13 YEARS, 1 MONTH, 4 DAYS…
Reese Barone counted the days since he'd last seen Celia. He'd sailed around the world and still couldn't erase the memory of making love to her in the summer sun, planning their future. Then false rumors and a blowout with his father made Reese abandon the one woman he'd ever truly desired.
The last thing Celia Papaleo wanted was to rekindle an old flame or have Reese Barone back in Cape Cod, stirring up the past…and passion. Her black-sheep lover had gotten better with age—now hard, hot and utterly male. One night in his arms and again she could deny him nothing—until he told her his one little secret….
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Born To Be Wild
By Anne Winston
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"She said what?" Twenty-one-year-old Reese Barone, seated in the parlor of his family home in Boston's Beacon Hill district, stared at his father in shock.
"Eliza Mayhew says that she's pregnant and you are the father." Carlo Barone stood in front of the elaborate marble fireplace, hands clasped behind his back. He eyed his second-to-eldest son sternly.
"Needless to say, your mother and I are very disappointed in you, Reese. Let's not make this more difficult than it already is."
"But I never -"
"Reese." His father's voice was colder than he'd ever heard it, even more so than the time Reese had been caught and disciplined for putting two baby goats in the headmaster's office on April Fools' Day. The fact that he hadn't taken into account their tendency to eat everything in sight - and promptly recycle it from the other end - had been a significant problem. "There will be no discussion. You will do the right thing and marry Miss Mayhew at the end of the month."
"I - huh? I will not." Reese leaped to his feet, nearly upsetting the elegant wing chair in which he'd been sitting while he'd waited to find out what could possibly have gotten his old man's drawers in such a twist. "That baby isn't mine."
On the love seat facing them, his mother, Moira, bowed her head as a sob escaped.
Carlo's face darkened with anger. "Haven't you already done enough to damage our family name?" he demanded. "First you get involved with that fisherman's daughter in Harwichport -"
"There's nothing wrong with Celia," Reese said hotly, "except that she doesn't come with a pedigree."
"It's not the lack of family connections," his mother said. "I would hope you know us better than that. It's just that ... Oh, Reese, she's so young. And she comes from a world that's very different from yours -"
"Being of Portuguese descent doesn't make her different."
But his mother ignored the rebuke. "How could you ever expect to have anything in common?"
"Besides the obvious," put in his father. "Which, might I point out, you appear to have in common with other women, as well."
"I already told you," Reese said tightly, "I can't be the father of Eliza's baby. I -"
"Enough!" Carlo made an angry gesture. "I will not tolerate lying. Miss Mayhew is the daughter of a family friend as well as a classmate of your sister's. How could you be so careless?"
"Has she had a paternity test done?" Reese demanded. "Maybe you'd better think about who's being careless." He could feel his temper slipping the tight leash he'd held, and the words spilled out. Even the pain in his father's eyes couldn't halt his tongue.
"Taking someone else's word without giving me a chance to defend myself? Fine." His eyes narrowed.
"I don't need this, Dad. I'm not marrying Lying Eliza and you can't make me." He strode toward the door to the hallway.
"Don't you dare walk away when I'm speaking to you!" Reese had come by his temper honestly. Carlo stepped forward and reached for his son's arm, but Reese shoved him away in a red haze of anger.
"You ever put your hands on me again and I swear you'll be sorry," he snarled at his father. He barreled down the hall to the heavy front door, oblivious to his mother's frantic cries. As he slammed through the door and the thunderous sound of its closing echoed behind him, he swore one thing to himself: he would never set foot in the same room with his father again until he'd received an apology from the old man.
His chest was tight with pain and he blinked rapidly. No way, he told himself, no way was he ever going into that house again until his father apologized. He couldn't be the father of that baby - he'd never even slept with Eliza! But he hadn't been allowed the chance to explain. Hell, his father hadn't even given him the courtesy of pretending he might be innocent. He was getting as fast and far away from Massachusetts as he could on the first flight out. To hell with finishing school. Who needed a degree from Harvard, anyway? He was good with the stock market, had already managed to significantly increase the million he'd inherited on his last birthday.
But ... if he quit school, what would he do?
The answer came to him as easily as if the idea had only been waiting for the question to be asked. He'd dreamed of sailing around the world since he'd been old enough to steer a boat.
Around the world! Oh, yeah, he was outta here.
As he jumped into his car and roared away from his childhood home for the last time, he decided he'd ask Celia daSilva to join him. Images of her naked body glowing in the golden sunlight filled his head. God, he loved her. They could even get married!
Then cold sanity kicked in. Celia wouldn't be eighteen for over another month. Wouldn't his father just love the chance to catch him with a minor! And he knew Celia's father wasn't exactly thrilled that she had been glued to Reese's side all summer.
Five more weeks ...
He couldn't stick around that long. Anger continued to race through him. He could barely wait to get out of town. Today. Besides, he knew Celia too well. If he went to her now, she would try to talk him into waiting until he was calmer, into talking with his father. And if that failed, she'd pester him to take her along. The hell of it was, he wasn't sure he had the willpower to resist her. Even if it landed him in jail if they were caught.
He'd write to her. Write her and tell her what his father had done, explain to her why he'd had to leave so abruptly. She would understand. That was the one thing he could count on. Celia always understood him. Yeah, he'd write. Ask her to come with him after her birthday ... ask her to marry him.
His hands tightened on the wheel as he punched the accelerator of his sleek sports car against the floor-board. To hell with his old man. He didn't need anyone else as long as he had Celia.
Excerpted from Born To Be Wild by Anne Winston Copyright ©2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Really enjoyed this book in the series. Glad they got a second chance at love. Author did an excellent job on telling their past history.