Andrea—the middle Sullivan triplet—is intrigued by the mysterious stranger working on her brother-in-law's ranch. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Harley Forester's no cowboy. He doesn't talk like one and he doesn't know the first thing about horses. So who is he?

Even more perplexing, why is Andi so attracted to a man without a past?

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Without a Past

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Andrea—the middle Sullivan triplet—is intrigued by the mysterious stranger working on her brother-in-law's ranch. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Harley Forester's no cowboy. He doesn't talk like one and he doesn't know the first thing about horses. So who is he?

Even more perplexing, why is Andi so attracted to a man without a past?

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459240650
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 4/16/2012
  • Series: Those Sullivan Sisters, #1104
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 769,996
  • File size: 395 KB

Read an Excerpt

Without A Past

By Debra Salonen

Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0373711042

Chapter One

Andrea Sullivan hoisted herself to the top plank of the roofing contractor's scaffolding and looked around. Heights didn't bother her, but she hated the slight tremble in her biceps after the minuscule workout.

"Deskitus flabosis," she muttered, bending over to touch her toes. Her calves - exposed by the black crop pants she wore - quivered from the climb. Scaling what amounted to a three-story-tall ladder shouldn't pose a problem for a former marine.

She let out a long hiss of disgust and shook her head. The upside-down perspective made her a little dizzy. Slowly returning to an upright position, she moved closer to the roof to see for herself just how bad it was.

Using the toe of her running shoe, she nudged the blunt edge of a moss-covered shake. The thing practically disintegrated. The up-close inspection also revealed a buildup of petrified acorns beneath certain shingles - deposits left by generations of woodpeckers planning for that rainy day.

Andi grimly scanned the length of the roof. The fascia around the building's tower was as pockmarked as some of the road signs in the county. In this case, a product of redheaded birds not kids with birdshot in their guns.

"Your aunt should have replaced the roof ten years ago." Bart McCloskey,Gold Creek's only roofing contractor, had delivered the bad news yesterday. "I told my mother to warn Ida Jane. But once those garden club ladies get together, all they do is gossip."

Bart's mother, Linda McCloskey, was a retired nurse who never hesitated to remind Andi and her sisters about the role she'd played in their births. Andrea, Jennifer and Kristin Sullivan had come into the world twenty-nine years ago on the heels of tragedy. Their parents' Volkswagen bus went off the road in a snowstorm, and only through the courageous efforts of the Gold Creek rescue team and hospital staff were the triplets saved. Since neither of their parents survived the ordeal, the triplets became the wards of their great-aunt Ida Jane Montgomery, a fifty-three-year-old spinster and town icon. Residents of Gold Creek pitched in to help raise the triplets, and many were still inclined to give the girls motherly or fatherly guidance at will.

Especially generous with unsolicited advice were the ladies of the Gold Creek Garden Club. Bart's mother was the current president.

Ida Jane Montgomery was still a member, although her attendance had dropped off since her broken hip and convalescence at the Rocking M ranch. But Ida was scheduled to return home to what was fondly - or not so fondly in some cases - referred to as the old bordello. A two-story, turn-of-the-century, poor-man's Victorian, the modern white elephant had once been the town's house of ill repute.

By the time Ida's father bought the building, which sat on a quarter-acre lot near what was then the edge of town, the ladies of the evening were long gone. The house had been converted to a boardinghouse for a few years then had sat empty until Ida Jane's father - Andi's grandfather - restored it to a residence. He'd filled the front parlors with the furniture his wife had inherited. Ida Jane had capitalized on her family's pack-rat tendencies and had opened the Old Bordello Antique Shop fifty-five years ago.

At one time a successful endeavor, the shop had fallen on hard times. Andi was still trying to figure out what had happened.

Andi had fond memories of the old place, but she'd left Gold Creek to join the marines after two years of junior college. She'd had no intention of making a life for herself in the small town located in the heart of the Gold Rush corridor.

But Jenny, the oldest of the triplets and an accomplished arm-twister, had had something else in mind. "When your hitch is up, would it kill you to come home for a few months? Ida Jane would do it for you."

Jenny knew just how to work the guilt angle.

"We both need you, Andi," Jenny had begged a year and a half ago, when Andi had returned home for Thanksgiving. "Ida Jane won't consider selling out, and I simply don't have the time or energy to help her. And in nine months, I'll have the baby to consider."

Andi had vacillated until a sonogram showed two babies, then not long after that, Jenny's husband, Josh, started having health problems.

By the time Andi completed her discharge from the marines, Josh had discovered that what he thought was a lingering bout of allergies was something much more serious. Cancer.

Sadly, her brother-in-law had passed away last August, mere hours after Jenny gave birth to Tucker and Lara. Even seven months later, on a bright spring morning like this, Andi felt a pang of sadness for her family's loss.

But life went on. The twins were growing like weeds, and Jenny would soon wed Josh's brother, Sam, in what some people were calling a marriage of convenience. Andi knew otherwise.

Sam and Jenny loved each other. And the twins - while conceived in spirit by Josh - were actually Sam's genetically. Josh's childhood bout with cancer had left him sterile, and Josh had asked Sam to donate his sperm. Tucker and Lara were not only miracles of science, but also true gifts of the heart.

And while her sister had agonized over her speedy second marriage, Andi knew that Josh was undoubtedly smiling down on them.

The portable phone that she'd clipped to the waistband of her pants chirped like a strangled bird. Andi hooked one knee over the cross-support rail and balanced her butt cheek on the sun-warmed metal. Flab there, too, she thought.

"Yeah," she snarled.

"Oh, that's a pleasant greeting," her sister complained. "What happened to, `Good morning, the Old Bordello Antique Shop and Coffee Parlor?"'

"I reserve that for customers."

"I could have been a customer," Jenny argued.

Andi looked toward Main Street. Only three cars traveled the thoroughfare. Sunday mornings were slow and peaceful. That was why, historically, Ida Jane had never opened the shop before one o'clock on Sundays. When the triplets were little, she'd dress them up in matching outfits and take them to the Methodist church for Sunday school, and then the four of them would walk to the Golden Corral for brunch.

"I know your ring. It's bossy. Like you."

Her sister made a huffing sound. "That's not true. You and Kristin always claimed I was bossy, but somebody had to keep you two flakes in line."

"Flakes?" Andi cleared her throat. "Kris was the dreamer, not me. Ask anybody. Ask Gloria. In fact, I'll have you know I received an almost-favorable mention in her `Glory's World' column last week. Did you see it?"

Jenny's hoot of amusement produced a funny twinge in Andi's chest. After all the grief and pain Jenny, Josh and Sam had suffered, it was good to hear her sister laugh. "What planet are you living on? I happen to have the Ledger right here. Should I read it aloud in case those years in the military compromised your ability to interpret a slam?"

Andi rubbed her knuckle against the sudden pain in the center of her forehead. "No, that's okay -"

But her sister plunged ahead, "`In other news, or should I say old news, Ida Jane Montgomery's great-niece Andrea is at it again. It's been four months since she introduced her ambitious espresso bar, and while some locals seem to find it as addictive as Starbucks, the tourist trade seems to have forgotten that the old bordello exists."'

Andi made a face. She didn't know how the bigmouthed gossip hit the nail on the head every time, but Gloria Harrison Hughes was more observant than Andi would have guessed.

Jenny went on. "She also says that a face-lift at the bordello's age is like removing a section of barnacles from the Titanic. Why bother?"

"And we thought she didn't have a sense of humor," Andi said dryly.

The Sullivan triplets' war of wills with the acid-tongued Gold Creek Ledger gossip columnist had begun in 1991 - the year Andi, Jenny and Kristin turned eighteen. Gloria's son, Tyler, was a classmate. Unfortunately, he was part of an ugly scandal involving Kristin and her old boyfriend, Donnie Grimaldo. As a result Tyler had dropped out of school and left town. Gloria held the triplets responsible, and the girls had paid the price in bad press ever since.


Excerpted from Without A Past by Debra Salonen Copyright © 2003 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.

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