breath. His smile nauseated her. Summoning what strength she had, she straightened her back and boldly returned his gaze.
"He hasn't left you without the means to provide for yourself. This was all part of his plan. All of this," he said, gesturing around the room, "the house, the bank, can still be yours. You can have everything to which you have grown accustomed."
"By marrying me."
The words were no sooner out of Richard's mouth when Adrianna's hand shot up toward his face. She'd meant to slap him, the man's boldness on the day of her father's funeral providing the breaking point; but before she could make contact, the lawyer's hand grabbed her own in a tight, painful grip. With a strength she couldn't resist, he yanked her toward him until her body was pressed against his. Try as she might, she couldn't break free.
"Oh, sweet Adrianna," he said, licking his lips. "Haven't you noticed the way that I have looked at you all of these years? I have wanted you from the first moment I saw you. I knew that it would come to this ... this union between you and me. Your father knew it, too."
"You're ... you're hurting me," Adrianna pleaded.
"We will be married a week from Sunday. Because of your father's recent death, we'll have a quiet ceremony. I'll have the judge at my house when I come for you. We must keep up appearances, my dear. It wouldn't do to have people gossiping about my wife." His hands tightened on her arms.
"Let ... let me go."
"I will never let you go!" His grasp tightened even more. "You and I will be married!"
"Please ..." Adrianna sobbed, the tears now flowing freely down her cheeks.
She would never know if it were her words or the sight of her tears that finally broke through Richard Pope's euphoria, but he suddenly released her and stepped away, his hand darting to his pocket where he pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the tears from her cheeks. When he looked down at her, his eyes were flat but still menacing.
"I meant what I said to you, Adrianna," he warned, his voice deep and serious. "By making me the executor of his estate, your father gave his permission for me to provide for you for the rest of your life. To that end, we will be married. The sooner the better."
Stifling a large sob that filled her throat, Adrianna looked at the man through wet eyes. Never in her life had she been so repulsed by another human being. No matter what, she would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her fear.
Richard once again grabbed Adrianna by the wrist. While his grip was not as tight as it had been before, it was still tight enough to cause her anxiety.
"Pack what you'll need. Everything else can be dealt with later. I will come for you a week from Sunday. Dress appropriately for your wedding." Gripping Adrianna's chin, he turned her head until she was looking directly into his face. "This is for the best, my dear. In time, I am certain that you will come to love me every bit as passionately as I love you. As husband and wife, you and I will be the jewels of this town, just as your father intended."
After releasing her, Richard strode across the room and pulled open the door. "Remember ... a week from Sunday," he said, and then he was gone.
After she heard the door close, Adrianna finally allowed herself to crumple into a chair, tears streaming down her face. Following so soon upon her father's death and funeral, this was more than she could endure.
Even if her father had worried about her well-being, he would never have given control of his estate to a man like Richard Pope! The lawyer must have manipulated him into signing the papers when he wasn't of sound mind. In those last days, Charles Moore had been robbed of all he had built over his lifetime. Now that bastard Pope was trying to steal her!
But what could she do? She could try to challenge the will, to take the matter to a judge, but how was she supposed to compete with a lawyer like Richard? No, that would not work. But what other choice did she have? Pack up her things and wait for him by the door? He was planning to come for her a week from Sunday. That left her only eight days!
Excerpted from A Week from Sunday by Dorothy Garlock Copyright © 2007 by Dorothy Garlock. 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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