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What the buttoned-up beauty needs is a refresher course herself...someone who can initiate her into the mysteries of pleasureand there's no one more qualified for the position than hotel manager, Dave Markoff. He's got a vested interested in keeping the weekends going at his resortand an equally serious interest in seducing Tracy. Now, as the October leaves fall, so do Tracy's inhibitions, as she discovers an ecstasy she never imagined possibleand a calling she can no longer deny.
|Product dimensions:||5.56(w) x 8.18(h) x 0.87(d)|
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By JOAN ELIZABETH LLOYD
Copyright © 2003
Joan Elizabeth Lloyd
All right reserved.
"Give me that again," Tracy McBride said, dropping into
a leather chair in her sister's living room, her hand
over her pounding heart. She had driven the three quarters of
an hour to Kim's house to hear some "terrific news" her sister
had promised her. Tracy was six years younger than her forty-one-year-old
sister, yet once they'd reached adulthood, they
could have been mistaken for twins. Both women had sandy
brown hair, soft pale brown eyes, and similar builds, each five
foot three with a trim figure. As they had when they were
younger, they had coincidentally selected similar outfits-light
blue T-shirts and well-washed khaki jeans. Although
they looked very much alike, Tracy saw now that Kim seemed
softer somehow and her smile almost split her face.
"You heard it right the first time. I'm going to have twins,"
she said, breathless with excitement. "The doctor did a sonogram
this morning and he's sure. I'm more than twelve weeks,
due the end of February." Her grin was infectious and Tracy
shared her joy, tinged just slightly by envy. She'd always
wanted children but it just wasn't to be. Until about five years
earlier, when Tracy had moved to Washington State with her
then-husband Andrew, the sisters had been close. Since her
return, alone, two years before, Tracy had spent a lot of time
by herself and saw her sister only occasionally. There seemed
to be some kind of a barrier, a soft wall that Tracy couldn't
seem to penetrate. Now years of separation slipped away and
Tracy delighted in the sisters' suddenly reestablished closeness.
"Holy shit, sis," Tracy said, her head spinning. She jumped
up and grabbed her sister's shoulders. "Oh, my God." As she
started to jump up and down as they had done when they
were teens, she suddenly dropped her hands to her sides.
"Sorry. I don't want to hurt the baby. I mean babies. Oh my
God. I'm going to be an aunt. Twice."
Kim hugged her sister hard. "Don't worry about the pregnancy.
Hug as hard as you like. Me and the kids," she giggled,
"are pretty indestructible." Kim's face became serious, a slight
frown replacing the complete joy of a moment before. "But
it's only the end of the first trimester so I'm not buying baby
clothes or anything. As a matter of fact, you're the only one
other than Elliot and his parents who know about this." She
placed her hands across her still-fiat belly. "And it's going to
stay that way until I start to show." Again her expression
changed as she grinned at her sister. "I just couldn't hold out
"I can't believe it," Tracy said, as she dropped back into the
chair and Kim settled onto the couch. "You said you wanted at
least two kids but I didn't expect you to do it all at once."
Kim McBride Ryan swung her shapely legs around and
propped her feet on the glass-topped coffee table. "Neither
did I, Trace, believe me."
Tracy looked at her sister carefully. The last time they had
met for lunch, almost two months earlier, Kim had been pregnant
yet she hadn't said a word. She forced down her slightly
hurt feelings and accepted the fact that Kim hadn't wanted to
tell anyone until she was more sure that things would work
out all right. She and her husband Elliot had been trying for a
baby for most of the five years they had been married.
"So how did it happen?"
Kim giggled. "The usual way."
"Don't be a wise guy, sis. I meant did you go for fertility
drugs or anything like that?"
"Sorry. Teasing you is an old habit." Kim's face settled into
a soft smile. "No, no drugs. Just plain old-fashioned hard
"Hard work? Making love?"
"When you take your temperature all the time and go
through every trick the doctors and a zillion magazines suggest,
sex becomes work rather than a pleasure. I douched with
baking soda every day for one month and with vinegar another."
Kim giggled. "That month Elliot said my pussy had a
permanent pucker and I smelled like a salad. Some months I
would call him up at work when the time was right"-Kim
sneered at the term-"and he'd hurry home. No preliminaries,
just enough foreplay to get him erect then bang. Literally.
Afterward, I'd lie on my back for half an hour with my feet up
on the headboard. It was a disaster."
Tracy had never heard her sister say a bad word about sex.
She'd always been so free and now ... "I guess I can understand
how all the fun went out of it."
Kim shook her head slowly. "Me. The sexpert, with the sex
life from hell. Finally, we just gave up and for two months remembered
what good sex was all about. That's when I got
pregnant. I remember the evening well."
Slightly embarrassed by Kim's obvious recollections, Tracy
said, "Okay, okay, no details, please. How are you feeling?"
"Surprisingly well, actually. I read the What to Expect book
and I was somehow disappointed that I haven't been suffering
much morning sickness. Just a few bouts of queasiness."
"Why in the world were you disappointed?"
"I guess throwing up each morning would have made it
more real. I would have been more sure that this was really
going to happen."
Tracy watched her sister's right hand gently rub her belly.
The years of almost reading each other's minds when they
were teenagers told her that something wasn't quite right.
"There's a catch here, isn't there?"
"Yeah," Kim said, her voice sounding dismal. "It's not going
to be quite as easy for me as it would have been five years ago.
I'm not a kid anymore and I've got to be extra careful. After
all, I'm over forty and this is my first pregnancy so I'm what
they refer to as high risk. Now, with the two babies ..." Her
voice trailed off, then after a moment's silence, she continued,
"The doctor had had an inkling and had warned me even before
the sonogram that twins were a possibility and that, because
I'm older, they would mean additional complications."
Tracy considered her sister. Although they had both wanted
it, until today they had not reestablished their previous openness.
Every time they got together, they swore to stay in closer
touch, but Tracy's teaching schedule at the local campus of
the State University of New York and Kim's work on her
weekly sexual advice column took up a lot of their time, so it
was often several weeks between phone calls and sometimes
six or eight weeks between visits. There was something else,
too, something Tracy couldn't put her finger on, that kept a
distance between them. Now, she couldn't help but wonder
whether the babies would further separate her from her sister.
And with the added risk, she wondered whether Kim's getting
pregnant so late had been a good idea. Not my decision, she
told herself. Just be supportive.
"God, I can't get over it." Tracy looked around her sister's
small, one-bedroom condo and shook her head. "Where are
you going to put twins?"
Kim and Elliot's rented condo was comfortable for two but
was going to be impossible for four. The small living room had
been tastefully decorated in shades of off-white, cornflower
blue, and rose, with a wide white wall unit and pastel floral
paintings on the walls. The dining area contained a small rose
laquer table and chairs with a mirrored wall behind in an attempt
to create the appearance of size. The bedroom was almost
filled by a queen-sized bed and twin dressers.
Kim's shaking head mimicked her sister's. "Lord only
knows. I think we'll have to consider renting or buying a
house, or at least something larger than this." Again Kim's
mercurial mood shifted and she frowned. "That's one of the
other reasons that we didn't tell anyone. We'll have to make so
many changes it boggles the mind. Elliot and I have done
nothing but make lists and try to figure out where the money's
going to come from."
Money had always been a delicate issue between the sisters
so Tracy rose and headed for the tiny kitchen. "I'm going to
get a soda," she said. "What are you drinking?"
"For now, just ice water. I'm off caffeine, alcohol, and most
of the rest of the things I enjoy. Except sex, of course."
As Kim started to rise, Tracy said quickly, "Just sit. I'll
fetch. But don't expect this being-waited-on stuff to continue.
I'm just being nice to you because you've fulfilled all my aunt-type
dreams at one time." As she poured herself a Diet Pepsi
in the tiny kitchen, she spoke loudly enough for Kim to hear.
"You know what makes me sad?"
"It's probably the same thing that gets to me. Mom."
"You always did read my mind. Have you told her?" Their
mother, Ruth, had been older than many when her children
were born and had lost her husband just before Tracy's fifth
birthday from a sudden heart attack. She had been afflicted
with the first signs of Alzheimer's disease four years earlier,
and now at almost seventy-five, she had no real connection to
the outside world. At least once a week each of the sisters
dropped in at the upscale nursing home in which she had
been placed. In the past several months those visits had become
increasingly difficult and Tracy often had to grit her
teeth and force herself to make the long drive. While at first
Ruth had been glad to see her, now she didn't recognize her
daughter and Tracy would leave never having made any connection
with the older woman. Tracy returned to the living
room, handed her sister a glass of ice water, and settled back
into the chair with her soda.
"She's really gone now," Kim said. "I told her about the
baby when I first found out but she didn't really understand
and she hasn't make any reference to it since. She hardly
speaks at all."
Tracy settled back into the chair, picturing the lovely sun
porch on which she often found Ruth, seated in a wheelchair
staring into space. "She usually doesn't recognize me either.
Sometimes, when I introduce myself, she looks totally blank.
Several weeks ago, when I said I was her daughter, she shook
her head as if to say that she had no daughter. Since then she
hasn't responded to me at all." Tracy blinked several times to
suppress her tears.
"I know," Kim said. "Mom presents me, us, with a large
Tracy cocked her head to one side and, when Kim seemed
hesitant to continue, said, "Which is?"
"Coming up with the money to keep Mom at Willow Grove
isn't going to be as easy as it used to be."
Tracy's stomach tightened and she felt the familiar guilt
that she couldn't spare more than the check she wrote each
month. "You know I'm contributing all I can," she said.
"Assistant professors ..."
Kim put up her hand, palm out. "Stop apologizing, Trace. I
know you're doing all you can. So am I, and up to now Willow
Grove has been possible. I'm afraid that, because of the babies,
there may have to be changes. We may have to find a less-expensive
Tracy nodded. "Having twins will be quite a strain on your
Kim idly rubbed her belly. "It's not just the cost of the babies.
For the moment I'm on what the doctor calls restricted
activity. I have to rest and even take naps. I have to be in bed
by nine. Short-distance walking is okay but I should be sitting
and resting with my feet up or lying down most of the time.
Writing my column is going to be an increasing problem."
"Why? It's just writing, right? And most of that is done in
your head. A few taps on the keyboard and you're done."
Kim sighed. "It's not as simple as that, I'm afraid. Even Elliot
underestimates the amount of work it takes to put Ask Miranda
together. He's at work so much that he isn't really aware of the
hours I spend opening and reading my mail, writing answers for
some, and putting the column together each week."
Ask Miranda had begun around the time of Kim's marriage.
In addition to taking ads and doing general office work for a
local newspaper, Kim had been a part-time reporter. When the
advice columnist had eloped, her editor had asked her to fill in
and complete Miranda's unfinished column. After much reluctance,
she had decided to take a crack at it and the column had
seemed to work. It had soon become her regular job and she
had rapidly developed a devoted readership. The column had
become more and more successful until Ask Miranda was now
syndicated in more than twenty newspapers. "It takes me several
hours at the computer each day just to keep up."
"You answer your mail? I thought the only letters you answered
were the ones that appear in your column."
"I don't answer every one, of course, but I do write to
dozens of troubled people each week. Lots of it is boiler plate,
but when people take the time to pour out their troubles, I try
to find the time to reply."
"I guess I never really thought about the responsibility you
"Sometimes it's a bit overwhelming. So many really sad
people write, thinking I have all the answers, and I don't. All I
can do is give them some common sense and maybe a slightly
different way to look at a problem. Often I suggest that they
seek professional help. And sometimes I know they aren't really
looking for advice, just a shoulder to cry on."
Kim sighed, then continued, "I'm not whining about it. For
the most part I enjoy it and most of that work can be done sitting
down and resting. Unfortunately, although I'm going to
have to make minor changes in the way I handle the column,
that's not the biggest problem."
Following her sister's train of thought, Tracy said, "Shit.
"The weekends." Three years earlier, Kim had joined
forces with the manager of a small resort and convention center
in the Catskills about an hour and a half away to run
Creative Loving Weekends. From what Tracy gathered from
her conversations with her sister, the weekends ran from
Friday evening to Sunday morning and involved workshops
on all aspects of good sex. Being a bit reticent to discuss it,
Tracy knew little more than that.
Kim sipped her water, then said, "The weekends are
tremendous undertakings and the proceeds are what I use to
keep Mom at Willow Grove."
Tracy reflexively tucked an errant strand of stick-straight
hair behind one ear. "I didn't realize. What are you going to do
about them?" Tracy was suddenly worried that her mother's
days in Willow Grove might be numbered. Eighteen months
before, when Ruth had become unable to care for herself and
with neither sister able to take over, they had searched for several
weeks until they found a nursing home that would be able
to keep their mother the way they wanted. A caring staff, resident
medical personnel, activities that she had enjoyed until
she'd become too far gone to do anything but sit, all cost
dearly. How would they find someplace as good, but less expensive?
"Where we go from here is going to be up to you," Kim
said, breaking the silence.
"Me? I told you that I can't contribute anything more." She
was already writing the nursing home a check for almost a
quarter of her take-home pay each month.
Excerpted from NEVER ENOUGH
by JOAN ELIZABETH LLOYD
Copyright © 2003 by Joan Elizabeth Lloyd.
Excerpted by permission.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed reading this book. The detailed explanation and exploration of the various relationships really opened my eyes to what is key in a relationship. Every woman AND man should read this book. I only wish there was a Creative Loving weekend somewhere.
I couldn't put this book down, it is a realist plot that puts you in the main character's shoes.
In 1997 Texas, Dahlia Montgomery buries her husband who died in a violent car accident. To her embarrassment she learns that a family friend Bonnie Gibson also died in the crash. Both were under the influence and circumstantial evidence including Kenneth¿s history leads Dahlia to believe he cheated on her one last time. Twenty eight months later, Dahlia rues the day she agreed to accompany her best friend Piggy Murphy and accept employment as interns in Callister, Idaho. Not only is the place they are staying in freezing, but Piggy¿s cousin fails to meet them. Worse, angry rancher Luke McRae accidentally knocks her over like a stampeding bull. As Luke and Dahlia become acquainted they begin to fall in love though they stereotype the other. She does not trust men especially cowboys; and he believes outsiders like this Texan belong in the Lone Star State. Then there are his needs to be there for his disabled son and two daughters as well as an unstable ex-wife. THE LOVE OF A COWBOY is an engaging contemporary romance that displays rural Idaho in a strong light. The story line is loaded with action and the cast is a strong ensemble. Though the lead characters lug too much baggage, readers will like both of them and especially her best friend. The audience will want to travel just outside Boise for a warm (except in the temporary lodging of the Texans) romantic tale. Harriet Klausner