Aidan Wythe and Rae Cordell had one incredible night togetherjust before Aidan transferred Rae, his star VP, to Pittsburgh. Now, more than eight months later, Aidan arrives on Summer Island to spend his vacation. But instead of the empty house he's expecting, Aidan finds Rae. He's even more shocked to see that she's pregnantwith his child!
Rae never planned on children. She's decided on adoption for her baby, but Aidan's reappearance in her life makes her question that decision.
And Aidan? He has to question his feelings about everything nowthe woman, the baby, his future. Whatever happens, things won't be the same when he and Rae leave the island .
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Summer Island, twenty-three years later
AIDAN WYTHE NOTICED the rental car parked in front of the house where he'd be staying for the next three weeks, but at first he didn't think anything of it.
Twenty minutes ago he'd driven off the ferry, officially starting his first real vacation in several years. Now he pulled his convertible into the driveway, cut the engine and just sat for a moment.
Here he was, back in Canada, on Summer Island. He closed his eyes and focused on the scent of the ocean and the feel of the gulf breeze in his hair. Memories, both good and bad, teased his mind like the wind. No matter how many times he returned as an adult, it was always his childhood that came back to him first.
Most of his recollections were of happy hours spent beachcombing, swimming and picnicking with his friends. The five of them had had their disagreements, but they were always minor and had been patched quickly and with little resentment.
All that had changed, however, the summer they turned sixteen — when Simone DeRosier joined their circle. It was that summer that innocence had been lost and the seeds of obsession and evil that would tear the group apart were planted.
Aidan rubbed his forehead, opened his eyes. Just thinking of the famous jazz singer — dead now, murdered by one of their own — stirred up his old resentments. He didn't want to hang on to them, but still
Everything had been so easy before Simone arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, Aidan had been the only one to see that she was trouble. He wasn't sure what had tipped him off. Her uncommon beauty, a certain look in her eyes, the stunning power in her voice when she'd first sung for the five of them.
She'd instantly captivated Harrison, Gabe, Emerson and Jennifer, and for years after that she'd played them off against each other, all the while pretending that they were the best friends in the world.
She'd even immortalized their friendship with a song: "Forget Me Not, Old Friend" had been a big hit and had won her a Grammy. From that moment on, the press — and eventually even the five of them — had referred to themselves as the Forget-Me-Not gang.
Personally, Aidan hated the label.
Not that it mattered anymore. There was no gang left to speak of. Not with Simone and Emerson dead, and Harrison and Gabe not speaking to each other. Gabe hated Harrison because he was the one Simone had married. Harrison hated Gabe for seducing and marrying his baby sister, Nessa, then making her so miserable that she'd finally divorced him.
With friends like those, who needed enemies? Aidan sighed, then slipped off his sunglasses and tossed them on the dash. From the driver's seat of his Mustang convertible, he contemplated the gracious home that had belonged to the Kincaid family for three generations. Through decades of upheaval this house was the one thing that hadn't really changed.
The old Victorian was a stalwart structure, built with its back to the sea, the broad front verandah providing an open welcome to family and guests alike. A Gothic-style second-story turret, where Simone had once composed her music, overlooked an ancient cedar forest that formed the heart of the island.
Much as Aidan wanted to remember the place as it had seemed to him in his childhood — warm, inviting, almost magical — he couldn't help recalling that this was where Simone DeRosier had been murdered.
And now he was supposed to vacation here. To relax. Just because his office staff thought he was overstressed from too much work.
He jumped out of the convertible without opening the door, then went round to the back and removed his luggage from the trunk. He paused and glanced farther down the road to Pebble Beach. Wooden stairs led from a modest parking lot to a naturally protected cove. He remembered summer nights sitting by a bonfire on the beach, then later strolling along the boardwalk that led all the way back to town. He, Harrison, Emerson, Gabe and Jennifer had had a lot of fun in those pre-Simone days.
Aidan hefted an expansive duffel bag over his shoulder, then had another cursory glance at the rental car parked next to the driveway. Must be someone visiting the yoga studio across the road. He dug Harrison's key out of his jeans pocket and headed for the front door.
Last time he'd been on the island — about a year ago — Harrison had been in residence. He'd been investigating the circumstances of Simone's death, and then, along the way, he'd fallen in love with his real estate agent, Justine Melbourne. No one had been more surprised thanAidan when Harrison and Justine succeeded in proving Simone's death had not been suicide, but murder.
Harrison could be fiercely tenacious when he wanted something. Like this stupid holiday idea. Harrison had all but packed Aidan's bags and filled his car with gas, he'd been that anxious to get his friend out of the office in Seattle. Just because Aidan had called Harrison while he was sleeping with a great idea for a merger target.
"It's three o'clock in the morning, Aidan. You need to get a life."
But it had been a great idea .
Never mind, maybe he had been guilty of overworking this last little while. But he had to, didn't he? Otherwise, if he weren't careful, he'd be thinking about things that were better forgotten.
Aidan dropped his bag to the porch floor. The wooden boards looked freshly stained. The entire property was well-maintained. He glanced back at his car, wondering if he should put up the roof. But the clear sky held no hint of a summer storm.
What had brought him back to this place for his holiday? Sure Harrison had offered the use of his house, but money wasn't an object — Aidan could have traveled anywhere in the world. It was almost as if he couldn't stay away, as if the island had laid a claim on him, a claim that had to be settled.
Gloomy thoughts, man. You're supposed to be on holiday, remember?
He inserted his key into the lock, then pushed the door open. Immediately, he was accosted by an acrid smell. A second later, a loud crash sounded from the back of the house where the kitchen was.
What the hell? Harrison had told him a cleaning crew would have the place stocked and ready for his arrival, but this couldn't be them, could it?
And then it hit him. The driver of that rental car wasn't at the yoga studio, after all.
RAE CORDELL HAD READ the instructions on the plastic wrapper that was now lying on the counter. It wasn't that complicated. "Remove from packaging and place loaf on a cookie sheet in a prewarmed 325 degree oven. Bake for thirty to thirty-five minutes, until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped."
Yes, it had all sounded very simple. But Rae knew that if anyone could screw up baking a loaf of oven-ready bread, it would be her.
She peeked in the oven, and the yeasty aroma that greeted her made her gag. Oh, God. She had to get to a washroom. Quick.
Just hours ago, she'd been craving a slice of thick bread, slathered in butter. Now, the scent of the baking dough made her ill.
Rae kneeled over the toilet, and when she was done, mopped off her face and then checked her reflection in the mirror above the sink.
What was wrong with her? Why couldn't she do the things that seemed to come to other women so easily? Like cooking. And being pregnant.
Everyone knew morning sickness ended after the first trimester. Yet here she was, well into her eighth month. And the nausea still struck without warning and often at the most inopportune times. Like during Thursday afternoon staff meetings. And business dinners with important financiers. No wonder she'd been invited to take an expenses-paid vacation until the baby was born.
Oh, Harrison's wife had been very sweet on the phone. Justine had said that since she and her husband were planning to spend August in Seattle, their summer home would be vacant. Why didn't Rae take the opportunity and allow herself a well-deserved vacation?
Justine's suggestion had been echoed by the executive assistant who worked under Rae at the Pittsburgh office of Kincaid Communications. The human relations director in Seattle had called for a "personal chat" and so had the VPs for Finance and Marketing. In fact, Rae had heard from almost everyone at the corporation except for the one person who really counted: her direct boss, acting CEO Aidan Wythe.
Rae placed her hands awkwardly over the huge mound of her abdomen. The man who got me in this predicament in the first place.
Her pregnancy had been common knowledge for at least the past three months — it wasn't the sort of news one could hide forever — and she'd spent weeks dreading the prospect of hearing from him. But he hadn't come to the Pittsburgh office in all that time. He hadn't even called. Finally, it dawned on her that he didn't intend to face up to the situation. Knowing men, Rae figured that he'd probably convinced himself someone else was the father.
Well, Rae had no interest in dissuading him of that notion. In fact, the more she reflected on her situation, the more she came to think that Aidan's disinterest worked perfectly with her own plans.
This way, she didn't need to consider anyone's needs but hers and the baby's.
The timer on the oven sounded again, and Rae was forced to head back to the kitchen.As soon as she stepped out of the bathroom, she knew something was wrong.
The bread was burning. She ran to the oven, slipped on oven mitts and opened the door. The top of the loaf was scorched black. As she pulled it out, her thumb pressed through a worn spot on the oven mitt.
Yikes! She dropped the pan and it clattered loudly against the granite-topped counter. It was in the ensuing silence that she heard the footsteps. Someone was in the house and heading her way.
Rae knew she'd locked the door after her morning walk. Was she about to be robbed? Raped? She reached for the hot pan, ready to hurl it if she had to. As she closed her gloved hands over her improvised weapon, a man stepped into the kitchen.
"Oh!" She stifled her scream at the moment of recognition. Damn it, this wasn't possible, was it? Separated from her by a ten-foot, granite-topped island, Aidan Wythe looked almost as startled as Rae felt.
"Aidan?" She spoke the name as if his identity might be in doubt, but of course it wasn't. Damn him, he looked good — even with windblown hair, and dressed in a casual T-shirt and jeans rather than his usualArmani suit and tie.
Oh, my Lord.
She dropped the pan to the countertop for the second time. Fighting an urge to run from the room, she gripped the counter for balance.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Harrison Kincaid lends his house on Summer Island, Canada to friend Aiden Wythe, acting CEO of Kincaid Communications, for three weeks so the latter can do some quiet introspection as his office says he has become an overstressed monster.. However when he arrives at the place expecting a serene getaway, he finds his former employee Rae Cordell, who he transferred to the Pittsburgh office after one great night together, already occupies the place. Apparently Harrison¿s wife Justine allowed her access too.----------------- Even more stunning is to find Rae pregnant with he assumes his baby as he has been intimate with her and doubts anyone else has. He is stunned when she informs him that she plans to give up their baby for adoption. Aiden needs no more thoughts about the future because he now realizes he wants Rae and their child in his life, but to persuade the woman he wants that will prove difficult as he has shown no inclination towards a permanent relationship.---------------- The latest ¿Return to Summer Island¿ romance has less of the suspense of the previous tale (see YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU for Harrison and Jennifer¿s amateur sleuth romance), but contains its own intrigue with a subplot involving a missing child. The story line focuses on how two intelligent adults see the same event radically different. He insists Pittsburgh was a promotion and displays his trust in her skills she believes Pittsburgh was exile so he would not have to see the woman he seduced during a business merger. Fans will know that relationships are built on relativity in that both are a little right and wrong once their attraction turns to love.---------------- Harriet Klausner