Rumor had it that Lori Lee Billingworth's son was the result of a one-night stand. Little did attorney Tucker Bravo know that he was the man involved. For Lori Lee and her twin sister had traded places on prom night, and nobody--but Lori--knew that she had her dream night with the boy she'd loved forever....
Tucker knew he had feelings for his long-ago girlfriend's twin, and he adored her son. But once he learned the unbelievable--that the boy was his--his world came to a crashing halt. He was full of resentment for the trickery that made him a father, yet felt overwhelming love for the innocent child caught in this charade. But not for the woman who tricked him. Because that would be inconceivable...wouldn't it?
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Lori's Little Secret
By Christine Rimmer
SilhouetteCopyright © 2005 Christine Rimmer
All right reserved.
What are the odds? Lori Lee Billingsworth Taylor couldn't help wondering, feeling guilty and miserable and knowing herself to be a yellow-bellied coward.
What are the odds she would keep running into a certain man? Given that the town -- Tate's Junction, Texas -- where this certain man constantly turned up had a population of almost two thousand. Given that Lori was not -- oh, no, definitely not -- trying to run into this particular guy. At least not yet.
The odds couldn't be all that great, could they?
But still, it kept happening. Lori Lee kept running into Tucker Bravo.
And she did know. Oh, yes, she knew very well, thank you very much, that Tucker Bravo was exactly the man she needed to run into. Unfortunately, he was also the man she couldn't bear to face.
But she would. She truly would.
Right after her twin sister's wedding.
It happened first at the Gas 'n Go.
Lori and her ten-year-old son, Brody, had just arrived in Tate's Junction from San Antonio for a three-week stay. Not five minutes in the town she'd left behind -- and there he was.
What, she asked herself later, had made her stop for gas? She might just as well have kept going straight to her parents' big two-story brick house on Pecan Street. She had over a quarter of a tank and could have filled up later. But she turned off the highway and there was that bright red cube of a convenience store and the eight gas pumps and it just seemed so simple, so easy and efficient, to go ahead and gas up right then.
Brody, busy on his Game Boy in the back seat, spoke up as she stopped the Lexus at the pump. "I bet they have Icees in there."
She turned and gave him a fond smile. "That would be no."
"But, Mom -- "
She grabbed her purse, bent to tug the latch that opened the gas tank door. "We'll be at Gramma Enid's in ten minutes tops."
"Gramma Enid doesn't have Icees."
"Sit tight." She unhooked her seat belt and reached for the door.
"Aw, Mom..." But another glance over the seat showed her he was already focused on the Game Boy again, thumbs flying over the miniature keyboard.
Lori paused, her fingers hooked in the door handle, staring back over the seat at her son's bent head, thinking that they were doing okay, just the two of them, without Henry...
A wave of sadness washed through her. Henry had died a little over a year before. Lori missed him and so did Brody. But time was doing its work. Lori had made it through the worst: the clutching desperation, the gaping, ragged hole of emptiness at the center of her world. Increasingly, thoughts of Henry brought only a fond sort of sorrow. They'd shared six wonderful years, she and Henry -- seven, if you counted the year before their marriage. Lori would always have her warm and comforting memories of those years. She was a fortunate woman; she had a smart, healthy son and she'd known the quiet joy of a good man's sure and steady love.
Lori tugged on the door handle and swung her feet to the pavement. She shut the car door behind her and was fiddling in her purse for her wallet when she heard the urgent whining sound.
She glanced up. The ugliest, most adorable dog she'd ever seen sat near the rear wheel, big brown eyes begging her, long wiry-haired body quivering.
The dog captured her gaze and held it, whimpering louder, lifting up to all four stumpy legs and wiggling all over in barely contained excitement, as if it had been waiting all its life to run into someone like her.
Lori couldn't help herself. She laughed. "Where did you come from?"
It was all the encouragement the funny-looking dog needed. Panting in sheer doggy bliss, it quivered on over to her and rolled to its back.
"Okay, okay." Lori crouched to scratch the spotted, wiry-haired pink belly. Transported, the dog whimpered and wriggled, pink tongue lolling. "Yes, you are about the cutest thing I've ever seen," she declared as she went on scratching. "But no, I can't take you home."
"You wouldn't believe it to look at him now, but he already has a home." The voice, from behind her, was male: deep and sure, threaded with amusement.
She turned her head -- and there he was, standing in the sun beyond the shadow of the roof that protected the pumps, big arms folded over his deep, hard chest, strong legs braced slightly apart, spiked brown hair catching golden lights from the bright Texas sun overhead.
He was...bigger, somehow, than she remembered. That formerly whipcord-lean body spoke of muscular power now. The hungry, wild-eyed yearning look was gone from his dark eyes.
Lori felt her stomach heave. She swallowed, hard, and pasted on a wide smile. Ordering her suddenly numb legs to straighten, she stood to face him.
That killer smile of his widened. "Lori Lee," he said, without having to hesitate to place her -- and also without confusing her with her twin, Lena Lou. "I knew it was you the minute you got out of that gorgeous car."
Lori supposed it wasn't surprising, that he remembered her on sight. He'd once been in love with Lena Lou. Lena was the sparkly one, the popular one. All the boys went nuts for her. Lori had been quieter, a better student, and a little bit shy. Though they were identicals, no one in town had ever had any trouble telling them apart.
Except for on that one special, magical, life-changing night -- which she was not going to think about, at least not right now.
Tucker said, "It's been a long time."
Lori nodded and gulped to clear her clutching throat. "How are you, Tucker?" It came out sounding pleasant. Cordial in a distant sort of way. Most important, her tone betrayed no hint of the turmoil within.
Excerpted from Lori's Little Secret by Christine Rimmer Copyright © 2005 by Christine Rimmer. 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a cute story, however it said it was 202 pages and really it was only 170 or so. The story line was cute, and the characters well developed. I would recommend.
Tucker was a secondary character in Marrying Molly, last year's Bravo Family Ties book. Tucker had just returned after several years to Tate's Junction, TX with a law degree so he becomes a partner with the local attorney. Lori Taylor is back in town to be in her twin Lena's wedding. Her little secret is 10 years old now she has to tell Tucker of Brody. Tucker was Lena's boyfriend in high school but Lori had a crush on him. Lena breaks up with Tucker but they do plan to go to the Senior Prom but at the last minute Lena talks Lori into going in her place, Lori has dreamed of this moment. Lori and Tucker, thinking it's Lena, have a wonderful evening that leads to breakfast and Brody! Lori decides to wait til after the wedding to tell Tucker of Brody but he learns he's a father sooner -- he is so angry but makes Lori stay at his house with Brody so he can get close to his son. Over a summer we watch Tucker, Lori and Brody learn to be a family with the ups and downs of one.
Dis one? O.o