Katelyn Devereaux needs a vacation. More than a vacation, she needs to put Denver behind her as well as the man who wants her as his wife and the birth family who is insisting on finding her. A secluded cottage on a lake in Wisconsin sounds like the perfect spot to get away—or is it?
Seth Miller knows the reason that he mistook Katelyn for Genean is his knowledge that his best friend’s wife was adopted by strangers at birth. Of course he can’t change the facts that Genean and Katelyn are sisters, especially after he learns that the company she wants to visit in Wisconsin is owned by Genean’s brother, Randy, and her husband, Brad.
|Publisher:||Class Act Books|
|File size:||313 KB|
About the Author
As a sophomore in high school, Sherry fell in love not only with her high school sweetheart but also with writing. The assignment to sit in the back of the room and write for a year was exactly what she needed. The only problem was no one told her to end the assignment. After graduation she married the love of her life and he adjusted to her other passion. One husband, three kids and seven grandchildren later, her first book was published. As the number soars close to sixty books, she knows she made the right decision. How many women of retirement age can say they ard doing exactly what they wanted to do when they were fifteen?
Read an Excerpt
Sunlight shimmered across the lake and it glistened as though it had been scattered with diamonds. As she stood there in awe, taking in the beauty from the cottage, the dock invited her into the picture of beauty. Taking her sketch pad and pencil with her, Katelyn Devereaux walked across the lawn and sandy beach until she reached the pier. Settling into the deck chair, she gazed out across the water.
It was such a beautiful morning. Katelyn. She was so glad she'd taken the advice of her friends and accompanied Suzie Branch to this secluded Wisconsin lake. She certainly needed a vacation and could think of no place more relaxing than this quaint cottage hidden away in a different world.
In the distance a loon called to it's mate, waited for a few moments for a reply and called again. This was the kind of peaceful exchange she had not taken the time to listen for in months. She knew nature was all around her back home, but there never seemed to be time to sit and listen for it. In Denver she was nothing more than a machine, pumping out sketches for her clients, and on occasion, playing the gracious hostess for Martin.
No, I don't want to think of the daily grind of running the Devereaux Agency, nor Martin Collier's marriage proposal. I need this time to figure out just who Katelyn Devereaux really is.
Katelyn turned away from the peaceful scene before her. Why can't my life be this peaceful?
You know why, Katie. The sound of her father's voice within her head caused a tear to escape from the corner of her eyes. She'd lost both of her parents at Thanksgiving and never really gotten over their deaths. The only thing that kepther from going completely over the edge was work, work and more work.
I don't think I can do this, Daddy. I don't love Martin. I haven't even given him an answer concerning his proposal. Maybe I'm not cut out for the wife thing. Even if I did marry Martin, I wouldn't be a wife, not in the conventional way. With him gone so much, life as his wife would be no different than life by myself.
Katelyn's thoughts came as a shock. Never before had she admitted her true feeling for Martin. More than anything else in the world, she wanted to be a little girl again without all the problems of being a responsible adult.
Back home in Denver, her life had become too complicated to allow her to rest. For the past eight months she'd been running the Devereaux Advertising Agency, and then there was Martin Collier's marriage proposal. The fact she had just learned of the fact she was adopted, only added to the crazy quilt her life had become over the past few months. Perhaps if her parents had told her the truth the shock wouldn't have been so profound but they hadn't. She'd learned of her adoption only days after their funeral.
A Mallard duck swooped down and landed on the lake, leaving ripples in his wake. He made a perfect model for her to sketch. Opening her pad, she began to draw the duck's features.
"Genean? What are you doing here?"
The sound of a man's voice sent the duck away in frightened flight. Silently she cursed the intrusion on her perfect scene. "I beg your pardon," she said, getting to her feet. "I'm afraid you've mistaken me for someone else." Quickly she wiped the last of the tears from her eyes. Did he see me crying? The last thing I want is to have some stranger feeling sorry for me. Besides, he did wreck the perfect setting the duck had created for my sketch.
Although he was less than twenty feet away from her the sun at his back made it hard to distinguish anything about him. As she stood up, she shaded her eyes to get a better look at the face behind the voice. He stood well over six foot tall and could only be described as a blonde Adonis. He reminded her of one of the body builders she sketched while in college.
"I'm sorry. I can't believe the uncanny resemblance between you and my friend, Genean."
She watched him as he stepped onto the pier in order to get a better look at her.
"I'm Seth Miller. I live up around the point. Are you staying with the Branchs', Miss..."
"It's Devereaux, Katelyn Devereaux."
"Katelyn Devereaux," he repeated her name. She liked the way it sounded when he spoke it. "You don't look much like a Katelyn to me. Do you mind if I call you Kaye?"
Hearing him call her Kaye made her blood boil.
Don't get mad. He has no idea why the name of Kaye would upset you. He can't possibly know about Ken and what he did to you. Besides he is handsome and you did come on this vacation to make up your mind about a lot of things. He's certainly more interesting that stuffy old Martin.
"Yes, I do mind. I mind very much. Katelyn or Katie will do quite well. Anything but Kaye."
Without saying more, she sat back down on the deck chair and tried to concentrate on her drawing. Instead she couldn't help but stare at the man at the end of the dock.
"Wait. I didn't mean to offend you. What do you say we start over again?"
"I think not. You scared away my duck," as soon as she spoke the words, she knew they didn't come out the way she intended. Even to her they sounded angry. Inwardly, she cursed herself for getting upset just because her model flew away.
"Your duck? I didn't know they belonged to anyone in particular."
She couldn't help but smile at his statement. She'd overreacted. She knew getting used to this vacation thing would take her longer than a few hours of sitting staring out at the water. Her sketch of the duck had been more for business than for pleasure, even though she promised not to think about any of her clients while she was in Wisconsin.
"They don't. I mean they don't belong to anybody. I was doing a sketch of him. I certainly didn't expect someone to come up and scare him away."
"That's better. I do like the way you look when you smile. I know how it is when you get distracted. I should be getting back to work before I get behind."
"Behind in what? I can't see where being a beach bum is too demanding."
She was beginning to enjoy this game of cat and mouse. If the truth were known, she would enjoy getting to know this man.
"A beach bum?"
"Well, you certainly didn't get that tan being cooped up in an office all day."
"Hardly," he punctuated the word with hearty laughter. "I do woodworking in my home. When I have a beautiful day, like today, I enjoy taking my projects outside."
"Well, don't let me keep you." Katelyn realized she didn't mean the words. She wanted to continue talking to him longer.
"I'll be seeing you again before you leave. I come this way every morning." With a wave of his hand, he turned around and began to run back in the direction of where he indicated he lived.
Katelyn closed her eyes and tried to get back her inspiration for the picture of the Mallard. To her surprise, the only vision to fill her mind was of Seth Miller. Opening her eyes again, she flipped to a clean sheet on her sketchpad and started drawing the strong lines of his face.
"You'll look like a lobster if you stay out in the sun any longer," Suzie called from the porch of the cottage.
Katelyn looked up from her sketch of Seth, amazed at how time had gotten away from her so quickly. The sun was straight overhead indicating it was past noon. "I'll be right in." She gathered up her drawing materials and prepared to go back to the house.
Once inside, she laid her sketchpad on the table and went to the kitchen sink to wash her hands. "Do you need some help with lunch?"
"No. I picked up a pizza in town. It should still be hot enough to eat. Did you have a relaxing morning?"
"I'm not sure I know how to relax. I did some sketching. I found a wonderful model while I was out there."
"So I see. It looks like you met Mr. Wonderful."
"If you mean Seth Miller, yes I did. Of course, he wasn't the model I was referring to. Is he for real?"
Suzie began to laugh. "Seth is for real all right. During the winter, he teaches math at the high school in town. In the summer, he spends his days making furniture. I have to admit he's good at it, too. He made the table in the dining room."
Katelyn thought about the craftsmanship of the table she so admired earlier. She remembered him saying something about making furniture. If the table was any indication of the extent of his talent, she wondered why he continued to teach when he could turn out pieces with such quality. Maybe he didn't have any idea what these things would bring on the open market.
"Do you know anyone by the name of Genean?" Katelyn asked, changing the subject. She hoped Suzie would say she knew the woman.
Suzie's puzzled expression silently answered prior to her saying anything. "I don't think so. The name isn't familiar to me. Why do you ask?"
Before Katelyn could say more, the phone rang. "Branch residence," Suzie answered. "Oh, hi Seth--I hear you met my friend Katie--Yes, she's here. Just a minute."
Suzie held out the phone and mouthed he wants to talk to you.
"Why, Mr. Miller, what a surprise," Katelyn said, trying to sound nonchalant. Within her chest her heart beat so loudly, she wondered if he could hear it over the phone. Just the thought of hearing his voice excited her. The feeling of confusion was alien to anything she could ever remember.
"I'd like to make a better impression on you than I did earlier. Would you have dinner with me?"
"Dinner?" Katelyn questioned. From the corner of her eye, she saw Suzie nod and give her the thumbs up sign. Even without prompting, she knew she would agree to the meeting. The thought of having the chance to see the man who so easily captured her imagination thrilled her. "Yes, I'd enjoy having dinner with you."
"Good. I'll pick you up at six. See you then."
Katelyn hung up the phone. "I can't believe I accepted an invitation from a perfect stranger. I must be losing it."
Suzie laughed. "You only accepted an invitation from Seth. He's far from perfect and he's certainly no stranger. I've known him most of my life."
"Big deal. Maybe you know him, but I don't. I could be letting myself in for more than I can handle."
Suzie put her arm around Katelyn's shoulders. "Look, if Seth is interested, go for it. Why not try a little vacation fling? Find out once and for all if Martin is the man you really want."
"Look Suzie, you know as well as I do that Martin isn't--well you know. I don't love him. Marriage to him would be convenient for both of us. I gave up on love a long time ago. It's just that Martin is the only one to ask."
"And you haven't said yes or no. I can't understand why you ever accepted his ring in the first place."
"I didn't accept his ring. As a matter of fact, I gave it back to him several times, but he wouldn't take it. I finally ended up putting it in my safe."
"I know what happened, but it still gave Martin the impression that the two of you were going to get married."
"I know it did, but what else could I do? I even tried delivering it back to his office, but he just returned it the next time he was in town. He's not the kind of man who takes no for an answer."
"If you ask me he just wants a hostess for his fancy parties. You make good window dressing and nothing more. My God, Katie, he's old enough to be your father."
"I know he is, but he's someone Daddy would have approved of."
"In a pig's eye he is. Your dad would have wanted you to be happy, not saddled with a man who is over twenty years older than you. He's what, forty-eight?"
"Forty-nine," Katelyn corrected her. "Why do you think I haven't put his ring on my finger. I don't think I want to be married, not to Martin or to anyone else. I'm quite content with my life the way it is."
"Now that's a crock if I ever heard it. You don't even know what true romance is. You had one encounter with a not so nice guy and you've sworn off men for life. It isn't fair, not to the dozens of guys in Denver who would like to get to know you better and certainly not to yourself."
Katelyn began to laugh. "Dozens of guys?" she finally managed to ask when she stopped laughing.
"Well, maybe not dozens, but I bet there are several eligible bachelors who would be happy to get to know you better if you only gave them a chance."
"Okay, you win. Once we get home I'll start socializing more and working less. As for tonight, I have to decide what I'm going to wear. There's still a problem, though. If I'm going out to dinner with Seth tonight, what about you? It's quite rude of me to leave you on our first night here."
"Not really. I promised to meet my brother at the mall. You know how it is. I have to fill him in on what I've been doing with my life since I came home last Christmas. He's not much on letter writing and neither am I. We only get to talk when I come home. If we called each other our phone bills would resemble the national debt. I was going to ask you to come with us. I know Jeff is anxious to see you again. He's another one of those bachelors who would gladly line up at your door for a date."
Katelyn laughed. "I appreciate you looking out for me, I really do. We'll see how tonight goes. If it goes well, maybe you can set me up with Jeff later in the week. As far as knowing how it is with you and your brother, I really don't. I'm an only child, or have you forgotten? I can certainly imagine it, though. I know how long you and I talk on the phone and we see each other on a weekly basis."
Suzie raised her eyebrow at Katelyn's statement. "Are you an only child? What about the family who wants you back in their lives?"
Katelyn cringed at Suzie's statement. "I told them no. You know that, as well as I do. I wasn't good enough for them when I was born, what makes me any different now? The only thing they're interested in is my money. I've lived my entire life without them. I think I can continue to do so. Now, come upstairs and help me find something to wear tonight. For the rest of this vacation I don't want to think about the people who gave me away. I came here to rest and relax."
Katelyn looked at her reflection in the full-length mirror. The white halter-top sundress suited her well. With it, she wore black shoes and earrings. She picked up the black lace shawl she found in a small shop back home and put it around her shoulders, wincing in pain from her sunburn.
"How could you have been so foolish?" she asked the reflection. "You haven't been sunburned since..."
She couldn't finish the sentence. Now, even two and a half years after she and Ken spent a delightful afternoon at a secluded lake in the mountains, the scene was vivid in her mind. She could hardly believe she ever thought she could be in love with him.
He joined the firm and swept her off her feet in less than a month. For the next six weeks, he wined and dined her, convincing her they were meant for each other. It ended the day she stopped by the office unexpectedly and overheard Ken's conversation with several of the other employees.
"So, are you and Miss Devereaux getting married?" she'd heard one of the secretaries ask.
She remembered feeling the warmth of hearing something so special. Apparently, Ken had every intention of proposing.
"You bet we are," Ken's deep voice replied.
"How do you know if you love her?" another secretary asked. "You don't really know her."
"What does love have to do with anything? Kaye's got just what I want, plenty of money and this firm. All I have to do is hang on until dear old Daddy dies and I can ditch her. By rights, fifty percent of everything she owns will belong to me. I think the Davis/Devereaux Advertising Agency has a nice ring to it."
His bragging turned Katelyn's stomach. How could he say such a thing to one of his fellow employees? As she stood there in shock she realized exactly what kind of a man he was. He didn't love her, only what she represented.
"A nice ring to it!" Katelyn remembered shouting. "You're fired has a better ring to it, Ken. If you want Daddy to make it official, I can arrange it."
"I'm ready to go Katie," Suzie called from downstairs.
Katelyn jumped at the intrusion into her thoughts. "Are you leaving so soon? I thought you'd stay until Seth got here."
"I can't believe you're nervous about tonight. Seth isn't a monster. He doesn't have any idea who Katelyn Devereaux really is. He asked you out to dinner. It's just an innocent date. If you're worried about Martin finding out, don't be. He'll never hear a word about it from me. Besides, maybe Seth will show you how to be a woman again."
"And just when did I stop being a woman?" Katelyn snapped.
"You know what I mean, Katie. Ken hurt you and seeing you hide from the world these past months hurts me. As for Martin, he certainly doesn't add any spice to your life. Tonight will be fun."
"I don't know if I can go through with this. I went on an innocent date with Ken and look what happened."
"For once think about yourself. With Ken, you were taken in by a very convincing con man. Believe me, Seth isn't like Ken. I know him. He'll show you a good time. He doesn't want to marry you, for god's sake. He's a confirmed bachelor."
Katelyn smiled weakly at Suzie's comment. Ken had swept her off her feet, then planned to dump her once he got his hands on everything she owned. Would Seth do the same thing once he realized just who she was?
"Why is it so hard for you to understand my jitters?"
"It's not hard. You're my friend and I love you like a sister. I just want you to have a good time. An evening out with a handsome man might be just what you need."
Katelyn opened her arms to Suzie and embraced her. "What did I do to deserve such a good friend? I promise, I'll have a good time tonight. Who knows, maybe I'll even ask him for a date before the night is over." She wished she were as convinced as she sounded.
"Good for you," Suzie replied before she grabbed her sweater and hurried out the door.
Katelyn watched her friend leave and thought about their conversation. She had every right to be nervous. After her disastrous relationship with Ken, she went into a deep depression. The only reason she even started seeing Martin was because he'd been kind to her at the time of her parents' death. At first he had been attentive but when he gave her the ring on Valentines Day, everything changed. Even though she knew her father would approve of a handsome older man paying her court, she didn't love him and said as much. He said he was willing to wait for her to see their relationship was exactly what she needed. He certainly had never missed an opportunity to remind her that their marriage would have made her parents happy.
What about me? I'm certainly not happy about the thought of spending my life with Martin.
Before her mental ramblings could continue, she heard a knock at the door. For this evening she would have to set aside her thoughts about Martin, as well as her fears about being with a strange man and allow herself to relax.