An only child who lost both parents during her first year at college, wealthy heiress Kristine Kelly had made her husband her whole world. But she didn’t see what everyone else did: that handsome, charismatic Logan Kelly was a manipulator and a user. Then, one cold December, Kristine got a chilling wake-up call when Logan vanished, along with the eight-million-dollar trust fund she had naively given him the power to control.
Just when Kristine’s life was at its lowest point, banker Aaron Dunwoodie offered her passion, a strong shoulder to lean on, and a relationship to believe in. But a woman once fooled is twice wary, and very vulnerable. There were still too many questions Kristine needed to answer before she could commit her heart again: what really happened to Logan . . . what did she truly want for herself . . . and what would she do if Logan—a dangerous, seductive, and yet irresistible man—walked back into her life?
“Secrets, revenge and personal redemption from bestseller Michaels . . . A tale of strong emotions and courage.” —Publishers Weekly on No Safe Secret
“Fern Michaels never fails to deliver a heartfelt and wrenching story . . . A wonderful and powerful read.” —Fresh Fiction on A Family Affair
“Michaels’ latest is sure to capture the hearts of its readers, even while tickling their funny bones.” —Booklist on The Blossom Sisters
|Sold by:||Penguin Random House Publisher Services|
|File size:||1 MB|
About the Author
Hometown:Summerville, South Carolina
Place of Birth:Hastings, Pennsylvania
Read an Excerpt
Kristine Kelly propped her chin on her elbow to better observe her husband's slick, naked body. She felt a second burst of passion but knew she had to squelch it. Instead, she stared boldly at Logan's hard, wet body, aware that he was staring just as boldly at her. How was it, she wondered, that after twenty years of making love to the same man, she could feel exactly the same as she had felt on her wedding night? She was about to voice the question aloud when Logan said, "Was it as good for you as it was for me?" She squirmed closer, savoring the slickness of their two bodies meshed together. Was it her imagination or did Logan's words sound practiced, rehearsed, even flat? Where was the light teasing banter that was always present after one of their marathon lovemaking sessions? Why wasn't Logan lighting a cigarette the way he usually did? A cigarette they both puffed on. According to Logan, a cigarette was the ultimate conclusion to a satisfying session of lovemaking. She didn't know if she agreed or not. If the choice was hers, she would opt for serious pillow talk and a second round of lovemaking. The cigarette was always better the second time around. She waited.
"Of course," she said, offering up her standard response. "I feel like crying," she blurted.
"Are you going to cave in on me now, Kris? We've been over this a hundred times. You said you were okay with it. The kids said they were okay with it. Thirty days is not an eternity. You've been a model military wife, so don't go all wimpy on me now and screw it up. We've always gone by the book. It is not the end of the world. When you return to the States you will be so busy you won't have time to miss me. You need to register the kids for school, get the farmhouse ready, buy a car, get ready for the holidays. It's the way it is, Kris. What is your problem?"
Kristine picked up on the impatience in her husband's voice. So it wasn't her imagination after all. Logan was annoyed with her, and he wasn't bothering to hide his feelings. She felt the urge to cry again and didn't know why. No matter what she said or how she said it, her voice was going to be defensive-sounding. She struggled for a light tone. "I guess it has something to do with your long career coming to such an abrupt end. Twenty years is a long time, Logan. I think we handled it well. Like you said, we went by the book and never complained. We were a family of good little soldiers. I wish for your sake that you could have gone all the way and made general because I know it's what you wanted. I have to take issue with the medical board. "Why does having just one kidney prevent you from getting promoted and staying in for thirty years? You never faltered, you did your job, you went by the book, and we all played by the rules. It's not fair. I know it's bothering you because it's bothering me. I don't like it when you pretend, Logan."
"I don't want to talk about it, Kris. It is what it is. I'll muster out in two weeks and two weeks later you'll see me driving up the road. Make sure you have a big, four-layer chocolate cake and a very large pan of your lasagna waiting for me. Two bottles of wine. Good stuff now. One for you and one for me. After that, if we're still standing, we'll make love all night long. How do you feel about that?"
"It sounds wonderful, Logan. I wish I could turn off my emotions the way you can, but I can't. The truth is, I'm going to miss you terribly because you're going to be half a world away. Figure it out, Logan, how many miles is it from Leesburg, Virginia, to Bremen, Germany?"
This time the impatience in her husband's voice was more noticeable. "The mileage isn't important. I'll call and write. I've never let you down, so where are these negative feelings coming from? Are you telling me now that you aren't capable of taking the kids back to the States and getting the house ready? I've always admired the fact that you were your own person. There isn't anything you can't do if you set your mind to it. It's just thirty days! We've been separated before, and you never acted like this. I need to know what it is, specifically, that's bothering you."
Kristine looked her husband in the eye. He was almost snarling now, and she hated it when he got like this. "It's the end of a chapter for us. The end of our lives in the military. The kids don't know anything else. Nor do I. I guess being a civilian again scares me. I try not to think about it, but most times I lose the battle. It's all going to be so new. The kids are scared, too, even though they've been managing to bluff their way through the days these past few weeks. Furthermore, I just don't understand why we can't stay and go home together. Why do we need to go first and you follow thirty days later? We should be here with you when you walk out those doors for the last time. I put in my twenty years, too, Logan."
"Kris, we settled this months ago. Our belongings are en route. Major Tattersol is ready to move in here the moment we move out. You said you could handle this." Logan swung his legs over the side of the bed and stomped to the bathroom. "You do realize you just ruined what was supposed to be a perfect evening, don't you?" Logan shot over his shoulder before he slammed the door shut. Kristine cringed when she heard the lock snick into place.
Kristine buried her face in the pillow. Damn, I can't do anything right. Perfect evening, my foot. What is wrong with saying how I feel? Doesn't he understand how much I love him, how much I'm going to miss him? Thirty days could be an eternity when one has to cope with three teenagers who have a hate on for everything in the world, including their parents. Shit! She hadn't even mentioned their finances. Her eyes filled. I'm sick and tired of being a good little soldier. I never wanted to be a soldier. All I ever wanted was to be a good wife and a good mother. She moved then to curl into a fetal position, at the same time noticing the two rolls of extra flesh that moved upward to press against her breasts. She yanked at the sheet as she wiped at her tears with the hem of the pillowcase. The evening was not going the way she had planned. In four short hours she would be herding the children out the door to a waiting car for the ride to the airport. She needed to do something, but had no idea what it was.
Kristine squeezed her eyes shut as she ran the scene over in her mind. The kids would be cranky, mouthy, and hateful because they were leaving their friends, enduring the long plane ride home, and taking up residence in a place they could barely remember. The worst thing of all for the three of them was the prospect of starting over in a new school. She'd spent whole days trying to reassure her children things would be wonderful if they would just open up to the move. Nothing had worked, probably because they sensed her own anxieties and fears, something a good soldier should never reveal.
Kristine jerked upright when the bathroom door opened. She stared at her husband, who was fully dressed. "Where ... where are you going at this time of night, Logan?" she whispered. She hated the sound of fear in her voice.
"I'm going to take a walk. I need some fresh air. Look, Kris, I'm sorry. I guess I'm just as antsy as you are. Believe it or not, this whole thing is just as traumatic for me as it is for you."
"I love you," Kris whispered again.
"I know, Kris, I know. I won't be long. Why don't you try and get some sleep?" "Is that what the book says, sleep? How can I sleep, Logan? Something is wrong here. I can sense it. It's not my imagination."
"Yes, Kris, it is your imagination. This separation is just a little rocky bump. We've had rocky bumps before. Thirty days is just thirty days. I expected more from you, Kris."
Kristine sighed. She was about to throw off the sheet and swing her legs over the side of the bed until she remembered the two rolls of fat. "Go for your walk. When you get back, I'll make some coffee."
Logan blew his wife a kiss before he left the house. Kristine's heart fluttered in her chest when she heard the front door close.
She headed for the shower, her shoulders shaking with unhappiness. Under the tepid spray she allowed her mind to conjure up the early days of her marriage to Logan Kelly. They were so happy when they said their vows and walked under the crossed swords at West Point. The twins came first, then Tyler came along shortly afterward. Logan had been delirious with joy just the way she had been. It was wonderful living all over the world. Her children spoke four languages, as she did, thanks to their multifaceted education. She was one of the rare wives who loved life in the military, but she didn't love the stupid rule book Logan insisted they live by. He could recite chapter and verse at the drop of a hat. She also knew the book by heart, which was all the more reason to hate it, and her children hated it even more than she did. Logan lived by it, page by page, word by word. Would he discard it when he got back to the States or would they continue to live by it? Logan's rationale would be that the book had served them well for twenty years and to tamper with it in the private sector would be sacrilegious.
As Kris stepped from the shower, towel in hand, her thoughts stayed with her. She wrapped her body in one of the few remaining towels, then dabbed at eyes that were now red-rimmed. Early on, Logan had sworn he would make general, go all the way, maybe even become a five-star. They'd played a game in those early years about the things they would do, how they would act when the fifth star was pinned on his shoulder. How sad for Logan that it could never come to pass. He had said he accepted being felled by a rare kidney disease in his seventeenth year in the military, knowing he would get passed over because his medical condition would be a blight on his record. He'd slapped her once, shouting to be left alone when she'd tried to console him. She needed to give him space now to come to terms with what Logan considered betrayal on the army's part in giving him a medical discharge, something he fought against and lost. He had a right to be bitter, but he didn't have the right to take his bitterness out on her. She'd wanted tonight to be perfect so that Logan would remember their last night and look forward to the time when they'd all be together again back in the States. Now it was all spoiled. Here she was taking a shower in the middle of the night while her husband was out walking alone. She crossed her fingers and offered up a little prayer that Logan's attitude wasn't a harbinger of things to come.
Thirty minutes later, Kristine was in the kitchen, fully dressed and making coffee. She looked in dismay at the small amount of coffee left in the can. Logan liked his coffee black and strong, the way most of his colleagues liked it. There was barely enough left to make two full cups, and at best it was going to be weak. She'd cleaned out everything from the ancient refrigerator because Logan was going to stay at the barracks until it was time for him to leave. The new tenants would move in the moment their belongings were unloaded from the truck. The army did not sit around sucking its thumb when it came to the comfort of one of its officers.
When the coffee finished perking, Kris poured a small amount into a cup, leaving the rest for her husband. She sipped at the coffee, her eyes on the blackness outside the kitchen window. She shouldn't be sitting here alone. Her husband should be with her, holding her hand, telling her things would be okay. The kids hadn't wanted to stay home with her either, preferring to spend their last night with their friends. She'd begged them to stay home with her and Logan, but the three of them had kicked up a fuss. In the end she'd given in rather than stare at their miserable faces all evening. She looked at the clock. Ten minutes past four. Tom Zepack would drive them. Logan would say his goodbyes at the door because he had to report for duty at six o'clock. And she still didn't have the bankbooks from Virginia. Logan had said everything was in the glove compartment of the car.
Her coffee finished, Kris meandered out to the car parked at the side of the house. She withdrew the small packet with her name on it, carrying it back to the house. Relieved that she hadn't forgotten, she slipped the envelope into her purse. She wished she knew more about their finances, but Logan had always handled them. It would be nice, though, to know how much her husband's pension would be once they were home. She knew they would be more than comfortable, thanks to the check that came every month from her parents' estate. Logan was going to do some consulting work, and she'd given serious thought to starting up her parents' business again. She could breed the world-class dogs her parents had bred for decades prior to their deaths. She was actually excited about working at her own business. With the monthly check from her parents' estate, Logan's pension, and whatever she was able to bring in, the kids would be able to go to the best colleges in the country.
Life was going to be wonderful, she told herself, once they settled in and adjusted to farm life in Leesburg, Virginia. They could renew old friendships, join clubs, get involved in community affairs. When the twins went off to college next year, and Tyler the following year, they would have the house to themselves and a twenty-four-hour-aday marriage, the way it had been before the kids came along. Yes, life would be good, very good, provided that Logan threw away the damn rule book. She poured another inch of coffee into her cup. It tasted like colored water. Logan would surely have something to say about it.
She heard her children before she saw them as they bounded into the house, snapping and snarling at one another. It was obvious to Kris they hadn't slept.
Tom Zepack held the door for Logan, a frown on his face. Even from this distance, Kris could smell liquor on her husband's breath. For some strange reason it elated her, proving, she thought, that this parting was just as hard on him as it was on her. She smiled. She would be upbeat if it killed her. No tears, no clutching, no sobbing. Maybe she should just pat him on the cheek and say something flippant like, "I'll see you when I see you. Let's go, kids." Could she do that? Never in a million years. She could try, though.
"Time to go!" Tom Zepack said.
"Do you have everything, Kris?" Logan asked.
"Yes. You know me. I was packed two weeks ago. We're ready."
The kids barreled out to the car, Tom Zepack on their trail.
Kristine sucked in her breath. "I made some coffee, Logan. It's on the weak side because there wasn't enough left. I guess I cut it too close. Rinse the pot and throw it away or leave it for the new officer and his wife. Remember to take the wet towels with you."
"Yeah, sure. Ah, listen, Kris, I'm sorry. I acted like a real ass earlier."
"It's okay, Logan. We're all upset. We all knew this day was coming. Even though we thought we were prepared, we weren't. I guess I better get going. Tom is such a slow, careful driver. I don't want to miss the plane. Take care of yourself. Call me so I can meet you at the airport when you have your flight information."
"We had a good life, didn't we?"
"The best. We've been happy. We have three wonderful kids. This move is hard on them because they know it's the last one. As Macala said, from here on in everything counts."
"You sound strange, Kris. You aren't going ..."
"No, I'm not going to make a scene. Take care of yourself, and hopefully we'll all be together for Christmas. I know just where I'm going to put the tree, too. I do love you, Logan. I just want you to know I will always love you."
Logan nodded. "I feel the same way, Kris. Don't make this any harder than it is. Go on, Tom's waiting."
Go on, Tom's waiting. That was all she was going to get? "See you," she said in a choked voice.
"Bye, Dad," the kids shouted from the car.
"Bye," he shouted in return.
Kris climbed into the car, tears streaming down her cheeks. If nothing else, she had at least waited until her back was turned before she allowed the tears to flow. She looked out of the car window, expecting to see Logan outlined in the open doorway. The door was shut. She conldn't even wave good-bye.
"Relax, Mom, thirty days will go by just like this," Macala said, snapping her fingers.
"Thirty whole days without that damn book," Mike, her twin, said happily.
"I like the book. It's how things get done. Everyone needs structure in their life," sixteen-year-old Tyler said, slouching down in the corner of the car.
"That's a crock, and you know it," Mike said. "That stupid book stinks. You're just a suck-up. Get over it. The book is history."
"Hear! Hear!" his twin said.
Kris continued to cry.
Chaplain Tom Zepack stared at the road in front of him, wondering what lay in store for the Kelly family once they returned to the States. With God's help they would all survive and lead happy productive lives. He was almost sure of it.
Excerpted from "Celebration"
Copyright © 2009 First Draft, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Books by Fern Michaels,
PART I - Bremen, Germany 1987,
PART II - Leesburg, Virginia 1991,
PART III - Nairobi, Kenya 1995,
A FAMILY AFFAIR,
CRASH AND BURN,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book!! Its a great book to curl up with on the coach. Every woman should read this. Fern, you got me hooked on your books!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
One of Fern's best books. She never dissapoints you. You'll sit down and read this in a day and wish for more.
I feel that the book was very entertaining. It was easy reading, and kept my interest to the point that I really did not want to put it down. It is sad that a person can be so blinded by love. I enjoy reading Fern Michaels books, expecially the trilogies. I would welcome a sequel.
Super book! I loved all the characters. I liked the settings, the locations. I learned a lot from reading this book. My favorite character was Woodie. I also liked the way the author had the main character go through all her trials and tribulations to make her the woman she was at the end of the novel. I also liked the sense of family and how they overcame all their problems by working at them. Like I said, a super read!
I enjoyed this book immensely. The characters are the kind you love to hate and one in particular you just plain old hate. I applauded Kristine. I like the way, even at her age, she grew into the woman she was supposed to be. Sometimes it takes a terrible shock to wake one up. I thought the author did a great job with all the characters. Sequel please!
Michaels writing is superb....however the subject matter is weak and ridiculous....whimpy woman who stays in love for years with a husband who has abused her children, stolen millions of dollars from her,and then disappears. Subject matter needs a reality check. I want to be able to like the heroine...sadly this one I can't like.